In regards to mobile website optimization, Google stated:
“Starting April 21 (2015), we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
“Mobile is changing the world. Today, everyone has smartphones with them, constantly communicating and looking for information. In many countries, the number of smartphones has surpassed the number of personal computers; having a mobile-friendly website has become a critical part of having an online presence.
If you haven’t made your website mobile-friendly, you really should. Majority of the users coming to your site are likely to be using a mobile device.”
I did not bold that sentence. Google bolded that sentence. So it should tell you their very strong stance on having a mobile-friendly website. In essence, they are saying if you do not have a mobile-friendly design, good luck being found in search results as your legal website is not helpful to users.
Even more so, websites that aren’t in compliance with mobile usability guidelines are being penalized by search engines. So you must ask yourself: Is your website mobile-friendly and conforming to mobile usability guidelines?
We’re not trying to scare you. More than likely it is considered mobile-friendly. However, it is a simple thing to accomplish mobile website optimization and a simple thing to overlook. Most of this is done correctly when your law firm’s website is built using standardized design and development methodologies. Especially in today’s development environment.
But getting the basics covered doesn’t provide the best results. To do this, you must have an experienced and keen eye for what you are to accomplish. As with all things, it gets easier the more you do it. Of course, we don’t know about everybody but it has been our experience here at Diamond R Creative.
To begin, you must decide the platform that will best serve your mobile needs. And by your needs we generally mean your customers needs and how to best represent your law firm. So, when dealing with mobile optimization, you can consider four options for mobile design. These include responsive design; dynamic serving; a separate mobile site; or a combination of the three.
Responsive Mobile Website Design
Responsive Mobile Website Design is having your law firm’s website display the same code / same web page, using the same URL, on any device and will actively adjust its display depending on the device.
Dynamic Serving also uses the same URL but the server detects the device requesting the website and sends the predetermined code for that specific device. Each device has differing code. This is a highly technical method.
Separate Mobile Website
A Separate Mobile Site is built specifically for mobile use and is a completely different website than the desktop website. It uses different URLs and code for the mobile device.
Combination Mobile Website Design
This approach, as implied, combines techniques based on the three previously mentioned methodologies.
Which one do we choose? As with all technology, it depends on the job to be performed. Diamond R Creative has performed builds for each method for various clients and we suggest what is best for that industry. Ultimately, you must look at your potential customers and provide what they are looking for and suit their needs. When looking at it from this perspective it makes the choice very straightforward.
When it comes to legal marketing and determining what is best for law firm clients, the responsive design is easily the best choice. Unless there are mitigating factors that would prevent positive user experience, responsive design provides the best benefits for legal websites. Actually, it should be utilized whenever possible for any industry as these benefits apply to all who can use it.
Why? Here are some of the most beneficial factors for responsive design use:
- While all three methods are supported by Google, they recommend responsive design as the preferred method.
- Using only one URL, Website Code and Website Content maintains the holistic nature of SEO efforts and does not dissipate it by spreading the SEO strength across domains and subdomains.
- Viewing, marketing message, and branding efforts remain intact across all devices
- You only need to design one website for your law firm.
- Less maintenance costs due to maintaining only one website for your law firm.
- An active responsive design responds to the device viewing it thereby retaining high usability regardless of device being an iPhone, Android, iPad, Tablet, Laptop or Desktop.
- Changes only need to be done to once to one website.
- Faster loading times – a separate mobile website redirects users from the desktop website to the mobile website and this extra step in loading times may cause missed sales.
- Multiple pages of the same content (known as duplicate content) lowers your rankings or the importance of those pages. Think of it as the uniqueness of your content being diluted by someone copy and pasting it to other web pages.
As stated previously, knowing the requirements for your website will dictate the platform needed. Legal websites are generally informative in nature and therefore responsive designs perform best with users as the information is easily retrievable in that format and furthers SEO concerns. That being said, certain considerations are necessary for highly functional and optimized mobile website design. Since the design will be automatically rendered to a device, the design of the website must take into account certain aspects for each device that could decrease usability and therefore decrease SEO signals sent to search engines. In basic terms, it must be a holistic approach to website design and SEO.
First and foremost is the user / potential customer. Think about the user and how they will interact with your mobile website. What do they need? Here’s an example:
They have been searching for an attorney and have found you. What do they do next? Two things:
- Some will want to call you immediately
- Some will want to read a little more about you and then call
So what’s the point? The design point is to have a call button on any page so that at any instance the result can be the same – contacting you.
The most important aspect in all of marketing is to remove all barriers between you and your customers. Whether it’s being found in search rankings, being heard above the noise and competition, or overcoming customer objections. Whoever removes the most barriers gets the most customers. It is simple details such as this that can make people choose you over the competition and it’s imperative we take advantage of ALL these details to best set you up for success.
Below is a general list of items that relate to barriers in mobile website optimization that may make or break a possible client calling you and need to be addressed when designing your law firm’s website. At Diamond R Creative, we’re aware you need to stand out and it’s our job to know this, to know your customers needs and to know how to remove barriers to success.
Mobile Website Optimization Considerations
- Consideration of search intentions on desktop and mobile
- Simple and intuitive navigation
- Effortless contact – one touch contact and social sharing
- Optimized Page Load Speed
- Optimized Images, Pics, Content, etc
- Optimized menu bars, popup windows and contact forms to be quickly and cleanly displayed
- Consideration of input methods via each different device
- Finally, Testing, Testing, Testing!!!