Google continues to update its search algorithm to improve the quality of the results it provides. Quality results are results that best match the intent of the search term/phrase entered by the user. This article, posted on the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog, outlines some of the considerations that Google uses to evaluate the best quality results for a search. To put Google’s influence into perspective, Google refers traffic to law firm websites that we host 45.8% of the time – meaning that nearly half of the traffic that comes to the sites we host is coming through Google. Aside from going directly to the website (36.0% of the time), the next most popular referrer happens to be the search engine Bing (2.5% of traffic).
Every client we work with asks us for advice on how to improve or maximize its presence on Google. The answer I always give is: focus on your content. The technical things you do will only make a nominal difference relative to the importance of the content on your site. Linking, especially in-bound links from other sites, continues to play a major role in how Google determines relevancy. However, Google is getting increasingly good at identifying artificial linking strategies, such as when SEO firms arrange for paid links to a particular site. The best way to improve your in-bound linking is to provide content that attracts “organic” links from outside sources.
Below I’ve highlighted the items within the article that stand out to me as having the most relevance to you:
Positive qualities in website content:
- Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research or original analysis?
- Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in the search results?
- Does the article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
Negative qualities in website content:
- Does the site have duplicate, overlapping or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
- The article also notes that low-quality content on some parts of a website can impact the whole site’s rankings, and thus removing low quality pages, merging or improving the content of individual shallow pages into more useful pages or moving low quality pages to a different domain could eventually help the rankings of your higher-quality content.
We find that one of the most challenging categories of content for law firms to produce is editorial content. However, Google is clearly indicating that a prominence of strong editorial content on your website will positively impact how your site measures up. Consequently, I have a challenge for all of the law firms out there:
Engage the experts (lawyers) to write content for the website that is topical, analyzes current happenings and shares their perspective. Create an editorial calendar. And stick to it!
Google will see your site as more valuable, as will your current and prospective clients.