By now, all attorneys and law firms are probably familiar with the acronym SEO, which stands for search engine optimization.  Yet, many may be unaware of the recent changes within the SEO world and how they could be affecting their firms’ daily business.

In May 2013, Google released its Penguin 2.0 search engine algorithm update and in October, rolled out Penguin 2.1 tweaks.  The company stated that the updates were designed to punish websites that were taking advantage of Google’s current system and utilizing malicious strategies like keyword stuffing and “aggressive webspam tactics” to increase search rankings and website traffic.  Similarly, the changes aimed to reward honest websites abiding by Google’s quality guidelines.

So what do these changes mean for law firms’ SEO strategies?

1. SEO for attorneys has become more about producing quality content and websites

Gone are the days when businesses could get by with occasionally producing average content or piggybacking off of external material.  In order to stay competitive, law firms must constantly push unique blog and webpage content, and a cache of additional materials such as white papers, newsletters, and infographics does not hurt either. The rule of thumb is the greater the amount of quality material your law firm produces, the greater your chance of impacting current and potential clients

2. Law firms should avoid keyword stuffing at all costs.

This goes back to the first point—quality, not quantity, matters. Although plugging keywords into website, blog, and article content matters to SEO, inserting keywords naturally into text (rather than crafting articles to simply disguise loads of keywords) is a must.  Google has even stated that it can ban websites promoting rampant keyword and tag stuffing.

3. Social media involvement is even more crucial.

Focusing on SEO does not mean merely writing great content.  Getting current and potential clients to engage with the content is the real test of a law firm’s SEO strategy.  Think social media—LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Yelp, Pinterest—as well as article comments, client testimonials, inbound links, and outside references to your law firm’s articles and webpages.  Accruing engagement is truly twofold.  First, it demonstrates that your law firm’s content is valuable and reliable and second, it exponentially increases the content’s reach.

4. Focus on website design or risk getting lost in the dust.

A website’s format and coding can make or break a user’s experience, not to mention enhance or diminish a law firm’s SEO impact.  Ask yourself: is my law firm’s website easy to navigate?  Is it optimized for mobile usage?  Are the site’s links naturally occurring rather than built in just for SEO purposes?  If you answered ‘no,’ it’s time to redesign.

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