You work hard to make sure your key pages rank well – and then one day you notice that your pages aren’t showing up where they used to. That’s because search is always evolving. In a perfect world, you’d achieve a great rank and stay there, but that’s not how the digital landscape works. You need to consistently work hard to maintain your law firm’s search engine optimization (SEO) ranking. You might not be able to see why your law firm’s website loses rankings, and it may not even have anything to do with your site. Here are 5 reasons why your law firm’s website may lose rankings.
1. Competitors make changes
Many experts say that the goal of SEO is to beat your competition, not the algorithm. There are new websites and new webpages created every day, and some of them are going to compete with yours. Some of them might even be better than yours, particularly if you haven’t updated your pages in a while. Plus, new content has “freshness” working for it in the SEO algorithms. Make sure to analyze your competition regularly and make it a point to have a better digital presence than them.
2. SEO algorithms change
This is a factor that should immediately come to mind if you notice your rankings change. The exact formulas that determine search rankings are always changing, and only someone with up-close knowledge of those algorithms will know exactly what’s changed and how best to prepare for those changes. For example, in 2019 alone, Google made well over 3,000 improvements to search. You can bet that some of those changes had an impact on search results and rankings. It’s not going to be possible for you to make adjustments for every little change on the search engine’s end, so it’s important that you have a strong website foundation that covers the basics (making sure the website is crawlable, etc.). Do your best to stay up to date on important updates, and consistently put in place proven SEO strategies. Remember that SEO is a constant process and not something that will ever be “done”.
3. User expectations change
One of the biggest reasons for SEO algorithm updates is that users’ behavior and desires change. The type of content they want to view, what devices they’re using, and even the intent behind keywords and phrases changes over time. Current events can also bias the latest search results in many subject areas. Take the pandemic for instance: search terms like “family medical leave” likely served different results given that COVID-19 has been a large disrupter in the workforce. It’s important to follow search trends to better understand how searcher intent changes. Keep a pulse on how your target audience’s expectations might change over time as well. That’s a lot to ask of a busy legal marketer – it may make sense to partner with an SEO expert who can better keep pace with not only changing SEO updates but also trends around how people search.
4. You have made website changes
This is an area where things get really tricky. On the one hand, leaving your website alone and never making updates will really hurt your rankings over time (Google gives “abandoned” sites the lowest possible ranking). However, refreshing content on an existing page can cause a drop in rankings, as well as cause small technical errors that can end up hurting your rankings. For more examples, take a look at this post on why you lose traffic after a migration. The bottom line is that before you make any changes to your website, you should understand the search ranking implications. There may be indirect consequences that you aren’t aware of, or you may be opening yourself up to technical items that can reduce your traffic or your rank. It’s always a good idea to make changes in small batches so that, if you do notice problems, it’s easier to pinpoint where things went wrong.
5. Outside factors create changes
There’s also any number of things – outside of your website or search engine activity – that can cause your website ranking to change. For example, overall social sentiments certainly change over time and can cause changes in what is searched and how search results are served. Diversity and inclusion or sustainability are perfect examples. It’s also good to bear in mind that the other advertising channels you use can affect web performance. For example, if you were regularly running TV ads and then pulled those, you can expect that fewer people will be talking about your brand online and fewer links to your website. People are often surprised at how interconnected various marketing channels can be. Have there been changes as far as your online reviews or other client support metrics online? Keep the bigger picture of your overall brand and industry in mind as you consider ranking changes. There are many factors you might be able to adjust, and some you just can’t do anything about.
At the end of the day, SEO doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There are many circumstances that can affect how search engine results are presented and many factors that may contribute to your law firm’s website losing rankings. Many of your own marketing activities can alter your search rankings, and sometimes things happening outside of your law firm that will change your ranking. It’s smart to keep up with SEO changes as much as you can, but sticking to SEO best practices and proactively maintaining an SEO strategy is your safest strategy against losing rank over time.
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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 law firm’s website.