Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mobile Browsing Trends and Law Firm Search

I increasingly get questions involving how mobile browsing is affecting attorney searches online. At last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, many industry experts are pointing to the mass proliferation of smart phones as the “death of the PC” by 2013 – when mobile computing is expected to surpass PC’s in total use

Looking at the numbers provided by Gartner, by 2013 there’s expected to be 1.82 Billion smart phones in use compared to 1.78 billion PC’s. What further complicates this number is that Forrester Research is predicting 82 Million Americans will be using tablets by 2015 – a number not included in either of the two buckets. Now that is a lot of mobile computing!

Looking further into the numbers, we also find that 59% of Americans accessed the internet on their mobile phones last year – which works out to roughly 180 Million Americans in 2010…a 25% increase from the previous year. All of this would seem pretty impressive until you realize that over 300 Million Chinese did the same thing. Now you can see what Google can’t ignore the Chinese market despite their problems with censorship.

Android Is the Fastest Growing Mobile Operating System

Many people assume that the explosion of mobile browsing focuses mainly on the use of Apple applications. As the chart shows, this was initially correct only a half a year ago but as you can see, Google has been catching up rapidly with the increasing adoption of their Android operating system. With Apple’s the recent announcement of adding Verizon as a carrier of their IPAD (it’s about time folks!) I expect to see some uptick here but again…but the trend is undeniable and favors Google.

So what if you don’t have an Android phone but have a website? How do you know how your websites looks and operates in the Android interface? If you are curious, you can download an Android interface for your PC (if you still have a PC that is) to view your website and others in the same interface as you would see it on your phone. Pretty cool tool but requires a few steps to fully install.

What Visitors Are Searching For Through Mobile Smart Phones

In looking through my current customer’s websites, I am not seeing a particularly high number of mobile searches that exceed 5% of their overall traffic…yet. But the trend is undeniable and therefore it is important to consider the following:

  • Mobile visitors currently tend to conduct more intentional searches when online. In short, they often know what they are looking for such as phone numbers, addresses, maps, and attorney profiles - so make sure that each are easy to find and access on the mobile views of your website.
  • Mobile devices provide much less real estate to display data so the more cluttered your website in a mobile view, the more difficult it will be for people to find your site useful for their search.
  • If you have a graphics heavy website, you may want to consider adding a new mobile web version of your website for mobile users to see when they come to your site. In the example provided here, you can see a much more scaled down, useful and easy to use version of this law firm’s website.
  • If you currently run PPC, the top two positions in Google play just as prominent of a role in mobile search as they now do with the recently changes involving Google Places displays.

The bottom line when considering improvements to the mobile browsing experience of your website is to start by thinking like your potential clients do. I have had numerous attorneys tell me that when their clients found them online through a mobile smart phone, often times it was from a hospital or the scene of an accident or crime. Keeping this in mind, try to think about what is most important and useful for your potential clients when they are in these situations so you know how best to compete for these type of searches and potential clients. If you do plan on providing a mobile site view, it is also important to a prominent link from that view back to your main website in case they need to see more details and information.

Visit our website on law firm website optimization if you would like to learn more about how to better advertise your law firm online.


  1. Mobile device use is exploding. The company responsible for the mobile phone Internet domain has bought out a mobile browsing company that was on the verge of death just one month ago.

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