5 Key SEO Strategy Changes
There are 3 certainties in life: death, taxes, and changes in SEO. From algorithm updates to technical trends that seem to hit mainstream overnight—new directions in SEO can take long-standing optimization approaches and turn them on their head. The trick is to be ready for them.
There are many SEO changes that will undoubtedly take place, but these 5 have already made landfall, and will continue to gain momentum in the months ahead. Let’s take a look at the 5 key lawyer SEO strategy changes your law firm will need to adopt for optimum business success.
1. Google Dethroned—Optimize For Yahoo, Bing, and DuckDuckGo
Google is already experiencing hits to its royal status; Firefox recently dropped Google as its default search engine and replaced it with Yahoo, and talk around town to switch default browsers in iOS 8 and OS X from Google to DuckDuckGo is hot. So, it’s important that your firm works towards maximum visibility on search engines such as Yahoo, Bing, and newby DuckDuckGo.
2. Optimize For Mobile Users
Mobile traffic now exceeds desktop traffic, and this will impact the way users find your firm in 2015. If users can’t access your website from their phone quickly, easily, and legibly, you’re missing out on attorney marketing services and client leads that can damage your business. Your competition is likely keeping up with mobile trends, and you need to be, too.
3. Optimize For Precise Keywords and Phrases
2014’s algorithm updates should have indicated that optimizing for broad keywords such as San Diego Personal Injury Attorney won’t have the ranking juice it used to. The search volume for broad keywords and phrases is so large that targeted audiences are being lost.
Now, focus your content instead on long-tail keywords and phrases such as San Diego Supermarket Slip and Fall Attorney, etc. These terms will have less competition, and will attract targeted traffic.
4. Focused Social Media Engagement
It was once believed that simply having a social media presence was the goal, and businesses jumped on as many social networks as possible to share their content with the masses. Over time, quality attention paid to each platform’s audience was stretched thin, and in the end this approach has proved non-productive to viewer retention and lead generation.
For the coming year, focus on 2 or 3 social media networks only; spending quality time on each providing valuable content, marketing your brand, and fostering client relationships. Social media success is based on quality, not quantity.
5. Focused Inbound Links
Inbound links to your site signal authenticity, authority, and trust. Gone are the days of link building on irrelevant sites, as algorithm updates have squashed any chance of this helping your law firm SEO (in fact, now it will hurt it). Earning an inbound link on a relevant, established website is key, as it can boost SEO in the right ways, and help you build a solid reputation.
Why Ranking Reports Don’t Always Tell The Truth
Knowledgeable attorneys know that tracking the performance of their websites is important. It goes almost without saying that unless you can analyze and understand what is happening on your site, making necessary and timely improvements will be next to impossible.
Unfortunately, many lawyers seem to focus on a single type of reporting, one that may not be best suited for analyzing actual website performance: the ranking report. I don’t mean to imply that this type of report is obsolete; rankings still have a place in attorney marketing services, and to abandon this metric altogether makes little sense. However, there are various reasons why putting all of your eggs into the ranking basket may be a misstep.
Localization Segments Your Target Audience
In 2012, Google altered its algorithm by implementing what is commonly referred to as the “Venice” update. This change in search function narrowed broad search terms by a user’s geographic location. For example, type “injury lawyer” into Google and the system will return results near to your location. That’s Venice at work.
Obviously, this update to Google’s core search code had immense consequences for attorney marketing (more competition on a local level, shifting emphasis for website optimization, etc.). It also dealt a significant blow to the relevance of ranking reports. In most cases, search results now vary depending on a user’s location, so what one user sees when searching for a term like “injury law firm” might be completely different from a user searching for the same phrase even across city or county lines.
Personalization Is Unpredictable
To complicate the localization issue, Google can also personalize results based on browsing history, not to mention information shared by friends and family. Predicting what search results people see when they have personalization and web history turned on is basically impossible, thus limiting the effectiveness of any generalized ranking report. The report may only be reporting what basic Google users see, those who are not signed in and aren’t engaging with social signals on their browsers. It is possible for users to turn off personalization, but it’s not a guaranteed outcome, and you can’t rely on supposition if you want hard data about your site’s performance.
