Responsive Mobile Website Design is Becoming More Important Than Ever
Fresno, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 06/20/2014 -- With mobile internet users outgrowing desktop users (in some countries) mobile friendly websites are a must.
In the past we have often recommended a solution of a one page mobile friendly website on a subdomain like m.example..com, redirecting all smartphone traffic to that page. It's not the best solution but it was the most affordable solution.
But we have stopped recommending that solution a long time ago as Google has made it so clear that they want each desktop page to have its own mobile counterpart either on a different URL with a redirection or using responsive design where the same URL will serve all devices.
See also: Q: What URL Should I Use For My Mobile Website? A: Responsive Design
Google has been encouraging web masters to create mobile friendly websites following their best practices for years, showing the tremendous advantages of having a mobile friendly website (read: responsive design)
Google's recommendations for building a smart phone website
Google : Why responsive design
How responsive design can prevent page rank loss
Bad Mobile Gets Bad Google Rep
Google has decided to take action against misconfigured mobile sites that do not follow Google's best practices, specifically sites that redirect all internal URLs mobile traffic to home page.
Mobile users will see a warning in Google SERP underneath the URL that redirects mobile users to the home page (not the same URL that the user sees in the SERP). Google had given previous warning this would happen:
"To improve the search experience for smartphone users and address their pain points, we plan to roll out several ranking changes in the near future that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users."
Here is how the ranking changes they have made look like:
search result redirect
How To Find Out If the Site Is Affected By This Change?
Visit Google home page using the smartphone and type in site:yoursite.com and click on any link other than the home page, if the are redirected to the home page then you have the mis-configuration issue that Google is referring to (doesn't mean necessarily sites are affected by the warning yet, we need to follow the next steps to confirm that)
Visit Google home page using the smartphone then search for a keyword where an internal page of the site is ranking for, if we see the warning "May open the site's homepage" then the site is affected by the change. 
Check Google webmaster central smartphone URL errors (Faulty redirect)
I do not think web design companies or SEOs need more reasons to recommend mobile friendly websites to their clients but this is just one more reason for clients to expedite the process of redesigning their websites into smartphone friendly websites following Google's best practices. Responsive design is recommended in almost every post Google does about mobile website design.
Does Responsive Get Ranking Love?
Finally comes the biggest question, is there any preferential treatment for responsive websites in Google Mobile search now? What about the future?
According to Google the answer at least for now is NO however this is very similar to the site speed issue, as super speedy site may not give one a higher rankings in Google results but a slow site can negatively affect the rankings. A responsive design may not give one better ranking but if the site is misconfigured for mobile users the ranking on Google's mobile search could be affected with a warning in the SERP that will reduce the click through rate for sure.
No one can predict what other actions can Google take against misconfigured mobile sites or even desktop only websites in the future but everyone should know that it is time to take actions and make sure that every site site has the best users and search engines mobile experience.
It’s time to say goodbye to design trends which have rightfully gone out of fashion. Web design is always changing, and if one cling to old trends, one ’ll soon find their shop left in the dust.
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