Your firm can be listed in search results for a broader range of queries if you establish your reputation with Google in a specific topic area. A Search Advocate explains how in a recent hangout.
When asked whether it is good practice to cover related topics in order to rank well for a specific topic, Search Advocate John Mueller responded that it is “always useful” to add content to your website that covers contextually relevant topics. This is because, according to Mueller, providing analogous information about specialized subject matter helps Google understand that the website as a whole is a trustworthy source for information about that topic.
Mueller elaborated that when a website provides a range of information about a topic, Google does not have to “purely focus on individual pages” but can instead recognize the entire website as an authority on that topic broadly.
The example given during the conversation centered around laptops. If, for example, a website that sells laptops adds content like laptop reviews and tips on how to find the right laptop, then Google can say, “…Oh like it looks like you're looking for a new laptop, this website has a lot of information on various facets around laptops.”
In other words, carefully curated content about a specific topic can help your site rank well for the subject more broadly.
Mueller’s analogy holds up for law firms that sell specific services. If an estate planning attorney website, for example, provides information about estate planning documents and estate planning strategies, and it answers specific questions about when someone should start planning and how to evaluate and choose a lawyer, then Google can list individual pages about specific topics, like trusts, in its results and also list the website in broader queries about planning generally.
Ranking well for both detailed and expansive searches will help your firm grow its lead volume. Here are some tips for jump-starting your climb in Google’s search engine results pages.
1. First, make sure each of your target practice areas is clearly defined.
People in need of legal services will have a varying range of knowledge about those services. Some will have a working understanding of what they need from a lawyer, while others may not be sure what words to use to even begin their search. Your practice area content must appeal to both sets of visitors and everyone in between.
To this end, consider treating the pages that house information about your primary practice areas like mini-landing pages. Cover each area thoroughly and break the content out into easily scannable and digestible sections so every visitor can quickly find what they are looking for.
Next, elaborate on the details of your practice.
Assuming that you have at least one page of content dedicated to each of your principal practice areas; you can begin to add pages about contextually relevant topics. A good tactic here is to answer specific questions that apply to the broader practice area, like, “What is the difference between a special needs trust and an able account?” or, “Should I be classified as a contractor?”
Attorneys may not benefit from product reviews like a company selling laptops, but they can benefit by explaining to potential clients what to expect from a certain legal process or how to evaluate attorneys in individual practice areas.
Remember, the purpose of these additional pages is to establish your authority, not to add content bloat to your site. Increasing page count for the sake of having more pages can backfire if those pages offer nothing of value to a reader.
Once pages are up, keep the content current.
Any website owner who wants their site to maintain good rankings must keep page content up to date. This is particularly true for law firm websites. Content on attorney websites is often timely; facts will change as laws and regulations advance.
Firms must be vigilant about keeping data and information current because the subjects covered on attorney websites, and the actions taken by those who read it, potentially affect their future and well-being.
Google has a special term for pages with the potential to influence, “the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users:” Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) pages. And Google holds YMYL pages to a higher standard of accuracy and currency than pages that do not have as much potential impact on visitors.
Outdated facts can quickly kill trust and ruin rankings — and they may actually be detrimental to visitors.
Document your sources.
Both Google’s algorithm and users assign more authority to websites that are willing to show their work. If your content refers to a specific regulation or decision, link to it. Also, link to official sources when citing statistics.
Make it original.
Google rewards pages that discuss a familiar topic in a new or innovative way. This can pose a challenge for firms, as your practice area content has to cover the same basic legal realities as that of your competitors. However, when moving beyond big practice area subjects into more granular details, try to talk about subjects other firms in your area have not already covered. Or consider adding your perspective to a common question.
Anything you can do to add an original thought to a well-covered topic will enhance your authority from Google’s perspective.
Applying these five tips can also help build trust with users. When a visitor sees that your firm has taken the time to dig into multiple facets of a topic and offer helpful advice, that visitor is more likely to trust your firm and appreciate that you have the knowledge and experience they need. The educational content is itself a sales pitch that can do just as much work pulling in leads as a cleverly crafted call to action.
Mueller also points this out in his answer about appealing to search engines, saying, “for users as well it provides a little bit more context on kind of like why they should trust you.”
The conversation took place during a February 5 Google Search Central SEO office hours hangout. Google offers regular office hour calls covering a range of search topics, which are recorded and publicly available on its YouTube channel.
Are you ready to boost your authority with search engines and visitors? At Custom Legal Marketing, we use our smarts to provide creative strategies that will enhance your website’s credibility and performance.
Our writers are ready to work with you to build pages that add value by speaking directly to the needs of your future clients. From research to content production to lead generation, CLM will be part of your trust-building team.