What Should Attorneys Focus On Instead?
Due to the fact that rankings are not the same for each user, attorneys should primarily be concerned with increases in organic web traffic and web conversions. A steady increase in your site’s traffic month to month indicates a healthy optimization campaign. For a while you might not be on page one of your favorite keyword phrase, but you could be getting traffic from valuable long-tail phrases that are harder to optimize for. Many of these long-tail phrases statistically convert better than generalized searches. If your site has been constructed well and your traffic keeps improving, more inquiries from the site should reach your office, which is the ultimate goal…not rankings.
So, Why Do Legal Marketing Firms Provide Rankings Reports At All?
All of this information should not be construed to mean that rankings are useless indicators, because they aren’t. Sometimes a site’s performance will be directly tied to its rankings for one or two particular phases, and tracking rankings can also help attorney marketing services predict traffic patterns. At the very least, rankings can be utilized as a baseline for performance, but should only be analyzed in conjunction with tools that track web traffic and conversions, like Google Analytics.
How To Rank Well for Local Searches
When a prospective client searches attorney do you appear in Google’s first 3-5 listings? Searches like Sacramento disability attorney, Houston DWI lawyer, Atlanta injury attorney, and Charleston criminal lawyer are obviously conducted by prime prospects who you want to get in front of.
If you are not ranking well for those searches, here are some simple and some more technical tips for improving your Google page position.
1. Place your physical address and phone number on every web page.
This simple step reinforces your location to the search engines. If you have multiple law offices, you should at minimum have one page that lists all locations. Better, create a page for each location.
2. Claim your profiles.
Dozens of yellow-page style directly sites let you provide your business information at no charge. These sites rank well and get lots of traffic. You should be on as many as possible, and the directory information you provide each of these sites must be identical. A few to begin with are Google Local Business Center, Yahoo Local, and Merchant Circle.
A BIT HARDER
3. Check your page titles.
The page title (aka title tag) is the phrase that appears at the top of your web browser when you are on a page. This same phrase appears in Google’s blue linking language. Each of your page titles should contain a targeted search phrase (e.g., Charleston criminal lawyer). This target local phrase should be at the beginning of the page title. No two of your pages should have the same title.
4. Include this same phrase in the page text.
Make sure that your targeted search phrase (Charleston criminal lawyer) also appears in the headline, first paragraph, and last paragraph of the text contained on the page with your targeted local search phrase in the title.
5. Internally link to the optimized pages.
You can’t rank well for all of your web pages, so pick a few pages containing your most desirable local search phrases and link to those pages.
TAKES SOME TIME
6. Create a video or two.
These can be simple and inexpensive explainer videos using storyboards or talking head videos with high production values. What is important from a search perspective is that your post your videos on multiple sites (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.), using your targeted search phrases as keywords. Link to your website from your video site profile, and link back to the video using the targeted local search phrase in the anchor text (the linked words).
7. Add a blog and write regularly.
You don’t have to provide brilliant copy on every blog post, but you should periodically include you targeted local search phrases. Every blog post has a chance of ranking well, so you can see how writing regular posts can greatly increase your visibility.
8. Clean up technical problems.
Google Webmaster Tools will identify problems for you, but it will take some technical expertise to fix them.
9. Obtain inbound links.
This step is critically important to your search engine ranking. To be most effective, the links must contain your targeted local search phrases in the anchor text, come from relevant sites with good page ranks, and be added gradually. A reputable agency which owns or controls a large number of lawyer websites can provide this service for you.
Ranking well for several local lawyer search phrases is not hard–unless you are in a highly competitive market (e.g., Los Angeles DUI lawyer). But ranking well does require a fair amount of upfront work, regularly ongoing effort, some expertise, and a network of relevant lawyer sites.
