Google Search Algorithm

How do Google Search Algorithm Updates affect your Law firm?

You might already be feeling like your site is being seized by the Google deities in a vengeful attack on your rankings, or you might be seeing your rankings go up and down at confusing rates – don’t panic. Give your rankings a couple of weeks’ time to see if they balance themselves out, because while updates like these will affect your results, you won’t know the full extent until the rollout is fully finalized. Plus, a few days after the rollout has finished, Google developers will likely go in and make a couple more adjustments or reversals.

The key is in reviewing and adjusting any relevant points. Even Google has recommended to not “fix” anything, but rather review the content you offer on your site and make sure it is the best content you can create because this is what the Google algorithms seek to reward.

Google makes frequent algorithm updates to its ranking to ensure smooth processes for searchers and advertisers alike by improving the quality and relevance of search results. These updates are continuously launched, however, the majority of the algorithm updates are not announced at a great scale and many users go on with their day-to-day none the wiser.

While the core updates are different every month, a basic understanding of this can reduce panic and increase your knowledge of your firm’s rankings in Google’s SERP. Consequently, if you take advantage of these relevant updates your firm can increase the user experience and traffic on your website.

A core update is not specifically made to fit or favor certain categories or businesses. A core update refers to improvements Google makes to their core to consequently help the ranking process of the overall search. The core updates are announced in advance so web developers and SEO specialists can take advantage of them when managing and updating websites.

At times the core updates may either rank a website higher or lower. The ones that rank lower may ask themselves, “Did my website do something wrong to drop its rankings?” The short answer is, no. Google states that websites experiencing this shouldn’t try to edit their entire website. First and foremost, the best practice Google gives to all websites is following the webmaster guidelines.

Some webmaster guidelines include:

  • Designing a mobile-friendly website.
  • Optimizing the website to load fast.
  • Verifying all your firm’s information in the Google My Business listings.

Having said this, the core updates should enhance the webmaster guideline optimization. Even though Google does say that core updates shouldn’t mean changing an entire website, it still doesn’t mean a website is a one-time and done deal. Your firm’s website needs constant SEO optimizations, quality content, and other digital marketing efforts to stay on top of the game and meet your client’s current demands.

Understanding and leveraging Google ranking factors is crucial for organically increasing your law firm’s online presence through SEO practices. This chapter offers insights into optimizing your website to achieve higher rankings for relevant keywords to your law practice. By delving into Google’s ranking factors, you’ll be better equipped to expedite the optimization process and attain the organic results you aim for.

Given Google’s dominance in search, focusing on their ranking criteria is strategic, as other search engines often adopt similar approaches for their SERPs.

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How Google Search Algorithm ranks Law firm Websites

Experts estimate that Google uses around 200 ranking factors in its algorithm to rank websites within a given web search query. They assert that SEO is about making small modifications and incremental improvements to your law firm’s website that impact your site’s user experience and performance in organic search engine results.

Overall, we could summarize this whole section into the most important one, high-quality content.  If your site has the best content that is relevant to the user’s search,  you will most likely rank well. This content would answer search engine users’ questions or needs, quickly and thoroughly.   Good content is also always evolving and the way you present this content also has a major say on your ranking. Google says it best “Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content” in their webmaster guidelines.

It’s critical to note how Google interrelates user experience and search results. Many of Google’s most significant changes to the way it measures law firm website rankings focus on the user performing the web search. Google algorithms are the complex formulas it uses to determine website rankings. These algorithms consider a myriad of factors when ranking websites like the quality of content, user analytics, link profiles, social media signals, and many others.

Correct Your Local Citations

Having and creating local citations is important, but what matters most is making sure all the information for your law firm is consistent online. A local citation refers to any online mention of your law firms (NAP+W information):

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Website

Correct Citations help people find you when they need a lawyer. It’s crucial to create and maintain a wide range of popular internet accounts to keep a strong local footprint. This not only includes Google Business Profile, but Yelp, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, even Instagram, and Tik Tok.

