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Attorney Website Design Blog

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Penguin 2.0: What it means for your law practice’s website

Every year, Google makes hundreds of algorithm updates, changing the method by which they evaluate and rank sites for any given search phrase. Most updates do not have an immediate effect on the large majority of sites but the last one, Penguin 2.0, announced two weeks ago, is expected to impact millions. Should you be worried about your law firm’s website?

What is Penguin 2.0?
A little over a year ago, Google first introduced Penguin (learn how Google chooses these rather seemingly random names) to the world.  This algorithm update was designed to ensure that low-quality sites, also know “webspam,” do not rank well and instead enables Google to deliver higher quality results. While Penguin targeted quite a few factors, it focused heavily on the quality of backlinks and discounted those that would be of little to no benefit to the site visitor.

Within days of the announcement, countless webmasters received notice that their sites contained "unnatural links". In most of these cases, the companies had undertaken incoming link campaigns where they had placed links on sites that had no relevance to their own (think an attorney who hires an SEO consultant who places a link to the firm’s website from a car dealership’s website and landscaping business three states away). Although, it’s suspected that Penguin (1.0) only affected approximately 3.1% of all websites in English speaking countries, it signaled a continuing evolution in Google’s approach to ranking sites – there are no shortcuts to increasing the perceived authority and relevancy of your site. It’s all about quality.

So what is Penguin 2.0?
Don’t panic! Penguin 2.0 is not a radical change in ranking factors. Essentially, it’s a continuation of the original roll out of last year's update.  So what does this mean for your firm’s website?

  1. This should have become clear after Penguin 1.0 was announced but be careful to not engage, or hire anyone who would engage, in a link scheme.  In fact, be downright protective of links to your website and where they are posted.
  2. Don’t repeatedly use the same “exact match anchor text” when posting links to your website. For example, if you are an estate planning attorney from San Bernardino, be sure that all incoming links to your website don’t read “San Bernardino Estate Planning Attorney” as this may raise flags with Google. Instead, try variations like “Trusts lawyer in San Bernardino” or “San Bernardino, CA Wills Law Firm.”  
  3. Don’t spend money, and your time, adding your site to a million different low-quality directories (paid or otherwise) as it’s expected that Google will begin to penalize these types of links.

With Penguin 2.0, it is expected that Google will now boost rankings for sites that have a proven authority within a niche; this is great news for attorneys who can showcase their expertise in one area of the law and create a site that not only resonates with visitors but also with the search engines. In light of Penguin 2.0, and all of the other recent updates, it’s never been more important for firms to establish a quality content strategy and consistently engage with others in the legal industry. This may be on social media, with the addition of a blog or even with a weekly e-newsletter that helps you to spread the word about your services while also showcasing your expertise in your niche.

Interested in Increasing Your Website’s Visibility?
Our team of experts constantly monitors changes in search engine algorithms and is available to help optimize your site for maximum visibility. We offer firms advanced search engine optimization through our Synergy SEO package which focuses on proven white hat strategies and quality content to help your site achieve a top spot in the SERPs.

If you’re uncertain as to whether your site is well-optimized in the wake of recent updates, contact our team for a website assessment.

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