Blog - ML Web Design, Inc.
On 04, Jul 2015 | In Search Engine Optimization | By admin
1. Think like a client when choosing your keywords
Keywords are search terms that your customers are likely to type in when searching for your services. Your law firm website should include all the relevant terms specific to your practice. It’s critical to think like a client when you come up with your keyword list. Remember that clients are increasingly researching legal topics while looking for an attorney, so try to use simple basic phrases that describe your practice areas fully.
2. Create relevant content
Each page is an opportunity not only to describe your services, but also to incorporate your keywords into your content in a meaningful and relevant context. Don’t force the words in places they don’t fit, but do use them where you see an opportunity for them to flow naturally. A blog can be a perfect opportunity to create additional content that uses your keywords in a meaningful way.
As Google’s search algorithm becomes ever sophisticated it becomes less important to use your keywords in a strict order every time. Context is key and by using related terms in conjunction with your keywords strengthen your case to rank for your keywords.
3. Use schema.org mark up
Schema markup is code (semantic vocabulary) that you put on your website to help the search engines return more informative results for users. This can help improve your ranking for terms that are directly related to your business. We have previously posted on the importance of structured microdata.
Schema.org, the website for schema markup, was created by a collaborative team from Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
4. List your physical address and contact information
Every law firm website should display their Name, Address and Phone Number. NAP is critical for businesses wishing to rank well in the local organic search results, because search engines like Google take the data into account when determining which companies to show for geo-targeted searches.
5. Make sure your website is mobile optimized
In April 2015, Google announced that websites that were not mobile optimized would be penalized and rank lower on mobile search than sites that rendered well on mobile devices. While this update only affects search results on mobile devices, these represent an increasing share of searches worldwide.
See our prior blog post on this topic.
6. Create a Google My Business Page
Creating a Google My Business page is critical for any law firm with a physical location that customers can visit. This lets Google know where your law firm is located and allows you to show up in the local business section on relevant searches as well as on Google maps.
Setting up a Google Business page is crucial for all businesses, including service businesses. However, you must have a physical address listed in order to verify your business.
7. Use social media to your advantage
Social media can be a powerful tool not only for remaining top of mind with potential clients, but also for improving your organic search ranking.
There are two main ways social media can help your SEO. The first is to link out to your site on the main information section for each of your social media profiles. The second is to encourage people to share links to your website. You can do this by posting them yourself and by embedding share links on your website itself. The more quality links you have to your content from social media, the more it can help your organic ranking.
8. Find relevant sites that will link to you
Inbound links are one of the most powerful tools in SEO and also one of the most misunderstood. Google measures every website for what it calls Page Rank which is a measure of the importance of an individual site. As a general rule, links to your site from pages with high PageRank will boost your own site’s ranking more than links from those with low PageRank. It is also worth noting that most SEO experts agree that links from pages that are related to your business will help more than links from unrelated pages.
On 25, Jun 2015 | In Search Engine Optimization | By admin
It’s only natural you would think a video on Youtube would be deemed “unsuccessful” if it does not have a large number of reviews. Of course, I’m not going to sit here and say a healthy Youtube following and views is not a great part of an overall marketing plan. However, the other benefit to posting videos on Youtube is the ability to grab a nice PR 9 backlink. As an example, here is a video that was produced for Jeff Krigel, a Tulsa DUI Lawyer. The video is catchy and professionally produced. So, what if no one watches the video on Youtube. Well, it would be optimal for a million views on it, but I will take it as is. What is it doing just sitting there, you say? I’m glad you asked. It’s has 1)relevant content to the target keywords for the website, 2) has prime keywords in the title, 3)has prime keywords in the tag and 4)has a snazzy, juiced link to the website in the description. This action, and other actions of this ilk, contribute to a healthy SEO plan. While this is only one small component, it is a strong SEO building block–and free.
Six months ago, Google began displaying a “mobile friendly” alert next to websites in the search results page to certain qualifying sites. What sites meet the qualification of “mobile friendly” can be viewed on their blog post here.
When Google signifies the website is mobile friendly, this means the website is responsive, meaning that it folds up nicely into your phone, tablet, etc. Essentially, the website is seamlessly viewed with ease on any screen.
So you may ask, what’s different about this little Google stamp of approval on mobile front? Well, up until recently, it was just a stamp in the search results. Google has indicated its new algorithm (effective April 21) will begin analyzing sites in the search rankings and penalizing sites that are not responsive. View the Google blog post here. This can I have serious consequences, if you are ranking well but your site is not mobile friendly. Even worse, if you’re trying to climb the rankings, and you’re not mobile friendly, it will be much more difficult to gain search engine exposure.
