Archive for the ‘Google SEO’ Category

Optimizing Your Law Firm Website For Top Search Engine Rankings

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

SEO — search engine optimization – is to Google and lawyer websites, what Boolean searches are to Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw. Feeding specific search terms into the search engine quickly produces reliable results consistent with the search terms. SEO relies on keywords and key-phrases (e.g., search terms) that have been narrowed by feeding criteria specific to your practice into the latest web traffic reporting tools.

Lawyer Success, Inc. uses these results to decide to the best and most frequently used keywords and phrases and, more specifically, those likely to generate the highest volume of web traffic to your lawyer website. Google then uses algorithms that interpret the SEO to evaluate your lawyer website and determine your search rankings. When a prospective client uses search terms that contain your keywords and phrases, the SEO elevates your lawyer website search ranking producing consistent search results for both you and the prospective client.

These important tips can complement your SEO campaign:

  • Titles. Your page title is the most important tool you have to attract new clients from Google search listings. Productive titles incorporating SEO increases search engine visibility. SEO is how prospective clients find you on the Web, and factors into their navigation of your lawyer website by guiding them to the specific page that is useful to them.
  • Answers. Clients expect lawyers to answer their questions. Prospective clients searching your lawyer website expect your legal content to answer their questions. Our goal-driven nature sends us to the Web in search of a specific find or to accomplish a particular goal. The next website is just a click-of-the-mouse away, making efficient and relevant legal content interspersed with SEO critical to meeting the needs of prospective clients and keeping them on your lawyer website.
  • Design. Effective lawyer website design complements SEO and promotes the prospective client’s goal-driven search. Remember, you are branding your name and marketing your practice — not advertising. Animation, flashing text, pop-ups, and banners give the appearance of a gaming business, and not a lawyer website. Make your professionalism stand out through tasteful lawyer website design and legal content.
  • Color. Changing the color of visited links guarantees ease-of-navigation for prospective clients visiting your lawyer website. This allows them to exclude pages already visited, and to proceed to pages that spoke to a particular issue or otherwise piqued their interest. Links are generally tied to SEO. For example, links labeled “personal injury” and “product liability” are likely to contain cross-over information; yet, each topic has its own link allowing the prospective client to discern the difference. The changing color link also helps visitors easily identify and recall pages on your lawyer website that were helpful.
  • Format. Your legal content needs to be “scannable” meaning you are writing for an online audience, as opposed to a print media. Prospective clients are drawn to the use of short paragraphs, simple writing style, highlighted keywords, bulleted lists, and subheads. The idea is to draw the visitor’s eye to your page using understated, yet highly-effective formatting.

The SEO experts

At Lawyer Success, Inc., optimizing your lawyer website for great search engine rankings is our biggest goal. We provide that critical keyword research, and guarantee the results. Our consultants are happy to show you how to stay competitive and increase your client-base through no-obligation strategies. Our lawyer website design and 24/7 client-support saves you both time and money! Ask about our Free, No Risk lawyer website design when you call.

Call For Free Advice & Guidance From Experts, Not Sales People! Call 1 (800) 877-2776 Today.

Engaging Your Web Reader

Friday, April 27th, 2012

While web content writers must place a high portion of their focus on keywords, headlines and word counts, if the words don’t fully engage the reader then nothing else will likely matter. Humans read web content, and most of those humans are first and foremost in a hurry to resolve a particular situation or problem. Even though they are in a hurry, however, this does not mean that they lose their ability to tell the difference between mediocre writing and writing of the highest quality. Mediocre writing will never bring your readers back time and time again even if everything else happens to be just as it should according to the best practices of web writing.

Ways to Engage Your Web Reader

Most all web content will tell their reader in some way or another to take action and which specific action they should take to reach the resolution they want. Writing in the second person makes your web content more personal to the reader and is a good way to engage them and hold their attention. You want your readers to feel as though you are speaking to them—having a face-to-face conversation nearly. When you speak in a personal manner, and use the words “I” and “you,” your content becomes personalized, therefore more engaging. Since only a very small percentage of web readers actually read an article from start to finish, you must hook your reader immediately following your amazing headline which caught their attention originally. Then, if you want your reader to actually read every word you’ve written, you must ensure it is rich, high quality, and full of valuable information or a creative solution to a problem.

