Previously, I talked about the importance of checking on your firm’s web page load speed. And last week, I discussed why we should all be paying much closer attention to the comments Google has made over the years. Such comments often lead us to some major change in the way things operate in the vast world of the Internet. The opening of the door to the mobile user is a major game changer in site rankings today.
In addition, Google has made another change to pave the way for more mobile users. Its addition of mobile app data to its Search Console can mean a lot of things for firms that are trying to stay competitive. According to the Search Engine Watch,
The update allows Search Console users to see how their app content is performing in Google search results through the new Search Analytics report…. Users can track where their indexed app content shows in search, which app pages are the most popular and which ones have errors.
The new feature on the Console gives the users the ability to see how consumers are actually finding their website and gives them an inside view of how Google is looking at the app content to determine a site’s ranking. In light of Google’s new inclusion of mobile friendly sites in the search rankings, this information could be a very valuable tool to help to move an individual site up in the Google ranks.
From the Console, owners will get a relatively detailed report that will include, the highest ranking queries, and the app pages that rank the highest, as well as the amount of traffic your app receives, all broken down by country. This Search Analytics Tool will have all the basic filters that you normally see for measuring website content but it will be directly applied to the app with a few additional features, which could include filtering by type, region, clicks, impressions, and other things. As it is described at Search Engine Land,
Ever wonder how Google sees the content within your Android app? Google designed a beta version of the Fetch As Google for Apps to give App developers insights into this. It will show you by app URI how Google renders the URI.
The benefits of this additional knowledge can be used in a number of different ways to improve on the rankings of any particular website. This new feature makes it possible for anyone to track where app content will appear in the search results.
How It Can Benefit App Owners
For owners, this could be a highly valuable and practical tool to help them to gauge how well their site is doing in the mobile community. Once they know how their app lines up in the rankings, which pages are attracting the most attention, and where they can make adjustments, their ability to move up to a higher position will be that much easier.
By taking advantage of the new Search Console features, owners will be able to enhance their sites and make them more mobile friendly without having to put in all the guesswork. They’ll know exactly what improvements to make and how they will contribute to positive end results. According to Google’s Webmaster Central Blog,
Our goal is to make Search Console a comprehensive source of information for everyone who cares about search, regardless of the format of their content. So, if you own or develop an app, Search Console is your new go-to place for search stats.
Now that mobility has come neck and neck with the rest of the online community, businesses that take advantage of this new addition offered by Google will find themselves in a better position to pull ahead of the pack and get the high ranking results they’ve been looking for.
Last week, I wrote about ensuring that you’re getting the right ranking for your page. But while we all want to see ourselves get to the first page of the search engines, our job is not done until someone clicks on our site and begins a regular interaction with us that will generate leads or produce customers. Today, we need to talk about the amount of time a customer spends on your page after he or she lands on it.
If you have already started making the transition to more mobile friendly websites so you can keep up with Google’s last algorithm update, then it is time for you to start focusing on each individual page on your site. Your first area of concern should be the amount of time it takes for your page to load once it’s been clicked on. You’ve been there, you’re searching the net and you find a site that looks promising for what you want. You click on it, and then you wait. For some sites it may seem like an eternity before the information you’re searching for appears.
If this is what happens with your site, it may not bode well for you. People tend to be very busy and quite often do not have the patience to wait for a slow site to load up no matter how good it may be. All your hard work of getting the rankings and making it to page one could be wasted over a slow loading website.
If It Matters to the Consumer, It Matters to Google
An irritated consumer is not all that you need to be concerned with. It is also something that Google is watching carefully. Back in 2010, Google made the announcement that they would also take into account site speed when coming up with search rankings. Since then, they have released a number of tools that webmasters can use to analyze their own page load times and work to improve them. Google recommends that you utilize these tools to determine your site’s speed performance on a regular basis and make whatever adjustments are needed for you to improve it.
Other Reasons Why Page Load Speed Matters
When it comes to consumers, you may not think that page load speed is really that important in comparison to other matters involving search engine optimization. However, you might be surprised to learn that according to a study done by the Aberdeen Group, a short delay of even one second in load time can decrease the number of page views you get by as much as 11%, conversion times decline by 7%, and overall customer satisfaction can drop by as much as 16%. This could represent a significant hit to your revenue in a very short period of time.
Another separate study done by the Econsultancy research company, discovered that 47% of consumers will not wait more than two seconds for a page to load up. And among those who do wait the additional seconds for the page to load, 88% of them will not buy from that site, and a full one-third of them will report the experience to others. This means that your problems would then be compounded. According to KissMetrics,
This means you’re not just losing conversions from visitors currently on your site, but that loss is magnified to their friends and colleagues as well. The end result – lots of potential sales down the drain because of a few seconds difference.
