Responsive design might seem like just the latest buzzword in the world of web design, but it's a trend that e-commerce sites avoid at their peril. Most proponents of responsive design explain that it's important for giving mobile users the best experience of your site, but that's not the only reason for adopting this web design practice. Responsive design can have a big impact on SEO, which affects your site's performance even among desktop users.
How Responsive Design Affects SEO
The Benefits of a Single Responsive Site
Having a single responsive site, rather than separate desktop and mobile sites, improves your brand's authority and presence in search engine results. When you use a single responsive e-commerce site, every effort that you put into design or content development has the potential to improve your standing in both desktop and mobile search results. In contrast, having two separate sites with different URLs forces you to split your efforts.
For example, when you use responsive design, all backlinks contribute to your core SEO strategy. But when you have separate sites, some backlinks point to your mobile site while others point to your desktop site; thus, neither site receives the full benefit of your backlinks. Similarly, with responsive design you can focus on building social shares for a single domain, rather than for two separate ones. And responsive design makes content more shareable, as the same URL can display content effectively on any kind of device.
Responsive Design Reduces Bounce Rates
Google and Bing both use bounce rates as an indicator of the usefulness of your site. Pages with high bounce rates slip down the search engine results pages into obscurity, which means a high bounce rate could cost your e-commerce business a lot of revenue. If you don't design your main site to be usable on all types of devices, including mobile devices and tablets, search engine users will click on the link to your site, see that it fails to display properly, and then immediately reach for the back button, leaving you with a dangerously high bounce rate.
With mobile devices and desktops accounting for roughly equal amounts of traffic to retail websites, the only way to avoid a high bounce rate is to design a site that displays correctly and offers good functionality on any kind of device. Both tablets and smartphones are important sources of mobile traffic to e-commerce sites, with visitors using both iOS and Android devices to connect. Adopting responsive design principles is an essential step to take to protect your search rankings. You should also test your e-commerce site on as many different devices as possible to ensure that all users get the best possible experience.
How Responsive Design Affects Conversion Rates
Once you have moved your site up to the top of the search engine results, you need to make the most of that position. Too many shoppers abandon shopping sessions on e-commerce sites because the checkout process is too awkward. In addition to making your site's landing pages responsive, you need to optimize the checkout process to meet the needs of both mobile and desktop users.
Responsive Design and Your Bottom Line
In summary, you cannot afford to ignore responsive design on your e-commerce site. Designing your site with both mobile and desktop users in mind not only improves the experience of both sets of users, but also strengthens your SEO strategy. And when you consider the beneficial effects of responsive design on conversion rates, it's clear that responsive design is essential for the bottom line of your business.