October 1st, 2015 by
Search engine optimization is always a hot-topic because of its importance in digital marketing and continuous search engine algorithm changes. While not necessarily confusing, SEO is absolutely a complex methodology that is comprised of many elements and will remain a key factor for online success for as long as there are search engines and websites. I’m answering some of the most common questions asked by firms interested in using or starting to use SEO to compete in their respective fields.
Should my firm worry about all search engines or only optimize for Google?
There’s no doubt that Google is the most popular search engine at this time. However, Yahoo, Bing, and even Duck Duck Go are also popular and are working hard to gain a bigger yield of searchers. Therefore, while you should focus your efforts of optimizing for Google, you should also weigh the optimization techniques used for the other popular search engines and incorporate as many as possible, as long as the technique will not have any detrimental effects on your Google SEO campaigns.
If my site is optimized for Google, do I have to optimize for mobile too?
Search engine optimization accomplishes several things - it ensures that Google and other search engines are aware of your website, it understands what your site is about, and it indexes your site so it can be found quickly and easily by searchers. Mobile optimization focuses mostly on the experience of the growing number of users who are searching for and viewing your site on smartphones and tablets.
Should I still use alt-tags and meta descriptions?
The fact is, alt-tags and meta descriptions may still be used by Bing and Yahoo, so yes, they should still be used. Alt-tags and meta descriptions are also important for users with accessibility issues. Low vision users often use text-to-speech tools that read search results and website content aloud. Alt-tags provide these visitors, and any visitor for whom the image does not load, with a description of the image.
Why do I need SEO?
You need SEO if your firm wants to compete online, be found by search engines, listed in results pages (SERPs), and potentially increase client intakes. Search engine optimization increases the likelihood that people who are searching for legal solutions in your area will find you. It helps you improve your ability to reach potential clients and makes sure that search engines understand what your site is about so they index and rank it appropriately.
How long before I see the results of my SEO campaign?
The length of time it takes to realize ranking changes can vary depending on your competition, the age and authority of your site, and vertical campaign efforts. However, a general rule of thumb is that it takes at least a month to begin to realize any significant change.
Can a site ever recover from a penalization?
Yes, most sites can recover from penalization but you should know right off the bat that it may take a significant amount of time and dedication. Rebuilding trust and authority with Google can take longer for a penalized site than it may for a new site to achieve these things. I generally advise clients to speak with an experienced SEO consultant who can help you determine your most effective means of moving forward.
When is a site finished optimizing for search engines?
SEO never stops. How can it when search engines are continually working on the algorithms that that determine what sites are most relevant to a user’s query? This is not to say that you must constantly run intense SEO campaigns, but you most certainly will utilize the techniques established in your campaigns to continue to improve your rankings or at least maintain your position. This is especially true for firms that must compete heavily for their positions.
Should I have a blog on my website domain?
There is a debate on whether or not law firms should host their blogs on their website domain, but to me it all depends on how the blog will be used. In an earlier post, I covered this topic more in depth, but in brief, there are legal ethical concerns regarding commercial speech for attorneys. With this in mind, how you use your blog, and more specifically, what type of content you post, will determine if your blog should be housed on your website domain or used as a stand alone.
What is the difference between SEO, PPC, and ORM?
Search engine optimization, pay-per-click, and online reputation management all work hand-in-hand to increase awareness of your firm, establish your firm as a trusted authority in your field, and reach an ever-growing number of potential clients. However, SEO focuses on strengthening organic search result placement, PPC focuses on maximizing ROI for paid advertising, and ORM focuses on increasing awareness and trust in an brand, firm, or individual online.
Do I have to do social media?
Social media is a powerful tool because of its instant reach and the opportunity it presents for engagement. That being said, it’s only as powerful as it’s user. Yes, if you’re going to compete online you should take advantage of social media as a marketing tool, but I doubt you will lose any clients if you don’t. Potential clients, maybe, but again it all depends on how the tool is used. A good marketing company will help you make an informed decision regarding your specific circumstances and the use of social media.
Teresa Shaw is an SEO consultant with 10 years of experience helping attorneys and law firms across the country increase public awareness of their services.