The central task of search engine optimization is to improve a site’s rankings, which means the position pages on the site appear in search engine results. As all of the major search engines have been adjusting their ranking algorithms recently, it is a good idea to pick through the latest news and find exactly what the industry experts advise right now to get your law firm’s website’s rankings up.
If you run a small practice, or if you are a sole practitioner, you probably don’t have a big enough law firm marketing budget to hire experts to do this work for you. These articles from Search Engine Watch,Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land will help you understand the current strategies to improve your rankings.
Many Organic Results Influenced by Locality
Regular visitors to the Optimized Attorney blog would have read features stressing the importance of local search results. This Search Engine Watch article continues this advice. Few people fly across the country to visit their lawyers. The majority of people seeking legal advice are only interested in finding a lawyer close to their home or office. Therefore, acing local search results will give you the best opportunities of gaining clients from your website. Focus on ranking high in search engine results for your location.
Content Creators Ranking Checklist: How Quality Scores Influence
Last week’s SEO Trends article at Optimized Attorney included the troubling news that Google is dropping the author thumbnail portrait from search results entries. This is a shame because author identification is a very useful tool for lawyers to establish their authority and generate business. This article includes some useful suggestions for those of you who chose the content route to boost your rankings.
UI 101: Are Looks or Usability More Important While Designing Your Website?
Here are two web design acronyms to chew on: UI and UX. UI is the user interface, or the theme, the look and feel of your site. UX stands for user experience. This article discusses the relative merits of beauty and usability, which means UI vs UX. It is the usability of your law firm’s site (the UX) that will improve your rankings. Google tracks the amount of time the average visitor spends on your site, so if it is unappealing (UI issues) the visitor will jump straight out and go to the next entry in the search results page. If the visitor can’t easily find what she is looking for (UX) she will leave. If your content entices the visitor to spend some time on your site (UX again) you will rise up the rankings.
Former Googler: Links That Change Are Trusted Less By Google’s Algorithms
This Search Engine Land article raises an interesting reason why your rankings are slipping. If you, or someone you pay, has altered the text or format of some of your links since Google’s web crawler first saw them, the mere fact that the links have changed may be losing you your rankings.
Once you get your law firm’s website written and have pages appearing on the first page of Google, you may be tempted to leave your website ticking over while you focus your time on your case load. This is a common strategy for small businesses, but you should check on your rankings regularly, because you may suddenly find them drop. There are a range of reasons that this might happen and they fall into four categories: someone has done some intentional damage to your rankings; your competitors have all improved their rankings; Google just changed its algorithm; or Google penalized you.
Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Journal have some good recent articles on what to do when your rankings drop.
Three Unexpected Reasons Your Rankings are Plummeting
This article focuses on the keywords in your site. The premise being that everyone else in your field is using their keywords more effectively than you are and so you’re the rankings of your law firm’s website suddenly dropped because you didn’t keep tabs on what keywords work and how best to present them. The article title mentions three reasons, but the body of the article actually lists four. Reason 4 is actually a suggestion to use schema.org to improve the situation.
Black Hat Social Media: How Buying Accounts or Follows Can Hurt Your Business
Certain behavior and tricks can get you told off, and on the World Wide Web, getting told off means having penalties applied to your rankings. If you use social media to promote your law firm, be careful that the methods you employ don’t contravene the rules. Those rules change all the time. So, you may have read some advice on how to ace social media, but applying it got you penalized because the rules changed since that advice was written.
Panda Audit 101: The Roadmap to Complete Panda Recovery
Google’s frequent algorithm updates keep website owners awake at night. The company don’t announce their algorithm changes and much of the SEO news world is filled with speculation on whether there was an update, and what changed. The rankings of your law firm’s website may have fallen because of a recent algorithm change wrought by Google. This article explains procedures you can follow to check whether a change in the Panda algorithm caused your rankings to fall.
4 Easy & Honest SEO Mistakes That Could Penalize Your Site
Google dishes out penalties to site that it feels are breaking the rules. However, Not everyone is a cowboy gaming the system and Google can’t tell the difference between a clever trickster trying to slip a cheat through under the cover of innocence and someone who genuinely didn’t know the rules (which is understandable because Google never tells anyone the rules). This article outlines some mistakes that can lose your law firm’s website its top slot without you realizing you did anything wrong.
