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Search Engine Optimization

28
Jul

Optimizing Your Firm’s SEO Practices

Last week, we discussed the importance of link building even before an event-based link building campaign is started. Meanwhile, we all want to be successful, but everything worth having is worth working for, which is why I always tell my clients that the first step to building a more successful firm, is to build a successful strategy for SEO. The online world is quickly overtaking the offline world in terms of how businesses grow, are monitored, and even how they make sales or gain clients. If you want your law firm to see this type of growth then you need to be seen online and create a presence; trebuchetlegal.com explains:

Modern search engines are incredibly complex, but they work on fairly simple principles. Basically, they follow links and index the HTML content they find at these URLs into giant databases. When someone submits a search query, they search these databases to try to return the most relevant results, which they then present to the user.

I always talk about content and the importance of keywords and registering yourself locally through directories and other online avenues where community members will see you, but before you do all these, there are other things to be done.

Stake Out The Competition

This should be taken seriously, even if it does sound like something out of a movie. It doesn’t mean you need to drive by other local law firms and find cracks in their armor, but rather take the time to scan their website, and determine how successful they are, and which search engine optimization tactics they are using.

The reason for this research is not to copy the competition, but to beat them at their own game by better understanding which approaches they have yet to try, and implementing those strategies, along with a variety of others. This will also let you see what keywords are being used that might also fit into your niche, and then you can determine whether it is worth it to be listed for the same words, or if you don’t want your firm associated with another brand.

Get Analytical

Google Analytics is an amazing tool for those who are new to SEO, especially in the field of law, because it opens up doors for lawyers to better understand how well their site is working, and even where users are coming from. Google Webmaster Tools also helps in this area, and fortunately, setting up these tools is not too difficult, even if you’re not a computer guru. Many websites offer instructions on how to use the tools, but I will give a basic breakdown of Analytics here. If you want to check the influx of traffic on your site, which arrives organically, select Audience from your Google Analytics tool, followed by Mobile, and Overview. This will show you how many of the visits you have had are organic, and how these visits are occurring; for example, are these potential clients using a laptop, cell phone, tablet, etc.

Lose The Sales Attitude

Okay, so I am going to slip a little something in here about content, but I feel like it is relevant to increasing your SEO success rate, primarily because the way that you treat a client is a direct reflection on your firm. When you write something on your firm’s website, you are speaking to many clients at once, so remember that while it may seem a little informal because you are typing to a device not a human being, it will eventually be read by a potential client, or a current client, so don’t push too hard in the sales department. Total Attorneys says:

Go light on the sales pitch: Focus on providing good advice and information to optimize the search value, and let the surrounding contact information and marketing content on your web pages do the work of connecting you with prospective clients.

If somebody has found and is interested in reading the information on your firm’s website, then it has already done the job of bringing in a new potential user of your services. Don’t lose them with generic talk. Show them why your firm is the authority in your field by talking about something relevant.

Keep Your Brand Clean

Do this not with a scrub brush and water, but by using the same idea I just talked about above in keeping your content pure and not all about sales. This isn’t just directed toward content though; you need to think about your brand the way that client would. Would you use the services of a company that comments with spam across a variety of forums and websites in an effort to get more site traffic? Probably not. And this goes double for your clients who are looking for the services of a reputable lawyer to help with a serious problem. Lawyerist.com says:

You know (or you’ll learn) that your reputation is your most valuable asset. Yep, even more valuable than ranking #1 in Google. What you might not know is how inexperienced, unscrupulous, or irresponsible SEO can hurt your reputation as a lawyer.

This is why anything that seems forced, overly marketed, or is seen as spam will result in clients losing interest, and it may even peg your brand as a phony, or a low grade alternative to competitors in your market. You only get one reputation, even if you can change it later, that initial impression will always hang around, especially on the internet where nothing is ever truly deleted.

Finding success in the legal industry in terms of search engine optimization takes a lot of different strategies. The algorithms set forth by Google and other engines can be complex, and difficult to crack in their entirety, but a few things remain true, and throughout these articles, I have shed light on many of them. It isn’t enough to do the very basic in SEO if you want to proceed past other firms in your area. No lawyer got where he or she is by doing the bare minimum, so don’t stop working for what you want now that you are finally climbing that ladder to success.

24
Jul

Why Concentrate On Link Building Even Before An Event?

In our last discussion, we talked about developing different ways to get online recognition. By utilizing these techniques, one can contribute to one’s search engine optimization efforts in ways beyond the traditional methods. Still, it is important that you view the whole package when it comes to building up your reputation. Another way to do this is by being effective in your link building efforts.

