Although top engines like Bing (Microsoft’s search engine) and Yahoo continue to hold their own in the search engine realm, Google remains the most dominant player, meaning that law firms should pay particular attention to optimizing their websites and online content for Google when focusing on search engine optimization (SEO).  This of course involves staying informed about important algorithm updates.

Read on to discover some of the most influential Google updates made throughout 2014 (although this is by no means a comprehensive list of all Google updates). Then, determine their effects upon your legal marketing strategy in order to start 2015 off on the right foot!

1.      Page Layout

Update: In an effort to deter websites from featuring too many advertisements “above the fold” (the area of a webpage immediately viewable without scrolling down), Google updated its page layout algorithm in February 2014. Essentially, the search engine’s technology punishes “top heavy” webpages that bombard viewers with ads.

What this means for your law firm: Of course, it is best to leave advertisements off of your website and blog pages whenever possible. However, if this is not practical for whatever reason—say, you partner with a legal networking association and agree to feature their banner advertisement on your blog homepage—then be sure to keep the promotional ads to a minimum.

2.      Pigeon

Update: The Pigeon update centered upon improving local search results so that users would receive more relevant data. Rolled out in July 2014, Pigeon can supposedly create a more user-centric experience by providing search results located in a concentrated geographic sphere, according to a few online marketing studies.

What this means for your law firm: Reviews of Pigeon have been mixed; some businesses have reported increased traffic while others have experienced decrease traffic or no significant SEO changes. This is just another reason to avoid placing too much emphasis on local SEO while developing your legal marketing strategy.

Instead, your law firm should include local search in its SEO plan—for instance, including specific geographic terms in your keyword phrases such as “DUI defense firm in Los Angeles”—while also diversifying your strategy to include traditional SEO best practices like link building.

3.      Panda

Update: Google’s Panda (Panda 4.1) update, rolled out in September 2014, could mean good news for small- to medium-sized websites. The algorithm changes are geared toward penalizing poor quality web content and rewarding rich, well-written content.

What this means for your law firm: Your legal marketing strategy should already include crafting high-quality, unique content, but Google’s 2014 Panda update and future Panda modifications continue to make this more and more essential. Don’t get lazy with your blog and webpage text—be sure to take the time to whip up original content that provides value to readers in order to reap the greatest SEO benefits.

If you’re struggling to brainstorm new blog topics, consider featuring a multi-week blog series such as “10 Things You Don’t Know About Divorce and Family Law (But Should)” that includes guest bloggers, expert interviews, and infographics. An engaging series prevents you from having to think of new ideas weekly and can also cause readers to visit your website on a regular basis.

Struggling to increase web traffic? Ask for your free law firm website evaluation today!

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