Making Friends with the Google Algorithm: For Lawyers
So we’ve all heard about the importance of understanding the Google algorithm. – that mysterious, slightly intimidating cobweb of artificial intelligence that can cause traffic to your law firm website to skyrocket or to limp feebly into oblivion. A lot rides on this vague, little-understood confluence of signals at Google. The algorithm impacts your online marketing efforts, your revenue, and the value of your brand.
Now seems like a good time to become better friends with the Google algorithm, which actually is made up of many baby algorithms. First, we’ll find out exactly what an algorithm is. Then we’ll dig deeper into Google to find out how it uses artificial intelligence to identify and surface pertinent information and rank it based on relevance.
Here’s the definition of an algorithm, according to Wikipedia:
In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm (/ˈælɡərɪðəm/) is a finite sequence of well-defined, computer-implementable instructions, typically to solve a class of problems or to perform a computation. Algorithms are always unambiguous and are used as specifications for performing calculations, data processing, automated reasoning, and other tasks.
Gulp! Yeah, okay, that’s pretty much what we thought. Got it. (clear throat and swallow hard here)
Hmm, you know, there’s gotta be a simpler definition. Let’s see … Oxford Languages explains it this way:
Algorithm – a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.
Whew! Much better! We can get our heads around that. It’s a set of rules that affect computer calculations.
Lesson #1: Don’t let technical jargon throw you for a loop. If something sounds overwhelmingly complicated, find a simpler explanation.
Alright, so we know that an algorithm is a set of rules. So that must mean that Google’s algorithm is a series of rules designed by the company to determine how to find answers to users’ queries. So the next logical question is, where do we find the rules?
This part gets a little tricky. Google doesn’t tell us the rules (considered proprietary), but they give us little hints – a trail of breadcrumbs – to help us guess what their algorithm likes … and what it does’t like. It’s a bit like reading tea leaves. Google also issues ongoing updates to offer additional hints.
Here’s what Search Engine Journal has to say about the history of Google’s algorithms:
Google’s algorithms are a complex system used to retrieve data from its search index and instantly deliver the best possible results for a query. The search engine uses a combination of algorithms and numerous ranking signals to deliver webpages ranked by relevance on its search engine results pages (SERPs). In its early years, Google only made a handful of updates to its algorithms. Now, Google makes thousands of changes every year.
Thousands of changes every year! Good grief! Who can keep up?
Lesson #2: You can’t know everything, so focus on the most important stuff.
Some of Google’s updates are really big, and many others are pretty small. The really small ones are the kinds of things that a guy who plays video games and has a subscription to Wired magazine would think were really cool. For the most part, you don’t have to worry about those. Big updates are important enough to merit special names. Some of the major updates that you might want to familiarize yourself with are:
While these are by no means all of the major updates by Google, they offer a sampling of some of the things you might want to know about how Google algorithms work. Search Engine Land also offers a nifty explanation of several major updates in the article “8 major Google algorithm updates, explained.”
How Does SEO for Lawyers Interact with Google Algorithms?
Great question! SEO for lawyers is a precise practice in which content creators and other search engine professionals research and identify phrases they incorporate into written text on a web page. It also involves several steps, some seen by the reader, and others seen only by search engines that offer signals that are road signs to the Google algorithm. SEO for lawyers involves meta descriptions, backlinks, research and a whole bunch of other efforts that, in effect, say to Google algorithms: “Hey, big guy, over here! We’ve got what you’re looking for!”
Lawyers may be able to do a bit of this SEO footwork for themselves if they construct their own web sites in-house. Perhaps this describes you. If, on the other hand, your desk is overflowing with voluminous case files and you have a waning hope of getting out of the office in time for your kid’s soccer game, then you might want to hire an SEO for lawyers professional to help optimize your site to make it more attractive to Google.
Law firm SEO requires a bit of science and a bit of art. When you understand how the Google algorithm impacts law firm sites as opposed to sites selling bath towels, you are on your way to a well-optimized site. Want an SEO company that specializes in law firms to look under the hood? Give our Gladiator professionals a shout at 888-683-3212 and let’s talk through some ideas about your site.
Lesson #3: If the beach is calling and you’re short on time, call in the professionals.
Okay, so here’s what we know so far:
- An algorithm is a set of rules.
- Google has a set of rules that determine which websites and passages they surface in answer to a user’s query.
- Google doesn’t tell you how their algorithm works, but they offer you lots of hints.
- If you’d rather go to the beach or binge on Netflix, hire a professional law firm SEO agency to manage the Google algorithm on your behalf.
How Do I Stay Informed About Google Algorithms?
Google Search is a great place to find resources. It is chock full of information about how search algorithms work, what Google considers useful responses to a query, the relevance and usability of websites, the quality of content, and a whole bunch of other cool insider info about the Google algorithm. It’s worth spending a little time on the Google Search site to familiarize yourself with what’s there.
There are also industry magazines and websites that can help explain Google algorithm updates in layman’s language. Some of these include:
Lesson #4: Don’t be afraid to ask questions and acknowledge what you don’t know.
In some crowds, it feels like you’re confessing to a bank robbery if you say you really don’t understand algorithms and are baffled by what they do. It’s okay. You’re a lawyer and your arena is arguing in front of juries and winning big cases for clients. You don’t have to know all the nitty-gritty about the Google algorithm because that’s something you can delegate to others. It is handy, though, to have a glancing knowledge of algorithms so you can ask informed questions and digest information.
SEO for lawyers is an evolving and exciting field. It can drive traffic to your website, enhance conversions, increase your leads, and boost your bottom line. The Google algorithm is at the heart of search engine optimization, and law firms benefit by staying up to date on the changes and developments over at Google. Gladiator Law Marketing enjoys collaborating with clients who want to leverage SEO for attorneys and outperform their competitors.
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