For the most part, the most common way to build links for any type of campaign is during the event. It is there that you meet your contacts and build relationships that will bring you the links you’re looking for. Many people may also work on link building after the event by following up with new connections and solidifying those new relationships. All of these are effective tactics that all online marketers do. However, there is one area of link building that often gets neglected. According to SearchEngineWatch.com,

With any event-based link building campaign, there are three major stages of link building opportunity – before the event, during the event, and after the event. Perhaps one of the most neglected is the ‘before stage’, yet get this stage right and you create a powerful foundation on which to build your future success.

In order to do this you have to apply several different strategies to make sure that your firm is recognized even before the event happens.

Be Newsworthy

By providing newsworthy information prior to the event, you build up anticipation for the information you wish to share. When you can create a way to generate public interest in what you have to say, people will automatically be drawn to it. Sometimes, what is newsworthy may have little to do with what you’re offering but if it builds up anticipation, it will drive people to connect to you and link to your site.

Your goal is to create organic links rather than those that are acquired by creating content that people will automatically want to be a part of. If you have an event coming up a great blog post can be a natural way of getting the message out. As they point out at NiftyLaw.com,

If you want to write an occasional guest post, do it to build audience/authority & not just to gain a link. A great blog post can get you in front of a lot of eyes, generate comments, shares etc. & ultimately go a long way.

Start by letting the media know that your upcoming event is newsworthy and that people will be driven to want to know about it. You can also comment on other newsworthy items and connect them to your event. Chances are that if you chose wisely, those interested in the first news item will be interested in your event as well.

Provide a Free Service

Another way to tap into the source before the event is to offer a free service to draw attention to your firm. Some may choose to do this in an effort to build up good will for their firm; offering a free legal counseling day or handing out tickets can bring in a lot of attention.

The reality is that effective link building takes talent and astute observation. By effectively applying these strategies, it will be much easier than you might imagine to build links. As they point out at Lawyer Marketing,

The key point to note, however, is that link-building is a complex and (if not done correctly) potentially risky technique. That said, it pays to have a fundamental understanding of it, particularly when you speak with SEO consultants who contact your firm.

By learning how to use all the facets of link building you can bring your law firm from the stone age right into the modern age without the struggles most firms get while building a brand recognition.

17
Jul

Why New Lawyers Should Focus On Geographic Location In Their SEO Marketing

Previously, I discussed various key aspects of search engine optimization or SEO. However, in order to be effective at SEO, as an attorney you also need to know what your prospective clients are looking for. Your goal is to capture the traffic and direct it to your site where you can build up your business. In order to do this, you need to know how to work with certain issues that may be unique to the legal field. As they explain at BruceClay.com,

When prospective clients are looking for a lawyer, 21.9 percent start with a search engine, according to Lawyernomics, if you want to capture that traffic, optimizing your online presence is essential. SEO is critical to converting online searchers into prospective legal clients.

There are several strategies that lawyers can apply that can help to push their name and image up the search engine rankings.

Effective Use of Keywords

Online marketing can be a very competitive business for anyone but especially for the newcomer to the industry. Without effective Internet marketing, it will be difficult to establish an online reputation without using a number of aggressive marketing techniques. Experts recommend that you set your goals accordingly and avoid trying to grab the brass ring all at the same time.

They point out that you need to approach your marketing strategy in terms of years rather than getting immediate results. Start by focusing your attention on local traffic first and then build on that. This can be done by utilizing local keywords to draw in potential clients; rather than a blanket ‘accident lawyer’ as your keyword use ‘your city name + accident lawyer’ as your keyword. There is good reason for this. As they explain at QuickSprout.com,

Before you can optimize your website, social media profiles or anchor text for link building, you have to know what keywords you want to use. When it comes to local search marketing, you are not only targeting industry-specific terms but geo-specific terms as well.

By starting out small and building up from there you’re laying a solid foundation for which you can launch a full scale marketing campaign that will get you the recognition you need in your industry.

Take Advantage of Directories

It’s important that you carve out a place for your business in Google Places and in other directories. By having a well-established listing, your law firm will have a prominent place in the SERPs and within Google Maps.

You want to make sure that you earn a spot in those maps for your targeted area. Once you’ve been recognized in Google maps, you’ve tapped into a major source of traffic. It will be well worth the time and money you invest to secure an inclusion into these major attorney directories. These will help you boost your rankings to a more prominent place.

Make Sure Users Have a Positive Experience

Keep in mind that directing traffic to your site is only winning half the battle. Your ultimate goal is to convert as many visitors as you can into clients. That means your website must be your star performer.

