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doctor checks his phone for his clinic's Yelp reviews

By OppGen

Doctor Reviews on Yelp

Yelp is perhaps best known for small business reviews (think restaurants and salons), but the well-known directory listing website is also a place for patients to leave reviews for doctors,  medical practices, and clinics.

If your medical practice does not have a presence on Yelp, it’s time to claim your business page.

 

Why doctors need a Yelp listing

Finding new patients

The top reason why doctors need to have a Yelp listing is simple: it helps bring in more patients.

It is crucial for medical practices to have a strong online presence, and that means you need to have more than just your website up and running. You need to have active social media accounts, a Google My Business listing, and positive reviews

However, Google My Business listings are only one place where new patients can find you.

Other popular medical- and doctor-specific directories include:

Your clinic needs to be as easy for prospective patients to find as possible. That means creating and maintaining multiple listings on relevant directories like Yelp, and those listed above. 

 

Off-page SEO

Although Google My Business listings are growing in popularity because of the unique advantages they offer, it’s still a good idea to have listings in several directories,  especially on popular sites like Yelp.

 Directory listings are critical for off-page search engine optimization (SEO). Off-page SEO looks at your website through the lens of other sites. This means search engines like Google are seeing where your practice’s website is being mentioned on the web through backlinks — links on other sites that link back to your site. Directories are an easy way to acquire backlinks, and Yelp is a valuable one to have.

Getting positive reviews is another key aspect of a winning off-page SEO strategy. Having a lot of five-star reviews on your listings sends a signal to search engines that your business does high-quality work. In turn, the search engine will likely have your site rank higher for searches related to your services.

Off-page SEO, directory management, and positive reviews are proven SEO strategies for gaining visibility in your market, increasing traffic to your website, generating new leads, and signing on more patients.

 

Reputation management

According to a 2020 survey, 90% of patients use online reviews to evaluate doctors. 

Nearly 75% of patients use reviews as the first step to finding a new doctor

But if your clinic has no reviews, that’s a problem.

If someone has a problem or a bad experience in their doctor’s office, they probably won’t make a huge fuss over it in person.  However, they are far more likely to let the world know about it in an online review.

Even if you don’t have a Yelp listing set up, there is a good chance it already exists. Previous patients and Yelp users actually have the ability to establish a listing for you. The good news is that as the owner of your business, you do have the ability to claim your listing. 

By claiming the listing, you will at least be able to respond to dissatisfied patients’ complaints and try to make amends.

 

How to claim a Yelp listing

1. Find your medical practice on Yelp

You can start the process of claiming your practice or clinic’s Yelp listing by.   Go to Yelp for Business at biz.yelp.com/claim. From there, Yelp will guide you through the necessary steps to claim your business listing.

 

2. Create and verify your Yelp account

Next, you’ll need to create an account. Enter your business’s information and email address. Make sure you use an email address you check on a regular basis so you can stay on top of reviews and anything else that happens on your page.

Once you’ve completed creating your account, you’ll need to verify it. With Yelp, you will either receive an email or a phone call with a verification number. Follow the instructions you are given to verify your account.

 

3. Optimize your medical practice’s Yelp listing

Now that you’ve found your practice’s Yelp listing and set up an account, you need to optimize the listing. This means adding more information about your clinic or practice, such as:

  • Clinic or business hours
  • Contact information
  • High-quality photos of your clinic and/or staff members
  • Your practice’s specialties and background (i.e., why did you decide to open this practice or clinic, information about you and your staff)

Once you’ve added this information, double-check it and even triple-check it. It’s important that all of your clinic’s information is 100% accurate and lines up with the information on your website and other directory listings.

 

Healthcare Providers: How to respond to negative Yelp reviews without violating HIPAA

One of the most important aspects of Yelp and similar directory sites is the ability for business owners to respond to reviews. Not all reviews necessarily need a response, but negative reviews most certainly do.

But for doctors and medical practitioners, responding to negative reviews — or any review, — must be done with care. Including too much detail in a response can result in a potential HIPAA violation.

This can be more difficult for specialty clinics that focus on very specific health issues, such as men’s clinics.

All responses to negative reviews need to be original. They should not be copied-and-pasted responses with changes only to the patient’s name and maybe a few other details. If you want an unhappy patient to return, you need to be sincere, which means a non-personalized response isn’t going to do you any favors. 

If you can address the patient’s complaints without giving away why they were there for treatment, that’s often the best route. Maybe they were upset about the wait time, the state of the office, or poor bedside manners. Those topics are fairly easy to safely address while maintaining patient privacy. 

But if a patient goes into more detail about their treatment or why they were there, be careful. It may seem natural to respond with the reasons for their treatment, but it’s even easier to breach a patient’s privacy in the process.

Here is a safer option: Give a brief response apologizing for their poor experience and ask them to call or email you. This will help circumvent the risk of a HIPAA violation.

Ask yourself: Does my response give away any information about why this patient came to visit? Anything about treatment? If your answer is no, you’re probably in the clear.

 

Contact OppGen for more information

For more information about setting up a Yelp listing and other medical marketing strategies, contact OppGen today. We’ve worked with hundreds of clinics like yours to generate leads and increase revenue with an improved return on investment.

A black witch's hat sits upright among fallen leaves on halloween.

