In the ever-evolving world of digital marketing, law firms face a unique challenge: staying ahead in the dynamic landscape of Google’s search algorithm updates. Often shrouded in technical complexity, these updates are more than IT adjustments – they can often create turbulent shifts in how websites are discovered and ranked on search engine results pages (SERPS).
In this guide, our legal marketing expert, Armen Andonian, discusses the importance of creating evergreen marketing strategies to stay compliant with Google algorithm updates so that your law firm’s online content does not get penalised and your firm maintains a strong ranking on search engines.
Google Algorithm Updates Explained
At its core, Google’s algorithm is a complex system designed to return the most relevant and useful search results to users. It is constantly updated to enhance user experience and adapt to new internet trends whilst making sure that quality content that provides value outperforms subpar information. This is even more so today, in 2023 and 2024, after the release of ChatGPT and the mass commercialisation of AI content tools that have allowed content writers to flood the internet with low-value content that isn’t necessarily best designed for the user in mind but more so to manipulate rankings.
For law firms, understanding how Google updates work is not just about staying ahead on technical SEO; it’s about aligning their online presence with the digital behaviour of potential clients while at the same time respecting best practices to avoid penalties and manual actions from Google.
From the content-focused Panda update to the link-quality scrutinising Penguin to today’s Helpful Content and Core Updates, each significant Google algorithm change has redefined the rules of online visibility. For law firms, these are not just footnotes in digital marketing journals but can be pivotal events that can significantly alter their online exposure and client acquisition strategy.
What are the Core Objectives of Google’s Updates?
Google’s updates consistently aim to prioritise high-quality, relevant content while penalising unethical SEO practices. For law firms, the shortcut of keyword stuffing or building irrelevant backlinks is long gone, replaced by the necessity for genuine, informative content that resonates with their audience’s legal concerns and queries, which is even more important in today’s emergence of AI content tools.
SEO for Law Firms in the AI Era
In the context of creating a robust law firm SEO strategy, adapting to Google’s algorithmic changes means more than tweaking a few keywords. It’s about utilising a multi-dimensional approach that concentrates on high-level content creation, user experience, and technical and local SEO optimisation – all tailored to improving your law firm’s brand and digital footprint.
In today’s landscape, where AI tools are widely used, Google has openly stated that it is not against the use of such tools as long as the content is designed for the user in mind and is not a simple copy-and-paste job from a chatbot. Human editing is very much necessary, and believe it or not, Google’s algorithm is smart enough to know if your law firm’s SEO content marketing strategy has been quickly produced by an AI tool with no editing in place or if it has been written and edited by a human with the aim of providing absolute value to users.
With that in mind, content writers from all industries, including the legal industry, must respect some best practices to avoid unnecessary penalisation and shadow banning of websites from search engine results pages (SERPs)
Law Firm SEO Best Practices that Respect Google Algorithm Updates
Quality Content is King
The quality of content on a law firm’s website has never been more crucial. Google prioritises websites offering valuable, well-researched information. For law firms, this translates into crafting detailed blogs, case studies, and service pages that genuinely help and inform readers, not just contain keywords.
AI tools can be used to help write your content, but they can’t be the end-all solution. Human editing is still very much needed to create robust content that speaks to the heart of the reader and provides factual and helpful information that answers a legal query correctly.
User Experience and Mobile Optimization
With the advent of the Mobile-First Indexing and Core Web Vitals updates, Google emphasises user experience, particularly on mobile devices. Law firms must ensure their websites are responsive, load quickly, and offer an intuitive user interface. This is vital as more clients are likely to access legal services via smartphones.
According to a recent report, it was found that 60% of all searches today take place from a smartphone device over a desktop. Based on this, mobile optimisation has never been more critical than in 2024.
Establishing Topical Authority
Topical authority is the recognition by search engines, particularly Google, of a website’s expertise and credibility on a specific subject matter.
To establish topical authority for a law firm’s website, legal content writers should focus on creating comprehensive, in-depth content on legal topics. This involves writing detailed articles and guides, incorporating case studies and client testimonials, and regularly updating content with new legal developments. Participation in legal forums and online communities, along with collaborations with legal experts, can further enhance a law firm’s authority in their field.
Topical authority is achieved through a strategic approach of showcasing expertise and experience in specific legal areas. It’s essential for law firms to continuously add fresh content, keeping pace with evolving legal trends and engaging their target audience. This not only meets Google’s algorithm criteria but also builds trust and credibility with potential clients.
Robust Technical SEO
Technical SEO refers to the optimisation of website infrastructure and architecture to ensure search engines can effectively crawl, index, and interpret the site’s content.
Technical SEO is crucial for law firms, focusing on elements like internal linking, site structure, schema markup, and the use of low weight efficient website code. By ensuring these aspects, you allow the Google algorithm to effectively crawl and index your site in its full capacity.
Effective technical SEO involves creating a well-structured website that Google’s algorithms can easily understand. It can also include showcasing clear navigation, fast loading speeds, and mobile optimisation, all of which contribute to a better user experience and higher search engine rankings.
Adapting to Algorithm Changes
Adapting to Google’s algorithm changes is a critical aspect of law firm SEO. Law firms must stay current with SEO updates and regularly conduct website audits. This proactive approach helps identify and rectify areas needing improvement. Staying agile and responsive to these updates is key to maintaining or improving a law firm’s search engine rankings and ensuring visibility in search results.
In the dynamic landscape of SEO, law firms need to be vigilant and adaptable. Regularly updating SEO strategies in response to Google’s algorithm changes can prevent a law firm’s website from becoming de-ranked, outdated or irrelevant. This ongoing process ensures a firm remains competitive in search rankings and is accessible to potential clients seeking legal services online.
Avoiding Penalties and Over-Optimisation
In today’s age, law firms must avoid black-hat SEO tactics such as keyword stuffing, building weak and spammy backlinks and mass-producing content using AI tools with no human editing. Google’s algorithms have become increasingly sophisticated in identifying and penalising such strategies. A focus on ethical, white-hat SEO is not only good practice but essential for long-term success.
Looking Ahead: The Future of SEO for Law Firms
Looking ahead, the future of SEO for law firms with regard to how Google updates its algorithm is likely to continue focusing on user experience, content relevance, and mobile optimisation. As Google’s algorithms evolve, these elements will remain critical in determining a law firm’s online visibility. Law firms should monitor these trends and adapt their strategies accordingly.
Our team at Solicitors Marketing can play a pivotal role in helping your law firm navigate these changing SEO landscapes, ensuring that you stay ahead in terms of your firm’s online presence on search results and relevance to your target audience. Get in touch with us by filling out the form below to start the discussion of how we can help you with law firm excel.
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Armen is an On-Page SEO and Legal Marketing expert who is the CEO of Solicitors Marketing and ACERO. He frequently writes about subjects including SEO, Link Building, Digital Marketing and Law Firm Marketing. His passion for research and his ability to articulate complex ideas in a clear and engaging way has earned him a reputation as a highly skilled and versatile author and digital marketing expert.