It is clear, that page loading speed is a key ingredient in making sure that you get your page rankings up and can keep them there.
Reasons for Poor Speed
There are a number of reasons why website loads could be slowing down. Until you can identify where the source of the problem comes from, you won’t be able to resolve it.
Hosting Provider: Shared hosting situations may be behind the slow page load. When you’re sharing space with other websites, when the traffic gets high, your page loads could begin to slow down. Finding a dedicated host is the preferred solution.
Technology: It could also be the result of the technology that is not able to keep up with the traffic or work as fast as other sites. As explained in Business2Community.com,
Web platforms that don’t have the best SEO features built-in can slow down the process of growing long-term organic search traffic, because content won’t rank as high in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Content: By making a few simple changes to your content you can improve page load time. Making sure your image files are not too large, using the right widgets, and checking on the other items on your site that may be working against you. Regularly analyzing your sight to identify page load problems could be a key way to resolve your page load issues.
Whatever the reason for your poor page load, you’ll need to address it. As it stands, you can get a marketing expert to provide the best content available for your site, you can add links to an entire host of other websites, and set yourself up as an authority and go-to expert in your specific niche, and you could have pushed all the right buttons to get yourself up in the rankings, only to find you’re still down because of poor page loads.
A slow page load inevitably means poor rankings, as in today’s world people are not inclined to stick around for your valuable information. As pointed out at Moz.com,
“Clearly Google is increasingly acting upon what is intuitively obvious: A poor performing website results in a poor user experience, and sites with poor user experiences deserve less promotion in search results.”
Those who are seriously interested in getting the right page rankings and attracting the right people to their website, should not neglect their page load speeds and how it may be affecting their conversion rates. Fortunately, this is a problem that can easily be fixed and resolved. For those who are really concerned about the kind of experience that a visitor has on their site, it would be wise to work on improving your sites overall performance to optimize the customer experience. Once you do, you’ll likely see a positive turnaround in your site’s performance.
Recently, I wrote a post about how important it is to pay attention to Google. Since they are the single most important ingredient in building up your SEO rankings, their advice can be invaluable for those who are serious about getting noticed online. However, even with that knowledge, there have been some marketers who have managed to make the rankings in spite of the sometimes confusing algorithms set out by Google.
You’ve probably already noticed how in your online search efforts, you’ve stumbled across one single website that seems to appear in the middle of your search that has nothing to do with what you’re looking for. This leaves many people confused about how Google ranks these pages and how you can make sure that your page appears where you need them to be. The fact is: there are many factors that can affect where you land in the search engines. According to Jennifer Van Iderstyne of Search Engine Watch:
There are plenty of reasons that one page may show up in the SERPs over another, and not all of those considerations may be within our control. But there are several opportunities to enhance the likelihood of the “right” page showing up for the “right” search.
By learning what those opportunities are and how to take advantage of them, we can improve our chances of connecting and getting the rankings we need.
Words on the Page
One of the easiest ways to get a ranking, and probably the strategy that most people are familiar with, is using relevant content. The words and phrases you painstakingly choose to attract visitors may be well intentioned but they can at times, miss their mark. Somewhere, the meaning you intended could get mixed up with what Google understands and before you know it, your site has drifted off into the “Twilight Zone.”
Clearly, you cannot rely entirely on keywords and phrases to get your page to a place where it can be found. It is also important to take into consideration other factors, such as navigation, backlinks, and relevancy to the subject. When you consider all of these factors, it is easy to understand why occasionally missed messages can be seen in SEO.
Evidence of this can be seen often in search engines. One page with an on-page relevance to the topic can easily be outranked by another page that has factored in all of the other related factors in addition to making sure their content is on point. For effective SEO, you cannot limit yourself to only one approach to achieving your ranking, you’ll have to be a master of a number of techniques in order to achieve that ranking and maintain it.
Account for Unpredictability
As the Internet ages, people are getting more comfortable with how they use it. Their search approach is not always going to be with a specific keyword. Some people will even speak to the search engine like they would to a real live person. For example, consider the comments made by Nate Shivar of Shivar Web,
I saw someone had searched for “I have a 1959 Dodge Ram and last week a rock kicked up and hit the front glass windshield how do I get it fixed.”… yes, big keywords are important to rank for – and keywords should guide your strategy… it’s becoming harder to predict what searches will actually rank your site.
