Google has been fine-tuning its search engine algorithm through the Panda updates in order to boost good quality sites to the top of the search results page across the legal sector. The focus is on content that is original, informative and useful. One of the primary methods used is the filtering out of ‘thin content’, which has caused many law firms to lose their rankings if they do not conform to Google’s definitions of quality.
So to regain first page ranking, and prevent future losses, it’s important to understand what exactly ‘thin content’ is and what you should do with it to future proof your law firms search engine visibility.
The first method to identify thin content is to measure the word count of your law firm’s website pages, so run a URL scrape of your entire site before exporting the list to pick out those with a word count of 300 words or less. ScreamingFrog’s SEO Spider is a well-known free tool used by the web marketing industry. Google has previously stated that pages with a body of text with less than 200 words are likely to be discounted from search results, and thus it is safer to aim for at least 300 words of content per page, with even that being on the small side.
In a similar vein, articles that are too long will get your site penalised. This is because it is often the case that if your content is regularly reaching a couple of thousand words, then chances are that you’re repeating yourself over and over again, something we at Conscious have seen.
If you are stretching out a topic with the view to get your keyword density as high as possible, then you are defeating the point of Google bringing traffic to your website because users will be put off by a rambling, repetitive piece that doesn’t inform them of what they need to know and doesn’t make users want to leave an all important enquiry to you law firm.
So both too few and too many (words) can backfire, resulting in the potential loss of ranking and traffic. Being too vague in what areas your law firm specialises can also have a negative impact. If you regularly publish copy on your firm’s site that doesn’t educate and inform your audience then, Google’s algorithm will be unconvinced that you are an authority on the subject of your specialist area of law.
‘Thin content’ is also often riddled with spelling errors and poor grammar, and thus it pays dividends to hire high-quality “marketing led” writers with a sufficient understanding of the field your law firm is looking to rank in. Bear in mind, you are aiming to write pages that consumers (both consumers and business people) will read, not a technical article for other lawyers.
All these different elements of a website are taken into account by Google when it is trying to ascertain whether or not your firm is producing ‘thin content’. After going through and picking out those pages that are dragging your online visibility down, you have three options of how to deal with them.
- You can just delete or redirect the pages.
- You can rewrite a section to improve the content and its relevance.
- Finally, if you feel some content may be of some use, but don’t want the algorithm to take it into account for your website’s ranking, then a “no-index” of certain pages is in order.
Considering that Google’s approach to content will likely be here to stay and tighten its belt with time, it makes more sense to amend your content than to try and find a workaround to beat the system. If you focus on providing a service for your clients and potential customers Google will reward you in kind, so avoid and amend previous ‘thin content’ to retain or regain your law firm’s search engine visibility