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7 Top SEO Benefits Of Responsive Web Design

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7 Top SEO Benefits Of Responsive Web Design

“Responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern.”

The responsiveness of your website is unequivocally an important factor in improving user experience and avoiding common SEO pitfalls that can hinder your Google rankings.

And while responsive web design is not a confirmed ranking factor, Google has implied its importance on multiple occasions.

But how to create a responsive website – structurally and visually – is a practice that alludes to many marketers and designers alike.

The good news is that there are detailed steps to improving the responsiveness of your website.

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Let’s start now.

Here are seven ways having a responsive website benefits your SEO strategy, as well as some tips on how to make your site more user-friendly.

What Is “Responsive Web Design”?

Responsive Web Design (RWD) involves creating web pages that render well across a variety of devices and screen sizes.

In this way, web designers are able to create a website experience that accommodates the many different ways users access and interact with websites.

Mobile traffic accounts for nearly half of all web traffic, globally.

This means it is essential for website owners to have websites that are accessible and easy to navigate, even on a small screen (such as a tablet or smartphone).

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Why You Need A Responsive Website

Many website owners have been slow to adopt responsive web design, despite the slew of published statistics that show responsiveness produces a better user experience.

Considering that 61% of users will never return to a website that’s not mobile-friendly, the adoption of a responsive environment seems like a no-brainer.

This fact alone should be a good reason for website owners to prioritize the user web experience and opt for a more responsive design.

1. Google Prioritizes Mobile-First

It’s no secret that Google has moved toward a “mobile-first” approach in recent years.

With more users searching from mobile devices than ever before, it’s become increasingly important for websites to be easily rendered on any device.

Google aims to provide valuable and accessible content to users.

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The algorithm is most inclined to rank a site that fits the bill – by being responsive and user-friendly.

Google favors websites that are optimized for mobile devices and have adopted a mobile responsive web design.

2. Improved Usability

Time on Page can be an important indication of whether your content matches what the user is searching for and whether they’ve had a positive experience on your site.

The reasoning is that if a user is unsatisfied by your content (or, in this case, your website experience), then they are unlikely to stick around.

Responsive web design makes websites more accessible, fast, and easier to navigate.

It makes it easier for users to then find the information they are looking for and typically encourages them to stay on your site.

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Plus, fantastic usability may encourage users to come back to your website in the future.

And not only are users staying on your site for longer, but they are far more likely to turn into paying customers or subscribers.

3. Better Customer Experience

Google is primarily concerned with keeping users happy by showing them the content they are most interested in.

Create a user-focused experience, and Google is likely to reward you with higher rankings in the search results.

Responsive web design is essential in creating a positive experience for users.

Happy users are more likely to turn into subscribers, leads, and paying customers.

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Having a responsive website is one of many ways to ensure users have a positive experience on your site.

4. Improved Page Speed

Page speed is another factor that greatly impacts your SEO and, in turn, your rankings in Search.

How quickly your website loads can make or break a user’s experience with your site.

Then, it’s no surprise that your website should be optimized to load quickly and without hiccups.

Mobile responsive websites load faster on both mobile and desktop devices.

Optimize your page speed for more traffic and conversions on your website.

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5. Lower Bounce Rate

Bounce rate refers to how quickly users visit and then immediately leave your website.

This metric can be an indication of whether your site satisfies the user’s search.

A high bounce rate may also hint that your website didn’t load quickly or didn’t provide the positive experience users were looking for.

The result may then be an increase in your bounce rate and even a drop in your rankings for that search query.

It doesn’t just come down to content, though.

Your content may be fantastic, but if your web design makes it difficult for users to navigate the site, users will drop off and look for information elsewhere.

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6. Avoid Duplicate Content

When you prioritize the responsiveness of your website, you necessarily start to pay attention to your site’s content and UX overall.

And while responsive web design is not necessarily the mechanism by which duplicate content is prevented, it can often help you catch this common pitfall.

When building or redesigning your site, it’s easy to accidentally create two versions of your website – one mobile and one desktop – which can lead to duplicate content issues.

Though the two URLs may be different, the content is often the same, and this can confuse Google as to what content to prioritize.

Responsive web design best practices emphasize creating a single, mobile-responsive version of your website.

This can help prevent URL duplication across two versions of your site.

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At the same time, it’s important to keep your eye out for other duplicate content issues.

