Google Announces Changes to Search: What Legal Content Marketers Need to Know

Google Announces Changes to Search: What Legal Content Marketers Need to Know

On March 5th, Google announced changes to its policies and systems in an effort to fight attempts to game their results with low-quality content. The announcement is almost certainly in response to the rise of spammy AI-generated content and reports that the quality of search results were degrading

The announcement detailed two specific changes:

  • Google is updating its core ranking system algorithm to surface the most helpful content and reduce unoriginal content in the results
  • It is updating its spam policies to keep the lowest-quality results out of Search, such as obituary spam and expired websites that have been repurposed as spam repositories

Google Plans to Reduce Low-Quality and Unoriginal Results

In the announcement, Google states that it is updating its core ranking systems to better identify websites that are unhelpful, have poor UX, or seem like they were created for search engines instead of human readers – including sites that were created to match specific search queries.

Scaled Content Abuse

In addition, Google is changing its spam policies to address new abusive practices that lead to “low-quality or unoriginal content at scale with the goal of manipulating search rankings.” Google acknowledges that this policy was originally designed to address content produced by automation at scale, but also acknowledges that it cannot always tell whether automation was involved:

Moving forward, Google plans to focus on “abusive behavior” regardless of whether content was produced by humans, automation, or some hybrid method. According to Google, this will allow it to take action on pages that “pretend to have answers to popular searches but fail to deliver helpful content.”

Site Reputation Abuse

Google also plans to crack down on sites with high-quality content that host low-quality content. Publishers do this in an attempt to obtain ranking benefits from posting on the hosting site’s reputation. The search engine’s concern is this practice can mislead users who have different expectations for the content on a given site. Moving forward, third-party content on trusted sites will be treated as spam. This policy will not be enforced until May 5th of this year, giving site owners time to take remedial action.

Expired Domain Abuse

Finally, Google is taking action against publishers who purchase expired domains in an attempt to boost poor-quality or unoriginal content. According to Google, this has the potential to mislead users who believe the content was published on the older site. The search engine will now treat such domains as spam.

Takeaways for Law Firm Content Marketing

To a large extent, these updated policies refine what we already knew – Google wants to surface high-quality content that is helpful to its users. Here are some specific takeaways for legal content marketers moving forward:

  • Google is not focusing on how content is produced. It is focusing on penalizing attempts to game its ranking systems. As a result, make sure that all of the content you publish is original and helpful to readers.
  • It’s okay to use AI in your content generation process, but the content you publish needs to be helpful to your readers and add something to the conversation.
  • If you use AI in your content generation process, make sure the final product does not look like unedited AI output.
  • Remember that the content on law firm websites has significant real-word effects on readers, and it is within a category Google calls “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL). More than ever, your content should demonstrate E-E-A-T: experience, expertise, authority, and trust.
  • Consider information gain when creating content – are you adding new, relevant information that is helpful to your readers? If so, your content will have a good chance of ranking. If it simply reworks existing information, it may not appear in the search results.

how to increase traffic to your website?

Your law firm’s website plays an important role in terms of marketing and reaching your target audience – and your content matters. Generating relevant and compelling content is the name of the game, but if you find yourself at a loss when it comes to choosing inspiring topics that resonate with your widest potential audience, you are not alone. Many firms find themselves recycling the same, tired titles time and time again, but you can do better, and we have some helpful hints to get you started. 

Think Seasonal

The seasons hit us all the same, and they make a great anchor for developing content. 

The Spring and Summer Months 

With summer nearly upon us, your content should focus on legal matters that relate to summer living, including:

  • With the kids out of school, there are summer child custody schedules to tweak, and child custody modifications are common. 
  • With warmer weather, we see more road trips, which can inspire a wealth of topics, including traffic accidents, road safety, travel routes, destinations, and much more.
  • Summer means vacay, which lends itself nicely to articles about premises liability claims related to hotels, resorts, and pools. 
  • Boats and jet skis hit their stride in the warmer months, which makes articles that explore related accidents a gimme.  

There are also the summer holidays to consider, which deserve some attention of their own. 

Memorial Day

This year, Memorial Day is on May 27, and it tends to kick off summer break for all the kiddos out there. Memorial Day is a three-day weekend that brings family and friends together for beer, brats, and yard games (or some variant thereof), and it’s a great opportunity to visit and spruce up the gravesites of our lost loved ones – with a focus on veterans. Memorial Day, however, is also closely associated with some heavy-duty traffic accident statistics, including (according to the National Safety Council, NSC) that traffic fatalities spike over the Memorial Day weekend (compared to the weekends that bracket it). In other words, you can treat Memorial Day as a springboard for a wide range of related articles. 

