As you may know, a website using responsive design (click to find out more) works well on whatever device it's being viewed on because it responds to the screen size of the device. This is in contrast with adaptive website design, which most people know as a "mobile version" of a website. With a mobile version, you're switching to another version of your website based on the type of device being used or only when the screen size is at its smallest.
Google likes responsive because it's the same URL (website address) and same design across all devices. This makes for the best user experience.
The disadvantages of adaptive website design is that you're serving up the mobile version based on the device. The URL might change and you will need to keep track of all the devices coming out and make sure that you're maintaining your list of which devices see which version.
Sometimes a different mobile version makes sense, but not too often. The standard in the industry now is responsive website design. Shortly, it'll just be know as "website design" since you really don't want to create a website the old way anymore - we don't.
Going with out "Think Like Google" mantra, if a search originates on a mobile device, you want to show results that look good on that device. That makes total sense. Websites that use a mobile / responsive design are going to rank higher. If you're the only one in your industry using responsive, then you've struck gold because more and more traffic now comes from mobile than ever before. That number will only increase. You've essentially put your company or organization at the top and everyone else is playing catch up... so, nice work!
I've wrote all of that before. So far, this shouldn't be news to anyone.
Today, I found an article that added to this. It's something I haven't really thought of yet:
Panda Has a Smartphone – Here Are 7 Things You Can Do to Test It Now (searchenginewatch.com)
So, if Google’s Panda algorithm is measuring user experience, and your site gets 50 percent of its visits from mobile, then that means 50 percent of those Panda metrics are from mobile users. I’ll give you a second to read that last line again. Yes, half of the data Google has access to while analyzing your site from a Panda standpoint would be from mobile users.
Did that make sense?
It's saying that Google looks at your entire website's profile. It looks at all the ways people get to your website. Maybe it's 30% mobile or more. They then measure things like if people stay on your website (bounce rate). If people get there and then leave right away, that's bad and it's being measured. They might be leaving because it's too difficult to read on their device. If they have to zoom in and scroll a lot, it's just not worth looking at.
Keep in mind that Google wants to provide the absolute best results to people doing searches (your customers)... again, the "Think Like Google" mantra we use.
So let's put aside mobile vs. desktop for a second... if Google sees your website and sees that many people are leaving right away after Google sends them there, then that's an indicator that your website might not be the best result.
Google isn't saying, "People are leaving that website when they view it on their mobile devices but the website isn't optimized for mobile, so that's ok. We'll let it pass."
They're saying something more like, "People are leaving that website when it's visited. That's not cool. It's a bad result. Let's not show it so often and show better results to our users."
If website traffic matters to your business, you need to redesign your website using responsive website design to better serve your website visitors. Do that and Google will reward you. Plus, if you do it ahead of your competition, you could be ranking higher than them until they catch up. Would you rather grab that traffic or be the one playing catch up to your competition?