Last month, Google’s Matt Cutts announced that a new version of the algorithm would be released soon. The new update would reduce the effect of “Panda,” which is Google’s algorithm that downgrades the output of content farms, and favors blogs and news sites. He also stated that the aim of this new adjustment was to improve the standing in Google’s rankings of small businesses. This week, Mr. Cutts has given further clues about the aims of the update penciled for release in late May.

As the majority of US law firms are small businesses, this adjustment should favor legal websites greatly. This week’s SEO roundup focuses on the current trends in authority, which is another issue central to law firms’ websites. Mr. Cutts has indicated that this is the method by which the new algorithm will boost the little guy. These articles from the Bruce Clay Blog, Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Journal will help you understand the topic.

Authority vs. Popularity: Matt Cutts Teases New Google Search Result Shake-Up

This Search Engine Watch article covers the explanation released by Cutts. The writer specifically mentions legal sites as among the expected beneficiaries of this change to Google’s algorithm. If you only read one article on SEO this week, make it this one.

15 Ways to Avoid Reputation Roadkill @ClickZ Live #czlny

The SEO specialization that deals with issues of authority is termed “reputation management.” This concept should not be difficult for a lawyer. In the real world you get clients because you have authority, you gained authority by building a reputation in a specific field of law and by not fleecing anyone. However, you also have to make sure that your real-world reputation translates to the Web. This article explains some of the pitfalls to avoid when establishing your reputation online.

How to Be Your Best SEO: Bruce Clay’s Advice for Gaining Influence

Bruce Clay has been a leader in the field of SEO consultancy for many years. In this article on his own website, Mr. Clay talks about some of the aspects of leading a company and how they equate to good practices for SEO. Unsurprisingly, Bruce prioritizes ethical behavior as a good way to lead a company and project its image over the Web. Ethics contribute directly towards reputation management and brand building. Thus, these issues should be on your list of priorities when enhancing the authority of your law firm’s website.

Corporate Branding: What It is, and How to Do It Right

Authority and reputation are both tied into the marketing concept of ¨branding.¨ Just as presenting a strong identity is important in the real world, it is important online and is becoming increasingly important thanks to Google´s recent moves. This Search Engine Journal article looks at the basics of branding a corporation, like your law firm. The stress on authority in Google´s upcoming algorithm update means you will need to focus your practice´s presentation on specific services. If you are a general practice it might be a good idea to just focus on your strongest specializations, or split your Web presence across several sites that stress each different practice area individually.

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