It’s easy to forget that SEO is about a lot more than making it to the top of search engine result pages. Improving the searcher’s experience and supporting your overall digital strategy are also key goals of SEO. That’s why there’s a difference between ranking factors and SEO factors. SEO factors matter a lot to not only ranking results but also to your visitor’s online experiences. Here are 5 SEO factors that matter most to law firms.
Content is king – at least as far as SEO goes. Simply having content on your site isn’t enough. Unfortunately, a lot of content doesn’t generate any Google traffic at all. So what can you do to optimize content?
Focus on Content Relevance to User Intent
The future of search engine development is understanding the searcher’s intent. Things like answer boxes, knowledge panels, and more diverse search results for broadtail queries are all related to mirroring user intent. Start by understanding the intent behind your keywords (for example, informational vs. navigational). Then analyze the SERPs for those keywords to understand what type of content is ranking.
Develop Long-form Content
Robust content addresses more questions while providing better perspectives. That’s one reason search engines seem to prefer long-form content. A HubSpot study found that content between 2,250 and 2,500 words generate the most organic traffic. Research top pages for target keywords and then seek to flesh out content that answers questions on the topic.
Organizing Content With SEO Tags
Optimizing title tags and header tags can help with communicating the intent and syntax of your webpage document and making pages more scannable. Don’t forget to include focus keywords in title tags, URL slug, and page titles. Additionally, header sections are important. Use H2, H3, H4s with related keywords.
Websites need to be designed for both people and search engines. Keep your visitors in mind when reviewing your site. How engaging is your content? User engagement, measured by user signals, is suspected of being an important SEO factor for search engines (even if indirectly). Some user signals to pay particular attention to are:
- Pages per session
- Bounce rate
- Click-through rate
These KPIs will help you to find opportunities to encourage longer session durations or more pages-per-session. Make sure to include CTAs and additional navigation elements with links within the content. The most effective strategy is making sure your content is relevant to search queries and compelling as well as easy to navigate.
These elements are considered the foundation of SEO. If the technical structure doesn’t work, it’s unlikely that anything else you build on top of it will work. Make sure to address the following:
In order to be indexed, your content needs to be crawled. Remember that crawlers only have access to the links provided in your sitemap and available from your homepage. A crawl budget is what determines how many pages search engines will crawl during a crawl session, and that is based on crawl rates and demand. Make sure to create a sitemap using your CMS or Screaming Frog and submit it manually through Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. Don’t forget to block pages you don’t want to be crawled and clean up redirect chains.
One of the page experience ranking factors for Google is having an HTTPS secure website. Run a crawl of your website using Screaming Frog to identify mixed content errors and contact your hosting provider for any issues that persist with SSL certification and implementation.
You never want your content’s links to be broken or to redirected pages.
If any of this gets too technical, reach out to your web host provider or a digital partner. They can help you to address any issues that can impact URLs.
Internal links are important for SEO for several reasons including UX, crawlability, and link building. As websites grow and evolve, it can be difficult to maintain an interlinking structure. Deep linking is the practice of linking to orphaned pages on your site from a higher level category page to pass authority from one page to the other and also ensure that the page gets indexed. Make it a point to integrate links strategically within content to pass along authority and provide additional reading content. You should also have a topic hierarchy that communicates to users and search engines the purpose of each section and category on the website.
Mobile-friendliness was once “nice to have”. At this point, it’s absolutely essential that your website is mobile-friendly. The mobile-first index is now Google’s primary ranking index, meaning it is updated before the desktop index. There are different considerations to keep in mind when it comes to the mobile experience. Mobile-friendly design and fast load times are at the forefront of this factor. If you haven’t already, implement responsive web design.
This list is by no means all-encompassing when it comes to SEO factors, but it’s a start on the ones to review immediately. Use this list as a guide to your next audit or website build. If you’re not sure how much SEO work you have to do, take advantage of our free SEO audit. We help firms of all sizes to find and fix on-site issues and boost SEO.