How Law Firm SEO is Affected by Google's RankBrain Update

By The Black Fin Team

Posted:

Category: SEO


Google is constantly improving its ability to connect search engine users with the very best and most accurate results based on their queries. In fact, each time you type a query into Google’s search box, a highly complicated algorithm spins into action, using over 200 different strategies to pinpoint and rank your search results in just a fraction of a second.

Recently, Google’s upper management confessed that they updated the algorithm several months ago, introducing a new component that allows the search engine to return even more accurate results to users. The component, dubbed “RankBrain” uses artificial intelligence to understand queries – and the feature hones its skills over time.

What is RankBrain?

Put simply, RankBrain allows Google’s algorithm to more accurately read the greater context of searches, especially long-tail keywords. Before RankBrain, Google was not very skillful at understanding longer or more complicated queries – it could only awkwardly piece together snippets of phrases. RankBrain allows Google to return page results to users that don’t necessarily contain the exact words of the query, but which have a high probability of being relevant.

How does it work? RankBrain is able to recognize patterns over huge numbers of searches and to learn from those patterns. Even if it receives a query that has never been entered before (which makes up about 15 percent of all searches) RankBrain may be able to understand what the user is looking for. It’s called “machine learning” and it will likely revolutionize search engines in the years to come, starting now.

How Will RankBrain Affect SEO and Online Marketing?

Let’s get to the good stuff. Now that RankBrain is in place, how will you and your law office be affected by the algorithm update? Should you change anything about your marketing plan right now? Should you be worried about a dip in your traffic or Google penalties? Should you tweak any of your SEO strategies?

Here are the four main lessons we have for you regarding RankBrain:

  • Vanity keywords will lose even more value. Far too many attorneys are still addicted to vanity keywords (like “New York Medical Malpractice Attorney” or “Pennsylvania Divorce Lawyer”). RankBrain will allow users to type in longer phrases and questions and still get accurate results. RankBrain will also connect you to users who need your legal services even if they don’t use the exact keywords you have been focusing on. Focusing on single-word keywords and short keywords has already fallen out of favor in the SEO world in recent years. With the advent of RankBrain, focus keywords will not be nearly as important as the overall content of your website.
  • Knowing your user will become more vital. RankBrain has the same goal that Google’s entire algorithm does: to connect its users with the best and most relevant content. In order to get your ideal client to click on your website, you have to know exactly who your ideal client is and exactly what information they are looking for. Instead of focusing on keywords, you need to be focusing on users and user needs.
  • Quality content and design still rule the roost. RankBrain once again teaches us that you can never, ever go wrong with building a beautifully designed website filled with high-quality, interesting, and unique content. RankBrain and all of Google’s other updates are designed to get users to user-friendly sites. If you write about the topics that you care about most as an attorney, and if you present your legal services in a smart and intuitive way, Google will send you traffic over time and that traffic will lead to conversions.
  • Black hat marketing will become an even worse idea.  As Google’s algorithm becomes smarter and smarter, it will have an easier time telling which sites are using unfair tricks and shortcuts to improve their page rank and show up at the top of the search results. Even just a few years ago, Google’s ranking strategies were so rudimentary that you could rise to the top of the search results simply by repeating a keyword over and over again. Times have changed. Machine teaching and artificial intelligence meant that it will become much easier to get caught wearing a black hat.

Meet The Team At Black Fin Marketing

How search engines work and how search engine optimization works is always evolving. At Black Fin, we specialize in following each development and in creating new marketing strategies based on these development, all so that you don’t have to. If you are an attorney who needs to update a marketing plan, improve a web presence, or launch a new website, we can help. Call today to speak with our team: (216) 206-6855.

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