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Google supports Responsive Design for Mobile, should you?

The search engine giant Google has finally taken a stance on the best practices for a mobile website… but not a very firm stance. The initial decision was in support of Responsive Design and One URL, but only if it is the best option for a site’s visitors. In many cases, having a customized mobile website is the best option for end users. Here are two of Google’s statements regarding the decision:

  1. Google recommends webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive Web design, namely serving the same HTML for all devices and using only CSS media queries to decide the rendering on each device.
  2. If responsive design is not the best option to serve your users, Google supports serving your content using different HTML. The different HTML can be on the same URL (a setup called dynamic serving) or on different URLs, and Googlebot can handle both setups appropriately if you follow our setup recommendations.

So yes, Google supports responsive design for mobile websites, but they also support separate HTML and different URLs. At first this looks confusing, but Google is maintaining its position quite well.

Content and User Experience have always been the focus of what Google serves up to searchers. Creating a responsive design website because Google supports it is an option, but if your mobile visitors can’t find what they’re looking for is it really worth it?

The question of whether or not have a specific URL for a mobile website was also covered. The verdict? Having a mobile URL will not affect organic search traffic. Google has even implemented a new method of recognizing which URL is for which device, and sending users to the correct one.

Responsive design may be the most popular and easy way to “mobilize” a website. But as the old saying goes, “What’s right isn’t always popular. What’s popular isn’t always right.”

This article on SearchEngineLand.com gives real world examples of big name companies who have taken the road less traveled: http://searchengineland.com/why-restaurants-and-other-local-businesses-need-mobile-not-responsive-sites-122002

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