By OppGen

How to Protect Your Website from Negative SEO

Halloween is coming up right around the corner, but let’s be real: the entire month of October is about monsters, haunted houses, and trick-or-treating. Unfortunately, it seems the trick part of trick-or-treat is around all year when it comes to SEO.

Not all SEO services are good ones; we’ve had clients who have been tricked by what they thought were good SEO practices but were not — they were negative SEO tactics.

Protect yourself from being tricked into signing up with an SEO program that uses negative SEO and other black hat tactics.

 

What is negative SEO?

Negative SEO is the practice of using unethical techniques to get competitors’ websites to rank lower in search engine results pages (SERPs). It is a type of black hat SEO, which is a phrase often used to describe unethical techniques to rank higher on Google.

While negative SEO may sound like a good practice — after all, you want to rank higher than your competitors — it is one that can do real harm to your website.

Negative SEO can be done in many different ways:

 

Hacking your website

Though it’s not the most common form of negative SEO, hacking into a website due to bad security or an easy-to-guess password can certainly wreak havoc on a site. A hacker can do many things to your site that will harm its ranking, such as linking to spammy sites, altering the code in ways to make it harder to access or slower, and changing any information on the site.

 

Copying content and posting it all over on other sites

Duplicate content is a bigger problem than you may think: nearly a third of all content on the web is duplicate content. 

Duplicate content is any content on a website that’s the same or similar to other content across a website or several websites. Basically, if the content is the same but the URLs are different, it is considered duplicate content. Duplicate content is a sign of a low-quality website, and if the same content is spread across several other websites, it can lead to your site taking a nosedive in the SERPs.

 

Building up hundreds or thousands of spammy links and backlinks to your site

Link building is a key practice when it comes to SEO, and some links are considered significantly better than others for quality. That said, if other websites with very poor domain quality point back to your site, that will affect your website’s ranking for keywords. 

 

Leaving fake negative reviews 

Negative reviews on Google My Business listings and other review websites certainly have an impact that goes further than tanking your website’s SERPs rankings — they can also hurt your business’s reputation and revenue. A Harvard Business School study found that even a 1-star increase on Yelp leads to a 5 to 9% increase in revenue. Another report found 82% of shoppers won’t select a retailer with less than 3 stars.

While negative reviews can (and will) happen, they shouldn’t be occurring too frequently (unless you’re providing incredibly poor service or low-quality products). If you’re suddenly experiencing an influx of negative reviews, you may be getting hit with a slew of fake reviews as part of a competitor’s negative SEO campaign.

 

How do I know if my SEO is negative?

It can be difficult to know whether or not negative SEO is being performed on your site. The key thing to keep in mind is that a sudden drop in rankings does not mean you are the victim of negative SEO; that’s usually due to an update in Google’s algorithms or being filtered out due to the creation of better content.

A better way to be aware of negative SEO is to pay attention to these red flags:

 

Someone offering to do negative SEO or SEO services at a very low cost

This may sound obvious, but the problem is not everyone knows what negative SEO is, let alone what it looks like. And a lot of people do offer it as a service for an incredibly low cost on websites like Fiverr. There are black hat forums all over the web where you can find people discussing how they took down sites using negative SEO.

It’s important to remember that you get what you pay for. While a $5 SEO strategy sounds like a bargain, it’s often going to cost you far more than that $5.

 

Copying and pasting the same content with minimal differences

Duplicate content is an easy way for your site to start tanking in the SERPs rankings. Some SEO experts or content writers will reuse the same content repeatedly and then change a word or two. This is a practice that can really hurt your website, so it’s always a good idea to actually read the content that is going up on your website and compare it to other pieces.

 

Buying links from blog networks and selling links without the “nofollow” attribute

Buying links from blog networks can be something that can potentially affect your site’s SERPs rankings, as it’s considered a black hat SEO tactic.

Similarly, selling your links to other people and not including the “nofollow” attribute to your links can also negatively affect where your site appears on search engines.

As a general rule of thumb, just don’t buy or sell links — it could save you some pain in the long run.

 

What can I do to protect my website from negative SEO?

Now that you know what negative SEO looks like, you’re probably wondering how you can protect your site from negative SEO practices.

This list is far from comprehensive, but it should be a good starting point.

 

Keep your site’s security up to date

Hacking a website is a surefire strategy to tank that site’s rankings, so it’s important to have all of your security up to date. This might mean updating security patches and plug-ins on a regular basis and making sure your CMS software is strong enough to protect your information in a cyber attack or security breach.

If you’re still using an HTTP address, you need to migrate your site to HTTPS as soon as possible. HTTPS is more secure than HTTP web addresses and this is especially important if you’re running an e-commerce business. It protects your customers’ valuable data, like credit cards, from being stolen and abused by hackers. As a bonus, HTTPS sites are now considered a ranking factor for SEO.

It’s also important to change your password and make sure it is difficult to guess. Avoid playing “games” on Facebook and other social media sites that ask questions are commonly used when requesting a lo for lost password information, such as:

  • What is the name of your childhood pet?
  • What is your mother’s maiden name?
  • What street did you live on in first grade?
  • What was the name of your third-grade teacher?

Just to name a few.

