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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.
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