The first thing to do when presented with a site that is not ranking well for personal injury keywords is conduct a thorough, detailed, in-depth investigation of the site to find major and minor issues. After running numerous sites through these investigations, it’s easy to find common denominators. Below are some of the most common issues you might find on a non-ranking personal injury site.
1) Disorganized Site Structure
A common issue that is found particularly on older sites with several pages is that the site is not strategically and logically structured. It should be easy for a potential client to navigate your website for information they need instead of forcing them to find their way through a corn maze. Make sure your pages are categorized and grouped accordingly. One best practice is to have a Personal Injury parent page with individual practice areas as child pages. List one or two most popular and important practice area pages at the top of the branch and alphabetize the rest.
You should also allow users to easily move through the pages, with the ultimate aim of completing a conversion in mind. Every page should have a clear, identifiable link to the “contact” page and should have links to other practice areas. Filtering a user to a specific injury page without linking back to main pages and conversion pages will not only negatively impact the user experience, but it can also raise red flags for search bots.
2) Bad Meta Data
The title tags and descriptions of your pages are critical ranking signals. This is the first thing that Googlebot and other search engines crawl when looking at your site, so their importance cannot be understated. Your meta data should reflect the geographical location that you’re targeting and should include both broader and more niche keywords.
Most importantly, meta data should describe what its page is about. Every page should have unique meta data and a variety of optimization. As tempting as it is to title every page “Santa Clarita Personal Injury Attorney | Personal Injury Lawyer in CA,” this won’t fly with Googlebot. Instead, for a page about Car Accidents, use a variant of “Car Accident Lawyer in Santa Clarita | CA Injury Firm.”
Meta data should be short and to the point, should identify the topic of the page, and should entice users to visit your website. Include a selling point in your description; this can be an accolade that you’re proud of or something that your firm offers. Then include a call-to-action: tell searchers how you want them to engage with the page they’re about to visit.
3) Copied Content
The truth is that none of us have the amount of time that we wish we had. You wrote a beautifully worded bio for your website that perfectly describes your accomplishments in the personal injury field, your mission, and the message you wish to convey to your clients. And now you have to write that again for your G+ profile. Not only will that take up your time when you have calls coming in, clients to take care of, and documents to complete, it also feels redundant and frustrating.
Copy and pasting that bio is the easy solution, but you won’t be doing yourself any favors in the long run. Google places high value on unique content and you will often find that websites struggling to rank are rich in content that has been duplicated across the web. Always make sure you’re using your own words and applying your own knowledge to your pages. If you’re quoting large chunks of laws and statutes, make sure to use block quotes in the page’s html to alert Googlebot of the quote and cite your source.
Also, frequently run your site through services like Copyscape to check for other websites that might be duplicating your content. If these issues arise, you can submit a copyright removal notice in your Google Webmaster Tools account. Google will review your submission and take action to remove the content from the infringing site if necessary.
4) Keyword Stuffing
It was once an effective SEO tactic to use exact match keywords in a site’s content as often as possible. In fact, you may find that there are older sites that are ranking well and doing exactly that. However, as Googlebot has matured, using keywords has become about finding the delicate balance between enough and too much.
Keywords will always be an essential factor in SEO strategies, but their application and how they affect rankings are constantly changing. Googlebot is now smart enough to understand the semantics and meaning of words on a page, which means that using exact keywords is no longer as important. Thus, while you should still use relevant terms and phrases in your content, it is more important that they are used naturally. Excessively referencing a “Santa Clarita personal injury attorney” is considered spammy, which isn’t attractive to users or Google.
5) Content for the Sake of Content
There are a million ways that a person can get injured. Yes, there might be someone out there who broke an arm while walking down the street and being hit by a motorcyclist. Yes, they might be looking for legal representation. No, you do not need a page for Pedestrian vs. Motorcycle Causing Broken Bone Injuries, particularly if the title is the only unique content on the page.
Instead, write an informative Pedestrian Accidents page and invite users to share the details of their particular accident in a contact form. Not only does this engage the user, but it also helps you ensure that every page only contains valuable content.
I’ve seen pages that rank with only five pages of content. I’ve seen pages that rank with 500 pages of content. When it comes to Googlebot, its quality over quantity. If those 500 pages contain nothing but redundant marketing content, your site will likely struggle. Adding more pages of content just so that you can have more pages of content might not live up to your expectations.
6) Lack of Social Media Interaction
Social media is the staple of our modern society. While there might not be a direct link between social media usage and a site’s ranking, building your audience and bringing more users to the site will ultimately improve factors that do directly affect ranking. In almost every competitor analysis, I’ve found that sites that rank well have large followings on social media outlets and take advantage of them.
Building your audience through Google+, Facebook, and Twitter can be a great way to encourage traffic to your site and improve your branding and online authority. Try to update these outlets regularly with links to your site, links to articles that might be interesting to your audience, and ask questions or introduce topics that your audience can discuss with you. Try using trending hashtags to broaden your reach or create your own hashtag to strengthen your brand and start conversations. Always make sure that you are producing posts with your image, message, and mission in mind.
7) Inconsistent Directory Listings
Your online authority and brand is also largely impacted by the various online directories that list your business and website. Having these listings can be immensely beneficial for your online authority if they are done correctly. However, the easiest way to destroy a brand is by listing different business names, incorrect addresses, and multiple phone numbers throughout your online profiles. This is an absolute killer for many personal injury websites.
Regularly conduct investigations into your various listings by searching for your name, address, and phone number throughout the web and ensure that all your information is correct and, most importantly, consistent. Choose one firm name, one address, and one phone number and make sure they are used across the board. Some directories allow you to make direct edits to listings, but others may require you to contact their support team to request updates. This can be a time-consuming project, but you can potentially reap significant benefits.
The Biggest SEO Killer
Since Google’s algorithm is one of the best-kept secret recipes to date, different approaches will always work for different websites. The issues above are issues today, but may not be issues tomorrow. Thus, the number one worst thing you can do is neglect your website.
Keep up-to-date with SEO practices and regularly update your site to make sure that you are adhering to the latest standards. Google is constantly changing, improving, and enhancing their search engine, which means you should be doing the same with your site. If you don’t have enough hours in your day, it might be a good idea to enlist help from someone who can dedicate their time to tackling the fickle, needy beast that SEO can be.