Thursday, April 14, 2011

SEO For Lawyers- Has Search Engine Evolution Gone Too Far?

Lawyer marketing professionals have for a long time known that the Internet has replaced the Yellow Pages as the go-to source for consumers looking to research and hire an attorney. The evolution of the search engines has been both incredible and frustrating to searchers, as more and more marketers, for the legal category and other goods and services, focus all of their efforts on getting to the top of the natural search pages. Incredible because of all of the available information and content and frustrating because some potentially valuable information has become buried several pages down in the search results.
In the beginning, research on the Internet was less sophisticated and finding the information you were searching for was a challenge. As the web matured and the algorithms used by Google and other search engines became more discerning and powerful, it became possible to become nearly an expert on almost any topic in a very short time by using Google for research. If that subject pertained to information needed by a consumer seeking legal guidance and quality content was provided by lawyer marketing efforts, it was easily found.
As the Internet and search has evolved both technologically and economically, the competition has heated up in the fight for the top positions on the search engine results pages (SERPS). In years past, Googling a topic, like car accident lawyer, meant finding results and in many cases, locating several lawyers marketing your geographic area. As the competition for Internet real estate has heated up, and clever marketers have learned how to “game” the search engines, more and more junk websites, known as web spam, have made their way to the top of the results page, squeezing out more relevant results. Some of these sites are content farms that have taken advantage of the search engine’s affinity for back links and key word intensive pages. The content may not be that useful, but still appear high in the search results.
The key question is how does this behavior impact lawyer marketing on the web and search engine optimization for lawyers. Some lawyer SEO professionals might be tempted to take this “black hat” approach to enhance their results. That is a shortsighted view and although it may help lawyer marketing efforts in the short run, ultimately as Google and the other search engines adjust their algorithms to favor less repetition and content duplicated from other sites to help alleviate the problem, there will be a penalty to pay.
Law firms should always rely on lawyer marketing firms that provide ethical SEO for lawyers and rely on Google’s guidelines to ensure that over the long haul, the law firm websites they market obtain and maintain their rankings. Google has always attempted to stop the gaming and unethical attempts to increase rankings. High quality relevant content and great user experiences will always win in the rankings.
For more information on ethical SEO for lawyers or custom legal web design contact Rene perras.

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