Responsive Web Design and Google’s Mobile SEO Preference
During the Search Marketing Expo Advanced in Seattle, Pierre Far – Webmaster Trends Analyst from Google spoke about the general guidelines for webmasters and provided a set of recommendations for mobile-oriented sites. Among the latter one can differentiate: clear understanding of mobile and laptop users’ preferences; ability for mobile users to visit mobile home pages of the site which will contain a direct link to the full site; site developers shouldn’t block their pages with robots.txt; availability of virtual and printed ads for general use; double-checked information offered by SEO advisers etc.
And while the generally perceived main message appeared to be a rallying call to use the responsive Web design (i.e. not changing the HTML for different devices and relying on CSS Media queries to settle on rendering on each particular device), the actual statement was far less restrictive. Google representative noted that sometimes responsive design might not be the optimal way to serve the target user and that this was, as a matter of fact, a viable alternative under certain circumstances. Different devices often represent different search behaviors – while searching from laptop and smartphones one can (and indeed often does) serve diverse purposes. And in such case responsive design tends to provide either completely superfluous information or complicate the acquisition of required content. Google’s announcement echoed the sentiment that it is okay to use the mobile URLs for mobile sites, however the use of a canonical tag in this space still remains an issue. It has been confirmed that one should not block Googlebot from mobile sites and alternatively smatrhpone Googlebot from desktop sites respectively – this causes no confusion and does not prevent it from correct ranking and indexing.
Ultimately, Google provided a general guidance for webmasters, advising them to be aware of the intended user experience and leaving the implementation of responsive web design to them, based on each particular case