Fourth of July

The Fourth of July falls on a Monday this year, which – for many people – means a 4- or 5-day weekend. Fourth of July has everything that summer has to offer on tap, with some extras thrown in for good measure, including:

  • Elevated car accident statistics related to increased traffic, increased impairment behind the wheel and increased distraction
  • Water-related accidents
  • Injuries caused by fireworks

Labor Day

Labor Day means back to school and the child custody concerns that are often sparked by this transition. There are also topics about accidents on school grounds and accidents related to children making their way to and from school – including bus accidents, pedestrian accidents, and bike accidents – to consider. 

We can all relate to the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, and Labor Day – and all the other holidays – on a very personal level, which makes the summer holidays a great platform for blog topics. Don’t be afraid to give your blog entries and articles your own spin – it’s the best way to find your voice and to really speak to all those searchers who can truly benefit from your services. If you have a unique topic in mind, don’t back-burner it simply because it’s not what everyone else is doing – you might have a real winner on your hands, and when you speak from a place of authentic concern, it can have a profound impact. 

The Fall and Winter Months

As temperatures and daylight hours decrease, there’s a lot going on – and there’s plenty to keep you busy in terms of content. Consider all the following:

  • Winter driving risks
  • Holiday travel
  • Increased holiday traffic and traffic accident statistics
  • Increased impairment behind the wheel
  • Weather-related premises liability claims
  • Holiday-related stress and the accidents it causes

These basic topics are the starting point for articles that can be woven into your own masterpieces of content – that also address your potential clients’ needs. Remember, too, that a well-polished title and outline – about a subject of your choice – is going to take you farther than a rote reinterpretation of the basics. 

A Feast of Topics

If your firm focuses on personal injury, medical malpractice, workers’ compensation, or any combination of these practices, NSC has a treasure trove of potential topics on offer. Each year, they publish a Safety Observance Calendar that focuses on specific national health and safety awareness campaigns (replete with valuable resources for you to explore). For example, just a few of the many topics on tap for May and June of 2022 include:

  • May is Motorcycle Safety Month, National Bike Month, National Electric Safety Month, Trauma Awareness Month, National Water Safety Month, National Building Safety Month, and much more. 
  • May 21-27 is National Safe Boating Week.
  • June is National Safety Month.
  • June 5-11 is National Trailer Safety Week (tractor-trailers).
  • June 20 is National Ride to Work Day (focusing on those who commute to work on motorcycles and scooters). 

This is the tip of the iceberg. If you’re looking for current content ideas, NSC has got you covered.  

Keeping Your Content Fresh

In order to create quality content, you need great topics, but that – of course – is not the end of the story. The topic sets the stage, but your content has to deliver. Factors to focus on include:

  • Creating a strong outline that flows seamlessly from your introduction to a solid conclusion 
  • Allowing the reader to hear your voice 
  • Inspiring your readers to take the next step in moving from potential client to actual client

Finally, don’t shy away from revisiting older content and jazzing it up. Polishing the title, tightening the writing, updating the statistics, and including an eye-popping example or two can breathe new life into work that is down but not out.

Get More from Your Current Content with Historical Optimization

You recognize that content is king, but you may not be making the most of the content that you already have. And this is where historical optimization shines. Historical optimization sounds more technical than it needs to be – the bottom line is that it involves breathing new life into the content you’ve already published, which can do you a world of good in terms of giving your return on investment a bump.

Continue reading “Get More from Your Current Content with Historical Optimization”

Best Practices in Law Firm Content Marketing

two people collaborating on paperwork

It’s increasingly important for solo attorneys and law firms to establish their brands in the digital market. Many are using advanced SEO tehchniques to get themselves to the top of the SERPs. Most are also using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram to get the word out about their services, expertise, and success.

Are Your Marketing Strategies Working for You?

Numerous attorneys and law firms still don’t generate the website traffic or leads they need to make their efforts worthwhile. New clients are few and far between. They begin to wonder why the competition is getting ahead while they fall behind. 

Consider your growth rate. Are your marketing strategies working for you? What about your content marketing strategy? If you want potential clients to view you as the authority in your area of legal practice, you must provide persuasive content to readers. Content that isn’t convincing could send them the other way as they might wonder if you are reputable. 