It’s also a good idea to install 2-step verification passwords on your websites and email addresses as well. With WordPress, you can install the Google Authenticator Plugin to add an extra step for logging in, which will send a random code generated by Google Authenticator to your smartphone. It might be a slight nuisance, but it’s an easy thing to do that can keep hackers at bay.

 

Perform link audits on a regular basis

An influx of bad backlinks can certainly hurt your SERPs position, which is why it’s always a good idea to run a link audit through a service like SEMrush. There, you can review your backlinks and see if you’re dealing with any spammy links. Be sure to check every link that appears to be spammy or negative — not all of these links are bad backlinks. Some may just be from websites with low domain authority, and that doesn’t make it a bad link. 

Once you have a list of bad backlinks, you can go to Google Search Console and submit those links to be disavowed.

 

Use a plagiarism checker 

Duplicate content is easy to find thanks to plagiarism checkers. Try using a free one like Copyscape to see if your content is being plagiarized by other websites. If your content is being plagiarized on other sites, you have a few options:

  • Email the webmaster. It could be they do not know their content has been lifted directly from your site. You can send an email to let them know the situation and request that they remove the page.
  • Submit a DMCA takedown notice to the ISP. In more difficult cases, such as a webmaster denying that it is your content in the first place and refusing to remove it (or they simply won’t respond to the email), you’ll have to submit a DMCA takedown request to their online service provider. DMCA.com can help you get started on preparing this legal document that will have the ISP or hosting company remove the content from the website and other information about the law. Google also has a copyright infringement removal form you can use. 

 

Pay attention to Google My Business reviews

Unless your business has gone viral for something bad, you shouldn’t be seeing an onslaught of negative reviews on your Google My Business listing. In such an event, you might be dealing with someone spamming your listing with fake negative reviews.

Thankfully you can flag and report fake reviews on Google My Business. You can do it through Google Maps, a Google search for your Google My Business Profile, and your Google My Business account. Simply find the review you want to report and follow the instructions in the video below:

Keep in mind that this should not be used for real negative reviews or reviews you dislike or disagree with. With real negative reviews, you should at least respond to them.

 

Protect your website from negative SEO this spooky season — or any time of the year — with OppGen

Hopefully this blog has made negative SEO a little less scary. It’s not a common phenomenon, but it is still important to be aware of negative SEO and black hat SEO tactics, as they go hand in hand.

If you think you may be dealing with negative SEO, please fill out our digital audit. Our SEO team will review your website and let you know if anything seems awry. We’ll also make suggestions as to how you can improve your website through SEO strategies. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or want more information.

a lawyer records blog ideas on a notebook

By OppGen

How Important Are Blogs to Legal SEO?

What is SEO and why does it matter for law firms and the legal industry?

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a digital marketing strategy with the goal of getting your website to rank high on search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant keyword searches.

Unlike search ads, SEO is an organic strategy, meaning you don’t pay the search engine to place your law firm’s website on SERPs for certain keywords.

Depending on the area of law your law firm specializes in, paid search ads can be very expensive. For example, personal injury law ads are one of the most expensive advertising segments on Google — and that is across all industries, not just the legal industry.

SEO is a marketing strategy that can help bring in more clients and cases more efficiently, more consistently, and more cost-effectively compared to other options (though you certainly can — and should — invest in paid search and SEO).

 

Why are blogs important for legal SEO?

The best legal SEO programs are made up of 4 components:

 

1. Technical SEO

Technical SEO focuses on tackling issues like website speed and coding. Google has been moving toward a mobile-first system with SEO, meaning that websites are judged first by how quickly they load on mobile devices.

At this point, it is a must to have a website coded for mobile devices and not just desktop computers.

 

2. Local SEO

In most cases, law firms are local to specific locations. This puts them at a good advantage for SEO provided they know how to use it.

One common Google search involves looking for a service or company “near me.” Google takes a searcher’s physical location at the time of their search and will display whatever they searched near them based on that location. When a prospective client nearby searches for “law firm near me,” it’s imperative that your law firm shows up, whether as a search result or on Google Maps.

One way to do this involves making sure your law firm has a Google My Business account with the correct business name, address, and phone number. It also helps to make sure your law firm is listed in relevant directories, too, and in the legal field, there are many listing options available to you.

 

3. On-page SEO

On-page SEO revolves around the content on your website. “Content” can be many things: videos, podcasts, photos, and blogs.

For those slightly familiar with on-page SEO, you might think that filling up a webpage with the same keyword over and over again can get you to rank high. This is no longer the case.

Today, on-page SEO means you need to create highly detailed, relevant content that your target audience finds valuable. This also means you need to make sure your content is readable — not only will your target audience be reading this, but so will search engines. Search engines read websites similarly to how humans do.

 

4. Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to the processes of link building, shares on social media, and getting five-star reviews.

Link building occurs when links on other websites point back to your law firm’s website. The more links that direct people to your law firm’s site, the better (as long as those pointing back to you are good resources, that is), because search engines recognize that when more people are sharing your content, it means your content is useful.

 

What do any of those 4 components have to do with the importance of blogging for SEO?

Each of these components play a key role in SEO, and you can’t have one without the others if you truly wish to have an effective SEO strategy.

That said, blogging is a key part of on-page SEO strategies. Even though you can’t keyword stuff pages anymore, you still can create valuable content for your target audience. It’s those pages that are most likely to be shared with others and can help you build a system of backlinks, pushing your website higher up on SERPs for relevant keywords.

