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Ok Google, I Need a Lawyer

Credit: Consumer Intelligence Research Partners

Credit: Consumer Intelligence Research Partners

Smartphones help you pay bills, communicate, work on the run, tap into your inner photographer, and act as personal assistants. This technology can help people with the basics such as What time is it? Where is the nearest coffee shop? Where is the nearest fire station? It can also help people with life changes such as “I own a business, have two kids, and am getting a divorce”.

Voice search from Apple’s Siri, Google Now, and Microsoft’s Cortana are quickly shaping popular search queries.
While Siri first made its appearance on October 4, 2011, there is likely more development in the wings to upgrade the quality of the responses. Currently, Google is on top for voice searches even though Apple’s iPhone enjoys dominating marketshare among smartphone users.

Google has been enhancing its Knowledge Vault for several years. Some industry insiders have been (more…)

The Curious Relationship Between IT and SEO

SEO and ITImagine a scenario in the “Mad Men” era of marketing where the technicians who kept the printing machines running were invited into the decision room to critique and comment on the ads they would be printing. Frankly, it would never happen. Those mechanical engineers weren’t generally going to provide the best insights on marketing, any more than the marketing personnel could solve ink spatter problems.

Fast-forward to 2015, and you may find that IT personnel are actively involved in reviewing and commenting on search engine marketing data for law firms. In fact, when presenting search engine marketing strategies, account managers often get instructions from lawyers to “explain it to my computer guy.”

The problem with this request is that your website and search engine optimization strategy fall under “marketing and communication” much more than they do “tech”. Your IT personnel will be interested to know the specifications of your hosting environment, web (more…)

Adwords can connect your law firm to the suburbs

Suburban Law Firm MarketingSearch engine marketing often focuses on getting top placement for the most popular keywords related to your law firm’s practice area. This strategy generally delivers the most leads, and it’s a solid approach. But when a big-city search doesn’t perform as well in the suburbs, a pay-per-click campaign might fill the void.

For several years, Google has been using the geographic location of the searcher to determine what search results to display. When you are looking for a place to eat, a mechanic or most other local services, you don’t have tell Google where you are. It knows. And people are catching on.

In most cities, keywords and phrases entered without a city descriptor are getting more traffic than keywords with them. Here are a few examples. The keywords below that do not include a city show the number of searches from within the previously identified city’s limits.

Los Angeles personal injury attorney (more…)

If your firm’s website doesn’t go mobile, Google will tell you.

mobile websiteGoogle has started notifying webmasters of their incompatible websites. These notices are sent out through Google Webmaster Tools or via email. If you have received one of these notices, here is what you need to know.

  • It’s not a penalty. Google is not penalizing your website for any wrongdoing. It’s not a warning or a manual action.
  • It may affect your ranking. Last year, Google introduced the “mobile-friendly” tag on the search results page. If you do a search on your mobile device, the search results page will show “mobile-friendly” next to the websites that are responsive or have properly configured mobile websites. We have noticed the majority of websites showing on the first page have the mobile-friendly tag — which leads us to believe that Google is giving preference to these websites for mobile searches.
  • You can fix it. There are a number of options to quickly correct your website. You may (more…)

Google Pigeon to reshape local listings

Google layoutOn July 24, Google released a new algorithm, nicknamed Pigeon by Search Engine Land (SEL), which alters the way local search results are generated in Google Maps and Google Web. The Pigeon update is designed to make the local search results more accurate and relevant.

Google told SEL that the new algorithm relies more heavily on their hundreds of traditional web search ranking signals. It also draws on features like spelling correction, synonyms and Knowledge Graph. This change will make local search results align more closely with organic search rankings.
The algorithm is also designed to improve distance and location ranking parameters.

Currently, the algorithm affects only U.S. English results. Google has not confirmed whether or not Pigeon will be introduced in other countries or languages.

