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"Mobilegeddon" - can potential clients still find you?

by Joe Kaczrowski | Apr 24, 2015

Perhaps not quite as overused as variations on Watergate, but crises given an 'armageddon' moniker permeate news feeds today.  Armageddon, Carmageddon, Snowmageddon, and now Mobilegeddon. So what cataclysmic event earned the latest superlative? Google frequently updates its search algorithm, and its most recent update now promotes websites that are mobile-friendly while penalizing those sites that are not.

So is this really the end of the world as we know (and do you feel fine)? The algorithm update obviously only affects search traffic, and specifically traffic from Google. Direct traffic is unaffected (when people know your URL and type it into the address bar), as is referral traffic such as hard-coded links from other sites (like MN Find a Lawyer, which lets you link to your firm website from your profile).

What does it mean for a site to be "mobile-friendly"?  Basically it means that the format of your site is optimized for viewing on mobile devices.  This can be done a couple of ways.  Some sites have a separate mobile version, although this is not as common.  The best practice option is to use responsive design for your site.  Responsive design means that the layout of your website adjusts to the device on which it is being viewed.

How do you know if your website is mobile-friendly? There are a couple ways to check.  One way is to test your site using Google's Mobile-Friendly Test tool.  If you're the site admin you also can use Google's Webmaster Tools for more analysis, which not only tells you if your site is mobile-friendly but also points out problem areas you may want to address.

The easier way to see if your site is mobile-friendly, or more specifically that your site uses responsive design, is to open it up in your web browser and then grab the right side of the browser window and change the width; if the elements of your website change as the width changes, then your site is responsively designed.  For example, grab the side of browser window while viewing this post and change the width; the text should move as you change the browser width.

For another example, try it on - wide page view   narrow page view

Why the big push for mobile-friendly websites? 60% of online traffic now comes from mobile devices.  FindLaw puts mobile traffic to law firm websites closer to 33%, but that figure is growing as well.

Two out of five lawyers plan to update their websites in 2015.  If you're one of them, be sure to look incorporating responsive design into your site.  Whether your site is mobile-friendly or not, one way to hedge against changes in search algorithms by Google and Microsoft is through other search platforms, like the MSBA's MN Find a Lawyer directory.  The MSBA uses responsive design on its site as well as other SEO principles to increase visibility of MN Find a Lawyer and generally.  The MSBA directory averages roughly 8,000 searches a month; if you haven't added or updated your profile those potential clients can't find you.

As with the threat from automation, it may not be time to stock up on Twinkies and bottled water, but "mobilegeddon" is here and lawyers need to prepare.