Law firm websites have come a long way since the early days of the Internet. I remember my first website was little more than an online business card.
Today your website needs to be so much more if it is going to be a successful marketing channel for your law firm. You want your website to attract visitors and convert them into clients.
Discerning potential clients want to find helpful information and videos on your website, they want to see testimonials and staff profiles. They want to be able to navigate your website easily. Around half of the time, they’re going to do that on a mobile device. The percentage of Internet use via mobile devices is a growing trend. If you want your law firm to stay ahead of your competition, you need to recognize that trend and ensure your website meets the latest requirements.
PILMMA members already know about the importance of making your website “responsive”, so that it automatically adapts from desktop to mobile browsing using the same style-sheet. Google wants to see responsive style-sheets that are optimized for a user-experience appropriate to the device being used, and with a fast page-loading time. Separate mobile websites (for example m.pilmma.org) just don’t cut it any more. We’re in the process of updating the PILMMA.org website with a fresh, responsive design that we hope to roll out before the end of the year.
Google has now turned up the heat on law firms that still have websites stuck in the dark ages. Last Tuesday, November 18th, Google announced that:
“to make it easier for people to find the information that they’re looking for, we’re adding a “mobile-friendly” label to our mobile search results.”
The announcement continued:
“This change will be rolling out globally over the next few weeks. A page is eligible for the “mobile-friendly” label if it meets the following criteria as detected by Googlebot:
- Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
- Uses text that is readable without zooming
- Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
- Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped
If you want to make sure that your page meets the mobile-friendly criteria:
- Check your pages with the Mobile-Friendly Test
- Read our updated documentation on our Webmasters Mobile Guide on how to create and improve your mobile site
- See the Mobile usability report in Google Webmaster Tools, which highlights major mobile usability issues across your entire site, not just one page
- Check our how-to guide for third-party software like WordPress or Joomla, in order to migrate your website hosted on a CMS (Content Management System) to use a mobile-friendly template
The tools and documentation above are currently available in English. They will be available in additional languages within the next few weeks.
We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience. We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.”
This is just the latest step by Google in its efforts to improve the experience for mobile Internet users. No doubt there will be more changes in the future that will favor websites that are up-to-date. If you don’t keep your law firm’s website updated to meet the current standards and needs of users, you could find your website penalized in Google’s search results.
Mobile Internet isn’t the way of the future; it’s here right now. So if it’s been some time since you refreshed your website, make it a priority for the beginning of 2015.