The Real Reason No One Wants To Link To You
This article covers the painful truth that your law firm’s rankings may be falling because your website is rubbish. No one puts up a bad website intentionally. However, if you are a sole practitioner, with little time to monitor your website, sections on your site may become outdated and tatty very quickly. Just as a poor site fails to attract links, it will also get a low score from Google – partly because it doesn’t have enough links pointing to it from other sites.
Has your law firm’s website ever been hit by a Google penalty? If so, you are not alone. Google has been getting increasingly aggressive with its ranking slap-downs recently. A Penalty may arise by one of three routes. Either one of the search engine’s ranking algorithms may reduce the score of one or all pages on your site, a human reviewer may apply a penalty, or the company’s management may take action and arbitrarily hit a specific website with a large penalty. This third category is usually announced and is intended not only to punish a particular website, but act as a warning to all company’s operating on the Web.
You should keep abreast of these public penalties and check to make sure your firm’s site does not apply the same banned techniques. If they are there, it is just a question of time before your law firm’s site gets slapped with a penalty if you do not get them removed.
This week’s roundup features news stories from Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land and Search Engine Roundtable.
Google’s Matt Cutts: We Can Take Action On Sites Benefiting From Guest Post Networks
This Search Engine Roundtable article from March 20th illustrates Google’s new tactic of penalizing a site and announcing that penalty without naming the site so it can put the fear of God into as many sites as possible.
Everyone involved in sites that fit the description given by Google’s Matt Cutts in his penalty announcement rushed to monitor their rankings. The site proved to be MyBlogGuest.com, which not only ties in with Google’s disapproval of “link networks” but also reminds us of Matt Cutts’s declaration of his dislike of guest blogging made in January of this year.
Google Penalizes MyBlogGuest, a Guest Blog Network
Search Engine Watch’s analysis of the MyBlogGuest penalty examines whether sites linking to the punished blog site were also penalized. This issue would be particularly pertinent to your law firm’s website if you have many guest blogs posted on the Web pointing to your site. In this instance Google said it hadn’t penalized linking sites. However, a number of the Webmasters of those sites reported that they had been affected.
Lots Of Google Search Activity: Likely Manual Vs. Algorithmic
This Search Engine Roundtable article notes that Google seems to have gone into penalty overdrive recently. The article speculates that this volatility may be part of Google’s attempts to reconfigure its rankings in the run up to the removal of much of the Panda algorithm. Watch your law firm’s rankings over the next two months and pay particular attention to any news pages or blog pages. These are expected to be hit by the Panda update rumored to be slated for release at the end of May 2014.
Nearly A Year Later, Google’s Penalty Notices Remain Confusing
Search Engine Land covers the topic of the difficulties of understanding the notifications your law firm’s Webmaster might receive if your site gets hit by a penalty from Google. Google claims to have simplified these notices. However, this article begs to differ.
Manual Spam Action Revoked! A Case Study
As you form a digital marketing strategy for your law firm’s website, you will come to realize that you cannot set it and forget it. Events are moving rapidly and the shifting sands of what work in SEO are more active in 2014 than ever before. You need to follow two sources of information to succeed in SEO. The first is the latest news, which particularly concerns everything that Google is doing and everything that Google is about to do. You can’t be an expert lawyer and an expert digital marketer, so you need to seek out a second source of strategy inputs, which is expert advice.
You don’t have to pay an Internet guru consultancy fees to find out her opinion on the current direction of SEO because she is probably blogging or giving interviews and giving away all that expert advice for free. You will read some freebie expert advice from Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Watch, the Bruce Clay Blog, Moz Blog, the Quicksprout Blog and Search Engine Land.
