What does Google think of your court reporting firm’s website? How will it rank your website in search results after its April 21st update?
As you know, ranking well in Google search results is a good thing. When someone searches for what you do, you want them to be able to find you. Now we know that Google isn’t the only place people search for information but is the main search engine people use. People are now searching for information through other search engines, social media, referrals, trade associations, etc. Showing up in Google search results (often referred to as search engine optimization) is only one part of an overall marketing strategy that is effective for court reporting firms, but it is a key part.
As we’ve worked with court reporting firm owners across the nation and in Canada, we noticed with industry changes, generating business is one of the major challenges firms are experiencing.
A few months ago, we released a court reporting industry state of marketing report based on our research of over 200 court reporting firm’s websites and their online marketing efforts. The research was objective enough to be representative of the industry. We analyzed what court reporting firms were doing and not doing with online (internet) marketing. Each element we analyzed include key tactics that help in generating a better marketing result.
One of the elements we assessed was if the websites were responsive. A responsive website essentially responds to any device (such as a tablet or mobile phone) and changes so that a website visitor can easily view the information.
- Over 50% of all searches are done with a mobile device. This is for all industries.
- From our work with many court reporting firms, we have seen their websites get anywhere from 15 – 30% of their website traffic from mobile.
We found that at the time of our research, only 4% of the court reporting firm websites were responsive. 96% of them were not.
There are many reasons why it’s a good idea to have a responsive website that is mobile-friendly, but the biggest reason comes down to this: user-friendliness.
Research has shown that when a mobile user tries to access a website that is not mobile-friendly, they will usually get frustrated, back out of the website and go to another one (usually a competitor). I know I do and you’ve probably done so as well.
Major Google Update
Google knows this and they have been factoring some elements of how mobile-friendly a website is in their search results. On April 21st, they are making a major update in their search results making having a mobile-friendly (or responsive) website more important.
On February 26, 2015, Google announced:
“Starting April 21, 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.”
Also, according to Google, “A page is eligible for the ‘mobile-friendly’ label if it meets the following criteria as detected by Googlebot:
- Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
- Uses text that is readable without zooming
- Sizes content to the screen so users don't have to scroll horizontally or zoom
- Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped”
If you’ve done a search on Google from your phone within the last few months, you may have seen them include “Mobile-friendly” in the webpage result description.
With their April 21 update, those mobile-friendly websites will be much more likely to outrank those that are not.
How to Check Your Website
Have you looked at your firm’s website on a smart phone? That’s an easy way to know if it appears to be mobile-friendly.
If your website is mobile-friendly, great work! Right now, you’re in the minority. As mentioned earlier, over 90% of all court reporting websites are not.
The only way you can make a 100% analysis of what Google thinks is by doing a page by page basis is to use the Google Mobile Friendly Test tool. This may take more time than you have but you could just test your main website address if you’d like:
If your website is not mobile-friendly, you’ll see something like:
If it is mobile friendly, you’ll see:
Next Steps to Consider
If your website is mobile-friendly, you may not need to change anything in accordance with this Google update.
If your website is not mobile-friendly, you may want to consider upgrading your website to a responsive design that is mobile-friendly.
As we’ve discussed before, chasing the latest tactic or trend doesn’t typically work well and it will usually result in you being frustrated and having wasted your own money that you worked so hard to make.
This is why you will never hear us say that the latest tactic will make or break your business. In most cases, it won’t. However, newer tactics may help if executed properly in conjunction with an overall plan or strategy.
With that being said, having a more modern, responsively designed website is one element of a website that can assist you in producing good marketing results. Using a website, social media, and other online (internet) marketing tactics is a part of an overall marketing strategy. Marketing is, of course, only one part of what may be necessary for your court reporting firm to do well and accomplish your goals.
So, make sure any tactic (or new website design) is in line with a strategy designed to optimize your business to accomplish what you want.
Are you thinking, or starting to think, you need a new website or should improve your current one? Want to ensure that you, as the business owner, receive the most value with your website? Download the New Website Planning Checklist for Business Owners.
If you’d like to speak with us about your specific website, marketing or business challenges and how you can start addressing them now, let us know here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Chris Nesbitt is a small business consultant and managing partner of Strategic Business Directs. Connect with him on LinkedIn. He has also been a continuing education instructor for the court reporters and firm owners.