Lawyer Websites Affected by Google Search Algorithm Changes

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Although most of the time web developers and SEO ‘experts’ are just guessing (albeit in an educated way) about what goes into the algorithms used by search engines to rank lawyer websites, last week, the official Google blog  contained an article entitled, “Finding more high quality sites in search” that advised of some changes in their search algorithm.

What do these changes mean for lawyer websites?


According to Google, these changes were made to ensure that users of the Google search engine “get the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible.” Google wanted to reduce the power of low quality websites, which they describe as websites that provide little value, are not particularly useful, or simply copy content from other websites.  Google estimates that the changes made to the algorithm will impact approximately 12% of queries.

Website content is king

Now, more than ever, lawyers must be certain that their websites provide actual value to web visitors, clients, potential clients and referral sources. Providing value means providing web visitors with the information they want and need. For lawyers, this often means providing educational website content that addresses their clients’ concerns not just about the substantive legal matter, but about the legal process itself. 

Unfortunately, in my consulting practice I continue to encounter lawyers who do not see the value of a content-rich law firm website. They continue to think that a business card type website is all that they need. In the internet-information age, this kind of website simply is not sufficient.

If you do not know where to begin in writing content for your site, you can follow these 5 easy steps to creating your website content.

Proper Website Link Building

Another mistake I see many lawyers making when creating their new website or blog is going about building links in the wrong way. Although link building can certainly help build your website’s profile (the theory is that if others link to your site, it must be useful and/or authoritative), those links should be relevant and content rich. Lawyers should review these guidelines about what to look for in a website SEO strategy when hiring a SEO company for their website.

Design your website around your clients

One way to ensure that your website provides value is to consider the clients’ needs and interests on the website, instead of making your site all about you, the lawyer (or law firm). Address the benefits clients will receive as a result of working with you.

What do clients look for when they search for information on the internet? Why are your services important to them? Why should the client care about your experience or the cases you have handled? How will those experiences impact them?

Make your website a valuable resource that clients will want to return to over and over again, and draw them back with up to date information that is meaningful to their business or life.

Make your website user friendly

When people are searching the web, they want information, and they want it quickly. They do not want to have to think. Make sure your site is easy to navigate and important information is clearly labeled. Make it engaging and easy to read. Speak in terms your clients will understand.

If your site is too hard to navigate or they can’t find what they want or understand your message in a Lead your web visitors around your site and tell them exactly what it is you want them to do.

(photo: http://flic.kr/p/4PZqiV)

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  • http://lawyerist.com/author/randallryder/ Randall Ryder

    Great tips on building an effective legal website. Attorneys who are new to the party might want to check out this post on SEO doctor, which can help diagnose SEO issues.

    • http://www.constitutionaldaily.com/ BL1Y

      Just installed the SEO Doctor, very cool.

      Any thoughts on SEO friendly URLs? Having to run to Tiny URL any time I want to Tweet something is a bit annoying.

  • Pat Stoneking

    Good post, in particular your article about SEO strategies. If lawyers aren’t aware of their SEO company’s methods, they may find their firms plastered all over the internet next to ads for cheap Viagra and escort services.

    Randall: Thanks for the SEO doctor. I added it to Firefox and made some changes. We’ll see if it moves the needle.

  • http://bunkerlawgroup.com/the-las-vegas-nevada-small-business-blog/ Ben Bunker

    SEO Doctor is a great plug in for the Do-It-Yourselfer. It’s helped me with my website.

    I’ve found that http://www.seomoz.org/ has some useful tools that come with a free account, including On-Page Keyword Optimization and Rank Tracker.

  • http://www.coyelaw.com Wade Coye

    Our firm strives to provide content-rich articles for potential clients or anyone generally interested in the law. We’re closely monitoring our analytics to see if Google’s new algorithm agrees.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      I notice you have a live chat option on your website. Does it get much use?

      • http://www.coyelaw.com Wade Coye

        In the three months it’s been up, we’ve gotten 5-6 people to request a chat. That’s more than I was expecting. I think the immediacy of the communication helps generate interest.

    • http://www.constitutionaldaily.com/ BL1Y

      It’s unlikely Lawyerist will be affected, other than to have junk pull out from on top of it on Google search results.

      Content farms will be out, but sites that provide some original material shouldn’t be affected (unless Google messes up the process).

  • http://www.USLegalWriting.com Jim Burke

    I completely agree that the main focus of any lawyer’s website should be on the clients and their problems and not on the lawyer(s). Still, we need to put up some information about ourselves, and it’s hard to know how much is too much. I have a couple of ways to look at this that I’m trying to use on my own site (without a shred of empirical evidence to back me up).

    1. I’m looking at the total quantity of all my content, and working to shrink the percentage that relates to me and my so-called accomplishments. This is a work in progress, but I’m thinking that the me-related stuff should be less than 10% (maybe a lot less).

    2. I’m asking my self this question about any credentials/professional info I might consider using: If I don’t disclose this information, will potential clients think I’m trying to hide something? If the answer is no, that’s a good argument to let the item fall to the cutting room floor.

    • http://www.legalease.blogs.com Allison Shields

      Jim,

      I wouldn’t worry so much about eliminating content about you, your firm or your accomplishments – I think it’s more about how that information is presented. What is it about those accomplishments or that experience that benefits clients? Why is it important to them? Why shoudl they care? Address the benefits that they receive and explan what difference your experience and accomplishments make to your clients.

      Allison

  • http://www.wedowebcontent.com Alex

    Great post! Content truly is King! We recently wrote a blog about Googles New Panda update. http://www.wedowebcontent.com/blog/avoid-stirring-up-trouble-with-googles-panda-by-updating-old-content.cfm