Responsive design gets an unfair beating sometimes. As a site dedicated to helping you with responsive design I felt the need to look at some of the articles that have been written specifically around the SEO side of things and fairly* provide an overall understanding of the issues raised.
Over the course of the week I seek out and find as many responsive design mentions, articles, tweets, tutorials… anything that could be of interest. I read through each of them and spend time curating the best into a weekly email and into the news section of this site.
I thought this was pretty reasonable but I was sure that there would be a rebuttal. I was right and it was followed up with this comment:
I thought the author of the article had missed my point so I deconstructed the comment reply and responded to each of the areas on their own. Unfortunately I must have breached the commenting guidelines because the comment has been removed, so I wanted to cover it off here (Just for clarity I’m assuming the website owner removed the comment and not the author of the article).
Unpublished response to the false statement
So you think I’m intentionally pushing principles I don’t believe in to get more inbound links to a site I don’t own or get paid to work for? Seriously?
No. I believe that the article contains a more sensationalised headline than is warranted for the content.
Matt Cutts was asked if there are any SEO drawbacks to using responsive design and he did not mention potential SEO drawbacks.
There are, in fact, no SEO drawbacks in using responsive design.
If I asked you if anyone has been president of the United States and you neglected to mention any of the 44 people who have held that office in the past, your answer would be wrong.
I’m not sure what relevance is in this statement, can you clarify what you mean?
By not mentioning responsive sites’ tendency to not use relevant keywords and responsive sites’ inability to address a user’s context (as being on a mobile device) to provide more useful content, Matt Cutts gave a wrong answer.
If the question was “If I want to target mobile specific keywords and desktop specific keywords, but I want to use the responsive design so there is a single source of content, am I going to have any issues” then I’m sure Matt would have outlined there would be some issues competing against some targeting mobile keywords only.
And do you really think all that’s necessary to rank for a competitive term is to use it once on your page? Have you seen the search results?
At this point you’re beginning to sound antagonistic. That never helps any discussion.
Tightly-themed content wins this race, as it is more relevant, and is more difficult for responsive sites to get right.
Absolutely. A. Micro site specifically targeting dog walking services for every species of dog is sure to work better than a standard dog walking site, providing that the audience is searching for “Labrador walking” and not just “dog walking”.
Also, I really would like to hear how responsive sites can address a mobile user’s context in the same way that Lowe’s and Sears have in the examples above without using RESS or some other type of dynamic serving, which Google doesn’t prefer.
If you can explain to me what a “mobile users” context is across every online experience then please do. You will leapfrog Matt in Internet popularity..
If you can, I seriously would reconsider my stance against using responsive web design in all cases.
Responsive web design is currently the best approach we have in our industry for the majority of web experiences. It is not the golden egg that wins out every time, but I have found it to be the preferred approach in the majority of cases. The web is fluid. Websites are varied. People’s experiences and expectations are never the same. If you build a website that meets your users needs, across every device they access it from, then it will triumph.
The original author has posted a reply to my now missing disqus comment. Just incase his comment is also removed I’ve copied and pasted it below for you to read his response.
*If you believe that at any point I’m not being fair please let me know in the comments. I will publish them and update the article based on any feedback.