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Is Desktop SEO Still Relevant for Law Firms?

Posted on Thursday, June 13th, 2024 at 1:15 pm    

The State of Desktop SEO in a Mobile-First World

The finalization of Google’s switch to mobile-first indexing is nearing. The company plans to crawl all websites exclusively with its mobile Googlebot starting on July 5, 2024. According to Google, some websites are still crawled with the desktop bot, but that will end July 5th. The long-coming switch made webmasters scramble when it was first announced in late 2016. Now, the few holdouts who don’t have mobile-friendly websites will need to implement changes that make the mobile Googlebot happy or risk having their sites fall out of Google’s index.

Mobile optimization has become increasingly important over the past decade, as more users access the internet through their smartphones and tablets. However, it’s crucial to recognize that desktop SEO is still necessary–prioritizing one over the other can be detrimental to your law firm.

Google’s transition to indexing only sites that its mobile crawler can understand means that the mobile version of a website is considered the primary version for ranking and indexing purposes.  Essentially, Google’s algorithms will predominantly use the content, structure, and user experience of the mobile site when determining its search rankings. You can get a glimpse into this yourself by opening your website on your phone or tablet. If it looks glitchy or photos are misaligned or the text is too small to read, you may need to focus on fixing your site’s mobile usability.

Despite this, desktop SEO remains relevant. Users still rely on desktop computers for comprehensive research, professional tasks, and accessing detailed content that might be cumbersome to navigate on smaller screens. A desktop set-up is often preferred for tasks that require detailed attention, such as drafting legal documents or conducting extensive research, where larger screens and more powerful interfaces are advantageous.  This dual nature of user behavior highlights the need for a balanced SEO strategy that does not favor one platform over the other.

For TSEG’s clients, this shift is not unexpected. We’ve been preparing our partners for these changes for some time now, ensuring that their digital presence is clean across both mobile and desktop platforms.

It’s important to note that the “shift to mobile first” primarily challenges those who maintain separate mobile and desktop websites, which is rare these days. At TSEG, our approach has always unified desktop and mobile sites through responsive design. This design adapts seamlessly to various screen sizes, ensuring a consistent and optimized user experience regardless of the device used. Consequently, we’ve never faced issues differentiating between mobile and desktop websites since, for us, they have always been one and the same.

You can test if your website is responsive by opening it in your desktop’s browser and resizing the window. If the elements move around to accommodate the smaller/larger window size without breaking, your website is probably already responsive.

Impact on Law Firms: Desktop vs. Mobile SEO

The ongoing shift to mobile-first indexing presents unique challenges and opportunities for law firms. While Google’s emphasis on mobile optimization continues to grow, it’s important to note that only firms with a desktop-only presence will be significantly impacted. For those already integrating both desktop and mobile strategies or responsive strategies, this transition reaffirms the need for a comprehensive approach. The Google Search Central Blog stated:

If your site’s content is not accessible at all with a mobile device, it will no longer be indexable.

Desktop SEO, however, still remains vital. Desktops provide a more stable and capable environment for multitasking and handling complex processes, which can enhance productivity and efficiency.  On the other hand, desktop-only sites may not render well on smaller screens, leading to frustration and increased bounce rates.

Focusing only on mobile SEO, law firms that have prioritized this structure are reaping significant benefits. Mobile-friendly websites tend to perform better in search rankings due to faster load times and improved user experiences on mobile devices.  Mobile users often seek immediate, on-the-go solutions, making it necessary to optimize for mobile to effectively capture and convert these potential clients.  Neglecting a desktop approach entirely has its faults, however.  Mobile optimization often requires simplifying content and design, which might not fully convey complex information or services. This can impact the overall user experience and brand perception.

Our experience at TSEG shows that firms combining mobile and desktop strategies by taking a responsive design approach are best positioned to thrive. By maintaining strong SEO practices for both platforms, we help clients reach their audience effectively, regardless of the device used. Clients who trust us with their marketing benefit from our ability to adapt to changes seamlessly, ensuring their online presence and engagement are maximized.

The Importance of a Balanced SEO Strategy

Law firms must adopt a balanced SEO strategy that prioritizes both desktop and mobile optimization. Neglecting one in favor of the other can lead to missed opportunities and decreased visibility in search engine results.  At TSEG, we ensure that our client’s websites are optimized for both desktop and mobile, as seen below.

Automatic Screen Resizing Thumbnail

User experience should be at the forefront of SEO efforts. On mobile, this involves leveraging NavBoost, as mentioned in our Google Leak blog post, which enhances navigation efficiency and user interaction. Additionally, minimizing load times and ensuring that touch elements are easily accessible are crucial. On desktop, it means providing comprehensive information, intuitive navigation, and advanced features such as live chat or detailed contact forms. Proper navigation on the site is not just about ease of use but also potentially serves as a ranking signal, indicating the overall user experience quality to search engines.

By maintaining a balanced approach, law firms can ensure they are meeting the needs of all users, regardless of their preferred device. This holistic strategy not only enhances SEO performance but also strengthens the firm’s overall digital presence.

How Our Clients Stay Ahead of the Curve

For TSEG clients, the transition to mobile-first indexing and the emphasis on mobile SEO is not a cause for concern. Our clients have been kept well-informed and prepared for these shifts through our proactive strategies and ongoing support. Law firms that have followed our recommendations and implemented balanced SEO strategies are well-positioned to continue their success.

At TSEG, we emphasize the need for continuous improvement and adaptation. As search algorithms and user behaviors evolve, so do our strategies. We work closely with our clients to refine their digital marketing efforts, ensuring that they remain competitive. Our commitment to client success is unwavering, and we are dedicated to providing the tools and insights needed to thrive.