You can’t rank well on Google in 2023 by outwitting the algorithms. Instead, you need a savvy content strategy and a sustainable SEO plan to earn and maintain your position at the top of search engine results pages.
As a legal website design and marketing company, we keep up to date with the latest algorithm changes to help our clients rank. But anyone who runs a law firm or manages marketing websites for a law firm can use our tips and tricks to improve their site’s search engine rankings.
So how are you ranking on Google in 2023? The short answer: write good content and know what you’re talking about. For the long answer, keep reading.
Your content should be trustworthy and valuable…
Let’s start with a term every website owner should know: EEAT.
EEAT stands for Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trust, and these four factors play a key role in determining a website’s ranking on Google.
Reliability is the first key to impressing Google in 2023.
Gone are the days when you could rank well on Google just by posting useful content with keywords. Today you have to prove that there is a reliable source behind the content. This means that the person associated with your content must have a public reputation as a competent and experienced member of the legal field.
Assess is the second key to a high ranking. Your website must provide value to your visitors beyond basic information. For example, a visitor might get your business phone number from the Google search engine results page (SERP) without ever visiting your site. Instead, you need to provide factual knowledge or informed opinions on your site that provide real value to your audience.
…enough to impress bots and real search evaluators hired by Google
Here is the next term you need to know: YMYL (Your money or your life).
YMYL sites are sites that “potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or security of users.” Law firms and attorney websites are YMYL sites, as are medical sites, civic sites, and financial sites.
Unwanted information on these topics could lead to serious harm. So, to make sure that they offer reliable content, Google has higher than normal quality standards for YMYL web pages.
To determine the ranking of a YMYL site like your law firm’s website, Google will perform both an algorithmic evaluation and an evaluation by real human beings..
A team of real people hired by Google will visit your website and judge for themselves if they think your site is trustworthy. These reviewers will use Google’s search rating guidelines to rate websites, and their recommendations may impact your rankings.
So how do you establish trust, according to Google?
1. For each new piece of content, designate a specific person (not your company name) as the author.
If your blog content is written by an expert in your company, you must attribute authorship to that specific person on the post. Having an individual’s name attached to a blog post will establish credibility and increase the value of the content
If your blog content is ghost written or produced by a marketing agency, you have a few more steps to take. First, make sure all externally generated content is reviewed by an expert in your company. Next, pick a relevant person on your team and “attribute” authorship to them.
2. Post very detailed biographies for each lawyer on your team.
Don’t skimp on lawyer profile updates! Include any information that can help establish a lawyer’s expertise, such as where he went to school, awards he has won, memberships he holds, publications and his Full resume.
3. Create more content all over the internet, not just on your website.
The more you can get your name out on the internet, the more online authority you will accumulate. Think beyond your website to guest blogging, LinkedIn, TikTok, and YouTube. Where else can you make your voice heard so that Google can see you as an expert in your field?
How to create value, according to Google?
1. Respond to searcher intent and provide more information.
Think beyond keywords to understand what someone is actually trying to accomplish. If their search term is “personal injury attorney near me,” they may be looking to hire a local attorney. How can you provide valuable experience to this person?
Keep user intent in mind when working on your website. Perhaps the user would like to know what makes you different from other lawyers. They may want to know how a consultation works or how much you charge. Thoughtful anticipation of a user’s needs = value, according to Google.
2. Develop your own voice and have an opinion.
Go beyond simple fact finding. Tell people how to understand the facts and what the implications of the facts are. You can use foul language as long as it is factual. “I know it’s bad” is more powerful than “I think it might be bad”, for example. Strong, factual language can help you rank higher.
3. Understand that accessibility is essential
Accessible legal websites are a big passion for us! Google also cares a lot about making the internet a great experience for everyone. In fact, Google will show your website more often if your website is ADA compliant.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) publishes web tips for website owners to help them create an accessible website. Your website should be configured to serve visitors with various disabilities, from blind people who use screen readers to paralyzed people who use eye-tracking software to navigate online.
Pro tip: Schemas can make it easier for Google to understand your website
A schema is an invisible snippet of code that can help Google understand what’s on your page. A developer can help you configure this simple microdata.
Here are eight layouts every law firm website should have:
- Diagram of the legal department
- Avocado scheme
- Organization scheme
- Diagram of the FAQ page
- Review the diagram
- Overall scoring scheme
- Diagram of the local company
- Breadcrumb Diagram
With schemas, your website’s entry on the SERP will contain additional valuable information such as star ratings and reviews. Diagrams are optional. However, they can help you stand out from your competitors on Google.
Pro tip: Adjust your keyword targeting with smart search
You don’t want 20 pages on your website all trying to rank for the same keyword. Each page should rank for a related but slightly different keyword.
To improve your ranking on Google in 2023, do a competitive analysis to see how other websites are ranking for your keywords.
Google your target keywords and see which websites are already ranking at the top of Google. Then compare your website to those pages. This will give you a good idea of what Google thinks is valuable for your keywords, and you can use this information to adjust your approach.
Pro Tip: Use Google Search Console to Make Sure Your Pages Are Actually Indexed, Not Just Crawled
Google Search Console is a free tool that helps website owners understand their website’s performance. Your webmaster can help you with this.
Since spam is a major problem for Google, you may encounter a “crawled but not indexed” warning on the console when you publish new content. It basically means that you can create a page on your website, but Google will refuse to show it to people because it doesn’t have enough value.
You should regularly check Google Search Console for pages labeled crawled but not indexed.
These pages do you no good in their current form. Ideally, you should notice the warnings in Google Search Console, then update and improve each page so they work better the next time Google crawls your site.
Glossary & tools referenced in this article
SERPs: Search engine results page
TEAT: Experience, Expertise, Authority, Trust
YMYL: Your money, your life
Google Search Rating Guidelines
Free ADA Website Audit
Google Search Console
Google Analytics 4
Screaming Frog (a free website crawler that highlights SEO issues)
Review and next steps
To rank on Google in 2023, your website must be full of reliable and valuable content.
- Each piece of content must have an author assigned to it
- Each author should be an expert in their field
- Include as many diagrams as possible
- Create an Accessible ADA Compliant Website
- Respond to “crawled but not indexed” warnings on Google Search Console
If you can figure out what’s valuable to your audience and give it to them, you’ll rank highly.
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