I speak to many lawyers who aren’t necessarily concerned about their websites ranking highly on Google searches, mainly because they get most of their clients through referrals. And they have a point.
For civil lawyers in specialized niches, chances are their clients aren’t finding them by Googling “IP litigator Houston” and picking whomever comes up first. For those lawyers and law firms, most prospective clients probably find their websites by searching for the name of the firms or the lawyers themselves. In those cases, whether Google likes you may be irrelevant.
But if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, Google may not be your problem.
Making a Good First Impression
Google has been emphasizing the importance of mobile for a few years now, but they made it abundantly clear earlier this year that mobile responsiveness is now going to be a key factor in search engine results.
And for good reason: according to the FindLaw U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey, 71 percent of legal consumers use their mobile phones to find a lawyer. So lawyers and law firms that want to make a good first impression should ensure that their site can be easily read and searched from phones and tablets.
Kevin Olivier, owner of Austin’s Summit Design (a.k.a. our web guy), says mobile un-friendly sites can frustrate users before they even have a chance to learn anything about you.
“It’s annoying to have to zoom in or scroll across text just to get basic information,” he says. “Even if your prospective client looks you up on their desktop later, you want that first experience to be positive.”
Google maintains a fairly simple set of guidelines to determine whether a site is mobile-friendly:
- It avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, such as Flash
- It uses text that is readable without zooming
- It sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
- It places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped
This Google link allows you to plug in your URL to determine if a site is mobile-friendly.
If a site is truly mobile-unfriendly, Olivier recommends a rebuild rather than a retrofit, primarily because layering on code to adapt to mobile can slow down what may already be a sluggish site.
“You can find WordPress plugins that will make your site responsive, but it’s causing additional load on your site,” he says. “You’re kind of shooting yourself in the foot because that load time is an important indicator for analytics, which Google uses for rankings. To be truly responsive, the site needs to be built that way from the ground up.”
Great SEO Never Hurts
Even if most of your current clients didn’t find you through a Google search, it doesn’t hurt to have great organic search results. Who knows, there might actually be someone out there searching for “IP litigator Houston.”
In addition to mobile-friendliness, Google rewards sites it believes are offering visitors good, relevant content. One way to judge that is by evaluating your site’s bounce rate, the rate at which visitors leave a page after a short time.
“Google rewards sites that deliver the information people are searching for, and if people bounce off your site quickly, that’s a strong indicator the site isn’t delivering,” he says. “The most important thing a website can do is provide relevant information in an easy-to-read format.”
The biggest reason to have a mobile-friendly site with great content, he says, is client service.
“Your website is the face of your business,” Olivier says. “Chances are, a potential client is going to see your website before they see you. You want your site to roll out the welcome mat, not turn them away.”
Need help updating your site? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Muse Communications, LLC, helps lawyers, law firms and legal services companies tell their story through content marketing (including websites, blogging, social media, email marketing and news releases) and highly targeted media relations.