Getting Started with Google Webmaster Tools & Analytics
As a busy lawyer, you can’t be expected to know everything about the nuts and bolts of running a website. However, you would do yourself a favor by getting an insight into how the experts judge your site. At least this will enable you to set benchmarks when writing service contracts with SEO consultancies. In this article, hosted on the site of Bruce Clay, the grand pappy of SEO, you will get an easy walk through of Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics. If you have time to follow through, you will gain enough inside skills that no one will be able to bamboozle you again when you are taking bids for SEO work.
7 Obsolete SEO Tactics You’re Wasting Your Time On
Neil Patel positions himself as the traffic supremo and he has made a very good living out of it, so it might be worth paying him some attention. In this article on his home site, Patel gives a rundown of seven SEO tactics that are a waste of time. Check whether your law firm is paying an expert to march down these dead end roads.
How Some Companies Succeed at Converting Visitors yet Fail to Earn Great Customers – Whiteboard Friday
Rand Fishkin is one of the superstars of SEO and he built his following through his regular “Whiteboard Friday” lectures on the website of his SEO consultancy. This episode will probably resonate with those of you who yearn to be on a retainer, or get repeat business from corporate clients.
Mastering Website Personalization in 4 Easy Steps
Hubspot is a major mover in content and lead generation and Mike Volpe is that company’s Chief Marketing Officer. This article covers the little-discussed topic of website personalization. A small law practice with a specialized field could greatly benefit from this concept, so have a look at this article and see if these tactics could help you win and retain clients.
4 Tools and Tips That Will Help You Be a More Analytical Marketer
Brittney Sheffield is a funky young marketing strategist at hip, switched-on digital marketing company 352. This article, though, shows that Brittney didn’t get her job by being personable. She gives some expert advice on some very technical tools without getting geeky. This is a very approachable article that the non-techy lawyer should be able to understand.
German Legislator Calling For Google Breakup Has Serious Conflict Of Interest
The big legal story of the week emerged from Europe, where the European Parliament decided to vote on whether to demand the breakup of Google. As the US government doesn’t agree on the need to split up the search engine giant from its other activities, the actual implementation of any outcome would only take place after extensive international trade negotiations. This Search Engine Land article draws attention to a New York Times investigation that revealed one of the main sponsors of the action has vested interests.
The Vote Is In: European Parliament Is In Favor Of Breaking Up Google
Events moved quickly on the Google breakup story and the European Parliament vote took place on the 27thNovember. The chamber voted in favor of the breakup. Although the motion is not enforceable, the European Commission is keen to follow the parliament’s instructions in all things so it can counter anti-EU critics who claim there is a democracy deficit in the organization. So, many legal battles are ahead for Google as it tries to muster its influence in Washington and get this move blocked.
US Court Gives Google Free Rein Over Search Results Layout
Although Google is caught up in a series of legal battles over in Europe, it seems to have better luck in the US courts. This recent ruling affirmed Google’s right to use its own methods to order results. Poorly ranked sites can’t use their Yahoo or Bing rankings as evidence that they are being cheated by Google.
Google Settles UK “Defamation” Suit, Agreeing To Remove Malicious Links
Back over on the other side of the Atlantic. Here is a case that Google’s legal team advised wasn’t worth the fight. So, they settled. A UK businessman was the victim of a campaign of malicious links, which is termed a “Google bomb.” Although Google maintains that they aren’t responsible for the content attached to the links it posts, it decided to comply with the plaintiff’s request and remove the links from its results pages rather than let the case reach a judgment and set a legal precedent.
Google Drops Results In European Settlement But Watch The Penguin Drive By…
Search Engine Round Table followed the above story and spotted a funny coincidence in the BBC news report embedded in the Search Engine Land article. The reporter stands in the street with a string of London buses passing behind him, all showing penguins. Anyone with a passing knowledge of SEO knows that one of Google’s main algorithm filters is called Penguin. So, at first glance this seems to be some extreme positioning by the search giant. However, the buses are advertising the release of the film “Penguins of Madagascar.”
