Search engine optimization is all about getting free advertising for your law firm by getting to the top of results returned by search engines, such as Google. You know that there are many factors that contribute towards successful rankings and the main two are grouped as Content and Links. However, if you do all the right things with these two factors for your law firm’s website, you may find that other law firms still get into the list above you, and so get better visibility with potential clients. Quite often the difference in ranking one place higher could be just 0.0001 of a ranking point. So, many SEO gurus focus on finding small tweaks that can gain that extra little fraction of a point and push their client’s site up one place on the results page.
This week SEO Trends looks at the current debate on the power of technical factors as reported by the SEO news sites. The most technical of SEO sites out there is Search Engine Roundtable, so you will read a lot of articles from that site this week. We also have tips from the Moz Blog, Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Land.
Columnist Clayburn Griffin focused everyone’s attention on technical SEO this week with an article on LinkedIn Pulse, and this piece, which appeared in Search Engine Land. The point he is making is that technical SEO factors alone won’t put your law firm’s site to the top of search engine results pages. He is right. As you saw in the introduction to this week’s SEO Trends, technical factors involve keeping your website working correctly, so you don’t have broken links, and getting a little boost for your rankings from organizing your files in a special way. You need great content and quality backlinks above all else. If your website looks bad and has no links, no amount of technical SEO can get you to the top of the page.
Griffin’s piece provoked two major responses, both of which came out on the 16th of this month. The first is this article that appeared in Search Engine Watch. Max Holloway is hot under the collar about the things Griffin said, mainly because he makes a living as a technical SEO consultant. Holloway lists a number of technical SEO tasks that cannot be overlooked. These are all relevant, except most US lawyers don’t need to bother with hreflang settings because you are unlikely to be touting for business from different foreign countries. The issue of moving folders around on your server is an important one. The path of a page ends up being part of its address, so if you change a folder name all the links that other people have pointing into pages in that section of your site will break. That’s bad for attracting customers and it also loses you ranking points. Optimizing for load speed is another important technical factor. The second response to Griffin’s article appeared in Search Engine Land – The role of technical SEO is “makeup”? Really?
Here is a very detailed guide on a technical SEO topic that you don’t need to be very technical to master – URLs. Believe it or not, the names of the files you store your law firm’s Web pages in can make a difference to your rankings. On the issue of top level domains (TLDs), however, be aware that Google’s Gary Illyes and John Mueller both advise that these make no difference at all to your rankings. This was reported in the article, Google Ignores Keywords/Content In TLDs at Search Engine Roundtable this week.
If you looked into the problem of your law firm’s website loading slowly, you may have been enticed to use a content delivery network to speed things up. A slow loading time is one of the technical factors that may be harming your rakings. This is mainly because people are not inclined to hang around waiting for your page to load and so go off to the next result in the search engine results page, thus increasing your bounce rate. If so, you may have found that the crawl rate you get on your site from Google has recently dropped dramatically. This is an example of how using technical advances to improve a feature of your site can actually do you harm. It will take Google a while to catch up with the new techniques and in the meantime, changes you make to your site won’t get registered in Google’s databases as quickly as they would have done had you not employed this method to speed up your website loading times.
Now we get into the realms of the super-technical. As you are probably very busy managing your legal case load, you might not be trained in the skills needed to manage the code in your Web pages. Few people are, so mastering factors such as semantic markup may require hiring-in skills. However, Google Tag Manager makes this task a lot easier by presenting a non-technical user interface that anyone can master. As with any whizz-bang piece of technology, it doesn’t always work. This article from Moz guides you through the pitfalls so you can insert JSON-LD code into your pages and get some ranking points.