Changes with Google can sometimes seem like splitting hairs, but trust us, splitting the index is a big deal.

By Jon Gimpel

Posted:

Category: SEO


We’ve been saying it for some time.

If your law firm’s site isn’t responsive, designed not only with mobile in mind but with mobile as the primary focus, then your site is not only not responding to user expectations, but it’s also not doing your SEO any favors.


But holy crap, did this just get a lot more real.

This week, at a digital marketing conference dubbed Pubcon, a Google webmaster trends analyst announced that Google will be splitting its index: one for desktop (which is what we currently have), and a new, prioritized index exclusively for mobile, expected to roll out sometime in the next few months.

What does this mean for law firms’ web presences?

The most important takeaway is really just to understand what this signifies: that Google’s responding to the fact that over 50% of searches now happen on mobile devices, and that you absolutely, 100% have to have a site that works well on mobile.

According to Todd McCall, our venerable Digital Marketing Director:

“It’s Google’s world, you just live in it. They’ve made it clear that they are going mobile-first in a big, dramatic way. You can either join them for the ride with a fast, responsive site or get left in the dust where you just might belong.”

On that note, let’s take a closer look at what’s going on.

What are Google’s reasons?

Even though mobile has been making big strides in search, overtaking desktop last year, Google still relies on its desktop index (including all of the factors involved in ranking a page) for mobile queries. They have the ability to glean some information about how well a page will function on mobile based on the desktop version (such as text size), and it does impact your SEO. But it’s been relatively limited.

This changes all of that, allowing Google to focus more fully on exactly how a site is functioning on mobile – and rank sites accordingly.

In addition, Google’s not too enthusiastic about the fact that lots of webmasters create different mobile versions of their sites. The primary reason for doing so is largely to find ways to increase site speed on mobile (which is quite slow across the board compared to desktop), often trimming down their site’s content and features to provide users with a quicker, more mobile-friendly version.

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But Google doesn’t believe that users should have to sacrifice the quality of their browsing experience when they use a mobile device instead of a desktop. They want content and display to be as consistent as possible across all devices; presumably because they believe this is what users want. Idealistic? Maybe. Pushing people toward using AMP? Definitely.

How will this affect desktop?

It’s hard to say, really.

The biggest head scratcher for us is that it seems Google isn’t merely prioritizing mobile indexing, but actually deprioritizing desktop indexing simultaneously. Being that we work on our computers most of the day, the thought that it may not be as current compared to mobile is a bit disconcerting. Nevertheless, we’ll have to wait and see what Google says in the coming months.

In the meantime, take this as your final warning, and take to heart this insight from our Lead SEO Strategist, Jarod Spiewak:

“Mobile and speed optimization has been a force pushing on SEOs, developers, and business owners alike. It’s no longer a recommendation, it’s a requirement. This isn’t the end of desktop search & optimization (at least not yet) but it is shifting where you want to be spending most of your money.”

Get in touch with Black Fin

If you’d like to chat with one of our law firm marketing experts, don’t hesitate to get in touch today. Whether you’re uncertain about the state of your website, looking for help with your Search Engine Optimization, or needing a dogsitter, we’re here to help.

Just kidding on that last one.

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