The Pigeon algorithm is still new, and it will take some time to get a feel for its full implications, especially since it’s possible that Google is still smoothing (more…)

Google Author Removes Your Picture, Retains Author Credit

profile picturesThose photos of you and your staff that once displayed next to your search engine listings has been removed. Google has removed everyone’s pictures with the author still retaining credit for their work, although some author photos may still appear on Google+ based on relevancy and level of interaction with others.

This move caught many lawyers by surprise as no one foresaw Google completely removing pictures from their Google Authorship program. There had been indications prior to the June 2014 announcement that Google was revisiting their position on author photos and how they affected content quality. At one time, author photos appeared in approximately 21 percent of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). This change has dramatically affected the visual impact on SERPs but there is no data to suggest it has reduced click-through-rates.

When Google Authorship was first introduced in 2011, the intention was to “highlight authors and rank search results.” Over (more…)

Your Firm May Lose Reviews Following Yahoo Yelp Partnership

ReviewsWhen Yahoo and Yelp got together, no one expected that they would lose years of positive reviews from their Yahoo local listings. Although, the agreement did specifically state that Yelp reviews would be used on Yahoo local listings. However, the agreement went forward and virtually overnight, some local businesses lost their complete history of local reviews.

Now, when someone comments or reviews a restaurant, dry cleaner, flooring store or a law firm, the review is posted in Yelp, obliterating all previous Yahoo local listings. In other words, the newest listing is the only one people will see.

Yahoo still shows reviews on a Yahoo local listing until a lawyer or law firm get a new Yelp review. Once that happens, the Yelp review replaces the Yahoo review(s). This appears to be a disturbing turn of events for many business owners, as statistics show people need to read up to ten reviews before (more…)

Paid Search Clicks on the Move and Rising

man calling lawyerThis just in: a Marin Software study has projected that smartphones and other mobile devices will account for 50 percent of paid search clicks by December 2015. (See the full report). If your law firm utilizes pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, make sure to keep mobile search needs in mind. Considering the current rate of mobile growth, your firm may wish to reexamine the marketing budget for mobile browser accommodations well before 2015.

Law firms need to choose where their marketing dollars are best invested. If you want to garner more customers from all demographics, invest in ad campaigns designed for your mobile client base now.

Marin Software’s study found that, in 2013, the cost per click (CPC) for mobile devices jumped at an exponentially higher rate than the CPC on desktops. In fact, there were some areas where even tablet CPCs outstripped desktop CPCs. Advertisers are seeing the value in mobile visitors, and (more…)

Google’s new design and your law firm’s listing

Google layoutGoogle’s redesigned search engine results look cleaner and load faster. The new layout offers the eye plenty of open white space. And one change may affect your firm directly: paid listings and natural listings now look very similar.

The redesign mirrors changes implemented on smartphones and tablets several months ago, suggesting that Google is focusing its efforts to adapt to the app milieu.

The more immediately noticeable changes include the removal of the blue underlining under links for all results (whether organic or paid) and the use of a bigger font for titles.
The latter revision specifically deserves your attention; Google has replaced its character limit with a 500-pixel space limit to incorporate the change. As such, it may be time to revisit your title tags.

Paid ads have lost their colored boxes, and yellow “Ad” tags now appear beside Adwords text. Additionally, a line separates paid and organic search results in the redesign.

To (more…)

Google Wants Clear, Comprehensible Content

law firm taglineQuality standards are definitely a large part of a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. So, what do you do to boost the quality of technical or speciality legal content? It can be a struggle to aim your writing well. With more complex topics, should you target a higher reading and comprehension level or handle only ideas so that anyone can follow?

If content is too complex, most readers click away or check an online reference source to try and understand (and technical online reference sources may compound the problem). If the path to useful comprehension is not clear, your readers will navigate elsewhere, costing your firm potential clients. At the same time, overly general, obvious content offers nothing new and robs you of the opportunity to share your expertise. In short, balance is needed.

In a recent webmaster help video, Google’s Matt Cutts pointed to a need and desire for clear, approachable content (more…)