Design is a crucial aspect of a website, and your design choices will not only influence the user experience — they can also affect your SEO experience.
In 2016, Google announced it was changing to mobile-first indexing (MFI) approach. As the number of users searching on a mobile device had surpassed the desktop searches, the search engine company decided that their ranking systems would start evaluating a page by the version presented to a mobile searcher. Research by Google has shown that more than 50% of users won’t purchase from a brand with a poorly designed mobile site.
Since then, responsive design became a critical SEO and usability strategies. A responsive design automatically adapts pages to different devices. So the content for desktop and mobile remains the same. The old-school alternative is an m.site, which is a mobile-dedicated website, independent of the desktop version.
Google has made it clear that responsive websites are a better alternative. There has been enough time for websites to adapt to Google’s MFI. Those who haven’t are suffering now. JR Oakes, Senior Director and Technical SEO Research at Adapt Partners, just noticed on Twitter last week that Saks Fifth Avenue’s indexing has been switched by Google to the m.site.
The result? Search page results are using the mobile website as the landing page, even for desktop — a terrible experience to users. It is not something the brand can afford to ignore, especially two weeks before Black Friday.
There is a lesson here that all brands can learn — other than you should hire SEO experts: design matters to your customer experience and also to the possibility of customers finding you. Saks can solve its problem by killing its m.site and adopting responsive design, but the Black Friday will be long gone by then.