Optimizing Images for Search: The Basics

Images are important. They can improve SEO as well as break up text and help make your website or blog post aesthetically pleasing. However, large uncompressed images can slow your page speed and impact your ranking factor. With the majority of people using their mobile devices for web browsing rather than desktop pc’s or laptops, making sure that your images are optimized is vital. Follow these steps and you will be on your way to becoming an image optimizing machine.

Finding The Right Image

Whether it is the header image for your website, a featured image for your blog post or a product image for your web store, make sure that you are using an image that reflects what you are trying to accomplish. There are many great resources that provide free stock images however it is best if you can supply your own images or have professional images taken. Original images will always be better than stock images, but if you do not have the resources to take your own photos, free stock images will work as long as they are high-quality and not too tacky. A couple website that I frequent are:

There are plenty of other stock image sites, however make sure that you can legally use them and whether or not you need to provide attribution.

Choosing The Correct File Format

Whether you are using Adobe Photoshop, Affinity Photo, or any of the other photo editing programs available, you will need to figure out which filetype will be the best for your image. This could be confusing considering how many file options are available. In this post I will be going over two popular file formats, JPEG and PNG.

  • JPEG: This is one of the most common image file types on the internet. JPEGs do not support transparency within images like PNGs do. JPEGs keep file sizes small and is pretty much supported universally.
  • PNG: Unlike JPEG, PNGs support transparency and possess a better color range. On the downside, file sizes are larger than a JPEG.

Unless you need transparency, JPEG should be your first choice when deciding file format.

Correctly Naming Your Image

Using a proper file name for you image is important because you want Google and other search engines to know what the image is about. For example, let’s say that you took a photo of a sunset at the beach in Hawaii using your own digital camera. When you upload that photo to your computer, you might have seen something like DSC1234.jpg as the file name. When looking at the image, you can instantly tell that it’s a picture of a sunset at the beach. Unfortunately this isn’t the case for Google. Instead you want Google to see that the image is sunset-hawaii-beach.jpg.

Optimizing Your Image For Web

When posting an image on the web, your main goal is to decrease the file size as much as possible without losing too much quality. With websites like compressjpeg.com and compresspng.com this process is incredibly simple. Simply upload your image to the site and it will do everything for you. After the image has been compressed, you can make further changes to the image when you hover over the image and click on “settings” (shown below).

Once you’re happy with the changes you have made, simply download the image and you are ready to go!

If you have access to Photoshop and want an in-depth “hands-on” approach, you can read about compression and how to compress images in Photoshop here.

What Alt Text Is and Why You Need It

Alt text is the text that search engines use to understand what the image is. When we look at a picture of a sunset at a beach, we understand what is going on in the picture. At this time, search engines cannot recognize images unless you include alt text. If you are uploading your image to WordPress, all you need to do is update the alt text option within the edit image options. Another way to include alt text is simply through html. For example:

<img src=”sunset-hawaii-beach.jpg” alt=”Sunset Hawaii Beach” />

Done!

It’s that simple. By following the steps previously outlined, you will have images that look great and load quickly.

 

The .law TLD Sales Conspiracy

Lawyers – you’ve been duped into buying the new .lawyer, .attorney, and .law TLDs by a conspiracy of numerous “studies” all citing the same bogus example: Jacksonville.Attorney.  This newly launched domain, with the new .attorney TLD, was deliberately manipulated to suggest its success in SEO rankings was due to the new .attorney TLD.  This “case study” was  then shopped aggressively to the media and used as an erroneous example to sell more domains to unsuspecting attorneys.

I first became aware of the Jacksonville example when a lawyer forwarded me a glossy printed brochure from Rightside – a reseller of the new TLDs – touting the SEO benefits of the new TLDs. My client wanted to know if we should migrate his domain.rightsidew

This case study has been covered repeatedly by journalists regarding the efficacy of the TLDs as a magic bullet for search. Response magazine writes:

Due to the specificity of many TLDs, such as .lawyer, .mortgage, or .software, they often coincide with popular search terms and become valuable lead-generating tools while also boosting search engine rankings…

“Six months ago, it did not rank on any page at all for relevant searches,” Block said. “Without making any other design or content changes, we’re now starting to outrank our more established competition.