Although search engines are beginning to include audio and video into searches, blogging will always be one of the most efficient and simplest ways to rank on Google and Bing for relevant keyword searches.

It’s much easier to set up a target keyword and try to rank for it compared to audio and video, which are still new. Compared to those other mediums, blogging has a lower entry point. Videos and audio require equipment and editing software. If you don’t know how to edit audio or video (both of which are time-consuming processes), you’re going to struggle to create good content, which is the goal of on-page SEO.

Everyone can write — but that doesn’t mean just anyone should.

 

Why should I have a legal SEO writer?

Though you don’t necessarily need to hire a legal SEO writer, you should consider working with someone who writes with SEO in mind.

Writing isn’t as easy as it looks, and that goes for SEO content writing, too. Writing about a subject you’re overly familiar with often means you may use jargon that most readers won’t understand. Let’s be honest: the average American isn’t going to read a legal document for fun. Most legal documents are dry and hard to read. That is the exact opposite of what you need for your law firm’s blog.

You can’t write a blog for a more general audience (compared to your colleagues in the legal industry, at least) that’s written like a legal document. It needs to be simplified in a way that anyone can understand. And that is a skill not everyone has.

It’s important to have a good writer who understands SEO and can weave target keywords into an easy-to-read blog post.

 

How to write a good legal blog using SEO

Choose your keyword(s)

The keywords you choose to target will determine the likelihood of your website ranking for those keyword searches. Some keywords are nearly impossible to rank for, while others are easy to rank for but aren’t searched very often. You won’t know the keyword difficulty or search volume unless you use a website like SEMrush or ahrefs. These websites track keywords, search volume, keyword difficulty, and more. Ideally, you’ll want to use keywords with a relatively low keyword difficulty and high search volume. These websites do require subscriptions. If you don’t understand some of the terms or ranking information on these sites, it may be a better investment to partner with a marketing agency that has access to them and will create content for you, such as OppGen Marketing.

Another consideration to take into account: Would someone who is looking for your law firm’s services use any of the keywords you may want to use? If not, drop those from the list. Knowing your audience and what keywords they could use matters a lot.

Last but not least, make sure your keywords are relevant to what it is you offer. Relevance is really important, and you don’t want to market something you don’t offer. But that doesn’t mean you are limited to just writing about legal issues. Look into a newsjacking approach. Newsjacking is a strategy that utilizes current events and writing about them from an angle you’re familiar with. For example, if you’re a personal injury lawyer, you could write about the Surfside condominium collapse in Florida and discuss what legal actions, if any, people have in a situation like that one. 

There are many different topics and keywords out there — it’s a matter of researching them.

 

Make an outline

Before creating the blog, make an outline and think about section headers. Blogs should not be formatted like a book or legal document. They need to be broken up into sections. Not only that but these sections should also be related to your keywords. If you can make sure your keywords are part of some of the headers (your keywords should always be included in the h1 header, which is also known as the title header).

Other SEO blog outlining tips:

  • Include your keyword(s) in the h1/title head and at least one in an h2 header
  • Use only one h1/title header per blog
  • Make subsections using h2, h3, h4, and make sure that h2 is larger than h3 and h3 is larger than h4
  • Make the last section header a call to action (CTA)

 

Write the blog post

Now that you’ve created the outline, you can finally start writing the actual blog post. You can certainly use the target keywords a few times, but be careful not to overdo it.

If you include images in your blog (and you should!), make sure you utilize the alt text tag. Alt text describes the image and will appear on screen readers. This helps people with visual impairments know what is in the image. Plus, it’s a good place to include a keyword, but the keyword is not the most important thing with alt tags — that would be accessibility.

 

Have someone outside your law firm review the blog

As much as you may want to have one of your fellow attorneys review the blog post, it’s a good idea to have someone who isn’t in the legal profession read it. This could be a friend, a spouse, or the person who handles all of your law firm’s communication. As long as they don’t have a law degree or practice law, anyone is fair game.

Once you find someone to read and review the blog, ask them to summarize what exactly it is they just read. If they’re able to summarize what it was about correctly after reading it, congrats! You have a blog post that is accessible to the general public.

 

Post the blog

Now that you’ve had the blog reviewed and made any edits or changes as needed, it’s time to post the blog to your law firm’s website. But there are a few things you need to include before you hit that post button, starting with a featured image.

With featured images, it’s important to use an image you have the rights to use. There are free stock photo sites that allow you to use photos for free, such as Pexels; and then there are subscription-based sites like Shutterstock. Both types of sites have their advantages and disadvantages, so it is a good idea to use both.

Another option for images is Creative Commons, which allows you to use images provided you follow the requirements for each type of license. For example, most Creative Commons content requires you to credit its creator. This can be done at the bottom of the blog post. But make sure you review each license carefully; there are some that will not let you use the content for commercial purposes. Others won’t let you modify the images in any way. Always review the Creative Commons license before using any content. 

You’ll need a meta description, too. Meta descriptions are the summaries that appear on individual search results. Meta descriptions should include the keywords you want to try to rank for and should be no longer than 160 characters in length. Anything longer than that will be cut off.

