Research carried out by a personal injury market insight group suggests that one of the consequences of the recently implemented Jackson reforms in abolishing referral fees is that online search is now becoming crucial to the marketing platforms of many law firms. This was supported by evidence that an increasing number of legal brands are beginning to up their game when it comes to search, and the result is that their share of the search market has risen to 51%.
However, search is constantly changing - for law firms and any business with an online platform - and 2013 has been the year that we have seen a pretty big shake up in the way that Google structures its algorithms. The main motivation for this? Essentially, an attempt by the search engine giant to try and stop businesses, individuals and organisations from manipulating its search with techniques such as back linking and instead providing genuine, useful web content.
What the recent changes mean for the market is that firms now need to adapt once again - this time to a much more 'organic' form of search that is driven by a desire emanating from Google to ensure that websites are providing original content, rather than using black hat techniques that used to be fairly widespread. Google will now reward those pages that are offering something that is relevant to the user's search, rather than something keyword stuffed or benefitting from traffic from purchased links. Driving traffic to a site is becoming a more intelligent process that involves understanding what the consumer actually wants and delivering that via a website, rather than simply trying to manipulate people into clicking on a link.
Search terms are one area where consumer behaviours have driven search changes, with an Experian report entitled Digital Trends 2013 identifying that we are using much longer keyword search terms than in previous years. For example in 2011-2012 searches made up of one or two keywords dropped by 1%, whilst those using three or four keywords rose by 1% and searches containing more than five keywords jumped up to 16%. This means that increasing the length of the keywords used in website copy seems to be key. There is also the change in consumer behaviour with respect to keyword frequency with most sites now opting for multiple keywords, used fewer times, rather than the repeated use of the same keywords over and over again, to try and match the fact that we are now using keywords differently.
Perhaps the biggest shift that any organisation needs to make when it comes to getting to grips with the new Google is the shift in attitude. It is no longer a case of trying to 'trick' or 'manipulate' search engines with clever SEO techniques. It is now all about getting to really understand clients and consumers and to start offering website content that they actually want to read. Whether it is regular news blogs, case summaries, or in depth articles, populating a website with genuinely useful content, organically occurring keywords and a much more natural structure and form is now the way forward. If you would like any advice or a solution to your digital marketing needs, feel free to contact any of the team.