Earlier this month, Google announced a “site diversity change,” creating a window of opportunity for smaller law firms that have struggled to claim space on the first page of search engine results.
While the change will not alter where websites are ranked in search results, it will impact the number of results from a single website domain and any subdomains.
The new plan is intended to prevent a single website from monopolizing the first page of Google searches by limiting individual sites to only two listings in top results in most instances.
This is not particularly good news for many law firms that have dominated the first page of results for certain topics. However, it presents a welcome scenario for smaller firm websites that contain solid information but never seem to be able to climb above the second or third page of search results.
Need help turning your legal marketing to-do list into reality? We can help with that! Muse Communications was named one of Dallas’ best legal public relations firms by the readers of Texas Lawyer (although we represent clients all over Texas). Just drop us a line.
What Google Site Diversity Change Means
Google essentially is saying the change is based on feedback the company has received from users who are tired of seeing search results from only a handful of sites when there are many others that include equally valuable information.
Some sites will continue to have more than two listings on the first page of search results if Google determines that it is “especially relevant to do so” for certain search terms. For example, the Yelp website still claims more than two listings on the front page when users search for “nail salons near me” or similar terms.
Google says it will continue to tweak the change to account for Yelp and other sites that continue to end up with more than two listings on the first page of results.
The company also announced that the site diversity change will now treat listings from website subdomains (such as blog pages) the same as the main website domain in most cases, although Google says subdomains may be treated as separate sites “when deemed relevant to do so.”
The true measure of the site diversity change likely will not be known for months, but the new dynamic means there will be fewer page-one search listings from individual domains. By default, that will clear room for other websites to jump higher in results for Google searches.
Making a Law Firm Website SEO Friendly
Google’s site diversity change will create previously unavailable space on the first page of search results for websites that contain quality information and are search engine optimized. Those sites that fail to meet those marks will have a hard time ranking any higher than they do currently.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is not something that happens overnight and there are many ways to help a website move up in search engine rankings. In fact, SEO is something of a “long game” based on a variety of factors, including competition for search phrases, the time required for search engine algorithms to evaluate and re-evaluate a site, and other factors.
Following are just a few of the recognized ways to help a website with SEO. There are many others:
Relevant Content is Key – Search engines reward websites with relevant content and punish those that do not. For example, an employment law firm site that devotes more pages to lawyer bios than employment topics may never realize a first-page search ranking. The key is using descriptive, understandable text that clearly shows a firm’s capabilities and expertise.
Mobile-Friendly is a Must – Since last year, Google has adopted a “mobile-first” policy when it comes to indexing websites. That means that Google will only crawl and index a page based on how it appears on a mobile device such as a smartphone. That is because more people use mobile devices than desktop computers to conduct online searches. Websites that are not mobile-friendly risk being relegated to the bottom of search listings.
Eliminate “Dead End” Pages – If Google or other search engines are unable to “crawl” a website’s content, then that site will not be ranked highly in organic searches. Sites that include “dead end” pages that do not allow users (or web crawlers) to navigate to other areas of the site rank lower in search results.
Get Up to Speed – Websites that are slow to load or have long wait times when clicking on different pages rank lower in search results. Google recommends no more than a 3-second load time when someone tries to access a website. There are many tools for improving website load speed, including compressing image files, eliminating unnecessary plugins, using a content delivery network, and fixing broken links, just to name a few.
The Google site diversity change creates a great opportunity for law firms that historically have ranked outside the first page of search results. The firms that take advantage of this new window by making sure their sites are best positioned to be recognized by search engines will reap the rewards.
Bruce Vincent is a writer and editor who regularly helps lawyers and law firms build quality websites that rank high on Google and other search engines. Contact Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on making your site perform its best.