Google’s Mobile-First Indexing for Law Firms Is Here: Is Your Website Ready?

by | Legal Web Marketing

Technology is continuously advancing. People are now using their phones and other mobile devices to “Google” what they want and what they want to know. As demand transitions and more people use mobile devices to search, mobile-first indexing for law firms and all businesses large and small has become a priority for Google. If your website is not ready . . . you may soon be left in the dust of search engine results.

The Significance of Mobile-First Indexing for Law Firms

Mobile-first indexing means that a firm’s mobile website will be the primary site crawled and indexed by Google. In other words, Google will be crawling and indexing law firms’ mobile websites rather than desktop versions. In addition, the mobile version of a website indexed this way will appear as the link that a user, or a potential client, will click on in search results. If your law firm’s mobile website is not up-to-date, not running efficiently, or difficult to navigate, your website may not rank as high for mobile users. And even if a mobile user reaches your result, he or she may move on to the next one if your site isn’t optimized for mobile use.

Google Is Already Using Mobile-First Indexing for Law Firms

Last October, Google began indexing websites that were “ready” using mobile first. And this spring, search engine optimization (SEO) experts noticed that many more sites were migrating to mobile-friendly indexing. Google has explained that using mobile versions for web indexing will “better help our—primarily mobile—users find what they’re looking for.” Mobile-first indexing does not mean that Google has stopped indexing other web pages. Rather, Google is emphasizing the importance and pervasiveness of mobile searching by basing rank on the crawl of a site’s mobile page.

How Can I Be Ready for Mobile-First Indexing?

In March, Google announced that it would notify website owners when Google began indexing their mobile websites. The notifications come through the owners’ Google Search Console account. If you aren’t already using this free, valuable resource, you need to claim and use it now.

In addition to claiming your Google Search Console account, there are a few things you should do to ensure you do not lose strong mobile rankings as Google transitions to mobile-first indexing for law firms and all businesses. And these are best practices regardless of how your website is indexed because of the increasing prevalence of mobile search:

  • Ensure both desktop and mobile versions are of high quality and are consistent with one another.
  • Move toward a responsive website.
  • Increase website speed and decrease load time.
  • Implement intuitive navigation.

Unsure how to check or address these issues? Confer with your web developer, information technology personnel, or TOPDOG. Additional or different steps may be recommended based on your website.

Quality of Desktop vs. Mobile Website

Quality still takes precedence in Google search results. If your web content is high quality and relevant to user searches, it will rank higher. This is good news for your website search standings. However, with more potential clients using mobile devices for search, mobile users may immediately bounce off of your site if they are unable to navigate easily or read your content due to a lack of mobile-readiness.

If your site is not mobile ready, don’t worry just yet. Do not sacrifice the quality of your desktop web content for that of a mediocre mobile-ready site. Keep the quality while you simultaneously adjust for mobile-first indexing. But it is critical that you address this issue ASAP because Google has indicated an intent to start using mobile-first indexing across the board.

Make Sure Content Is Consistent on Desktop and Mobile

As you add mobile-ready pages for your website, the content of both your desktop and mobile versions should be the same, or at least consistent. For now, in examining a law firm’s website, search engines will evaluate the content of both versions. Mobile-first indexing for law firms will be applied to sites that are ready for it; if a site isn’t ready, desktop indexing will still be used. However, if your mobile and desktop content vary significantly, your indexed content may be negatively impacted when Google migrates your site to mobile-first indexing.

Some presume that mobile websites should be bare-bone versions of corresponding desktop pages. That is not the case. As Google moves toward mobile-first indexing for law firms and all websites, it will become increasingly important that the mobile version of your website include robust, optimized content, not only in terms of text but also images and video, just like its desktop counterpart.

Better Yet: Invest in a Responsive Website

As you make adjustments to your website for mobile searching, make sure your website can accommodate either mobile or desktop browsing on the fly. In other words, your goal should be to have a responsive website—one that intuitively knows the type of device a surfer is using to browse. This type of website automatically adjusts screen size, menus, and other functionalities to be mobile-friendly for a user on a mobile device. The transition of a responsive website is seamless to the browser and the user. Thus, there are fewer clicks to reach the desired content.

Check Your Website’s Load Time

Your website needs to perform at top speed to keep potential clients engaged. This is the case regardless of whether surfers are using desktop or mobile for browsing. Speed and efficiency of download are vital to web traffic and can greatly impact your search engine rankings.

You have only 10 seconds to engage website visitors and draw in potential new clients. If your website is not mobile friendly—if you spend these few valuable seconds just to load your website—you have lost those clients before even getting out of the gate. Techniques such as optimization and reduction of image size, use of browser caching, minification of source code, and compression may help speed your site and reduce loading time. A little too tech-y? Talk with your web designer, IT consultant, or TOPDOG about the best strategies for improving your website’s speed.

The Impact of Mobile-First Indexing on Law Firms

When evaluating your website, consider the following questions: What is the goal of your website? What are the key actions you want visitors to take?

Those key actions must be easy. Links must be helpful and functional, and your call to action must be clear. Potential new clients need to be able to visit your blog, navigate your site, and know how to contact you with just a click. Take care of these items now, as they may soon impact your search engine rankings more than ever when mobile-first indexing is applied to your site.

Mobile-first indexing for law firms and businesses of all sizes can have a positive impact if you’re ready. Unsure whether your site is mobile-ready? Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly test to find out or let the experts at TOPDOG Legal Marketing handle it for you. Your clients rely on mobile technology more and more to find answers to their questions. Our team of experts can make sure that whether potential clients view your site on mobile devices or desktops that your firm’s website and the content it contains is fully optimized and ready to rank well in Google’s search engine results. Contact TOPDOG online or by calling (844) HEY-TDOG (439-8364) or (480) 744-7331. We have the experience and knowledge to help your law firm “get found” online.

Copyright © 2018 TOPDOG Legal Marketing, LLC.

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