Does Responsive Web Design Improve Conversion Rate?

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Our Austin web design team endorses responsive web design practices for building mobile sites, and for good reason. For one thing, responsive design allows brands to create mobile sites that are equal in quality to their primary desktop websites. This presents the audience with a better impression of the brand, thereby optimizing both sites for conversion. However, there is something that brands must be aware of when it comes to responsive web design: It does not guarantee better SEO rankings.

How Responsive Web Design Helps SEO

If that comes as a surprise, it is because there has been so much industry praise for this relatively new web design practice. So let’s be clear: It is true that responsive web design helps to prevent rankings from being penalized, in that it allows brands to register both their mobile and desktop sites to a single URL to prevent duplicate content. As marketers know, duplicate content is bad for SEO. So in that sense, responsive design prevents a practice that hurts a brand’s rankings.

How Responsive Web Design Does Not Help SEO

But Google’s John Mueller recently reminded users that responsive web design does not in itself give anyone a rankings boost. Posting in a thread on Stack Exchange, Mueller acknowledged that Google does penalize mobile sites if they were not designed to be mobile friendly. In many cases, the penalized sites are not created with responsive web design. But on the subject of responsive design guaranteeing a rankings boost, Mueller specified, “No. Google currently doesn’t differentiate sites like that.”

Google Insight on Responsive Web Design

He elaborated, “You may see indirect effects (smartphone users liking your responsive site and recommending it to others), but we don’t use that as a ranking factor. We are starting to use common configuration errors to adjust the rankings in smartphone search results, though.” So while Google has officially recommended responsive web design as the best way to create mobile sites, the company is adamant that no one should expect a rankings “reward” for using it.

The Good News about Conversion Optimization

The good news is that SEO is not the only practice that optimizes a website for conversions. Brands can also improve conversion rate by creating a mobile site that is the same high quality as the primary desktop site. This matters more than ever now, for the following reasons:

  • 61% of users will leave a mobile site if it is not properly optimized for mobile use.
  • 48% of users claim that a bad mobile experience leads them to feel like the company does not care about earning their business.
  • 67% of users are more likely to make a purchase if a site is mobile friendly.

By optimizing your mobile site, you are in effect optimizing all your web properties for conversion.Responsive web design is still the best way to do that. To speak with an Austin web design firm that understands responsive design, contact the professionals at Crest Media.


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