Even if your friends refer to you as Ms. or Mr. Webster, curb the use of more difficult words. Remember that the Internet is full of people from all walks of life and your goal is to benefit each and every one of them. The average reading level for a web reader is between sixth and eighth grade, so keep this in mind while you write. You don’t want those reading your pages to have to haul out the dictionary to determine what you are saying nor do you want them to feel uneducated, so write simple sentences with easy-to-understand terminology. Aside from wanting your web reader to fully comprehend your message, you don’t want to appear as a boastful or self-important writer, so bring the word level down a bit in order to keep your readers fully engaged.

Writing for the Reader Who Scans

The majority of web readers scan content rather than reading an entire page in the traditional left-to-right fashion. In fact, web readers tend to read from center to left to right, scanning quickly down the page in order to determine whether or not the solution they are seeking is available. Using point form in your web content writing can help your readers scan quickly through a page. Point form includes the use of sub headings, bulleted lists, numbers and the judicious use of bold words. This is not to say that everything you write should contain a bulleted list—use them when appropriate and when you feel they will allow you to make an important point your readers might otherwise miss.

If you find your subject does not lend itself to bulleted lists, then keep your paragraphs short and sweet, focusing on one point for each paragraph. Try using the inverted pyramid style of writing, meaning your most important point will come first, followed by less important information. Don’t forget to add some humor to your writing and you will be able to fully engage your web reader, possibly even ensuring they will read to the very end of your page.

SEO for Legal Bloggers

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Blogging can be one of the very best ways to connect your online business with your online users. Promoting your business becomes much easier and more streamlined once you implement blogging, not to mention your traffic should grow significantly. If you are familiar with the basic SEO tactics used to increase PageRank and traffic to your website, then many of the same techniques can be applied to your blog. There are, however, specific strategies which can be applied to your blog in order to boost both your traffic and ranking.

Optimize Your Blog Post Titles

Search engine optimization can be increased through the use of your blog post titles. If you are an avid newspaper reader, then you are aware of how you scan each page, stopping to read any article whose title attracts you. When you provide an interesting, appealing and attractive post title, you will essentially be persuading your reader to read through the entire blog posting. For maximum search engine optimization you should also include your top-ranked keywords in your post titles so search engines will pick them up more quickly.

Incorporate Top-rated Keywords

As most of us know, keywords play a crucial role in SEO, therefore every blogger should ensure they have identified their keywords and used them in the very best way. Keywords should also be sprinkled throughout the blog posting without appearing obvious. If you use your keywords judiciously throughout the title and posting, then Google will retrieve the article quickly, boosting your rankings.

Build a Network for Optimal SEO

Building a network for your blog will include providing backlinks, commenting in related niche blogs and using social media in ways such as creating a Facebook fan page. Social media is truly one of your greatest assets when building your blog network, so use it to your advantage.

Post Quickly and Post Often

If your blog centers around a specific niche, and that particular industry changes rapidly, you will want to keep your blog readers informed and up-to-date—before other bloggers in your niche get the information out there first. You want to be known as the blogger who informed your readers first about the latest trend, so make sure you keep up-to-date, then post quickly before others have had the chance.

Make sure you post at a minimum of three times per week as well to increase your overall search engine optimization, rankings and reader satisfaction. It can be very disappointing for a reader to finally find a blog which fits his or her needs, but is not updated frequently, and can lead readers to believe you can’t be bothered to put in the time necessary to promote your blog. Even if you are tapped out and can’t think of anything clever to say, you can always find something clever on Google.

Content is the Backbone of Your SEO Strategy

The old adage is correct, and content truly is king. While it may take you a bit longer to reach the top using organic SEO, the results will be well worth it. When you consistently offer high-quality, informative blog postings, your readers will loyally stick with you, and will also share your blog postings with others. Sharing is a very important strategy when building networks, and writing persuasive, quality, helpful content will help you get quality backlinks.

Work on each of these tips for increasing your SEO through your blog, and you will see significant results in a relatively short amount of time.

Off-Page SEO Tactics

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Off page SEO encompasses all the things you can do to get your site a high PageRank once it has gone live. As the name indicates, off page SEO is done outside the actual pages of your site, and most off page SEO concerns building your link popularity. Backlinks are the backbone of your link popularity since the higher the link popularity, the higher the PageRank. Your goal will be to slowly but surely increase the number of high quality websites which link to your website.