When you first open your doors you may be eager to get off to a good start and want to put your name in as many places as possible. However, some marketing experts tell us that it pays to start small. As they point out at Moz.com,

It’s not uncommon for a client to say, “I don’t want to limit my business to a specific area.” SEO people understand this and try to accommodate where possible, but it’s not always practical.

By starting small and expanding you secure a more solid foundation from which to build your business on. With this, your new law firm will hit its paces much more quickly than you might imagine possible.

14
Jul

Getting To Know SEO A Little More Intimately

In my last blog, I discussed how to use social media effectively. Today, I would like to elucidate more on what is search engine optimization or SEO. For many lawyers, especially those just taking the plunge into online marketing, the term SEO might seem foreign. SEO is something that many online marketers are using as an alternative to the pay per click advertising option, among others. It focuses on the way that search engines view your website and rank it online.

The Basics

While I have discussed SEO in depth several times throughout my blog, I want to take a closer look at what SEO really is, and break it down for those who are new to this. JurisPage says the following regarding SEO and how it can work for you:

For the uninitiated, SEO or search engine optimization is the process of working with Google’s algorithm and published guidelines get your website or blog to appear more visibly in Google search results (top spot of page 1 is the most coveted). SEO doesn’t cover the shaded advertising boxes you see on the top or right-hand side of your Google search results.

The Google algorithms are constantly changing, and you can see most of these updates throughout my articles. While it is virtually impossible to keep on top of every single guideline Google creates, there are many that are easy to keep track of, and these can greatly influence your chances of being recognized above competitor firms in your area.

Keywords Are Still Relevant

Keywords are likely to be a subject that you are becoming sick and tired of seeing, especially if you visit my blog often. But they are still so relevant that I feel there is a need to include them here. When it comes to SEO and you’re working from the bottom up, keywords are one way that you can begin building your case for higher ranking on search engines. Let me tell you why.

Search engines base their ranking systems on many different things, but among those criteria is how many visitors your site has regularly, and the quality of the content on your site. When people are searching for a law firm in your city, they are far more likely to find you if your site has “law firm Toronto” or “Brooklyn Law Firm” visible throughout the page, for example, because these are the keywords they type when seeking a lawyer in their specific area. Main Street ROI says:

Once you know what keywords you’re targeting, you need to make your website relevant to those keywords. You do this by integrating your keywords into meta tags (most importantly, your Title Tag which looks likein your HTML code) and your body copy. This is the step most people think of when they hear the phrase search engine optimization. During this step, you are optimizing your website for search engine queries.

I always tell my clients that it is not only important to find the correct keywords through research and proper planning, but it is also advisable to use them naturally. You may think that Google is too busy to follow up with every law firm website on the net and check their keywords for fluidity, but you would be wrong. Google does not take kindly to spam of any kind and this includes keyword stuffing.

Be Easy To Navigate

Being easy to find won’t make you a success overnight in terms of SEO; your website must also be easy to navigate. The majority of internet users are now searching using mobile phones and tablets. This means that your site needs to be equipped to work on those devices and support the technology they utilize. A change that made Google’s lengthy list of guidelines this Spring was that mobile-friendly websites would be ranked higher when mobile searches are being performed.

Navigation means more than just being mobile-friendly, however. It also means that your pages are set up in such a way that customers can find what they are looking for, and that crawlers can also get to each and every page on your site. A crawler is a bot, which is employed by Google and other search engines, to see what your page is offering the public and to monitor whether or not you are following the rules specified by each search engine. While it may be tempting to block them out somehow so that you can’t be faulted for mistakes online, crawlers can be your friends. I should also point out that blocking Google’s bots from visiting your site can have some pretty hefty negative effects associated with it.

Get Localized

Finally, when it comes to understanding the very basics of search engine optimization, there is no better place to start than your local community. Even if you want to be a nationally recognized law firm with clients flocking from the next state over to seek your services, you have to start somewhere, and the most obvious location for you to build a loyal client base and reputation is your own city or town. Bruce Clay advises:

Legal Internet marketing is exceedingly competitive, so if you’re just starting out it’s important to establish your firm as a brand and market to your immediate location.

You can do this in many ways, one of which is through keywords that are designed to encourage local traffic, as noted above. I would also suggest that you follow up through Google+ and local law directories to make sure that when potential clients do use Google and other search engines to find a firm, yours is listed in more than one location. It would be pretty spectacular if your firm appears at the top of a search list for local firms right away, but you will find that individuals and businesses are more likely to locate you through other listings first, until you build a recognizable brand and begin ranking highly on your own.

The above discussion only begins to cover what SEO involves, and if your firm is serious about incorporating it into your online marketing philosophy, you should definitely do more research. From link building to genuine content, there are many tools to use and guidelines to follow if you want to find success in this area.

