5 Reasons Why You Can't Find Your Law Firm On Google
You waited patiently for this day -- your law firm's new website is finally up and running. You're stoked! Or maybe your site has been around for a bit, and the buzz about SEO (search engine optimization) has you curious. So, you decide to Google yourself. You open Google.com on your browser, type in "best criminal defense attorney Charleston," and hit enter. Loading …
Wait. You're not on the first page. Ten results later, you're not on the second. Or, heaven forbid -- you're not even on the third. Where did your site go? (Queue Diana Ross and the Supremes) Baby, baby…where did your site go?
Great question! Let's explore that answer, because it could be a complex one. There are many reasons why your website has dropped out of sight. Some of them are content related. Others have to do with SEO. The problem might have even be caused by something you're doing or not doing.
Before we dig into the factors that may be contributing to your site's invisibility there are two important things to understand: 1) a website is never, ever, finished and 2) it takes time and perseverance to get results with Google (Bing and Yahoo for that matter). The process is much more a marathon than sprint. And despite what the scammers tell you, there aren't any quick fixes.
That being said, a talented web development and SEO team will be able to pinpoint the reasons for your website's failure to rank well. In our experience, these are some of the major culprits:
Check Your Site's Search Performance
The initial steps to appearing on a SERP, or search engine result page, are crawling and indexing. This is how search engines discover and record the existence of your site. If your site doesn't have an XML Sitemap -- or if the Sitemap hasn't been submitted directly to Google -- the process of indexing will take longer, and search engine bots may miss some of your pages.
Old, stale, thin, or badly targeted content will cost your site both visitors and page rank. Trust us, Google is obsessed with perfecting the user experience. If your site isn't packed full of rich, informative content that provides real help to your readers, it's simply not going to rank highly. In the case of your law firm's website, this means you should be featuring answers to common questions and discussing legal topics currently in the news, for example.
Now here's the kicker. If your website has suddenly (or gradually) dropped in rank, look at the currency of the information you're offering. It's not enough to publish a few great articles. You've got to keep doing it! Your site's relevance with Google diminishes over time if it's not updated. And of course, that comes with a concurrent drop in page rank. On the plus side, sites that feature timely topics may actually get preferential treatment from Google.
3. Search engine optimization (SEO)
Another possibility is that your site's visibility has been impaired by poor SEO. Using outdated or spammy techniques can get you penalized by Google -- and so can simple rookie mistakes. On the other hand, your site could be suffering from a lack of SEO. There are a ton of factors that separate the sheep from the goats on Google, and your webmaster may not be making use of them consistently.
As in many other tech-related fields, cutting-edge SEO changes constantly, and what worked last year probably won't cut the mustard this year. If your web developer or SEO company isn't up on the most recent best practices in targeted keyword research, internal and external linking, metadata, and social sharing, your website is going to pay the price (if it hasn't already).
4. Social networks -- especially Google+
The unique family relationship between Google the search engine and Google+ the social network makes this relative newcomer to the social scene an absolute requirement for you and for your firm. In addition to Google+ and the +1 button, your page should include easy sharing options for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn at the minimum.
This is also where you come in -- if you're not sharing your content via Google+, Facebook, and LinkedIn, you're shooting yourself in the foot. The search engines pay attention to "social signals," that is activity on social networks, likes, and +1s, to a better position on the SERP.
In the case of your law firm's website, speed doesn't kill -- it's the lack of speed that's sending you to the boondocks. Slow-loading pages are annoying to users. So Google's been using load speed as one of its criteria for page rank since 2010. A good webmaster will be able to streamline your site with any number of techniques, from adjusting or changing a server to squeezing source code in a process called minification.
Let's be frank. All these strategies are essential aspects of good website development. If your law firm's site appears on page 3 or beyond, the chances are your web design team hasn't been using them -- and it might be time to find a better one.
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