Reading through a number of articles with titles like, "Top 10 SEO tips in 2013" I found most experts are repeating themselves and missing one critical search engine optimisation factor in 2013 - Mobile friendly web design! Considering both Google and Bing have confirmed they will rank mobile friendly sites higher - in mobile search, and a whooping 25% of all searches in 2012 were made from mobile devices, thats a pretty serious oversight.But, there is more to it than just mobile search results.
The number of web enabled mobile devices is more than double that of internet connected desktops. Logically, mobile internet use is growing faster then desktop internet ever did and its predicted to overtake desktop internet use by 2014. Yet, some people still struggle to find a strong correlation between web design and search engine optimisation. Perhaps thats because some make their living from questionable link building methods?
In my humble opinion web design and SEO have always been a part of dynamic duo as clean code and proper markup go a long way in "on site" optimisation. But, in an age when web has literally gone mobile this is true more than ever!
Mobile friendly sites rank higher in mobile search results.
This has already been confirmed by Bing and Google but, thats not all. Even if a web site isn't mobile friendly it can still rank well in mobile search however, 61% of mobile visitors are likely to abandon it and go to competition with a mobile friendly website. It gets worse though because mobile search results aren't the only thing you need to worry about. Here is why:
Mobile users don't want to see a minimised version of a desktop site for very practical reasons; navigation is near impossible and reading the page content requires sharpshooter vision. Consequently, mobile users will simply leave your site and return to search results, and Google will make a note that your site is perhaps not relevant to the search term. Now, if we recall that 25% of all searches are mobile this translates into serious spike in bounce rates and equivalently serious amount of "not relevant" signals sent back to search engines. We could add other factors such as "click through" and "time on site" metrics but these are related to the bounce rate so not worth repeating. End result is the same; Drop in desktop search results.
The missing SEO Tip for 2013? Responsive Web Design
Upgrading to mobile friendly web design, not just recommended but, a critical part of search engine optimisation strategy in 2013 and beyond. And here the choice is simple as both Google and Bing recommend responsive web design as industry best practice.