Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Google Announces Change: Quality Legal Content Trumps Links

Most law firms put resources into their legal blog for search engine optimization (SEO) reasons.  They want to perform well on "organic searches" (i.e. rank well), and so they follow the advice of everyone and add content to a blog.  We have frequently discussed how SEO is definitely not everything (or even the most important thing) when it comes to legal blogging.  But, it is undeniable that SEO concerns must play into blog writing and formatting. 

Anyway, on the SEO front, an article from Search Engine Land today points to a quiet, but potentially profound, change in Google's "Rankings" advice page.  The article has screenshots of the old version of the instructions and the new version.

Essentially, the Google team changed:
From the old version...
In general, webmasters can increase the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high quality sites that link to their page.

To what is is now...

In general, webmasters can increase the rank of their sites by creating high quality sites that users will want to use and share.

What does this mean for legal copywriting?

Well, since it just happened, there has yet to be may concrete examinations of what, if anything, this wording change signifies.  The logical guess, though, is that this was simply another reminder by the Google team that what matters, above all else, is quality content--in conjunction with the latest algorithm changes over the last few years. 

Linking is still a form of using/sharing, so the wording is not to say that links are irrelevant.  However, that change does seem to suggest that the utility of the content should be the focus of webmasters attention, instead any number of schemes to increase links regardless of the quality of the content.

For legal blog writing and web copy purposes, this likely means a need to pay closer attention to quality and depth of the writing.  Hiring just any legal copywriter--or those without legal training--is likely a big mistake.  Quality matters just as much as quantity. 

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