Submitted by Deanna on Fri, 11/10/2017 - 09:31

If your firm invests any time or resources into search engine optimization (SEO), you’re likely familiar with Google algorithm updates. Long gone are the days where using the keyword “Social Security disability attorney” over and over again on your website would get your firm to rank #1 on Google. If you’re wondering how Google will evaluate your firm’s site, here’s a list of some of the biggest updates, and how your firm can optimize its content and website architecture for success.

Panda—February 2011

Panda was far from the first algorithm update, but it was one that made webmasters pay attention. Panda affects websites with low-quality content or content that’s mainly ad-based.

How can your firm optimize for Panda? It may sounds simple, but simply write better content. If you’re a Social Security disability attorney, add long blogs on useful information on how grid rules help SSDI applicants’ approval after age 50. Legal experts have far more knowledge on claims than a marketer, so use it!

Schema—June 2011

All major search engines joined forces to allow webmasters to add structured markup to their content. This makes it easier for Google, Yahoo, or Bing to pull blog titles or important information from content.

Should you add structured markup to your site? Possibly, but it’s not necessary to rank well. Google currently recommends using to rank for “rich snippets,” which are blurbs of text pulled from a website and inserted at the very top of search results.

Penguin – April 2012

Penguin affects sites that have obviously taken part in “black hat” (unscrupulous) linking techniques, and rewards websites that have high-quality content other domains have chosen to link to. If you were affected by Penguin back in 2012, this certainly isn’t news!

Penguin and Panda go hand in hand. If you write great content, other domains will choose to link to your firm’s website. Consider offering your best content as resource links to relevant organizations, such as an article on how drunk driving affects a PI claim to anti drunk driving organizations like MADD.

Pigeon – July 2014

Pigeon was an update geared towards altering local results. Thanks to Pigeon, local firms will take up the majority of a search result page, including a map and a large image.

Optimizing for Pigeon includes using adding content about neighborhoods, not just cities. For example, a law firm in the 02116 area code of Boston may want to optimize for the keyword “Back bay personal injury attorney.”

RankBrain – October 2015

RankBrain is an AI used to determine which search results are relevant for a query based on user intent. Google has stated that RankBrain is the third most important ranking factor for search results.

How can you optimize for RankBrain? There’s no clear-cut method for getting more traffic to your site via the AI, but ranking for rich snippets again can help. RankBrain also takes a focus off keywords and onto addressing what a consumer actually needs from your law firm, whether it’s additional information on qualifying or a quick way to get in touch with an attorney.

Fred – March 2018

“Fred” is still unconfirmed, but most SEOs believe this update affected pages with top-heavy ads and little content “below the fold.”

How can your firm avoid a Fred penalty? If a consumer lands on your firm’s website and is immediately greeted by a huge auto-play video or a popup ad prompting him to contact your firm immediately, you’re probably doing something wrong. Google and other search engines want the web to be helpful and informative, not one big digital ad.

A good rule of thumb for every update here is to simply publish high-quality information online. It’s really that simple.

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