Because of the many variables, you’ll have to approach your keyword ranking efforts in a more creative way. It is almost impossible to determine how people will set out to look for your site so you’ll have to make sure that you have a variety of ways to connect with your audience.
Previously, I provided some essential Internet marketing techniques for firms. And in some of my last few blogs, I discussed the importance of taking advantage of social media platforms to build up your online image and a new Google algorithm that concentrates on incorporating mobile devices to improve site rankings, but in this post I want to focus on how to get the most out of your interactions with Google.
Whether you have been developing your skills in SEO for a while or you’re just getting started in search engine optimization, you’ve probably already realized the importance of Google to your plan. No matter what your goals are, Google will in some way be at the heart of it. So, learning how to decode or decipher what they’re trying to tell you can be crucial to your success. Donna Duncan of Social Media Today explains,
The key to organic SEO success is conceptually simple – you have to please Google AND your intended audience…. Google dominates the search world. 65-85% of the world searches uses Google depending on who you ask and what they measure.
This means that if you work only to target your intended audience, you’re missing half of the equation needed for SEO success. The reality is that Google doesn’t just come out with a new algorithm without warning. Sometimes, the indicators are there years ahead of time if you only knew how to pick up on the cues.
The Mobile Update
A perfect example of this was when Google began talking about sites needing to be more mobile friendly. I know that I have discussed the need to be mobile friendly in the past, but still many companies are not picking up on it. But clearly, Google was laying the groundwork for mobile devices long before their recent update. For example:
As far back as December 2011, Google announced they were launching Googlebot-Mobile. The role of the bot was to crawl websites to determine those that provided the viewer with a better mobile experience. And in August of 2013, Google added more support to their PageSpeed tool for mobile devices. They provided webmasters valuable advice on how to speed up their interactions with the consumer on the go. This step should have been a clear sign of what was to come.
By November of last year, Google began identifying sites as “Mobile-friendly” at the beginning of site descriptions.
So, if SEO marketers had been in-tune to these various changes Google had been making over the years, chances are that they would not have been surprised or caught off guard by Google’s announcement on April 21st of this year. The new algorithm was designed to give websites who have been considered mobile-friendly an added boost in Google’s search results. The changes were so vast that the new algorithm picked up a few ominous names; mobilegeddon, mobilepocalyse, mopocalypse, or mobocalypse were just some examples of the identifying marks of what was to come. Today, we’re seeing a new trend coming to life. According to Bryson Meunler of Search Engine Land,
Keep improving your sites for mobile searchers…. If you are not yet mobile-friendly, make it happen. And if you are mobile friendly, prepare for the next update – because in this new era of SEO, it’s no longer possible to ignore mobile searchers and mobile sites and compete with those who don’t.
It was obvious that Google had been steering businesses in the right direction long before they launched their latest algorithm. But if you were not paying attention to the announcements and looking carefully at the subtle changes that were being made progressively over the years, chances are that you missed the 8-ball and are now playing a game of catch-up.
Those who heeded the cautions, notices, and discussions of Google have gained a lot of wisdom over the years. When you consider how SEO has changed over the last decade, it is easy to see how following their lead can help to propel your business to the top of the rankings.
What You Need to Know
Knowing what to expect in the future of SEO has helped more companies to become proactive rather than reactive. Heeding their warnings will not only keep you ahead of the pack, it will also help to avoid penalties or other complications that may result from poor ranking strategies.
We are all well aware that there will be many more updates and new algorithms heading in our direction. We can choose whether or not to pay very close attention to the direction that Google is heading in and make the changes before they are released, or we can find ourselves playing another round of catch up and wait until everything is said and done.
Every business that has an online presence needs to recognize that we are all playing in Google’s playground and that we need to be able to comply with their rules of the game. While focusing our efforts on targeting potential new customers is always a good strategy in our SEO plans, it should not come at the expense of recognizing who is pulling it all together for us. Learning how to read Google’s signs and cues will help us to keep a competitive edge in our industry.
The truth is that Google has never been secretive about its expectations when it comes to SEO. Heeding its advice can make a huge difference in the success of your site. As Owain Powell of Decibel Digital tells us:
Over time we have also seen may updates and YouTube videos… This has been of great value to those clean cut, law abiding citizens within the SEO industry, but another nail in the coffin of those stuck in the dark ages who continue to defy or ignore best practice SEO or Google algorithm updates.
For those industries that are serious about improving their search rankings, it has become increasingly necessary for them to pay more than the “usual” attention to the leadings of Google. The more you’re able to tune in to the direction Google is going, the stronger your brand image and search rankings will be.
