RESPONSIVE DESIGN VS. STANDALONE MOBILE SITE
When designing a website for mobile devices, there are a few options. Responsive websites are sites that automatically respond to the size of the screen they are being viewed on. Visitors viewing on a desktop get an experience optimized for large screens. Those viewing your site on a mobile device have an experience optimized the smaller screens of phones and tablets. for Standalone mobile sites are completely separate sites from your normal site. Visitors are redirected to the mobile site when they go to your primary domain. All of this happens behind the scenes without any input from your visitors.
In June of 2012, Google came out with their Recommendations for building smartphone-optimized websites. They talked about the 3 methods Google supports when building a website for mobile devices. Below is an excerpt from the post as it relates to responsive design:
"Sites that use responsive web design, i.e. sites that serve all devices on the same set of URLs, with each URL serving the same HTML to all devices and using just CSS to change how the page is rendered on the device. This is Google’s recommended configuration (highlight added by Google in the original post)."