Interestingly, Google’s August algorithm update specifically targets law firm websites, so you may have noticed a spike or significant drop in your organic search traffic.
Why Google’s update affects Law Firm Websites
Google's Medic update focusses on the authority quality ranking. The Search Quality Rating Program Guidelines discusses YMYL pages, saying “Some types of pages could potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users. We call such pages ‘Your Money or Your Life’ pages, or YMYL.” The reason your law firm’s website would be classified as a YMYL site is because Google classifies shopping or financial transaction pages, medical information pages, financial information pages, any pages that discuss topics about happiness and health, and legal information pages as YMYL.
More specifically, Google identifies legal industry pages as “webpages that provide legal advice or information on topics such as divorce, child custody, creating a will, becoming a citizen, etc.”, with the brand category covering most legal content.
How the Medic Update affects Law Firm SEO
This isn’t necessarily a negative - in fact if your law firm’s website is recognised by Google as authoritative you’re probably noticing a significant increase in your organic traffic. Because Google places a lot of emphasis on quality search results, they explain “We have very high Page Quality rating standards for YMYL pages because low quality YMYL pages could potentially negatively impact users’ happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.” The seriousness of the subject matter means that only qualified experts should be discussing these issues. So the Medic update helps authoritative sources appear higher in organic rankings.
Google's Search Quality Rating Program Guidelines explains that legal advice, tax advice, etc., should come from trustworthy sources and be maintained and updated regularly. Authority is also measured, and recognised, by expertise and trust. Along with authority this trio is referred to as E-A-T. And the most effective way of building E-A-T is through strategic content. This would include components like attorney bios, a list of experts and their expertise within your firm, easily contactable through various points on your website. The content on your law firm's website should be produced by your attorneys, and contact details for them should be easily visible, specifically from their attorney bio pages. And sharing as much relevant subject matter expertise as you can by linking out to published articles, interviews, event material e.g. linked presentations, slide decks or white papers or videos.
Authority is only part of what Google considers in determining quality content that ranks well in search results. A comprehensive SEO strategy should cover all the critical factors to help your law firm feature on Google.