Whenever Google announces a change in the way websites will be ranked, marketers get nervous. Usually such a change requires a lot of work for both content-producers and web developers, and if changes are not made quickly enough, search visibility has the potential to decline rapidly.
Recently, Google announced another change, which should not strike fear in marketers’ hearts; instead, there should be a sigh of relief because this change from Google can help boost rankings of the websites that may not have to update a thing to remain high-ranking.
You already know that more people are using search engines on mobile devices. As our Senior Marketing Strategist John Damron predicted for 2015, mobile technology is becoming more essential to marketers and those concerned with SEO. Hopefully, your website is optimized for those users. If it is, then you are ahead of the curve and may reap some great rewards.
Mobile-Friendly Tag in Search Results
In late 2014, Google announced that it added a “mobile-friendly” designation to websites that are optimized to be viewed on mobile devices, and that designation will most likely affect website search rankings. The search engine said it was “experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal,” which tells you how critical mobile-friendly sites have become. This means that there are two questions you should ask about your firm’s website:
- How does a website qualify as mobile-friendly?
- How can being mobile-friendly bring more clients to your firm?
Before we answer those first two questions, let’s look at why Google is making this change. Google is focused on improving the user experience and more and more users are utilizing the search engine from a smartphone or a tablet.
You’ve probably visited a website on your own mobile device that required you to “pinch and zoom” or scroll horizontally in order for you could see the whole page. Google wants to decrease your time spent on sites that are not optimized for mobile devices, so the search engine will soon begin to highlight the optimized sites with the new “mobile friendly” tag.
How Google Determines "Mobile-Friendly"
So now that we’ve discussed why, let’s talk about how Google determines if a website is mobile-friendly. There is an easy way for you to see how Google will tag your firm’s web site:
take Google’s Mobile Friendly Test. But let’s be more specific. What exactly makes a site mobile-friendly? Here is the list of criterion Google checks:
- Avoid software that are uncommon on mobile devices, like Flash Player.
- Use an appropriately-sized text so users do not have to “pinch and zoom.”
- Place links far enough apart that the desired link can be clicked on easily.
- Size content to the user’s screen so that there is no horizontal scrolling
- Use programming referred to as “responsive programming” to ensure your design responds to any device accessing your website, including phones, tablets and PCs.
Repercussions for Mobile Unfriendly Sites
Now that we know what Google is looking for in mobile-friendly sites, let’s examine the repercussions of qualifying for the tag. In an informal test at North Dakota State University, the web pages with the mobile-friendly tag ranked higher than the pages without the tag. The five criteria listed above translate into boosted rankings.
Think about it: just by making sure your firm’s web site is easily viewed on a mobile device, your SEO improves dramatically. You already know that the number of mobile users is increasing (according to one study, the number of mobile users has surpassed the number of desktop users!) You know that a positive experience on your firm’s website is critical to attracting new clients.
This is a simple way for your law firm to improve its SEO by making a few changes. Or, if your firm’s website is already optimized for mobile use, then you can watch as your clicks from mobile users increase. Optimizing your firm’s website for mobile-friendly use, gives you a significant edge over your competitors who may not yet realize the importance of compatibility.
So what are you waiting for? Put your website to the test and see if it would qualify as mobile-friendly. Talk to your web developer and make sure your firm’s web site is meeting Google’s criterion, ideally through the use of responsive mobile-friendly programming. Then, simply enjoy the benefits of Google boosting your firm’s site in its rankings.