Recovery from Google Penalty or Devaluation
If your law firm website has been affected by a recent Google update, we must first diagnose what triggered the penalty or devaluation.
Contact us today for a free website audit and market analysis that will reveal why your law firm’s website has seen a decrease in search engine rankings and number of visitors. The direct line to Co-Founder Tom Desmond is 212-960-8584.
Here are the most common causes of Google algorithmic penalties.
8 Common Causes of a Google Penalty
1. Anchor Text Overuse. This one is all too common because it used to work so well. Anchor Text is the clickable words in a link. Website owners discovered the more you used a phrase as Anchor Text, the higher you would rank in Google for that phrase. Naturally, they overdid it… and this was an easy fix for Google. Any site that uses a phrase too often as Anchor Text, will not rank well for that phrase because Google sees it as blatant manipulation.
2. Keyword Stuffing. In the glory days of the Net, website owners discovered that the more you used a phrase on your website, the higher you would rank in Google for that phrase. This is similar to Anchor Text Overuse except that Keyword Stuffing focuses on words on your website while Anchor Text focuses on words on other sites.
3. Duplicate Content. When identical content is found, either on multiple pages of the same website or on different websites, Google will rank the most authoritative website for relevant terms found in the content. Therefore, your website will likely be omitted from the search results for these relevant terms so that Google doesn’t show its visitors the exact content multiple times.
4. Not Mobile-Friendly. This is a brand new update aimed at devaluing sites not properly formatted for mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). With over half of all visitors using a mobile device, if your website is not user-friendly for them, Google will send less of those people to you.
5. Over-Optimized Homepage. So many law firms want their homepage (the front page of their law firm website) to appear for every relevant keyword people search for. Unfortunately, it can’t. This focus on the homepage leaves the pages meant for ranking, the inner pages, no where to be found. An Over-Optimized Homepage is more of obstacle than penalty but it’s so prevalent, we decided to include it.
6. Thin Content. Google’s popular Panda and Penguin updates devalued sites with very little content. If your law firm’s website is filled with pages with either no text or only a few paragraphs of text, you’re not going to do very well in search results.
7. Unnatural Linking. Normally, Google will put up with all types of links before responding. But, when you cross the invisible threshold of high quantity and/or low quality, your site gets filtered off of the first page of Google.
8. Not Social Enough. Google’s ranking formula (algorithm) has been moving towards a more social experience for years. They’ve been pushing for people, and businesses, to use their social network, Google Plus, and have experimented with ways of showing results based on the interests of a user’s friends. Social signals, or social media links and activity around your firm, has become a critical factor in how well you do in search results. It’s no coincidence that the top ranking firms are also active socially online.
Once we diagnose the cause of the penalty, we will then suggest ways to fix it and get back on Google’s good side. Here are possible courses of action for each cause.
Ways to Recover from a Google Penalty
2 Ways to Dilute Anchor Text Over-Optimization
There are two ways to dilute the percentage a phrase is used as Anchor Text. We can either change the Anchor Text of existing links or create new links with different anchor text. If a site has a few links, this might be a viable option. However, a site with thousands of links is harder (and will take longer) to recover because of the amount of work it will take to dilute the Anchor Text percentages. We won’t know until we perform a complete law firm website audit.
How to Fix Keyword Stuffing
For webpages with too many instances of a phrase, we can change the wording until the usage of that phrase falls to within an acceptable range. We may need to create new content to dilute the percentage or we can simply edit the words on the existing page.
How to Clean Up Duplicate Content Issues
We should run your website through a premium Plagiarism Checker to identify webpages containing duplicate content. Then we must delete or “noindex” what we find, if we have access to those pages. If not, we can always change the content on your site to make it one hundred percent unique.
3 Ways to Make a Law Firm Website Mobile-Friendly
We need to make your law firm’s website mobile-friendly immediately. To accomplish this we have three possible courses of action.
- We can redesign your current website and the new (different) design will be responsive (automatically resize for people using a mobile device).
- We can transform your current website into a responsive one. This will preserve the look of your site but when someone views it on a mobile device, it will automatically reformat it for them.
- We can create a completely separate mobile website that mobile users are automatically redirected to when they stop by.
How to Get Around an Over-Optimized Homepage
To remedy this issue, we can build and optimize pages specifically targeted to different searchers. That way, you are giving people what they want, not what you think they should see.
What to Do About Thin Content
The way to fix this one is obvious. You need more high quality, unique textual content on the webpages of your site. This is especially true for the important Target Keyword Pages you’d like to rank. It will also help to add properly optimized images and videos if possible.
Unnatural Links Remedy
We must first create a few new links in order to see how your website will respond. If nothing happens, then we have a decision to make. We can either take a long term recovery approach, building links over time in hopes that the site will someday recover. Or we can leave the site as is and move everything to a new domain.
Ways to Get More Social Signals
The very first way to get more social trust signals to your website is by publishing and sharing your own content on a regular basis. If your firm’s website seems to be lacking a social side, we can discuss blogging and social media syndication options to get you in the game.
Are your eyes glazing over?
If all you know is that less people are coming to your website from Google and you can’t understand a word of the above, give us a call immediately at 212-960-8584. We will evaluate your situation and propose a few courses of action, along with the pros and cons of each. Click this link to learn more about Law Firm SEO.