The Top 25 Attorney SEO Questions
Chris Dreyer | May 09, 2014
Here are answers to 25 of the most common questions asked by attorneys as it relates to SEO.
These acronyms are sometimes used interchangeably but they describe two different concepts. SEO (search engine optimization) refers to the tactics used to make a site rank well in search for a given set of keyword phrases. SEO is effectively a part of SEM (search engine marketing) because it is one of many tactics to market a website using search.
With SEM, other tactics include PPC, reputation management, and other aspects of using a search engine to gain exposure for a website.
Is SEO Necessary To Have a Website?
No SEO is not necessary to set up and run a website. It can however be one of the most effective and long-term ways to drive traffic to a website. It is estimated that more than 70% of internet users leverage a search engine to find what they are looking for online.
No matter which SEO company you go with make sure you check them out thoroughly. Some tactics related to SEO can be very hard to undo. Be skeptical of any company guaranteeing you anything when it comes to SEO (especially first page rankings). They may be able to deliver but nothing is guaranteed. If that is their primary value proposition and selling point, you would do well to move on to someone else. Keep in mind also that ranking on the first page is only half of the equation. Ultimately it doesn’t matter if you are in the top spot if your phone isn’t ringing.
How Long Will it Take To Rank Well for A Particular Keyword Phrase?
This is one of the toughest questions to answer because there are so many factors influencing where a page ranks for a query. In general, the aggressiveness of the SEO and the competitiveness of the keyword term are two of the most influential factors. If a keyword phrase isn’t that competitive (i.e. if there aren’t a lot of other websites trying to rank for it) first or second page rankings could be achieved in as little as a few months (assuming the page had never ranked for that term before). Conversely, if a term is highly competitive, it may take double or triple the time or more.
We’ve Built Links to Our Website – Why Has PageRank Not Increased
PageRank is typically updated only a few times per year by Google. Sometimes it’s even less than that. The key thing is to not get discouraged here. Assuming you are building high-quality links, your efforts will pay off.
While you can certainly optimize each post you write for your blog, you don’t have to focus on a specific keyword for each one. In fact, even for posts that you are writing for specific keywords, make sure you are writing for users first and not search engines.
What Is The Difference Between Local SEO and Traditional SEO?
These two practice areas used to be more distinct. Google didn’t used to serve results based on a user’s location. After the Venice update, Google started making all results localized. At the time of this writing, local SEO is more about building signals of reliability around local business locations.
Local SEO is also about making the user experience of a local searcher better.
What is the difference between white hat and black hat SEO?
There is no clear-cut answer here. Instead try to think of activities for optimizing your site as having their own place on a spectrum. Some activities are clearly ok while others are clearly not. Then there are some tactics where it’s hard to tell if they are white hat or black hat. For example Google discourages link schemes where people exchange links. What if activity falls into that category but adds value to the visitors on those sites?
How can I measure my rank in Google search?
There are many third party tools available to help you keep track of your website’s position in search for specific keyword queries. Examples include MySEOTool, Moz Pro, Web CEO, Authority Labs, Advanced Web Ranking and more. You can also submit your site to Google Webmaster Tools and keep track of its average position using Google’s interface.
Webmaster tools is actually a very powerful free tool. You can export data to spread sheets, manipulate and save it. You also have the ability to track multiple websites even if you don’t administrate them directly.
In general, anything you do to rank well in Google will also translate to other engines. Keep in mind that even though there are dozens of other search engines, Google remains market leader with around a 70% share. Bing and Yahoo along with other engines hold the rest.
What is PageRank?
This is a proprietary measurement named after its creator (Larry Page). It is an algorithm that analyzes links in order to determine the importance of a website.
What is a Robots File?
This is a file that tells search engines which pages are to be crawled and which are to be excluded. Major search engines will obey they robots files they find. Having a robots file is a best practice but it does not necessarily mean a bot will obey it.
What is an Organic Search Result?
Organic results are those that are served naturally in a search engine results page. Conversely, paid advertisements show up based on how much an advertiser bids for them.
The fast (and perhaps politically correct answer) here is no. There have been multiple case studies on this topic and many of drawn a correlation between social signals and first page rankings but none have proved causation.
The correlation is found where sites that produce good content (and hence have many high-quality links built to them) also happened to get shared a lot on social media. So the fact that people are interacting with your content alone on social media may not help your rankings but think of it this way. If people are seeing your content across the web because you are active on social media, then those are opportunities for people to see your content and link to it where they otherwise may not have found it.
What is a meta description?
A more accurate question would be what is the meta description tag? A meta tag is a coding statement in HTML that describes content on a web page. Search engines often use this tag to populate content in SERPs.
Do I need a sitemap?
With search engine optimization there isn’t one magic bullet that will make or break your site. Even though that is true, any help you can give to search engines to make your content more easily findable will help you do business better on the web. Having a sitemap makes it easier for search engines to find and index your site’s pages.
What is an indexed page?
When a search engine has a copy of your web page in its database, the page is said to be indexed. Search engines index pages and serve those copies in results because it is much faster than searching the entire web every time a user has a query.
What is a good price to pay for SEO services?
What is a good price to pay for a house? What is a good price to pay for a car? The answer depends on what you are paying for and who you are buying it from. There really isn’t one set price consumers can use as a guide to know they are getting a good price for SEO services. Instead, focus on the type of person/agency you are going with. Do they have references? What have they been able to accomplish for other attorneys? Do they have good reviews? Keep in mind that for most SEO companies, you will indeed get what you pay for (all else being equal).
Yes there are several professional certifications out there for SEOs. At the time of this writing there is not yet an authoritative body that oversees credentials for people to practice SEO.
Where should I spend the most time on SEO (i.e. Link building, on-page, blogging, etc)?
You shouldn’t focus in any one area. You should take a holistic approach to your SEO. You’ll find that by focusing on one area and ignoring others, that you won’t get the results you are looking for. For instance if you spend all of your time (or tell your agency to spend all their time) building links and you completely ignore generating quality content, onsite optimization, local SEO, etc, your results won’t be as good as they could have been.
How do I know if I’ve been penalized by a search engine?
If you have your site set up in webmaster tools, you’ll know if a manual action has been leveled against your site. If not (and you are noticing performance issues like decrease in search traffic), it could be a lot of other factors besides being penalized.
It’s also important to point out that there really isn’t such a thing as an algorithmic penalty. A site can start performing poorly as the result of an algorithm change but that algorithm isn’t directly penalizing a site. Instead, the algorithm may be focusing on other factors that may place emphasis on other elements where they didn’t before.
What is on-page optimization?
This refers to optimizing elements of a web page for search.
Can I remove a URL from Google Search results?
Yes you can although it is not recommended. Often times an attorney may want to remove content that is no longer relevant but in these cases a page should be redirected and not removed.
Content silos are a way of structuring the content of a website so that it can be easily navigated by users and crawled/indexed by search engines.
What is negative SEO and should I worry about it?
Negative SEO refers to black hat tactics targeted at a competitor’s website in order to stop them from ranking well in search. For instance a business may build spammy or harmful links to a competitor’s website.