Search engine optimization (SEO) is a constantly evolving science, yet there are fundamentals that will remain the same. SEO experts understand the latest trends but also adhere to time-tested methods so that they don’t make missteps that can lead to low performance or, even worse, penalties. Adopting the right methodologies while letting go of outdated practices will lead to real change in your search performance over time. To help law firms make the most of this dynamic process, we’ve compiled a list of the biggest SEO trends and new best practices.
1. User experience (UX) will take center stage
Law firm marketers know that improving the experience for people once they reach their site is essential—that’s UX 101. As it turns out, however, good UX will have a more prominent impact on search engine rankings going forward. Google Search will now factor a sizable handful of UX signals into its rankings, including Google’s new Core Web Vitals.
2. Increased importance of artificial intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has changed how people interact online, and will continue to play a larger role in digital experiences. Especially worth noting is Google’s machine learning algorithm called RankBrain, which has a unique ability to learn and rank websites based on “experience signals” (such as time on page or click-through rates).
3. Voice queries have more impact on search
Thanks to innovations like Amazon’s Alexa and enhanced mobile phone technology, voice search has come a long way, but there is even more to come – the percentage of households predicted to have smart speakers by 2022 is 55%! To optimize for this, consider keywords that mirror the way people speak, including longer, more natural-sounding phrasing. See: How Law Firms Should Optimize Content for Voice Search.
4. Mobile-friendliness matters in search results
Research predicts that nearly 73% of internet users will access the internet solely by mobile devices by 2025. Meanwhile, Google rolled out mobile-first indexing which primarily looks at the mobile version of a website. That means mobile usability has never been more important. You can determine how effective your mobile site is with Google’s free mobile-friendly test.
5. It’s critical to understand Google’s EAT principles
You know quality content is important, but what does “quality” mean? According to Google, quality content meets high EAT criteria: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. You can ensure your content is the highest quality by creating client personas and then developing well-researched, valuable material that is relevant to them.
6. Long-form content performs better
According to research, longer reads of 3,000 words or more get three times more traffic and four times the shares. They also achieve several times more backlinks which helps with search results. Not everyone is comfortable writing blog content nor do they have the time, so it can make sense to work with an experienced partner.
7. Featured snippets will gain more prominence
Rolled out in 2017, featured snippets are the box that may appear at the top of the search results. They tend to attract more traffic than other search results. You need to optimize for not just position #1 but for position zero, a.k.a. featured snippets. These are visible over the first rank and can give you better visibility and traffic. This makes it one of the most important SEO trends for 2021.
8. Expect predictive search to improve
Discover is one of Google’s AI-driven tools, and identifies user behavioral patterns over time and gradually learns these habits. Then the tool uses that information to deliver the content most likely to interest the user. Your site is already included on this platform if Google has indexed your pages.
9. Video is essential
Over the next couple years, video is expected to surpass all other forms of content consumption. For a more comprehensive breakdown of quality video content, click here.
10. Secondary keywords (or semantic search) will be more important
Everyone knows that keywords are important, and in the past law firm marketers focused almost exclusively on primary keywords. Now, search engines are looking for a searcher’s intent and analyzing context. This means that secondary keywords will be more heavily considered. The best way to address semantic search is to create content that truly answers a question from your audience.
11. Local search listings matter more
For law firms, it was always important to have a local search strategy. That being said, local search is evolving as more people use the internet to find services in their area. It’s important to have a Google My Business page, and display social proof such as reviews and testimonials.
SEO is only becoming more complex for law firms, as the above list makes clear. The days of simply optimizing keywords and meta titles are long gone. With SEO’s current trends, you have to think about everything from UX design to voice search. Staying on top of the latest trends and leveraging the right SEO tools can help you get the information you need to guide your law firm’s SEO strategy this year.
Contact us today if you need assistance developing a comprehensive SEO strategy that will improve your search visibility and increase the number of visitors to your firm’s website.