When your law firm launches a new website (as in brand new on a new domain), you might be thrilled to see it rank high on the Google search index for a few days, and then grow disappointed when you see it drop. Don’t panic. We can explain what’s happening, and how to make your page rank rise up again.
Google gives preferential treatment to new websites for a short period of time, despite nearly non-existent data about them. The new website is given a high ranking in the Google search results page, usually within the first 24 to 48 hours after being launched, before it ranks down to whatever Google determines is its most appropriate position. That brief period of time is referred to as the “Honeymoon Period.” Although everyone knows the honeymoon phase never lasts, we see this as an opportunity to put your best foot forward and earn some instant credibility with Google.
The Honeymoon Period offers interesting insight into Google’s behavior. It suggests that Google places the new site in a highly visible position in order to collect data about the site and determine how relevant it is to users. If many users visit your site and stay there, instead of clicking away and selecting another option on the results page, Google knows your site is helpful. If this happens, your ranking won’t drop significantly after the Honeymoon Period. However, if your site doesn’t get many clicks during the honeymoon period, this tells Google your site didn’t answer users’ questions very well according to the search terms, and your rank will drop further.
Here are some ways to ensure that you won’t be wasting your site’s Honeymoon Period when you launch your new page, and to rank high and stay high.
1. Ensure super-fast loading speed.
Google values sites with faster user experience, so you should be sure yours has high loading speed and fast rendering. After all, most users report clicking away from a website if it doesn’t load within three seconds. If your site loads with a delay, you’ll lose favor with Google and you’ll lose a lot of potential clients.
There are a number of factors that affect a site’s speed, such as file types and sizes, plugins, design elements, the server and hosting company, and onsite optimization.
2. Build links organically.
Backlinks are one of the most important factors that Google will consider in determining the value and relevance of your website. Link building -- the practice of earning links from other websites -- should therefore be made a priority. Your law firm’s long term SEO will benefit because quality backlinks will increase your website’s authority.
During the honeymoon period and the subsequent months, you will want to take serious action to earn natural links. Generate backlinks through promoting your law firm’s activity online, and fostering relationships and conversations with others. For example, if you are sponsoring an event, be sure to promote it through blog posts, press releases, and on social media. Build relationships with other law firms and organizations. Maybe even invite other professionals to participate in a webinar. Cross pollinate words and ideas with other industry professionals, and they’ll likely link to your page. Sites with high domain authority will help you earn link value, proving to Google that your site has merit.
3. Meet user expectations.
When your site appears on the search index, a little snippet of information about your site appears beneath the link to your page.
Based on that information, the user will decide if they believe your site will answer their search query. This is why you should optimize titles and descriptions with snippets in mind. Look at every piece of content on your site as an opportunity for users to find you in their searches. Build up highly helpful content throughout your site, and ask yourself, will your snippet more compelling than the next result on the same topic? If you want to boost your rankings, it should be.
4. Post helpful content for clients.
If you want to get ranked for a keyword, you need content that answers the search. That means you need to have high quality content throughout your site, no matter what. During the honeymoon period, prioritize the creation of content that will be meaningful for your clients and prospects, and that sets you apart as an authority in your practice area. Create blogs that speak to the concerns of your target audience, report on legislative changes, and other timely topics. Build up your Questions and Answers page by updating new posts on a regular basis. Long form content -- a multimedia page that has more than 1,500 words plus graphs and other visual content -- is helpful when you want to dominate the search engine results for complex practice areas.
There is a lot that goes into creating and maintaining a site that ranks consistently well in Google search results after the Honeymoon Period. We are here to help. Custom Legal Marketing creates proactive SEO strategies for law firms by building and launching websites, staying abreast of changing SEO landscape might affect your site, and creating custom solutions to help your site overcome new challenges.
Cristina Fríes is a MA in English/Creative Writing from UC Davis (2019), and is a legal marketing strategist and content developer for CLM. Her interests include creating compelling marketing content, writing books, and traveling the world.