Google often makes small adjustments to its algorithm — Google also makes broad, extensive algorithm updates. Google doesn’t always confirm if it’s made a broad search algorithm update, but it did in June of 2019, and even pre-announced it.
Even when an announcement like this is made in advance, it can cause some to panic.
We love it when these updates are rolled out: when law firms follow the LawLytics methodology and use our system, they typically see across-the-board gains.
If you’ve been following Google’s guidelines and you’re focused on high-quality content creation for your law firm’s website, you’re on the right track.
In a blog post from August 1, Search Liaison Danny Sullivan writes that “[Search updates are] designed to ensure that overall, we’re delivering on our mission to present relevant and authoritative content to searchers.” He also notes:
“We suggest focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content that you can. That’s what our algorithms seek to reward.”
Here’s Google’s latest advice about high-quality content creation for law firm websites.
How do attorneys know if their law firm website content is high quality?
In his blog post from August 1, Sullivan points out that Google has offered similar advice in the past about creating high-quality content, but he goes on to provide a number of questions to ask yourself as a way to assess the quality of your content:
- Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
- Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
- If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?
- Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
- Does the headline and/or page title avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
Sullivan also suggests that webmasters get to know Google’s quality rating guidelines and understand the importance of EAT (Expertise, Authority, and Trust) when it comes to content.
“In particular, raters* are trained to understand if content has what we call strong E-A-T,” Sullivan says. “That stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. Reading the guidelines may help you assess how your content is doing from an E-A-T perspective and improvements to consider.”
Sullivan offers a number of expertise-related questions to ask yourself as well, including questions such as: “Is the content free from easily verified factual errors?” and “Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues related to your money or your life?”
Sullivan’s expertise questions drive home the importance of avoiding ad-like content in favor of detailed, educational information that your potential clients can use to make meaningful decisions about their case or problem.
What does Google’s advice mean for my law firm’s website?
Google’s advice about creating high-quality content is nothing new for the search engine — however, the highly specific questions that Sullivan provides in this blog post are a great place to start when it comes to assessing the quality of your law firm website’s content.
Your potential clients use Google to research information about their case or matter and will look to the information that’s provided to them in search results to make decisions about what to do next. The more information that you can give those potential clients about specific aspects of their problem, the more likely it is that Google will return your pages to a potential client when they make a related search.
Google has previously noted in its Search Ratings Guidelines that “The first step in understanding a page is figuring out its purpose […] Every page on the internet is created for a purpose. Most pages are created [to have] a beneficial purpose.”
How will your law firm’s website benefit your potential clients? As you create content for your law firm’s website, keep the idea of the “beneficial purpose” at the front of your mind.
For example, is your potential client more likely to benefit from a page that is a self-serving advertisement for your firm? Or are they more likely to benefit from a practice area page or blog post that explains a legal process in a detailed, educational way that they understand?
For more information on this topic, see:
- What Attorneys Need to Know About Google’s Updated Search Quality Rating Guidelines
- Does Your Law Firm SEO Provider Follow Google Webmaster Guidelines?
- Podcast: Factors That Affect Law Firm Content Marketing Success
*It should be noted that Google’s search quality raters are used for experimental purposes and cannot alter Google’s search results directly. For example, if a rater were to give a web page a low score, that rater’s scoring wouldn’t be reflected in search engine results pages. Google uses the data that comes from the work of search quality raters to improve its algorithms and keep low-quality pages from ranking highly.