Basic content strategies to improve your law firm’s website and Google rankings.

Your content should always be customer-focused. If you want to build a strong online presence for your law firm then the expertise and trustworthiness you convey through your website’s content is key.

Content plays one of the most important roles in Google’s ranking algorithms, have you ever wonder how you can tweak it to gain Google’s favor and outrank your competitors?

Right from the time one lands on your law website’s front-page, your website visitor can easily distinguish a well-thought-out, accurately-represented and informative piece of content from the numerous poorly-designed and shallow ones littered all over the Internet.

So, let’s dive into some ways to make better content.

Does your website meet Google’s standards for high quality content: EAT?

As an attorney looking to benefit from SEO, one important question you should be asking yourself right now is if your law firm’s website meets EAT’s guidelines.

EAT stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. It is a proprietary rating that Google applies to web content submitted online so as to determine if it is accurate and helpful to satisfy the need of visitors. Google has been emphasizing a lot on EAT and published guidelines regarding content for webmasters to follow in order to rank higher in its search engine.

In this endeavor, Google wants you to look at things like content depth and meaning, the type of domain you use and the kind of sources your piece links to. Make your site visitors’ user experience as impactful and fruitful as you can.

Let’s get started with some small adjustments that will make your content stand out: 

  • Make sure you have a page for resources and contact information somewhere easy to find, for example, “Contact Us”, “Customer Support”, “About Us”,
  • Include an author byline and publication date for your content,
  • Don’t litter your content pages with any advertising or distracting ads,
  • Always ensure you represent any legal information accurately (facts above opinion),
  • Only post well-researched, helpful content,
  • Keep your content fresh, update it frequently.

Avoid These Six Google Ranking Killers 

Are your site visitors free to use your online resources or tools the way they see best? Do you try to steer or limit their moves against their will? .

All the six page-ranking killers we are going to discuss below are directly connected to user experience on your site: usability, your content’s good find-ability, graphics and imagery, ease of navigation as well as the kind of lasting impression you leave in your user’s mind. In addition, they are somehow linked to trustworthiness between you as the site owner/marketer and your visitor. Check them out below:

  • Auto-Play Audio/Video: Don’t assume that your site’s visitors want to have a background music experience every time they click on a link to your webpage. Same with those unsolicited clips that just pop up out of nowhere. Need I remind you again that this is a professional site? Unless these audios/videos are crucial to your marketing strategy, avoid them.
  • Disabled Back Button: However, much you want to keep your site’s visitors on your webpage for longer, never deactivate the back button. If a surfer discovers that you are employing tactics to hold them captive, you will probably erode your credibility.
  • Mouse Movement-Based Popups: Another similar tactic to the above is using plugins that enable popups immediately a mouse moves towards the top left corner of the web-screen (presumably to click the back button). Often, these rather uncouth tactics come as a last-ditch effort to get visitors to subscribe to something or reconsider an earlier action.
  • Keyword stuffing: Avoid stuffing too many keywords in your content unless it looks natural and it makes sense. Many webmasters will add the same keyword so many times in an effort to boost the page SEO that it looks unnatural and many sentences don’t even make sense.
  • Unexpected Redirect: Example: If a user clicks on your Legal Resources link he or she is expecting to go to the page for Legal Resources, do not send them to a Contact page or email capture page or anything that’s not what the user wanted to see. This looks like a desperate attempt to capture their contact information.
  • Broken pages: Check your sitemap regularly and avoid having broken links on your website, if the content is no longer available then create a landing page instead and tell the user that the content is no longer available and present them with information related to what used to be there.

Add SSL to your Law Firm website 

SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer and basically refers to an internet protocol that enables a secure connection between servers and user computers. The protocol helps a computer determine if its peer on the other end is safe/legitimate. This enables the sending of data over safe transmission routes.

Since 2014, Google has been using SSL as a ranking factor during a search. What this means is that if you have applied a security certificate to your domain, Google will use this as a factor to place you higher than your competitors in search engine results.

There are 3 different types of SSL certificates and not all of them are widely accepted by all browsers, if you think your website visitors may be using an older version of an Internet browser, then you should ask your hosting company which SSL certificate they recommend, otherwise the users may see an ugly red message saying something like “The server you are connecting to is using a security certificate that can not be verified”.

If your site doesn’t have an SSL certificate already you should start considering purchase one from your hosting provider, they will give you more detail information and help you through the purchase and SSL setup process.

Does it matter what type of Domain Name you use?

Since your site is going to be like your online business card, does it mean that a .attorney or .lawyer domain will rank higher than the more generic ones like .com? Although there isn’t any full agreement on the ranking aspect, having a unique and descriptive domain name that reflects your legal profession is ultimately good for branding and marketing.

Exact Match Domains (EMDs) — together with some top generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) such as .com — have often been considered to have higher authority in search engine results. However, despite a lot of reports revealing the contrary, still there are people who would rather go for EMDs than gTLDs.

Although a gTLD like .com may not carry a keyword like “attorney” or “legal”, it still targets a particular business category. Therefore, whether you have a branded TLD like .legal or not, this may not impact your SEO ranking in any way. But if you feel compelled to believe that such an extension will help your marketing, then go for it.

Finally, Technical SEO Audits Are Critical 

Conducting an extensive technical audit at least once per year helps to determine if your site is always prepared to navigate through the ever-dynamic SEO space. The following technical audit checklist is short but it can help you organize and execute this process more easily:

  • Accessibility: Make sure search engine spiders have ease of access to your webpages (and use a robots.txt file to block any pages that you don’t want accessed).
  • XML Sitemap: Keep an updated sitemap of your website, make sure it includes any new pages and remove or 301 redirect non existing ones. You must submit the sitemap to the search engine every time you make changes to it. There are several tools that can help you create a sitemap, if your website was built on WordPress I recommend using Yoast SEO.
  • Backlink Profile: Ask your webmaster or SEO person to create a report of which domains are linking to your website and which pages they link to. This will help you understand what’s your most popular piece of content and also catch if there are any toxic backlinks that are damaging your SEO.
  • Canonicalization: Review whether your pages are using the canonical tag, this is a way of telling the search engines which page is more important and should be index in their results.
  • Content Umbrella: Organize all your site’s content into one main umbrella, then systematically break everything down into categories and sub-categories.
  • Browser Directives: Elements like server error directives should always be dealt with rapidly.
  • Page Title Tags and Meta Descriptions: These will tell the search engines the information they need to learn about the content you have in each one of your pages.
  • Image File Names and Alt tags: Ensure that all your images have a name and ALT tag and they are relevant to the content where the images are placed. Search engines can’t see images but they determine its relevance based on its name.
  • Other Common Errors: Fix common errors like missing or duplicate page title and/or page meta description, 404 server errors and duplicate content.

 

Final Thoughts

Good quality content can make a big difference in your website ranking but most importantly in your customers perception of you and your legal practice. Attorneys can’t plainly see their website content as page fill-up. Content will first drive customers to your website and second influence their subconscious into decide whether you are the legal expert they need or not.