EAT for Lawyers
While “EAT” leads most of us to think about restaurants or a plate full of delicious food, it means something entirely different in the world of Google. EAT for lawyers speaks to the credibility and perceived authority of an attorney within the legal field. It lets Google know if the content on your law firm website is well-researched, vetted, and backed up by years of experience and education.
Defining EAT for Lawyers
“EAT” is insider SEO lingo for the elements that Google says are essential to achieve credibility and excellence in your online content. It also affects Google’s assessment of your site’s quality. These elements include:
Google wants to highlight websites that appear to have the most legal authority, credentials, and comprehensive information when generating search results for users. Google uses its Search Quality Rater Guidelines to make sure it produces relevant results from the most reliable sources available. While Google is notoriously tight-lipped about how its algorithm works, the company does provide nuggets of information here and there that give insight into their search process. Google tells us that information quality is at the heart of search results. Therefore, your law firm’s online content must be authoritative, fresh and compelling, and it must demonstrate your expertise in various practice areas. You must also be perceived as trustworthy. Google will rank law firm sites in response to a query based on a few simple ideas:
- Does this site meet the user’s needs?
- How helpful and satisfying is this result?
- What is the page quality?
- Can we trust this source?
If Google can answer yes to the above questions when evaluating a page on your site, your chances of ranking near the top of search results significantly increases. If Google answers “no” to these questions, then your site hasn’t met the EAT for lawyers test. Google’s algorithm is extremely sophisticated and sensitive when it comes to ranking content, and the old run-of-the-mill writing or cut-and-paste solutions don’t make the grade these days. Do yourself a favor – write original content that investigates and explains specific legal topics and trends.
Why Authorship Matters
No amount of bells and whistles with your website design can make up for low-quality content when it comes to user experience and Google ratings. Haphazard and low-grade content are deal-breakers.
Google likes content that users can trust is accurate. Don’t you? One way to evaluate trustworthy content is to evaluate the author. Imagine reading a book about quantum physics written by a chef. While some chefs may have a past life as physicists, it is probably pretty rare.
How do you determine if a writer has expertise in quantum physics? You research the author to find evidence of education and achievement in that field. Similarly, if you find a legal resource online, you are more likely to trust the information if it’s written by an attorney — preferably an experienced, well-qualified attorney who has won awards, sits on boards, and has stellar education and publication credentials.
EAT for Lawyers: Prove Expertise
To drive home EAT, highlight the expertise of your lawyers and firm by creating richly textured attorney bios, including educational pedigree, achievements and professional citations or awards. Be viewed as a subject-matter expert that potential clients, even journalists or peers, can rely on. Content should be authored with expertise and agility, and, when applicable, information needs to be backed up by undisputable facts and reliable sources. Create high-quality, compelling, and original content, and keep it updated as laws and trends change.
EAT for Lawyers: Illustrate Authoritativeness
Ask yourself: Why should potential clients listen to me? What authority do I have? There are thousands of law firms and websites out there competing for clients’ attention. Users make split-second decisions about whether to stay on your page and keep reading or jump to a different page and forget about you. Tell your readers relevant information that they can’t find elsewhere. Ditch happy marketing language and focus on clear, concise, informative statements. Content should speak with authority and command the reader’s attention.
EAT for Lawyers: Be Trustworthy
Nobody likes a speaker who comes off as shady or less than trustworthy. Trust is key in getting user buy-in (as well as Google’s). Make sure your online reviews are at least four stars or higher. If they’re not, spend time asking clients for more reviews and evaluate the quality of your customer service. It’s very hard to convince users that you’re trustworthy if there are lots of harsh and derogatory online reviews that criticize your legal services. Consumers trust other consumers, and they read reviews before hiring and attorney.
Toot Your Own Horn
Make clear to your site’s readers that you are a law firm they can trust and rely on to look out for their interests and achieve the best outcome possible in their case. Most people shopping for an attorney are stressed and confused – think of an accident victim or someone facing bankruptcy – and they want to be reassured that they’re in good hands. Convey a sense of legal competence, confidence, and compassion, and help them feel protected and understood.
