For Starters, What the Heck Is SEO? The Function & Operation of SEO. Top 10 SEO FAQs
No matter how new you are to the world of digital marketing, you’ve probably at least heard of the term SEO – that is, search engine optimization – at some point.
At Black Fin, we answer our fair share of SEO questions for our clients on a daily basis. These questions can range from simple to complex, but they all share one common theme: There’s certainly a lot of confusion and misinformation surrounding SEO.
So, what are some of the most common SEO questions we encounter?
In this article, we’ll be discussing exactly that – what SEO is, how it operates, and some of the most frequently asked questions that we receive as we work with our clients.
While this topic can no doubt be confusing, it definitely pays to understand SEO and how its role with search engines can affect your law firm’s digital marketing success.
For Starters, What the Heck Is SEO?
First, let’s begin by taking a rudimentary look at what SEO is. As we’ve already mentioned, SEO stands for search engine optimization, which is just a fancy way of terming the process by which search engines (think Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) organize and rank information online.
Unlike paid advertising, which almost always make up the first few web links that appear on a standard Google search, SEO focuses on “organic” results or everything that appears below the paid advertising.
Where your website appears (or “ranks”) within the ordering of search engine results is the basis of all things SEO. Obviously, the higher your ranking, the better your chances are of becoming more visible online, which correlates to higher web traffic and more click conversions. Ultimately, your goal should be to appear on the first page of engine results when prospective clients input search words into Google to research legal services in your area. The way to achieve this is to optimize your website and content in the specific ways that meet search engine algorithm standards that are constantly crawling your website for several factors.
The Function & Operation of SEO
The purpose of SEO is straightforward: Provide the best content that corresponds to a keyword or phrase searches.
To achieve this function, search engines have developed impossibly complex algorithms that scour sites to measure their compliance toward metrics that include relevance, trustworthiness, accuracy, ad aggression, mobile-friendliness, frequency of updates, and much more. Based on how well these sites stack up against these measures impacts how well they are ranked in the results when users input certain keywords or phrases.
Because websites’ rankings (and, therefore, lead generation and click conversion) are so dependent on how well they meet algorithm standards, SEO has become an incredibly important part in ensuring digital marketing success.
Top 10 SEO FAQs
Is SEO Absolutely Necessary to Focus on?
We hope to have already answered this question, but if not, let us reiterate: Yes, SEO is absolutely necessary as it affects all organic search results.
Contrary to some who suggest that SEO is on its way out, it’s still extremely relevant to the digital marketing game. As long as search engines continue to use specific standards when evaluating web design and content, SEO will remain a necessary focus.
What Are the Most Important Factors Involved in SEO?
In simple terms, two of the most important factors in SEO measurement come down to authority and relevance.
Authority includes a site’s trustworthiness, the accuracy of the information, back-linking (the more reputable, the better), and the creation of content that functions as a reliable, complete, and updated resources for visitors. This is where strong content and link-building comes into play.
Relevance, on the other hand, pertains more to how well your website and its content aligns with the keywords and tags that viewers would use to find you. Obviously, keyword-stuffing is a major no-no here for exactly this reason. Search engines are on the hunt for quality content that is relevant to exactly what users want to find. If searching (using standard keywords and phrases) continually delivers irrelevant information, this can detrimentally impact the user experience. This is why relevance is so important.
How Important Is a Solid SEO Strategy toward Our Overall Web Marketing Efforts?
In a word: Very.
Sure, any solid web marketing strategy will involve multiple components. But, according to some research estimates, as much as 94 percent of all web traffic comes from organic searching. And, because SEO is heavily involved in organic searches, this means that your SEO game should be strong.
How Can My Firm Improve Its SEO?
By understanding more about the components of SEO, your firm can better improve it. Quality SEO efforts involve content marketing (such as blog posts, social media marketing, video marketing, and more), certain HTML components of your site’s design (think tags, descriptions, headings, internal linking, and more), and general compliance with search engine algorithm standards and updates.
