There are several reasons why you should have a professional write your law firm’s legal blog. Every hour that you spend writing it, yourself, is an hour you spend not practicing the law. Writing a legal blog requires a style completely different from writing a legal brief. Making mistakes with photos can be costly, both to your wallet and your legal reputation.
But an often overlooked aspect of legal blog writing is making sure that your work is also optimized for search engines. Search engine optimization (SEO) maximizes the exposure that your blog can obtain for your website. You can think of utilizing SEO tactics as a way of scoring SEO points for your site. However, not all SEO points are positive – there are SEO penalties out there, as well.
Knowing how to score SEO points and avoid SEO penalties, however, takes a professional to do properly because of how chaotic search engine marketing can be.
How Search Engine Marketing Can Be Chaotic
Unlike the legal field – which purposefully develops at a snail’s pace, allowing parties to rely on their rights and responsibilities – search engine marketing changes on a daily basis. Search engines change their algorithms constantly, to keep ahead of marketers trying to game the system, and to make their user experience even better. Unfortunately, these developments make it difficult and time-consuming to understand how best to use search engines for marketing your law firm.
The past week has been a great example.
Let’s start from the beginning. Google is a search engine. As a search engine, Google uses an algorithm – a complex set of mathematical steps – to automatically determine what websites are relevant and important for a certain Google query. This algorithm has many distinct pieces that measure different parts of a website – like inbound links, content, and web traffic – that contribute to the site’s ranking for a query.
Once Google’s algorithm scores a website, Google can also run it through a filter, which penalizes a site for certain SEO infractions, like keyword stuffing or buying web traffic.
One of these filters is called Panda (Google names many of its algorithmic pieces and filters after animals). However, search engine marketers have had trouble figuring out exactly what Panda does. As usual, Google has held the details surrounding Panda very closely – they are essentially trade secrets, after all. The consensus among marketers, however, is that Panda has something to do with penalizing websites that have poor or “spammy” content. One thing that is known about Panda, though, is that stumbling into a Panda penalty can dunk your website deep into the bowels of a search results page, and kill your online presence.
If you want to bash your head against the details, Jennifer Slegg at The SEM Post has created a guide on Panda.
Google Makes Fundamental, Confusing Changes to Mysterious, Important Filter
Earlier this week, Google announced that Panda would no longer be a filter: Instead, it would be incorporated into the core algorithm. The difference seems like semantics, but could be huge – filters are adjustments to a site, done after the algorithm ranks it. It raises lots of questions: If Panda became part of the core algorithm, then existing Panda penalties would vanish, right? If it becomes part of the core algorithm, then Panda would make real-time changes to a site’s rankings, which could be tracked, right?
Search engine marketers are watching site rankings closely, to try to determine these answers, as well as others. All that’s known for sure at this point is that the change has created huge fluctuations in page ranks, which can make a huge difference in the web traffic on your firm’s site.