7. More Social Shares

When users like your content, they’re more likely to share it with their friends.

Having a responsive website makes it easy for users to engage with your site, thoroughly enjoy your content, and then share it on social media.

Many RWD designers build sites with social sharing capabilities in mind to make it easy for users to share your content far and wide.

Though social shares don’t directly impact rankings, they do help you grow your audience online.

More social traffic means more users visiting your site, which could mean even more customers or subscribers for your business.

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Additionally, a great social media presence can drum up more visibility for your website.

With easy-to-use social share buttons, your mobile-ready site will encourage users to share your content, reaching a much wider audience.

Offer Users A Fast, Friendly Mobile Experience

Establishing a mobile-friendly strategy as the base of your website design (or redesign) will set your site up for success.

A responsive design puts users first, makes it easy for them to engage with your site, and gives the “thumbs up” to Google that your site is built for search on any device.

Planning your web design from the get-go will also help you establish a fully optimized structure that’s easily accessible on any device.

Having a solid framework from the beginning will help set your website up for SEO success.

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Is your site mobile-ready? It’s time to step it up with a responsive, user-friendly design.

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Measuring Content Impact Across The Customer Journey

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Measuring Content Impact Across The Customer Journey

Understanding the impact of your content at every touchpoint of the customer journey is essential – but that’s easier said than done. From attracting potential leads to nurturing them into loyal customers, there are many touchpoints to look into.

So how do you identify and take advantage of these opportunities for growth?

Watch this on-demand webinar and learn a comprehensive approach for measuring the value of your content initiatives, so you can optimize resource allocation for maximum impact.

You’ll learn:

  • Fresh methods for measuring your content’s impact.
  • Fascinating insights using first-touch attribution, and how it differs from the usual last-touch perspective.
  • Ways to persuade decision-makers to invest in more content by showcasing its value convincingly.

With Bill Franklin and Oliver Tani of DAC Group, we unravel the nuances of attribution modeling, emphasizing the significance of layering first-touch and last-touch attribution within your measurement strategy. 

Check out these insights to help you craft compelling content tailored to each stage, using an approach rooted in first-hand experience to ensure your content resonates.

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Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or new to content measurement, this webinar promises valuable insights and actionable tactics to elevate your SEO game and optimize your content initiatives for success. 

View the slides below or check out the full webinar for all the details.

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How to Find and Use Competitor Keywords

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How to Find and Use Competitor Keywords

Competitor keywords are the keywords your rivals rank for in Google’s search results. They may rank organically or pay for Google Ads to rank in the paid results.

Knowing your competitors’ keywords is the easiest form of keyword research. If your competitors rank for or target particular keywords, it might be worth it for you to target them, too.

There is no way to see your competitors’ keywords without a tool like Ahrefs, which has a database of keywords and the sites that rank for them. As far as we know, Ahrefs has the biggest database of these keywords.

How to find all the keywords your competitor ranks for

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
  2. Enter your competitor’s domain
  3. Go to the Organic keywords report

The report is sorted by traffic to show you the keywords sending your competitor the most visits. For example, Mailchimp gets most of its organic traffic from the keyword “mailchimp.”

Mailchimp gets most of its organic traffic from the keyword, “mailchimp”.Mailchimp gets most of its organic traffic from the keyword, “mailchimp”.

Since you’re unlikely to rank for your competitor’s brand, you might want to exclude branded keywords from the report. You can do this by adding a Keyword > Doesn’t contain filter. In this example, we’ll filter out keywords containing “mailchimp” or any potential misspellings:

Filtering out branded keywords in Organic keywords reportFiltering out branded keywords in Organic keywords report

If you’re a new brand competing with one that’s established, you might also want to look for popular low-difficulty keywords. You can do this by setting the Volume filter to a minimum of 500 and the KD filter to a maximum of 10.

Finding popular, low-difficulty keywords in Organic keywordsFinding popular, low-difficulty keywords in Organic keywords

How to find keywords your competitor ranks for, but you don’t

  1. Go to Competitive Analysis
  2. Enter your domain in the This target doesn’t rank for section
  3. Enter your competitor’s domain in the But these competitors do section
Competitive analysis reportCompetitive analysis report

Hit “Show keyword opportunities,” and you’ll see all the keywords your competitor ranks for, but you don’t.

Content gap reportContent gap report

You can also add a Volume and KD filter to find popular, low-difficulty keywords in this report.

