I blogged a couple months ago that Google was on the verge of penalizing non-mobile enabled blogs and websites in its search rankings.

Doomsday has now been scheduled. Directly from Google:

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. (emphasis added)

Again directly from Google, responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern.

Serves the same HTML code on the same URL regardless of the users’ device (desktop, tablet, mobile, non-visual browser), but can render the display differently (i.e., “respond”) based on the screen size.

Mockingbird Legal Marketing, well respected in the SEO arena, expects mobile-responsive sites to see an an immediate bump in search results and better click-through rates. Click-throughs improve because sites will be labled as mobile in Google’s search results.

You can already see the “Mobile-friendly” displayed in Google’s search engine results. Here’s the search results for “lawyer blogs” with Real Lawyers Have Blogs at the top.

mobile responsive design blogs

The non-mobile Google penalty makes sense. Google is looking to provide its users the best search results possible. Sending a user to a site that’s difficult or impossible to read and browse would foster a poor user experience.

The consequences of non-mobile can be pretty dire for law firms. According to a recent study, “60% of US adults now typically choose smartphones or tablets over PCs to find information before buying products and services offline.”

Having content produced by lawyers billing hundreds of dollars an hour that will get seen increasinly less often in search results makes no sense. Over 50 perecnt of the traffic coming to most law blogs is coming from Google searches.

Blowing off mobile feeling secure that your business readers are using non-mobile devices is fool hardy. 25 to 40 percent of law blog traffic is coming from readers on mobile devices. That number may go by 50 perecnt by years end. The people sharing your content on social networks are much more likely to be using mobile than non-mobile.

A good number of LexBlog Network member firms have already had us redesign their blogs on responsive design. With Google’s deadline now established, as a good partner we’ll work with our clients to get their blogs on responsive design in order to protect the investment they have made in content marketing and blogging.

Boy, do changes never stop when it comes to the Web and Google.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Jonathan Potts