Search engines change, often very quickly. Those sudden changes – a tweak in Google’s algorithms that promote some types of content at the expense of others, or a new search engine results page (SERP) format – are mere steps in one particular direction. That direction, for search engines, is towards satisfying internet users.
Noting the individual steps that search engines take can plot out where they’re going in the future. We’re seeing something that you may never have expected professional legal bloggers to say: Legal blogging is dying.
In its place, we’re seeing a new kind of page that sits between a legal blog and a landing page – something we’ve been calling a targeted page.
Why Traditional Legal Blogging is Waning
Google’s Freshness Update dealt a serious blow to dated internet articles. While the Update was first rolled out in 2011, its early focus was on burying dated news articles (which already had a healthy dose of traffic) beneath newer and more updated news pieces that the searcher actually wanted (but that hadn’t accrued the traffic numbers, yet). By starting a timer at the moment of publication and slowly burying the article as time passes – subject of course to sudden spikes on social media for the article and other relevant factors – the Freshness Update was another step taken towards user satisfaction.
The Update’s success on the news front seems to have convinced Google to expand it to other fields… Like blogging.
Blog posts, like news articles, are dated.
Google’s Freshness Update treats that dateline as a sign that blog posts are filled with topical content – the kind that is interesting now, but won’t be interesting in a few weeks.
All blog posts, therefore, lose prominence online fairly quickly.
Writing blog posts with evergreen content, therefore, becomes a fool’s errand: Evergreen posts are designed to have the long shelf life that Google’s Freshness Update specifically strips away.
As a result, evergreen blog posts are dying.
But evergreen articles are where some of the most important content gets posted online. Where has it been going?
The Shift from Evergreen Legal Blog Posts to Targeted Articles
That evergreen content that used to be posted in legal blog articles has been shifting into standalone articles that do not have a dateline on them. Because they’re undated, Google’s Freshness Update does not diminish their rankings over time.
The Resurgence of Keyword Research
The shift from evergreen blog post to targeted page has brought a renewed interest in keyword research. Law firms and professional marketers need to know which targeted pages to, well, target. This involves researching what people are searching for on the internet and gauging the competition for those searches.
In other words, it involves keyword research – a practice that, as we argued long ago, is not dead.
The importance of keyword research for these targeted pages can’t be overstated. Without an idea of the supply and demand for certain searches, you’re shooting blindly at targets that someone else may have already hit with authority. You also may be missing huge opportunities that other firms in your area have overlooked.