As I explain to clients all the time, Google’s main goal and namesake is predicated on returning the most applicable results to a user search query. The moment it stops evolving is the moment it becomes Yahoo search. Google does that by seeking out what it believes to be the best quality result for the applicable term.
So what’s the Takeaway? If your site is not mobile friendly and you have the means to change that, you need to run towards it. Hopefully, you saw the writing on the wall and adapted prior to now. If not, contact us for free consultation and we will work with you to transition you into the responsive era.
My prediction for a major shift in SEO for 2015 is a focus on mobile and localization, which will be an expansion of trends we’ve been following and consulting our clients on for the past two years. I have seen law firm websites see mobile device traffic increases by upwards of 400 percent this year alone, in some cases becoming the majority of their traffic and referrals.
Google recently implemented the “Mobile Friendly” tag in search results, and if your site is not listed, well, you are late to the party. The mobile friendly tag can be remedied by utilizing responsive web design. Responsive web design is an design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience, easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling, across a wide range of screen sizes–from desktop computers and tablets to phones. From an SEO perspective, one of the main challenges posed by having a separate mobile site is that you will need to build the authority of this site from scratch, and most separate mobile sites do not rank well in search engines, as they are canonicalized to their desktop counterparts.
Another prediction for success in SEO and mobile growth will be enhanced call to action options on the mobile device. With Google currently serving CTA’s to call a location, get directions to a location and lastly visit the website of a location in mobile listings, the command to ‘call’ becomes the top action amongst mobile searchers. If proper call tracking numbers are not set up, proper lead and click channel attribution back to these mobile listings can be lost.
Mobile usage is growing faster than a lot of sites and businesses can keep up with, so preplanning to address this behavioral change by Google mobile users will become critical in early 2015. Implementing a responsive web design from the outset will be the best way to focus resources on things that matter opposed to spreading it thin on things that don’t work toward the common goal of exposure for your site.
A successful local SEO (Geo Marketing) campaign will include thorough NAP listings, relevant High PR backlinks, fresh blog content, and other SEO-focused actions. In order to assist our law firms with GeoMarketing, we have developed three levels of monthly plans to accommodate different needs and marketing desires.
A business listing consists of three key pieces of information: Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP). You can include a multitude of other information — a website, menus, photos, business categories, and other fields and information. Business listings serve as signposts for consumers and corroborative evidence for search crawlers. The more listings you have that are consistent with one another then the more crawlers and search engines trust that your business information is accurate.
High PR (page rank) inbound links with relevant anchor text is a huge component to an effective SEO campaign. Incoming links to your site from other webpages are known as backlinks. In other words, links by which a visitor can land from another site to your site. PR stands for Page Rank. Google Page Rank – An algorithm by Google to rank websites in its search engine. Google gives page rank, from 0 to 10 points depending on many factors. A site like Twitter or Facebook are PR10 sites. High PR Backlinks means links from High PR sites that link back to your website. Do you want them? Yes. The higher PR sites that link back to your site with relevant anchor text, the better. It makes your site legitimate.
When it comes to fresh content, you aren’t confined to a single type of content or one area of your website. You can publish new pages in different formats and post them to different sections of your site. If you’re looking for a quick SEO tip, try diversifying and adding several types of new content. These assets will lure search crawlers in and boost the number of pages you have indexed in Google and Bing. However, make sure you’re properly adding the right meta information to visual media formats, or else you might not get as much value from what you publish. Your blog is a great place to start. You can create digestible, shareable pieces of content for your blog that constantly ping the search engines. A best practice is to publish at least one piece of content a week.
Last, the campaign needs to be rounded off with SEO tactics following best practices. Every SEO firm has its own strategy and idea of what works. Some of these methods used in the past with success or may be new fresh ideas for enhancing your digital footprint. SEO is constantly evolving and changing. if you are not evolving and trying new methods, you will be left in the dust. Long gone are the days of cheap link building tricks. Thorough, fresh, honest content ensure quality return. Expansive web presence takes time. Steady improvement and expanding is the name of the game. We stand ready to put our experience to work for you and your local SEO campaign.
