Nine Startling Google Factoids about Legal and Professional Services Marketing
(Originally published December 19, 2019, in The Lawyer’s Daily, a LexisNexis publication)
1. Fact: Google owns 93 per cent of all web searches in Canada. Canada loves Google even more than the Americans do.
This means: Your website needs to be optimized for Google Chrome. You need to be using tried-and-true principles of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to build your website, right out of the gate. If you’re not doing this, do not expect any leads off your website.
If you do not make it clear what business you are in, or what service you are providing, Google spends zero time figuring it out. If you are neither fish nor fowl, your website goes quite simply to the end of the line. Period.
2. Fact: 92 per cent of people don’t go to page two of any Google search.
This means: There is a battle for all 10 organic spots on page one of any search. But the space allotted to organic listings is getting smaller and smaller. There are now ads in Google Business Listings (the listings under the local map of business providers).
In fact, there is an old joke about this: “Where is the best place to hide a dead body?” “On page 2 of Google, because no one ever goes there!”
3. Fact: There are no humans behind Google search; it is all bots, artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics.
This means: If Google “gets it wrong,” there is no one to complain to. Sometimes Google puts in a search result that is wrong, or from another geography rather than a local result. With Google, there is no appeal process. Arguing with machines seldom produces good results.
4. Fact: The top three organic ranking spots divide 60 per cent of the leads among them. Importantly, organic traffic has a higher “close rate.” People trust organic rankings. The top organic spot enjoys 33 per cent of web traffic. The second spot gets 15 per cent of traffic. The third spot gets nine per cent. From there, it is a steep drop.
This means: Everyone else fights for the remaining scraps of business.
5. Fact: When people are ready to buy goods or services (legal, mediation, arbitration, coaching), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is effective. About 41 per cent of people click on the top three Google ads on any page. To be effective, it takes a large budget ($30,000 and up annually, with $50,000 and $100,000 not uncommon) to see results with Google ads.
This means: The effectiveness of Google ads for the legal and professional ADR industry is almost three per cent.
6. Fact: Google dislikes websites that are static — essentially like brochures, but just online.
This means: You need to add fresh content monthly: blogs, videos, FAQs, social media interactions, client testimonials, etc. Your website cannot be inert in an ocean of activity that is the World Wide Web. In fact, Google is now serving up video results from YouTube along with everything else. In the same vein, Google dislikes abandoned blogs, videos, etc. (you get downgraded for an abandoned Blog).
7. Fact: Google has 220-plus criteria that it measures to rank websites.
This means: Some of these are more important than others. The most important ones are: 1) the age of the domain name (when did you register the domain name?), 2) an exact match on the domain name and what people type in to the browser bar, 3) a broad-and-deep website (100-plus pages with content to inform, educate, and engage your web visitors), and 4) inbound links from other high Domain Authority (DA) websites, including real media such as TV, newspapers, magazines.
8. Fact: Google changes its algorithms regularly and no longer announces its algorithm changes.
This means: Over the long term, your efforts to improve your website will be rewarded if you do the basics, do them well, and do them consistently.
One of the last algorythm changes in late 2019 was to eliminate “content farms” that produce pretty much useless copy. Perhaps you have read these “SEO Blogs”? Having read one, you are no better informed. You wonder why you bothered reading it. Copy from “content farms” sounds like a broken parrot; just a bunch of words strung together. Google now wants to see a) a byline on every Blog (who was the author?) and b) a date on every published Blog.
9. Fact: While you are improving your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), so are your competitors. Your Google rankings can drop and it is not your fault; you are doing the same good things as before.
This means: SEO is always a work in progress. Google wants to see continuous improvement. You are never done.
Jana Schilder is co-founder of The Legal A Team, a marketing, public relations and social media agency for lawyers and law firms. She also wrote the book on public relations for lawyers, available at Lexis Practice Advisor (LPA). Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 416-831-9154.