As a lawyer, you will be aware that changes in technology force legislators and the judiciary to play catch up on putting in place a legal framework that encompasses the new reality. You would not be surprised to learn, therefore, that the World Wide Web is a concern for legislators and it also opens new reasons for litigation arising from new avenues for abuse. This week, then, the SEO Roundup looks at some important cases revolving around search engines that could change the face of litigation.
This roundup includes reports from Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Roundtable and Search Engine Land.
Is Google’s European Antitrust Settlement In Jeopardy?
The EU seems to be more inclined to file lawsuits against Web-based firms than the United States. This is probably because most of the organizations in question are American and the US administration is happy to allow these corporations to operate unfettered as long as they make money for the government’s coffers and improve the country’s technology profile. This Search Engine Land article illustrates the dangers from the threat of litigation that foreign governments pose to US-based search engines.
5 Fast Facts about the EU’s Privacy Ruling on Google
The EU has scored another hit against Google this week in a case brought by the supranational body against Google in the European Court of Justice. The search engine has been ordered to remove older entries from its results pages and also newer ones if the subject of one of those results objects to its existence. This, together with the anti-trust deal, shows how a ruling in one part of the world has to be applied in worldwide operations in order to avoid hefty fines and possible imprisonment.
Law Firm Sues Their SEO Company For Using Spammy Tactics
Back in the USA, this article from Search Engine Roundtable explains a recent case, wherein a law firm sued its SEO advisors because they used methods that broke the code of practice that Google expects. Google is becoming freer with its penalty notices and this law firm realized that it could sustain long term damage to its rankings because of the devious tactics its SEO consultant were employing. This is an important development in reputation management.
Model Battles Google, Yahoo in Court Over Images Linking Her to Porn Sites
An Argentinean model is suing Google and Yahoo to remove links in their results pages to a sex tape purported to feature her. These SERPS entries come in results from queries on the actress’s name, Maria Belen Rodriguez.
Rodriguez already sued the producers of the tape and won; she has also already sued Google and Yahoo for damages in 2006 and won. The current case before the court is to force Google and Yahoo to de-reference the tape in relation to her name. This, together with the earlier related cases, has far reaching possibilities, opening up an entirely new market for litigation lawyers.
How Google’s New “Right To Be Forgotten” Form Works: An Explainer
This story shows that Google was prepared to lose its case before the European Court of Justice over deleting older sites from their indexes. Almost immediately, they came up with an online form enabling complainants to request the removal of a reference. It remains to be seen whether this form is sufficient to block any claims against the search engine for inappropriate links. The company could argue that anyone who didn’t take up the option of requesting a removal automatically indicates approval.
Now 2015 has arrived, it seems a good idea to take a look through the SEO news sites and collect their ideas on what direction the discipline will take in the coming year. If you kept your law firm’s website up to date with new formats for smartphones and local search SEO, you will need to keep running reviews of your presentation to keep ahead of the game in 2015. This roundup picks up on emerging trends and tips on success for 2015 as reported in Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Roundtable and Search Engine Land.
The Search Experts Have Spoken: 2015 Predictions
Search Engine Watch hit the phones to produce this summary of 2015 predictions from SEO experts. Not surprisingly, mobile access is still a hot topic for the coming year. If you still haven’t got your law firm’s website a mobile-friendly version, now is the time to do it.
2015 Predictions: Google In The Year Of The Goat
Search Engine Land’s predictions for the coming year also open with a mention for mobile access, which reinforces the importance of this change in SEO as seen by those who report on the topic every day. Other nuggets of interest in this gaze at the crystal ball include the increased importance of content and the possibility that Google is going to give up on its efforts to promote Google+. Your Google+ profile is important for tying your law firm’s presentation into Google maps, so don’t bin Google+ completely. The writer reasons that the probable decline of Google+ heralds the resurgence of Facebook and Twitter. However, given Twitter’s recent woes, maybe the new stars of social media, Instagram and Pinterest, will reap the benefits.
