What Google’s Core Update Means for Your Law Firm’s Website

What Google’s Core Update Means for Your Law Firm’s Website
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Though the legal field is still a pen-and-paper industry in many respects, it’s crucial for firms to establish a strong presence online. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube are valuable tools, but the real difference maker is your firm’s website.

Your website is the final destination for anyone who finds your social media profiles, runs a search on Google, or reads an online review of your practice. (Don’t underestimate the value of online reviews; an Inc. Magazine survey from 2017 showed that 84 percent of people trusted online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.) Your task, then, is to make sure Google and other search engines can easily find your page and that visitors are impressed when they get there.

This brings us to Google and their most recent update. Google is the undisputed hegemon of global web search traffic; it’s estimated that they handle nearly 75 percent of all search traffic worldwide. Google keeps the details of its search algorithms private, but any change to those algorithms can have a massive impact on your website’s traffic.

Google recently rolled out its May 2020 Core Update, and the update is making big waves across multiple industries. Google releases updates for its core search products every few months, but this most recent update looks like it will have a bigger impact compared to the prior updates in January 2020 and September 2019. One initial analysis showed substantial increases in ranking volatility across a wide range of sectors.

Increased volatility means your firm’s position in organic search traffic is much more likely to change. That change could be positive or negative, but it’s important to keep an eye on your site’s traffic for the near future. Do regular SEO audits of your website so you can get ahead of any dips in traffic. Keep in mind, however, that we are still in the midst of the pandemic. These are unusual circumstances for any business, especially the legal field since most courts are closed except for emergency hearings.

It may be difficult to assess the true impact of Google’s most recent update until we’re closer to the end of the COVID-19 crisis. Even though your firm’s web traffic is at the mercy of Google’s code, there are steps you can take to maximize your online presence. Some actions you can take include:

Add more internal links.

Internal links are links between existing pages on your website, and they’re a key factor in establishing your site’s domain authority in Google’s search rankings. Take some time to go through your website and link relevant pages to one another. Don’t overdo it, but adding some internal links to keywords like your practice’s areas of focus or geographic base could give you an SEO boost.

Build pages on the major social media platforms.

Google may be the king of organic search, but Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all have hundreds of millions of subscribers, with countless potential clients among them. Your page doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but it should contain your contact information and a brief description of your practice. Try to update your page regularly with photos or short posts. You can show off recent wins for your clients, talk about your practice, highlight relevant news items, and more.

Publish videos on YouTube.

YouTube isn’t exactly a social media platform, but it still has a large, captive audience. Creating a YouTube account is easy, and they’ve even released a new Video Creator that makes it easy to edit and upload short clips. Regular updates will improve your search results, as YouTube prioritizes channels with consistent content.

Create a Google My Business page.

Along with a YouTube channel, a Google My Business page creates a Google search trifecta for your website. A Google My Business page creates another potential point of entry to your website, as well as making your website more visible to the Google algorithm. Because Google owns and operates YouTube, you now have three Google products you can use to find more clients.

Remember that content is king.

Quality content is a major factor in Google’s search results. Everything on your pages should be original, unique, and timely. Go through every page to make sure nothing has been duplicated from another site, and make sure everything is written in a clean, professional manner. If you haven’t started a blog, do so; consistent, well-written blog content is one of the most powerful marketing tools any business has at their disposal.

Be patient.

It takes time for the full impact of any Google update to be felt. You may be seeing turmoil in your search traffic for the moment, but it could be temporary or the result of external factors (like the ongoing pandemic). Keep a close eye on your traffic in the coming weeks and months to see if you need to make any changes to your marketing strategy or your website.

Shift your firm’s area of focus.

If possible, it may be time to rethink what kinds of cases your practice takes on for the near future. For instance, there are fewer drivers on the roads because of the pandemic, meaning fewer DUIs and drunk driving-related injuries. However, clients have other legal needs in the midst of quarantine. There are increased reports of nursing home neglect, for example, with so many seniors on lockdown in assisted living facilities. Their legal rights still need to be protected, and it may be an area where your practice can step up.

While it’s frustrating that Google is so opaque about the details of their algorithm updates, the right marketing tools can help you turn this change to your advantage.

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