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Quite simply, SEO is the umbrella term for all the methods you can use to ensure the visibility of your website and its content on search engine results pages (SERPs).
The methods vary from technical practices you can achieve behind the scenes on your website (we tend to refer to this as ‘on-page SEO’) to all the promotional ’off-page’ approaches you can use to raise your site’s visibility (link-building, social media marketing).
For the purpose of this article, when we talk about visibility, we mean how high up the SERP your website appears for certain search terms in the ‘organic’ results. Organic results refer to those that appear naturally on the page, rather than in the paid-for sections…
search for confetti cannon showing organic and paid results
Paid search is also a large part of search engine marketing. You can read more about this in our recent beginner’s guide to paid search and PPC.Why do you need SEO?
Building a strong site architecture and providing clear navigation will help search engines index your site quickly and easily. This will also, more importantly, provide visitors with a good experience of using your site and encourage repeat visits. It’s worth considering that Google is increasingly paying attention to user experience.
In 2014, Conductor suggested 64% of all web traffic comes from organic search, compared to 2% from social, 6% from paid search, 12% direct and 15% from other referral sources.
This tallies with our own data, with approximately 70-75% of SEW traffic coming from organic.
Of all organic traffic, in 2015 it was found that Google accounts for more than 90% of global organic search traffic. So obviously you need a strong presence on Google SERPs, but how strong?
Well, according to this study from Advanced Web Ranking (which I’ve trotted out before when discussing how to dominate Google) shows that on the first SERP, the top five results account for 67.60% of all clicks and the results from six to 10 account for only 3.73%.
It’s therefore vital that your site appears in the top five results.
How are you going to achieve this? With the following tips, which I’ve split into two categories: what search engines are looking for and… drum roll… what they’re not looking for.
Search engines try to provide the most relevant results to a searcher’s query, whether it’s a simple answer to the question “how old is Ryan Gosling?” (the answer of which Google will likely provide without you having to leave the SERP) to more complicated queries such as “what is the best steak restaurant nearest to me?”
How search engines provide these results is down to their own internal algorithms, which we’ll probably never truly determine, but there are factors that you can be certain will influence these results and they’re all based around relevancy… For instance: a searcher’s location, their search history, time of day/year, etc.
2) The quality of your content
Do you regularly publish helpful, useful articles, videos or other types of media that are popular and well produced? Do you write for actual human beings rather than the search engine itself? Well, you should. Latest research from Searchmetrics on ranking factors indicates that Google is moving further towards longer-form content that understands a visitor’s intention as a whole, instead of using keywords based on popular search queries to create content.
Basically, stop worrying about keywords and focus on the user experience.
3) User experience
There are many SEO benefits for providing the best possible user experience. You need an easily navigable, clearly searchable site with relevant internal linking and related content. All the stuff that keeps visitors on your webpage and hungry to explore further.
4) Site speed
How quickly your webpages load is increasingly becoming a differentiator for search engines. Google may soon start labelling results that are hosted on Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) so this may possibly be the ‘mobilegeddon’ of 2016. Speaking of which…
5) Cross-device compatibility
Is your website and its content equally optimised for any given screen size or device? Bear in mind that Google has stated that responsive design is its preferred method of mobile optimisation.
6) Internal linking
We’ve talked about the benefits of ensuring your site has clear and easy-to-use navigation, but there’s also a practice that editors and writers can carry out when publishing articles to help push traffic around the site and that may lead to higher trust signals for Google: internal linking. (See what we did there.)
Internal linking has many advantages:
It provides your audience with further reading options. As long as they’re relevant and you use clear anchor text (the clickable highlighted words in any give link). This can help reduce your bounce rates.It helps to improve your ranking for certain keywords. If we want this article to rank for the term ’SEO basics’ then we can begin linking to it from other posts using variations of similar anchor text. This tells Google that this post is relevant to people searching for ‘SEO basics’. Some experts recommend varying your anchor text pointing to the same page as Google may see multiple identical uses as ‘suspicious’.It helps Google crawl and index your site. Those little Googlebots that are sent out to fetch new information on your site will have a better idea of how useful and trustworthy your content is, the more they crawl your internal links.
Has the company done this for other attorneys? – If the answer is yes. Get three references and call their clients. Make sure you speak directly with a partner who handles marketing for the firm. When you speak with the partner, don’t be shy when it comes to inquiring about the number of cases they get, and the percentage of those that are good cases that convert. These metrics will help you know if the marketing expert knows the legal intake and lead generation principles for law. You want quality cases not spam.
Another essential question that should be asked is: Was the firm impacted by Google penalties due to the lawyer marketing expert tactics? Since 2012 there have been many Google updates including Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird. If the expert has implemented white hat SEO, the website would not have be impacted. There are many ways to check. Without getting into the technical details of this, if you think your site may need an audit please call me, Qamar Zaman, directly at (877) LAW-SEO4.Law Firm SEO
Does the incumbent company have a minimum of 3 years of law firm marketing, website design, blog writing and intake experience? – These components are very crucial and the attorney marketing expert you are discussing your goals with should get a A grade in each subject. You are going to spend your hard earned money so don’t settle for someone who does not measure up for all key components.
Blog Writing: Does the expert rely on the in-house expertise of it’s own legal content development team?