What Does The Newest Google Update Mean to You?

What Does The Newest Google Update Mean to You?

Google for lawyers

Google announced a major search algorithm improvement today “that impacts roughly 35 percent of searches and better determines when to give you more up-to-date relevant results for these varying degrees of freshness”.

The examples of the types of searches that will now result in more relevant results were:

  1. Occupy Oakland- a news event
  2. Other reoccurring events such as the Presidential Election, an NFL score, or the recent Exxon earnings, and
  3. Frequent updates- but they didn’t really give an example to put this into context.

The newest update seems to be a new way for Google to weed through the millions of websites on the overpopulated world wide web and to only display “relevant” results.

So, the question (as always) when it comes to SEO is- which sites will they decide to display when some of these searches actually occur?

What can you do better to actually come up higher for some of these searches?

Keep in mind that we’re not talking about keyword searches for overly-popular phrases like “New York accident lawyer” or “California personal injury lawyer”. We’re talking about searches for time-sensitive events and occurrences which, in some instances, you want to rank for.

*Note- anyone who has worked with me in the past knows my stance on personal injury lawyers posting accident news items which they had nothing to do with on their websites and/or blogs. And if you haven’t worked with me in the past then I’ll tell you now- to each his or her own, and if you think that an accident victim or someone who saw the accident on their way to work that morning that is searching for the name or event on Google might hire you when they come to your site, than keep doing what you’re doing. But from my experience- while the “it’s just another visit which increases awareness of my brand” mentality may hold true, the “any press is good press” mentality may not and you probably already know that after reading the e-mails and comments from the victims and their families.

Okay, I just wanted to get that out of the way because when I think about events that personal injury lawyers would want to rank for, that’s usually what comes to mind.

Back to the main question… how will Google determine what websites actually come up in the top results for some of these searches?

Well, as always, building authority is one way. The more links that you have from other (quality and relevant) websites that point to the page on your site for that event, especially if the anchor text of those links include the same keywords that are being searched for, than the better chance you’ll have.

Content, of course, is also important. Are those keywords actually mentioned in the content, and is there a certain keyword density?

And of course the normal on-page attributes- page titles, meta descriptions, keyword-friendly URL’s, internal link structure, alt image tags, load times…you probably know all of the tricks by now.

But in addition to the traditional on-page attributes that webmasters and SEO’ers usually focus on is a markup code called Schema which Google, Bing, and Yahoo! announced in June of this year.

Schema allows webmasters and developers to embed these code snippets on websites that are relevant to certain types, such as:

  • Audio, Video, Movies, etc.
  • Events (football scores, conferences, concerts)
  • Organizations (including members of those organizations)
  • People- writers, musicians, doctors, lawyers
  • Places- local businesses, restaurants, intersections, hospitals, court houses, law firms
  • Products and offers (mainly for e-commerce… unless you’re one of those creative lawyers out there that offers free reports)
  • Reviews (aka testimonials)

Websites that (IN ADDITION to optimizing their websites, building links, posting relevant content, etc.) incorporate applicable schema code snippets in the appropriate places are a lot more likely to be found for these types of searches than those that don’t.

And why?

Google’s main priority, as always, is to combat spam and stay a step ahead of those who take short-cuts to obtain better rankings.

It’s 2011 and a lot easier (now that WordPress and cheap shared hosting providers are so popular) for a spammer to:

  1. Setup multiple websites and blogs
  2. Scrape some content from other websites
  3. Implement a script that optimizes all of it’s pages for keywords,
  4. Use a piece of software that builds thousands of links to each site from crappy, non-relevant websites

and all of a sudden a month later the only thing they’re missing is the domain age factor (unless they bought the domain at an auction in which case they might have that too).

So Schema is pretty much a way to make us legit SEO’ers (no, that isn’t an oxymoron despite public opinion) work harder to stay ahead of your competitors SEO’ers (who are probably taking the easy way out and doing everything via automated software and scripts) by spending time implementing these Schema snippets.

People say that Matt Cutts hates SEO’ers? Nope, he just hates the ones that aren’t legit and take shortcuts- the ones who know what we’re doing just end up with more on our plate with each Google update.

Oh, and I’m sure you’ve already picked up on this, but, Schema-  maybe good for your firm’s Google Places rankings? Yeah, probably.

Also, be sure to check out a related video that I filmed a few weeks ago explaining why, with the emergence of Google Places for geo-specific terms, it’s now better to have one website versus multiple micro-sites.

-George