No matter how advanced the technology is, at the end of the day, Google is still just an algorithm. It works diligently to understand the content of your website, but it simply doesn’t have the ability to read and comprehend words the same way a human does. Not to fear, however, as there are methods you can utilize to help Google better understand the meaning of your website content. The best way to accomplish this goal is through structured data markup.
The Rise of Structured Data
Search engines started collaborating to create what’s referred to as “structured data” in 2011. Structured data is coding that is fairly true to its name: it is structured in exactly the same way across all websites, making it incredibly easy for Google to read and understand. This consistent structuring allows search engines to extract highly specific pieces of information from a website, and then use that information to better understand what each webpage is about. This in turn allows search engines to provide better search results to its users.
Think of it this way: all of your firm’s finances are structured into debits and credits, your contacts are structured in first name/last name/phone/email, and your filing deadlines are structured on a calendar. All of these are examples of data being organized in a manner that makes it faster and easier for someone to access and analyze. Structured data does the same thing for your law firm website: it organizes the information for Google to more easily and quickly access and analyze.
As Google rolled out major algorithm updates in 2013 and 2015, structured data gained importance as part of how the algorithm was reading and comprehending webpages. Now in 2020, it is extremely important to include this type of coding on all websites, regardless of the industry.
You have most likely seen the results of how Google reads, interprets, and displays the results of structured data without even realizing it. For example, if you search for a recipe, at the top of the results you’ll see previews of several recipe options, each of which includes the amount of time it takes to prepare the recipe and the beginnings of the recipe itself. These results appear because the corresponding webpages have structured data telling Google information in a way that allows it to standardize the results for the searcher, creating a better user experience.
So How Does This Help My Law Firm Website?
Structed data can be used for just about any type of content. One of the most essential things structured data can do is to inform Google that your website is, in fact, for a Legal Services provider. Adding the structured data for Legal Services reinforces who you are and what you do in a way that’s immediately meaningful and recognizable to Google.
Additionally, you can add structured data to any number of pages on the firm’s website, including:
- Individual attorney biography pages
- Practice area pages
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages
- Blogs or news posts
- About pages
- Contact pages
By providing Google structured data about your law firm, your attorneys, your business hours, and so on, you are organizing every relevant piece of information in a way that ensures Google knows exactly what each page on your website is about and what information you want it to notice. It is the easiest and fastest way to communicate with Google in a “language” it understands. And while Google has not officially stated that structured data is a ranking signal (i.e. one of the many aspects Google factors into ranking websites in search results), it simply won’t provide certain features without it, which can cost your business the traffic it needs to generate the leads it wants.
Each webpage that includes structured data is also then eligible for inclusion is the more robust search results – often referred to as rich search results. As shown in the example below, Google provides two different types of rich search results for the query, “Do I need a lawyer after a car accident?” The first is in a featured snippet, and the second is a collection of People also ask questions and answers. Adding structured data to your webpages does not guarantee your inclusion in rich results, but you need it to even be considered – and, it does it make it much more likely.
Ready to Get Started With Structured Data?
Unfortunately structured data isn’t really a “do it yourself” kind of project. It requires someone with the ability to add HTML coding to your website, along with the ability to correctly write structured data coding. Start by reaching out to your website hosting provider, developer, or designer to ask if your webpages are optimized to include structured data. Or find out how we can help you implement this and other search engine optimization best practices for your law firm website today.