Google's Penguin Update And How It Affects Law Firms
As more and more people discover the viability of SEO as a tool for content marketing, the more Google's algorithm has to weed out. Whether it's spam or just poorly-made, low-quality content, Google continues to upgrade how their search engine finds relevant pages.
Developers and companies behind search engines have always strived to be better, and Google is perhaps one of the biggest examples of this practice. From starting out with basic keyword matches to more personal, location-based results, we’ll be sure to see updates come in and out as time goes on.
In this guide, we'll look into:
The specific changes the Penguin update has done for Google's algorithm
How it affects SEO
How it affects your law firm marketing strategies
What is the Penguin Update?
Much like Panda, Google introduced the Penguin Update to control spam. It still operated under the quality over quantity principle and aimed to reward high-quality content and penalize low-quality ones.
How it fights spam is by weeding out two unfavorable methods: Link Schemes and Keyword Stuffing.
What are Link Schemes and Keyword Stuffing?
The development, acquisition, or purchase of backlinks from low-quality or irrelevant websites create a false impression of popularity and relevance to persuade Google to give high rankings. Backlinks suggest site authority, but when most links that redirect to your site are irrelevant to the topic of the pages, it is considered unreliable.
Additionally, producing artificial connections on a website that was not editorially put or vouched for by the site's owner may be considered a breach of our guidelines. Here are a few examples that could violate Penguin's set rules:
Passive text ads about pages that have passed PageRank.
Links and anchor texts for press releases published on other high-ranked websites.
This happens when you're using a lot of keywords or keyword repetitions to try to give the impression of significance to particular search phrases. These keywords are often found in a list, category, or out of context.
Filling pages with keywords or numbers creates a bad user interface and lowers the site's rating. Concentrate on producing valuable, information-rich content that incorporates keywords in a context-appropriate manner.
You can identify keyword stuffing in the following examples:
Lists of phone numbers that don't add much meaning.
Text blocks that list the cities and states that a website is attempting to rank for.
Using the exact words or phrases so often that they become unnatural.
If you are already monitoring your site stats (as most SEO practitioners suggest), it's easy to tell if you've been penalized by the Penguin update. If your overall rank, click-through rates, and site visits are tanking, it's time to make some changes.
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Were You Negatively Affected?
Unlike previous manual link penalties, you don't have to file any request to remove any blockage that's keeping your rankings low.
All you need to do is remedy your content and backlinks so that Google's algorithm detects the improvements.
You can do the following:
Removing or changing links and keywords that you have the direct capacity to control.
Reject or disclaim any third-party spam links that you can't change or remove.
Revise your content. Add variety to repetitive keywords and remove ones that make your sentences sound unnatural.
What Does This Mean for Law Firm SEO Marketing?
Aside from producing high-quality content, you should practice doing proper, well-organized SEO strategies.
While a few tricks have been effective before, it might not be the case as search engines continue to improve.
Here are a few tips on how to avoid penalties for your law firm's site:
Find quality backlinks.
Instead of finding random sites and individuals to add backlinks to your firm's pages, try to filter through relevant pages.
Are they a legal blog? Is this site's content related to legal assistance or law firms? Can the site be considered reliable? Now’s the time to stop collecting third-party recommendations and screen the sites you want to have your name on.
Attract quality backlinks.
If you're producing high-quality content, it's more likely for article writers and legal blogs to cite or link back to you for reference. Well-executed, useful, and educational content is often linked to related articles for more extensive details.
Pay attention to how you fit keywords in.
If you have to bend over backward to integrate a keyword into your content, then maybe it's time to find a new one. Don't add wonky keywords like "Wrongful termination lawyer free consultation" and "Lawyers for accidents Los Angeles" in the middle of sentences. They're grammatically wrong and will turn off some readers on occasion.
If you can’t use certain popular keywords in a sentence, try incorporating them elsewhere. You can add keywords to an image’s Alt text and your actual URL. Your content quality should never suffer in an effort to optimize your site for higher search rankings.
Whether it's a change in the algorithm or the passage of time, SEO is about adapting.
Sometimes, even without the updates, more and more content that Google deems better than the rest will be pushed up the rankings (and might push you off).
If you have a stock of content that's obviously outdated, you might want to look back at them and change things up.
With all that said, pay attention to the changes—in the algorithm or your site stats in general—and you will have a better time practicing SEO strategies.