7
Jul

The Power Of Google Trends

Previously, we discussed how to get some content ideas for blogs. Today, let us examine the impact of Google Trends. The goal of Google has always been to provide users with answers to their myriad of questions that they are searching for online. From its very beginning until now, it has been the very key to the success of Google. This fact has never changed. What has changed, however, over the years is the way they go about getting the answers to what consumers are looking for. They have tried many tactics over the years, some very astute and according to others some very questionable. As they point out at SearchEngineWatch.com,

Google have exploited this at times and this has most notably seen in the Car Insurance market where they have introduced their own price comparison service above others. This customer journey has been instantly improved from the user’s perspective by getting specific answers one-click away from Google’s search engine.

By setting up its own car insurance model that allows users to enter their own car’s registration plate, Google is providing a service that is not available to any other insurance provider. This makes Google extremely competitive in any industry they’d like to expand into.

Now with Google Trends, many believe this could be the beginning of a new era in Google business.

What Is Google Trends?

If you’re new to SEO, then you’re probably wondering what exactly is Google Trends. Basically, it is an online search tool that gives the user the ability to see how certain keywords, subjects, and phrases have been requested over a period of time. With this tool, one can analyze closely Google searches and then compute how many searches have been done over that same period of time. This information can prove to be very valuable for the search engine optimizer. With access to this information people can make adjustments to their marketing strategies ensuring them a much higher level of success. As they explain at the TechTarget.com,

Search engine marketers can use Google Insights to fine tune their keyword strategies because it allows them to examine search cycles and patterns for specific keywords and a keyword’s popularity by location and time range.

When SEO professionals are armed with this information they can almost predict exactly which way the consumer will search for information and place their business right in the center of it all.

How Can Attorneys Use Google Trends?

In the past, we discussed the importance of lawyers being prepared for the next trend in search engine optimization. This can at times be challenging to do if you don’t have the right tools. Fortunately, many attorneys have found that utilizing Google Trends can make a major difference.

When it comes to legal marketing, Google Trends can be a pretty valuable asset. By giving you the ability to rank search interest results on a scale based on a variety of different parameters, such as location, type, or even newsworthiness, you can compare and determine the popularity of your chosen keywords and phrases to see where you can get the best results.

With a key phrase audit, you can see exactly how your chosen keywords measure up in terms of favorability. You’ll be able to determine exactly which topics are losing the public’s interest and which ones are gaining attention and adjust your keywords accordingly.

You can also narrow down your results by geography. If your firm has offices in other cities or states, you can test the popularity of your keywords and phrases in each region to see whether your marketing campaign will be effective. Note that what may work in one area may not be as effective in another location. By testing the waters first, you are better able to ensure that you’ll have even more positive results. It can also help with how you use terminology in your own office. As they explain at Jaffepr.com,

What do you call your partners and associates – do you refer to them as attorneys or lawyers? By doing a comparison on Google Trends, I can see that “attorney” is by far the preferred term by Internet users, and that Texans dominate in their use of the search term “attorney,” while New Yorkers lead in searching for the term “lawyer.”

So, while Google may have the ability to exploit what is discovered in Google Trends, legal marketers will also learn how to take advantage of all the things they can learn from this highly valuable tool. Learning how to take advantage of these things can take your search engine optimization to an entirely new level.

Other Advantages of Google Trends

The ability to know which words and phrases potential clients may use to find the legal services they need can also help a lawyer to determine what topics are of concern to the public. This can be of benefit in other ways as well. If you’re maintaining your own blog, you now have a list of topics to talk about that you’re sure the public will want to tune into. This will organically increase your rankings in the search engines. You may be able to determine their position or viewpoint on a certain subject so you can tailor your views to their side of the argument.

This type of insight into the consumers’ use of keywords can force you to think about your marketing efforts from their perspective. If you learn the terms they are familiar with, you are now in a position to adapt your message in a way that is more appealing to your audience. This will drive qualified leads to your site and increase the probability of higher conversion rates overall.

The idea of search engine optimization for lawyers can be complicated but with the use of Google Trends as a marketing tool, you’ll be given a lot more insight into the minds of the consumers and what they need. With that knowledge you can attract more people to your site, build your business and achieve the conversion rates you’ve been working to achieve. Having Google Trends as your marketing tool can help take much of the legwork out of your marketing efforts and allow you to develop a strategy that will be more effective overall.

30
Jun

Are You Preparing For The Next Trend In Search Engine Optimization?

In my most recent post, we discussed alternative ways of better online marketing that goes beyond the basics. Without an effective plan it can be extremely difficult to achieve the rankings that could put our business on the map. That reasoning is very apropos for today’s online business world but what plans do you have in place for the day when the website becomes outdated and needs to be replaced by something new? That day is not so far off in the future as you might expect.

