Getting a website to rank well on Google takes time and effort. Many lawyers in competitive areas don’t have the patience or commitment to improve their ranking the right way.

In short, they want a magic bullet that will let them jump ahead of competitors with better websites and a bigger web presence.

Can Google Be Tricked?

Yes. Google’s ranking algorithm is sophisticated but not flawless. Unscrupulous web marketers regularly find ways to exploit the system. These techniques are called “black hat” after the preferred headgear of villains in old Western movies.

Google wants to deliver the most relevant results to their users, so when these flaws are discovered, Google improves its ranking system. Google’s code is updated 10 times a week by some estimates.

There is a certain pattern that has emerged over time:

  1. Spammers find a way to trick Google.
  2. Their sites rank well for a while.
  3. Google changes the algorithm, and the offending sites drop.

There are dozens of “search engine optimization” techniques that were once the next big thing but are now virtually worthless. These include:

  • Meta keyword tags;
  • Stuffing keywords in image alt text; and
  • Linking to your site from blog comments.

What Methods Have Lasting Effects?

Through it all, there have been two methods that have consistently been rewarded by Google:

  • Posting high-quality content on your site; and
  • Getting reputable sites to link to you.

These are not the quickest or easiest methods of improving your site’s ranking, but the effort you put in now will pay dividends for a long time to come (as opposed to black hat methods that could stop working tomorrow).

In future posts, I will discuss what I mean by “high-quality” content, how to produce it, and how it fits into your web marketing plan.

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Ben Ritter leads James Publishing’s website content writing team. He started at James as a book editor and worked in-house as a site coder and lawyer search engine optimizer before taking on his current role.

Ben graduated cum laude from the University of California, Irvine, where he studied English and film. He wrote 75 bylined articles for his campus newspaper and was editor-in-chief senior year. He is an Eagle Scout, a Mensan, and a Phi Beta Kappan.

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