Avatar News : Internet Marketing from a Kiwi Perspective

July 2013

Written By: Mark Rocket & Katie O’Neill

Published by: Avatar Ltd

Greetings All,Have you checked the mobile device usage on your site lately?  You can easily find out via Google Analytics in the Audience / Mobile menu. This year we’re noticing a definite trend of increasing mobile device usage on our client’s sites, if your site is averaging more than 5% mobile device usage then it could be time to put responsive web design on your radar.

This month’s article talks about responsive web design and SEO, and ensuring the search engines can find everything they need to put your website at the top of the results page. Plus we have our usual selection of tid bits, sites of interest and more.

Responsive Web Design And SEO

Responsive web design has established itself as a useful new web design practice by creating an improved user experience for a growing mobile device audience. However, it is still in the comparatively early stages of adoption, and its effects on search engine optimisation (SEO) are not completely understood. Recently the picture is becoming clearer, to the extent that Google has made a statement saying that it is their preferred method of developing a mobile website. They cite the use of a single URL and fewer pages to crawl and index as the reason, but Google’s aims and the aspirations of online marketers are not always the same. Therefore a number of SEO experts around the web have been experimenting and testing to see whether responsive web design hurts or harms their SEO efforts. The verdict is that responsive web design can do either, depending on how you utilise it.

Responsive Web Design Negatives

  • Mobile Keywords. Easily the biggest issue with responsive web design for online marketers is that the mobile site and the desktop site become bundled into one, meaning their keywords do too. Mobile users search for specific keywords – often to do with being on the go or looking for immediate information – and these can be targeted on a dedicated mobile site. It can be useful to create mobile specific landing pages to address this issue.
  • Text, Headers and Meta Descriptions. These have to be the same across the board for both mobile and desktop users. Not only does it make it more difficult to target mobile keywords, but in terms of creating a website that is optimised for the user experience you must choose between brevity for the mobile audience and SEO power for the traditional browsers.
  • Changing URLs. This is only of concern to those going from a dedicated mobile site to a comprehensive responsive one, but changing URLs always runs the risk of hurting SEO. Considering setting up 301 redirects rather than annihilating the old mobile site entirely.
  • Indexing. Research so far has indicated that, although you can see slightly different Google results on a mobile device compared to a desktop, mobile-only content is not used to rank or index websites, so if there’s particular key text that only appears to a mobile audience it won’t yet be picked up by Google.

Responsive Web Design Positives

  • Google Loves It. Responsive web design means less for the Google bots to crawl, so they have endorsed it officially as their preferred means of mobile site design. This means that by and large, you don’t need to do anything differently for your SEO including descriptions, meta tags and titles. Google will read them the same for responsive and traditional websites, including dynamic content.
  • Focus Your SEO. Not having a separate mobile website means you don’t have to split your SEO focus – all your efforts go towards raising up one single site in the results page. This can be especially useful for businesses who find their mobile and traditional sites competing for key terms. It also means that when it comes to link building, you only have to submit one URL rather than two.
  • Usability. When a mobile user clicks on a site that isn’t optimised for mobile viewing and instantly goes back to the results page, Google notes it as your website not being relevant to their search. A responsive website avoids this.
  • No Duplicate Content. Google won’t penalise you for having the same content on a mobile and a main site, but it spreads your focus and can direct users to the wrong site. Responsive design means all your content is in the same place.

Responsive web design is still a relatively new development and further research and testing will bring a better understanding for SEO implications. One thing is for certain, it’s a dynamic space and search engines like Google will continue to fine-tune the way they present search results for mobile devices.

Statistic Of The Month

Desktop activity search up 14% year on year. While mobile searchers continue to grow in importance, their desk-bound counterpart is by no means obsolete. In fact, July showed an increase of 14% total searches from the same time last year. This underlines the importance of both a mobile and a traditional site, reaffirming that responsive design is a great option for covering two rapidly expanding markets in one swoop.


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Lock Down Your Facebook. A step by step guide to ensures you only share the information you choose to on the world’s largest social media site.

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Apple Pushes iWatch. Reports indicate that Apple is aggressively hiring new talent to helm the iWatch project – a likely sign that we’ll see something of interest in the next few years.

Sites Of Interest

A selection of sites we’ve worked on recently in web design, WordPress setups and/or web marketing.

The Apiary
A New Zealand producer of top quality honey and honey related food and goods.
The Apiary
Alpine Horse
Providers of an authentic and exciting horseback adventure across the Southern alps.
Alpine Horse

Cartoon Of The Month

Reprinted With Permission

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