We’re quickly approaching the end of another year – however unusual the year may have been. As Google announced yet another core algorithm update coming this month, it’s probably a good time to evaluate your law firm’s marketing tools and assess any areas where improvement could occur.
While Google provides multiple free tools available to the public to track and evaluate online performance, many law firms and other small to medium sized businesses don’t utilize them, or perhaps even know they exist. Google’s Search Console is possibly the most crucial yet most underutilized tool in the pack.
What is Google Search Console?
Per Google’s website, “Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results.” Considering Google receives an estimated 70,000 search queries per second, monitoring your website’s performance in Google search results is incredibly important.
While Search Console has an extensive list of features, we highlight some of the most important and/or best starting points below.
While you don’t have to use Search Console in order for Google to index your website, it can certainly speed the process along and/or ensure Google has an updated sitemap on hand. If your website is utilizing the Yoast plugin (which we strongly recommend for all WordPress websites), a correctly formatted sitemap is automatically created, using your firm’s main domain followed by /sitemap.xml.
As you can see in the screenshot below, we manually submitted the sitemap for our website on January 3, 2019, but Google most recently crawled it on December 3, 2020.
Even more importantly, we can click on the icon to the right of the number of discovered URLs to see an evaluation of our website’s URLs by Google. Obviously, we want to ensure our website does not have URLs with Errors or Warnings (those in red or yellow below). Valid – or green – URLs are what we want to see the most of, because that means Google has crawled and indexed those pages and they are therefore available to be shown in search results.
Excluded URLs are okay in moderation and could be excluded for any number of reasons. Sometimes, an exclusion just indicates a particular URL hasn’t been crawled or indexed in a while, and therefore you can and should force request a reindexing of the specific page. If your website has a large number of URLs marked as excluded, however, it could be indicative of a larger issue that should be addressed. Ultimately, if a significant portion of your website’s URLs are excluded (and thus not indexed by the search engine), your website will underperform in search engine rankings.
Google’s Search Console also lets you know how your website is performing in search results, including which pages are receiving the most impressions and clicks. We can see in the month of November, our blog post about writing a speaker biography received almost 12,000 impressions and earned 451 clicks through to our website. An impression is earned each time your website link URL appears in a search result, regardless of whether someone clicks on the link or not.
This data helps explain how your existing content is ranking and performing in search results, which can help your law firm craft additional targeted content. For instance, while our blog post about Zoom backgrounds for lawyers may have earned thousands of impressions in November, only 1.54% of users opted to click on the link once it appeared in their search results. This means our page is well optimized for Google to show it so often, but perhaps there is less interest in this service offering.
We’ve been discussing the importance of backlinks for almost six years now, and their value for search engine optimization only continues to increase. Google Search Console can easily assess how your website is doing by providing a list of the top linking sites, along with a breakdown of the total external links to your website.
As shown in the chart below, our website has earned a total of 2,276 backlinks, with the majority from Texas Bar Today. Justia comes second with 378 linking pages to eight target pages. This means there are 378 unique links from this domain (justia.com) to our website; more specifically, it links to eight different pages on our website (with the majority of the links pointing to our homepage). Overall, Search Console is a great way to track and evaluate your efforts to build backlinks to your law firm’s website.
Exploring Google Suite: Digital Marketing Help for Lawyers
If your law firm needs help setting up the free suite of Google Tools and evaluating its website to improve its digital presence, the legal marketing experts at Stacey E. Burke, P.C. can help. Contact us today for more information.