You can invest a lot of money in a website that looks great but if no one can find it in search results, you’re in trouble.
A Way to Help People Find Your Law Firm
Search engine optimization (“SEO”) is the discipline of working, over time, to improve the visibility and importance of a website in the “eyes” of Google. Professional “Search Engine Optimizers” have a deep understanding of how Google works to organize, prioritize and deliver information on the Internet effectively and leverage this information to improve the search engine stature of their clients’ websites. In short: Firms should invest in SEO if they want to make sure people are finding their website in search results. (Given 65 – 70% of search traffic comes from Google this is the search engine we will focus on in this article despite a recognition others exist.)
SEO History: A Need for Order
During the early Internet people complained that it was impossible to find anything useful. As we all know, Google changed all of this by organizing the Web. But Google didn’t do it with a “top down” methodology, deciding themselves which pieces of content were good and which were not for each search term. With billions of daily searches, this curation process would have been impossible for humans to manually tackle effectively. Instead, Google approached it as computer scientists and developed a “bottom up” approach that scoured the Net looking for certain user “signals” that Google could use to reasonably measure the importance of one website relative to another. The math behind this “bottom up” approach to scour the web and determine page importance came to be known as “Google’s search algorithm.”
Google is actually fairly transparent about many of the signals impacting their “algorithm.” Googler Matt Cutts has a whole blog dedicated to it and has said there are as many as 200 signals impacting Google’s algorithmic, decision-making process. SEO professionals are constantly studying how search results work and reporting on their findings as well. Effective search engine marketers are good at prioritizing and focusing on the key signals they can control and that will have the biggest impact on a clients’ business.
SEO = Hacking Google’s System of “Signals”
Because Google is really just trying to prioritize websites based on how valuable they are the best SEO hack is really just to make your website better. Better means making it faster, more compatible, more descriptive, comprehensive and engaging for site visitors. Beyond this, there are some technical things it’s important to be aware of.
One of the key “signals” Google uses is based on something called “link equity” — or the number of other sites linking to your site. Google counts every site that links to yours as a digital endorsement of your company. Essentially, they’re voting for you and your products or services. So, the more links the better. In addition, links to your site from a site that is, itself, a trusted and established website have a more significant impact on Google’s calculation of your own site’s worth. Hence, getting the New York Times website to link to something you’ve written on your law firm’s blog is far more valuable than getting a link on your neighbors blog about cats.
It’s a web marketing firm’s job to study this information and do what they can to make sure the companies they represent are fully indexed and optimized for search terms potential new customers of that business will be searching to find it.
In its simplest form, SEO is about sitting down and writing out all the search terms you can think someone would search for in an attempt to find a law firm like yours, then taking this list and making sure all these keywords are included in the actual copy of your website. Even though this is a simple, quick thing to do, there is often a great deal of competition for these keywords so Google needed to come up with additional ways to look at a bunch of different websites in a certain geographic location and evaluate other things to see which one of these sites they should recommend to an Internet searcher first like link equity, page speed, code structure and document age, to name a few.
At LAWFIRMLIFT, we focus on creating a customized list of keywords for your firm first and then make sure these keywords are all represented on your site. We also make sure a full .xml sitemap of your site has been submitted to Google and your website is completely open to Google’s search engine crawling robots and doesn’t produce any crawling errors. We’ve also discussed the importance of page load time and its impact on search in this article and we consider this to be a part of our search engine checklist as well.