A Quick History

Recently, lawyers have been able to purchase new domains with .lawyer, attorney or .law replacing the traditional .com. (These are know as Top Level Domains – TLD). These new TLDs are available only to attorneys through a select number of resellers and are available at an extensive price premium from your typical domain.

Before we go any further, let’s be very clear that every experienced SEO should know where Google stands with regard to the SEO impact of these new  TLDs.   John Mueller has addressed this issue very specifically:

Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.
…understand there’s no magical SEO bonus…

So it is odd for so many case studies, by so many experienced experts, to be written with so many vociferous arguments pushing the SEO benefits of the new TLDs. All in direct contradiction with  fundamental search theory and Google’s crystal clear and specific remarks.

(My emphases in the quotes below)

Name.com.

Domain reseller, Name.com cites the Jacksonville example:

And while there is no definitive proof that it can give you a boost in SEO rankings, some websites that use New Domains are already beginning to rank on the first page of search results. Take, for example, jacksonville.attorney, which is the first non-paid result when you search for “jacksonville attorney”

FindLaw

Big Box legal player, FindLaw (one of the select few resellers of the new TLDs for attorneys) weighs in:

From both a consumer and an SEO perspective, a verified, restricted top-level domain provides a level of confidence that you know who you are dealing with online.

SEO for Lawyers

Luke Cicilliano (also a TLD reseller) at “SEO for Lawyers” penned an extensive, 6 post series outlining the virtues of the new .TLDs.  A few excerpts:

The new domain extensions are going to impact search in a big way.

Over the foreseeable future we see the use of the new TLD’s becoming a meaningful ranking factor in search.

Dot Law Inc

Yup – there’s a company set up whose entire business model is dedicated to selling vanity .law domains.

Search Engine Ranking – Since only lawyers can own .law domains, lawyers and law firms will be able to increase credibility in search results as compared to other top level domains.

RightSide

Rightside’s blog includes a deeper dive into the aforementioned Jacksonville example.  Excerpts:

At the same time, we’ve been more than happy to point to Jacksonville.Attorney—a site which has reached the top of Google’s search results—as a great success story for nTLDs….

The domain extension likely contributed to Jacksonville.Attorney’s high search ranking….

he made a move from EricBlockLaw.com, to his current Jacksonville.Attorney domain. Within months, Eric was seeing huge gains in traffic and search rankings.

But not all of the articles are directly from TLD resellers….

Search Engine Journal

A Search Engine Journal post touting the Jacksonville Attorney case study shows a screenshot of the site’s search traffic from Google Analytics before and after it launched. Pause and think about that for a second… you mean to say that the site has more traffic now that it did before it was launched?  This of course, is like comparing my 5 year-old’s height today to his height prior to conception.

SEJ 2

This article goes on to conclude:

We certainly have some proof that moving a site to a New gTLD domain or using a New gTLD domain for your brand new domain could help organic rankings, and it certainly won’t hurt rankings.

Which is a complete 180 about face from the author’s previous position regarding gTLDs.  From his blog post titled Will New Domain Name TLDs Carry Extra Weight in the Search Engine Rankings?…

So, with all of these new TLDs, will these new domain names carry any extra weight when it comes to search engine rankings? Absolutely Not.

You’ll also note in the GA graph above, the site is pulling in roughly 10 sessions a day.  Even assuming all of this is organic search traffic, its hardly a runaway SEO success by any measure and not fodder for an aureate case study.

American Bar Association

The ABA covered the new TLD’s touting their impact on search multiple times:

Search engine algorithms are notoriously byzantine, and the degree to which they weigh domain names, in balance with other factors, is clear only to the mathematicians writing the code. It is evident, though, that domain names are a factor.

