Here's a fun statistic: 31 percent of traffic to law firm websites comes from mobile search. That's nearly one-third of all of your Web traffic coming from smartphone and tablet users. And make no mistake about it, mobile Google results are very different from desktop Google results, which means you're playing a whole different game when marketing your practice online to that 31 percent.
Plus, that 31 percent is likely to grow. In December 2012, just 23 percent of legal consumers used mobile search. In 2011, it was 14 percent; four years ago, it stood at a measly 6 percent.
Bottom line: There's a clear trend towards users looking for legal help on their smartphones and tablets, and you need to plan accordingly for these "local-mobile" searches.
Desktop v. Mobile Search
What's it like to search for an injury lawyer on Google? On the desktop, you'll get a few paid advertisements, then directly beneath it, a few "organic" (non-commercial) search results. More ads and a map are on the right side of the page. Beneath everything are local listings with phone numbers. The most likely path for a potential client is search result > your website > contacting your firm.
On a phone? You'll see ads (with call buttons), one search result, and then a smattering of maps and local listings with buttons for calling, driving directions, and the business's website. All that work you did to make your website beautiful and search-friendly? It's not nearly as helpful on mobile -- a local listing just took your place in the search results.
The Case for Local Listings
The necessity for a well-developed local listing is pretty obvious then, isn't it? If smartphone users are looking for help on a phone, and Google is far more likely to place your local listing in front of them than a search result, then that listing is as important as your website. You need accurate contact information, photos, and possibly even client reviews (ethics caveats apply), plus, of course, the correct link to your website.
Once They Find Your Website...
An important part of that "local-mobile" listing is the Website button: Would you hire someone without reading up on them first? With 31 percent of traffic to lawyers' websites coming from mobile devices, the days of hoping that your desktop site suffices are over -- clients will not want to pinch to zoom and wait five minutes for your page to load.
Think about this from your potential clients' perspective: They go to Google, search for an injury attorney in their city, and get a bunch of local listings. They see one attorney who is conveniently nearby, so they click the website button to read more. The page takes forever to load, and then they have to pinch to read about your practice areas, then click another page, and pinch some more, to zoom in on your phone number.
Local listings are important. Having a mobile optimized website is just as important.
For more information on the source of all of these fun figures, graphics that demonstrate the various types of search, and a case study on how a firm's tweak to their mobile strategy paid off in a big way, check out FindLaw's newest white paper, "Are You Ignoring a Third of Your Firm's Business Potential? How Local Search and Mobile are Defining the New Consumer," available for free on our Lawyer Marketing website.