Imagine the results you could achieve if you knew the Google search algorithm.
Just think of the organic traffic you could drive to your site if you knew exactly what Google was taking into account when generating search engine results, the precise amount each factor plays on rankings, and precisely what it would take to get to the top.
But of course, Google would never let you see behind the curtain. Not only could a bad actor use this information for nefarious purposes, but it would take all the fun out of search engine optimization.
So instead, every time there’s a new algorithm update, it’s up to us to figure out what exactly has changed and how to best leverage this to our advantage.
And because we in the search engine optimization world are a community, we tend to figure these things out collectively.
And because there are no (or very few, anyway) absolute answers, a lot of optimization comes down to best practices, theories, and outright guesswork.
Luckily, there’s a great way to determine if these theories are based on reality or just sheer conjecture. Of course, we’re talking about experimentation.
(Insert mad scientist laugh here.)
Before you get carried away and rush to put on your safety goggles and lab coats, relax. No bubbling beakers full of mystery liquids are involved, and your risk of accidentally creating a monster is very low.
(I would say zero, but I’ve seen the “Terminator” series, and it never explicitly says that a search engine optimizer didn’t create Skynet, so let’s play it safe.)
All your SEO experiments can be done from your desk chair’s comfort (and safety).
But before we dive into those, let’s first talk about how to test your SEO.
Steps For A Successful SEO Experiment
Thankfully, we don’t have to develop an entirely new framework for devising, conducting, and measuring our SEO tests – we can repurpose the scientific method you’re probably already familiar with.
Been a while since high school chemistry? Don’t worry; these five steps are sure to sound familiar:
- Make an observation. (E.g., my site is not on the first page of Google search results.)
- Ask a question and form a hypothesis. Is my meta description optimized for ranking? If I write better meta descriptions, it will improve my ranking.
- Gather data. Upon changing these descriptions, track the change in ranking position and site visits.
- Analyze the data. Create tables, graphs, and diagrams to help you understand the link between what was changed and changing results.
- Draw conclusions. Does the evidence support your prediction? Why or why not? Was site traffic increased due to your new meta descriptions, or did you also receive national news coverage during your testing period?)
You’ll want to do what marketers call A/B testing for accurate results. This means creating two versions of the same page, with only one difference, so you can see which gets the better response.
Before you start, keep one thing in mind: Incremental changes are essential. If you go wild and change all of these at once, you’ll have no idea which one(s) is making a difference.
Play it slowly and be patient. Test one, then wait for the results before moving on to the next. This will give you an obvious idea of what you need to do moving forward to ensure you’re always claiming front-page real estate.
With that out of the way, here’s a look at eight different things you can test to improve the ranking of your site:
1. SEO Title
Have you ever written what you thought was an amazing page title, only for Google to rewrite it in search results? That usually happens when the search engine doesn’t feel like your title was a good reflection of the page’s content.
But you can change this anytime you like.
And even if Google does replace the one you created, Google’s John Mueller confirmed the original title is still used for ranking purposes. This means even if you’re getting your SEO titles changed, it’s still a good idea to try to optimize them.
Here are a few things you can test to see if they generate results:
- Include your target keyword.
- Change their length (shorter is not always better).
- Experiment with brand name positioning or remove it altogether.
- Get click-baity (e.g., Do you want to lose 20 lbs. fast?).
- Add published date to demonstrate information relevancy.
- Get creative (people love what’s new and whimsical).
2. SEO Meta Description
Now, wait just a minute – you’re probably saying right now – Search Engine Journal has been clear that Google hasn’t used meta description in its rankings since sometime between 1999 and 2004.
Put down your pitchforks. Just because they aren’t a direct factor in SERPs doesn’t mean meta descriptions aren’t an essential SEO element.
For example, they can help improve your click-through rate, compel searchers, generate brand exposure, and help differentiate you from the competition. And all of these impact user behavior, which is a signal that Google factors in.
There have been entire articles written about creating awesome meta descriptions. But for our purposes, here are a few things you can A/B test to see if you can improve your organic traffic:
- Try different lengths. Traditional SEO wisdom suggests character count between 156-165 – see what works for you.
- Add keywords.
- Change your tone. Generally speaking, your style should match your brand’s voice, but for a specific page, maybe this isn’t the case.
- Get specific – are you getting a lot of visits from one long-tail keyword? Add that to your meta description.