Domain names alone don’t guarantee high ranking, but early data does suggest that new TLDs “are holding their own against, and in some cases outperforming, comparable addresses registered in legacy domains like .COM.”

Globerunner Case Study

Globerunner, an SEO agency out of Texas, was so enamored with the Jacksonville example, that they developed a slickly produced, 15 page case study that leads to the same carefully measured, data-driven conclusion:

Our research has led us to the conclusion that the uptick in organic search traffic on the firm’s rebranded website (www.jacksonville. attorney) was driven, at least in part, by Eric’s firm choosing to use a new, .ATTORNEY, domain name…  we believe that new gTLDs do offer multiple traffic generation benefits, especially because of the availability of exact match keyword domain names like Jacksonville.Attorney.

The Globerunner report does actually go deeper than all of the other “studies” and looks at the backlink profile for the new domain (which, would be my first obvious step in assessing success.)  It looks like the backlink snapshot was taken roughly just 6 weeks after the site went live and, it certainly doesn’t reflect the current reality of the site.  See the two different screenshots from Majestic below which show a more than threefold increase in the number of links.

So in this carefully researched case study – the obvious explanation for the site’s success (a bulletproof backlink profile) utilizes data that is, at best, grossly incomplete.

Globerunner’s Case Study Majestic Snapshot

Globerunner snapshot

Current Majestic Snapshot (taken 5/22/16)

Majestic

The backlink analysis brings up an entirely different question – how on earth does a solo practitioner’s brand new website generate over 200 backlinks across 70 domains in a scant six month period? I’ve been doing SEO for law for over a decade – the only way to develop this kind of backlink profile this fast is through an extremely aggressive campaign by experienced, SEO experts with deep contacts.

More pointedly –  why didn’t any of the ostensibly objective studies bother to take the 5 minutes it took me to review the backlink profile?  Didn’t anyone else notice or was this obvious point deliberately overlooked?

linkbuilding

 

The Legacy Site – Content, Platform and Design

Remember that comment about the site not being redesigned and no new content?  I started to wonder if this was true, so I reviewed the legacy site (ericblocklaw.com) on archive.org to see what it looked like prior to the migration to the .attorney domain. From a content perspective, is this a true apples to apples comparison?

Not only was the site completely redesigned and the platform updated, but the content was completely overhauled as well. The legacy site had a scant 14 pages and the new one…. 141. The legacy on-page was atrocious – not a single H1 and site-wide verbatim, generic title tags and meta descriptions.  Here’s the before and after for Personal Injury pages. Hmmmm… wonder why the early site wasn’t ranking for “personal injury lawyer”?

Content Comparison

 

 

 

 

 

Delving further into the content showed that many of the practice area pages were verbatim duplicated across 10-20 other law firm sites. Further, ericblocklaw.com was a carbon copy of itself on a domain that is still live today: http://thetriallawyer.org/. So we have a case of thin, copied, duplicated duplicate content.  Anyone still wondering why it didn’t rank?

block

A Wider Study

Making assertions that fly in the face of SEO theory with a single datapoint is dangerous at best…. and I would be similarly remiss in rejecting the premise of the top TLDs impacting SEO on that single example as well. So I enlisted the help of Dan Weeks to look at thousands of personal injury related queries across twenty large cities in the US and looked for instances of the new TLDs on page 1 results.  Just one .lawyer TLD.  No .law’s.  No .attorney’s. And that one domain was a redirect of a previously strong domain.

My OpinionGoogle Juice

Lawyers have been duped into buying things for their alleged magical SEO benefits for years. Press releases, social media consultants and virtual offices have all been sold to unsuspecting lawyers with the tease of a little Google Juice. This is just another example of lawyers being duped into ponying up money with empty promises of SEO success. Its a sophisticated, slickly produced, marketing and PR campaign supported by widespread “case studies” of a single erroneous example. And those case studies ignored the most foundational components of website success: content, platform and backlinks, in their analysis.

