SEO for Lawyers: Google Search Console
Managing a website is no easy task. The bigger the site gets, and the more popular it becomes, the more work there is to do. The list of things that need to be monitored, reworked, checked and tweaked seems to be infinite. When it comes time to figure out what’s working and what’s not, it’s easy to start feeling like you are walking in the dark.
One of the best, and most often overlooked, tools available to help webmasters and site managers find their way out of the darkness is Google Search Console. All in one place, Search Console can tell you about your site, show how it appears in search results, alert you to technical issues, and much more. Best of all, it’s completely free and available to anyone.
While Google is secretive about exactly how their rankings and search algorithms work, they are extremely open when it comes to telling you what their spider sees as it crawls your site gathering the information that feeds those algorithms. If your law firm is not using Google Search Console to help track online presence and results, the final judgment, unfortunately, will not be in your favor.
Getting Started with Google Search Console
Getting up and running with Search Console is easy. All you need is a Google account (Gmail, YouTube, etc) and a website.
To begin, you’ll need to sign into the service using your Google account and verify that you are the owner or manager of the site you would like to track.
Once you’ve signed in, you’ll see a text box next to a red button that says “Add Property”. Just type in your law firm’s site URL and click the button. Your site is now added to your Search Console account, and you’ll be asked to verify ownership.
Verifying Your Site In Google Search Console
There are several methods available to verify your site with the Search Console. The method that will work the best for you is going to depend on how familiar you are with basic HTML and whether you have access to various parts of the back end of your site.
Once you’ve added your site, click on the “manage property” button that appears to the right of your site URL on the dashboard screen. From there select, “Verify this property”, and you’ll be taken to a list of options for verification. Google will give you instructions for whatever method you choose. Don’t worry about making a wrong choice. If you can’t complete one verification method, you can always come back and try another.
Upload an HTML file – If you have FTP or other direct file access to your web site’s server, this is the easiest method of verification. Google will give you an HTML file that you simply upload to your domain and everything is set. No need to modify any code anywhere.
Add an HTML tag – This option will give you a small piece of HTML code that must be added to the <head> section of your site’s home page.
Domain name provider – This method involves adding a record to your domain’s registration records. You can select from many popular providers and Google will give you step by step instructions to add the necessary record.
Google Analytics – If you’re already using Google Analytics, it’s tied to the same account you’re using for Search Console, and the analytics code is already in the <head> section of your website, you can use it to verify ownership of your site.
Google Tag Manager – Similar to above, if you’re already using Tag Manager with the same Google account, you can use it to verify your site for Search Console.
SEO for Lawyers: Step Out of the Darkness
Now that account has been set up and your site is verified, you’ll be able to see your website exactly the way Google sees it. No more guess work. You can now see how your results appear in Google’s index, which pages are indexed and which are not, errors found in your pages, search traffic results and even possible site security issues. You also have the ability to grant access to other members of your law firm or web management team.
Everything you need will be presented right there in the Search Console. Google will even send you messages when they run into a problem so you can get it corrected as quickly as possible.
Hopefully your new Search Console account will help unravel some of the mystery around how Google sees your site and why you’re getting the results you’re getting. By watching how results in the Search Console change as your site grows and evolves, you’ll be able to make smarter decisions and get your law firm to the top of search rankings.