You can also adjust how the blog’s title (known as a title tag) will appear on search engines, too. It’s generally recommended that your title tag is somewhere between 50 to 70 characters in length, though Google has said there is no limit to the title tag’s character length. However, there is still a cut-off point measured in pixels, and this is where using a plug-in like Yoast can come in handy, as it can give you an idea of when the title tag is too long.

When posting your final draft of the blog, make sure its URL contains the keywords you want to rank for, too. This makes it easier for search engines to find, and it’s far more organized than letting the content management system (sometimes abbreviated as CMS) use the publication date or a string of random numbers for the URL.

Another thing to check before hitting that publish button: use your name as the author of the blog post to help establish not only your law firm’s authority, but yours, too. 

If you don’t want to publish your blog immediately, most content management systems allow you to schedule it for publication on a specific date and time. Otherwise, go ahead and click the publish button.

And now, you wait for an increase in traffic and hopefully emails and phone calls from prospective clients. Keep in mind that SEO is not immediate or automatic — it will take time before you see any increases in clients.

 

Share the blog to social media

Your post has been published. Now what? Easy: Share the blog to your law firm’s social media accounts. It’s an easy way to build up backlinks and possibly have others in your social (media) circle share it, too.

You may want to sit back and celebrate the publication and shares of your first legal SEO blog — but the journey’s not over yet. You’ll have to keep creating SEO-friendly blogs if you want to continue to see an increase in clients for your law firm. Search engine optimization is an ongoing strategy that never truly ends. Once you start, you should not stop.

 

Contact OppGen for more information

For some people, the fact that SEO is a never-ending strategy is too much to deal with. It’s too easy to run out of blog topics or keywords. Maybe you’re too busy to keep track of SEO.

Whatever the reason, it’s a good idea to hire a legal SEO writer or a digital marketing company that can create original content for your law firm’s website and brings in more clients. And OppGen Marketing is here to do just that.

To learn more about OppGen’s legal SEO marketing program, contact us today, or fill out our free digital audit for valuable feedback about where you can improve your law firm’s SEO strategy and more.

Male AAPI lawyer reviews his personal injury law firm's website

By OppGen

SEO Expectations for Personal Injury Law Firms

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is often misunderstood by those who don’t work with it on a regular basis. It’s seen as something that’s easy to do, requires minimal effort or a handful of keywords repeated on a page, or something that should bring in results overnight.

At OppGen, we hear many misconceptions as expectations from personal injury law clients, who are beginning to consider an SEO strategy. Unfortunately, these expectations are unrealistic and in some cases, unobtainable.

So we want to share some of these SEO expectations for personal injury law firms to create a clearer picture of what goes into SEO and why these expectations are not rooted in reality, along with what they can expect from a solid SEO program.

 

How long does it take for my personal injury law firm to rank higher on Google?

Unlike paid search advertising on Google and other search engines, where it is easier to position your ads in better locations on search engine results pages (SERPs) in a relatively short period of time, SEO has more variables that can affect your personal injury law firm’s SERPs ranking. Due to these variables, it takes longer before you start seeing an increase in web traffic and conversions.

It can take anywhere from 3 months to even a year to start seeing results from an SEO strategy.

 

Why am I not seeing any improvements in traffic after optimizing my website for SEO? I’m creating great personal injury content, so why isn’t my site ranking higher?

There’s a more lot that goes into SEO than just creating great content or a streamlined website, as SEO is a multifaceted strategy with several variables one must consider.

OppGen takes the the following variables into account when creating an SEO plan for your law firm:

 

Technical SEO

Technical SEO focuses on the technical aspects of your website: your site’s speed, whether or not it functions well on mobile devices, and your site’s design and navigation.

A site that is easy for anyone to access regardless of their device and loads quickly is a site that Google will be more likely to rank higher on SERPs.

 

Local SEO

For local businesses, local SEO is a must. When someone searches for “personal injury law firm near me,” search engines use that person’s location to show them results closest to them. This means that it’s important for your law firm to show up in the local results.

Setting up a Google My Business listing for your law firm is absolutely a must because it can put your firm on Google Maps and therefore easier for prospects to select instead of any competitors. You’ll also want to have your personal injury law firm on other relevant legal directories. It’s always good for your law firm to be easy to find in multiple places; it makes you more competitive within your local market, too!

 

On-page SEO

On-page SEO involves creating relevant content featuring information that will be valuable to your target audience. We are far past the days of keyword stuffing pages, which actually can work against you. Today’s search engines are able to read much more like us, so you need to make sure your content is digestible and not loaded with jargon.

You’ll still be focusing on relevant keywords, but you need to know how difficult a keyword is to rank for. Some keywords are more competitive than others while others are rarely searched. It helps to have an SEO expert like those at OppGen to guide you through what keywords are likely to be effective for your law firm.

 

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO is about spreading the word about your personal injury law firm. This can be done through social media sharing, glowing five-star reviews, and link building. Link building is a process that involves other websites linking back to your website. The more links that point back to your website, especially when these other sites are excellent resources that rank well, too, the better, because it tells search engines that your law firm is a good resource. When you also include positive reviews and content shares on social media, that’s even more telling to search engines about the quality of your law firm

SEO has so many variables to take into account. It’s not enough to just optimize your website for speed — you need to take other things into consideration, too, such as the keywords you are trying to rank for, as well as the content you’re making.