Last time, I discussed how firms can use Pinterest to their advantage. Meanwhile, I have talked a lot about SEO and how it can ultimately impact your firm as a whole, but SEO doesn’t have to be some scary marketing tactic that you find intimidating as a lawyer rather than an advertising exec. Taking the time to research what you need to know and implement it into your website layout, blog, press releases, and various other forms of marketing can easily bring your firm into the information and technology age and have individuals converting from site visitors to clients in no time.
There are many ways that you can do to improve the overall SEO of your law practice, and I have talked about many of these in great detail, but today I want to go over a few methods in particular that seem to be making waves in the marketing world of 2015. This includes getting to know what your client wants, improving on content quality, and making a more interesting website overall.
Know Your Client Search Methods
Before you can begin building a more search engine optimized website, you need to know what it is that your clients are looking for in particular. Knowing which keywords are being used to seek out local legal help is certainly one way to do this, but you can also be more direct with clients and ask them outright how they found you, and what they search for when seeking for professionals in your niche of law. Jurispage.com says:
Ask them point-blank – “after you were referred to us, did you look us up on Google?” Chances are they did. And, based on your search presence, it is quite possible that you may have missed out on a prospective referral client because of your lack of a web presence.
Following this you should take the time to see what it is exactly that searchers see when they look for your firm. Try typing in various keywords and phrases, starting with the name of your firm, different variations of this name, names of attorneys that work with you, and your location. This gives you a better idea of how easy it is to seek out your firm, what your current rank is on Google and other search engines, and whether or not you need to make a few changes to your site and the search process.
Make Content Length Count
Another area that you probably are already aware of that I’m going to touch on is content, but not for the reason that you think. Rather than talking about content quality, today I really want to focus on how the length of your content can affect readability. Clients, potential or current, don’t want to skim your blog of website and see nothing of interest but a few short uninformative sentences, but similarly if your content is too long, you’re going to find people leaving before they even get started. Total Attorneys suggests:
Length is not set in stone, but 400-700 words is a common target that attracts the attention of search engines without scaring away modern audiences who have shorter attention spans. Avoid repetitive content in which virtually the same article is used with only superficial SEO changes. Search engines recognize and reward original content.
You should also bolster your content with interesting headings and subheadings to break up the monotony of text that many online users just can’t stand. If you think about your own preferences for website reading material you will probably find that long winded articles don’t appeal to you unless they are broken up by photos, titles, quotes, or videos to take away from the message being shared.
Keep Up The Research
I have already mentioned research above, but this research is in regards to SEO more so than customer wants and needs. Many law firms and other businesses believe that once they have paid for a web redesign and outfitted their site for mobile viewing, their SEO process is complete. However, search engine optimization is a constantly growing organism that changes every day based on the different algorithms and search engine initiatives which must be caught up on from time to time. Mainstreet ROI states:
Typically we recommend that attorneys prepare to invest a minimum of 3 months and preferably 6 months into an SEO campaign in order to catch up and start moving up in the search engine results.
Once your campaign is complete, you should follow algorithm changes or hire an SEO expert to assist you twice a year in reformatting your search engine optimization efforts so that they better match the current guidelines being used. There’s no point in using this form of marketing if you don’t keep up with the expectations or it may work against you.
Engage Your Audience
Finally, there is always a need for engagement with your audience, and this is something I have definitely talked about before, but I feel that it is worth mentioning again, simply because it can make such a difference to your firm reputation overall. Client engagement comes in many forms, but ultimately it means creating a cause for interest so great that readers will return to your website for more, or better yet, contact you for a consultation on your services. Blue Big Foot suggests:
This doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it can be as simple as having a YouTube video of a representative of your firm speaking about your services. Any time someone hits “play”, it’s engagement. Adding podcast episodes, interactive surveys, and anything else that requires people to click a button equals engagement for your site and higher SEO.
Whether you choose to go with videos, pictures of company events, humorous legal anecdotes that paint you as a human being rather than just a legal representative working out of a firm in the hopes of making big money, or interesting guest bloggers or content creators who can cause more interest, engaging your audience will make a big difference. An engaged reader can become a potential client, and an engaged client can become return business.
