Think Twice Before You Switch to Responsive Design

Busy day? If this blog post is TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read), click through the slideshow below. We summarize the whole post in 6 quick slides.

Mobile views have overtaken desktop. Desktop SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) are being designed with a mobile-first approach. Heck, the first thing 80% of smartphone users do in the morning is rollover and look at their phones.

So you’ve heard all this before, and mobile SEO is one of your top priorities. How do you go about optimizing your site? Responsive design, right? Not so fast.

Yes, Google recommends you use responsive design. But that doesn’t mean you should always listen.

Responsive Design, Dedicated, or Dynamic Serving

There are two other configurations for mobile: dedicated and dynamic serving. Which of the three is best for your site depends entirely on your business.

Here’s a quick summary of what each configuration is:


Responsive design can be problematically slow

There are pros and cons to each of these configurations. One of the biggest cons of responsive design is that it’s up to 4 times slower than a dedicated mobile site. twitter-icon

In addition to user experience, site speed and performance are two major ranking factors for mobile. That means responsive design could actually hurt your rankings if you’re not careful.

For some sites, responsive design works great. Just make sure to consider the pros and cons before you settle on your configuration.


This table is just the tip of the iceberg on these mobile configurations and advanced mobile SEO.

The above are screenshots are from John Shehata’s C3 presentation. He’s the Executive Director of Search & Social Media at ABC News, and he’s used each of these configurations on sites for ABC, ABC News, and Disney.

Want to get insights, checklists, tips, and use cases for each mobile configuration? Watch the full Why Mobile, Why Now presentation. Here’s the full deck, too!

Did you know Searchlight is going mobile? Read about Search Experience Tracking (or watch the video) in CEO Seth Besmertnik’s blog post.

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