However, you’re in business to practice law. It’s where your skills and passion are focused. You didn’t go to school to write content and market your services all day. If this sounds familiar, it’s probably time to enlist the services of an experienced law firm web marketing agency that can help you craft engaging, high-value content. Not only can this allow you to keep your focus on your practice, but it will also attract more potential clients.

What a Law Firm Content Marketing Agency Can Do for You

Creating, promoting, and distributing content is essential for success in today’s legal environment. However, giving your clients the time and attention they need is also crucial. You don’t need any distractions. With the help of a well-versed content and marketing team, you can take a passive role in driving traffic to your website and growing your practice.

Five Best Practices in Law Firm Content Marketing

Align Your Content Strategy with Your Business Goals

If you want more clients, you must have a content strategy that supports your business development goals. Potential clients need to see that you have a clear vision and a particular focus. If your business goal is to help personal injury clients, but your content focuses on family law, it won’t get you any closer to meeting your goal. The content published on your website must be fine-tuned to your marketing strategy. 

Add Value, Not Just Words

Before publishing anything, you should check to see that your content meets these three standards:

  • It adds value
  • It’s helpful to the reader
  • It’s customer-centric

Don’t publish content just to publish content. Provide your potential clients with content that demonstrates your competence. Ensure that it effectively demonstrates your expertise in your field of law and that it’s backed up by facts.

You should also stick to layman’s terms. In general, it’s best to stay away from legal jargon that might confuse or intimidate a reader.

Engage Your Firm’s Attorneys

Law firms should involve their attorneys in their content marketing efforts. Since they are the ones that potential clients will be working with, use their knowledge and experience to make your content comprehensive and tailored to your specific niche. 

In addition to being on your firm’s website, your copy should be posted on the firm’s attorneys’ social media profiles. Make it a priority to train your lawyers to use social media platforms to publicize your law firm’s content. 

Don’t Forget Hashtags

If one of your goals is to increase the visibility of your posted content, don’t forget to use hashtags when posting on social media. The key is to use relevant and trending hashtags. Search engine tools such as hashtagify.me can help you find the right ones to use. 

Although it might be tempting to use general words or come up with your own hashtags, avoid doing so as it makes it harder for your audience to find the content. Also, beware that you could lose some readers by using too many hashtags on a single piece of content.

Keep it Interesting

Legal content can easily be mundane and pendantic , but you don’t have to fit into this mold with your content. Discuss new case law and use your creativity. Think about your audience’s interests, and don’t simply focus on what you can gain from content marketing. Infographics are a proven way to engage with readers across all social media platforms. They can improve your SEO ranking and drive more traffic to your content.

While we hope you find these tips helpful to your content marketing strategy, we also know that they may feel a bit overwhelming with everything else your role requires. We founded Lexicon Legal Content to help attorneys and law firms meet their marketing goals while still remaining focused on providing quality legal services to their clients. 

You can count on our attorney-led team of legal writers to handle your blogging and other content needs. Our content is authoritative, timely, and ethics-compliant to maximize its effectiveness and minimize the time and effort required from you. Find out more about our services by speaking to one of our marketing experts. Call our office today at 877-488-8123 or contact us online.

SEO Predictions for 2021

A person pointing at an analytics chart on a screen

2020 is finally behind us, and the best and the brightest in the SEO and content marketing space are weighing in on what just happened. They’re also dusting off their crystal balls and making a few predictions about what we should be on the lookout for in 2021. While the early focus for 2020 was spam reduction, the whole global pandemic tipped that on its head, and things went in a different direction. Google was busy putting out other fires, and spam stayed put.

Continue reading “SEO Predictions for 2021”

How Important Are My Competitors’ Keywords?

Scrabble tiles spelling "keywords"

When you’re strategizing for SEO, it’s only natural to consider your competitors and their keywords, but knowing where to begin can be a problem. There are some keyword zingers out there that seem to be surefire bets, but you’re looking for a good fit and a good value. Fortunately, there are some basic guidelines that can help you make the most of your keyword journey.

Continue reading “How Important Are My Competitors’ Keywords?”

How Politics Can Drive Legal Content Marketing: The Trump Effect

A picture of the Capitol building at duskRegardless of your political leanings, one thing is certain: the Trump administration has shaken up the political landscape and created substantial uncertainty in many different areas of law.

And we’re not talking about esoteric constitutional issues such as the limits of executive power or the emoluments clause.The current administration is making moves that are affecting real people on a day-to-day basis, often resulting in significant uncertainty about legal issues that can have a direct impact on the most important aspects of their lives.

