Earlier this month there were reports of a new Google algorithm update. Referred to as the “Medic Update” by some, it seems to target what Google refers to as Your Money Your Life (YMYL) websites. Even though a large portion of the sites affected by this update are in the medical vertical, hence the name “Medic Update,” law firm websites also fall under the YMYL umbrella. Attorneys, just like those in the medical space, could see long-lasting effects of this update if they aren’t improving their E-A-T.
YMYL and EAT
With many people getting important, life influencing information off the internet nowadays Google realizes that the information provided on certain websites “could potentially impact the future happiness, health, or wealth of users.” These sites are referred to as "Your Money, Your Life" pages. A number of different verticals fall under the YMYL category: Financial Information, Medical Information, Banking, Shopping, and, of course, Legal.
YMYL pages were first discussed when a copy of the Google Search Quality Raters Guidelines was first officially released years ago. Since that first release, Google has continued to release the Guidelines on an almost annual basis. Each year SEO’s dissect the Guidelines to find new hints, clues, tips, and tricks to get their site’s to rank better. While there is a plethora of great information in the Guidelines, there is one constant when it comes to YMYL pages and it’s that site’s have to show their Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness or, EAT.
When a user comes to your law firm’s website can they tell by looking at it that you are an expert in your field? What have you done to prove your site’s authoritativeness? Are you showing users that your website can be trusted?
While many SEO’s were convinced Google was targeting the Health and Medical verticals with the “Medic Update”, SEO Marie Haynes points out that many of the sites affected simply weren’t showing their EAT.
So, before Google releases a “Lawyer Update” let’s take a look at a couple things you can do to improve your site’s EAT.
EAT Your Website with Trust Badges
Trust badges are icons, badges, or symbols you can add to your website to show your expertise and build trust with your audience (E and T!). Most major legal directories (Avvo, Super Lawyers, Justia, Martindale Hubbel) hand these out like RA’s hand out condoms at freshman orientation.
The logos of legal organizations or state bar associations are also great trust badges. These can show potential clients you’re active in the legal community.
Be careful when looking for opportunities to add these badges to your website, though. There are a number of directories ego-baiting attorneys into paying large sums of money for worthless directory listings and badges that say “Multi-Millionaire Lawyer! Great Job!” It takes more than a badge to be a great lawyer, so don't get caught up in this racket or you may find your self spending thousands each year on meaningless accolades.
EAT Your Schema
Schema, a type of structured data, is used to tell Google information about your website that can’t be misconstrued.
It’s a rare ability to speak to Google Crawlers in a language they understand.
Schema is a powerful tool that can add value to your website and help generate traffic. You can add Legal Services schema to tell Google and Bing specific details about your firm. You can add review schema to certain pages to add review stars and increase click-through rates. It can even be used to improve your firm's EAT.
Certain properties of the Legal Services Schema and the Attorney Schema can be used to show your firm’s EAT. Use the memberOf property to list the bar associations to which your firm belongs, the legal organizations where your attorneys are involved, and the local associations your attorneys spend their time. Use the award property to brag about your firm or personal accomplishments. Some other properties that could be used to show EAT: sponsors, sameAs, description and possibly even knowsAbout.
EAT Your Reviews
What more needs to be said about reviews? Both your potential clients and Google see them and take them into consideration when determining your EAT. It’s likely the one thing that can change the perception of your firm overnight (for good or bad). If obtaining positive reviews on multiple websites isn’t part of your marketing plan you’re firm is missing out.
EAT Your Links
In the soon to be famous words of Gyi, “meh, links”.
Ultimately, this is what will set you apart from the competition. If you’re getting links from other websites that Google views as experts, authoritative and trustworthy, then your site will be EAT by association.
Make a list of all the organizations (legal and non-legal) for which your firm and attorneys are involved. Go out and do what you can to get links from those websites. If there isn’t a directory of members where you can easily place a link, offer to write a blog post, sponsor an event, write a testimonial, donate your time, or ask how you can help out.
Any link you get is a vote of confidence. Focus your efforts on getting links from other sites that prove their EAT and Google will start to see your site in the same light.
Just like anything in SEO, don’t expect to see changes overnight. You didn’t get through law school or build your firm overnight, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness aren’t built overnight. If you work at putting the practices above into place you can be confident in your website if Google does release that “Lawyer Update”.
Need help building your firm's EAT? We can help with that.