This is the fourth post in a series about Logical Fallacies in Online Law Firm Marketing. For links to the other posts in this series, refer to the series introduction, “Logical Fallacies in Online Marketing.”
Conversations about search engine optimization (SEO) can get technical pretty quickly.
It’s therefore understandable that, when taking those first steps into the SEO wading pool, discussions about meta tags, structured data, and HTML might cause some less tech savvy attorneys to shy away from implementing SEO measures on their law firm websites.
But even if you’re not comfortable with coding, you can still engage in SEO best practices for your site. In fact, most SEO techniques, including the most effective ones, can be achieved with little-to-no technical expertise at all. And, if you are a LawLytics member, the highly technical SEO work is performed automatically for you, without requiring you to take any additional steps or learn any coding, whatsoever.
This post will focus on ways that attorneys who are not comfortable diving into the code of their law firm websites can still implement highly effective SEO practices for those sites.
Website Content is an Extremely Important Factor in SEO
Google has acknowledged on more than one occasion that the three most important factors influencing its search algorithm are:
- The presence of high quality content on your website,
- The presence of external links pointing back to your site, and
- Google’s “machine learning” element known as RankBrain
(RankBrain helps the search engine to pick up on context clues and synonyms from searches using artificial intelligence. Item three on this list is not something you have to “do.” Rather, it’s a process that Google’s algorithm handles in the background automatically.)
With respect to item one, finding high-quality, original content that provides value to search engine users has always been a priority for Google. The company’s stated mission, after all, is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
If Google wasn’t able to provide the best information available for specific searches, then the company’s search results would not be reliable. And, if that were the case, the search engine would struggle to retain its user base and, therefore, to maintain its business model of selling pay-per-click ads on its search engine results pages (SERPs).
Similarly, accounting for the presence of quality backlinks that point to your site (item two from the list above) was one of the original scoring factors in Google’s search algorithm. This is because Google sees quality, authoritative links pointing to your site as endorsements, indicating that the linked content is likely of a high quality and that the content is reliable.
But, since Google’s webmaster guidelines prohibit the practice of trading or purchasing links for the sake of SEO, the only way to build those links while staying in the good graces of the search engine is to provide link-worthy content, which brings us back to item one.
In short, the best thing you can do for your law firm website’s SEO is to write high-quality content meant to be consumed by your potential clients, and to do it often. And since Google has improved its ability to understand language (thanks, in part, to RankBrain) and has built algorithm to detect blackhat practices, tricks that used to work to artificially inflate the organic search rankings of content (such as keyword stuffing) are now unlikely to succeed.
Thus, the best way to write content for your law firm website’s visitors is to do so in natural language that your potential clients will understand. There is no need to implement any technical tricks to further influence Google’s algorithm. In fact, trying to trick Google’s algorithm in this way is now more likely to harm your website’s online visibility than it is to help it.
Consider the User Experience (UX) of Your Law Firm Website
Both Google and Bing (which also powers searches in Yahoo) measure the click-back rate of pages visited by their search engine users.
That means that if someone finds your content on a SERP, then clicks the back button on their browser soon after navigating to your site (a phenomenon known as “pogo-sticking”), the search engine will take notice and could relegate the associated content downward on SERPs for future searches. The user experience (UX) of visitors to your site is therefore a SEO factor worth considering.
Your site provides the best user experience when your content is useful, easy to find on a page, when your website is easy to navigate, and when ads and distractions like auto-play audio and video files are kept to a minimum.
It also helps to format your law firm website’s content so that it is easy to read and/or skim by making use of headers and breaking up paragraphs into short, digestible chunks. Supplementing your text-based content with multimedia content like photos can also make the experience of visiting your website more interesting for readers.
Other factors that can help improve your site’s user experience include using alt text for images (a process streamlined for users of the LawLytics system, using alt text with images makes your site more accessible to visually-impaired users and may provide some SEO benefits), providing summaries for long-form content, and offering multiple forms of content consumption, including podcasts, videos, slides, eBooks, and infographics.
Law Firm Website Mobile Friendliness and Site Security
Though these are both fairly technical issues, you don’t need to be a professional web designer or even have any coding knowledge to ensure that your site meets Google’s guidelines with regard to mobile friendliness and site security.
Without going into too much detail about how each of these items work (a topic that will be covered in detail in our upcoming eBook series, “Playing the SEO Game to Win,” the first volume of which will be released on June 21), it’s sufficient to note that using a website system that makes use of responsive website design and automatically provides the appropriate security certificates is all that is required to make sure that your law firm website is both mobile-ready and secure (LawLytics handles both of these for our members as part of our basic service offerings).
A majority of the most important steps attorneys can take to begin implementing SEO practices for their law firm websites do not require a high level of technical know-how.
Attorneys therefore need not obsess over their level of tech expertise when thinking about SEO. They just need to have a grasp on the basics of how search engines work, understand how and why their potential clients conduct online searches (and what they’re likely to search for), and use the right tools to easily accomplish the task of publishing high-quality content on their websites that addresses questions posed to search engines by their potential clients.
For a more in-depth look at SEO practices that will move the needle for your law firm website, download our free eBook, “SEO Basics for Lawyers.” For more on logical fallacies in online law firm marketing, refer to the first post in this series, titled “Logical Fallacies in Online Marketing.”