This is not the same as reciprocal linking or link exchanging where you contact another webmaster and offer to link to their site if they will link to yours, but is rather gaining unilateral links—those quality sites which link to your site due only to the excellence of your site. The best way to garner unilateral links is to consistently offer unique, informative and quality content. You may be wondering just how to accomplish this through content alone.

Article Marketing
There are literally thousands of article directories on the Internet where you can submit your articles. Each article submission gains you a resource box where you are allowed to introduce yourself and—most importantly—share a link to your site. The problem here is making sure you only submit to high quality article directories which have high page ranking. Once your articles are accepted they will be included in the directory’s pages, in turn increasing your own PageRank. The more quality directories you submit your articles to, the more links to your website. Although it can sound daunting, there are article directory submission services, some which are relatively inexpensive. Make sure to include keywords and links within your articles to add additional SEO value to advertisers.

Unique Headlines and Clear, Direct Information
Try not to repeat your titles in your subtitles, and keep your articles between 400 and 800 words. Remember that for easy web readability, you need to use smaller chunks of text, divide into smaller paragraphs with headings, and use bulleted or numbered lists. Offer your visitors a read which is truly valuable and gives them much-needed information for the time involved. Work hard to ensure your titles are as unique as possible, then use your articles to contain links to promoted blog articles, as well as hosted content on social networking sites.

Try Triangular Linking Rather Than Reciprocal
Google is not always a fan of reciprocal linking, however you can get around this restriction a bit by trying triangular linking. To do this successfully, find two or more other webmasters who are amendable to linking with you—as well as the others—then you post a link to site B, B posts a link to site C, and so on. The principle is essentially the same as link exchanges, but the search engine spiders have not caught on to this technique just yet.

Social Bookmarking as SEO Tactic
Spreading the good word about your website as thoroughly as possible generally includes socializing your web content. Providing your site contents through RSS feeds, and establishing your site through the news and media brings additional links to your site. Social media sites which have high authority with the search engines are an excellent off-page SEO tactics. Once you post your site content on various social media sites through blog posting, quality backlinks will start coming your way. In order to garner deep, inbound links, your readers should be encouraged to use bookmarking websites throughout your site.

Off page SEO is critical to the ultimate success of your site, sending it up the page ranks. As long as you continually monitor and adjust your off page SEO tactics, your site can remain in an enviable position, leaving you a satisfied webmaster.

Is There a Code of Ethics in the SEO World?

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Just as most all professions are guided by a set of rules, the SEO world also has certain rules and code of conduct which should be followed by all those engaged in the business of SEO, and even those of us who undertake SEO practices for our personal websites should certainly be aware of the rules we should make every effort to follow. Most of us know the difference between right and wrong, and would not consider engaging in a practice which is obviously dishonest, however some of the SEO rules are ones you might not have fully considered. Additionally, because SEO changes and grows nearly daily, it is hard to maintain a “universal” SEO code of conduct, but following these general rules will ensure you never cross the ethical line.

The Most Basic Code

Slander is slander, whether in real life on online, and as such you should always scrupulously avoid it. Slander is providing any type of false information which would defame another person. Your goal is to make your own site, and your own brand look good to the public and to Google, however success is not achieved by going out of your way to make your competition look bad, no matter how tempting that might be.

Follow the rules as set out by Google, Yahoo, Bing, or other search engines—whether you agree with them or not, attempting to find a way around these rules will ultimately cause your site and your rankings to suffer. If you work for others, performing SEO for their business, remember they are trusting you with their personal information, and all privacy policies you would use in the traditional sense are applicable online as well.

Never, ever, sacrifice private or personal information no matter how valuable it could potentially be. If you use someone else’s work, give them credit, never claim it as your own. This is plagiarism, and is illegal. Copying and pasting may seem harmless, but it absolutely is not. Finally, if it’s against the law in your everyday world, it is against the law online. Take care with copyrighted names or trademarks so others don’t mistakenly believe you are associated with a particular company that in reality you are not.