Structured data is an aspect of search engine optimization that many professionals in the field apply its parameters almost automatically. It is a type of markup data, and it is getting renewed attention lately. Learning more about it, and why it is seeing such an uptick in appreciation, can help you implement it into your own SEO campaigns. Structured Micro data is also vitally important for your local seo. As you can see from the data testing tool pictured on below on the right, you can add your address and lat/longitude to your micro data. As search engines evolve, this type of micro data in your site will be VITAL to local search results.
ADVANTAGES OF MICRODATA
Micro data, as a structured data type, supports a range of different types of data. Its range of ability to support data from music, products, videos, social media shares and other trending events put it on the preferred radar quite early from a Google standpoint. After the last update to Google’s algorithm, the search engine giant began to remind coders and SEO gurus about the validity of structured data.
STRUCTURED DATA AND GOOGLE
With Google’s push for more high quality content on websites in order to make searching the Internet a more user friendly venture, structured data became an industry buzzword once again. Google is so serious about the implications of such data for their long term plans that they added a structured data markup helper to their stable of webmaster tools. This tool makes it simple to add, test and preview a page’s HTML code once structured data has been added to it.
EASING INTO STRUCTURED DATA
Google’s markup helper for structured data literally walks users through the fairly uncomplicated and straightforward process of adding such data to a website’s HTML code. Before getting started, it is important to note that not every website can use all aspects of structured data. However, more websites are implementing the possibilities into their own code, and that number is only expected to increase.
Using a series of drop down menus, Google’s tool makes the process of ticking boxes to designate the appropriate tags a no-brainer. They have even included an option to add more tags in order to customize the webpage even further. Using their handy testing tool (pictured at right), the added structured data tags can be easily tested for validity before actually being published. Both the testing tool and the markup tool work with HTML and URLs for ease of use.
Search-engine optimization for lawyers changes with the advent of clients and in response to search engine algorithms — well, when Google changes their algorithm. So while the tactics below are not necessarily new, they are paving the way for lawyer search engine optimization in 2014. They will help you stay within best practices and keep current for your law firm search engine optimization strategy.
With that in mind, if you do not currently maximize on the five areas below you will be left in the wind–and out of the search results.
Responsive, mobile ready sites are important as ever.
Having a responsive website will provide more SEO value than ever. Google gives added value to websites that are mobile-friendly. That means, if you’re not mobile friendly, you are not only losing out, but others are gaining. This is just SEO, not to mention losing or under serving your viewers because they cannot adequately navigate your site on their mobile device. A well laid out “responsive design” can help you stay ahead of your competitors.
No substitute for good old quality content.
A large amount of quality content will always provide decent SEO value for a law firm. Although many people hear content and automatically think of blog posts, you need to have adequate pages covering your core practice areas. A blog is going to indispensable because it creates a forum on which to interact with other SEO mediums–social media, etc. In summary, don’t neglect the base content of your site.
Outbound links to complement your inbound links
High PR (Page Rank), quality inbound links have been, and will continue to be, a great foundation for your law firm search engine optimization strategy. However, the focus doesn’t need to be confined to inbound links. Buying a bundle of links is no longer an acceptable tactic, and will provide a negligible benefit, if any. Reaching out to other, preferably high PR (Page Rank) websites to raise awareness of your website, is an important part of strengthening a law firm’s SEO presence as we move through 2014 and beyond.
Social media is more important than ever
While your social media popularity does not directly impact your site, having positive social signals does help Search Engine Optimization for your law firm. This is particularly true on Google Plus, where your content is more likely to be higher in an individual’s search result if they are in your circle on Google Plus or have +1’d your content. For instance, you made a post on criminal defense, and an acquaintance in your circle +1’s your comment. A year later when they have forgotten your existence and your criminal defense expertise, searched for a [insert city here] DUI lawyer. Your site now gets a signal bump because of the prior interaction with your Google+.
Why Google Plus is worth the effort
Google Plus offers a more than just helping your content rank higher in Google results. Authorship is one of the things you MUST have in 2014. Think of how any person browses the search results. With an authorship photo next to a result, you are naturally drawn to that result. This is particularly true if your business puts out a lot of interesting content on a regular basis. Correct implementation of Google Authorship adds a nice author visual that Google pulls from Google Plus — dramatically increasing click-through rate for content that features the image. Google + also offers Google Business view, a 360 degree interactive virtual tour of your business; it’s like Google Street View but for your business premises. Like Street View, you can use the mouse to navigate and walk through from room to room bringing your business to life.