Jacksonville.attorney’s real success is due to a Pygmalian make-over of one of legal’s most sickly, pathetic sites with a comprehensive redesign, an upgraded infrastructure, a massive expansion of high quality content and a wickedly aggressive linkbuilding campaign.

But if you’d like some of that Google Juice, we have some available for purchase in our Legal SEO Store.

Be the Most Accessible Lawyer You Know

Advance on this post: I recently had the opportunity to design a website for a client that works with individuals and families that have experienced a traumatic brain injury. Different from our typical client, this pro-bono project was made possible by Mockingbird 1% for Good — part of our ongoing effort to make the world a little better for everyone.

This project has been a welcome doorway into the world of web accessibility. I quickly learned how little I knew, and how strongly the lessons I learned applied to the legal industry. Thanks to the patience and assistance of a great client, we were able to design a website that appeals and works for everyone, including those with disabilities.

Without further delay — or in case you happen to be a skim reader — please help yourself to any of these website accessibility tips. And don’t be shy, implement them and keep a sharp eye on your analytics.

You might be amazed how people engage with your website when they can see your content.

Why Legal Cares About Accessibility

Let’s just start with the easy stuff. People with visual, motor, cognitive, hearing impairments, or any type of disability deserve to be treated equally. Everyone should care about accessibility.

  1. It’s not being accommodating, it’s being decent.
  2. Do you have any clients who are elderly? Clearly, with age comes wisdom, but so too comes vision and cognitive changes.
  3. Do you have clients that have been injured in say, a car accident? The workplace? Affecting cognitive, visual, auditory, or motor impairments?
  4. All for one, and one for all. Designing with disabilities in mind only enhances good, classic, design techniques for everyone.
  5. Legally, it’s the law…well almost. You know the old Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and how it currently only requires government websites to comply with accessibility standards? Well times are changing. In some cases, the DOJ has ruled that all websites must comply with the ADA, even if the current regulations are not explicit.

These are some pretty convincing punch points. But now let’s get technical, so that we can start to make changes that are inclusive and a win for everyone.

Size Matters

cat working on computer
How does a screen reader work? Try installing and activating Chrome Vox, to view your website as a screen reader would. Now don’t cheat, close your eyes!

20.6 million people are estimated to be visually impaired in the US. Imagine you are blind or visually impaired, how will you interpret a website and its content? Even more important, how can you make critical decisions like, who to choose to represent you in a legal case?

caption: How does a screen reader work? Try installing and activating Chrome Vox, to view your website as a screen reader would. Now, don’t cheat, close your eyes!

Some people will use a screen reader. All the text, links and images in a website will be read out loud, from top to bottom. Some good practices here are to make sure all of your text is text, rather than images. Be sure to have a page hierarchy that makes sense: important, broad info at the top, clear navigation, and also clear divisions on the sections of your site.

Other people won’t need a screenreader, but will use a text-only zoom. This is set in their browser accessibility settings. To help them out, you just need to make sure that all your text can be enlarged without breaking your site. To test this, try opening your website in Firefox. Select Options, Content, Fonts & Colors and try increasing the font size. Is your site still readable and useable? Is all the content still on the page?

Color Matters

If you have a website, at some point, some designer, somewhere, has probably hit you over the head with the battle cry, color matters. I firmly agree, but not in the way you think. Better stated here, contrasting color matters. Genetic color blindness affects about 8% of all men and about 0.5% of all women.

color perception blocks
Cover one of the larger rectangles. Stare at a similar colored one directly next to it for 5 seconds. Remove the cover and note how the smaller rectangle appears to change color.

Contrasting color is a fascinating topic — placing two colors together can actually change the way you perceive each color (see image below). But color can also determine whether or not information will even be visible to people. To see what I mean, try running your website through various color deficiency filters to experience your site through different eyes.

