What Attorneys Need to Know About Google’s March 2021 Mobile-Only Indexing Deadline

Google recently announced that March 2021 is the firm deadline for mobile-first indexing. After this date, Google will ignore desktop content when indexing and ranking websites, so make sure the mobile version of your law firm’s website contains everything you want Google to index.
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Four years ago, Google announced a mobile-first indexing initiative that would aim to prioritize mobile-friendly websites over desktop versions. The deadline for making sure your website would display properly on a mobile phone changed from September 2020 to March 2021, mostly due to complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of October 14, Google is setting a hard deadline of March 2021, emphasizing that desktop versions of websites will be dropped from Google’s index after this time. If you haven’t taken steps to make sure your law firm’s website is mobile-friendly, now is the time to do so. Here is a brief synopsis of how Google’s mobile-first indexing algorithm will work and how you can make your website visible—and therefore indexed and ranked—by Google.

Desktop Versions of Websites Will be Excluded From Indexing

Perhaps one of the biggest ramifications of the March 2021 mobile-first indexing initiative is Google’s shift to focusing exclusively on mobile sites. Some people mistakenly believed that Google would still crawl and index both versions of the site, but this will not be the case. While this sounds dramatic, Google’s algorithm already prioritizes the indexing of mobile websites, not desktop versions. Google’s John Mueller recently announced, “when a site is shifted over to mobile-first indexing, we will drop everything that’s only on the desktop site. We will essentially ignore that…anything that you want to have indexed, it needs to be on the mobile site.”

A Word About M-Dot Site Complications

Some mobile websites are created as separate m-dot versions and are typically hosted on a separate subdomain. Unfortunately, Google has had difficulty directing desktop users from the search results page to the desktop version of the website, sending them to the m-dot mobile version instead. It’s unclear exactly what causes this to happen, but Mueller stated that mobile-first indexing may have prompted only the m-dot version of the website to appear in the search results, even if the searcher is using a desktop. He said that the solution is to “make sure that you redirect your users from the m-dot version to the desktop version when they use a desktop browser.”

What Mobile-First Indexing Means for Your Law Firm

If you’ve already taken steps to ensure that your law practice’s website functions equally well on both a desktop and mobile device, then you are unlikely to encounter difficulties during this transition. However, if you have both a desktop and mobile site that do not align—perhaps they have different content, images, or navigation structures—then Google will ignore the desktop version and only index the mobile site. So, if there is content or information on the desktop version of your website, it’s time to make sure that it’s also included on the mobile version, or else Google will ignore it.

March 2021 is rapidly approaching, so it’s imperative that the mobile version of your law firm’s website contains all the content you want to have indexed and ranked by Google. Call LegalRev today at (800) 893-2590 to discuss your digital marketing goals.

November 3, 2020