More Specific Rules of SEO

You should take care to never employ so-called “black hat” techniques which include using mirror pages or sites, link farms, hidden texts, hidden links which promote websites, doorway pages or keywords written in minute text. By the same token, never take credit for another’s creativity in any way, shape or form, and never use unauthorized software or tools for web promotion.  Websites which are made for AdSense, but consist of scraped content are completely unethical, as is deliberately misspelling well-known websites. If you are engaging in keyword stuffing and loading pages with irrelevant words in an attempt to boost your search engine rankings, you may get short term results, but they absolutely will not be lasting ones, plus you could cause your site to be banned from the Internet altogether. Essentially any method which tries to trick the search engines violates the SEO code of conduct

SEO tactics which are both ethical and provide long-term, long-lasting positive results include optimizing your existing web pages and HTML code, engaging in organic link building to get high quality inbound links, and going out of your way to build a website which offers great value to users.  Ethical practices make everyone involved in the entire Internet process a winner, so make sure you always adhere to these rules.

How Backlinks Can Boost Your Google Ratings

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

What are Backlinks and Why Do They Matter?

It’s a pretty sure bet that if you’ve studied SEO at all you’ve stumbled across the term “backlink.” If you are relatively new to the whole SEO issue, you may have wondered exactly what a backlink is, and how it matters to you and your fledgling—or even well-established—website. In fact, backlinks can be a hefty building block in your overall SEO campaign. Quite simply, backlinks are links which point to your website. Several search engines, Google in particular, give considerable credit to websites with both high quantity and high quality backlinks, considering them to be much more credible and relevant.

Making Sure Your Backlinks are the Highest Quality

The quality of the backlink is of utmost importance as search engines take a careful look at the overall content of the link’s site in order to determine its relevance and overall value. Relevance relates to how closely the backlink relates to your own website. In other words, if your website happens to be about survival products, then a backlink to car racing would hardly qualify as relevant.

Why Backlinks Factor So Highly in Rankings

Believe it or not, search engines actually want all sites on the Internet to have a fairly level playing field, but they prefer that links are built naturally and gradually, over time. Manipulation of links in order to achieve a higher ranking is fairly common—and relatively easy, however the benefits of that type of manipulation are short-lived. Backlinks rate so highly in Google’s algorithm precisely because it is difficult to influence the search engine—long-term—with external backlinks from other websites. Because of so-called “black hat” SEO techniques such as using link farming to provide those critical inbound links, search engines have developed much more stringent “rules” for backlinks.

Bring Visitors to Your Site with Reciprocal Backlinks

One very efficient way to get the word out about all your website has to offer is by working for and achieving high quality backlinks. After all, you really can’t expect readers to magically find your website without lighting the path for them, and reciprocal backlinks can do just that. Reciprocal backlinks, or link exchanges, can significantly boost your site’s ratings, and can be relatively simple to obtain.

How to Go About Link Exchanging

The best way to obtain quality reciprocal links is to ensure that the e-mail you send to another webmaster is highly personalized, meaning you have visited the site, noted the significant details, and garnered the name of the webmaster as well. This level of research and personalization shows the other party that you are serious about reciprocal linking and that you value a potential link with them. Many experts feel that if you have linked to the site prior to contacting the webmaster you will have much more credibility once you contact them.

Writing and Distributing Articles with Relevant Backlinks

It can be incredibly beneficial to your website to make the commitment to write and distribute articles which pertain to your website on a regular basis. With each relevant, high-quality article written, make sure you add a short “about the author” bio or resource box after each article which contains a link back to your website. Once you have written a top-notch article, distribute it to as many quality article directories as possible. Even writing and distributing one article every two to three weeks can garner truly amazing results for your website. Ezine is a good article directory for beginners, however there are many more which are excellent and worthwhile.

Snagging Backlinks through Guest Blogging

If you are truly an expert in your field, consider approaching other blog owners who are in the same area, and ask if they would consider publishing a guest post written by you on their blog. Keep in mind that you should provide 100% unique content, written exclusively for their website rather than reconstituting something you have already written for your own site. This technique will give you valuable backlinks from within the post. A somewhat easier way to get a backlink, not to mention extra exposure, is to post on forums which allow you to include a signature at the end with a link to your website. Take care to follow all forum rules and never, ever spam just to get a backlink.

Building quality backlinks can be crucial to the success of your overall SEO, therefore you should definitely make it a priority.

SEO Basics—as Decreed by Google

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Since most website owners believe that Google alone brings over 90% of the traffic to their website, you can clearly see why it matters how Google’s great algorithms view your website. You may have hired the very best professional web designer for your business website only to find it still is not ranking well with Google. And, we all know that if your site is not ranking well, then it is difficult, if not impossible, for potential customers to find you. Often, the most beautiful, perfectly laid-out sites on the web simply sit there with little to no traffic, therefore no business for you. What you may not have realized is that simply pulling together a fabulous website is no guarantee it will be seen—the site layout and content must be thoroughly optimized to be search-engine friendly.