Keeping all these factors in mind while designing your firm’s website, creating firm content, performing regular analysis and updates, and adhering to future algorithm changes can help your firm improve its existing SEO efforts, which should lead to increased traffic and greater marketing ROI.
How Do We Know if Our Firm’s SEO Efforts Are Working?
Throughout the process of optimizing your website to successfully meet search engine standards, you should be taking full advantage of the data that your website is producing. Over time (we’re talking two to six months or more – not days or weeks), you should start to notice increases in web traffic and lead generation from different sources, particularly as you start to integrate other components – like social media platforms, firm blogging, linking, etc. – into your marketing plan.
Successful SEO isn’t about quick, temporary results; it’s more about result growth over time. Your results should gradually improve until you reach a point of maintaining web traffic across all mediums. Lead generation, as well as an overall growth in web traffic and firm clientele, are the best indicators that your SEO efforts are working.
Are We Doing Something Wrong If We Don’t Notice Quick Results?
Generally speaking, quick results don’t necessarily mean hitting the number one ranking overnight.
Instead, it’s more important to see medium- to long-term growth in lead generation and
click conversion rather than simply getting to the first page of Google results.
Don’t get us wrong – that’s important too. But the end goal is to increase your overall brand recognition online and, in doing so, generate more clientele. Undergoing the optimization process can take anywhere from two to six months to start seeing numeric differences in web traffic and lead generation as this Forbes article points out.
Not seeing quick results? Fear not. Improving your website’s SEO is a long-haul game that takes strategy, analysis, and consistent effort. After all, Rome wasn’t built overnight – neither is a fully optimized, high-ranking website.
How Can My Firm Ensure that Web Content is Optimized?
The basic rules of quality content apply here:
- Always avoid plagiarism (including duplicate content on your site, which can “compete” with itself, thus becoming ineffective);
- Be sure to feature full and informative content (such as blog articles and white papers) with sufficient word counts;
- Use proper internal linking practices and only use reputable sources when providing external links; and
- Keep content fresh and regularly updated.
As your site gradually contains more high-quality content that suffices algorithm standards, lead generation and web traffic should improve, thereby demonstrating that your content is indeed optimized.
Do SEO Standards Ever Change?
Absolutely they do! For this reason, it’s crucial to think of SEO as a vital organ of your strategic plan.
For example, consider this: The same optimization standards that would’ve landed your website on the first page of Google five years ago would not produce the same results today.
While that certainly makes the lives of marketers harder, these algorithm updates should theoretically help sift through low-quality content to find the diamonds in the rough that better assist users in discovering the best information.
What Are the Top Things That Can Hurt Our SEO Efforts?
Search engines, particularly Google, are very adept at developing and updating algorithms to continue delivering the best, most useful content to searchers. Though websites – even the internet itself – have evolved, search engines have done well in keeping up with any and all cheap tricks that have come about in an effort to tick algorithm boxes (thereby achieving high ranking) without actually delivering quality information in the process.
Over the past decade or so, Google has released nearly half a dozen “algorithm updates” that include targeting low-quality content, worthless backlinks, aggressive advertising, misleading or inaccurate information, keyword stuffing, mobile-unfriendly sites, and much more.
If your website is guilty of any of these, it may be penalized – sometimes quite severely, with some sites reporting drastic decreases in traffic. For a complete history of these updates, click here.
Is It Necessary to Hire Professional SEO Experts?
While the choice is ultimately up to you to decide whether it’s worthwhile to invest in an SEO expert or try to DIY your way through the process, it goes without saying that using professional services provides stronger results. And, given how big a role SEO standards play in organic web results, the cards are definitely in your favor when you choose to work with professionals who are in-the-know on algorithm changes and SEO best practices.
Ready to Begin Improving Your Law Firm’s SEO?
If you’re ready to improve your SEO, begin by talking with the experts at Black Fin.
Whether it’s taking a look at your existing website and offering analysis or starting completely from scratch, we’re ready and waiting to assist your law firm. We’ve been at this for years, so we know exactly how to boost your optimization and help ensure that your site complies with ever-changing algorithm demands. Contact us today to get started.