Awards. For starters, don’t be shy about listing awards won by attorneys and your firm overall. Note memberships in law-related organizations, and don’t forget to note any positions of leadership held in those organizations – past or present. Mention quality ratings on law directories like Martindale-Hubbell or Avvo. List titles of presentations you’ve given. Don’t forget to show your education, too. Be sure to note the degrees earned and at what schools.
Press Coverage. Did you win a big case and get press coverage? Were you a legal resource to whom a journalist turned for input? Promote such stories by linking to them from your website. While you’re at it, be sure you also linked to organizations and directory profiles with ratings.
Settlements and Jury Awards. If you’ve won lawsuits with big-dollar settlements and awards, consider dedicating a page on your site to listing these large payouts.
Client Reviews. Prove that those you helped give you a thumbs up, too. Obtain positive, credible client reviews in locations like your Google Business Profile page, Avvo and even Facebook. Don’t ignore legal sites that offer opportunities for peer reviews. Client (and even peer) testimonials on your site can boost your trust factor. Any kind of online third-party endorsement that Google can find from clients, media, and community leaders can also increase the perceived trustworthiness of your online content.
Community Involvement. Promote your firm’s involvement in the community and announce charities, clubs, and teams sponsored by your firm. This shows you are committed to your community and invested in serving those local to your firm.
Backlinks. And while you’re at it, do a review of the backlinks to your website – are there links from credible and trustworthy sites? Are there broken links? Consider backlinks to be a vote of confidence. If writers on another site believe the information you provide is so trustworthy and useful that they link to you, it is a signal to Google that your information is high quality.
Google Considers Law Firms “YMYL” Websites
“YMYL” stands for “Your Money or Your Life,” which is Google’s shorthand for identifying online content that it considers critical and life-impacting. Such content includes medical, legal, financial and transactional websites. Google holds YMYL content to an even higher standard of quality because it believes users’ safety and well-being are at stake when they use these sites. So be forewarned, any legal online content is going to face the highest level of scrutiny by Google.
Creating Content that Highlights EAT for Lawyers
To increase EAT for lawyers, first do an audit of the content that’s already on your website. Get a snapshot of where you are now so you can plan for ways to improve EAT. Begin by asking yourself these questions:
- Is it clear who is the content author and that he/she has expertise and credibility?
- Are there any on-site testimonials, user reviews or other third-party endorsements?
- What off-site reputation information is available about my firm?
- Is there legal advice or statistics that should be kept up-to-date on my site?
Quality content should make it abundantly clear who has authored the information. Content should not employ a rambling, omniscient voice that is untethered to any easily identifiable source. The “voice” or “point-of-view” of blogs and posts should be an attorney with expertise. His or her name should be included in a byline or an author blurb at the bottom of the post, preferably with a headshot photo and a link to a longer attorney bio.
Reviews and Testimonials
There’s no way to overstate the importance of positive client reviews and testimonials when it comes to brand equity and Google quality ratings. They are essential. Consider having a stand-alone “Testimonials” page on your site or float individual testimonials at the top of practice area pages.
If you were to research your attorneys’ reputations on the internet, could you find clear examples of why they are considered authoritative and trustworthy? Do a Google search of your firm’s and attorneys’ names to see what’s being said about you on other sites. You might be surprised.
There’s nothing worse than going to a website with outdated statistics or information that is sleepy and past its prime. And we’ve all seen those sparkling announcements about “upcoming events” that took place 6 months ago. Nothing sinks your credibility faster than outdated content. A website is a living, breathing organism that must be tended continually just like a garden. Be sure to review your online content regularly and update statistics, event dates and news references.
Gladiator Law Marketing Can Help
If you’re uncertain whether your law firm website conveys strong EAT signals, professional law firm marketers can help. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we’ve helped dozens of satisfied clients boost their EAT for lawyers by creating compelling, well-researched content that highlights lawyers’ expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. We’d be happy to have a conversation with you about how to do this. Call our award-winning firm for a free consultation at 888-683-3212.
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