If your citations are inconsistent, not only could it negatively affect your standing and branding, but it could also frustrate customers trying to contact your firm because of outdated or wrong information.

Google Search Algorithm wants you to focus on giving your clients what they want and need, over feeding a machine.

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Before diving into the most recent core updates, it’s important your firm keeps quality top of mind. Your best bet at succeeding in the world of SEO is running with a strategy for growth that bases itself on the quality factor that signals Google your content is rank-worthy.

To start, you can think back to the basic question, “What do my clients want/need from my website and my other platforms?” Your firm can begin by:

  • Providing quality content: This means your firm should create and post original, shareable, likable, new, and complete content.
  • Fact-checking the content: This entails posts with clear sources, data, evidence, and verification.
  • Displaying the content free of spelling mistakes, clear designs, and not too many ads.
  • Adding content with value: this means the content genuinely revolves around the customer.

Taking all of this into account can help your firm stay afloat amongst the Google core updates.

Recent Google Search Algorithm Core Update Tips

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The imagery that Google gives to help understand core updates is “to imagine you made a list of the top 100 movies in 2015. A few years later in 2019, you refresh the list. It’s going to naturally change.”

Change can bring your firm new ideas that otherwise would’ve gone unnoticed. The following are the recent Google core updates:

1. No more preferred domain setting

Websites can no longer have multiple URLs. Google will now focus on one URL. This means firms can either pick their preferred domain or Google will choose one for your firm.

Google recommends choosing a “preferred” URL so it’s easier for your clients to see on the results page. Google emphasized other benefits of a canonical (“preferred”) domain including:

  • Simplifying the metrics to measure the success of content.
  • Avoiding pages to be duplicated.

Google also mentions that duplicate pages are valid when they:

  • Support different types of devices
  • Support content that automatically updates (i.e. the blog section in your firm’s website)

2. Local Webmaster Conferences

Before, Google’s Search Central YouTube would provide hundreds of free information, tips, and tricks to webmasters and SEO experts.

Now? Google wants to help webmasters with a more local approach. This means helping webmasters who cannot travel internationally. Because of this, Google will now have local webmaster conferences around the world.

The conferences will help people by providing services in the:

  • Location(s) where it’s difficult to access all of the Google information.
  • Location(s) where there are specific demands for a Google Search/ Website event.

The events will aim at helping local experts to cater to the wants and needs of their customers.

  • Events will be free of charge.
  • Events will include international speakers and sign language interpreters.
  • Accessible in that specific location.
  • Tailored to what that specific region needs.
  • Spoken in the local language.

3. New SEO ‘Mythbusting’ Channel

Since there are bountiful search engine myths, Google will start a series “SEO Mythbusting” to help the SEO experts and the web development community. In return, these experts will be able to help businesses and law firms optimize their SEO and marketing strategies to their fullest potential.

The “SEO Mythbusting” series will provide weekly content through their Google Search Central YouTube playlist.

4. Optimizing AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) with Google Images

AMP stands for accelerated mobile pages. It was created by Google in 2015. AMP is the factor that helps your firm speed up its loading page time on mobile devices.

A problem Google found in the user’s online journey is that very few users completed a task because websites were not loading. This means users were crossing from one website to another and thus allowing room for distraction.

Now, with AMP incorporated in images, any user can quickly and easily go from looking at a Google Image to swiping up and browsing your firm’s website. This can be an opportunity for firms looking to increase their visibility and retain clients through their decision-making process. Clearly, AMP is a great addition to incorporate. Google provided their AMP set-up guideline but it is considered advanced SEO.

5. Google’s REP is now open-source

For many years, web developers have been using Google’s REP (Robots Exclusion Protocol), also known as robots.txt, to inform Google which parts of the website are meant to be crawled, and which aren’t. This is done by setting up a series of rules and is considered on the basic building blocks of the web.

REP has been considered standard to use, but because a standard modus operandi for it has never been established, different users implement the rules in different ways. This meant that web developers eventually would start facing uncertainty in regards to the rules and regulations to follow and how. An open-source library of rules has been released to help developers find clarity through the publication of the parser that Google uses.