14 minutes | Jul 2, 2021

How The Google July 2021 Core Algorithm Update Impacts Law Firms - Personal Injury Marketing Minute #11

This episode covers Google’s latest Broad Core Algorithm Update which began rolling out July 1, 2021. We will cover what a broad core algorithm update is, how often are there algorithm updates, when did July’s algorithm update began, what is unique about it, overlapping updates (such as the Google Page Experience update and Core Web Vitals). Finally… Should law firms worry about algorithm updates? See all episodes or subscribe to the Personal Injury Marketing Minute here: https://optimizemyfirm.com/podcasts/. Transcription: Welcome to the Personal Injury Marketing Minute. Lindsey: Welcome to the Personal Injury Marketing Minute, where we quickly cover the hot topics in the legal marketing world. I’m your host, Lindsey Busfield, and today, we will be discussing the new core update that Google just rolled out. Well, Google rolls out periodic algorithm updates. This one seems to impact law firms more than some other updates that Google has issued in the past. Len, the owner of Optimize My Firm is here to give us all of the details that you need to know for your firm. Welcome, Len. Len: Thank you. Thank you for hosting this. What is a Google Broad Core Algorithm Update? Lindsey: Absolutely. So Len, tell us what is a broad core update? Len: So Google does lots and lots of updates, especially last month, but they do hundreds every year. A broad core update is something they introduced in 2018, or they started calling it a broad core update. And a broad core update, it’s when they make several broad changes to their ranking algorithm all at once. So it’s different than a normal Google update that they do hundreds of times each year, because it encompasses several different ranking factors. How Often Dies Google Roll Out Broad Core Algorithm Updates? Lindsey: How often are broad core updates issued as opposed to just regular algorithm updates? Len: They have been running these about three or four times each year. They started, I think it was August 1st, 2018. I’d have to look. And the first one, a lot of people called Medic because it really impacted a lot of medical websites. It didn’t really affect many of our attorneys, but we do have a couple of attorneys with very large sections on their website about medical things. Should Law Firms Track Algorithm Updates? Lindsey: And why is it important for law firms to stay abreast of these algorithm changes? Len: So usually, it’s not, if you have a good SEO company. Usually, it’s something that you can totally forget about. As for our one particular client who has a lot of medical related content, they do like to know about them. Even they tend to go up a little bit one algorithm update and then down a little bit the next, but they do impact other things in Google, such as review stars or featured snippets and traffic in general. It’s funny with their website, they can have a huge surge in traffic and it’s really because they’ll be ranking for one particular featured snippet, which drives a thousand hits a day. So even when their traffic changes, it’s not necessarily a good or a bad thing. Lindsey: So it definitely doesn’t just impact where their website is ranking on the organic search results. It can have an impact on where that website shows up on any of Google’s tools. So whether it’s on the featured snippets or organic listings or their reviews, so this can be something that impacts a lawyer’s marketing presence in a wide range, it sounds like. Len: Yes, correct. I wanted to add real quick that before we rebranded, we went by Telepost and we had documented some of these and we ended up getting the analytics data for hundreds of companies out there and were able to really dive in and look at some of the correlations on why some sites gained or lost traffic, and it really came down to site quality. There was a lot of websites ranking for things that really shouldn’t have been, and the algorithm did fix that. Lindsey: Wow. Yeah. These algorithms can definitely be a great tool for law firms who are using good SEO practices with solid backlinks and good bridge content that’s optimized for the web. When was the July Google Broad Core Algorithm Update? So talking about this broad core update specifically, when did July’s algorithm updates start? Len: So it came in two parts. They started one… They didn’t have already. So they rolled out the first part of it in the beginning of June, and it actually took people a few days to see impact. This particular half of the algorithm update, they started July 1st and I started seeing changes in attorneys’ presences last night. So the night of July 1st and July 2nd, there’s definitely been a major change in Google search results. Lindsey: Interesting. How did you find out about this algorithm update? I mean, obviously today is… We’re just now starting into July. How do people find out when algorithm updates are going to happen or what the impact of them is? Len: So most people find out about an algorithm change about two months after it happens when they see a drop in their traffic. Unless you’re one of those people that monitors their traffic every day or every week, then they may notice it quicker. Google does have a Twitter account they use. It’s the Google SearchLiaison and they tweet out their core algorithm updates. I do have a few friends in the industry who very closely monitor what Google is doing. They usually know within about 20 minutes of them happening, which is… I don’t think anybody… It’s very unhealthy to monitor search results that fast, but that’s how you can find out about them. The July 2021 Core Update, previously announced, is now rolling out:https://t.co/6Xs77WDsur These typically take 1-2 weeks to finish. Our guidance about such updates is here:https://t.co/e5ZQUA3RC6 Here’s more on how we improve search through updates:https://t.co/IBmInwGOiX — Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) July 1, 2021 Diagnosing Traffic Loss and Increases: Lindsey: For most people, when they are looking at the increase in their traffic or the drop in their traffic, how do they diagnose that? Len: It gets tricky. They usually have somebody like us diagnose it for them. Otherwise, I’ve met hundreds and hundreds of people who’ve drawn the wrong conclusion. Even this month, there’s been many different updates and a lot of people see something and they point the finger at that. They’re like, “Oh, we did this and we shouldn’t have,” or, “It’s because our site’s not secure.” Or, “Maybe it’s because of these backlinks. We got four months ago.” It’s usually