Last time, I discussed the importance of building your links slowly but steadily. Also, in the last few weeks I’ve covered a lot of different subjects, including one change in Google’s algorithm which will take all websites into the mobile era if companies looking to rank well. Now it looks as though Google is changing things up again, with last month’s announcement through Knowledge-Based Trust, which presented a new way of scoring documents online. Rather than rating sites for the number of links that they have, this latest algorithm change will affect those that have accurate content. RT.com says:
The web giant would rank search results based on each site’s ‘truth score’ instead of its popularity level. The search engine currently relies on a system that ranks websites based on how many times the page has been linked to – which means that even fake information has a way of making it up the chain of search results.
The latest change will score websites on accuracy and honesty of information in a way that hasn’t been made a priority in the past. It could have the power to boost the rankings of pages which haven’t been taken notice of in the past, but unlike other changes to the algorithm, it won’t be penalizing those sites that have inaccurate data.
From Popularity To Purpose
This change in ranking system will initiate a new way to establish purpose and brand awareness as a website and an online business. There are many companies that haven’t been noticed by Google, or have been left low in their ranking due to unpopularity throughout their industry. Being ranked on truth rather than celebrity endorsement will give a chance to the underdogs who are working to bring real knowledge to the world. This is extremely positive information for law firms in particular, because as I have made clear in the past, you are known leaders in the field of research and integrity. This makes your firm website a prime candidate for a ranking boost without needing to change too much of the content that you have hopefully already been posting. Search Engine Journal explains:
Many research papers whose algorithms eventually make it into an algorithm usually demonstrate a vast improvement over previous efforts. That is not the case with Knowledge-Based Trust. While a Truth Algorithm makes an alarming headline, the truth is there are five important issues that need to be solved before it makes it to an algorithm near you.
The way that the new system will process information is through an artificial intelligence, which will be used to determine how honest facts are in their statements. This is being designed by the Director of Engineering of Google, Ray Kurzweil.
Pinpointing Relevant Changes
Before website owners begin making alterations, deleting content and searching for new, more straightforward data to supply in their industries, there are things to consider. Tidbits of information that count as trivial facts will not be counted toward the quality and trustworthiness of a site. This means that repeating things that don’t really matter to the content being posted, whether these things are true or false, will not increase rankings. At the moment, the method being utilized will not be able to signify duplicated content, which could be a problem to Google and the companies which will undoubtedly try to impress this latest algorithm. This means that spam might make a comeback and could increase ranking. As a law firm, I would highly recommend not trying to get caught up in sneaky tactics involving spam, because Google does have other ways to track this information and it tends to impact overall rankings in a very negative way.
Finding Your Truth Score
The most recent documentation on this algorithm change suggests that each page of a website will obtain its own ranking on the basis of truth. This could eventually discredit the reputation of some websites whose information has a high level of untrustworthy data. CNN reports:
By checking pages against that database, and cross-referencing related facts, the research team believes the algorithm could assign each page a truth score. Pages with a high proportion of false claims would be bumped down in the search results.
One thing that I’m positive about is that there’s no downside to too much honesty, so long as it flows with the content that you’re posting. In other words, this algorithm change shouldn’t affect the overall quality of your content, or how relevant it is to your industry. It’s important to stay on the subject, include information that your clients want to read, and also keep spam to a minimum. In fact, if you can completely negate spam from your website, you have a much better chance of coming out on top, whether your honesty ranking is low or through the roof.
Checking Your Facts
Google will be using their own tool for fact checking, as mentioned above, but believe it or not, this is not the only fact checker available on the internet and you can use a variety of different applications that can do the same thing if you’re willing to look for them. NewScientist.com says:
The software works by tapping into the Knowledge Vault, the vast store of facts that Google has pulled off the internet. Facts the web unanimously agrees on are considered a reasonable proxy for truth. Web pages that contain contradictory information are bumped down the rankings.
Different software functions in different ways and may not account for certain aspects of a website, but if you search the net you’ll find many different sites and applications that you can use as a business to weed out misinformation and test what your ranking might climb to.
Whether or not you decide to take advantage of this latest change in the algorithm, it’s important to follow along each time that you see something has changed. The more that you know about Google rankings and search engine optimization, the higher your chance for success will be in your industry through better brand recognition and a higher rate of financial success. Growing a business or maintaining the traffic of a law firm is much easier with the power of the internet working with you rather than against you.
Last time, I provided some tips on how to blog like a professional. Today, let me discuss the process of building of links for your site. Search engine optimization, and all of the little things that go along with it, might seem like a race sometimes, especially if you’re in direct competition with another local firm, but speed doesn’t always mean success in this game. The age old adage, “slow and steady wins the race,” is something that I definitely like to suggest, especially in terms of link building, because while it can be tempting to take what you can get wherever you can get it to spread word of your firm quickly, these links may not always go over so well with Google.
