For the longest time, design and search engine optimization (SEO) were two completely separate entities where neither one affected the other. Now, it seems that Google has played match-maker and the two are destined to be together forever. The question isâ€¦ why?
Before we jump into why exactly these two concepts are now directly related, we need to first understand what Google is trying to provide for its users. Google's number one goal is to provide to most authoritative and reliable search results that best match the user's intent.
Now, you ask, what certain things does Google look out for?
If you aren't trying to offer the highest quality content for your users, you need to rethink your strategy. The fact that some people still try and utilize black hat methods in order to rank websites effectively is absurd. Mindlessly putting up content that doesn't provide real value to your users isn't going to get you anywhere. Quit focusing on quantity, and start focusing on quality.
Google isn't going to rank a brand new website just because you optimized your site correctly. For example, just because there is a new kid at school with all of the new, coolest clothes, you aren't going to believe him when he says pigs can fly. However, if that kid has a bunch of references proving what he is saying is true, you might be a little more likely to believe him.
Google works the same way. You need to have authority websites, within the same niche, pointing links back to your site as a reference. This tells Google there are other industry leaders who value your content, services, and all the like, and that you actually know what you're talking about (check out this infographic on building a brand).
This is one aspect a lot of SEOs overlook. Let's say you are providing the best content around, you have a bunch of authority links pointing to your site, but all of your content is displayed in a way that is hard to read, or isn't viewable on whatever device someone is using? What if the site takes too long to load and the user grows impatient and decides to leave? What if the user can't easily navigate to the information they are seeking?
All of these aspects are critical to SEO. If you aren't providing a user experience that makes it easy and reliable to use, then why would Google want to provide your website as a top result? That's like cooking all this great food for a party, and then putting it some place where no one can find it.
So, where does Responsive Design tie in?
The last aspect mentioned in Google's criteria for a quality website was user experience. Before we dive in, take a look at this screen shot taken from Google in regards to their recommendations for mobile-optimized sites.
Note, in bold, Google states "This is Google's recommended configuration." Now, Google has always been somewhat grey when it comes to exact implementation of certain techniques, so when they state, in bold, their recommendations, we should all take that pretty seriously.
Let's get to reasoning behind this. By providing an experience where your website can be viewed on any device, you are ensuring that your users are always viewing your content optimally. No matter if they are using an iPhone, Blackberry, tablet, or any other device, the content will be served perfectly.
Again, this tells Google you took the time to make sure you are trying to provide the best experience possible, and Google will certainly give you kudos for doing so.
Let's Face Reality
Are you going to implement responsive design and immediately jump to the 1st spot on Google for your targeted keyword? No. Implementing responsive design is just one aspect to providing the overall experience. Therefore, this should be on your checklist of things to do when forming your strategy.
To be effective overall, you will need to make sure to spend time on every aspect of SEO. If we could all focus on just one aspect, then being an SEO wouldn't be any fun.
Published on behalf of Mr. Cullie Burris. He is the Director of Internet Marketing for Southern Web Group, a web design and Internet marketing company based in Atlanta, GA. Aside from developing custom Internet marketing strategies for his clients, Cullie coaches a youth baseball team and loves to attend live concerts.