With so many search marketers out there trying to figure out how to reverse engineer Google’s algorithm to attain “top rankings”, it got me wondering what results we might attain by “giving Google what it wants.” Which begs the question, “What does Google want” from webmasters?
Here are some design and content guidelines from Google’s own website:
- Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.
- Offer a site map to your users with links that point to the important parts of your site. If the site map has an extremely large number of links, you may want to break the site map into multiple pages.
- Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number.
- Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.
- Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.
- Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn’t recognize text contained in images. If you must use images for textual content, consider using the “ALT” attribute to include a few words of descriptive text.
- Make sure that your <title> elements and ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate.
- Check for broken links and correct HTML.
- If you decide to use dynamic pages (i.e., the URL contains a “?” character), be aware that not every search engine spider crawls dynamic pages as well as static pages. It helps to keep the parameters short and the number of them few.
- Review our image guidelines for best practices on publishing images.
And here are some quality guidelines:
- Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines. Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as “cloaking.”
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
- Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.
- Don’t use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our Terms of Service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold™ that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google.
If you have been trying to trick Google by engaging in some seo scheme, without generating much in terms of results, you may want to consider taking a more “Googley Approach To SEO”.
Now don’t misunderstand me. Simply writing quality content without any attention to search engine principles is very unlikely to produce results for you. This is especially true in the highly competitive legal professional search space. However, many of the “seo scams” out there are just as unlikely to produce results too. Therefore, on balance, you are often better off shifting your law firm seo strategy to one that delivers to Google what it is looking for.
The truth is, there are many ways to increase your law firm’s visibility on the web without gaming Google.
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