 

Why am I getting more traffic but roughly the same number of clients?

Getting higher traffic does tend to result in more clients, but that doesn’t mean you’re getting the quality of clients your firm needs. Conversion should be the more important focus, not the number of web users visiting your website.

To improve conversion rates, make sure that your site is easy to navigate with a clean design. It should load quickly and operate smoothly on all devices, not just desktop computers. Your website should be optimized for mobile devices, and that’s a shift Google has been making when it comes to ranking high on the SERPs. 

 

Is it better for my personal injury law firm to be a featured snippet, a Google Maps listing, or a text-based result? Why can’t I rank twice on the same page?

Sometimes the ranking numbers for SERPs rankings can be confusing; after all, there’s a position 0 (which is just a fancy way to say the first PPC ad on a page) and sometimes it’s unclear if the first position (position 1) is a search result or a featured snippet… or even a Google Maps listing.

For our intents and purposes, we view the Google Maps listing as a type of featured snippet, which is ultimately the best ranking you can have on SERPs. Though these featured snippets/Google Maps listings aren’t technically considered as a numbered position on SERPs, they are the ultimate goal for ranking purposes. Featured snippets/Google Maps listings take up most of the traffic for keyword searches because they’re highly visual and are positioned before the rest of the results. 

However, it is highly unlikely for your law firm to be listed twice on the same page (that is, as both a featured snippet/Google Maps listing and a traditional search result), due to Google’s algorithms.

Remember: if your law firm appears as a featured snippet or as a Google Maps listing on the first page instead of a traditional search result, do not panic. That is the best case scenario for SERPs.

 

I’ve seen more new clients thanks to SEO, so can I stop optimizing my personal injury law firm’s website?

While you can stop optimizing your PI law firm’s site for SEO at any point, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to do so. SEO is a process that is always evolving and changing. If you want to keep bringing in more clients through organic searches, you need to keep creating content, monitoring traffic and keywords, and pay attention to any changes to Google’s algorithm. Though Google doesn’t make these changes public, there are experts who pay close attention to the company’s announcements and policy changes that could have an effect on SERP rankings.

 

Why should I invest in SEO instead of PPC?

It may seem like PPC and SEO are ultimately incompatible, but we believe that PPC and SEO actually complement each other, and that is especially the case for the legal industry, which has the most expensive average cost per click for PPC ads

You can think of your PPC strategy as a quick fix; it’s sort of like putting a broken arm in a sling. It’s quick and it keeps the (your law firm) arm intact for a brief period of time. But relying only on PPC can become expensive and risky — it’s probably in your law firm’s best interest to find a more stable ongoing solution. SEO, then, is like a cast and physical therapy for that broken arm.

SEO takes longer to work (like the cast) and will also take continued upkeep (physical therapy), but it tends to strengthen the law firm (the arm) by establishing it as an authoritative place for information as well as by building trust and a good reputation with clients.

Unrelated to the broken arm analogy, SEO is also an organic marketing strategy, which means you do not have to pay Google or Bing or any other search engine directly for your website to be positioned for certain keywords. 

Though SEO requires a greater investment of your time, it doesn’t require as much money as PPC, making it a more feasible strategy for your personal injury law firm’s long-term success.

That doesn’t mean you should drop your PPC strategy, either; it may be easier to target leads for certain keywords with PPC than SEO and vice-versa.

 

Contact OppGen for more SEO information

Hopefully you now have a better idea of what SEO is, what goes into a good SEO strategy, how it can help your personal injury law firm bring in more leads, and how long it takes to start working. But if you still have questions about SEO, contact OppGen today for more information. Alternatively, you can fill out our free digital audit for your personal injury law firm’s website, and we’ll give you feedback on how your website can be better optimized for search engines.

2021 SEO trend ideas

By OppGen

The Top 10 SEO Trends to Look Out for in 2021

2020 has been a difficult year for many businesses, mainly due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 responses generally included stay-at-home orders that often changed how companies operated.

It’s no wonder that Google decided to hold off on some of its 2020 search engine optimization (SEO) updates and push them back to later dates.

That said, many of the SEO trends for 2021 may look very similar to the trends of 2020. But that isn’t a bad thing. We can work with what we’ve already been doing and refine our SEO strategies for the better.

But in case you managed to miss 2020’s SEO trends, no worries — we’ll recap many of those that are still part of our top 10 SEO trends for 2021.

 

1. Mobile-first websites

Mobile-first websites are a must at this point. To understand what mobile-first means, we need to understand how search engines work.

Search engines use bots to “crawl” web pages and analyze pages’ content: text, video, images, audio, its overall layout, etc. From there, search engines will take the information the bots crawled and try to better understand what the page is about, where it further analyzes content. All this information is stored in an index, a massive database.

Search engines then determine a page’s SERPs (search engine results pages) ranking based on the quality of a page’s content, how quickly it loads, how relevant it is to certain searches, etc.

Mobile-first indexing refers to this whole process, except instead of a search engine going through this process on a desktop site, it will do it on the mobile version first and place more weight on the mobile experience than the desktop site in terms of ranking. Mobile-first indexing still takes other information into account, but if your website doesn’t work well on mobile, then it’s likely to rank lower, even with high-quality content.

