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A New Google Algorithm Update Is Shaking Up The Legal Industry

Jan 22, 2018 | by Emma Hanes | SEO | Google Analytics
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The challenging thing about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is that Google and other search engines are constantly updating their search algorithms. What is considered “quality” and “relevant” changes frequently. While Google makes a few minor algorithm updates daily, every now and then Google rolls out a much more comprehensive update. Google updates can be difficult to spot because the company tries to release them inconspicuously. Google does this by rolling out updates slowly and by industry. If you notice a change in rankings, don't panic. You need to ask a few questions first.

Measuring The Impact Of Algorithm Updates

If your law firm’s website drops from ranking on Google for 220 different keyword phrases to 35 in only two months, this is usually a cause for alarm. Such a huge drop must mean your law firm website is dying a digital death, right? Not exactly. To understand how algorithm updates will affect your law firm, you have to look at more than just rankings.

How Many Indexed Pages Do You Have?

Search engines like Google are constantly indexing webpages so they can recall them for search queries. Simply put, if Google does not index a page, it cannot appear in search results. For this reason, it’s exceptionally important for all of the pages on your website to be indexed. You can check the number of indexed webpages on your website in Google Webmaster Tools.

If you experience a sudden decrease in conversions (e.g. website form submissions) from your website, you should immediately check the number of indexed webpages. Google will sometimes de-index webpages it doesn’t like, so you need to make sure all of your webpages are eligible to show in search results. Anytime Google announces an algorith update, you should check the number of indexed pages for your website. Has the number of indexed pages decreased or increased? If you noticed positive growth, you probably don't need to panic. If you noticed negative growth, consider undertaking some website improvements.

What’s Your Bounce Rate?

Bounce rate refers to the number of people who land on your website and immediately leave before interacting with the site or visiting an additional page. For the legal industry, a standard bounce rate is between 65% and 75%. However, carefully monitoring your bounce rate can greatly help you understand the overall success of your website. Why does bounce rate matter? When users are more engaged with a website and consume more of the content offered, they are more likely to convert into clients. 

Additionally, Google has explicitly said it views bounce rates as a very important ranking factor in determining which websites will appear in search results. Having a low bounce rate means your website provides useful and quality answers for searchers, while having a high bounce rate is generally associated with poor content. Google prefers websites with lower bounce rates because they are more likely to be a better search result for users. If your bounce rate is improving, you shouldn't worry too much about Google algorithm updates. If your bounce rate is getting worse, you need some serious website work.

How Many Conversions Do You Have?

Conversions are a key way to measure website performance. More conversions are a great indicator of positive website engagement. Additionally, higher conversion rates also indicate very important behavior patterns about website users: they’re looking for answers, and they ready to ask them and convert in real time. If you are receiving an increasing number of conversions, you really have nothing to worry about! Not seeing conversions? Roll up your sleeves because you need some updates.

What Are Your Ranking Keyword Phrases?

Did your website decrease in rankings? The first thing to do is to look at the keyword phrases your law firm ranks for. Just because your website received a decrease in rankings does not automatically mean something bad has happened. Sometimes websites stop ranking for irrelevant keyword phrases and this is fine. You don't want to rank for "Houston personal injury attorney" if you only practice in Florida. Look at your ranking keyword phrases. Are they relevant to your firm? Do they have high keyword volumes? If you answered "yes" to both of these, you can sit back and relax (at least until the next algorithm update).

Get Help After A Google Algorithm Update

Google algorithm updates happen all the time. If you're lucky, you won't be impacted. However, at some time or another, your law firm website will likely suffer from a Google algorithm update. When this happens, the SEO experts and Stacey E. Burke, P.C. can get you back on track. Contact us today to see ow we can help your law firm navigate the Google landscape.

Sidebar 1293 180228 staceyburke About Emma Hanes

Emma Hanes has written content for dozens of attorneys and law firms with a variety of different practice areas. Her work has been featured in the Texas Bar Journal, the Top 10 Blog Posts from the Texas Bar Today, and SmallLaw's Pick of the Week.


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