How Google’s Mobile Indexing Affects your Law Firm’s Marketing

Ever since Google announced that they’re shifting their focus toward mobile-centric search metrics there has been speculation about what that means. And while there are plenty of marketing experts weighing in on the subject, Google itself has remained relatively quiet. However, in a series of tweets, the company recently addressed a few key points of both their mobile-indexing and July 2018 speed updates. The question is, how this will affect your law firm’s digital marketing?

For one, your prospects won’t see much difference. Since many are searching for a lawyer on their mobile device, Google’s updates will make it easier for them to find the firm they’re interested in. For attorneys, the changes are small and detail-oriented, but they could be the final straw in the old desktop approach to online marketing. Here are the details of Google’s announcement and how they could affect your law firm’s digital marketing.

Google is strongly urging mobile sites

If your website is still desktop-only, Google currently considers you behind the times. The search engine has seen how cell phones are influencing the way people search and use the internet in 2018. According to Bright Edge, 57 percent of all US web traffic comes from mobile devices (both smartphones and tablets), with Google statistics showing that 42 percent of mobile commerce starts with a search.

If you haven’t yet, your firm should update its website. Google said, “…it’s about time to move from desktop-only and embrace mobile :).” Don’t let that smiley face fool you, they mean business. They understand that mobile usage is increasing exponentially and they want users to find sites that are mobile optimized. Ones that present a searcher with the user experience they expect when using the world’s most sophisticated search engine.

Your mobile speed matters

We’ve been preaching the gospel of mobile page speed ever since releasing our white paper late in 2017. Google cares about mobile page speed because they know their customers do, and in early 2017 they announced a July 2018 update that will place heavy emphasis on your mobile site’s speed.

Google tweets stated that the new mobile indexing is separate from July’s page speed change. That essentially means they’re now both crawling your mobile site and measuring site speed independently. In the future, you could be dinged twice if you’re not using a modern mobile design.

There are quick ways to update site speed, mostly having to do with graphics. A photo and video heavy website may load quickly on a desktop, but when converted to mobile, they will slow you down. If you don’t want to reduce the number of images on your site, you should compress the size of the pictures. This will help accelerate the loading process.

Mobile-first indexing will affect all searches

Google now crawls your mobile site before your desktop version no matter where your prospects start their search. That means an optimized mobile design influences how prospects find you on their desktop as well as their phone. This could be a two-fold problem for law firms with either no mobile design or one that hasn’t been updated in a few years. People who scroll the internet don’t want to press and pinch their screen to view a website’s content. And older mobile designs are clunky and slow. These are both user experience problems that Google does not want their users to experience.

If your website is already mobile optimized to Google’s 2018 standards then you are prepared for the updates. If not, now is the time to either talk to your website’s design team or convert to a different marketing firm who uses a modern platform.

Mobile indexing is big but content is still king

Google was very specific about mobile site ranking and search results through all these changes. Yes, their new indexing means mobile optimization and a site speed under three seconds are important to SEO, but it won’t increase your site’s ranking. Sure, if you’re not up-to-date, it can eventually hurt you in search results, but Google has emphasized that a mobile site does not replace quality content.

Your content is what consumers are interacting with and it’s how prospects recognize your authority. Google knows this, so they consider content one of the most important aspects of your mobile site. You should still optimize your content for the long-tail searches that deliver the most important traffic. Long-tail searches are the ones that sound closer to a specific sentence (“Need a family attorney specializing in same-sex adoptions”) and not vague keywords (“Family lawyer near me”).

As always with Google, changes in their best practices happen often. While they’re telling us now that mobile indexing won’t affect rankings, that may change as early as Q4 of 2018. What we do know is that mobile searches and site speed are now at the top of their priority list and they know the sites that don’t comply with their standards.

If you have any questions about Google indexing or mobile law firm websites, make an appointment with your local FindLaw consultant.

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