Remember the good old days, back in April 2015, when Google gave everyone fair warning that their mobile-friendly algorithm was about to launch? If you’re like most attorneys, “Mobilegeddon” sent you running to your webmaster to ensure that your site was indeed in compliance with Google’s guidelines. (At least I hope you did! If not, get cracking!) And, if you’re like most attorneys, you haven’t given the matter much thought since.
BIG MISTAKE! Within the last year, Google has confirmed their commitment to mobile with several updates, including the introduction of “mobile-friendly” labels on preferred sites and a streamlined layout of mobile search results pages.
Last month, Google rolled out an update that strengthened its mobile-friendly ranking signal even further.
Fast forward to earlier this week, when Google announced that while the speed of mobile pages isn’t currently used as a ranking factor that will change with the next mobile friendly update.
Clearly, it’s no longer enough to simply have a mobile friendly site. Your mobile site now has to meet several Google benchmarks. Here are some quick dos and don’ts for ensuring that your site passes muster.
Do use large font – Google recommends using a base font size of 16 pixels, with the vertical space between lines set at 1.2em. Keep the pages streamlined and easy to read by avoiding the use of too many different fonts and font sizes.
Do include adequate space between links and buttons – Known as “tap targets,” buttons and links are certainly more difficult to accurately press on a mobile device so Google recommends a minimum tap target size of 48 pixels wide for frequently used buttons, links, and forms. Less frequently used targets can be smaller, but no smaller than 20 pixels.
Do avoid full-screen pop-ups – Large or full-screen pop-ups, such as a subscription form, disrupt the user’s browsing experience on a mobile device. I know I become frustrated when I want to finish reading an article but can’t easily dismiss the dang pop-up! Google understands that frustration and will therefore penalize sites using such forms. Instead, they recommend using a banner to promote your offer.
Don’t ignore your links – Some mobile sites are set up on a separate URL (domain.com for desktop and m.domain.com for mobile). If your site is configured that way, each desktop URL needs to be redirected to the respective mobile URL so that your visitors are directed to the correct page. We also recommend that all internal links within the mobile version of your site lead to mobile URLs and not to desktop pages. The bottom line here is to test all of the links on your site from a mobile device.
Don’t ignore the need for speed – The speed of mobile pages isn’t currently used as a ranking factor by Google, but just this past Wednesday, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes confirmed that it would become a factor in the next mobile update. In addition to becoming a ranking factor, statistics show that slow loading pages frequently cause visitors to abandon web pages, so it’s certainly to your benefit to ensure that your web pages load as quickly as possible.
You can test the load time of both the desktop and mobile renderings of your site using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. The tool will rate the speed of your site from 1 – 100 and provide suggestions on how to improve performance. In addition to speed, it will also rate the user experience of your mobile pages and flag any issues you may have.
Do track mobile traffic and rankings – If you don’t already do so on an ongoing basis – and you should! – be sure to check your mobile data now, before Google updates the algorithm. Continue to track after the update rolls out to make sure you don’t experience a loss of traffic or rankings. Such losses may indicate that there’s more work to be done on your site.
Today, practically everyone has a smartphone and they’re constantly using it to look for information. More than half of Google searches currently take place on mobile and, as that number continues to grow, Google will be favoring sites that provide a stellar mobile experience more and more. If your law firm’s mobile site isn’t performing, now is the time to meet with your webmaster or hire a web developer to ensure that your site is mobile – and prospect – friendly!
Director, Web and Online Marketing Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555