Even people without visual impairments struggle with content comprehension when there is not sufficient contrast in colors. Changes in vision that occur with age can make it more difficult to read a computer screen as well. People experience reductions in the amount of light that reaches the retina, loss of contrast, and loss of ability to discern details.

So, what is the golden color contrast ratio that will magically allow more people to see your content (and thus increase your pool of potential clients)? Properly known as contrast ratio, the minimum current standard is a ratio of 4.5 to 1. Test your site’s color contrast ratio and adjust to make things readable. Many visually impaired users make use of highlighting as a quick trick to increase contrast and visual focus. Now, onto those lovely hero images you’ve got on your site…

Alt Text for Images Matters

With visual impairments in mind, alt text for images becomes very important. Rather than a tool for SEO or text to look at while the page loads, alt text may be the entirety of information that a potential client has to conceptualize, visualize and interpret your message. So, make it good!

Providing strong alt text can be helpful for both people with visual impairments and those with some types of cognitive disabilities. There are tons of articles on how to provide strong, descriptive, alternative text for images — so I’ll let you Google that for the complete list. But one I‘d like to highlight: don’t use the phrase “image of…” or “photo of…” in your alternate text as that is redundant information in an image tag.

A Side Note on Font Awesome

Let’s jump to an example where I felt sheepish. I have always been a fan of Font Awesome: scalable vector icons where you can easily change the size, color and other appearances. For a website mockup, I used a Font Awesome icon, over a button, over an image. I assumed that this layered approach would be good for multiple types of users on the site, and for providing good visual cues and separators. I also assumed, as a sheep might, that since Font Awesome is popular, that it would be well-versed in current accessibility practices. Well bah-bah-bad idea. Ok, done with the sheep thing, really.

I looked into font awesome accessibility, and the verdict is, it’s not that great — on it’s own. Their website says: “Screen Reader Compatible. Font Awesome won’t trip up screen readers, unlike other icon fonts.” Now this is fairly useless information, when there isn’t additional information to help us understand exactly how it interacts with screen readers.

There are many reasons that icons and font awesome are super handy for websites. Most browsers (used in conjunction with screen readers) expose CSS generated content through the accessibility layer. Meaning, screen readers may be able to describe your icon out loud. Using an icon on a button or call to action is good, just don’t forget to provide an alternate way for people to understand your content if the icon isn’t expressed.

So, general rule of thumb on this one: use CSS generated content only to supplement the design, not to create key page content.

Don’t Be Terrified: Best Practices Still Apply

That’s right, the world has not flipped over on it’s axis, oh wait, yes it has. But don’t worry about that, because all the great things that you are having your designer / marketing assistant / front desk person / nephew do on your website are still applicable to good, universal website design.

Great designs are built in a way that maximize aesthetic and functional appeal to everyone, regardless of age and ability. Wait now — you say you don’t have someone implementing great design, content, and accessible features on your website? Well, seize the day: call someone who cares about this stuff.

Or ruminate on this: how many potential clients are missing out on your legal services because they struggle to figure out who you are and how you can help them?

Introducing the Echo Legal Marketing Platform

Echo is our amazing new marketing platform. We take the tools that we use every day as an agency for our clients who are paying us $5,000-10,000 a month and we bring them into your law firm. We use video tutorials to provide step by step instructions on how to use them.

  • Analytics. How do we use Google Analytics? What do you need to keep an eye on and what metrics matter? How do we use tools like Moz Local and Yext to bolster our local performance?
  • Review Management. How do we make sure that when we’re reviewed on Yelp, Avvo or Findlaw that we get an email that day telling us about that review?
  • Call Tracking. How do we implement call tracking? What is call tracking and how does it work, and what can it tell you?
  • WordPress. We use WordPress websites to power our legal-centric and responsive designs hosting on the amazing WPEngine.
  • How do you use Google Webmaster Tools to track the real performance of your site at the keyword level, instead of relying on ranking reports?

