Larry Linson

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I'm going to be a little coy here because my attorney client is in a very competitive market and knows his competitors watch him carefully. This lady's traffic and ranking has plunged post medic algorithm. I have researched the keyword phrase "[X] lawyer" to get the most searches where X is her legal specialty. I looked at who is winning on "[X] lawyer" in the top 8 US metro markets. Here' what I found:

1). Google did not seems to care about specialization: half of the winners were in areas of law other than "X"
2). None of the winners were "board certified" in X, which is available.
3). Only 1 winner had the tiresome row of "badges" like Avvo, Superlawyers, etc. on the homepage
4). All had "About Us" pages
5). All had a separate page for the individual attorney
6) Most of the attorney pages were the boring resume style

From this little mini-study I take the following:
1). Google wants attorneys to have About Us and individual lawyer pages, no matter how boring
2) Google is not relying on the Superlawyers, Avvo, or even specialization designations for the are of law concerned. Guess I will have more digging to figure out what EAT signals are out there for these otherwise rather unimpressive websites.
 

Dan Foland

SEO Director at Postali
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Larry, I work with many attorneys. Some have been positivity impacted by the update and some have been negatively impacted. Like you, I also dug into the 'winners' of the update in many of the top markets.

I partly agree with the specialization aspect. Most of the winners still mainly practiced in the overarching category. E.g. an attorney is ranking for DUI terms, they take DUI cases, but DUI is equal to most other criminal defense practice areas for those attorneys.

I half disagree with the badges part. Most of the winners I saw had badges AND other credentials listed somewhere on the page.

I didn't look at the "About page" aspect. It's very rare that attorney websites don't have the about page. All of the biggest losers I studied also had about pages.

Same for having separate pages for each attorney. I didn't see any correlation here.

My conclusions:
  • Of course Google wants individual pages for an about us and attorneys. But I don't think just having these will show much change.
  • I disagree with your badge theory. Badges by themselves aren't enough though. You need testimonials, settlement results, in-depth information that a potential client would want to see, out-links to high authority sources etc.
  • Additionally you need to look at off-site signals. What makes your attorney an authority? Have her write relevant articles about her niche to pitch them to high authority sites (Jurist, WaPo etc.)
 

Larry Linson

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Thanks Dan for your response. She has done quite a bit with backlinks, and while the "winner" for "X Lawyer" does seems to have a few authority links that she does not, it does not explain her fall to oblivion behind sites with patently weaker authority. Also, I do not find a way to submit an article to Jurist.org, and the Washington Post as well. If you have any other sites with authority that accept attorney articles I would welcome hearing about them. Thanks again.
 
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What about backlinking strategies. While on the one hand you don't advocate for it, etc... it's also true that it happens and it works. I think that any discussions about how a hot niche like "local lawyer" is being ranked needs to include grey & blackhat techniques being practiced by the "winners".
 
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