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Why Google’s Cracking Down On Non Mobile-Friendly Sites And What Attorneys Need To Do

Marketing, SEO

You may have heard whisperings that Google is going to be cracking down on non-mobile-friendly websites starting April 21st.

That’s absolutely correct.

For a while now they’ve been keeping track of whether sites are optimized for small screens and slow data connections. Up until now they haven’t changed any of the rankings based on that information and instead, just show a little “Mobile-friendly” label on search results when searching from your mobile device.

But now, they’re taking the next step, and using mobile-friendly as a ranking signal when someone searches for your firm on a mobile device. We don’t know how much it will affect rankings just yet (but we’re watching closely and will report as soon as we can measure it), but we know that it will drop rankings for searches from mobile devices, and it’s expected to drop them considerably.

What does that mean for you?

Well, it depends on if your site is mobile-optimized. Here’s a link to check if your site is mobile-friendly. If it is, then you should be all set.

But if it’s not, come on back here and we’ll discuss the options you have for avoiding the Google hammer in a few weeks.

So here’s the link to Google’s mobile-friendly tester.

Go check your site and see if Google thinks it’s mobile-friendly. I’ll wait.

How’d you do? Did your site pass?

It passed!

That’s awesome. Gold star for you! You may want to read ahead though to see if one of the other options here might be a better option for you.

It didn’t pass?

Don’t worry all is not lost. Consider this a bit of a wake-up call. After all, you still have a little time to right the ship, so to speak.

First of all, these changes won’t affect your rankings when someone searches for your firm on their desktop. Which, is still somewhere around 75% of search traffic in the US depending on whose stats you use.

But, that still means you’ll start to lose out on 1/4 of your traffic.

A better way to think about this might be to consider the following scenario. Let’s say a potential client just got into a cab when they received an email from a friend referring your firm to fix their problem. The first thing they’ll do is google you or your firm.

If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, your firm website might not be right there in the first spot in their search results. Instead, they might see your Avvo profile (which you may or may not have done anything with). Or maybe they’ll see a complaint a bitter client left on a review site.

All that effort crafting your brand and your message, and it’s all for naught because your site wasn’t the first one listed.

Obviously, that’s not a great place to be in. So it begs the question…

“How do I make my site mobile-friendly?”

Well, you have two options. You can redesign your site, or you can create a separate mobile site that lives at mobile.myfirm.com.

Each has their benefits and drawbacks, but I’m going to strongly recommend a site redesign over creating a separate mobile version of your website.

The main reason is maintenance. With two different web properties to maintain, you’ll need to have a way of keeping them in sync. And what’s more, you’ll need to be diligent about telling Google which version of a page is ‘canonical’. Meaning, which version is the “one true version?” Fail to stay on top of that and Google will dock you for having duplicate content.

The second reason is just common sense. For the same cost it would take to build a mobile-specific site, you could redesign your site to be mobile-friendly and avoid the mess of maintaining two properties altogether.

No need to worry about whether the mobile site matches your desktop branding. No worrying about duplicate content. And hey, you get a fancy new desktop and mobile website for the same investment.

How large is that investment? Well, it depends on what you’re starting with.

I use wordpress or another CMS.

If you already use a content management system like WordPress, it could be as simple as finding a theme you like. A decent responsive theme can be had for peanuts on sites like themeforest.net. You might get lucky and be able to just swap in the new theme and call it a day and you’re done in ~$50.

More likely, you’ll want to find a developer to customize the theme in a few places to fit your brand. That could cost you ~$50-$100/hr for a few hours of work. A far cry from building a new site from scratch.

I had a custom site coded for me.

But if your site was a custom job, as we typically see with agencies or with one-off website designs, your options get a (little) bit more expensive.

You’ll likely need to go through that process again. Which is a pain, I know. This time through though, keep an eye on an ability to upgrade in the future. If you’re working with a developer or agency, make sure they’re using a commonly-used CMS that will be around for a while. WordPress would be my recommendation (outside of using AmazeLaw of course.)

For an idea of what a site should cost these days, check out our guide to How Much a Law Firm Website Should Cost.

But regardless of your starting point. This update is a good thing for your firm. Sure it requires some investment. But that’s exactly what it is. An investment that you’ll most definitely see returns on.

Again. This is a GOOD thing. Think of it this way.

Imagine you had a 20 year old car. It’s worked well for you in the past. Sure, it’s not shiny, but it’s gotten you where you’ve needed to go.

But, a lot has changed in 20 years. Technology has gotten exponentially better. While you might say “I don’t need my car to talk to me,” it’d be hard to argue against the safety, fuel-efficiency, and reliability improvements that have come along with it.

On the road, states incentivize adoption of new technology through car inspections. On the internet, Google is taking on that role by rewarding sites that stay current with better search placement.

So rather than lamenting the fact that it’s become necessary to upgrade your website, you should also feel excited. You can now take advantage of advances in technology that make marketing your firm much easier.

Does your site need a mobile upgrade?

Our sites are all fully-mobile-optimized. If you want to see what mobile magic AmazeLaw can do for your firm…

Schedule a Demo Today