(This is the transcript from our new video so it may not read as well as a normal blog post would)
Hello. Today we’re going to be talking about mobile configurations. There are three types of mobile configurations — responsive web design, dynamic serving, and separate URLs. I’m going to be taking you through all of these, explaining what they are and the main pros and cons of each mobile configuration.
So first you have responsive web design. Responsive web design keeps the same HTML code and URL as the desktop website. The only difference is how the website actually looks. This is done by media queries, which have to render the page differently, and by a viewport, which sizes the page down to the device’s screen.
So the main pros are authority consolidation. As a responsive website is on the same URL, any link juice that is passed to that URL doesn’t have to be then passed on again to the desktop equivalent, as you realise later on with separate URLs. It’s all consolidated on just the one URL. As it’s one HTML file, there’s not multiple versions, it is easier to maintain. A con is limited limitation to differ offering. If based on your research you’ve realised that your mobile user search is different to your desktop user, responsive web design doesn’t actually allow you to differ the offerings. So if you actually need to target different keywords on your mobile site as you would to your desktop site, responsive web design doesn’t allow this.
Dynamic serving. Dynamic serving serves content on the same URL but with different HTML. This is done by a Vary HTTP header. This helps detect the user agent. Dependent on the user agent is dependent on what content is being served. So if a mobile user was to visit a website, they will be served the mobile content and vice versa with desktop.
So again, like responsive web design, you have authority consolidation. Again, as it’s on the same URL, all the link juice that’s passed through to the URL stays on one URL. No duplicate content concerns. This is the same as responsive web design, but as the HTML changes, this obviously could be a concern. So no duplicate content concerns. As we are on the same URL, again Google and crawlers alike are aware that you’re not duplicating the content across your website. This is on just the one page.
Then, the con is two implementations needed. As I mentioned, the HTML does change. So you’ve got different files for different devices that you need to maintain. As with responsive web design, you have the one file, with dynamic serving you have the two.
Separate URLs. Separate URLs are separate HTML files and URLs. So this is often done on a subdomain or directory level, quite often subdomain. So you’re serving different content on a different URL, dependent on the device that is viewing the website. So if a mobile user was to visit a domain, a desktop domain, say for example Next do, something similar, if a mobile user was to visit Next’s website, they, in theory, should be redirected to their mobile website. That doesn’t happen, but that’s what should be the case.
The pros with separate URLs, the main pro is the ability to differ offering. Because it is a separate HTML, you’re able to target different keywords. Similar to what I have mentioned up here, if you’ve found that your mobile user searches differently to your desktop user, then you may want to target different keywords to target that specific type of user.
One of the big concerns for separate URLs is duplicate content. With separate URLs, you have rel=alternate, which notifies crawlers like Google that there is a mobile alternate to a desktop page. You have that on the desktop page of a website, and on the mobile equivalent of that desktop page you need to have a canonical tag. The canonical tag will tell Google that any link juice, any content on this page should be passed back through to the desktop equivalent, and this would remove the duplicate content concerns. Quite often this is quite a common case with websites that use separate URLs, and it can often be forgotten.
So these are your main mobile configurations. If you’d like more information on these or assistance in getting your site mobile friendly, then please contact us today. Thank you.
There seems to me to be more cons to RWD than just limited ability to differentiate offers. A big one to me is that you’re downloading a lot of stuff to mobile that is never displayed, making the page load much more slowly. We also find that RWD is not that much easier to maintain, at least not well. Any time new content is added, it needs to be checked in both desktop and mobile environments, and most of the time ends up needing to be tweaked to ensure that it displays well and as expected in both environments.
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