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How to use negative space to enhance user experience

white-spaceOne of the challenges of website design is combining many disparate items like text, pictures, links and illustrations into a harmonious page. If a layout is not well thought out, even the most beautiful design elements will suffer from poor display.

Some websites succumb to the misconception that visitors must be given as much information as possible as soon as they land on a page, which leads to an attempt to cram too much stuf into a limited space. Studies have actually shown that people with fewer choices tend to pick one of them quickly, whereas those with too many choices may not pick anything at all. Consumers say they want choice, but the reality proves otherwise. They want direction. The items you present to visitors should be carefully pared down and displayed in a way that gives people’s eyes a place to rest. Negative space plays a critical role in (more…)

Google’s Rankings Going Back to 2006

updateWhen our parent company, Adviatech, was formed in 2005, the internet looked considerably different. Websites were narrower, animation and slideshows were limited to search-engine-discouraged Flash elements, and the Google’s search results were becoming excessively gamed and ugly.

It was a common practice in those days to set up directories and landing pages for each and every keyword. Google actually rewarded the hard work of spammers by ranking keyword-stuffed landing pages, rewarded businesses and law firms that setup multiple domain names for every practice area, and positioned the directories of companies higher than actual company websites.

The result was bad search results. Since then, Google has stepped up the enforcement of authentic landing pages, the elimination of duplicate content, and the removal of spam with crippling accuracy. But one item remains — directories are coming back and ranking higher than business listings.

In 2006, we saw directories get favorable listings and worked hard to move (more…)

Nine types of blog entries to help generate good topic ideas

bloggingMarketers have been telling attorneys to blog for years, since it became obvious that content would rule the online marketing world. Scheduled blogging makes your website relevant to visitors, gives people a reason to trust your expertise and provides a consistent stream of content that is helpful when building organic links to your site.

Good blog entries take time. If you are blogging on a regular schedule, it can seem like you are under constant pressure to produce. You should just be able to sit down and hammer out a bunch of content, right? But creativity does not always work that way – with a sudden flash of brilliance that all the Web will recognize. Thoughtful blog posts that present a solution or give practical advice (and are by definition more likely to be shared) require your attention for longer than 30 minutes. But that does not mean that you should (more…)

Branding is more than a buzzword, it could influence your search ranking

handmade brandingGoogle has had an active summer, much to the chagrin of many, from a high-profile Penguin update to changes to its link scheme guidelines. But, as Eric Enge pointed out in an article about Google’s quality control process, the search giant doesn’t really care whether it ranks your site accurately. Google is interested in increasing overall search quality, not in small, individual cases. The best way to stay ahead of changes – which will continue – is to meet their demands for value and diversity.

In the wake of the latest round of algorithm updates, some trends appear to be emerging. One, relevant to businesses large and small, is that the websites of companies with a comprehensive branding strategy have been least affected by the changes. This confirms the advice that reputable marketing companies have been giving for years: shortcuts and schemes don’t work (at least not for long). Good search (more…)

The Health Of Your Law Firm Brand – PODCAST

Branding is a commonly maligned concept. Branding and marketing are not the same thing. Find out why.

Four Ways Gmail Inbox Tabs Could Be a Positive Development for Email Marketing

emailThose who use Gmail have, by this point, probably started to see their inboxes organized into tabs. Google began rolling out the new tabbed layout on May 29, and users have, over the past several months, been logging in to find the new filtering system in place for them.

Gmail now divides emails into three categories: Primary, Social and Promotions. Two additional tabs, Updates and Forums, can be added using the Configure settings from within the inbox. Google claims that the service will help users see what has landed in their inbox quickly, giving them the ability to deal with certain types of email on their own schedule. From a user’s perspective, the new inbox view does provide a much greater sense of workday calm. Important emails – those that actually need to be tended to quickly – are no longer mixed within a long list of messages that do not (more…)

Want to rank high in Bing Local? Try SPAM

Bing_local_spamWe recently looked at the local results for Google, Yahoo!, and Bing in an attempt to find similarities among the results displayed in the search engines’ local results.

While Yahoo! and Bing are both powered by the same search engine, the logic behind their local results are very different.

In Yahoo!, a search for a Chicago personal injury lawyer yielded one spammy listing out of five. In Bing for that same search, we found four spammy entries out of five. The non-spammy listing looks like spam at first glance, but the law firm has incorporated their keyword-stuffed name, so they are technically “doing business as” the keyword-rich title in their listing.

Yahoo! shows local results that appear to be based on more credible variables — things like reviews, citations, reviews on other websites, and rating. They also appear to favor higher-rated law firms. Whereas Google may favor a law firm with 50-plus reviews, (more…)

Changes to Search Algorithms are Constant. Don’t Panic.

panicRecent changes to Google’s guidelines coupled with statements from Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team, that disparage the usefulness of press releases have made many firms nervous about their rankings and the future of their search marketing efforts. Just as everyone is adapting to summertime Penguin updates, additional modifications are forcing marketers to once again reconsider what the best strategies are for their clients.

Rule number one when facing any unknown is: don’t panic. Making reactionary, emotion-based changes to your website or marketing will likely do more harm than good. Take a step back and see how much new guidelines will actually affect your site and go from there. If you have been engaging in ethical and honest practices, chances are you will not have to make too many adjustments at all. Here are some areas about which your firm may have particular concern.

Press Releases. Google has been (more…)

Less Is More When It Comes To Law Firm Website Design – Podcast

Simplicity can be difficult. Simplicity in website design is difficult as well, as most people want to fill white space. Not a good idea. Check out why.

Associating your law firms name with a good crowd

into_the_futureThe July issue of Bigger Law Firm magazine features a column by Ryan Conley, Into The Future of SEO.

In it, Conley made a case for citations becoming as important as inbound links. Your law firm should embrace this concept with open arms.

Here is how it works:

1) Smith & Smith, LLP setup their Google+ Local page, connecting the profile to their website,

2) In their profile, they place themselves in the category of “estate planning lawyers.” Now, Google knows that Smith & Smith, LLP is equal to, a website about estate planning.

In the past, had John or Susan Smith been interviewed by The New York Times, the article would probably mention their name and the law firm’s name, but would more than likely not link to the firm’s website — giving the firm great exposure, but absolutely no search engine optimization value. That has changed.

If (more…)