I’ve been saying for a while now that all sites, to remain competitive, must be mobile-friendly. Of course, that would always spark debate over which is best: responsive design or separate mobile site.
As usual, the real answer probably starts with, “Well, it depends . . .”
There are pros and cons to both sides. For instance, a responsive site loads all the code for a desktop view even when viewed on a mobile or tablet. That can mean slower loading time for mobile users. And mobile users don’t wait around long for a site to load.Then again, there are added design and development costs.
On the other side, having a separate mobile version of your site means duplicate effort to maintain a consistent message. It costs a lot more to manage your message across multiple devices and not drop the ball. There’s also effort required to prevent Google from penalizing duplicate content. But you can tailor content and functionality to give mobile users a better experience.
Google has stepped in on this conversation and has given us their answer: “Well, it depends . . .”
Actually, Google says that responsive design is preferable. But they quickly add that, if that’s not the best way to deliver valuable content to your audience, a separate mobile site is fine too. There are just more hoops to jump through to do it correctly.
If responsive design is not the best option to serve your users, Google supports having your content being served using different HTML.
But if you use separate sites, don’t forget Google’s warning:
. . . Googlebot can handle both setups appropriately if you follow our recommendations.
The bottom line, as always, is to provide the best possible content and experience for your users. Getting there starts with solid content strategy and planning. And because your site visitors are mobile, your site should be as well . . . regardless of how you get there.