3. Internal Anchor Text
You may know anchor text as the visible, clickable (usually blue) text in a hyperlink like this.
Not only is this useful for giving additional context to users, but Google has confirmed: Anchor text helps it better understand a page’s content, allowing it to rank those pages for relevant searches.
For example, in the paragraph above, “Google has confirmed” is the anchor text attached to the target link, which directs to a link proving that confirmation.
There are several types of anchor text you can use, including those with exact or partial-match keywords, branded (Search Engine Journal), images, generic (“click here”), and naked links (https://www.searchenginejournal.com).
To experiment with the impact, internal anchor text can have on your organic traffic. You can try things like:
- Changing their length (though shorter is often better).
- Adding keywords, particularly low-density keywords.
- Increasing specificity.
- Changing them to be more target link-specific.
4. Schema Markup
Schema markup is a type of structured data used by Google and other search engines.
Following guidelines established by Schema.org, it is essentially a lingua franca for search engines. It’s an established standard that uses a unique vocabulary to help search engines more clearly understand your content.
It’s used to create rich snippets for adding information about events, recipes, people, videos, reviews, and products, among other things. These, in turn, make your link appear more prominent in SERPs.
And while schema is not directly factored into your ranking score, like SEO title, it can improve your click-through rate and impact your user behavior scores.
Experiment with adding schema markup to your pages and see if it improves your results.
A picture is worth a thousand words – everyone knows that. This is because humans are visual creatures. And web designers and SEO professionals have recognized the importance of including images on webpages for a long time.
And it’s not just because they add visual interest and grab attention; they can also improve your search ranking.
Original (not stock), high-quality images optimized for SEO can reap the rewards.
Here are some things you can try with your images to improve your traffic:
- Add images. You should add images to every page. No one wants to read a wall of text.
- Choose a different file name. You want to immediately make it clear to Google what your image is depicting. Try adding your keywords.
- Change your formatting. There is no one-size-fits-all for digital images. You may want to change your file type depending on your image needs. JPEGs are good for larger photos. PNG files preserve background transparency.
- Compress files when possible. In general, smaller files are always better.
- Ensure responsiveness. With mobile search being such an essential factor in modern SEO, you want to ensure your images always look great on phones and desktops.
- Add alt text if the image can’t be displayed for some reason.
Your headlines and subheads give your page structure. This makes it easier for humans to browse and for search engines to understand what each section is about.
Google’s John Mueller was very clear about this, emphasizing the presence of any headings, not just H1s, sends a strong signal about the page’s content. It would be best if you took special care with all your H tags, from H1 down to H6. This is because they also serve as an accessibility aid and navigational tool in addition to their structural benefits.
Once upon a time, your headers were a massive factor in your ranking. But then, like always, people abused them, and Google started cracking down on keyword stuffing, overuse, and other dirty heading tricks.
That said, while they are far from the only factor Google takes into account, there is no question they are essential.
Here are a few things you can play with to try and improve your SEO results:
- Add more headings (except H1s). Improve the structure and clarity of your content by adding more subheads.
- Try using them to break up blocks of text. No one likes massive text blocks. H2s, H3s, etc., are the perfect solution.
- Add keywords. Like nearly everything else we’ve discussed, you should experiment with the use of keywords in your headings.
- Optimize for featured snippets. Grab attention and draw new traffic by claiming those special boxes on search results. Write your headers to land these.
- Get creative. Try making your headings and subheads more interesting.
7. Word Count
You already know content is the essential thing in any SEO strategy. But you may not have thought much about how the number of words you use can impact your ranking and traffic.
While you shouldn’t expect word count to push you over the top and take you from page six to the top result, it can help define your site as relevant and valuable to a search query – and draw in readers.
What do we mean by this? Again, it’s not a direct ranking factor, according to John Mueller.
With that said, longer-form copy tends to rank higher. This is because using more words provides Google with more information on what your page is about.
And if these longer pieces are well-written (like the one you’re reading in the author’s ever-so-humble opinion), they’ll help establish you as an authority on the topic.
And experimentation is easy. Take one of your existing articles or blog posts and duplicate it. On the second one, expound at greater length upon your topic.
Please note, we’re not talking about using your word count tricks from college (e.g., “at a later date” instead of just “later”). Instead, you should expand on ideas and topics, add examples and cite additional sources.
