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Moving from an m-dot to a responsive website

There might still be some time until Google launches its mobile-first Index. Recent reports indicate that we might see Google rolling out the mobile-first index sometime in 2018.

For those who are still operating with a mobile website (m-dot) version this is a good time to start thinking about changing over to a responsive web design.

But why make the change before the mobile-first index rolls out?

For those who are new to the concept of a mobile-first index, we highly recommend that you read the blog we had recently published on our website. The blog will give you a brief Introduction to the concept of Mobile-First Index and the impact it will have on search.

There are mainly two reasons for the push towards a mobile responsive web design moving forward;

  1. As the mobile-first Index rolls out, Google will use the mobile version of a website to gather information over the web and build its Index. If you have a mobile website (m-dot) that serves different (lesser) content from the desktop version then you run the risk of losing your rankings.
  2. If you move from the m-dot version to a responsive design after the launch of the mobile-first index then it might take months for Google to fully index your m-dot website.

While the above two benefits are directly related to the mobile-first Index, there are plenty of other benefits for moving to responsive web design, these include;

  1. Responsive web design essentially means one URL for each page, therefore, it is easier for a webmaster to manage the website as compared to an m-dot website.
  2. Reduces the mistakes that happen during web design process.
  3. Reduces the load time of the webpage as there is no need for redirection in order to get a device-optimised view.
  4. A responsive web design will allow you to use newer technologies such as Google AMP and Structured Data (Rich Cards).
  5. Leads to better results with SEO because the Googlebot does not have to crawl the website multiple times, once for the desktop version and then again for the m-dot version of the website. This improvement in crawling efficiency can indirectly help Google index more of your website’s content and keep it appropriately fresh.

Moving towards a Mobile Responsive Web Design

Making the switch from an m-dot website to a responsive web design will mean that you need to take a few steps to ensure that the transition is smooth and satisfies any Googlebot requirements.

  1. Get a responsive website ready.
  2. Configure 301 redirects on the old mobile URLs to point to the responsive versions (the new pages). These redirects need to be done on a per-URL basis, individually from each mobile URLs to the responsive URLs.
  3. Remove any mobile-URL specific configuration your site might have, such as conditional redirects or a vary HTTP header.
  4. As a good practice, setup rel=canonical on the responsive URLs pointing to themselves (self-referential canonicals).

If you’re currently using dynamic serving and want to move to responsive design, you don’t need to add or change any redirects.

Source- Google Webmaster Blog

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