Archive for May, 2011
Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
Distracted driving is fast becoming one of the greatest risk factors for serious auto accidents in the Portland area and throughout Oregon. The rise in distracted driving accidents has accompanied the increase in the sue of handheld electronic devices like cell phones, iPads and MP3 players. These electronic devices are designed to respond to consumers who have shorter attention spans and a constant need for stimulation. While these devices can be a valuable communication tool as well as a way to stay connected with others, they also can be a deadly distraction to Oregon drivers who text, talk, surf the web, navigate with GPS, read breaking news reports and otherwise fail to concentrate on potential car accident risks on Oregon roadways.
Drivers who fail to focus their full attention on driving safely to avoid serious auto accidents are becoming one of the leading preventable causes of car accidents in Oregon and throughout the country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that distracted driving accounts for 20 percent of all car accidents. Data from the Federal Accident Reporting System (FARS) indicates that distracted driving accounts for almost 5,500 auto accident fatalities per year and traffic accident related injuries to almost 450,000 additional drivers in the U.S per year. There are many types of distractions that can interfere with safe operation of a car, truck or SUV and result in a serious Oregon car accident including:
- Sending or receiving text messages
- Talking on a cell phone
- Reading the newspaper or a book
- Adjusting the controls on a radio or car stereo
- Putting on makeup
- Eating or drinking
- Engaging in a conversation with a passenger
- Adjusting or studying GPS
- Using a MP3 player to listen to music
- Watching multi-media or movies
- Checking Facebook status or other social network activities
- Reaching around to grab something in the vehicle
As this list shows, the number of distractions that can lead to a fatal car accident in Oregon is virtually endless. However, cell phones and other communication devices seem to pose the greatest risk. The NHTSA has estimated that almost one-fifth of all fatal distracted driving auto accidents are caused by the use of cell phones.
The danger associated with the increasing risk of cell phone use in vehicles is reflected by the fact that a recent study conducted by the University of Utah concluded that using a cell phone while driving delays a driver’s response times by as much or more than having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent, which is the level at which a driver is considered legally intoxicated in Oregon. This recent research regarding the growth of cell phone use while driving along with evidence that it may impair driving ability and delay reactions even more than drunk driving have led some federal safety experts to designate such behavior “the new drunk driving”.
Not only can many triggering events cause distracted driving, but this activity may also take several forms. Generally, three separate types of driver distractions have been identified including visual distractions, manual distractions and cognitive distractions. A visual distraction is anything that diverts a driver’s eyes from the road, such as looking at a cell phone screen. Most visual distractions are also accompanied by a cognitive distraction, which includes anything that draws a driver’s mental concentration away from one’s driving.
For example, a driver who is reading a text message is both visually and cognitively distracted in viewing and interpreting the content of the text message. A physical distraction may also occur simultaneously with the other forms of driving distraction like adjusting a GPS device or car stereo, which may involve all three forms of driving distraction.
An auto accident attorney in Oregon from the firm of Dwyer, Williams, Potter Attorneys, LLP has physical offices conveniently located throughout the State of Oregon. We have offices located in Bend, Eugene, Grants Pass, Medford, Portland, and Roseburg and serve the following cities in the State of Oregon: Albany, Ashland, Bend, Brownsville, Central Point, Corvallis, Creswell, Eugene, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, Medford, Myrtle Creek, Portland, Redmond, Roseburg, Salem and Springfield.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident in Oregon due to a negligent or distracted driver, we urge you to call an Oregon auto accident attorney from Dwyer, Williams, Potter Attorneys, LLP toll free at (800) 285-8678, or submit an online questionnaire. If we agree to handle your case, we will work on contingency fee basis. NO RECOVERY NO FEE!
Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
As most everybody with a website now knows, SEO is one of the hottest topics around—as well as one of the most vague. If you type in “SEO” on Google you will garner nearly 600 million results, which should give you an idea of the far-reaching effects of online marketing and your legal website. When Google makes the decision to alter their search ranking algorithms—which they do on a more and more frequent basis—you may find your legal website or blog has been relegated to the virtual trash heap and is now considered nothing more than collateral damage.
A Panda that’s Less than Cute and Cuddly
Google’s latest update is known as the Panda, and experts estimate that it affected some 12% of the total websites currently listed in Google. Most of the affected websites were those which had previously ranked in the top few pages. Somewhat alarmingly, Google states that Panda is only the beginning, and there will be 500 or more “tweaks” to their algorithms during the coming year. Panda was ostensibly targeting content farms and spam sites as well as short articles which read like ads, or articles which were poorly written or scammed from other sites. Unfortunately, there were some high-quality sites which were accidentally lumped in with the content farms, and now are left angry and frustrated, trying to get their site back where it belongs.
