Here Are the Practices for Which Google Will Penalize You

A few years ago, it was possible for a website to dominate Google search results simply as a result of aggressive search engine optimization (SEO). The site may have had minimal content, but its webmaster knew how to manipulate arcane components like key phrases and meta tags. Those days are long gone; today, Google's algorithm rewards sites with the best content, which means your law firm's web page needs a constant stream of blogs and articles to maintain its search placement.

What Type of Content is Google Looking For?

Webmasters and Internet pundits have had a couple of years now to digest Google's “Panda” and “Penguin” updates, which penalized certain websites and rewarded others. What they've learned is that Google penalizes sites that:

  • Utilize deceptive or “black hat” SEO—that is, incorporating tags and key phrases that have nothing to do with the content offered on the site
  • Have content that is excessively repetitive. If you have 50 copies of the same article about car accidents in Kentucky, only changing the name of the city or county in each, Google will penalize you with a lower ranking in search results.
  • Lift content wholesale from another site. The copying needn't even be illegal; it's a bad idea, for example, to duplicate entire Wikipedia pages.
  • There are no shortcuts in SEO. To rank in Google, you need to create content.Unnecessarily repeat key phrases or keywords—for example, by using the same phrase two or three times in the headline, and then again in the first paragraph of an article
  • Simply don't engage the interest of visitors. If a prospective client lands on your site, and then immediately clicks off, that sends a negative signal to Google that can damage your search placement.

The new Google rule is that “content is king”—the fresher, more pertinent, and more frequently updated the content, the better your placement will be in search results. It's unlikely that this rule will change soon since it represents the next step in the evolution of search technology!

Ben Glass
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Ben is a nationally recognized expert in attorney marketing and the owner of Great Legal Marketing.