Even the most seasoned SEO veterans can make mistakes during an optimization campaign. In a recent post on Search Engine land written by guest author Stephan Spencer, Spencer lists 25 mistakes commonly made by SEOs. We’ve picked four out of the bunch that we thought would be most helpful to legal marketers and attorneys. In other words, those who don’t spend all day doing SEO. Here are four pitfalls that are easily made and easily corrected with a little know-how. However, if you have the time we recommend checking out all 25.
Using only “broad match“. By default, the Google AdWords Keyword Tool is set to the “Broad Match” type option which displays results that highly inflated. This is due to the countless phrases it includes in the data being returned. Spencer uses shoes as his example, but we’ll look at lawyers. The Keyword Tool reports 5 million search queries for “lawyers” but that’s including multi-word phrases such as “personal injury lawyers” and “free divorce lawyers”.
Instead, for a more accurate picture of the amount of searches attributed for each keyword use the “Exact Match” type option. This time around, the search volume for “lawyers” drops down to 27,000. The differences are drastic so it’s important to remember when doing keyword research to always use the “Exact Match” option when looking for search volume.
Disable Google personalization. Google now personalizes results based on search activity for users, which means the results you are getting are customized to you. This makes for a great user experience, but not so great when you are trying to figure out what potential clients are seeing when they search. Just logging out won’t change this, so there are two options to combat this. The first is to select “Web History” in the Google SERPs and then “Disable customization based on search activity”. The other option is to disable it for individual queries. In the URL, adding “&pws=0″ at the end disables personalized search (only if Google Instant is off).
Anchor text variety. Building links with keywords is important and targeting the terms that are most valuable to you is also key. However, it’s important to keep a “natural” back link portfolio to avoid being penalized by the search engines. While “car accident lawyer” might be your most important phrase, it is going to raise a red flag in the search engines if almost all the links pointing to your site use the exact same keyword text. Take for example these Chicago medical malpractice lawyers. From looking at the content on their homepage the phrase it looks like their optimization should be focused on is “Chicago medical malpractice lawyer”. If this is the case, they should definitely build links incorporating that exact phrase. However, they should also build links to variations and even the occasional link that does not have an exact targeted keyword phrase to keep their link profile diverse and natural.
Stop using the meta keywords tag. Google never supported it and Bing & Yahoo! have stopped including it in their ranking algorithm too. If you are an attorney or a legal marketing professional no doubt the time you have to spend on SEO is limited. Make it count, don’t waste valuable energy on writing meta keywords.