What Panda Looks At
According to Google officials, Panda is seeking out high percentages of duplicate content, low amounts of original content on an individual page or an entire site, high numbers of inappropriate advertisements, unnatural overuse of a word on a page (keyword stuffing), a high bounce rage, low visit times, low percentage of returning users, no links to the website from social media, low or no quality inbound links, and a high percentage of the same content of each page in the site. While it may be difficult in some cases to determine exactly what set the Panda off, most of the time it will be fairly obvious. If your legal sites or legal SEO techniques were penalized unfairly, contact Google immediately.
Panda Takes Aim at Backlinks
If you have a good understanding of SEO in general, then you probably are aware that building backlinks is one of the primary ways to get your legal website noticed and give it the stamp of approval by search engines as a quality site. On-site linking occurs when you interlink your legal website pages and blog pages, while offsite linking occurs when other websites link to your legal website.
Over 50% of Panda’s algorithm focuses on offsite linking, while another good portion of it takes aim at sites which are both low-quality and overflowing with ads. If you were slapped by Panda over offsite linking, what’s a law firm to do? First, track down those who linked to your site, and ask any low-quality sites to remove the link. Like your mother always said, you are judged by those you associate with, and a negative association is just not work the backlink. Once the low-quality links are gone from your legal website or blog, cultivate high-quality backlinks from other reputable law firms.
Content and Social Media
Continue to post high-quality content regularly on your legal website and blog—if you don’t yet have a legal blog attached to your website, get one. Blogs are one of the very best—not to mention easiest–ways to keep your legal website fresh and updated. If you have yet to jump on the social media bandwagon, now’s the time. Your potential clients are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites, so use them to your advantage.
Trust is (Still) Key
Although Panda’s algorithm seems complex, take a look at the content on your legal website or blog and ask yourself if you would trust the information presented. Does the article appear shallow, or do you get the sense it was written by an expert–or at the very least someone who knows the subject well? Does your site have duplicate or overlapping articles, or do you notice spelling, grammar or factual errors of any type? Does each and every article on your legal blog contain a complete description of the stated topic, and is the material insightful and interesting? The ultimate test may be—would you actually bookmark your site or your blog article or share it with a friend? If you can answer all these questions in a positive manner when you give your legal site a totally unbiased look, then you are probably safe from the Panda—for now at least.
Call (769) 218-6099 for free law firm SEO advice from experts not sales people. Call today to get all the answers you need.
Sunday, May 15th, 2011
Many people have heard that the age of their website, as well as their links, can affect the way Google “credits” the website. To most SEO consultants, it makes perfect sense why the domain name is now used as a legal SEO consideration—think about it, older domains have obviously been around longer, garnering them at least the perception of being more successful and reliable. Since most spammers only ply their tricks for a limited time, with Google giving high points for domain age, the spammers are no longer able to pull in high rankings using black hat tricks. Of course the age of your domain name and links are far from the only part of the equation in your law firm SEO ranking, meaning the effect may not be the only deciding factor—good news for those of you who are just jumping into the marketing waters via your legal website.
Establishing Your Law Firm’s Reputation
In fact, many solid legal firms can establish a good SEO ranking within a year of the domain name’s registration. Keep in mind, however, that it’s not only the registration date, but also the number of back links and the period over which those particular back links were created. That’s why, when a reputable legal firm decides to go with a new domain name, they thankfully don’t lose their ranking as the back links from their old site are simply redirected to the new website. As far as Google is concerned, your firm is creating a “library” of sorts over time which consists of unique, quality content with back links, giving you a decided advantage in the SEO wars. Like it or not, however, the newest legal websites truly will take a good year before they have a high—and more importantly, steady—ranking.
The “Other” Side
Just as there are those who believe age of site and links is vitally important, there are others who think it matters not at all. It’s been noted that it could be more related to correlation rather than causation if you are backing up your age theory by the fact you will quite often pull up websites which may be dated two, three, four, even more years back. Perhaps those people who registered early simply got great domain names, exact match domain names, or short domain names. They’ve had a longer time to build their brand, let more people know about them, reference them, link to them. They’ve likely been in the media or press, and are included in directories and lists which are linked to by the important people. Because of all these factors, it may look as if these earlier sites perform better simply due to their age. Those who don’t believe in the age factor will tell you that if you produced a site today, and accomplished all the things a ten-year old site has, you would likely outrank them because you’ve earned those links, reputation and brand much faster. Personally, I’m still leaning toward the side that says age of your law firml website actually does matter.
