You already know plenty of reasons your law firm needs a mobile-optimized website. With more and more adults turning to smartphones and tablet devices to browse the web, firms that don’t utilize this technology are at a disadvantage. We won’t go into the plentiful data proving mobile is where the action is because there’s something even more relevant than consumer trends in play these days: Google is moving to a mobile-first policy, which means your search rankings will take a nosedive if you don’t optimize your site for these portable devices.
Google’s ‘experiment’ with evaluating for page rank based on websites’ mobile versions is a logical step for the biggest player in search. The company says that in the spring of 2015, desktop searches lagged behind those performed via mobile devices. Tweaking algorithms to prioritize the sites built to perform well with this technology makes sense, given the trends.
In previous algorithms, Google established page ranks primarily based on desktop sites, although the existence and performance of a mobile version factored into its calculations. Whether users searched on mobile or desktop, Google’s analysis used the desktop site to gauge how relevant the content was to a search query. That no longer holds true for sites that are part of the test phase; in the future, the policy is expected to change for all sites.
In Google’s words,
“To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”
Make sure your firm is ready to rank well after the change by following these guidelines:
- Check to make sure your site is mobile-friendly, using Google’s testing tool.
- Follow these instructions to verify the mobile version of your website if you haven’t already.
- Responsive websites that share most content and markup between mobile and desktop versions shouldn’t face any issues. Those that have significant differences must serve structured markup for each version. You can check to see how similar these elements are using the Structured Data Testing Tool.
- You’ll also want to ensure that Google’s web crawlers can find your mobile site using the txt testing tool.
Despite the relative urgency, don’t rush to roll out a mobile version of your site before it’s ready to perform well. Google won’t know that you’re just trying to beat the clock and will penalize your site, which defeats the purpose of releasing the mobile site too early. According to the company, you should “keep in mind that a functional desktop-oriented site can be better than a broken or incomplete mobile version of the site. It’s better for you to build up your mobile site and launch it when ready.”
The era of mobile-first indexing is upon us. Take advantage of the opportunities it presents by ensuring your law firm’s website is optimized to look great and perform well on devices of every size. In addition to making Google’s search crawlers happy, you’ll be providing mobile searchers an experience just as valuable as the one you’re offering those who visit your firm via desktop.