Then, see which one performs better on search engines. Chances are, it will be the longer one.
Read this piece for more on using word count for SEO optimization.
Some SEO experts will swear URLs with keywords perform better than generic ones. Is this the case?
Well, yes and no.
On the one hand, Google has confirmed when it performs its initial crawl of a site, keywords in URLs help it understand what the site is about.
However, as this is only factored in when a new site is crawled, its role in an ongoing SEO strategy is minimal.
But again, this doesn’t mean you can’t use them to your advantage. Clear URLs create a better user experience and can be used as naked anchor tags much more accessible than one with 75 random numbers and letters tacked on at the end.
Experiment with your URLs. Take some of your old, non-descriptive links and add keywords to them. Shorten long URLs.
If you’re worried about losing links from the old page, add a 301-redirect pointing to the new one.
Don’t Be Afraid To Try Something New
Search engine optimization is a constantly shifting landscape. Changing trends can change how people interact with your website.
As algorithms change and new technologies emerge, your strategy needs to evolve.
There has never been, and probably never will be, “set it and forget it” search engine optimization. It will always require forward-thinkers and people willing to experiment to find new ways to get their websites to the top of the rankings.
Who says you can’t be one of them? Someone had to be the first to figure out that keyword stuffing helped rankings, and someone else had to figure out when it stopped working.
If you’re willing to experiment and try new things, you may find the next brilliant new strategy. Just don’t forget to share it with us.
Featured Image: Tatyana Vyc/Shutterstock
How to Achieve 7-Figures with Your Law Firm Website
Many law firms are simply leasing space when it comes to their online marketing.
Your website, on the other hand, can be a 24/7 selling tool for your law firm practice. It can effectively become your greatest asset, getting leads and cases while you sleep.
In this guide, we’ll talk about how to turn your website into the ultimate marketing tool for your law firm practice and generate seven figures in revenue for your business.
A Well-Optimized Law Firm Website Can Yield Huge Results
With your law firm’s website, you can use content marketing to your advantage to generate lucrative results for your business. Content and SEO allow you to attract users organically and convert traffic passively into new cases for your law firm.
As an example, a high-ranking webpage in a competitive market getting 1,000 users per month can get huge results:
- Convert visitors at 2-5% = 20-50 leads.
- Convert even 10-20% of leads = 2-10 cases.
- Average $8000 revenue per case = $16,000-$80,000 monthly revenue from one page.
Over the course of a year, this could lead to high six-figures to seven-figures in revenue!
The Foundations Of A Revenue-Generating Law Firm Website
At its core, your law firm website should serve to speak to the needs, struggles, and interests of your target audience. It should be laser-focused on your practice area, who you serve, and what you have to offer.
With this in mind, a well-crafted website content strategy should define:
- Your business goals (the cases you want).
- What competitors are doing.
- What pages to write and keywords to target.
- How to use your content budget.
- Your editorial calendar.
- The purpose/intent of each page.
- PR and backlink strategy.
Below, we’ll dive deeper into how to develop this strategy, build out amazing content, and achieve your seven-figure revenue goals.
1. Define The Cases You Want
The first step to developing a successful website marketing strategy is to define the types of legal cases you want.
This activity will help you determine the types of people you want to reach, the type of content you should create, and the types of SEO keywords you need to target.
That way, you end up marketing to a more specific subset of potential clients, rather than a broad range of users.
Not sure where to set your focus? Here are a few questions that might help:
- Which of your cases are the most profitable?
- What types of cases are you not getting enough of?
- In what markets are you strongest?
- In which markets do you want to improve?
- Are there any practice areas you want to explore?
At the end of this activity, you might decide that you want to attract more family law cases, foreclosure law cases, or DUI cases – whatever it is, getting hyper-focused on the types of cases you want to attract will only make your website marketing even stronger.
2. Identify Your Top Competitors
One of the best ways to “hack” your website marketing strategy is to figure out what’s working for your competitors.
By “competitors” we mean law firms that are working to attract the types of cases you’re trying to attract, at the same level at which your law firm is currently operating.
I say this because I see many law firms trying to out beat and outrank the “big” fish and this can feel like a losing battle. You want to set your sights on your closest competitors, rise above them, and then get more competitive with your strategy.
Here are a few ways to identify your closest competitors:
- Conduct a Google search of your legal practice area + your service area (e.g., “family law Kirkland”, “DUI lawyer LA”, “Denver probate attorney” etc.). Take note of the top-ranking domains (i.e., websites).