As lawyers, one of your key goals is to get your business recognized on the Internet. In the past, that meant having a knock-out website that came fully equipped with all the bells and whistles. Smart lawyers made sure they had a steady blog keeping up-to-date with all the latest legal jargon, cases, and issues that were prominent in society. Without the website, getting the recognition you deserved was all but impossible.

Today, however, the online world is making another shift for which all of us will have to keep a close eye on. Some search engine experts are beginning to believe that the transition from the website to the next greatest thing has already begun. They predict that the website will eventually go the way of the record player, VHS tapes, and cassette players. What is replacing it? They say that everyone needs to start focusing their attention on business apps instead. According to Search Engine Watch,

If you’re like most people, you’re probably a co-user of apps and websites. You’ve downloaded a few games, utilities, and shopping apps, but much of your time is spent online using the browser on your desktop or phone. Why is that? Why don’t you exclusively use either apps or a browser?”

There are several reasons why the app hasn’t already overtaken the use of websites, but some experts feel that it is just a matter of time before these transitions begin to take place.

The Universal Use

Many people do not fully realize that a browser is really just another app that is designed to be entirely universal. As of last year, there were more than 816 billion websites holding trillions of pages of content for public use. The problem so far is that most of the websites do not have an app counterpart to allow visitors to find them without the use of a browser. As more developers and businesses begin to create their own apps that trend will gradually begin to change and the app will slowly begin to overtake websites in popularity. This new feature is the result of the new mobile friendly algorithm recently release by Google. As they explain at SearchEngineLand.com,

Google’s mobile ranking factors will not only label your site as mobile-friendly, but will also use that to determine if your site should rank higher in the search results. Google said this algorithmic change will have a “significant impact” in the mobile search results, impacting all languages worldwide.

Many believe that this new algorithm is just the beginning when it comes to ranking businesses. It will make it much easier for people to get relevant, high quality results from their search when it is optimized for their devices.

Search Capabilities

Another reason why apps have not as of yet taken command is that they do not offer search capabilities. They work well when the user doesn’t know what he’s looking for until he searches for it in the search engines. So far these search engines are not set up to crawl for content in a standalone app. However, just recently both Google and Bing announced that they are beginning to index app content so that they can include that search in their rankings.

Speed

One issue that continues to hold apps back is their download speed. As we said before, browsers are simply apps that have universal capabilities. When you visit a web page through a browser, in order for you to view that page on your computer, you must first download it. In most cases, this takes only seconds but with apps the process is much slower. Until apps are able to overcome the speed of app downloads, it will be very difficult for them to overtake the popularity of the website.

But Google is already working on addressing that problem. With the recent acquisition of a new software program, Google can now control a feature called “app streaming” where people can access those apps on their devices without the need to download them first. As they discuss in The Information,

The search giant last fall secretly acquired an “app streaming” startup called Agawi whose technology allows people to access apps on their smartphone without downloading them first. The acquisition, which hasn’t been previously reported, provides strong clues about the direction that Google is trying to move mobile software development.

Once apps are able to be indexed into Google’s search algorithms, it won’t be long before the convenience of having access to businesses through mobile devices becomes a mainstream activity of the Internet.

Ways Attorneys Can Utilize Apps

Because of this growing trend in app usage, it pays for attorneys to have their own app design to promote their offices. Some firms have already begun the process of creating an app to market their services. At the very least, readers can use an app to follow your regular blog but the potential can go much further than that. Clients can use these apps in much the same way as a bank allows its customers to check their balances, monitor their credit card purchases, and even open up new accounts. When a client can log into their app to find out the progress of their cases, or get their questions answered, your software application suddenly increases in value for them.

As mobility continues to be the buzz word for the modern day technological industry, it will pay for attorneys to think more creatively about their online presence. Yes, we do live in a world run by technology, but nothing in life is stagnant. Everything comes and goes in rapid succession. Those who are inclined to stick with the status quo will soon realize that their ability to stay ahead of the game will gradually dwindle. It is important that everyone stay abreast of the constant changes in the Internet, Google, and marketing in general so that they don’t find themselves falling behind the 8-ball so to speak. The future is always full of surprises but one thing we should never be surprised about is change, an inevitable part of life.

