Legal Websites & Google’s Latest Algorithm
By Bob Schwartz, CRS, GRI ©2007 Promotions Unlimited all rights reserved.
This material is subject to copyright and any unauthorized use, copying or mirroring is prohibited
Have you noticed your legal site rankings for various key word phrases have taken a drop? Actually, in some cases, sites on page one of Google are now nowhere to be found within the first 10 pages of returned results. Wondering what changed?
Recently, Google made another effort in continuing updates to its ranking algorithm. From my own observations (running 35 real estate and legal websites), it seems the main thrust of this change is to devalue reciprocal links. Google’s algorithm judged the quality of a web site by the number of other sites linking to it.
Links, especially quality links, have always been a heavily weighted factor in Google's ranking formula. Unfortunately, in recent years, website owners and designers, looking for instant gratification, have abused the concept to such an extent that in many cases their practices are looked on as link spamming.
A number of legal websites are major participants in the link abuse phenomena. Link farms, link rings, free-for-all-links, exchange portals, etc., are basically offering hundreds or thousands of links for their members. Also, individual sites offering to trade links have little or no regard for the quality of the link, as it is the quantity of links they are going for. It is quite common to see legal websites with link directories with 50 or more links per page without regard for categorization or theme. Perhaps the worst of these practices is the tiny text links listed on the bottom of home pages.
So, what should one do to regain or maintain your site’s standings on Google in face of this new change? First understand that incoming links are still advantageous and are considered in Google’s ranking algorithm, just not as much as they originally were. Plus, what Google considers ‘link spamming’ will now have a major impact on your law site’s standings. Below are a few suggestions you may wish to consider:
A. If you have reciprocal links tangled anywhere on your site, either straighten them out for easy navigation by visitors or trash them. There are numerous software programs that can automate this process for you. If anyone would like some suggestions, just email me at: Bob@brokerforyou.com
B. If you have more than 20 links per link directory page, add more pages to set the maximum number of partner links to 20.
C. Any links that go to irrelevant sites should be removed at once! You’re running a legal site & all your links should be law related.
D. Do not exchange links with any sites that are not already listed in Google. To take this a step further, if your legal website has a Google page rank of 3 or higher, this should be a criteria for any potential link partner’s home page.
E. Make sure on your home page you have a hyper-link to your link directory and each page of your link directory is hyper-linked to other directory pages. An additional memo here is not to use the word ‘link’ in your hyperlink to your directory. It would be much better to use a phrase like: ‘attorney partners’ for these links. Naturally, be sure any potential link partner follows these guide-lines.
F. Check which sites are linking to your site and any undesirable ones should receive a form email requesting that they please erase their link to your site. To see some of the sites that link to yours through Google (Google for some reason does not show all incoming links), go to Google and in their search box type in: link:www.yourwebsite.com
G. If you are a member of any sort of link swap site… cancel your membership.
Logically, some of my suggestions above are tough and you many disagree with them. After all, Google, or any search engine for that matter, never gives out details of what their algorithm looks for, or precisely what each revision to it entails. The search engine optimization professionals have to use their acquired experience and judgment to inform their clients. Search engine optimization is far from an exact science. These are my personal and professional opinions on one factor of this latest Google change. If your site has dropped off the Google radar, you can do nothing, or you can try to improve your standings and possible new business, by playing by the rules. The choice is yours... choose wisely!
Investing in improving your law firm’s search engines standings could become the most cost effective career investment you make.
Copyright 2007 Promotions Unlimited. All rights reserved.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bob Schwartz, is the founder of Promotions Unlimited (search engine optimization) a Internet legal directory (CA, TX & Las Vegas) publisher and search engine placement technology analyst. You can contact Bob via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his San Diego legal directory at: www.sandiegolawyerforyou.com
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