April 15, 2015: Today Didit looks at the web sites of the 50 most prestigious U.S. Law firms. The firms on this list are aggregated from several public sources, including lists curated by Business Insider and Vault.com.
This study is the latest in our pre-4/21/15 series of studies, which, to date, have included:
a) Major U.S. PR Firms (published 4/2/15)
b) Large cap companies on Long Island (published 4/6/15)
c) Major New York-based advertising agencies (published 4/9/15)
d) 50 Largest U.S. Charities (published 4/14/15)
Didit ran each law firm’s URL through Google’s Mobile Friendly Test application page (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/) to see whether Google considers the site to be “mobile-friendly.” The error types causing any test failures were logged, and a screen capture was made of each report. Testing was begun and concluded on 3/27/2015. 46 of the 50 firms listed could be tested by Google’s test page; 4 could not be.
Here is a summary of findings:
1. Only 40 percent (20) of the sites of these 50 prestigiouos law firms surveyed are fully “mobile-friendly” according to Google’s definition. 26 (52 percent) failed the test; and 4 (8 percent) could not be tested at all.
2. The most common errors seen on the law firm sites failing Google’s Mobile Friendly test were:
a). Links spaced too closely together to be easily clicked on mobile devices. 25 sites had this error, which makes it difficult for mobile users to “tap” correctly on hyperlinks, for example those in a menu bar.
b) Mobile viewports not being set correctly. This error can cause the site to render in less than 100 percent of mobile display space. 21 failing sites had this error.
c) Text being set at a size too small to read on mobile devices. Lawyers might reading “the fine print” but Google’s Test doesn’t like small text that must be zoomed into in order to be read. 20 failing sites had this error.
d.) Blocking of resources necessary for the Google bot to correctly parse the resources referenced by the web page. 15 sites had this error.
e) Content wider than screen. This error can cause the site to become arbitrarily “cropped” when viewed on a mobile device. 10 sites had this error. In most cases only 1 or 2 resources were blocked; a minor site fix. But according to Google, three sites had more than 30 blocked resources, indicating that more extensive debugging may be required by site admins.
f) Incompatible plug-ins. The use of plug-ins (for example Flash) that render well only on desktop devices is discouraged by Google’s mobile algorithm. 1 failing site had this error.
Law firms use their web sites for branding, recruiting, PR, and also as a way to encourage users with legal problems to contact them directly. But the majority of major law firm sites continue to force mobile users to “pinch and scroll” to access the information they publish to these sites.
The fact that a given law firm site fails to pass Google’s Mobile Friendly Test does not mean that it will be invisible on mobile devices.However, Google has indicated that poor showings on this test may result in less visibility when searches are made from moble devices. Emarketer.com has observed that “2015 will see mobile search reach the tipping point — the stage at which the majority of spend, organic traffic, and paid clicks comes from smart phones and tablets.” Forward-thinking law firms will want to cater to the needs of mobile surfers — and mobile searchers — as this traffic component grows.
Didit’s findings should not be cause for alarm. In many cases the site-side problems causing a “Fail” on Google’s Mobile Test can be quickly resolved. Because law firms have less than one week to rectify these problems, senior firm management should take this issue seriously and in-house and/or agency teams to make any corrections required in time for the 4/21/15 deadline.
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