Google uses a variety of different pieces of information to determine which site is the best match for a search. However, the company does not necessarily tell us outright what it uses. This makes it even more difficult for those trying to rank their law firms in competitive local markets. This begs the question: What are the ranking factors according to Google?
The way to answer this question is to mine large data sets that pair site attributes with search rankings. It’s a laborious and technical process — and there’s another problem, too.
The problem of nailing down ranking factors comes from the fact that Google wants to put the best possible information in front of searchers. This means changing things up whenever a new technology is developed.
For example, people used to climb higher in search engine results by using lots of keywords. The problem was that these new pages weren’t providing any value to the people searching. They were, in a word, spam.
Of course, new technology came along that detected this type of spam. As a result, the keyword-stuffing technique became far less effective.
Internet marketing for attorneys has come a long way since the early days of the web. There are many more tools available, but good information still wins — especially in the long run.
History shows that it’s wiser to focus more on overarching strategy (providing information that’s valuable to your core clients) than on tactics (whichever search optimization technique happens to be most effective according to the latest information). Of course, an SEO-naive approach is not going to cut it. Ideally, you’ll want to incorporate both high-level strategy and data-driven tactics into your online marketing campaigns.
Comprehensive strategy is what we do here at FORWARD Lawyer Marketing, via an approach called content-driven SEO. We start with high-quality, unique content and then place it in the context of the latest technical imperatives. Right now, some of the most important technical factors are:
That’s currently the bread and butter of SEO. It doesn’t seem so complicated, but there’s a lot to maximizing even one of those bullet points — a fact we’ll go into in detail later on in the article.
Additionally, the legal profession is competitive (especially when it comes to online advertising and marketing). Some of these less-influential items could also make a big difference:
Google uses hundreds of data points to determine rank. It’s easy to get lost in the weeds — better to let the experts handle it. Give us a call at 888-590-9687, and we’ll help you focus your firm’s SEO strategy on what really matters. Otherwise, feel free to read on for a deeper dive into these important search ranking factors.
Content is the most important part of SEO these days. If you publish pages that get visited — and, better yet, that get shared and otherwise linked to — your site should climb ranks relatively quickly for related searches.
This is such an important subject that it is worth diving into in some detail. There are two key aspects of this: a regular publication schedule and high-quality content that people actually want to read. Beyond that, you want to present the information in a visually appealing way and format it correctly for internet browsers and search engines.
The first factor here is consistent and regular content publication. For example, many of our clients have regular monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly schedules. We stay about a month ahead of publication so there’s always a polished article ready to go.
The second element is the quality of your articles. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare, but the writing should be clear and the information should be accessible. It also needs to be unique, because copied content will lower your rank.
The third aspect is making the article readable to both humans and search engine robots. For example, you would want to format your article in a way that’s easy to digest, probably including images and clear sections. You would also want to include meta information and structured data so that the browser displays your page correctly and Google can provide quick summaries.
As you can see, publishing quality content requires a mix of writing skills, schedule organization, and technical expertise. Luckily, we have a publishing and editorial team that handles every aspect of this complex task.
Publishing quality contact on a regular schedule is probably the most important and most complex thing you have to do to increase your search rank. The rest of these explanations will be quicker — but don’t ignore the tactics when building your strategies.
Meta title tags are some of the hardest working copy on your website. They tell readers what to expect and they tell search engines how to categorize the page. A good title will always include the most important keywords and ideas from the article. Optimizing your title (and title tag) boils down to selecting the key idea and analyzing search behavior for that idea.
Links from other websites, also known as backlinks, are at the foundation of search technology and are still highly relevant today. The more people link to your article, the more authoritative it will appear to Google’s search algorithm. That means higher rank results.
Demonstrating experience and credentials is a good idea in general for any law firm. However, it takes a different set of techniques to demonstrate expertise to a search engine. Specifically, you would want to build a network of pages with related subjects. This is part of what Google calls E-A-T which stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.
For example, if you have a divorce practice, you might want to dig in and publish pages on specific issues in the type of divorce cases you are trying to attract. For property division cases, you might want to publish separate pages on dividing executive compensation packages, artwork, real estate, inherited property, trusts, and so on. This would establish you (in the search engine’s estimation) as an expert in division cases in general, helping your site rank higher for related keywords.
Google searches for internal links, partly to determine or confirm the importance of pages on your website. However, a good internal link structure should always be a priority regardless of search engine optimization concerns. The reason is simple: You want people to be able to find the information they need on your website.
Keywording throughout your site is still a good practice, and that includes behind the scenes. Again, the important thing is to remember to put quality writing first, and then include keywords in a natural way to indicate content to search engines.
One of the best places to do this is in the meta-information (the machine-readable information about the content of your page) and the snippet markup. Snippets are little summaries that Google might select to display, particularly to provide concise information about specific questions or common search terms.
On the technical side, we use a predetermined data structure to let Google know what everything is. This includes publishing things like your location as well as snippets about the page. This type of structured data is emerging as a key element of Google search engine optimization.
Having a mobile-optimized site is important in the legal profession for a couple of reasons. In terms of SEO, it can give you an edge over close competitors who aren’t optimizing websites for mobile search and viewing.
However, accessibility is a potentially more important reason to ensure that your site is mobile-ready. You want busy searchers to be able to simply tap a button on the website and directly call or message your firm to schedule an initial appointment. A good mobile site gives you this opportunity.
It’s par for the course these days, but maintaining a speedy, secure website is an important aspect of online marketing to consider. Think about it: How long would you want to wait for a site to load? Would you trust a legal website that was being delivered over a non-secure connection?
Making your site secure is often relatively straightforward — especially if you are starting something from the ground up. That’s to say that there are prescribed design and back-end engineering processes. Internet security is far from simple.
In terms of speed, graphic elements are often the main drag. After that, some non-optimized programs can slow download times. Addressing this issue usually requires a multi-prong approach. Using compressed graphics, on-demand video, higher-performance servers, and loading-optimized scripting practices can help you speed up the delivery of your site, for example.
Google also considers what people do when determining your rank. You can get the desired user behavior by addressing most of the above concerns. For example, people stay on your page longer if internal links make sense, if they come from a trusted referrer and if everything loads quickly.
If you want to increase the search rankings in Google for your chosen keywords for your law firm reach out to our lawyer marketing experts. When you contact us, we can do a full audit of your website to see where you stand and where you need to go. Give us a call today at 888-590-9687 or contact us here to get the process started.