The need for internet marketing is second to none in the modern economy. Falling behind in the recent trends and ability to use the market to your advantage could leave attorneys, especially those with lower profiles, in the dust. Many attorneys may think that internet marketing is a relatively straightforward process, such as conventional marketing used for years.
However, the modern use of SEO and other platforms leave a tricky situation that can leave law firms without called or even blacklisted by Google’s crawlers. For years many advertisers crammed their pages with relevant keywords in order to be picked up by Google and Yahoo’s webcrawlers. With recent changes to Google’s system, including the Penguin and Panda updates, such a practice not only doesn’t work but will actively penalize the user for doing so. Hummingbird, along with Panda and Penguin have assured us an environment of fear, uncertainty and doubt.
Flagged Practices that Have Fallen Out of Favor for Legal Websites
What we do know is that many clients of SEO companies had paid to have hyperlinks (usually exact match anchors) to their legal sites plastered onto other sites and their own with hyperlinked keywords, bringing their sites back relevant traffic and a building up Pagerank. These practices were flagged by Google, and years of work or thousands of dollars were wiped out in one update. Successive changes to Google’s opaque web indexing have reinforced the trend.
However, it has fallen on these advertisers to try and build up their reputation while also creating quality content for readers. Google is looking for content that does not seem to ‘game’ the system. Lexical content interacting with other key terms has always been important, but now in a different manner. With a higher weight on lexical similarities and fluid content, exact keywords and unbranded links can cause major headaches.
The use of branded links to relevant organizations, news sites, or government agencies are more in line with an organic approach, rather than shoehorning in every link back to your site possible. Beyond this, the need for nuanced title tags and descriptions means that as Google expands its Pigeon updates and others, there may be a need for a skilled SEO specialist.
Years in the legal field and my time as a former webmaster have shown me that web marketing is never as easy as it looks. There is a need to build up an organic set of links to websites deeply involved in other aspects of the legal field or from news sites or blogs. Shell sites are more dangerous to utilize while a link from the LA Times might significantly boost page rank for a long time. It’s a lot of work, but worth it as your business expands. The ability to reach out to specific demographics has the potential to create positive momentum for your firm and the legal field in general. Future articles will explain other aspects of successful marketing and effective use of time and money.
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