The impact of Google’s “Mobilegeddon” has been significantly greater than expected. This per a study from Stone Temple, a Boston-based digital consulting company.

“Mobilegeddon” was a name given by webmasters and web developers to Google’s algorithm update of April 21. The effect of the update was to give search priority to sites that display well on smartphones and, in effect, penalize those sites that do not display well on smartphones.

Google recommended responsive design as the solution of choice. With responsive, the same design can render differently (“respond”) regardless of the users’ device (desktop, tablet, mobile, non-visual browser).

The study, which pulled data on the top 10 results for 15,235 search queries a month apart, found that the non-mobile friendly sites got slammed.

Nearly half of them dropped in rankings, and 2.3 times as many dropped as went up. In contrast, the Mobile Friendly pages fared much better, with an overall increase in rankings.


The reason that rankings on mobile sites did not increase more is because they had little opportunity to gain. They were already ranking highly.

Eric Enge, the CEO of Stone Temple, believes the impact of this algorithm is only going to grow.

It is typical for Google to test some things and see how they work. Once they have tuned it, and gain confidence on how the algo works on the entire web as a data set, they can turn up the volume and make the impact significantly higher.

The ramifications of not providing an optimal smartphone experience for your law firm’s readers of blogs and other digital content is huge.

According to the Pew Research Center, a majority of smartphone owners use their phone to follow along with breaking news, and to share and be informed about happenings.

As long as a year ago, Green Target’s State of Digital and Content Marketing Survey found over half of in-house counsel found receiving business information on a smart-phone or tablet to help them stay informed on issues critical to their business.

Blogs across the LexBlog Network are seeing mobile readership as high as 25 to 40 percent.

How is large law responding to the need for mobile first? Not well.

Per LexBlog’s 2015 Am Law 200 Blog Benchmark Report, there are over 900 blogs being published by large law — and 73% of the blogs are not ready for mobile viewing.

Only 26% of the Am Law 200 blogs are built on responsive design providing an optimal viewing experience – easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling – across a wide range of devices from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones.

Some law firms do use a non-responsive “mobile template” for their blogs. In theory, this can work, but in most cases leaves a less than optimum reading experience.

Content buried in websites is likely to be even worse for mobile.

Law firms would be nuts to dismiss search performance on mobile. Large law may not be looking to rank in the first three results for Chicago M&A lawyer. However, if a lawyer writes a post on OPEC’s decision to maintain oil production and its impact on M&A activities, the lawyer expects the post to be found on a search by an exec or in-house counsel on an iPhone.

It’s the same for small law firms writing on unique issues. They want to get seen by consumers and small business keying in a question, as sophisticated clients are apt to do.

As the impact of Google’s “Mobilegeddon” grows, I expect law firms will begin to move quickly to mobile responsive design for their content. It’s a little surprising more firms have not moved already.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Omar Jordan Fawahl