All of this is wrapped around business reporting infrastructure with a final goal of helping you calculate exactly how your marketing investment is performing.

Marketing Tools: $300/month
Legal Centric WordPress site: $300/month
(or both for $500)Learn more at echo.mockingbird.marketing or sign up for our Webinar where we’ll tour all of this awesome functionality.

Put a Bird on It: Making Your Legal Imagery Soar

Portlandia Put a Bird on It

Put a bird on it. There is a reason that this phrase from the quirky Portland-based show has stuck around — well there are two reasons:

  1. By placing a bird image on clothing, bags, and otherwise utilitarian items, they became elevated to art, perceived as inviting and worth more. Short lesson: images matter.
  2. A once whimsical image that provided visual intrigue & lightness to mundane designs got overused. It is now a tired stereotype. It represents a lack of imagination and creativity. Short lesson: don’t put a bird on it…And let go of overused stock photography.

Why You Care

Images make ordinary things emotional, increase engagement, and can keep people on your content longer.

We process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.

Hm…maybe I should have put that last bit in an image. Did you know that just by visually imagining a written word as an image, it increases the likelihood that someone will remember the word? Already we’ve got two reasons to include great images on our websites: faster connection, stronger connection. But there’s more.

Images pack powerful emotional and cognitive sway. Remember when you do the group cohesion tests to find out what kind of learner everyone is? Examples include auditory, kinesthetic…the list goes on. But guess what — big surprise here — pretty much everyone, is also a visual learner. One more reason that images are something to care about on your legal website.

Stock Images that Won’t Kill Your Spirit

So, you’ve decided, you will put some stock images on your website. Fair enough. Here are a couple of free resources: compilation of many free stock images, variety of local and other high-res photos. We just ask, if you can, don’t put a bird on it…unless your business name is Mockingbird Marketing, then you should certainly put a bird on it. Really though, as you make decisions about what defines your firm and what makes sense for your branding, one easy rule is this: steer clear of legal images that haven’t had a rest since pretty much the beginning of law. See below for a solid, though not comprehensive, list.

Spare Yourself these Top 7

  1. GavelsKitty Cat Decides Justice
  2. Scales of justice
  3. European judge (unless you practice in Europe)
  4. Statue of Lady Justice
  5. Piles and piles of law books
  6. Eagles
  7. American flag laid over any of the previous items

Here’s a quick tip: Google “law firm.” Select Images. Anything you find here is very, very tired. Be polite, let it rest.

You Are Above the Gavel

Think of your firm and your firm’s photos as a personal calling card. They represent who you are, your brand, and if you can give people the extra edge to associate your firm or your photos with your firm, then you are one step closer to a phone call. Visuals are a huge part of how we tell our story and how we initially engage with people. It’s often our first impression beyond a Google Search. So, if you have the budget, one better than selecting compelling stock photos is to have attorney and firm photos taken by a professional photographer.

Think about what defines your law firm. What differentiates you? And not just what is interesting to you; flip that around. What will potential clients find important? What about your firm will be of value to them?

For example, say you think your law firm culture — relaxed, Hawaiian shirt Friday — is quite delightful and unique. I agree, go for it. BUT before you publish your luau Friday firm look to the website, consider this: why does a potential client care? Unless you can share (visually, written, etc.) how your hang loose Hawaiian look benefits the client, then keep it internal. Because worst case scenario here, it can come across as self-absorbed and inward-thinking.

From Selfie to Self-Assured

So we’ve just compiled a list of things to avoid. Let’s shift gears to things that work. Again, great law firm photos can help bring to life your qualities, value, philosophy, and story. They can give you an edge on how you are different from other law firms.

Proud Kid AwardAfter launching over 500 legal websites, I have seen a wide array of law firm photos: the good, the bad and the ugly. From blurry head-shots, to poorly green-screened firm photos, to selfies in a courthouse bathroom, it’s all been done. And it all gets posted to the website.