How Do You Get Good Google Rankings?

There are really only two ways to drive visitors from Google to your website—you either buy ads which will show up on the Google results pages, or you work your fanny off trying to get high rankings organically. Although you may wish there were something in between the two, there really is not, so in the long run it’s better to simply suck it up and devote the necessary time and energy needed to make your website design pay off big time. I you are uncertain of what Google considers their “bible” of basic SEO techniques, read on!

Descriptive Titles are Key

Because nobody actually reads website—we have fallen into the scannable age—content on your site must be optimized in ways that will catch your reader’s attention. The first thing users see your title, and if it is not highly descriptive, using your selected keywords or key phrases, your user may click away and look elsewhere for the information they seek. Your title must be clear, concise, and descriptive all in a few words. The best titles offer something tangible to the reader—“Ten ways to Lose Your Belly Fat,” or “How to Avoid Being Shortchanged During Your Divorce.” If you are a reader in search of ways to lose belly fat, or are going through a divorce with an obnoxious spouse, then you have immediately targeted in on a title that professes to help you with your problems.

Choose Your Keywords Carefully

Choosing the right keywords for your website is a crucial first step, and in general you should avoid generic keywords and focus on the more specific or niche keywords which describe your business product or service. You should start out by brainstorming and making a big list of the keywords, then use a specific program to see how well those keywords rank. Once you have narrowed down to a shortlist, talk to friends and relatives and ask them what words they would type into a search bar to find your business. You may be surprised to learn that many of their suggestions are not ones you would have thought of.

Work on Securing Incoming Links

Other than a good site structure and the highest quality content, incoming links from other quality websites are almost essential in reaching your goal of increasing your ranking. The very best way to secure those links is through content that is both informative and adds value. Once others begin reading your exceptional articles, they will want to link to your site, and Google places a high value on those links.

Spend Plenty of Time on Your Content

The content on your pages is the underlying factor which will get you the high rankings you seek. Whether you write the content yourself, or have it written, make sure the end result is something that your users will find extremely helpful in solving a particular problem or issue. Use your chosen keywords judiciously throughout the content, and follow the basic Internet readability rules by keeping paragraphs short, using descriptive sub-headings, and keeping the content shorter than you would write a hard copy. Though it can be overwhelming and seem incredibly complex, once you’ve mastered Google’s basic rules, you will be well on your way to a perfectly optimized website which moves quickly up the ranks.

Ditching Bad Inbound Links While Optimizing the Good

Friday, January 20th, 2012

While inbound links may well be the lifeblood to the success of your website, there are some inbound links which may be doing your site more harm than good, along with some which, while not technically hurting you, can simply be classified as useless. Cultivating the good links—those which can send your website quickly up Google’s popularity ladder—while ditching the bad and useless links, can significantly improve your website’s performance.

Keep the Useful and Good

Great inbound links can bring enormous benefits to your website by increasing search engine visibility. This increase in visibility in turn brings increased link popularity, a bump up in PageRank, higher traffic, and, ultimately, higher sales. In other words, what’s not to like about a solid inbound link? Getting these highly relevant inbound links can take lots of time and constant attention.

Offer Consistently High-Quality, Relevant Content

Providing extremely useful and unique content in your site is the first step to attracting quality inbound links. When your site consistently offers value and high-quality information which cannot be found elsewhere, you are on the yellow brick road to success. Other websites will be clamoring to link to your site in an effort to provide their own web visitors the best website experience possible. This natural progression brings targeted traffic and valuable inbound links.

Listing your website in the highest quality web directories can also bring a flurry of great one-way inbound links as can submitting your best articles to article directories with your site’s URL in the resource box. Some reciprocal links can be beneficial to your site, although Goggle’s latest algorithm has devalued link exchanges to some degree. If you stick with quality, themed reciprocal linking, then you will probably reap rewards. Finally, social bookmarking is the latest trend; you can link your sites to popular social media as a way to obtain traffic and great inbound links.

What are Bad Inbound Links?

