Google is the Goliath of search engines, and when it comes to law firm web marketing, search engine optimization is the bee’s knees.
Along with relevant content, Google determines its search results based on the PageRank algorithm. Both of these factors are huge when it comes to search engine rankings, which implies a need to address both to achieve the best outcomes.
The significance of search engine optimization to law firms is crystal clear. High rankings through organic search can be result in cost-efficient advertising. The answer to the question of how to achieve this goal lies in getting a good grasp of how the Google algorithm works.
Google's search algorithm is complex and difficult for marketers to gauge. However there is one major theme that supports any search engine marketing campaign – and that is relevance.
Relevance is simply a measure of how well your website’s content matches the search words or phrases used by the targeted searcher (or potential client.) Relevance is usually determined based on the website’s content which includes the Title of the page, the meta data, and the page copy.
The Google algorithm then ranks your page according to relevance, along with the many other law firms and legal practitioners. Google determines what your website is about by looking at its content as well as looking at other sites that are both linking from and to your site. Google uses this data to determine the relevance of your website to keywords and phrases entered by a user.
PageRank is an independent means of measurement which relies on Google's perception as to the authority, quality and credibility of a web page. It does not depend on any search words or phrases as these are taken cared of by relevance. If yours and a competing law firm have the same relevance, the one with the higher PageRank gets the higher ranking. Google scores PageRank from 0 to 10, with 10 as the highest
Generally, Google considers inbound links a confirmation of authority, quality, and credibility; however not all inbound links have the same value. Websites that are considered to have more credibility are valued higher than those that have less credibility. In turn, this credibility is measured by their PageRank which means that your inbound links should come from websites that are also ranked high.
For instance, if your law firm has inbound links from a website that has a PageRank of 3, it can still help you but you'll need a lot more of them to get a higher PageRank. On the other hand, if your inbound links are from websites with PageRanks of 5 and up, then, you'll have better chances of scoring a higher PageRank with just a handful.
As PageRank is calculated on a logarithmic scale, there are wide gaps with say, PageRanks of 4 and 5 and PageRanks of 3 and 4. The difference between PageRanks 4 and 5 will have 5 to 10 times the difference as compared to PageRanks 3 and 4. Expectedly, websites with lower PageRanks are more prevalent, and if your website is ranked 6 or higher, this means that you are among the elite.
You can determine your PageRank using two methods:
• You can download the Google Toolbar and activate the PageRank feature upon installation.
• Use the Website Grader tool which, aside from determining PageRank, offers other relative information as well.
Find out where to download and enable the PageRank feature by visiting this page about Google PageRank Toolbar.
In summary, there are two essential steps your law firm website needs to accomplish to get high rankings particularly in Google. One is to work on the relevance of your content. The other is to aim for the highest PageRank possible by developing a SEO link building strategy from related websites with high domain authority (PagRank.)continue...
In Part I of Local SEO for Lawyers we discussed the importance of well-optimized content on the website. In Part II, we move into the most significant contributor to higher search engine rankings: off-site link popularity.
Generating links to your website is ever critical for local SEO, especially if your geographic target and/or practice area is highly competitive. Links pointing to your site displays credibility and trust, which is something search engines highly value while determining rankings.
The process of link building must respect two important factors: how the links are build (such as the link name or anchor text is used) as well as where the link are built (on related, high authority websites or unrelated, low authority websites?)
When building links to your site, it is very important to understand the concept of link names or anchor text. The anchor text is the clickable words that represent a link. For example, read this Wikipedia page for more information on anchor text (note, the word "anchor text" is the anchor text of that link.)
Search engine spiders crawl and interpret the content and links of a webpage. Once a spider hits a link, it reads the anchor text of the link and then takes the link to its respective URL destination. In short, the spider knows whether or not the anchor text of the link (and the surrounding content of that link) is related to link's URL destination.
If a link has the anchor text "Chicago business lawyer," the page being linked to is most likely about (and most likely optimized for) a business lawyer in Chicago. Assuming that is the case, the spider will credit the page with not only greater search engine value, but also greater keyword relevancy to phrase "Chicago business lawyer."
In essence, the best practices of building links is using keyword targeted anchor text. It is also a good approach to mix up your anchor text by using partial linking strategies. An example of partial linking would be to use only select keyword targets as the anchor text, such as "Chicago lawyer" or "business law firm."
Where a link is built determines how powerful the link is. Google offers a measure of "webpage authority" called PageRank (PR.) Webpages have a PageRanks ranging from PR0 to PR10, however even a PR5-6 is considered high for link building purposes.
Ideally, you want to build links from sources that have high PageRanks, although that is easier said than done. Find high PR linking sources has become a hot commodity for local SEO. So much so that the business of buying and selling high PR link placements has become major sub-industry to SEO.
There are a number of resources available to build links from a variety of sources. For local SEO, using a blend of locally-focused directories and information sites can be a simple source to establish a few links. In addition, we recommend:
You can also take advantage of other attorney websites in which you may be affiliated or friends with. In many cases, the most powerful PR links come from friends with a high PR websites who are willing to lend you an optimized link. Just be sure to let them know the specific anchor text and URL destination to get the greatest benefit.
That completes our series on Local SEO for Lawyers. We hope that these points of both on-site and off-site SEO have enlightened you, and that you can now hone in on your local SEO efforts independently. To learn more check out this very insightful 2013 local SEO guide created by one of our writers of the Law Firm Web Marketing blog.continue...
Local citations can work really well in improving your law firm's online visibility. Citations are simply mentions or references of your firm's name and address on other websites.
If you have many (and accurate) citations, Google will view your law firm as an established, credible online brand. As a result, your Google local search ranking can significantly increase.
The trick is to build quality citations on authoritative and locally-relevany sources. Nowadays, there are many citation sources that offer little to no SEO value because they come from spammy websites.
By finding the right citation sources, you can enhance the overall local SEO performance for your firm. In order for you to find out if a citation source is legit, you need to ask yourself the following questions.
It is important to find out if that citation source has been used by other people within your industry. Find out if a good number of your competitors are using the same citation source. If this is the case, then it is likely a high quality citation source. Just visit the website then key in some of your competitor’s names.
You have to make sure that the website has a reliable PageRank and domain. There are a number of tools which you can download online like the PR plugin. This will help you to track the local citation source and find out if it has a good track record with Google.
The other way to note a website’s popularity is by checking whether it is usually mentioned in articles that talk about local citation sources. You are likely to come across a number of articles which give advice on local citation sources online. Find out if the source you are considering is mentioned in any of these articles across the web. This will give you more confidence in the source if it is actually recommended by other experts.
Considering this is important because most spammy sources need very little information regarding your business. Reliable citation sources for SEO will always want to include as much information regarding your business as possible. They do this because they want to enhance the relevancy of all their listings and also enhance the chances of Google crawling to your site.
It is important to focus on only local citations so that you can find your business in the relevant listing. Relevance is important as it will help you to generate leads and enhance your revenue with the help of the listings. Appearing in a UK listing if your site is based in America can be really unfortunate so make sure that the citation source is local.
There are so many local citation sources that you can get involved in. Some of the most popular ones include Yelp, City Search, Insider Pages and Foursquare. For more, check out this article on local SEO and directory resources from OIC Group.continue...
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