For a long time, the concept of search engine optimization (SEO) was a bit mysterious. Today, almost every attorney is familiar with the concept of SEO and realizes that it has a huge impact on their firm’s success. However, there is a lot more to your SEO ranking than content or keywords.
Google and other search engines rely on advanced algorithms and machine learning tools to analyze and rank websites based on a variety of factors. Google’s primary ranking solution is RankBrain, a deep learning system that considers how words relate to concepts so it can present users with relevant answers to their queries.
Join us as we explore RankBrain and the various factors it considers when assigning SEO rankings. By applying these insights to your SEO strategy, you’ll be in a better position to climb the search engine results pages (SERPs) and boost your organic traffic. Let’s dive in.
Content Quality and Relevance
Discussions about SEO typically begin and end with content — and for good reason. While lots of factors impact the rank of your attorney website, content is still king.
You need great content that is relevant to your services and user search intent. When you produce content that achieves both, you’ll have a much easier time climbing the rankings. RankBrain considers a few different attributes of your content to determine its quality. Let’s explore a few.
Relevance of Content
RankBrain’s primary function is to interpret a user’s search queries and match them with relevant content.
To do this, RankBrain doesn’t simply compare keywords in the query to keywords on your website. Instead, it also explores the overall relation between a query and a page. This is especially helpful when users enter queries that exhibit an unusual syntax.
What does all this mean for you? First and foremost, it is a reminder that you can’t simply stuff subpar content with keywords and hope to rank on SERPs. Instead, you need to craft educational and informative content that aligns with a user’s intent.
Sometimes referred to as “Schema markup,” structured data is code you add to your pages to help search engine algorithms understand your content.
Google uses Schema markup to display your pages as rich results at the top of SERPs. Rich results typically include an image, review count, star rating of your firm, and other relevant details.
Without structured data, you aren’t eligible for rich results. Even if you don’t earn a rich result, adding structured data to the mix makes it easier to rank, as RankBrain will have a better grasp on the purpose of your pages.
Website and Page Performance
Once you’ve filled your website with high-quality, relevant content, it’s time to shift your focus to website and page performance. These aspects of search engine optimization are known as “technical SEO.” While these factors are a type of on-page SEO, they focus on the technical side of your website and its overall performance.
Page Load Speed
Today’s consumers aren’t very patient, especially when on the hunt for legal information. They want your web pages to load almost instantaneously, regardless of what device they are using. If your page load speed is lagging behind, they might bounce back to the SERPs and choose another option.
Therefore, you’ve got to optimize page load speed. The first step is to choose a performance-focused hosting provider.
If you are already working with a great hosting service, ensure your images are optimized and compressed, reduce the number of redirects you use, and cache (store copies of) your firm’s website files. These simple steps can give your page load speed an immediate boost.
According to Statista, over half of all website traffic originates from mobile devices. As of Q1 of 2023, mobile devices accounted for 58.33% of web traffic. With so much traffic coming from mobile, it’s critical that your content is optimized to accommodate these devices.
Google considers mobile-friendliness when ranking your website. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, it will be less visible to audiences who are conducting searches on their smartphones and tablets.
Secure and Accessible Websites
Google and other search engines also consider how secure and accessible your site is when assigning rankings.
Ideally, you need to protect your site with Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). HTTPS creates a secure connection over a computer network, allowing users to retrieve data from and send information to your site safely and privately.
Your site also needs to be accessible to both users and Google’s RankBrain web crawlers. To optimize accessibility, you’ll need to create an XML sitemap. A sitemap lists all of the various URLs on your site so that search engines can crawl and rank them.
RankBrain also considers the quality of the user experience (UX) when determining your ranking.
Overall User Experience
RankBrain tracks and interprets user behavior signals as indicators of UX quality. The algorithm will also consider things like page load speed, responsiveness, accessibility, and mobile-friendliness. If your site is filled with great content, loads fast, and has an intuitive design, it will probably rate highly in terms of UX.
User Engagement Metrics
Additionally, RankBrain will analyze individual user engagement metrics. Some of the metrics RankBrain might consider include:
- Click-Through Rate (CTR): This is the number of clicks a page receives divided by the number of times it is displayed
- Time on Site: This measures how long someone spends on your site
- Bounce Rate: A bounce rate occurs when someone clicks on your site and then immediately leaves without lingering or visiting other pages.
These are just a few of the user engagement metrics that impact SEO ranking. If you are performing well in key UX metrics, your page likely ranks well. Conversely, if some key UX metrics indicate an issue with your content or page performance, your ranking will suffer.
Authority and Trust
RankBrain also considers the authoritativeness and trustworthiness of your website. To do this, RankBrain examines the quantity and quality of your backlinks, as well as your overall domain authority (DA).
A backlink is a link from another web page to one of your pages. Backlinks indicate that other web pages are referencing your content to support their points or build authority. If you have lots of backlinks from reputable websites, it is a strong indicator of your authority and trustworthiness.
Depending on the type of backlink, these connections between other sites and your pages can boost your ranking. That’s because certain types of backlinks lend your page some of the other site’s authority and reputation.
Domain authority (DA) is a metric developed by Moz. It is a search engine ranking score that predicts how likely your site is to rank on SERPs. DA uses a 100-point scale, with higher scores representing greater authority and increased odds of ranking.
As you enhance the overall trustworthiness of your site, your DA score will rise. Likewise, acquiring backlinks from web pages with a high DA will have a greater impact on your rankings. Conversely, obtaining backlinks to sites with a low domain authority can actually hurt your ranking.
Earning a Top Spot on SERPs
Achieving that coveted page-one status on search engine results is the number one goal of every SEO campaign.
As you can see, climbing the rankings involves much more than publishing quality content or optimizing for keywords. You need a holistic approach that addresses technical aspects of site performance, domain authority, and user experience. Many firms leverage SEO services for lawyers to give themselves an edge in the fight for user attention. By doing the same, you can accelerate your journey to a high ranking and generate quality organic traffic at scale. Embrace the challenge of search engine optimization and set the stage for long-term growth.