I talk about content all the time, but there is a good reason for this; content is your key to better rankings. If you want somebody to take you seriously during a case, you don’t speed through your research and take whatever tidbits of useless information you can get. Instead, you do your due diligence and find what needs to be found to build a high quality case. Your website should reflect the work that you do at your firm, and this includes your links.
Get Your Links Out Naturally
If you want your links to be natural and organic then you need to find ways to fit them into content without forcing them into places where they don’t really make sense. One way to get around this is to use guest posts to your advantage. I have touched on the subject of guest posts in the past, but I must impress how important they can be to law firms in particular. Lawyers are automatically authorities on their field of practice. You’ve gone through years of school, years of practice and rigorous testing to get where you are, and people want to know what you have to say. Word Stream suggests:
Guest posts are probably the most powerful example of how you can get a link on an authoritative domain (and even on an authoritative page) with precisely the anchor text you want. The process is also a very “pure” way to build links as you’re giving something (a piece of content) in exchange for the link.
If you can find a site that wants to post information about your industry of law, don’t delay, it could be a great opportunity to support your firm and advertise your brand without being pushy or appearing to be a fake.
Get Others On Board
I’ve talked about using connections in your firm to help increase unique blog content, but now I want to discuss another way that your peers can pump up the brand volume of your firm. Many people have blogs and individual websites now, and although the staff at your firm may not have their own personal websites, spouses, family members and friends of your staff just might and this could be a powerful connection for you.
Ask around and see if anybody on your payroll knows of ways to share links to your site. This can be incredible useful if the websites are local, because you can support local business while they support you.
Find The Person Who Matters
When it comes to link building you need to speak directly with the person in charge of a site or business. Don’t leave it to chance and hope for the best by contacting a generic address with the hopes of being taken seriously. Search Engine Journal reports:
The main reason why link builders don’t get responses from their outreach is they don’t really send their emails to the right person. Oftentimes, they send emails to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and wonder why they get no response from their link prospects.
You have a much higher chance of being featured on a website, local or national, by speaking directly to somebody who has access to the content on the site. A web manager, company manager, or even a customer relations officer can help you get your link where it needs to be.
Previously, I have discussed online marketing strategies for small to medium-sized firms, but today I would like to focus on the effective use of blogging. Blogging has become an important part of getting news out, promoting business, and including local communities in company affairs. For a law firm, it is a way to be more human and show potential clients that you care about more than what is in their wallets. In order to blog like you care, you have to be professional about it, and this can take some practice.
Outside of the uniqueness of the content being posted, which I have mentioned before as incredibly important, there are other factors to take into consideration. A blog can certainly be helpful in terms of search engine optimization and content control, but it is also helpful for bringing in clients, which means that you want to write for them, not the crawlers and Google bots that will be scanning your pages for keywords, etc.
Take Cues From Your Audience
I have offered a tip in the past that law firms should ask for blog content from staff to keep things fresh and unique week after week, but another great way to make sure your posts are not only original but useful is to take your cues from readers. Those who check your blog regularly are more likely to know what they want to see than you or your staff or even a professional blog manager, so why not get their opinions before posting anything new? BufferApp.com suggests:
A great technique for doing this is to simply ask your readers first on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn with an engaging quote. If people respond well to it, then this is probably a great topic to write about. An example for this comes from Andrew Chen who famously “tests” his blogpost ideas on Twitter first.
If you’re not feeling confident posting questions like this through your social media you can use your blog to perpetuate new content. You can ask for readers to specify what they would like to know next, or create a local contest for blog titles that matter to your community. As long as they rest within your niche and industry of law, you will be in the clear when it comes to content quality, making you a good candidate for better Google rankings, and higher traffic from consumers.
Use SEO to Your Advantage
Blogging is a great way to amp up the quality of writing on your site, and it also adds to quantity. One thing that Google looks for when it comes time to rank a website is how much content they have available to internet users. If your site is sparse, it won’t matter how high the quality of that content is because Google won’t have enough to rank you on. One way to bulk up is to create lengthy blog posts. BloggingTips.com suggests:
A 1500 words article easily outranks the 500 words article in search engine results. Why? Search engines give top priority to the sites that have authority content.
Writing 1500 to 2000 words a week might seem a little crazy, especially when you have a law firm to operate and clients to focus on. For this reason, it might be more realistic to post 500 word updates once a week with one 1500 to 2000 word update once a month. Mix it up and pop in a few 750 word articles to keep things fresh. If you write in moderation, you can give yourself time to build up to a longer post so that it is clear, confident, and fresh.
