A recent report by BrightEdge found that one in four mobile sites are losing traffic due to configuration errors: “Twenty-seven percent of mobile sites are ranked lower than they should be because Google and other search engines do not recognize the mobile site as related to its desktop counterpart.”
The study analyzed billions of queries and determined that “62 percent of organic searches show different results depending on whether the search was performed on a desktop or smartphone.”
BrightEdge considered mobile configuration in terms of separate URLs (dedicated mobile sites), dynamic serving and responsive design. Dedicated mobile sites evidenced a 72 percent error rate and dynamic serving errors amounted to 30 percent; no errors were found with responsive design.
When choosing responsive or adaptive design methods, developers must consider mobile constraints and the behavior of mobile users (when compared to how users interact with content on a PC). Both enhance the user experience and allow users to view websites in various sizes on mobile devices.
Adaptive web design relies upon browser use features and predetermined screen sizes with a focus on the user experience — not the device or browser — and allows for fine-tuned enhancements. Responsive design focuses on browser size and layout. It utilizes fluid, flexible grids to create an optimal reading experience regardless of device.
General search rankings among the three approaches were not significant, but mobile sites ranked “half a position lower” their desktop counterparts.
h/t: Search Engine Land