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FREE online SEO course: Mobile SEO Course with Greg Gifford 

Responsive Site and Content

7 lessons


The Importance of a Responsive Site and Content for your Mobile SEO

Hey, I'm Greg Gifford! In this lesson, the second in the Mobile SEO course, we're going to be talking about the basics of a mobile website, and how those basics are important to Local SEO.

Like I mentioned in the last lesson, Google has switched to its mobile-first index, and that changes the game for mobile SEO. The days of streamlining content on your mobile site are gone – if you want to show up for content, that content has to be on your mobile site.

The type of mobile site you've got is important too. You need your site to play well with the mobile spiders, and you don't want to have to do extra SEO work because of how you've structured your site.

Why a Responsive Site is Better than Dynamic Site Serving and a Separate Site

Google recommends a responsive site – and that's definitely the way to go. If you're not familiar with the term, a responsive site is … responsive.

Boom! Lesson over…

Kidding. With a responsive site, the code is written so that the site structure is fluid – elements will rearrange themselves based on the size of the browser window. It's just one site, but it readjusts its content to look one way on mobile and another on desktop. Since you've only got one set of site files, you don't have to do any additional SEO work.

With dynamic site serving, code on the website server detects the device that's requesting the website and returns the version of the site that's meant for that device size. In other words, if you go to a site on your desktop computer, you see the website built with the desktop version of the site files. If you look at the site on mobile, even though the URLs are the same, the server shows you the site built with the mobile version of the site files.

The other option, which isn't popular anymore, is using a completely separate mobile site, with completely different URLs. Usually, this would mean your mobile site would be on an m. subdomain. Whenever you update content or code, you've got to update things twice – once for desktop and again for mobile.

Most of you will be on a responsive site already – most sites are responsive at this point. Since you've only got one set of site files, mobile SEO is much easier. You won't have to worry about missing content on the mobile version of your site, because the same code is served on every device.

How to Make Your Website Mobile Friendly with Proper Content, Design and Layout

You need to approach site design, layout, and content creation from a different direction, though. Everyone designs their pages for desktop users. Whether we're talking layout, graphics, videos, or content, when business owners or marketers are working on a website, they're thinking about how things look on a laptop or desktop monitor.

But, knowing that the site is responsive, no thought is put into what the page looks like on a smartphone screen. No one ever thinks to look at the new content on a mobile device, because once you know your site is responsive and you know how things will rearrange themselves, thinking about how the pages look on mobile isn't even a blip on your radar.

Check your Google Analytics – almost every site gets more mobile traffic than desktop. For many sites, up to 80% of total website visits happen on mobile devices. And if most of your traffic is coming from mobile users, that means most of your conversions happen on a mobile device.

Switching Your Mindset to Mobile SEO

So, here's what I want to change… bear with me, it's going to sound a little crazy.

Flip the direction in your head. When you're designing content for your site, you should be designing the content for how it looks on mobile screens. You need to truly think mobile first.

Design everything for mobile – test everything on mobile. Instead of doing everything on desktop and basically ignoring mobile, I'm suggesting that you do everything on mobile and basically ignore desktop.

Instead of simply relying on the responsive code to rearrange content for you, learn CSS – it's really not hard at all – so you understand how the responsive code works. Once you've got the page rocking on mobile, do a little more work to control how it looks on desktop. If you know the responsive CSS codes, it's easy to influence how things will be rearranged for desktop users, so you can optimize that experience as well.

Responsive Site and Mobile Content: Lesson Summary

So, that's it for lesson 2 of the Mobile SEO course, we hope you learned something awesome. If you've got any questions, feel free to tweet them to me directly at @greggifford, or the awesome team of pros over at the SEMrush academy at @semrushacademy.

Don't forget to check out the next lesson on the technical side of Mobile SEO, and when you think you're ready, head over to the SEMrush Academy page and take the test for this course so you can get officially SEMrush certified.