Pinterest To Roll Out Promoted Pins To All US Users Starting January 1, 2015
Pinterest is on the rise and 2015 will make or break the site. Technically speaking, Pinterest is a “curation platform,” not a social media site. The company is getting better at enticing businesses into using the site for promotion, so maybe you should consider it to as a tool to gain clients for your legal practice.
3 Reasons to Use Pinterest in 2015
If you are starting to look into a Pinterest presence for your law firm, this article would be a useful follow up read. Pinterest is a minnow compared to Facebook. It is unlikely that Pinterest will ever get more users that Facebook, but it could certainly challenge Twitter this year.
Webmasters Talk About 2015 SEO & Search Trends & Predictions
Search Engine Roundtable is geared towards a tech-savvy audience, so if you are a sole practitioner, just looking after your firm’s website in your spare time, you may find its content too technical for your liking. However, news from the computer room can give you the heads up on any major changes in search engine rankings that may be in the pipeline. The site’s roundup of webmaster views is derived from a browse through the Webmaster World site. If you are getting a little more confident in the use of technology, these avenues of information could become more appealing to you.
The Year in Stats – SEO, Content, and Data Analytics
This article, found at Search Engine Watch gives a picture of the developments of the year in statistics. At the beginning of the year, the big news was that Google was signaling the death of blogging. However, the technological changes required for catering to local search and mobile search seem to have diverted the company from their aim of killing off blogs. In among this list of stats you will read that 54 per cent of retailers found blogs the most effective form of communication. However, you would have read a number of tips here at the Optimized Attorney blog over the last year on how to diversify your law firm’s Web presentation.
SEO 101: How Local SEO Changed in 2014 and How to Get Ready for 2015
The Pigeon algorithm introduced by Google this year definitely focused minds on optimizing for local search. This article summarizes the changes that Pigeon caused in Google rankings and contains some recommendations for how to improve the performance of your law firm’s rankings for local searches.
50 Awesome and Inspiring Responsive Website Designs from 2014
Responsive website design, also known as responsive web design or RWD, is all about making a site that fits the screens of different sized devices. This became a hot topic in 2014 because of the growth in local and mobile searches. As a local legal practice, you are more likely to get clients from your own neighborhood and if you deal with emergency cases, you need to be sure your site works well on smartphones. This article lists some successful examples of RWD.
10 Things I Learned About Local SEO In 2014
Andrew Shotland gives a humorous rundown of the developments in local search over the last year. Law firms need to ace local search, so this is essential reading. Fortunately, Shotland’s humor lessens the shock that not all went well with search engine adaptation to local search in 2014.
Mapping It Out: Our Top 10 Local Search Columns For 2014
Search Engine Land analyzed which of their articles on local search over the past year got the most shares on social media. The report contains links to their most talked about local search articles, so this gives you a good guideline when examining your law firm’s local search strategy.
2014 Year In Review: A Look Back On What Happened With SEO
Erin Everhart took a different path to read back through Search Engine Land’s content over the last year and she has summarized the major movements in SEO on a monthly basis. Hopefully, you would have read that we spotted all of those trends here at the Optimized Attorney blog. If so, you would have kept your law firm’s website design up to speed.
Last month, Google’s Matt Cutts announced that a new version of the algorithm would be released soon. The new update would reduce the effect of “Panda,” which is Google’s algorithm that downgrades the output of content farms, and favors blogs and news sites. He also stated that the aim of this new adjustment was to improve the standing in Google’s rankings of small businesses. This week, Mr. Cutts has given further clues about the aims of the update penciled for release in late May.
As the majority of US law firms are small businesses, this adjustment should favor legal websites greatly. This week’s SEO roundup focuses on the current trends in authority, which is another issue central to law firms’ websites. Mr. Cutts has indicated that this is the method by which the new algorithm will boost the little guy. These articles from the Bruce Clay Blog, Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Journal will help you understand the topic.
Authority vs. Popularity: Matt Cutts Teases New Google Search Result Shake-Up
This Search Engine Watch article covers the explanation released by Cutts. The writer specifically mentions legal sites as among the expected beneficiaries of this change to Google’s algorithm. If you only read one article on SEO this week, make it this one.