19
Jun

Why Problem Solving Skills Are Essential For Search Engine Optimization

Previously, we’ve discussed the importance of knowing what we can realistically expect from our search engine optimizer and how important it is to follow his or her guidance. However, when it comes to anything to do with the Internet, you’ll find that many of his tasks will actually overlap with your marketing needs. It is clear that while both the SEO and the marketer may be on separate teams, there will be times when they will have to work together to solve problems. If SEO professionals want to really prove their worth, they will have to have some killer problem solving skills. As they explained at Search Engine Watch,

A problem-solving SEO is someone who can pull and interpret data like nobody’s business, while understanding what makes their users tick at the same time. An SEO who can balance qualitative and quantitative aspects of our day-to-day jobs will be the SEO who is respected among her “marketing” peers.

Successful SEOs will need to fill both the technical and experiential needs of their users and that will take more than knowledge, it will require a bit of insight as well.

Learn to Sift Through the Data

An SEO needs to be able to determine how much data the client needs. SEOs often have access to loads and loads of information but the majority of it will be information the client will not care about. By carefully selecting data that the site owner actually needs and cares about can save an enormous amount of time.

This may not always be easy. As clients, attorneys may not always know what information they need and what will be useful to them; at least not until it’s been pointed out by their SEO. One of the key problem-solving skills for the SEO is to help attorneys see what information they need and show them how it can be used to drive their business forward. Consider the comments made by Krisa LaRiviere, at Search Engine Watch,

With the challenging landscape of SEO comes the challenging landscape of SEO reporting, and I’m not just talking about merging SEO data sources into one Excel file and adding a logo to try to make it look professional… I’m talking about how to make all the data points and metrics indicate real progress.

This means that the SEO will have to set up reporting metrics that will show the progressive results of the work that’s been done.

Finding the Middle Ground

SEOs must pull from more than one source to decide on the right direction to take a company in. They shouldn’t just rely on the data they’ve received but they must also fall back on their past experience and the insight they’ve picked up over the years. This requires maintaining a balance between what the papers and analytical tools may show, and what personal experience has taught them to find a middle ground that will help them to make decisions that will move the business forward. And with all of that, there is always the human element that needs to be factored in to any decision making process. Understanding user behavior, along with everything else will help to foresee unique problems that the data won’t show. Consider the comments made at New Blood,

“With proper problem solving skills and processes, you can turn any problem into an opportunity and not into disappointment. Solving your business issues can help increase and maintain productivity. Entrepreneurs who are great problem solvers within any type of business are best prepared to answer all their customer’s needs effectively, as well.”

Learning how to be effective problem solvers is key to any business success but it is excruciatingly important for those online. Whether your role is the SEO or the attorney who’s hired one, problem solving is essential to your success.

16
Jun

How To Identify Your Role In Search Engine Optimization

In the past, we discussed the confusion about using links on your website. If in fact, Google is going to change their algorithm with respect to how links are used (for example, we discussed last time the possibility of Google using a new fact algorithm) it is a matter that bears close watching in the future. However, all of that would be for naught if the website has been unable to get the rankings we’ve been striving for. Whether we’ve done all we can to improve our rankings or we’ve relied entirely on our SEO professional could make a major difference in how well our site performs. It is important that you and your search engine optimizer are working together to get the results you need.

At times, search engine optimizers often have to deal with a certain level of suspicion within their own industry. Occasionally, a site owner will come across a few SEO providers that may attempt to use your business to turn a fast buck. These so-called ‘marketing experts’ are not on the up and up, and the tactics they use can often be questionable at best. As a result, your business loses and the whole image of marketing has to bear the brunt of shame for the industry.

This kind of characters has caused many to treat the whole of SEO with suspicion. At times, even when a site is doing well, site owners will demand even more from their SEO, automatically thinking they are not doing what they should. So, the question for you is simple: how can a lawyer, who is not well versed in marketing know the true role of an SEO to ensure you’re getting a real marketing expert and not someone only interested in his own personal gain? You might conclude that the results will determine whether or not he is a real marketing expert. Of course, this would certainly be a true test of their skills and ability, but it might be better to learn what your role is in the SEO marketing game. Consider the comments made at Search Engine Watch,

Sometimes however, the SEO is questioned when despite these metrics all have improved. Despite the site doing better than it ever has before in terms of traffic and relevant unique visitors, the site owner does not see enough money coming through their bank account and thinks it “MUST be the SEO!

The reality is that your site’s performance should be measured based on a number of different factors besides search engine marketing strategies and there are several reasons why. At times it may be the result of something the marketing agent has overlooked; it could also be the result of something Google has done that has had a direct impact on your site. While these things do occur, these incidents are for the most part quite uncommon. More than likely, your site’s performance is something that may very well be out of their control. Your SEO marketing expert can only do what he is qualified to do. It is up to the site owner to cover all the other bases.