Inbound links which are especially frowned upon by Google can do substantial harm to your website. Whether you are linked knowingly or unknowingly to harmful sites, you can be penalized or even blacklisted by search engines. Linking to sites which are considered link farms—they contain hundreds of links linking to one another in a single page—can damage your overall credibility, something that can take considerable time to rebuild. Search engines are also not in favor of sites known as Free For All sites where you place an advertisement with a link to your site. Your ad appears with literally thousands of others in an FFA site, however your exposure is minimal and the damage is huge.

What is a Useless Inbound Link?

You may find inbound links to your site which are neither especially good, nor particularly bad, however they offer little in the way of benefit to your site. Useless inbound links include sites which have little relevance to your own site, even if they rank highly. If your site is about office chairs, avoid an inbound link from a picture frame site, even if it is a quality, highly-ranked site.  You get no credit, and little targeted traffic from such inbound links.

Ditching Those Bad and Useless Inbound Links

Once you have determined which links are either hurting your site or offering no real benefit, how do you resolve the problem? Unfortunately the removal of harmful links is not something Google can do for you, therefore you have to solve the problem the old-fashioned way. Contact each site you deem bad or useless and ask them to remove their links. Most webmasters will remove the link once you make the request, however you may run across a few uncooperative site owners. Unfortunately, this then becomes one of those things you have no control over, so it’s better to not dwell on it for too long rather focus on the things you do have control of. Links which are of particularly low or questionable quality rarely stand the litmus test of time, and tend to disappear over time, removing the problem from your site altogether.

The Debate Continues: Black Hat, White Hat or Just Plain Bad SEO?

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

The goal of Google’s panda update was to ferret out black hat SEO, however in the process it penalized some websites which were not perhaps intentionally duplicitous, but happened to be filled with plain bad SEO. Even if your legal website or blog was not one of the many who were slapped by the new update, it could be time to do another “once-over” to ensure your legal site does not employ any of the tactics which could garner you a penalty.

What is Black Hat SEO?

Sooner or later Google will catch most all black hat tricks, so it’s important that you know exactly what to look for. If you are not clear on what black hat SEO really consists of, it basically refers to search engine optimization “tricks” which are downright underhanded and unethical. Black hat SEO seeks to deceive the search engines, giving your legal site a ranking it may not deserve. The most common ploys used during black hat SEO consist of keyword stuffing, hidden or invisible text, cloaking, content farming or link farms. While these tactics will get your website noticed quickly by the search engines, they fail to provide your potential clients with anything of real value.

Keyword Stuffing, Content Farming and Link Farms

Keyword stuffing consists of filling your legal website with information which is almost unintelligible due to the overuse of keywords. Unethical SEO companies also write keywords in white text onto a white background—you or I are unable to see the keywords with our human eyes, yet search engine spiders can easily see them, bringing about an immediate bump up the search engine ladder, at least until the search engine discovers the ruse. Spinning software takes one article which might have started out as high quality copy, then spins it into hundreds of articles used by many companies as a means to link to their site. Again, most search engines will eventually figure it out if you are using content farming or article spinning techniques. A link farm consists of a website which is set up with no other purpose than increasing the link popularity of other sites by increasing incoming links to those sites. These links are generally totally unrelated, and will be picked up by the search engines.

What is White Hat SEO?

White hat SEO will enhance the quality of your legal website by giving value to your reader, and, although it will take longer than using black hat SEO, you will eventually earn a high website ranking. White hat SEO chooses a solid keyword phrase which accurately represents your legal page, then uses it in the Meta tags. White hat SEO contains content which accurately reflects your business and your website, and gives your reader value and worth. When your legal website garners other high-quality websites linking to a legal blog post or page within your legal website, you have a quality inbound link, further boosting your search engine rankings. This is in sharp contrast to black hat SEO which incorporates a less than stellar link list which is traded simply to boost search results. In short, any SEO tactic which conforms to the stated guidelines of search engines, making no attempt to deceive them, is considered white hat SEO.

What if Your Legal SEO is Just Plain Bad?

Even if you have avoided being penalized for obvious black hat SEO techniques on your site, you still need to be hyper-vigilant about checking your legal sites often to ensure the content is superior, the links are legitimate and of excellent quality, and, while your keywords are used judiciously they are also used in a way that makes sense and doesn’t alienate your reader. Using white hat, organic SEO will get your legal website noticed—in a good way!

How Google’s Panda Update May Affect Your Legal Website

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.

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