July 27th – August 3rd, 2015
Google has finally rolled out its long-awaited Panda update. However, there has been very little news on this event in the SEO world this week. As we advised you last week, the slow roll out of the filter will cause temporary changes to your rankings. The best strategy is to simply ignore your rankings for a few weeks, because they will not have any long term meaning until the Panda filter has been fully applied to all the pages on the Web. Given that Google has not released any information about changes to its Panda filter and SEO analysts are unable to determine Panda’s influence on rankings just yet, where do you go for guidance on content? The answer is herding. If you do what everyone else is doing, and that strategy gets hit, then everyone gets hit … so no one’s rankings fall. Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land are the main SEO news sites and they all point towards “user experience” as the current fad in content creation.
Searchmetrics has produced the latest version of its annual analysis of ranking factors. It looks at hundreds of thousands of Web pages and collates their rankings for different keywords. The characteristics of the top ranking pages are marked, helping the analysts to work out what factors put pages at the top of search engine results pages. If you’re too busy with your case load to read the full report at the Searchmetrics site, this Search Engine Watch article offers a time-saving summary. Interesting snippets from the report are that you no longer have to pepper your text with keywords in order to rank for those terms, and that the average word count of winning pages is getting longer.
Sadly, the report notes that video content will not help your rankings at all. You will find a large section of the article dedicated to “user experience.”
The SEO experts are in a constant argument over whether content or links are more important in rankings. The new industry buzz phrase that allows old enemies to put the content/links argument to one side is “user experience.” This factor boils down to whether visitors like the pages on your site. What exactly makes a page attractive and how anyone measures user experience starts a whole new argument. This article is an attempt to identify the user experience factors of content. The writer advises on covering a topic rather than specific products. For law firms, that strategy would not be too difficult to implement. In fact, you are probably already doing something along these lines already. To implement this idea, you would need to post articles giving general legal advice to the public on day to day problems that would cause them to look for a lawyer.
This Search Engine Land gives tips on what to do if your content is just not boosting your rankings. Thinking about it, however, should you really care whether your law firm gets to the top of Google’s search results pages? The first graph in this article is probably the most informative part of this whole study. Apparently most website owners prioritize website traffic as a benchmark of success. However, surely increased sales should be the goal. There is no point attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors to your law firm’s website, if none of them ever come in and hire you. This is probably why “user experience” should be a bigger goal for your content strategy than some technical tweak that will get you an increase in visitors to your site. Google states that successful user experience signals will boost your rankings, so if you focus on providing content that keeps your visitors on the page for a length of time (an average of 133 seconds, according to the Searchmetrics study) you will know you have engaged the public and sales should increase.
This article explains how to present your most important website content. Those topic advice pieces that you wrote shouldn’t be allowed to age out on a blog. Instead you need to place each on a stand-alone page and link to them directly from your Home page. Identify at least four key topics that your law firm gets clients through again and again. Write an article on each and then put a “Features” column on the right hand side of your Home page, with adverts for each of those articles. Fast tracked access to important content is a key element of user experience.
Can website content be generated automatically? This article explores the topic of machine-generated content, but posts its conclusion in its title – NO. Given that you have already read the executive summary, you might decide not to bother reading this article, but to get on with your case load instead. However, buried deep in the page are two very important lines of advice on how to go about formulating your content strategy:
- First, the creator must find something that attracts the audience’s attention and allows him to get his message across.
- Second, he must provide value to the audience so they will not feel as though their time is being wasted.
That’s “user experience” in a nutshell.