How does this affect legal content marketing? For one thing, it is providing lawyers and law firms (and their marketing teams) ample opportunity to create new, fresh content that is relevant and of interest to their target audience.

The First Travel Ban: A Case Study

To understand how this works, it is illustrative to look at a concrete example. On January 27th, the President issued an executive order banning travel to the United States for people from certain countries, and it was not immediately clear whether legal permanent residents (green card holders) from the affected countries would be allowed to reenter the country if they were overseas when the order was issued, which proved to be a source of significant controversy.

Here is a chart showing the number of searches for “Green Card Entry” over the past 90 days:


(Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. Likewise a score of 0 means the term was less than 1% as popular as the peak.)

As these data make clear, the number of people searching for “green card entry” spiked soon after the executive order was issued. Granted, some of these searches were people simply seeking information for information’s sake, but is also safe to assume that some of them were concerned that the order would apply to them or their family members – people who, for some attorneys, are potential clients.

Importantly, other words that are semantically related to the issue show similar spikes in traffic, and identifying these words and phrases is the foundation of creating a timely content marketing campaign.

By identifying the legal questions that people are asking and creating content that answers those questions, lawyers in any area of law can connect with individuals who are actively seeking their services. Here are some of the areas of law that recent actions taken by the Trump administration have affected as well as specific issues on which relevant, timely, and informative content could be created.

Immigration LawPicture of passports

Immigration law has perhaps been the most volatile area of law since Trump took office and the uncertainty has certainly captured the media’s attention.

The executive order banning travel from certain countries referenced above is just one area where there is significant uncertainty. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program instituted under President Obama directed federal authorities to use prosecutorial discretion regarding the removal of certain undocumented individuals who arrived in the United States as children. The program provides those eligible with a renewable 2-year work authorization as well as deferred action regarding their undocumented status. In other words, they may live and work in the United States without immediate fear of removal. The new administration has taken a tough stance on immigration and has yet to indicate what it plans to do with DACA – a program that Trump could decide to end at any moment.

Issues regarding the enforcement of immigration laws has also generated significant interest, as the administration recently expanded the list of individuals who were removal priorities significantly.

Criminal Law

In late summer of 2013, the Obama administration issued a memo to U.S. Attorneys in all 50 states indicating that “in jurisdictions that have enacted laws legalizing marijuana in some form… conduct in compliance with those laws and regulations is less likely to threaten the federal priorities..” and that “state and local law enforcement and regulatory bodies should remain the primary means of addressing marijuana-related activity.”

In practice, this directive has meant there is a lack of federal enforcement against marijuana operations and users who are in compliance with state law. Importantly, however, this could change with the stroke of a pen under the new administration. Aggressive enforcement could create chaos in states that have robust and established marijuana economies and could result in significant criminal penalties for individuals who have been operating under the belief that they are not an enforcement priority for the feds.

Personal Injury

While personal injury matters are generally matters of state law, there are certain cases in which federal regulations may have an impact on the outcome of litigation. For example, in some jurisdictions, noncompliance with FMCSR regulations could be used as prima facie evidence of negligence in truck accident litigation. In light of the president’s directive to repeal two regulations for every new one implemented, the regulatory landscape is on shaky ground, including for the trucking industry. Some regulations that were poised to take effect (i.e. speed limiters on newly manufactured heavy trucks) may never be implemented, and others may be repealed.

Title IX

Last May, the Obama administration issued guidance that directed all educational institutions to allow students to use facilities that are consistent with their gender identity. On February 22nd, the Trump administration withdrew the previous guidance, calling into question whether federal officials will enforce Title IX against schools that discriminate against transgender students in this manner. The issue is now headed to the U.S. Supreme Court in G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board, where the court is expected to decide whether Title IX requires schools to treat students consistent with their gender identity.

Use Current Events to Generate Long-Tail Keyword PhrasesMan reading on a tablet

Of course, when creating SEO-friendly content, one of the main concerns is incorporating keywords that will signal that the content is relevant to particular topic. Long-tail keyword phrases that exactly match what a potential client is looking for will ensure that you are attracting the right kinds of visitors to your site. Some examples of long-tail keyword phrases that may be relevant to the practice areas listed above include:

  • Will the speed limiter rule be enacted
  • What are defenses to deportation?
  • Enforcement of federal marijuana laws
  • Will DACA be Repealed?

Of course, these are just a few basic examples of phrases that legal consumers may search in response to political developments, and using tools like Google Trends’ Related Queries feature can help you come up with long-tail keywords to target.

