Legal Website Marketing: Overcoming SEO Mistakes and Penalties

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Lawyer Search Marketing

Internet marketing is a booming industry, with tremendous growth expected through the next decade.  There are many highly competitive industries in the SEO and Internet marketing industry; legal SEO marketing is among the most competitive for attorneys.  This is because most people type in keywords pertinent to the legal service or representation they need, and every lawyer wants to be on the first page of the search results when potential new clients (PNCs) search for them.  Unfortunately, many law firm and attorney websites have suffered penalties from Google’s Panda Update.  Website penalties can push your website back into the far reaches of search engine results for the keywords that you are targeting.  A website ban can cause your site to be erased from search engine results altogether. All of this damage can be caused by a careless legal SEO company.

Losing Legal Clients

The loss of a law firm’s website as a means to attract PNCs can be devastating for an attorney’s practice.  While a select few firms have a strong enough reputation to attract clients even without a web presence, it is unlikely that even the most famous attorneys could keep their firms out of the red without one.  Unlike other industries like the retail or automotive industry, lawyers rely on search engine traffic almost completely for PNC referrals.  In addition, there are strict guidelines governing legal advertising that are unique to each state.  This is why it is so important to hire a legal Internet marketing company that abides by the search engine’s best practices guidelines, and that are experienced with legal marketing. It’s amazing and disturbing that a single search engine (Google) has the power to cripple thousands of law firms almost overnight with just one algorithm update.

Website Penalty Check List

  • Check for Nofollow Tags
  • Search for Domain Name
  • Search for Your Company Name
  • Search “site: Insert your domain name”
  • Check if Internal Pages are Ranking

If you are performing searches on Google with keywords that usually pull up your website and your website is not visible, there are a couple of things you need to do. First, you need to check your tags to see if they have been changed to “nofollow”.  This is a common mistake that is easily fixed.

To check your tags, go to your website.  Right click on the page, and select “view source code”.  Next, hold down the control button and type “F”.  This brings up a search window that allows you to search the page.  Then type “nofollow” into the search field.   If there is a match for “nofollow”, or several matches, then your page has been de-indexed by search engines because of these tags, probably not because of a penalty or ban.  These “nofollow” tags tell search engines to remove this page from search engine results. Ask your Internet marketing team or webmaster to change the tags to “dofollow” and your problem should be fixed.  Please note however that it takes one to two weeks to get re-indexed and start showing up in search results again.

If you’ve tried this and there are no “nofollow” tags on any of your website’s pages, then you need to do a search for your domain name.  Go to Google and type in “insert domain name”.  You should be the first result for a search with your domain name, or a search with “your company name”.  If not, you are probably suffering a penalty of some kind.  However, your website should still be showing up back in the search results pages.

If your website is not showing up at all, you need to try typing “” into Google.  Your website should show up here.  If your website is showing up but is not on the first few pages, your website is suffering from a penalty.  If it doesn’t show up at all, your website has been banned from the search engine results.

Moving Forward

If your website is suffering from a ban or penalty, it’s time to hire a new SEO company.  Start doing some research on legal Internet marketing companies, and ask some fellow attorneys in your industry for their feedback on the companies they use.  Look out for the big name legal SEO companies; many of their clients have suffered penalties form the last few updates because they didn’t follow Google’s best practices guidelines. 

It will take some time and effort to get your website’s reputation back up, so just remember to have patience.

Look out for my follow up blog about how to recover from a website penalty.

Written by Jennifer Long

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