SEO Ranking Factors
Google has one universal mission as it relates to their search engine4:“to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
It really is that simple.
Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines5 (a set of guidelines and principles used by Google’s Search Quality Evaluators or Raters to help them evaluate and rate the quality of web pages in Google’s search results pages (SERPs)) primarily focus on Page Quality (PQ) and Needs Met Ratings (NM)6.
Page Quality Guidelines
In layman’s terms, Page Quality focuses on the purpose of a page and whether it has been created to help users, make money (with no thought for users), or harm users (scams and malware-infected pages).
Page Quality raters are supposed to evaluate pages based on their purpose. As it relates to law firm web pages, they are primarily designed to provide information about a specific type of legal practice area.
In other cases such as with blog posts, these pages are meant to convey information and build attorney authority. This accomplishes two goals for content marketing:
- Visitors might be able to better understand a course of action for their legal situation.
- Visitors are more likely to view the attorney as an authority in their respective practice area.
In order to satisfy that second goal, we encourage attorneys to link out to other authoritative references on the subject matter. As an example, we’ve created research guides specifically for practice area specializations7.
When generating content for their site, lawyers should keep their users in mind. For example:
- What would someone want to know about their legal situation from an attorney who specializes in your practice area?
- Does the page adequately help the visitor understand what steps to take next, what to expect, and/or provide as much information as possible on its topic?
- Does the page contain relevant keywords, synonymous keywords, and their accompanying concepts so that the reader understands they are in the right place and have the content that is potentially most helpful to them?
Attorneys should be thinking of these things when generating pages or posts on their site.
In addition, legal content has its own dos and don’ts when it comes to quality.
We have created a legal style guide8 that can help attorneys build content of the highest caliber and quality.
Needs Met Ratings
Needs Met focuses specifically on mobile users and whether the page is helpful and satisfies the needs of this group.
Notice the specific emphasis on mobile: this is VERY important to understand. Mobile web browsing has already eclipsed that of desktop9and optimizing for this platform is of the utmost importance.
In fact, Google has now rolled out mobile-first indexing10. This means that Google now uses the mobile version of a page for indexing and ranking purposes over desktop.
Whenever you create a page that you want to rank in Google, you must make sure it offers expert advice, is authoritative (by having quality, relevant links pointing to it), and is trustworthy (that is, the information you present is accurate and is not created to mislead users).
A recent Google broad core algorithm update (August 1st, 2018 Medic Update)11 appeared to target what Google calls “Your Money or Your Life (YMYL)” pages. These are pages that could potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users.
This is important for law firms because, according to Google, legal information pages fall under YMYL pages.
Are you seen as an expert, authoritative, and trustworthy source of information?
If you are not, visitors may not see your page as valuable compared to others, click on your search results, or stay on the page for long. These factors influence where the page ranks in Google search.
You must always have the user’s best interests in mind when creating content for your law firm website and you must do your best to satisfy their search intent.
Google Ranks Pages, not Websites
Like we mentioned earlier, Google’s mission is to organize the information on the Internet. Attorneys should follow the same approach with the content on their site.
Each page of a law firm’s website should be optimized for a single topic. It should have its own parent keyword phrase and only be about that topic.
The reason this works is because when Google crawls and indexes web pages, it looks to see what a page’s topic is. Using elements like its title, URL, page headings, images, and content, Google’s algorithm pieces together a picture about the page.
Attorney practice area pages that speak about multiple practice areas, for example, are not going to rank well for any of those practice areas.
In other words, organizing your content into specific pages helps Google better understand a page.
Chapter ROI by Chris Dreyer, CEO of Rankings.io
Ultimately, Google wants to provide the best result for consumers’ intent. This means that your content has a better opportunity to fulfill that intent if it’s well-organized and well-written. As a result, you should always keep your ideal customer in mind when writing content.