If you follow this kind of stuff, you know that in April, Google tweaked its search algorithm to reward mobile-friendly websites. Those that are mobile-friendly (that is, they display well on your iPhone and other mobile devices) got a bump in search rankings, appearing closer to the top of the page for relevant searches. This has the effect, of course, of punishing sites that are not mobile friendly.
There’s been a whole lot of consternation about this change, the effects of which have reportedly been quite substantial, but the question for professional service firms remains: do we really need to care about this?
But the question for professional service firms remains: do we really need to care about this?
t’s a good question to ask. For any number of reasons, obsessing over SEO is not something we recommend for sophisticated law firms or other service providers. First, clients are not hiring such firms because they happen across them in a search for “bet-the-company litigator.” Second, even Google’s algorithm recognizes that that in the end, putting out high-quality content is far more important—and impactful on search rankings—than trying to game the system with keywords or other trickery.
While we often encourage clients to ignore all the noise about Google’s algorithm and simply focus on the content of their site, we see good reason for firms to invest the resources necessary to make their websites mobile-friendly.
- First, the audience that law firms are targeting likes to read on the go. More than half of all in-house counsel read to stay informed on mobile devices. And they won’t be reading your blog at the airport if it isn’t mobile-friendly. That’s a problem for the 73% of legal blogs that, according to a recent LexBlog survey, have not been designed for easy viewing on phones and tablets. While none of this has anything to do with Google’s recent change, it is a big reason for firms to go mobile-friendly with their sites.
- Second, although it’s true that client prospects aren’t going to find attorneys directly via Google searches, it’s also true that they are likely to search on topics of interest to them.
As Kevin O’Keefe noted in an Above the Law post on the topic: “[I]f a lawyer writes a post on OPEC’s decision to maintain oil production and its impact on M&A activities, the lawyer expects the post to be found on a search by an exec or in-house counsel on an iPhone. It’s the same for small law firms writing on unique issues. They want to get seen by consumers and small business keying in a question, as sophisticated clients are apt to do.”
With Google’s recent changes, those searches are less likely to lead to the client discovering the attorney author (and being impressed with her knowledge on the relevant subject, making a connection on LinkedIn, and on and on) if the site is not mobile-optimized.
For these two reasons, we strongly recommend that firms make their websites ready to take on the go.