By attorney Jon Rosenfeld. It wasn’t too long ago that Google algorithms rewarded junk collectors — those who could cram as many repetitive and worthless sets of key words into their web pages. Regardless of how meaningless and poorly worded your page was, if you had enough repetition of a key phrase, you could successfully beat out your competitors.
As a competitive and hard-working bunch, lawyers were some of the biggest gatherers of these over-used search phrases as they recognized that a practice referred to as “keyword stuffing”. For a long while it seemed to pay off big time in the SERP (search engine results page) as those with the most stuffing almost universally won in the quest for better search results.
As an even smarter and harder working bunch, the folks at Google who are intent upon providing the most meaningful user experience, recognized that their algorithms were doing little to differentiate websites with truly meaningful content—on point with what the person was searching for—from other sites that were attempting to manipulate the search results by repetition.
Incorporation of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) In Search Results
Part of Google’s response to keyword stuffing was to incorporate LSI into its evolving search engine formulas (or similar formulas used at Yahoo or Bing). At its most basic, Latent Semantic Indexing uses a series of terms, or synonyms, which are closely related to the targeted key word. The combination of the synonyms on the same page as the targeted key words improves rank and trust factors.
The theory (and it indeed this is a theory—because it’s simply foolish to assume that we really know what Google is doing) is that related words on the same page with the keyword term gives search engines a positive indication that the page is indeed relevant and worthwhile. Consequently the LSI page will now be rewarded with a higher rank than similar pages with redundant keyword use.
LSI Writing In Legal Web Pages
As plaintiff’s attorney in Chicago, lets say that I want to rank pages for “Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer”. While it may not necessarily be intuitive, but in order to effectively rank for that term, I need to be mindful of the fact that “Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer” can only be used in about 2% of my content. Anything more can appear manipulative by search engines and actually receive a penalty in search engine results.
If you are interested in learning what your keyword density is for a particular term or phrase, there are many tools that will scan your site and give you some insight. A useful keyword density tool can be found here.
How do I rank for a particular term, if I am somewhat limited in the number of times I can reference my key words?
Before you rush out to load up on Eighth Grade Creative Writing Books in order to re-awaken your whimsical side, take a few moments and plug the particular phrase that you wish to rank for into a free Google key word tool here. This tool will show you all the related words that Google deems to have related to your specific key words.
Getting back to our trusty Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer phrase, according to Google, I should consider using the following variety of phrases in my content:
- Injury Attorneys Chicago
- Chicago Injury Lawyers
- Attorney Chicago Injury
- Chicago Injury Law Firm
- Accident Attorney Chicago
- Chicago Injury
Indeed while this tool is helpful to look at periodically for both its keyword suggestions and monthly search volume related to a particular phrase, taking a step back and simply brainstorming for a few moments can be equally effective and may lead to development of other content.
Getting Back To Simply A More User Friendly Style of Writing
Rather than getting completely paranoid about how every web page will be evaluated by search engines, one of the more important considerations for any lawyer intent on getting their information out is to forget that search engines even exist.
By writing for your audience as opposed to the search engines you will almost assuredly incorporate some the LSI guidelines that search engines favor. Long before the internet ever existed, good writers prepared their materials for the benefit of the reader—and to keep them interested in their materials. Sure times have changed, but rather adapt your writing style to the terms currently incorporated by search engines, remember that you need to make your audience front and center in you materials. Keep doing this, and your content will surely get discovered.
Jonathan Rosenfeld is a personal injury lawyer in Chicago, IL and is the founder of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers. Jonathan feels strongly about providing assistance to those who have been injured. You can review some of his websites devoted to these causes here.