Study Shows Mobile Traffic Is Lower in the Legal Field

It’s a well known fact that more and more people are using the internet on their phones. Statistics suggest that an estimated 58% of search engine queries happen on mobile devices.

However, we at Myers Freelance have insisted that this trend is not something to worry too much about. Mobile internet use tends to focus on matters of trivia and convenience, like the score in the baseball game or online reviews for a particular product, not major life decisions like which lawyer to hire. That’s why we’ve held the opinion that law firms should make their websites mobile-friendly, but not go overboard about it.

A new study has provided the numbers to back that up.

Study shows low percentage of mobile traffic in legal field

Study Looks at Mobile Traffic in Specific Legal Practice Areas

A recent study by the legal marketing company Custom Legal Marketing tracked between 5 and 15 law firm websites in each of the following practice areas:

  • Business law
  • Criminal defense
  • Employment law
  • Estate planning
  • Family law
  • Immigration law
  • Personal injury
  • Veterans law

During a 12 month period from 2016 into 2017, the study looked at the type of device used by the 1.7 million U.S. visitors to those law sites. Here’s what they found:

Legal Field Mobile Traffic Desktop Traffic Other Traffic
Business Law 28% 69% 3%
Criminal Defense 57% 37% 6%
Employment Law 21% 78% 1%
Estate Planning 27% 71% 2%
Family Law 36% 60% 4%
Immigration Law 45% 53% 2%
Personal Injury 43% 52% 5%
Veterans Law 24% 76% 0%

Mobile Traffic is Underrepresented in Legal Field

While mobile traffic accounts for an estimated 58% of internet use, even the most mobile-heavy legal practice area – criminal defense – does not quite reach that level. In other legal practices, the mobile traffic we see is actually well below the overall mobile rates.

This is what we’ve been saying, all along. The general online marketing stress on securing mobile traffic simply does not apply to the legal field like it does to, say, restaurants. People tend not to get stopped at a street corner by the thought that they need to make a will and then immediately act on it by grabbing their phone, searching for an estates attorney, and scheduling a consult.

Numbers are Still Higher Than We Anticipated

However, we were still surprised to see some practice areas with such high rates of mobile traffic. In the field of criminal defense, it was over half. Personal injury and immigration law were approaching that number. We were expecting to see numbers similar to the mobile rates for family law (in the vein of 60/40 or 2 to 1) across the spectrum, with only slight upticks for personal injury lawyers and divorce attorneys.

A Caveat: Numbers Could Chase Themselves

There is, however, a huge caveat with the numbers presented in this study: There simply isn’t enough of a data set to overcome the possibility that some of the sites are getting abnormal mobile traffic flows because they over perform on the mobile front.

The study only tracked “5 to 15 websites” in each legal field, and did not disclose the sites that were used. If even one of those sites is aggressively optimized for mobile searches, the resulting mobile search traffic that it would receive could skew the entire results package.

Of course, the same can be said in the other direction – if just one of these sites has a truly abhorrent mobile experience, it would attract far fewer mobile visitors and skew the percentage of mobile traffic downwards. However, we don’t think this would be the case, here: The study only selected law firm websites that were “managed” by professional marketing companies or “internal marketing departments.” Professional online marketing companies are not going to ignore a domain’s mobile side.

In this way, the numbers are kind of chasing themselves: Because the law firm websites that were tracked are managed by professional marketers, they are probably going to do better than average on the mobile front, which would attract more mobile users, which would slightly inflate the percentage of mobile visitors.

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