- Use SEO tools like Semrush or Ahrefs to search your domain name. These tools will often surface close competitors to your domain.
- Using the same tools above, conduct organic research on your domain to see what keywords you are already ranking for. Search these keywords in Google and see what other domains come up.
- Use these tools to determine the domain authority (DA) of your domain. Compare this to the other top-ranking domains to see which domains have an authority score that’s similar to your own.
Be sure to look at your known business competitors as well.
These may or may not be ranking well in Google Search, but it’s still worth a peek to see if they are targeting any high-priority keywords that your website should be targeting.
3. Conduct A Content Audit Of Your Website
Your next step is to conduct an audit of your current website. This will allow you to take stock of what content is performing well, and what content requires improvement.
First, start with your main service pages.
Use SEO tools like Semrush or Ahrefs again to review the rank (position), performance, and keywords of each page. Identify any pages that are ranking low, or not at all.
Then, find “low-hanging fruit” pages. These are the pages that are ranking around position 5-10. They require less effort to optimize to reach those higher rank positions – compared to pages ranking at, say, position 59.
This compares your website’s performance to that of your closest competitors. It will show you a list of keywords that your competitors are ranking for that your website is not ranking for at all.
Finally, create an inventory of what pages you already have, which need to be revised, and which you need to create. Doing so will help you stay organized and stay on task when developing your content strategy.
4. Plan Your Content Silos
By this step, you will have a pretty good idea of what pages you already have, and which pages are “missing” from your strategy (based on the list of keywords you are not yet targeting).
From here, you will plan what’s called “content silos”.
Here is the basic process:
- Review an existing service page (if you have one) and optimize it as best you can. Ideally, this is a page that’s already performing well and is otherwise a “low-hanging fruit” page.
- If you don’t have any existing service pages, create one based on one of your high-priority keywords. Again, these should be a keyword that is meant to attract your preferred type of cases.
- Next, build a “silo” of content around your main page. In other words, create new pages that are topically related to your main service page, but that target slightly different keywords (ideally, “long-tail”, lower competition keywords).
- Add internal links between these pages and your primary service page.
- Over time, build backlinks to these pages (through guest posting, PR, content marketing, etc.)
Below is an example of a content silo approach for “personal injury:”
5. Identify Supporting Topics
As part of your website content strategy, you’ll then want to create other supporting content pieces. This should be content that provides value to your potential clients.
FAQs, blogs, and other service pages can support your main pages.
For example, if you are a DUI lawyer, you might want to publish an FAQ page that addresses the main questions clients have about DUI law, or a blog post titled “What to Do When You Get a DUI.”
There are a few tools you can use to research supporting topics:
- Semrush – Use this tool to identify untapped keywords, content topics, and more.
- AlsoAsked – Identify other questions people have searched for relevant to your primary topic.
- Answer the Public – Use this search listening tool to identify topics and questions related to your practice area.
Below is an example of how the full content silo can come together for “Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer:”
6. Build An Editorial Calendar
Once you have all of your content ideas down on paper, it’s time to develop your editorial calendar.
This is essentially a plan of what content you need to create when you want to publish it, and what keywords you plan to target.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Always prioritize main pages. These should be the first content pieces you create on your website.
- Create or revise your main pages and monitor their performance. Use Google Analytics and other SEO tools to keep your eye on how your content is performing.
- Depending on budget and urgency, you might start with all main pages, or go silo by silo. Determine which service pages are most important to you. You can create all of your main pages at once, or develop the entire silo as you go.
- Keep a record of your target keywords. Just because you “optimize” for them doesn’t mean your content will automatically rank for your target keywords. In your editorial calendar, keep track of the keywords you wish to target – by page – so you have a record of your original SEO strategy.
What Makes A Winning Law Firm Website Strategy?
The key to achieving seven figures with your law firm website is content.
Content allows you to target your ideal clients, attract your preferred cases, engage your audience, and so much more.
A well-thought-out content strategy will empower your website to achieve more for your business than any other marketing channel could!
Above, I outline a few steps to developing this type of winning strategy. But, achieving excellence takes time.
I recommend keeping your eye on the prize, monitoring performance, and making updates as you go along.
This will help you reach your desired result.
Featured Image: PanuShot/Shutterstock
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