Volume and KD filter in Content gapVolume and KD filter in Content gap

How to find keywords multiple competitors rank for, but you don’t

  1. Go to Competitive Analysis
  2. Enter your domain in the This target doesn’t rank for section
  3. Enter the domains of multiple competitors in the But these competitors do section
Competitive analysis report with multiple competitorsCompetitive analysis report with multiple competitors

You’ll see all the keywords that at least one of these competitors ranks for, but you don’t.

Content gap report with multiple competitorsContent gap report with multiple competitors

You can also narrow the list down to keywords that all competitors rank for. Click on the Competitors’ positions filter and choose All 3 competitors:

Selecting all 3 competitors to see keywords all 3 competitors rank forSelecting all 3 competitors to see keywords all 3 competitors rank for
  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
  2. Enter your competitor’s domain
  3. Go to the Paid keywords report
Paid keywords reportPaid keywords report

This report shows you the keywords your competitors are targeting via Google Ads.

Since your competitor is paying for traffic from these keywords, it may indicate that they’re profitable for them—and could be for you, too.

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You know what keywords your competitors are ranking for or bidding on. But what do you do with them? There are basically three options.

1. Create pages to target these keywords

You can only rank for keywords if you have content about them. So, the most straightforward thing you can do for competitors’ keywords you want to rank for is to create pages to target them.

However, before you do this, it’s worth clustering your competitor’s keywords by Parent Topic. This will group keywords that mean the same or similar things so you can target them all with one page.

Here’s how to do that:

  1. Export your competitor’s keywords, either from the Organic Keywords or Content Gap report
  2. Paste them into Keywords Explorer
  3. Click the “Clusters by Parent Topic” tab
Clustering keywords by Parent TopicClustering keywords by Parent Topic

For example, MailChimp ranks for keywords like “what is digital marketing” and “digital marketing definition.” These and many others get clustered under the Parent Topic of “digital marketing” because people searching for them are all looking for the same thing: a definition of digital marketing. You only need to create one page to potentially rank for all these keywords.

Keywords under the cluster of "digital marketing"Keywords under the cluster of "digital marketing"

2. Optimize existing content by filling subtopics

You don’t always need to create new content to rank for competitors’ keywords. Sometimes, you can optimize the content you already have to rank for them.

How do you know which keywords you can do this for? Try this:

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  1. Export your competitor’s keywords
  2. Paste them into Keywords Explorer
  3. Click the “Clusters by Parent Topic” tab
  4. Look for Parent Topics you already have content about

For example, if we analyze our competitor, we can see that seven keywords they rank for fall under the Parent Topic of “press release template.”

Our competitor ranks for seven keywords that fall under the "press release template" clusterOur competitor ranks for seven keywords that fall under the "press release template" cluster

If we search our site, we see that we already have a page about this topic.

Site search finds that we already have a blog post on press release templatesSite search finds that we already have a blog post on press release templates

If we click the caret and check the keywords in the cluster, we see keywords like “press release example” and “press release format.”

Keywords under the cluster of "press release template"Keywords under the cluster of "press release template"

To rank for the keywords in the cluster, we can probably optimize the page we already have by adding sections about the subtopics of “press release examples” and “press release format.”

3. Target these keywords with Google Ads

Paid keywords are the simplest—look through the report and see if there are any relevant keywords you might want to target, too.

For example, Mailchimp is bidding for the keyword “how to create a newsletter.”

Mailchimp is bidding for the keyword “how to create a newsletter”Mailchimp is bidding for the keyword “how to create a newsletter”

If you’re ConvertKit, you may also want to target this keyword since it’s relevant.

If you decide to target the same keyword via Google Ads, you can hover over the magnifying glass to see the ads your competitor is using.

Mailchimp's Google Ad for the keyword “how to create a newsletter”Mailchimp's Google Ad for the keyword “how to create a newsletter”

You can also see the landing page your competitor directs ad traffic to under the URL column.

The landing page Mailchimp is directing traffic to for “how to create a newsletter”The landing page Mailchimp is directing traffic to for “how to create a newsletter”

Learn more

Check out more tutorials on how to do competitor keyword analysis:

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Google Confirms Links Are Not That Important

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Google confirms that links are not that important anymore

Google’s Gary Illyes confirmed at a recent search marketing conference that Google needs very few links, adding to the growing body of evidence that publishers need to focus on other factors. Gary tweeted confirmation that he indeed say those words.

