Google, the big kahuna of search engines, has a challenge for everyone with a website. It updates its search algorithm 500 to 600 times a year, almost twice a day, every day. [http://moz.com/google-algorithm-change] Most of these changes are minor, but some are major updates that significantly affect how your website ranks and the visibility it has earned compared to all the other sites online.
For anyone marketing their business online, this is big news. It means that Google is constantly tweaking how it ranks your website and that a site with strong visibility and a page one ranking today might not have the same visibility and ranking tomorrow. This makes it a challenge to maintain your firm’s visibility month over month. But there’s one straightforward way that attorneys who are marketing themselves online can ride out this rollercoaster – by consistently adding quality content to their websites.
“Quality content” is information that is new, useful and relevant to your visitors. Publishing content that is meaningful to your prospects and clients and updating it regularly will improve your visibility in the highly competitive search engine market.
Maintain Your Rank
Did your website obtain strong visibility in the search engines but now you find your website slipping to page two, three, or even four? This may be because your website has been determined to be stagnant since it hasn’t been updated recently or worse, you’ve been penalized for lousy content (irrelevant, spam, duplicate, sparse, illegible, etc.). Remember, your website is being compared to all the other attorney sites – your online competition.
Think of Google as a marketplace. Unlike a directory in which you can claim a profile once and be done, Google search results are dynamic and constantly changing. Keeping up with the marketplace is an on-going effort that requires regular attention. There’s always someone who is trying to obtain better visibility than you and who is willing to put more resources into it. Once you’ve earned your ranking you need to keep working to maintain it.
Google’s Guidelines for Quality Content
As time goes on, Google is paying even more attention to good content. The company has even published guidelines for content creation to help website owners do the right thing:
- Content is key. Good content is clear, concise, and informative.
- Use plain English. Write for real people as though you’re having a conversation.
- Make your content readable.
It all goes back to one idea: publish high quality content on a regular basis and you’ll have a much better chance of doing well on Google.
Easy Ways to Add Quality Content
Most attorneys are so busy that they don’t have time to produce content. But keep in mind that “content” doesn’t have to be a brief worthy of the Supreme Court. It can be as easy as a few thoughts on some recent news with a link to an article, a client review, or the answer to a question you’ve been asked three times this week. Quality and relevancy of content is not measured by the number of characters or length of the article.
The key things to remember are keeping it relevant and appropriate to your readers. Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines rank websites based partly on the currency of the information – how recently it’s been updated – and the relevance of that information to what the searcher is looking for.
Five Tips To Maintain Your Search Rankings
1. Post a variety.
Your website should be able to accommodate lots of different kinds of content. Make sure your website has places you can easily plug in articles, Q&As, In the Media, client reviews, blog posts, and other formats. Making it easy will ensure that it doesn’t fall off your to do list.
2. Update regularly.
To compete online and obtain your share of traffic, you must ensure your website is not static or left alone. Your website requires proper optimization, review and recalibration, and content updates on a regular basis.
3. Be timely.
Being timely with your content makes a big difference. If Massachusetts comes out with a new law and you publish something about it quickly, you become the source for people to learn more when researching on the web. This gives you credibility and visibility with the search engines.
4. Meet client needs.
According to Google, an effective website is current, informative, useful, attractive, organized, searchable, and usable. If your site does not meet those basic goals, then it will not meet your clients’ and prospects’ needs, which ultimately means that it will not meet your business objectives.
5. Keep it professional.
Original content presents you and your services in a clear and compelling way that allows potential clients to find what they’re looking for easily and creates a sense of trust, credibility and professionalism. Well-written content can position you as an expert and help engage your prospects so that they choose to do business with you rather than the competition.
Here’s a list of content types you can consider adding to your website:
- Client reviews
- Case summaries
- Recent decisions
- Legal news
- White papers
- Blog posts
- Newsletter articles
- Surveys and questionnaires
- Success stories
- How-to articles
Remember, all search engines look for current information and favor dynamic websites with original content. More recently posted content means better visibility in the search results, which translates to more visitors to your site. Worse, if your site does not mention the topic someone is searching for, it’s not going to show up in the results at all. With original, relevant, recent content, you will establish and maintain a formidable presence online.