Lawyer in a Canadian Law Firm? Google Could Penalize You!

April 10, 2015
Mobile Friendly, Responsive Website Design, SEO, Websites

What if I was to tell you that 40% of Canadian lawyers were about to disappear from the web?  What if I said 50%?  How about 60%?   Usually this kind of statement would be greeted with scepticism, if not out-right outrage, and characterized as totally ludicrous. On February 26th Google dropped a bomb about mobile friendly sites that, depending on where you are in Canada, might make these statements close to the truth for users of mobile devices. Google announced they would soon start to penalize non-mobile friendly websites in their search results. The result being that non-compliant websites could find themselves so far down the search results they will be virtually invisible to most users who invariably don’t look past the first couple of page results, if that.

As a follow-up to my recent story outlining the April 21st changes Google is making to favour mobile friendly websites over non-friendly, I decided to take a look at the top law Canadian law firms, as segmented by Lexpert both nationally and regionally, to see who could pass Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.  The numbers were astounding to say the least and even included some global law firms.  The affected firms risk being penalized in Google’s search results for mobile users.  Remember  60% of all searches conducted on Google right now are performed using a mobile devices and the number is rapidly growing.

This change impacts all pages on a Law Firms website, including the hallowed lawyer bio. To put it in the most simple terms if your lawyer bio is not mobile friendly it will be pushed down the Google search results no matter how hard you have worked to raise your profile in the past. You mobile friendly competitors will be found on a smartphone before you.  Do I have you attention now?

So Which Canadian Law Firms Websites Could Be Affected?

Here are how the numbers at the national and regional level breakdown:

Google deemed 43% of the top 30 Canadian Law Firms to be not mobile friendly. A significant portion of the market with some surprising names on the list of those not in compliance. Looking at the top law firms in each region, as defined by Lexpert, results are similarly high.  Obviously some firms are repeated in each region or are deemed to be nationals firms but the effect on a local lawyer’s bio page or that local office’s presence online in that region should not be ignored.

In Toronto 55% were not mobile friendly while the worst ‘offenders’ in the country were Atlantic Canada, Alberta and Saskatoon all at a whopping 60%.  The Canadian Market broke down as follows:

  • Nationwide: Top 30 Largest Law Firms – 43%
  • Toronto: Top 20 Largest Law Firms – 55%
  • Ottawa: Top 10 Largest Law Firms  – 50%
  • Montreal: The 12 Largest Law Firms – 42%
  • Regina and Saskatoon: The 5 Largest Law Firms – 60%
  • Calgary and Edmonton: The 15 Largest Law Firms – 60%
  • Vancouver: The 12 Largest Law Firms – 58%
  • Winnipeg: The 5 Largest Law Firms – 40%
  • Atlantic Canada: The 5 Largest Law Firms – 60%

While I am not going to highlight the firms that could be affected here, you can always do your own research by either whipping out  your smartphone and start visiting some websites or you can run their URLs through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.  It might surprise you to see that, as of today, some Global firms in the market, such as Norton Rose and Dentons, are not Mobile Friendly by Google’s standards. Mid-sized or smaller law firms not on Lexperts listings are also not immune.  I would bet the percentage of those smaller law firms who are not mobile friendly is probably just as high as their bigger brethren.

If you find your are one of the affected firms then this change should not come as a surprise.  Google and others in the industry has been discussing the importance of mobile for quite some time now, while users have been demonstrating it. What you should be more concerned about is if you have not been reading the tea leaves and responding to the new normal by making your content mobile friendly over time.  If so, then Google is not your issue.   You are!   Now is the time to start challenging yourself and your firm to keep up with an ever evolving internet landscape.  Google is just giving you a timely poke to remind you not to get left behind.

If this all leaves you a bit frustrated and you need someone to take a look at your website, perform a technical audit, or help you with updates, feel free to contact me at or checkout the other website & digital services fSquared Marketing can provide your law firm.

Photo by Naypong

Robert Foley

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