Google initially announced it was going to start the shift to mobile-first in May 2019 and have it completed for all sites in September 2020, but due to COVID-19, Google has given an extension for webmasters to make the switch to mobile-first by the end of March 2021

That said, if you don’t have a mobile-first site, you need to have one as soon as possible.

 

2. Long-form content

Longer blogs can improve your site’s SERPs ranking. SEM Rush’s State of Content Marketing Report found that blog posts with over 3,000 words get three times more traffic and four times the number of shares while also achieving 3.5 more backlinks than articles in average length (about 900 to 1,200 words).

But length isn’t everything — you need to make sure your content’s quality is top-notch, too.

 

3. EAT and YMYL

Google has given search engine marketers (SEM) and search engine optimization experts a few principles to guide their web pages to higher SERPs rankings.

One of these principles is called EAT (or E-A-T). EAT comes from a document Google’s human quality raters used to assess the quality of search results. Google publicly released this document in 2013 to help people better understand what Google looks for on web pages.

EAT is an acronym, with each letter standing for the following items:

 

Expertise

Expertise is about having a great deal of knowledge about a certain field. This means Google’s looking at who the content creator is and what their qualifications are. If you’re a doctor writing about chemotherapy, you’re more qualified than someone on reddit or a Facebook group discussing the use of essential oils to treat cancer.

But you don’t necessarily need to have the degree or background to rank high on SERPs. Everyday expertise matters, too. So if you’re looking for information on what it’s like to undergo chemotherapy, you might find a blog by someone who chronicled their experience with it.

 

Authoritativeness

Authoritativeness refers to your reputation among other experts in your field. This often comes from other trusted sources and experts linking back to your article. This can be other blog posts they’ve written, expert recommendations, articles, and high ratings.

Keep in mind that authority is relative. While some companies are authoritative in their respective fields, they may not be authoritative in others. For example, the Walt Disney Company would be considered an authoritative source in the entertainment industry, but it wouldn’t be an expert on how to grow vegetable gardens.

 

Trustworthiness

For EAT, trustworthiness is about legitimacy, accuracy, and transparency. Essentially, it boils down to creating content that people can trust.

You can boost your content’s trustworthiness by linking back to reliable, high-quality sources written by experts or articles that were posted on trustworthy websites. You can reach out to guest bloggers who are experts in their respective fields to see if they’d write a blog post for you or sit down for an interview.

Like authoritativeness, trustworthiness is also relative. Let’s return to that last example with the Walt Disney Company and gardening: While you can expect the Walt Disney Company to have accurate release dates for its upcoming slate of shows on Disney+, you can’t expect that from your local gardening center.

 

YMYL

Like EAT, YMYL is another Google SEO principle that came from the Google Search Quality Evaluation Guideline document. YMYL stands for “Your Money or Your Life” (or “Your Money, Your Life”), which refers to websites that fall under subjects that affect people’s lives, typically related to things like finance or healthcare. If your business offers any advice or information related to these topics, Google’s algorithms will likely pay closer attention to EAT when ranking your site.

Even if your business doesn’t necessarily have anything related to YMYL subjects, EAT is still important. It helps ensure that you’re creating high-quality content that helps people find what they’re looking for. High-quality content is always something to strive for, so keep EAT and YMYL in mind as you create content for your audiences.

 

4. Voice search

As smart speakers like Alexa and Siri have become more common and more popular in households, the technology behind them has only gotten better.

It’s no wonder, then, that voice search will affect search queries. Consider the commercials featuring Alexa or Siri: People ask them questions in a conversational manner. That approach differs from the queries people search when typing on their phone or computer, which tend to be shorter and may contain abbreviations.

For example, a voice search query might be something like: “What is today’s temperature supposed to be?”

But a typed query would probably be phrased along the lines of: “temperature today.” 

Keep voice search in mind as you go forward with SEO strategies, especially as more and more homes install smart speakers and voice assistants.

 

5. Snippets

Each individual search result on Google includes what is called a “snippet,” which includes the following details:

  • The name of the page in blue
  • The URL in green
  • Body text that comes directly from the page’s text or meta descriptions

But not all snippets are created equal, and some snippets can bring in more traffic and help improve your SERPs ranking.

 

Featured snippets

Featured snippets are kind of a shortcut on Google’s SERPs that include a block of information from a top-ranked website. They often include eye-catching images, reviews, product prices, and other relevant information and content that a specific page has to share. There can only be one featured snippet, and it’s considered to be ranked as 0 instead of ranked as 1.

Because they’re highly visual and stand out compared to other snippets, featured snippets also take up a large portion of traffic. If you manage to snag a featured snippet spot for a blog, you can expect to see more traffic headed to that specific page.

In order to have a featured snippet, you need, at the very least, to be in the top 5 organic search results. Structured data, or the code in your web page that informs search engines what your page is about, can also help make it easier for search engines to read your website and take the information that is most valuable on the page and have it be featured in the featured snippet. Having structured data is not required, but it can increase your chances of getting that coveted featured snippet spot!

 

Rich snippets

To the untrained eye, rich snippets don’t look all that different than most snippets you’ll see on SERPs. But if you slow down and really take a close look at each individual snippet, you may realize that some snippets have more detailed information, such as ratings or cook times or calorie counts. Snippets with these extra details are rich snippets.

While they don’t look all that different from the average snippet, rich snippets do tend to perform better than their typical snippet counterparts.