Make Sure You Have a Workable Site

When you first sign on with a marketing agent, they will probably do a usability review of your site to identify certain issues. Their goal is to direct people to your site and get them to transition into paying customers or to take some other form of action. Once they make those recommendations, it is up to you to make sure that your site is user-friendly so that their work will pay off.

The fact is that your SEO professional is up-to-date on what is successfully building up web traffic. You may have been effective in building up traffic 5 years or even 10 years ago but with each new algorithm released by Google, SEO tactics are constantly changing. You need to learn to trust their suggestions in order to keep up with the constantly changing landscape. According to Forbes Magazine,

SEO is a rapidly changing practice – thanks in part to the hundreds of adjustments Google makes every year to its search engine algorithm. Because of this, you need to stay on top of the latest industry news and take the advice of some of proven SEO professionals.

While it may be true that some site owners will disagree with the recommendations of SEO professionals, keep in mind that they have their finger on the pulse of the market. They know exactly what’s going on and can point out issues that you may not think is affecting your business.

Micromanaging

One of the things many website owners fail to grasp is the true role of SEO professionals. The common misconception is that they are purchasing a service. The expert comes in, does a little razzle-dazzle and suddenly your business is booming. Well, the truth is that there is much more to it than that. You’re really paying for access to their knowledge of the Internet and search engine optimization. These professionals are paid to stay on top of the hundreds of algorithm changes that Google releases each year. They also have to spend a great deal of time testing and researching certain markets and industries.

For most clients, the rankings are the key to their success. However, for the SEO professional it is only one piece of a much larger puzzle. There are many other factors that must also be considered to determine the success of your search engine optimization. Some owners want to be placed in the number one position after contracting with an SEO professional; this is neither possible nor realistic. Instead, your goal should be to see improvement in your site’ performance and consistently moving up in the rankings as a sign of success.

This does not mean that SEO professionals are not without fault. If you question your professional’s commitment to your success or you feel he’s not doing his job, then by all means you should challenge him. Just make sure that the challenges you make are based on factors that are within his control and not because of some misguided belief that paying for an SEO pro will catapult you to impossible heights. As SEOMark explains,

The only long-term, risk-free way to achieve good rankings is to earn them and deserve them, and that means to ensure that the page on your site that you want to rank for a particular keyword phrase contains better content than all of the pages ranked in the top 10.

The more you recognize your SEO provider’s abilities as well as his limitations and your role in the whole process, the better your chances of moving your website up the ladder will be.

12
Jun

Is Google Planning A New “Fact” Algorithm?

Recently, I discussed the importance of understanding how Google uses links to rank a business in its search engine. It’s almost as if to say the old adage is true, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” With so many businesses, blogs, organizations, and social media sites online now, the Internet has become one of the most competitive places in the world. To survive there, you have to go beyond the obvious.

While today, Google puts a great deal of emphasis on the importance of using links in your site, there is evidence that this may be changing in the future. Consider the comments made in Search Engine Watch,

If Google researchers have their way, we may soon look back and laugh at the time when search engines ranked web pages based on link-driven popularity instead of factual content.

It seems that Google researchers are in the process of developing a new way to analyze and rank websites that will one day take them out of making the link connections.

Fact or Fiction

It’s no secret that there are millions of websites out there that are loaded with information that may be misapplied, misused, or just plain wrong. This fact is common knowledge and has been a growing concern for Google. If rumors of this new algorithm are true, there may come a time (possibly in our very near future) where the accuracy of our content will be just as or even more important than the number of backlinks we may have.

In essence, they will be looking much more closely at the actual value of the content rather than how a visitor feels about your site. The results of this kind of change could literally rearrange the entire face of search engine optimization. According to Slate.com,

The strategy isn’t being implemented yet, but the paper presented a method for adapting algorithms such that they would generalize a “Knowledge-Based Trust” score for every page. To do this, the algorithm would pick out statements and compare them with Google’s Knowledge Vault, a database of facts.

By doing this, Google will be able to determine how trustworthy a site is. Certain websites will automatically make it to the top of the list. An established newswire service would get a higher ranking than a personal blog, for example.

What That Means

If the new algorithm is released, it will entirely restructure what we see when we use the Google search engine. A small business with an accurate site could outrank larger corporations. Size and money won’t be an issue in this case as much as the quality and reliability of the information shared on a particular site.

Another point that Google would factor into this new algorithm is “topic relevance.” They would take a look at the About Us page of the site to determine the goals of the site and then compare each page content to look for compatibility. Those sites that are proven trustworthy will gain the highest recognition in the eyes of Google.

The question many are now asking is whether or not Google will actually go through with it. According to a report by NPR,

Google has been explicit that this is only research and there are no plans to implement the system anytime soon. Still, the reaction… makes it clear that, for some, even the ideas present significant problems.

