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Clients find their attorney online, and writing quality content on a regular basis for your law firm’s website and blog is key to reaching those clients.

But writing quality content regularly isn’t always easy. It can be hard to find the time to write, the motivation to keep publishing, or the perfect topic to write about. Without a solid content strategy or content plan, it can be even harder.

Content is critical to your law firm’s online marketing, and it can be tempting to engage in risky practices that allow you to produce a large volume of content with minimal effort. Unfortunately, those methods will neither provide your potential clients with the information they need most nor will it inspire them to contact to your law firm.

Worst of all, the methods that we’ll list below can get you into trouble with Google and cause your website to be demoted in search engine results pages. Google has designed algorithms to handle the content problems you’ll see in this post. If you choose to engage in these risky practices, your law firm’s website rankings and traffic may suffer as a result.

Automatically Generated Content

What it is: Google defines automatically generated content as content that has “been generated programmatically.” This type of content often consists of paragraphs of text that are nonsensical and provide no value to the person reading them, yet may contain search keywords.

What It Looks Like: Automatically generated content is fairly easy to spot because it often looks unnatural to a human reader. It can show up as:

  • Text translated by an automated tool (from one language to another using an online translator). That’s a problem because online translators can only do so much in terms of correctly translating to or from a foreign language. A proper translation requires a human editor.Text that’s automatically generated through processes like Markov chains — Markov chains can create (what appears to be) legitimate text but that holds no value to the reader.
  • Text that uses “automated synonymizing” — that is, using a machine that replaces words in a block of text with synonyms. Here, you’re simply exchanging one word for another rather than adding something of value to the overall conversation. The same problem lies in combining content from different pages without adding anything new that’s of value.
  • Text generated from RSS feeds or search results

Thin Content

What it is: Thin content is shallow material that doesn’t add anything valuable or significant for your readers. Length isn’t always an indicator of thin content — a 1,000 word blog post written hastily by a non-expert likely won’t provide as much value as a 300 word post written on the same subject by someone with expertise in the field.

What It Looks Like: Thin content doesn’t always show up as plain content, though ensuring that you’re providing original insight and research in your content will help you avoid trouble with Google. In the video below, Google’s Matt Cutts explains thin content more thoroughly:

Duplicate & Scraped Content

What it is: Duplicate content is much like it sounds. It generally refers to blocks of content that match or closely match content elsewhere on the web, and that can even include from your own website. Why would someone have the exact same content on several of their webpages? Again, this is a tactic meant to try and increase search rankings — at least, when it’s done intentionally. Minimize identical content in the event you have pages that are quite similar.

Scraped content is basically a close cousin to duplicate content in that it can show up as content directly copied from elsewhere on the web. As Google describes it:

Some webmasters use content taken (“scraped”) from other, more reputable sites on the assumption that increasing the volume of pages on their site is a good long-term strategy regardless of the relevance or uniqueness of that content.

What It Looks Like: While duplicate content tends not to be deceptive in origin, some places attorneys might run into problems are in discussion forums that create a regular page and an additional page meant for mobile devices, as well as printer-only versions of webpages.

As for scraped content, this problem can show up not only in text, but in multimedia, too. Your law firm website may have scraped content if you:

  • Copy content from other sites without adding any of your own insight, analysis or research
  • Copy content from another site and make only slight modifications (as we discussed earlier with synonym machines)
  • Dedicate your site to embedding multimedia like video or images from other sites without adding anything that provides value to your potential clients

Original Content Will Help Your Law Firm Thrive On The Web.

Remember that Google asks webmasters to make pages for users, not for search engines. Engaging in risky practices can endanger the health of your law firm on the web. But by adding content to your site that has high value for both search engines and potential clients — informative, useful content that answers your potential clients’ questions and concerns — you put your law firm in a position that may result in better rankings, more traffic, and informed potential clients who are ready to engage you.

If you’re interested in content for your law firm’s blog or substantive pages, we can help you get started with content marketing or enhance your current collection of content. Schedule a call with us to see how we can upgrade your law firm’s marketing.

What Other Practices Can Sink Your Law Firm Online?

If you want to learn more about other practices that can endanger your law firm’s website, check out our webinar on Google’s Quality Guidelines to find out how to keep your website and blog on the right side of Google.