 

6. Visual content

Website design

We’ve already discussed why mobile-first websites are pretty much a requirement at this point, but we also need to go into why sites need good designs and user experiences. 57% of internet users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile website. That’s nearly two-thirds of people who won’t do you any favors with word-of-mouth marketing, the most powerful kind of marketing.

You need to put in a good deal of thought when designing your mobile-first website. It must reflect your brand, and if there’s even a single message or image that doesn’t align with your business (or vice-versa), it will negatively affect prospects.

Keeping your website’s overall design simple, clean, and easy to navigate on all devices will do you and your business a lot of good.

 

Images

A Bright Local survey found 60% of consumers are more likely to consider local search results that have images and are 23% more likely to contact a business that showcases an image. 

To stand out, you need high-quality images, but you also don’t want to have massive images that take up a lot of data. This can affect site speed and your SERPs ranking as a result. Sites like TinyPNG will compress images, making the file size smaller without a massive drop in quality.

Also, keep your website accessible to people with screen readers and visual disabilities by including alt text on all your images. Alt text should describe what’s going on in an image or what’s featured in an image. If you’re able to include relevant keywords in the alt text, that’s a nice bonus!

But the big thing with alt text is to focus on is accessibility. An accessible website is better for all users, which is something search engines pay attention to.

  

Videos

Video content is becoming more and more popular, particularly with younger generations (but don’t discount the fact that baby boomers use websites like YouTube regularly, too!).

When used correctly, video can be an incredibly useful form of content that can really contribute to your SEO strategy. Posts with videos attract 3 times more links than posts with just text

SEO is very much about crafting high-quality content, and that includes the quality of video. To produce quality results, you’ll have to invest in high-quality video production. You don’t need to go out and hire the best studio to do all the work, but you do need to keep quality in mind.

Due to the extra investment, it’s really important to keep your audience and goals in mind, otherwise your money may not end up helping you get the results you want. That said, one of the best ways to attract more leads is to create educational videos that provide insight and information that’s useful to your target audience. 

This could be a video featuring all of the ins and outs of a product you sell or showing a procedure or service you offer.

Your content doesn’t have to be funny or commercial-like. Stick to what you know and do it well.

 

7. Local search listings

If the pandemic lockdown continues into 2021 (and it’s likely that it may, with estimates of COVID-19 being less of a threat around November 2021), that’s a serious threat to small businesses. But small businesses do have something that big box stores and corporations don’t necessarily have: connections to a very specific, local location.

Creating a local SEO strategy, then, will be vital for the small businesses that struggled during 2020 and will either be playing catch-up or are trying to still stay afloat while in a lockdown.

Part of that local SEO strategy should include setting up a Google My Business listing, which is an invaluable resource that can put your business on the (Google) map. It makes it easy to respond and reply to reviews and curate your business’s digital presence. 

Since Google My Business listings are placed on Google Maps, your business will be so much easier for people to find and/or contact. You can even post updates on your Google My Business listing.

Don’t stop at just Google My Business. Part of any good SEO strategy, local or otherwise, is to build up backlinks. Get your business added to relevant listings, professional organizations (if any are applicable to your business), and review sites like Yelp and the Better Business Bureau. 

High reviews can also increase your SERPs ranking, and responding to negative reviews can also make a difference, both in terms of ranking and simply from a business standpoint.

 

8. Predictive search improvements

Google’s predictive search is set to improve in 2021. The AI-driven tool called Google Discover recommends content based on users’ behavioral patterns and habits, which helps the search engine better identify what kind of content is most likely relevant to the user.

Creating audience personas can be of great use here. As you learn more about your audience’s demographics, psychographics, and interests, you can craft content that they’d be more likely to click on and eventually come back to make a purchase or an appointment.

 

9. Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is only going to get, well, more intelligent as time goes on. This means it’s time to focus on optimizing content for AI algorithms, such as Google’s RankBrain. RankBrain plays a very important role in how the search engine ranks SERPs by using Google’s ranking factors.

Given all of the searches performed on Google, RankBrain is only going to keep learning and getting smarter. While Google and most other search engines utilizing AI won’t share the specific details about what the main factors are when determining rank, you can certainly try to learn.

One guess is user experience. AI can easily see how long people spend on pages as well as the click-through rate, backlinks, readability, and more.

Although AI may be determining where your pages are ranked, it’s still very important to remember to create content for people, not the machine. (It’s worth noting that Google’s bots are able to read and comprehend content similarly to how humans do, so again, don’t create content for the machines. Create it for people.)

 

10. Non-Google search engines

Now’s a good time to research and consider SEO strategies for other search engines, especially since Google’s facing an antitrust lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice and several state attorneys general. Though it’s not all that likely for Google to give up its status as the world’s top search engine as a result of this lawsuit, it does serve as a good reminder that there are other search engines out there that reach people in places Google can’t.

This means keeping an eye on Bing — and even on Apple, which may be slowly drifting away from relying on Google and headed toward creating its own search engine in the very near future.

 

Contact OppGen for more SEO trends and information

SEO is always changing, and at OppGen, we keep our finger on the pulse of these changes and trends. We’ll continue to utilize this information to optimize our SEO clients’ websites and improve page rankings.

For more information about OppGen’s SEO program, contact us today.

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