15 Ways to Avoid Reputation Roadkill @ClickZ Live #czlny
The SEO specialization that deals with issues of authority is termed “reputation management.” This concept should not be difficult for a lawyer. In the real world you get clients because you have authority, you gained authority by building a reputation in a specific field of law and by not fleecing anyone. However, you also have to make sure that your real-world reputation translates to the Web. This article explains some of the pitfalls to avoid when establishing your reputation online.
How to Be Your Best SEO: Bruce Clay’s Advice for Gaining Influence
Bruce Clay has been a leader in the field of SEO consultancy for many years. In this article on his own website, Mr. Clay talks about some of the aspects of leading a company and how they equate to good practices for SEO. Unsurprisingly, Bruce prioritizes ethical behavior as a good way to lead a company and project its image over the Web. Ethics contribute directly towards reputation management and brand building. Thus, these issues should be on your list of priorities when enhancing the authority of your law firm’s website.
Corporate Branding: What It is, and How to Do It Right
Authority and reputation are both tied into the marketing concept of ¨branding.¨ Just as presenting a strong identity is important in the real world, it is important online and is becoming increasingly important thanks to Google´s recent moves. This Search Engine Journal article looks at the basics of branding a corporation, like your law firm. The stress on authority in Google´s upcoming algorithm update means you will need to focus your practice´s presentation on specific services. If you are a general practice it might be a good idea to just focus on your strongest specializations, or split your Web presence across several sites that stress each different practice area individually.
SEO Trend: Layout
Google’s big announcements this week lead the SEO world to consider layout issues of websites and their impact on SEO.
The issues raised by Google in its two posts of the week again relate to the impact of redesigning layout for smartphone users. Practice managers and non-technically-minded sole practitioner lawyers will find it difficult to understand these concepts.
However, get your techies to read up on these issues and then workshop through them with you. Despite a lack of interest in the technical issues, you will need to get an outline of these issues in order to have any understanding or input into the ultimate presentation of your corporate image on the Web.
This week’s roundup features news stories from Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, Search Engine Watch, the Moz Blog and Search Engine Roundtable.
The Best Way to Suck at Marketing
In this “Whiteboard Friday” presentation, Rand Fishkin, owner of Moz, gives a caution to all digital marketers to keep your eye on the ball. This article isn’t exactly pertinent to the hot topic of the week. However, for those of you who are not even slightly interested in the technical aspects of your firm’s website, watching this video will remind you that it is important to keep your Web team on its toes.
Yelp Gets a Facelift, Puts Visual Content Front and Center
This Search Engine Watch article is an easy read for those not technically minded. It explains the effort and expense the Yelp directory is going to by rejigging its design. When the big boys splash out cash, you can bet it will be worth the money. This is an indicator that layout issues and the reaction of search engines to them are important considerations for your law firm’s site.
Video: Twitter Testing A New Design, Similar To Google+
This Search Engine Roundtable is practice-manager friendly and re-enforces the impression of an emerging trend when taken together with the news of Yelp’s redesign.
Google’s Page Layout Algorithm Updated For Third Time
Hello! Yelp is redesigning, Twitter is redesigning and then along comes an announcement that Google is updating its page layout algorithm. Looks like the big boys were ahead of the game on this one. Get your firm’s technical experts to read through this article from Search Engine Roundtable and the two linked articles to check whether your law practice needs a website makeover, too.
Infinite scroll search-friendly recommendations
This is one of the two key reads for this week. You probably won’t understand a word of it unless you design, write and maintain your law firm’s website. This issue is particularly pertinent if you are currently putting up mobile-friendly content on your site.
Faceted navigation best (and 5 of the worst) practices
If you found the scrolling issue incomprehensible, you won’t stand a chance with this article from Google’s Webmaster Central Blog on navigation. However, these two articles, taken together are must-reads for anyone designing or redesigning their firm’s website. Yelp and Twitter aren’t spending all that money on a whim. So, get your Web team to read through this article.