SEO Obiter Dicta: Look for Continued Changes to Google This Year

BY Jason Bland



Last year, Google shook the search engine optimization community with its anti-link fraud update, dubbed “Google Penguin,” and with Google Panda changes as continual updates to improve content quality. It was a tough spring, with effects that lingered well into summer. Is Google going to take a break in 2013?

Probably not. In fact, they have been more active than ever with their algorithm changes. Since the feared “Link Warning Emails” were sent out on July 19, 2012, Google has made eight additional algorithm changes under Panda and Penguin, plus the recent change that penalized exact-match keyword domains which did not offer unique content.

For 2013, we can expect to see more changes and a stronger effort by Google to crack down on paid links. Paid links are difficult to track, and are extremely effective. Even in the post Google Penguin world, paid links still work... until you get caught. How can you brace yourself for the upcoming changes? Stay focused on long-term goals.

What gets most law firms into trouble is impatience – usually the impatience of their SEO company. In a rush to show top results in an unrealistic amount of time, companies will buy links from high page-ranking websites. They will engage in link exchanges. They will post spam comments on other blogs, just for the sake of getting a link back to their clients’ website. At first, these techniques work. Then Google releases an update and the website drops into a sea of indiscoverable listings.

Working your way back up in the rankings is a labor-intensive process with no guarantee of success. To avoid taking a hard punch in 2013, follow these link-building tips:

Stay focused on building valuable content. Update your blog, write frequently asked questions, and develop information that is useful to your target audience. You have heard it a thousand times, because it works. This content not only helps you build genuine organic inbound links, it also helps you reach a search audience that is using low-competition, long-tail keyphrases.

Write an ebook. An ebook can be 5-10 pages and cover a certain practice area or even a certain aspect of a practice area. For example, a personal injury lawyer could write an ebook about what happens when a case goes to trial. Bankruptcy lawyers can write a guide for people to get their credit back in shape after a successful discharge. Business lawyers have hundreds of topics and family attorneys can cover everything from adoption to child support to alimony.

Audio and video still work. Podcasts and videos are great ways to build links to your site without being penalized by Google. Plus, they drive traffic to your website.

Keeping your website’s SEO efforts aboveboard and in line with Google’s rules will help you stay on course, even if the search engine throws a couple of algorithmic curve balls your way. During serious algorithm changes, rankings will bounce around and become a little unstable across the board. But, they will ultimately settle down.

More changes are coming in 2013, but if you keep your hands clean, your website can rise up after a change and claim a higher position.

Jason Bland

Jason Bland is a Co-Founder of Custom Legal Marketing and a regular contributor to Bigger Law Firm Magazine. He focuses on strategies for law firms in highly competitive markets. He's a contributor on, is a member of the Forbes Agency Council, Young Entrepreneurs Council, and has been quoted in Inc. Magazine, Business Journals, Above the Law, and many other publications.


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