The Panda and Penguin updates to Google’s search algorithm, rolled out in 2011 and 2012 respectively, have substantially altered the ways in which businesses attempt to improve their search engine rankings.
Panda was introduced to filter out websites that were of a “low quality” and had thin or duplicate content, while Penguin was meant to lower the ranking of pages that had used methods and techniques that violated Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Often this meant buying backlinks from other websites as a way to enlarge a website’s link profile, which is a big factor in how Google determines what your rank should be.
These “black hat” techniques used to be very effective at increasing a site’s ranking on the search engine results page, but didn’t do much to improve a user’s experience of searching the web, which is Google’s main goal, so Google effectively put a stop to them.
The changes created a lot of upheaval in the SEO world and fundamentally changed the way that many people viewed SEO.
Is SEO Dead?
Once the traditional techniques used to manipulate the search engines no longer worked, some commentators went so far as to speculate that SEO was dead. It isn’t, but it has been changed dramatically.
While the old methods are no longer effective and can even do damage to your site’s ranking, many of the factors those methods worked upon are still fundamentally important to ranking, just in more nuanced ways. This means that proper search engine optimization is still needed in order to improve rankings and will be for the foreseeable future.
But really SEO should be looked at as one part of a larger digital marketing plan, a plan that also includes PPC advertising, content creation, and social media marketing.
The explosion in popularity of social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn has revolutionized the way that businesses speak to their audience, and opened up powerful new channels of communication.
Putting the Power of Social Media to Use for Your Firm
So what is the value of social media for your law firm? How can Facebook and Twitter add to your marketing efforts, and why should you care? How do social media marketing and SEO interact with each other?
1. Getting Natural, Quality Backlinks to Your Site Through Social Media
Backlinks are still important to SEO today, but only if they are quality backlinks. When you post quality content to your social media network, it increases the general awareness of your brand, and when that content speaks to your audience in a meaningful way, the chances are increased that those people will share that content with their network, and if they have a website they may even link back to that content. That’s a meaningful backlink from what is probably a quality site (not a link farm) that won’t be subject to a Penguin penalty.
2. Driving Traffic to Your Site Using Social Media
Traffic always has and always will be a huge determination in how you rank. If a lot of people are visiting your website, they must be doing it for a good reason right? Higher traffic numbers tell Google that your site is not only trusted but also a good source of quality content that people find valuable, both things very important to the search engine.
By sharing links to quality content with your network, you drive people to your site which will help your rankings, and will also increase the chance that those visitors will contact you for legal help when they need it.
3. Social Media and Google
There has been a lot of speculation about what, if any, signals get communicated to the search engines from social media networks. Do the number of “likes” your page has play a part in determining your website’s rankings? How about retweets?
In 2010, the head of Google’s Webspam team, Matt Cutts, came out and said that social media did play a role in search rankings. Things with Google aren’t usually that cut and dry tough, and just last year he came out and clarified the previous statement:
“Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other pages in our web index so if something occurs on Twitter or occurs on Facebook and we’re able to crawl it, then we can return that in our search results. But as far as doing special specific work to sort of say “you have this many followers on Twitter or this many likes on Facebook”, to the best of my knowledge we don’t currently have any signals like that in our web search ranking algorithms.”
So, while information like how many followers you have might not have a direct effect on your rankings for now, if people are linking to your site on social media and the pages they are doing it on are crawlable by Google, that will be taken into account.
Also, just this year Google and Twitter reached a deal (again) giving Google access to Twitter’s stream of tweets called the “firehose”. That means Twitter might end up playing a big role in helping to determine ranking in the near future.
4. Communicate Directly to the Audience You Care About
Page likes and retweets are fine and good, but that’s not what you really care about. What’s important to every law firm and every business is customers. If all those likes and followers don’t translate directly into people coming in the door or calling your firm, they don’t give you any real benefit.
The real power in social media marketing is the ability to communicate directly to the audience most likely to come looking to you for help.
One of Law Father’s clients came to us with zero likes on their Facebook page. Within 6 months, we were able to increase that to almost 2000 likes. We did this by regularly posting and promoting content, but not just any content, we promoted content that resonated with a key part of their audience.
The firm specializes in sexual harassment law so most of the content we were posting for them had to do with harassment. Since women are disproportionately affected by sexual harassment, the content we created and promoted on our clients behalf spoke to them in a meaningful way, and now 98% of the fans of their Facebook page are women. Not just that, most of these women are directly in their geographic practice area.
We were able to communicate our clients message to the exact audience that might have need of their services. And that’s what really matters. Knowing that your page has a big audience is nice, but it doesn’t really mean anything until your phone is ringing and you are able to advocate for the people who need your help.
Contact Law Father for Help Today
If your firm isn’t using social media to drive traffic to your site, increase your search rankings, or communicate directly to the audience you want to get your message to, you’re not doing everything you can to help your business succeed. For more information about the ways in which a smart social media strategy can improve your firm’s bottom line, contact the experienced marketing professionals at Law Father today. Call us at 800-325-7715 or fill out the contact form on our website.