The new Google search engine that was revealed on September 2013 is more then just an updated version—it’s a whole new search engine. And it’s vitally important for law firms to understand the changes they must make to adapt.
The new Google search engine is called Hummingbird. The revolutionary way it ranks sites anticipates what a client will likely search for next. In the past, the LSI (Latic Semantic Search) was based on words related to the keyword you where trying to rank for. Now, it has more to do with related searches off that keyword.
Hummingbird’s Effect On Legal Sites
First of all, Google has effectively increased the barrier for entry into the first page of search results. To have success in ranking pages that are about a specific mass tort, it’s no longer going to be enough to just cover the keyword. Now, you’ll have to cover the whole topic.
Here is an example. If I want to rank for the keyword Yaz Lawsuit and my page is http://yazlawsuitsettlementlawyer.com—on this page I’ll have to cover the whole topic of Yaz Lawsuit. That could include the trial, the injuries, the settlement, the compensation and questions from victims plus any other areas the broad topic of Yaz Lawsuit covers. This might require several pages rather than the thin niche page we normally might make.
An excellent alternative to creating such extensive websites is to instead employ video marketing tactics employing YouTube and Facebook pages.
Penguin 2.1 and Websites
The second update that was sprung on the SEO community was the Penguin 2.1 update. This has to do with your sites link profile. Do you have the keyword in incoming links? Do you have paid links, or do you have spam links?
Perhaps the most important thing to understand about the Penguin 2.1 update is how little Google will now reward the fact your main keyword is in the anchor link pointing to your site. The best anchor links to your site will be:
– Your brand name (law firm name or domain name)
– Modified URL (different ways of rendering your domain)
These are safe anchor text that you will never get in trouble with. Also safe is “click here,” “More info,” “Info etc.” We call these penguin safe keywords.
What Should Law Firms Do Now?
The best advice is to build your business card site (main website) with as much content as possible. Let the world know what you are doing, and how superior your results are for your clients. Do not do any link building to your main domain. Don’t let the person who claims he or she can put you on the first page of Google for a certain keyword get hold of your main website. He or she should work on your satellite sites instead.
Those sites are where all the experimentation should take place. You can always afford to lose a satellite site in a future Google update, but you cannot afford to jeopardize the standing of your main website.
You can rank many different properties with link building including videos, Facebook pages or forum posts where a client talks about your law firm in a positive way. You can in fact rank any property on the internet, whether in your control or out of your control. But the goal should always be to get prospective clients viewing your marketing materials. That’s where your marketing dollars are best spent.