Have you ever visited a website on your smartphone that wasn’t designed to be viewed on a mobile device? If you had pinch and zoom to read content, then you can understand the frustration associated with such a viewing experience. Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, once stated, “If you don’t have a mobile strategy, you don’t have a future strategy.” It is critical to look closely at your website is viewed from a mobile perspective, to experience what mobile viewers are seeing on your website. The question is not IF people are viewing your website on mobile devices, but IF they can navigate and read anything on your website.
It has been reported that on average, 8% of a person’s day is spent looking a mobile screen and 1 out of every four online searches is made through a mobile device. These statistics have huge implications for your law firm website today. If you were missing one out of four potential website clients because of an ill-designed website, that is a huge problem.
Since we have discovered you NEED a mobile web strategy for your law firm, the next question is whether you have a dedicated mobile site or a responsive site.
You may see a term on the web: bootstrap framework and/or responsive. For the purpose of this article, we will simplify bootstrap/responsive to say it’s a framework that allows websites to be placed into grids which conform to users devices or is responsive to the users screen size. This style of web development is increasingly important because it, and designs in this ilk, will allow ONE site to fit all your needs. This is highly more desirable that a dedicated mobile site is custom development designed to be experienced specifically on a smartphone.
But mobile sites are cheap, sometimes $5-10 a month, or a lump-sum design fee, why would you want to go with a responsive site over a dedicated mobile site? Well, a responsive site is free, so there’s that. Also, anything separate and apart has to be continually maintained. Of course, you could always just leave the same old mobile site up with your practice areas and phone number, but as mobile devices improve and increase in screen size it’s as important as ever to have fresh, vibrant features on your mobile site. Consequently, responsive is the way to go. A law firm website needs seamless transitions between all size viewing devices, showing all viewers your best/freshest material all while expending the least amount of resources.
Important things to note about setting up your pages:
- Fill out as much information as possible. Business name, address, and phone number aren’t enough. Fill out hours, fill out your business category, add a description and pictures and videos. Note: if it’s a Google Places page, any videos you add won’t be displayed. Those must be added to a Google Plus page or a combined page.
- Your address should appear on your Google Pages exactly as it appears on your website. Google has its own standard way of displaying addresses, so if Google displays your address differently once you enter it into your Google page, you should change the address on your website. Google is more likely to rank you higher if all of your addresses everywhere on the web all match exactly.
- If you are a Service Area Business, or a business that only serves customers at their location (such as a locksmith or a cleaning service), you must hide your address by checking a small box that says “Do not show customers my address.” The reasoning behind this is that the reason customers want an address would be so they can come to your place of business, and if you don’t serve any customers at your place of business, Google doesn’t want to confuse people by showing them an address. This little requirement also means that you should not have a “local business” Google + page since the address cannot be hidden, and you should not merge your Google Places page and your Google Plus page.
- In general, the name that you put as your business name on either your Places or Plus page should match the signs that you have outside your business and the business name that you use when you answer the phone. Google moderators may check your street signs on Street View, or they may call your business to double check your information. Unless everything matches, they may delete your listing.
If you have time, familiarize yourself with the Google Guidelines for these types of pages. If you violate Google’s guidelines, you may be subject to removal. Most of the guidelines are pretty straightforward, but there are some exceptions depending on what type of business you are, such as service area businesses
The demands of writing a blog keep many attorneys from effectively using a blog. With the demands of every day practice, setting aside time to write blog post is low on the list of priorities. When deciding what to write about, consider the following:
What do potential clients ask about during initial consultations?
What do clients ask about in emails?
What questions SHOULD clients ask but often do not?
Any need-to-know legal developments?
Headlines (local and national) – what are people reading about that involves legal issues that need clarification?
A word to the wise: just because it’s news doesn’t mean it’s relevant. That being said, with a little creativity you may be able to link something that everyone is talking about to what you do – just make sure whatever you are writing about is helpful to your potential and existing clients.
Additionally, if you are taking your blog social (to your Facebook fan page, twitter account, etc.), make sure the topic is something you think your fans/followers would want to read about.
Demonstrate Your Expertise Through Proper Topic Selection
Outstanding law firm blogs both write about interesting topics and demonstrate how their law firm handles these issues. You want to give the flavor of your firm without stuffing it into the readers’ mouth: don’t get all car salesman at this point. Simply talk about the approach used at the firm to handle legal issues X, Y and Z. Use examples and representative cases with links to portfolio pages about those cases, where appropriate. The key is not to waste the opportunity of the blog post, by being just another law blog writing about the same topics as everyone else. Your experience is unique and this is where you can differentiate.