Background Of Links For Ranking

Links were discovered in the late 1990’s to be a good signal for search engines to use for validating how authoritative a website is and then Google discovered soon after that anchor text could be used to provide semantic signals about what a webpage was about.

One of the most important research papers was Authoritative Sources in a Hyperlinked Environment by Jon M. Kleinberg, published around 1998 (link to research paper at the end of the article). The main discovery of this research paper is that there is too many web pages and there was no objective way to filter search results for quality in order to rank web pages for a subjective idea of relevance.

The author of the research paper discovered that links could be used as an objective filter for authoritativeness.

Kleinberg wrote:

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“To provide effective search methods under these conditions, one needs a way to filter, from among a huge collection of relevant pages, a small set of the most “authoritative” or ‘definitive’ ones.”

This is the most influential research paper on links because it kick-started more research on ways to use links beyond as an authority metric but as a subjective metric for relevance.

Objective is something factual. Subjective is something that’s closer to an opinion. The founders of Google discovered how to use the subjective opinions of the Internet as a relevance metric for what to rank in the search results.

What Larry Page and Sergey Brin discovered and shared in their research paper (The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine – link at end of this article) was that it was possible to harness the power of anchor text to determine the subjective opinion of relevance from actual humans. It was essentially crowdsourcing the opinions of millions of website expressed through the link structure between each webpage.

What Did Gary Illyes Say About Links In 2024?

At a recent search conference in Bulgaria, Google’s Gary Illyes made a comment about how Google doesn’t really need that many links and how Google has made links less important.

Patrick Stox tweeted about what he heard at the search conference:

” ‘We need very few links to rank pages… Over the years we’ve made links less important.’ @methode #serpconf2024″

Google’s Gary Illyes tweeted a confirmation of that statement:

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“I shouldn’t have said that… I definitely shouldn’t have said that”

Why Links Matter Less

The initial state of anchor text when Google first used links for ranking purposes was absolutely non-spammy, which is why it was so useful. Hyperlinks were primarily used as a way to send traffic from one website to another website.

But by 2004 or 2005 Google was using statistical analysis to detect manipulated links, then around 2004 “powered-by” links in website footers stopped passing anchor text value, and by 2006 links close to the words “advertising” stopped passing link value, links from directories stopped passing ranking value and by 2012 Google deployed a massive link algorithm called Penguin that destroyed the rankings of likely millions of websites, many of which were using guest posting.

The link signal eventually became so bad that Google decided in 2019 to selectively use nofollow links for ranking purposes. Google’s Gary Illyes confirmed that the change to nofollow was made because of the link signal.

Google Explicitly Confirms That Links Matter Less

In 2023 Google’s Gary Illyes shared at a PubCon Austin that links were not even in the top 3 of ranking factors. Then in March 2024, coinciding with the March 2024 Core Algorithm Update, Google updated their spam policies documentation to downplay the importance of links for ranking purposes.

Google March 2024 Core Update: 4 Changes To Link Signal

The documentation previously said:

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“Google uses links as an important factor in determining the relevancy of web pages.”

The update to the documentation that mentioned links was updated to remove the word important.

Links are not just listed as just another factor:

“Google uses links as a factor in determining the relevancy of web pages.”

At the beginning of April Google’s John Mueller advised that there are more useful SEO activities to engage on than links.

Mueller explained:

“There are more important things for websites nowadays, and over-focusing on links will often result in you wasting your time doing things that don’t make your website better overall”

Finally, Gary Illyes explicitly said that Google needs very few links to rank webpages and confirmed it.

Why Google Doesn’t Need Links

The reason why Google doesn’t need many links is likely because of the extent of AI and natural language undertanding that Google uses in their algorithms. Google must be highly confident in its algorithm to be able to explicitly say that they don’t need it.

Way back when Google implemented the nofollow into the algorithm there were many link builders who sold comment spam links who continued to lie that comment spam still worked. As someone who started link building at the very beginning of modern SEO (I was the moderator of the link building forum at the #1 SEO forum of that time), I can say with confidence that links have stopped playing much of a role in rankings beginning several years ago, which is why I stopped about five or six years ago.

Read the research papers

Authoritative Sources in a Hyperlinked Environment – Jon M. Kleinberg (PDF)

The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine

Featured Image by Shutterstock/RYO Alexandre

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