Many SEO professionals believe that a website’s age and constantly updated content will, in the end, get them much higher up in the rankings than going strictly on backlinks and keywords. Not to imply that the backlinks and keywords aren’t critically important, but if you are thinking about the long-haul rather than the immediate results, you just can’t forget to update your content frequently and be patient as your domain name ages. Bottom line is that Google, as well as other search engines reward older websites in the belief the content will remain solid for people to read—again, as long as it is updated regularly in order to keep your readers coming back for more. I realize I’ve mentioned it more than once, but you just can’t neglect the last part of that sentence—update regularly. Even a once-powerfully performing page can gradually work its way down the list if it hasn’t been updated since initial publication.
Just as having children requires a great deal of patience and fortitude as they struggle through their awkward or difficult periods, so will your legal website require some of this same patience and fortitude. Be steady, add content often, make sure your keywords and backlinks are stellar quality, then wait patiently as your attorney website grows up, matures, and becomes what you knew it could all along!
Call (769) 218-6099 for free advice from experts in the Law Firm SEO and link building industry.
Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011
When assessing your attorney website, be aware that the speed of the website happens to be one of the most important factors, both for the usability to your potential customers but also for search engine rankings, performance and profitability. Google recently updated the algorithms of their search engine ranking to take the speed of a website into account. In fact many law office website owners are finding, to their dismay, that potential advertisers are visiting websites to check out the speed prior to purchasing advertising. We Americans are becoming increasingly impatient, expecting our websites to load almost instantaneously. Even though I lived through the dial-up age of Internet, like everyone else I find myself closing pages that take longer than a mere nano-second to fully load. Although we may want to believe that broadband has triumphed and we no longer need to worry about speed, this is far from the truth. So, how does this need for speed we are engaged in affect your attorney website?
Webmasters must be highly cognizant of the speed issue and must know how to fully optimize their sites for speed. Toward the end of 2009, it was ever-so-gently suggested that Google would eventually be introducing the speed factor into their current algorithms, and, lo and behold, that day has arrived. Google’s site performance actually details the average time it takes the Google bots to download your indexed pages, and has a section known as “Let’s Make the Web Faster,” which will give you some excellent articles on the speed subject as well as tools to increase your speed. To get started on your search for speed for your law office websites, consider the following:
Optimizing Page Loading Speed
While optimizing images used to be a more difficult task, most graphic editors of today have special features which allow you to optimize images for the web—in other words, with a few clicks you can easily turn a 100kb file into 20kb with little loss of quality. Keep in mind that simply re-sizing an image using the height and width tags, while making the photo visibly smaller, still remains essentially the same, slowing down your law firm website considerably. Rather than using large images, consider thumbnails which can be clicked on should your viewer want to see the larger version. Some web site building software has automated thumb-nailing options. Ditch the animations if you want to increase your page’s loading speed—while animations can be cute, consider carefully whether they are seriously effective for your overall attorney website presentation.
Using Tables Carefully
Should you be using tables on your attorney website, use them carefully. Browsers wait until all items in a table are loaded before rendering the content. Therefore, your user sees absolutely nothing until all components of the table are loaded, then it magically appears. A user can get impatient, however, and click off somewhere else rather than waiting for the table to finish loading. If you must use tables, split the content into header, middle and footer tables which will allow your user to a least see something while the page is loading, persuading them to hang around to see it in its entirety.
YSlow or Page Speed?
Don’t forget that your site’s speed is not always 100% about what’s on your pages—some hosting company servers tend to be notoriously slow, most especially in a shared hosting environment where there may be in the hundreds of sites on the same server. When testing your server’s response time, a quarter to half a second response time is great, while a few seconds is just too long. The Google Speed site is attempting to make Web browsing just as fast as turning the pages of a magazine, so if you are responsible for your lawyer website, you may be wondering where to go to get an overall idea of your site’s performance. Go to your Google Webmaster Tools account and log in; click on Labs, then Site Performance where your site’s performance data will be displayed, based on feedback from crawlers. YSlow does much the same as Google’s Page Speed tool, however YSlow provides a grade for each page you review, handing out “grades” for each examined element. Page Speed offers only a green check, yellow triangle or red warning symbol.
It is really well-worth the time, when considering law firm SEO, to also consider the loading speed of your law firm website pages. If you want to remain at the top, bringing in more traffic—and conversions—optimize your site so that it literally zips along and keep your clients happy.
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