In the first quarter of 2017, mobile devices, for the first time accounted for more than 50% of total web traffic. Since then, mobile share of total web traffic has been hovering consistently around the 50% mark, with the latest figures from third quarter 2020, putting it at 50.81% (Source: Statista).
Given this rising prominence of mobile web traffic, it became increasingly important for websites to be mobile friendly. And in their quest to build good mobile friendly websites, some web developers opted for redirecting users on mobile devices to subdomains housing standalone m-dot type mobile sites. Others went for adaptive design, where the screen size is first determined before the most appropriate layout is loaded. A third group advocated the use of mobile responsive web design where the content and layout adjusts accordingly to users’ screen size. For the average website owner, these three choices often left them confused as to the right approach to adopt, to meet the needs of their mobile web visitors.
Google Mobile First Indexing Announcement
Then in 2016, Google announced their intention to move towards mobile first indexing. Until that point, Google had always been adopting a desktop first method when building their index. The announcement thus represented a major change in their approach towards indexing and ranking of websites and the SEO world rightly took heed. The advice Google had given then (and which still holds true today) was to ensure that the content in the mobile version of a website is identical to that of the desktop version. This announcement then became the final nail in the coffin for those using m-dot type mobile sites, which are often scaled down version of their desktop counterpart. And of the two remaining formats (ie adaptive vs responsive design) Google recommended the latter. Since then, mobile responsive designs have taken the front seat and looks to be the format of choice for web designs the world over.
Why Does Google Recommends Responsive Web Design?
According to their documentation at Google search central, the basis of Google’s recommendation is the ease of implementation and maintenance. And this is indeed good news for the average website owner. Because mobile responsive websites are much easier and less time consuming to build, the cost of web development is usually lower when compared to m-dots or adaptive designs. Web maintenance work is likewise reduced as there is only one set of codes and one site to maintain, resulting in lower web maintenance cost for website owners as well.
Better still, those on a tight budget and without technical knowledge can easily use WordPress togther with a mobile responsive theme to build their own website. And this website will meet all of Google’s requirements for a mobile friendly site.
What You Need to Know
If you are engaging a web designer to build a new website, it’s important you check with him that the website he provides is mobile responsive. The advantages are many folds. In addition to it being less costly to build and easier to maintain, it is Google’s recommended choice when preparing for mobile first indexing. It meet’s Google’s requirements for a mobile friendly website and mobile friendliness is a Google ranking factor. And moving forward, mobile friendliness, together with HTTPS encryption, safe browsing, absence of intrusive interstitials as well as core web vitals, will collectively form the metrics used by Google for the Page Experience update come May 2021 .