This invariably is the most commonly asked question by law firms focused on better positioning in major search engines like Google.
The answer isn’t an easy one and it’s what prompted us to offer our Free Website Analysis to those firms wanting to improve not only their search rankings, but enhance client conversion.
You see historically it was relatively easy to get well ranked.
If your firm was one that was wanting to rank for the term divorce attorney in sacramento, or family lawyer Sydney, then at a web design structural level you ensured title in your copy, what we call h1 and h2 tags, were prevalent with a phrase like, Chicago Family Lawyers and in the SEO meta title and meta tags, you also ensured an abundance of those terms. (H1 tags usually denoted on the homepage what you wish your law firm to be found predominantly for. For example, for us, it is “Law Firm Marketing,” hence it is there up from and centre on the homepage) The other thing that brought it all together was links, or better still embedded links.
In other words, getting other websites to place your firm’s name, or even better, have that website use the words Chicago Family Lawyers, and link that text back to your website. So, in effect what you were doing was building a web where everything pointed to those specific key word phrases. It worked a treat! It worked phenomenally well also if your firm had acquired the domain name www.chicagofamilylawyers.com, because once again you have this wonderful alignment around those specific keywords your firm is trying to rank for. But, like most things where there is a market, there are unscrupulous practices as a result and we soon saw the introduction of link farms. A link farm is simply where a website would be set up to purely act as a linking factory providing embedded links back to your website. Now, these websites themselves used unscrupulous practices to get themselves ranked and respected by search engines generally. So, when Google bots crawled the site it acknowledged this specific well ranked and regarded site was referencing to your website, so it encouraged the Google search algorithm to think similarly of your law firm’s website and before you knew it, bingo you started outranking competitors.
Well, as you probably know, then Google cottoned on and introduced a succession of search algorithm updates that outlawed the practice and penalized those link farms and worse, websites associated with them. The great tragedy in this, was that many businesses large and small severely impacted had simply outsourced their SEO to external providers and they were unaware of the practice. The result, these businesses and their websites were banished from Google completely, some for up to 6 months with catastrophic consequences.
So, I just wanted to give you a historic overview first, because it still has significant relevance for your firm today in striving to out rank your competitors, because while Google has come down hard on these practices, many SEO companies and more than likely, some firms who outrank you still accord to this type of practice. And I’ll give you some examples in a moment.
But first lets acquaint ourselves with Google’s position on how to rank well.
1. Site Architecture, a cleanly coded site that has very clear code structure that allows the Google search bots ease in crawling through it and of course understanding very well the nature of your business. h1 and h2 tags, and how the subject of each page or blog post is represented in the url, for example, your page on parenting orders, should be on a page like, smithlawyers/parentingorders.
At Fast Firms we offer a free website analysis that is a certainly a great start in identifying issues in your website’s code.
2. Content. Google has an appreciation of lots of content on your site and quality links to that content from reputable sites and of course, as the latest update from Google reiterates, contextual links is what they like to see.
3. Freshness of content. According to the most recent analysis of Google’s search algorithm, there is undoubtedly significant weighting to fresh content even to the extent that it is being deemed more important than back links.
4. Back links, yes they’re important but Goole is seeing them more broadly than just links on other sites pointing back to your site. The diversity of those links are important with a spread across blog comments, other websites and of course social media.
5. Social Media, need I say anything more about this. Goole increasingly is determining how important and influential your firm’s site is by the extent of social media references to it.
These globally are the key important factors, but I do urge you to visit some of the sites that I reference who offer a much more comprehensive list of things you should be aware of in getting your firm better ranked.
OK. So, apart from these key factors that I’ve just mentioned, the most important thing you should do today to better understand why you rank where you do and why your competitors may rank better is to register your website with Google Webmaster tools/
1. Simply by googling webmaster tools and stepping through the process of integrating your site will most certainly pay dividends. In fact, for some of our clients, we have simply adopted google’s recommendations in Webmaster tools and they ranked much better as a result, very quickly.
Now setting up webmaster tools will require you to insert some code into your website,so you will need your developer to help, or by all means reach out to us and we will do it for you. Once you have done this, you will soon have access to any issues that Google sees while it crawls through your website. It will also alarm you to any issues or warnings that Google has for you. Very important if your firm is outsourcing its SEO.
So, by way of overview, don’t consider ranking well as a short term strategy.
Create content that is quality, do it regularly, share it via your social media accounts, look at opportunities for guest blogging for law news publications and don’t forget to consider a full website analysis which we do at no cost and register now for Webmaster Tools and implement those recommendations.