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Search Engine Optimization Fundamentals

What to consider when developing an SEO strategy.

Proper SEO is one of the most important elements of any Internet marketing program, and it’s not hard to understand why. According to a recent Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project report, more than 90 percent of all online Americans use search engines to find information. Law firms at the top of search results get more Web traffic and more opportunities to connect with potential clients.

Unfortunately, the vital nature of search has led to the rise of an entire industry dedicated to artificially manipulating search engine results. Many of those SEO consultants even “guarantee” high rankings for their clients.

While some of the strategies might work in the short term, they’re ultimately destined for failure. Google, Bing and other search providers continually revise their algorithms — and continually penalize companies that try and beat the system. Get caught in a crackdown and your site can be blacklisted and disappear from search results altogether.

Sound SEO strategies

The best, proven and approved long-term strategy is to provide high-quality, frequently updated content. If your site features useful information, it will attract visitors and persuade webmasters to link to it. And that, in turn, will naturally drive it higher in search rankings.What constitutes quality content? Material that’s relevant and useful for its intended audience. A family law firm’s website, for example, should include everything from information on the firm’s partners to articles and blog posts on such topics as divorce, custody issues, mediation, and the like.But while content is crucial, it’s not the only factor in the SEO equation. For example, website design and structure — the other elements in the user experience — also play a role. Search engines look for sites that load quickly and feature a logical, user-friendly architecture. Broken links can hurt rankings, as can sites that don’t look and function the same in different Web browsers.

For more details, check out what Google and Bing have to say on the topic:

Bad vs. good links

Linking is a particularly hot topic, as more links pointing to your site can raise your search rank. Beginning in early 2012 Google severely stepped up its practice of penalizing companies for what it terms “unnatural linking practices.” Those can include:

  • purchasing links
  • excessive link exchanging, particularly between companies with no logical connections to each other
  • “over-optimization” — the practice of excessively stuffing site pages with keywords designed to boost search rankings
  • paying to post content to blog site networks only to build links

What makes a good link? Both Google and Bing agree that it’s a “natural link”—i.e., one that develops when other sites find your content valuable enough to link to it.

SEO providers — What to look for and what to ask

What should you look for in a SEO provider? In a sense, it’s quite simple — find a reputable company that has extensive website development experience and which adheres to SEO best practices.For more information on finding an SEO provider, check out our article on What to look for in an effective SEO provider.

FindLaw’s winning combination

FindLaw has a long history of providing exceptional SEO services — we have worked with several law firms for more than 10 years. We strictly follow guidelines established by the major search engines. And we concentrate on the development of unique and compelling content and use conversion solutions to connect prospective clients with law firms.We focus on search quality metrics that measure:

  • User engagement
  • Relevancy
  • Authority

We also measure success based on how these proven metrics drive more high-quality cases to law firms.

FindLaw SEO Advisory Board

All of FindLaw’s SEO efforts are vetted by an independent, highly respected SEO Advisory Board that helps us stay ahead of search industry changes — and stay in full compliance with best practice techniques.The board consists of a pair of well-known and highly respected search marketing experts:

  • Bill Hunt
  • Chris Silver Smith

They meet on a quarterly basis with key FindLaw stakeholders to discuss industry best practices, review FindLaw’s offerings and provide consulting as needed.

Learn more about FindLaw’s SEO Advisory Board >>

Chris Silver Smith & Bill Hunt’s Message to Law Firms

Hear what Search Engine experts Chris Silver Smith & Bill Hunt have to say about keeping your law firm ahead of the curve.