Considering Google’s past record, they usually begin to suggest future actions in the media several years before they actually implement them. Those who pay attention to such announcements are often rewarded with being prepared before the transition takes place. If this is truly in the future for Google, it would be wise for all website owners to take a closer look at their content to make sure that everything is on point and accurate.

9
Jun

To Link Or Not To Link, And How

In my last blog, I spoke about Do It Yourself marketing for law firms and how small to mid-sized firms can take on and handle their own online marketing needs, and still be successful. Still, when it comes to online marketing, even with the do it yourselfer, there are important facets of the search engines that cannot be neglected.

In the last few years, we’ve watched Google release one algorithm update after another, leading the SEO industry to wonder whether or not it is still wise to use links on their sites. The answer is not always so cut and dry, and the line between building links and earning them may have been blurred.

In the past, when the Internet was still new, a site could simply add links to sources in much the same way as a writer makes a bibliography. Anyone who wanted more information on the topic could simply click on the link and be directed to the new site. Google would then rank a site “good” based on the number of links there were. Once that caught on, then people began creating backlinks, which started much of the confusion and controversy on links today. According to Search Engine Watch,

Figuring out ways to create backlinks became a new industry. Some purposely manufactured links made for Google search results that weren’t necessarily the best results. That’s when everything went haywire.

This left many people wondering just exactly what should they be doing with their links. To link or not to link became the question of the day.

Link Juice

If you haven’t heard the term “link juice,” this is defined as the power of equity that is transferred to a site by way of links. Each link is considered as a recommendation of the site and can be a major factor in determining where your page falls in Google’s rankings. A site’s link juice should be spread out over several pages rather than focusing on just one page (the home page for example).

This becomes a problem, however, when source information is linked from one site to another. The new site then uses the same information but does not use the original source link. If this is done repeatedly, Google may see this as being unnatural or even manipulative. While we all know that a link to the original source of the information would be of the most value to the reader, it wouldn’t serve the needs of the sites that use it. In fact, it will only serve the business if they are the original source of the information.

Why Businesses Avoid Linking to the Original Source

There are several reasons why a business may choose not to link to the original source. For one thing, there may be fear that the site they link to is better than theirs and they may be leading their customers into the arms of another business. As they explain at SEONews,

It is true that a well-known site that references content on a lesser-known site will get linked to like crazy. For example, Hubspot publishes “ultimate lists” with data from numerous sources. Bet they get lots of links and the original sources don’t. And bet some of those sources spend precious time trying to get the link redirected.

Other reasons why they may choose not to link to the original sources could be because of public policy, or they simply don’t want their visitors to click away from their site.

The Value of Links

Any business that is online will eventually come to realize that links are extremely valuable. Whether they are manufactured or organic in nature, they need to recognize that Google factors these links in determining the sites place in the ranking. It’s important to understand that there are more factors involved than just having a link on your site.

Google does not just up your ranking because you have links as it recognizes that there are many businesses that are buying links or manipulating them in order to push ahead. This means that the quantity of the link has little or no value to Google, but the quality of the links will carry a lot more weight.

Online marketing pros suggest that a website owner work to build their links gradually over a period of time and focus on organic links rather than push the envelope and force the issue. They also recommend that links come from a variety of sources, rather than a select few. Since Google actually takes the time to determine where the link is coming from and how fast a site is collecting them, they will be able to determine whether or not a link is truly organic and valid.

Google Strategy

Google has implemented a multi-angle strategy that modifies an algorithm signal based on a business’ niche. Some niches are often loaded with spam and others may be known for being highly competitive, so Google will use a different strategy to analyze these sites. Still, there are a few things you can do to make sure that the links you use will work in your favor.

First, use natural backlinks that are earned and not purchased or manipulated and focus on quality, not quantity. As they explain at Packerland Websites,

Google has redefined its definition of quality content. These days, it is not enough to post a long and unique article filled with relevant keywords. The article has to be useful. It has to illustrate example and provide video clips and infographics that entice people to share the article more.

This makes for a difficult task for the small business website to stay competitive. Google tends to favor well-know name brands creating a disadvantage in many cases. However, while it may be difficult, it is not impossible to do. Website owners need to learn to think more deeply about the quality and diversity of their sites, and be creative in ways that will make them stand out. If they do this, they will be able to sift through much of the confusion about how Google sees the links that everyone wants to add to their sites.

But they have a value that goes well beyond search engine ranking. As one programmer explains, links are for life. They relay to your visitor that a site is trusted and the information is deemed valuable. By adding links to your site, you’re not only leading your visitor to something that will solve a problem they are dealing with, but it will also raise your site a notch in their eyes.

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