Should Law Firms Be Doing Mobile SEO?

YES! It is really that simple. Do you care about retaining more clients? If so, then you should have already created a responsive mobile device friendly version of your website. Don’t take my word for it, Google has been very vocal on the subject and has made multiple references in no unclear terms that you should be delivering responsive pages to mobile users. Here, here and here.

Now, if you are in the same boat as many of the attorneys that I find on the internet that had a difficult time making a website at all, let alone a responsive, mobile website for iPhones, Androids, tablets, and any other device imaginable – don’t sweat, it’s okay. There are skilled professionals here to help. Google, for example, has partnered with DudaMobile to offer free mobile websites to people with current websites for at least a year.   If you have a WordPress site, you can install a mobile theme such as WPTouch.  And for those of you seeking a focused strategic approach, you can contact us to discuss.

Now that the nuts and bolts are out of the way, on to mobile search engine optimization. So how is this related to SEO? Doesn’t a responsive design for a mobile website fall under graphic design or user experience? Well, sometimes, except when it prevents your website from being found or used by people using search engine results.  That brings us to the next, often misunderstood situation.

Everyone should have a mobile website completed or in progress. What can I do to target mobile users, how are they different, and what can I do to craft my message and content towards their needs? There is no definitive guide regarding mobile SEO. There is, however, some direction that can be gained through strategic thinking regarding a mobile user and their experience. For example, shorter keywords and one word keywords are the norm for users using mobile devices.

So when your current website’s HTML code hasn’t changed by following the recommended practices or only changed the CSS rendering of your desktop site to fit a mobile platform on the same URL, you have done the bare minimum to allow users to access your site on a mobile device. What you have not done, however,  is design your mobile site with mobile users in mind, or in other words Mobile SEO.

This is one of those once in a lifetime, niche opportunities where you have a chance to move to the market a year or two before your competition. In 2013 there will be more people accessing the internet via their mobile device than on a desktop, yet most websites will be designed for desktops and not mobile devices.

There are some companies that are preparing for this paradigm shift. Google is the leader in search and has started making search easier for mobile users via their Googlebot for Mobile that identifies smartphone content on the web for users browsing on their smart phones. Google has not started to favor smartphone optimized searches for users browsing on smartphones… yet. The #1 thing Google knows to be true, is “Focus on the user and all else will follow”. That begs the question, what can you do to target mobile users using search engine optimization in preparation for the time when Google shifts mobile search towards mobile optimized content?
Focus on the user by analyzing your website analytics. Build a site optimized for your mobile users and deliver it to users using dynamic serving or responsive web design. Being responsive is a great place to start, but it’s not the most you can be doing regarding mobile SEO. Each strategy and business will be different, but there are some common trends in mobile search.

  1. Mobile isn’t just search. It’s a behavior. You are with your clients wherever they go. Keep that in mind. For example, a mobile user has their phone at the scene of a car accident.
  2. Search terms are typically shorter. So it may be relevant to shorten Title Tags and Meta descriptions.
  3. Mobile users are often sharing their GPS coordinates with Google and other vendors. When you’re targeting them, you can simply do so by using simpler and fewer non-geographic keywords when also using a developed local SEO strategy.
  4. Design a site with your clients in mind; it should be user friendly for someone on a mobile device. Check yours out at HowToGoMo.com
  5. Users on mobile devices are more likely to be searching around the 9-5 work day, meaning evenings and weekends.
  6. The range of mobile users to your website will vary but typically it’s between 5-25%.
  7. Not having a mobile site helps your competitors because a user is much more likely to leave your page and go somewhere else instead of trying to navigate your site using their mobile phone.
  8. People searching on their mobile device already have their phone in their hand and are much more likely to call you than someone searching on a desktop device. Make sure your phone number is easily found.

Law firms that understand and embrace mobile SEO by planning and building it with users in mind, instead of adding it on as an afterthought, will win. As mobile devices surpass computers as the primary screen that accesses the web, make sure that your marketing isn’t forgetting about being responsive to changes in consumer behavior. This is one of the few times you might be able to beat Google to the punch and be ready and prepared by making your clients’ experience and overall satisfaction a priority by optimizing for mobile content and users.