As Questions Arise, so do Opportunities to Connect with Clients

These are just a few of the areas of law in which questions raised by the actions of the new administration are creating opportunities for lawyers and their marketing teams to create compelling and informative content of interest to their potential clients. If the trend established in the past six weeks is any indication, the questions will continue to arise.

To discuss your legal content strategy, call Lexicon Legal Content today at 877-486-8123 or send us an email at info@lexionlegalcontent.com.

 

Will 2017 See the End of Live Chat Pop-Ups?

A cursory search of the internet will establish that significant percentage of law firm websites greet their visitors with a pop-up window that offers to connect them with a live representative.

While live chat has the potential to increase the percentage of website visitors that become paying clients, they can also be annoying to users and now could have a negative impact on your site’s rankings in the SERPs. These types of pop-ups, known as “interstitials,” often cover up the main content of the site and can be difficult for users on mobile devices to dismiss.

Late last summer, Google announced that websites that use interstitials may not rank as highly after January 10th of this year. Specifically, the search engine stated that:

Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller. To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.”

BLOG PIC
An Intrusive Pop-Up

Blog Pic 2
An Intrusive Standalone Interstitial

Blog Pic 3
Another Example of an Intrusive Standalone Interstitial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Source: https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2016/08/helping-users-easily-access-content-on.html)

There are some situations in which a site could continue to use interstitials and not be affected by the change. These include the following:

  • An age verification pop-up
  • Logins on sites where the content is behind a paywall
  • Banners that use a reasonable amount of space and are dismissed easily

How to Keep Your Potential Clients Engaged

Of course, one of the main benefits of offering live chat is user engagement and setting an appointment so that visitors become paying clients. Importantly, this update does not mean that lawyers should not offer live chat – they simply need to not do so with a pop-up that covers up their content.

This new ranking signal is consistent with Google’s focus on rewarding sites that provide content that is useful for people searching the web. As content is critical to both search engine rankings and the impression that your potential clients get when they visit your site, it is important for attorneys to ensure that the content on their site is well-written, compelling, and provides site visitors answers to their questions.

Call Lexicon Legal Content Today to Discuss the Content on Your Law Firm’s Website

The content on your website has a direct impact on your site’s position in the search results. Unfortunately for busy practicing attorneys, creating a consistent stream of high-quality, informative, and useful content takes a significant investment of time. The team of professional legal blog writers at Lexicon Legal Content is available to provide your firm or marketing agency with content in a variety of formats that will provide value to your readers and improve the quality of your site. To learn more about our services, call us today at 314.691.8602 or contact us online.

Trouble Thinking of Topics for Your Law Firm’s Blog? Your Clients may have the Answers

Question markWhen attorneys contact us for help with their website content, one of the more common issues we hear is that they simply do not know what they should be writing about. Of course, lawyers are highly-trained professionals who often engage in writing, whether it be a brief, a motion, or written communication with a client or an adverse party. Unfortunately, this is not the kind of writing that makes for good blog entries.

Your Legal Blog is a Powerful Marketing Tool

What is the point of blogging? Ultimately, your blog should be generating new business, and will do so by driving more traffic to your site. Regular blogging can drive new traffic in two distinct ways:

 

  • It can increase your search engine rank for certain keywords, increasing the likelihood that a potential client seeking legal services in your practice areas will visit your site.
  • If you share your blog posts through social media and other channels and get it in front of people who may need your services, it can increase the direct traffic to your site.

As a result, your blog topics should be informative, targeted at your potential clients, and have a title that makes people want to read more. To come up with ideas for what you should blog about, just think about the questions your clients regularly ask. Of course, these will be different for every practice area, but some examples of good topics include:

  • Will my personal injury lawsuit go to trial?
  • What are the potential penalties for a 1st time DUI?
  • Can I write my own will?
  • Will filing for bankruptcy ruin my credit?

If you clients have asked you these questions in the past, chances are that potential clients are currently asking Google the same question. By providing answers to these questions for free, you can increase the chances that people will retain you for further counsel and representation.

Our Legal Blog Writers can Help

Finding topics for your blog is just one aspect of maintaining an effective legal blog – you also have to write the entry, optimize it, post it, and distribute the post so that people actually have an opportunity to read it. This can be extremely time-consuming and pull you away from actually practicing law. Fortunately, we are here to help. Our team of legal copywriters can manage every aspect of your blog on your behalf and regularly work in jurisdictions throughout the United States across all practice areas.

To learn more about our services and for samples of our work, call Lexicon Legal Content today.