Keep It Fresh
Speaking of keeping it fresh, your content must be up-to-date, which can be difficult if you’ve been writing a blog over a series of years rather than months. When Google ranks you they are looking for content that is relevant, which means that posting about something that was only important around the holidays or something that was crucial in 2013, but is no longer available now is pointless. If you don’t want to have to go back and edit your work later so that everything is fresh, try to keep content timeless as it is being posted. Jeff Goins of GoinsWriter.com says:
Write timeless content. On the web, old content is perceived as irrelevant. Don’t write a newspaper; create a resource. (This is, incidentally, why I intentionally don’t put dates on my posts.)
This is not only important for SEO purposes, but also for your potential clients who might be skimming your site looking for information on a particular subject. If they finally find what they’re looking for and the process you’ve described is now outdated or was specific to a certain year, they aren’t going to take very much from that article, and it will impact how they view you as an authority in your field.
Write What Feels Good
Finally, you must write for yourself as well as your audience. This is something that I haven’t really touched on before, but it is actually common sense. When you don’t want to do something it shows on your face, in the words that you choose, and in your body language. The same can be said of the way that you write about a certain subject. To avoid looking bored or unfamiliar with subject matter, only write about topics that you are not only knowledgeable in, but that are also of interest to you. CopyBlogger.com explains:
A salesman wonders how to get his next sale. A mentor cares about his students. He wants to help them get ahead and live a more fulfilled life. Your reader will immediately notice whether you’re an eager salesman or a mentor-style blogger. Take the mentor’s role on your blog and you’ll win more business.
If you are interested in the process you’re writing about, your words will reflect this and readers will want to know more about it. Make things exciting, interesting, and make yourself seem approachable as the author. You want potential clients to call in asking about an article you have published on your blog because it could help their case, and because it made you stand out to them as a lawyer in your field.
Last week, I discussed the value of having a fast loading website for a firm. Meanwhile, I haven’t touched on the subject of keywords in a while, but they do play a rather important role in search engine optimization (SEO), and this is true for law firms and local searches. Unfortunately, there are a lot of keywords out there in use online, and this means a high level of competition for websites that know how to best utilize them to their advantage. If you aren’t keyword savvy, and feel like your firm is out of the loop when it comes to SEO techniques like this, don’t panic. Not only can you seek help from an expert in the field of online marketing, but you can learn a lot by doing some basic research on the subject for yourself. SEO Nick suggests:
Keyword research is a critical component for search engine optimization because when used correctly it provides a road map for both the design and execution of building websites and developing content.
Now, if you have a web developer on your payroll, or your website is just now being created, you might find yourself lucky. By discussing with your developer about keywords, SEO, and obtaining higher rankings, you may be able to rise to the top in your market without putting in too much time or money. On the other hand, if you have to go back in and revitalize your site with keywords or call your developer back in, it could get pricey, which is another reason why research is vital; you should always know exactly what you’re paying for.
Research Your Competition
When it comes to research in internet marketing, checking up on keywords and what they can do for your firm is on step toward success, but it’s certainly not the only research that needs to be done. Being a law firm, finding facts should be no problem, so put your special skills to work and find what you can on your competition. See who is using which keywords, but also focus on which keywords are being used most in your niche. Moz.com reports:
By researching your market’s keyword demand, you can not only learn which terms and phrases to target with SEO, but also learn more about your customers as a whole.
Knowing what your clients are looking for can make it far easier to create a successful keyword campaign than if you wing it on a hope and a prayer. Going with a whim is not the way to win the keyword war, and trust me, this is one battle that could give you some real edge in your market.
Turning Your Sights On Long Tail Keywords
If you don’t know much about keywords in general then it is likely that you aren’t too well versed with terms like long tails. A long tail keyword is almost more of a unique phrase than a simple keyword. This is when you elongate the word you’re looking to use by specifying why your clients would use it. A great example of this in law is the keyword “divorce lawyer”, if you have an online user searching for divorce lawyer, there is a possibility that they are going to contact you, but chances are higher that he or she is just checking out the local situation. Using long tail keywords instead will help you find searchers who really want some legal help. An example of this long tail format would be “best rate divorce lawyer Jacksonville Florida”, this potential client is not only seeing what is on the market, he or she is ready to commit.
What you’ll find is that while smaller keywords may have a higher rate of hitting their target, they don’t always give you the results that you’ve been seeking, and that makes for wasted time. You can better understand which words to focus on by following up on your above-mentioned research to find a demand curve. The words that are most in demand should definitely make an appearance, but if you want to find committed clients, be specific.
