Since August 2018, Google has been paying closer scrutiny to websites in industries that they believe have the potential to greatly impact customer’s long term physical or financial well-being.
The websites of companies in the legal, financial or medical industries have been explicitly said to have been targeted by this additional scrutiny- brick and mortar law practices included.
Google does not want to give visibility to websites in these industries that have unreliable information. The search engine evaluates the veracity of the information on these websites by looking at evidence of the site owner’s expertise, authority and trustworthiness (abbreviated to E-A-T).
Although your practice’s website should score highly for E-A-T, Google has very specific ways for how it measures this. It’s measurements are far from perfect, meaning that a legitimate practice could be seen as not having the requirements to be seen as a trustworthy and authoritative source of legal information.
To prevent this from happening to your practice, here are the following factors that you need to consider when optimising your practice’s website to meet Google’s E-A-T guidelines.
Your website’s content needs to be up to date
Google’s main intention behind calculating E-A-T is to reduce the amount of misinformation that it delivers to searchers. Therefore a large component of optimising for E-A-T is ensuring that all the content on your website is in line with latest legal best practice.
For the majority of pages on your website, this should not be a huge concern, but there may be vulnerabilities on your site if you have old, outdated content.
If you have posts from years ago that are not in line with current law and legal best practice, then you may get penalised for this.
It is therefore well worth digging through your older posts, and either updating or removing them altogether. Google rewards content that goes into depth on topics, so consolidating older posts into long-form up to date content may well be a useful exercise.
If you outsource your blog posts to a content agency then you need to make sure that your posts are written by subject matter experts, and have someone in your practice responsible for proof- reading and editing posts before they are published.
Where possible you should cite claims made on your website to authoritative sources such as legislation.gov.uk and legal academic papers.
Your team’s credentials need to be clearly displayed on your website
When evaluating the trustworthiness of your practice’s website, Google will look for evidence of the qualifications and experience of the people it represents.
The easiest way to show this is by having an “About Us” or “Meet The Team” page on your website, which contains profiles of everyone in your company, along with their qualifications and areas of expertise.
Having your site linked to a Linkedin company profile with all your team listed will also add to the evidence of your company’s trustworthiness.
Each informational post on your website should also have an author bio of someone in your team, along with their credentials.
Your practice should be mentioned in authoritative sites in the legal world
Google does not just look at your practice’s website in isolation when evaluating its authoritativeness. Rather, it looks at your company’s digital footprint as a whole.
Therefore having your practice and its team members featured in high authority legal publications and websites will increase your perceived E-A-T.
An easy place to start with this is joining relevant professional bodies. In most cases you will be listed on their website as a member.
A PR campaign can help get your practice featured in industry journals and magazines. Where possible try to get mentions of your practice to link back to your website in order to make it unequivocal who you are.
Keep an eye on the smaller “signals” of being a real business, rather than just a website
Google’s E-A-T update was in part a reaction to the rise of “lead generation” sites that provide relevant information in order to collect leads that it then sells on to third parties.
It is hard to regulate who controls these websites, so in sensitive industries Google would prefer not to give them visibility.
It is therefore important to make sure that your practices website has as many of the small “signals” of being a real business rather than a standalone website.
These “signals” include:
- Having a physical location listed in Google Maps and Google My Business
- Having customer reviews
- Having a social media presence and engagement
- Having a contact us page with directions
- Being mentioned in local media
The more of these that you can engineer for your practice’s website the better.