Instead, take the time to hire a local photographer. Have staff prepared for the photoshoot and strategize beforehand with the photographer so that you know what you are going to get out of it.

Scout out locations in and around your office that are interesting. Are there major landmarks that people will recognize? Is there a good view near your location? Some of the best firm photos for websites are action photos. It doesn’t have to be rocket science. Just try to get everyone walking, speaking, and moving like great, engaging, caring humans do. Great law firm photos can tell a story and it is your job to make sure that story is worth telling.

Google Will Now Use Mobile-Friendliness as a Ranking Factor

Over the last few months Google has alluded to the importance of a mobile friendly (responsive) design. Now we know why. In Google’s own words, “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.” Google will also “begin to use information from indexed apps as a factor in ranking for signed-in users who have the app installed.” That’s right — Google will once again shake up the Internet world with an algorithmic ranking update, and this time they’re giving us a warning.

What does mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal mean?

Google considers a multitude of different signals to determine the quality of your website. For instance, they look at your backlinks (or other sites on the web that link to yours). They use your content as a signal – is it fresh, unique, and high quality? They consider the technological soundness of your site – how easily can their bot and users can find and navigate your site? The list could go on, but the important thing to remember is that in addition to the factors mentioned above, Google will now be using mobile-friendly factors to help rank your site in mobile search results.

This means that if you want to show up well in Google’s mobile search results, and we know you do, it’s critical that you update your site to be mobile-friendly.

The particulars of the update

At Mockingbird we try our best to keep technical jargon to a minimum (which is admittedly difficult), but it’s important to explain how this update will impact search results. Here are the specifics:

  • Algorithm runs in real-time – we suspect this means that if your site is updated to be mobile-responsive, you could see an immediate bump in the search results.
  • Page by page basis – if your home page is mobile friendly and the rest of your pages are not then only your home page will benefit.
  • Site will be labeled as mobile-friendly – if Google views your site as mobile-friendly, they will mark it as such in the search results that they produce to users. In theory this will increase your click-through rate. This is already happening – you can see an example from this screenshot I took this morning:

Mobile Friendly Google Results

Why does Google care about mobile-friendly (responsive) design?

Quite simply, Google cares about user experience (and you should too). Let me pontificate on the importance of this point. You should care how your customers (and, even more importantly, potential customers) interact with your site. If the user has to pinch, zoom, and drag your site all over their phone or tablet, they will not be satisfied with their experience. It may not be something you actively think about (I do because I’m an Internet nerd), but we’re all familiar on some level with the annoyance of a non-responsive site.

According to a Local Search Association study released today (March 11th, 2015), “60% of US adults now typically choose smartphones or tablets over PCs to find information before buying products and services offline.” Creating a great mobile experience for the user can no longer be a second thought, but instead an integral part of design and development.

What will this update mean for legal?

There are two important considerations when thinking about the impact on the legal industry:

  1. Lawyers often fall behind the times on Internet and SEO best practices (possibly why we see such obvious spam in the industry).
  2. Legal is extremely competitive compared to most other markets (also possibly why spam is so prevalent in this industry).

You can view this update as an opportunity to surpass your abhorred competitors, or you can view it as another Google-induced headache. Either way, it’s coming on April 21st and you can’t move out of the way.

What can and should you do?

If you’re not sure whether your site is mobile-friendly, don’t worry; Google makes it extremely simple to test whether or not your site passes their test. You can check out your site in real time via Google’s “Mobile-Friendly Test”. You can see our actual result below.

Mockingbird Google Mobile Test

If you passed, congratulations! You need not fear April 21st.

If you were greeted with a handful of red error messages, it’s time to seriously consider updating your site to be responsive to any device. Don’t get left behind in the extremely competitive legal landscape. If you need help avoiding the pain Google’s unmerciful hand, give us a call: 206-209-2125.