much, much, much more involved in that and there’s usually multiple items that can cause an increase or decrease in traffic. Or as we mentioned earlier, it might just be one page on your website that’s suddenly getting or not getting a featured snippet, which is driving a lot of traffic. Should You Worry About Algorithm Updates? Lindsey: Absolutely. With these hundreds of algorithm updates that go on throughout the year, some that you might be able to identify pretty quickly, some that Google announces, and then some that you identify just through traffic changes, how worried should law firms be about these algorithm updates? Len: Our clients shouldn’t worry about them much at all. Usually, you shouldn’t worry about them. Of course, in the world of personal injury, there is a certain level of backlink building that you have to do. Especially if you’re in a city like Los Angeles, there’s a couple of big firms that they represented Michael Jackson’s doctor and they’ve got press from all over the world. If you’re going to compete there, you have to build links. There is a certain amount of risk involved. There are some gray areas you’ll have to go into, but if you have somebody who’s very experienced in building your backlinks, you shouldn’t ever have… It’s very unlikely you’ll have a problem. We’ve never personally ever had any problems here with that. But if you do hire, for every good SEO agency, there’s 200 bad ones. Len: And a lot of them do build backlinks which can result in a manual action from Google, or even with this update, we’re seeing a very positive impact on a lot of our clients, which is rare. I’ve never even done a podcast here about the algorithm updates because it just never affects our attorneys. It’s usually these medical websites, news websites, big, big websites, but this one is definitely impacting attorneys. So if our clients are doing good, other law firms are doing bad. So they’re just not getting the quality of the links that they should be getting. Website, Backlink & Content Advice: Lindsey: Sure. It sounds like links play a really big, important role when it comes to the deciding factor of how Google ranks one website versus another. Other than backlinks, what goes into how Google decides how to rank certain websites? Len: So as far as attorneys go, they really just need an easy to use website. If you just forget that there are search engines, just make a good website that’s easy to use for people, that’s usually the first step. It should be fast, ease of use on a telephone, secure. It needs to be all those things. It’s 99% of it. Lindsey: And then once that website is in place and it’s user-friendly, how important is the content on the website? Len: So content quality is a big issue that we could read a book about, but it should definitely explain people’s legal issues to them at least enough to make them call, but the structure of it, where it’s placed on the website, how easy it is to read, those are all factors. Even something we’ve been guilty of in the past is building big walls of texts and [inaudible 00:10:07]. It’s good and comprehensive content. It should be broken up and easy to digest, maybe with some pictures or YouTube videos. Lindsey: Right. So it definitely sounds like no matter what the update to the algorithm is, so long as you have quality backlinks, a user-friendly website that’s mobile friendly, and content that is optimized for the website and easy to navigate and get useful information from, it sounds like you’ll be pretty safe from any algorithm update that Google rolls out. Do you agree? Len: Yes. Yeah. In general, yeah. Yeah. There are a couple more algorithm updates coming. One’s rolling out right now, called the Core Web Vitals, and there’s also a Google page experience update that is coming out. It’s not going to be a huge impact, but again, it’s just making sure you have a nice, clean website that loads quickly, is secure. It’s all common sense stuff. In the world of personal injury lawyers, a lot of them had that seven years ago. It’s a pretty competitive niche. So everybody is trying to make a really nice, high converting website in the first place. Core Web Vitals and the Page Experience Update: Lindsey: Absolutely. So are just doing more of the right things. Well, will keep you moving in the right direction. Well, and then Len, do we expect the July algorithm update to be completed all in one go, or is this something that is going to be lingering on for a while? Len: That’s a great question. It does vary. Some of this bounce around for about two weeks. So sometimes people will see a drop in traffic today and then in 10 days from now, it’ll come back. So it will be rolling out. They did say it’s going to take up to two weeks, but I did see a major impact today. So usually when that happens, there’ll be some tremors for a day or two, and then they’re done, but we will see. One thing I forgot to mention earlier about diagnosing updates is overlapping updates. So in June, for example, there was a spam update, and that rolled out on the 23rd and the 28th. But that probably won’t affect any lawyers. That was mostly spam websites, and when I say spam website, I’m referring to people ranking with hacked websites or hijacked websites where they’re just doing something really, really, really bad. We’re not talking about link building here. This is spam. Lindsey: All right. So that’s a great example of how the Google algorithm updates can definitely… They keep the bad websites in check and can help benefit the websites that are doing things the right way. So these algorithm updates are not necessarily something to be scared of if you’re doing things right. Len: Overall, we love the direction Google has been going. They’ve been making it a better place, a better search engine, which is good. That’s what they want to do to please their shareholders and usually, we’re looking forward to the algorithm updates and looking for any positive impact and we’re usually regionally very excited and happy when they roll up. Contact OptimizeMyFirm with Algorithm Questions: Lindsey: That’s great. And Len, if anybody has questions about how this or any other upcoming algorithm update is going to impact their site, how can they get in touch with you? Len: Yeah. Just by the contact form on optimizemyfirm.com. They can contact us right there. I’m certain there’s going to be questions from people who lost traffic, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions people have there. Lindsey: All right. Well, thank you so much, Len. We appreciate your time. Len: Thank you very much.  
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