Google recently updated their Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines, and it includes important factors that those operating a legal law website will want to focus on. While these 10,000 raters do not directly impact search engine result pages, their results are used to build the algorithm that the company uses to produce those results. Here are some important findings in the report as developed by Jennifer Slegg. She has spoken and written on the topic of search engine marketing for more than 20 years that lawyers and those operating their websites should focus on improving their rankings.
Identify the Page’s Purpose
Each page should have an easily identifiable purpose that makes it useful to the site’s target audience. While there is no limit to the purpose of a page on a lawyer’s site, common purposes might include:
- Sharing information about a law topic
- Sharing information about the lawyer or the law firm
- Expressing the lawyer’s opinion or point of view
- Selling the lawyer’s services or a product
- Answering frequently asked questions
- Allowing users to download a whitepaper, files or reports
In previous versions of the Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines, videos were held to a different standard, but now they must have a clearly identifiable purpose.
One of the main changes in the Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines released in July 2018 is the new emphasis on reputation. Lawyers will want to make sure that every page on their website clearly identifies that it came from their law firm or an individual tied to that law firm. The exception is guest blogs, but they should clearly be labeled as a guest blog.
Furthermore, Google is now asking raters to investigate the reputation of the background of that individual or firm. If you need to perform reputation management, then you need to do so immediately. The raters are asked to look at sources not written by or on behalf of the lawyer for information. Therefore, it is wise to develop some off-page SEO that will help raters know more about the individual. While not applicable in all circumstances, the guidelines suggest that the raters look for a Wikipedia article tied to the individual.
Embrace Google’s E-A-T Emphasis
For many years now, Google has put an emphasis on expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, and the new report continues this focus. While the expertise has been extended to include off-page clues to how much the lawyer or firm is viewed by peers as an expert in the field, Google points out some things that can ruin a page’s authority and trustworthy ratings including:
- Including inaccurate information
- Writing quickly with no editing efforts made
- Failing to cite sources
- Filling the post with distracting content like large photos
- Spinning content
- Not adding depth to content
- Fluffy writing
Eliminate Red Flags
Google has outlined some types of content that lawyers and their webmasters need to watch for in particular so that they do not end up on their sites. Realize that if the raters find these, they can red flag an entire site instead of just a single page. These items include:
- Discussions attempting to justify abuse to children with a special emphasis on sexual abuse
- How-to carry out a threat of violence or terrorism
- Depictions of gore or violence without any purpose
- Encouraging viewers to participate in self-harm activities like anorexia or suicide
- Death threats
It is vital to keep these ideas in mind when you are developing content for a law site. Start by making sure that each page has a purpose that is clearly identifiable. Use on and off-page SEO to build a reputation. Make sure that your page builds an expert case in an expert way relying on the trustworthy information. Finally, make sure to avoid red flags that can put the entire website’s reputation in danger.