Dear Google Guru, I Google searched for my cabinet manufacturing company on my iPhone using some of our primary keywords. I noticed that our rankings seem to slipping for keywords that we used to rank high on. We haven’t redesigned our site since it was originally designed in 2003, but could that really be affecting our SEO rankings?

Absolutely. If your site hasn’t been redesigned in 11 years, it’s probably a nightmare to use on any mobile device, whether it be a tablet or smartphone. Now this wouldn’t have mattered a few years ago, when mobile web access was just starting to develop, but with the prevalence of mobile web today it’s very important to have a website that is easy to use on any mobile device.

Since the introduction of mobile web, Google’s updates have continued to focus on improving user experience for mobile users. The latest update to come is the mobile-friendly tag, and it could be the reason why you’re seeing a drop in search rankings when you perform a search on your iPhone.

The mobile-friendly tag appears on mobile searches to show users whether your site will work on their device or not. So right now, if you’re site isn’t tagged as mobile-friendly but your competitors is, it’s likely that a mobile searcher is going to click on the site that is mobile-friendly. You’ll also start to see sites tagged as being mobile-friendly begin to rank higher in mobile searches.

Now, mobile web has gone through many different forms as it’s developed. In the beginning a mobile site was essentially a copy of your website that was smaller and easier to navigate on a mobile device. The downside here is that a mobile site is hosted from a separate domain than your actual site, and this can hurt your organic traffic. Mobile sites also require more maintenance and management so that they comply with changing technology.

The latest innovation in mobile web is responsive web design. A responsive design affects your entire site on desktop and mobile because it can adjust to fit any screen size. Your mobile site and your desktop site are one in the same, so there is no need to create a separate domain, making responsive the better choice for SEO.

While having a mobile site will still give you the Google mobile-friendly tag, responsive is by far the best choice in terms of return on investment. The maintenance will be less, and there won’t be a need to update the technology for each new device that comes out. If you redesign your website with mobile-usability in mind, there is no doubt that you will start to see your SEO rankings start to rise again.

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