Knowing Your Odds
Whether you’re a small fish in a big sea, or a big fish in a small pond, the world is full of law firms and competitors who would love to take over the spotlight on the keywords you’re interested in. If the leading law firms in your state take up the top 5 to 10 positions in a search engine, there is certainly space for you to fit in somewhere underneath, but if you want to work your way to the top it could take some dedication and hard work. You can use a keyword analysis tool to collect the data on certain search terms and phrases, both simple and complex to help you compare the rankings.
It All Comes Back To Content
Finally, as I always do, this update comes back around to content, which is always especially important for law firms, because people turn to you for fact and knowledge. This means that when placing your keywords it must seem organic, natural, and correctly placed in sentences. Many companies make the mistake of getting repetitive to the point where it doesn’t seem appropriate for terms to even appear in a certain area. Inc.com states:
One concern we hear frequently is whether it is beneficial or harmful to repeat keywords. In other words, should we vary keywords (dog food, puppy food, and Purina) or repeat keywords (dog food reviews, dog food comparison, and dog food rankings.) The short answer is that the repetition is just fine, as long as the meaning of the phrase as a whole is sufficiently varied.
Inc.com has a point here, it isn’t just important to make sure that your keywords make sense in a sentence, they should also be spread out and changed up a little bit so that you aren’t saying the exact same thing over and over to stick that keyword in there. In other words if you’re running with, “San Diego law firm”, for example, you don’t want to say. “You can find the best San Diego law firm through a quick online search” twice in the same blog update or article, instead, use it in a separate sentence and in a different context later to keep things from sounding repetitive.
Previously, I focused on hiring SEO consultants. Today, I would like to tackle how you can use web crawlers to your advantage. Believe it or not, those search engine bots that crawl your firm’s website are very helpful as long as you are doing your best to follow the algorithm that Google has created. While these crawlers can certainly seem like something out of a sci-fi movie at first thought, I always tell my clients that the best possible thing you can do for your website is to not only accept them as necessary, but to make it easier for them to give you a higher ranking by adhering to as many SEO guidelines as you can. Google explains:
A crawler, also known as a spider or a bot, is the software Google uses to process and index the content of webpages. The AdSense crawler visits your site to determine its content in order to provide relevant ads.
I have touched on the subject of crawlers in the past, but I have never gone this in depth with my discussion on how they help your website. Take a look at some of these helpful ideas to make your site a more crawler friendly atmosphere.
Make It Easier For Crawlers To Navigate
In order for bots to get all of the information Google needs to rank your page and support ads on your site they must be able to access all of your different pages. This means having an easy-to-navigate layout that provides entrance to all pages and content. Search Engine Journal reports:
If you absolutely MUST use Java script drop down menus, image maps or image links, be sure to put text links somewhere on the page for the spiders to follow.
Sometimes the more aesthetically appealing styles of menus aren’t beneficial to crawlers; this means that having text links are ultimately the best way to give easy access to these web spiders. While I understand why many law firms choose drop downs to serve their clients online, with a simple call to your web maintenance team, you could easily transfer those drop downs into text links, and clients would still be able to navigate your site without trouble.
Don’t Exclude A Video Sitemap
I know that for many firms using videos to connect with potential clients is a novel concept, but it can certainly help bring in new interest, boost your site rankings, and when properly cataloged it can also increase crawler activity. Now, I know I have talked about the importance of sitemaps in the past, especially in terms of whether or not they get listed in your Google Webmaster Central account, but this is especially important for videos. Word Tracker states:
Google’s spider can only crawl linked pages by the way – it can only access pages that you could access with a mouse. It can’t enter in login details or passwords, and it can’t enter terms in your search bar. As a general rule, if your page isn’t accessible by a clickable link, Google probably won’t see it.
By creating a video sitemap, and making sure that it is available in your Webmaster Central tool, you open your site up to a more conclusive visit from the next crawler that creeps your pages. This will help the bots to better pick up on new videos and video content.
Clean Up Your Code
I like to explain code to my clients by comparing it to an intersection; when you’re driving your car to an unknown destination and you’re watching road signs, and you come to an intersection, it’s much easier to get through that intersection into the right lane of traffic when there aren’t so many other vehicles blocking your line of view and distracting you. This is the same way that crawlers see code on your website. When the code is jumbled, includes flash and java menus, or uses frames, this confuses crawlers the same way that a busy intersection does, and the bots won’t know how to get where they need to go, or may get lost in the jumble.
Enter any landing page or website URL.