Mega-search engine Google is on an uncompromised mission for good SEO practices. It wants to ensure that all users get access to accurate information on the web, unique content and top cream writers. Because of this, the search engine continuously tweaks and improves its algorithms to make the best content on the web get maximum exposure.
However, there's a downside to all this; a penalty. That's what Google will impose on your website when you break any of the laws we are about to warn you against. Sometimes a penalty is deserved, but even if that's the case, you generally want to stay safe, right?
Unfortunately, attorneys have not been left behind either. And what's demeaning is the fact that you won't take Google to court to resolve penalties imposed on you. So it's better to stay on the safe side.
Here are 12 SEO practices that will help you avoid costly mistakes that could get you penalties as an attorney running a professional website.
1. Reciprocating links
It was once an innocent marketing move, until marketers started abusing it. Swapping links was seen as an effective way of boosting a website's visibility, and it still happens today. If you've been exchanging lots of links with clients, it could be seen as an attempt to manipulate the system, and that can cost you.
2. Overusing H1 tag
The best SEO practices utilize correctly structured content. The H1 tag is very useful because it helps Google to understand what your page is all about. However, if you misuse H1 tags, it could be seen as an attempt to fill up Google's listing with keywords.
3. Internal 404s
Search engine Google expects you to attend to the content of your website and weed out any errors and problems. However, if you are delivering 404s in your own site, it's a good sign that those who are searching for your services aren't getting what they are asking for.
4. Don't Link With Sites Written in Another Language
It sounds unfair, right? May be you got a legit link from another client in another country. Then Google starts counting it against you. But wait, Google is right. Internet users generally prefer using one language. That means linking to sites not written in another language won't be helpful.
5. Footer links
Some web designers use footer links to act as navigation aid. However, others may use the footer to manipulate page rank, by passing unnatural links. That's unlawful.
6. Abuse of Automated Query Tool
Don't ping Google's API more frequently because this violates their guidelines. Even though it's not common to get penalized this way, using unauthorized automated query tool is something that large sites, plus those that use black hat SEO should be aware of.
7. Don't Hide Links on Your Site
Those links you put on your website should be visible and useful to visitors. Anything that's considered hidden is seen as suspicious. Don't make those links the same color as that of your site's background. Even if you have a good reason to, you should only device a better way of doing it.
8. Scraped Content
There are times when website owners pull content from other similar sites in order to bulk up their own pages. In most cases, this is often done with good intention, unless there's an error. Unfortunately, Google sees this as duplication. Instead, replace what you are writing with content of your own.
9. Anchor Text Overuse
Some time back, SEO experts linked certain words with the intention of reinforcing their authority. However, since the inception of penguin in 2012, the move has been strongly discouraged. If you've been doing that and you've not been caught, you are lucky. You need to switch tactics by using natural, honest links written in real English
10. Website Timing Out or Going Down
When people search for your services, they'll come across your website. If they are regular clients, they will visit your website more often. However, if the website goes down, three people get upset: The visitor, the webmaster and search engines. You see, if Google can't find your website, it would rather Re-index it than send visitors to a dead site.
11. Rented Links
A few people still think that rented links are useful for SEO purpose. So they'll pay for them and change them regularly. Unfortunately, in as much as you are hiring links, you are essentially buying links and that could lead to a penalty.
12. Using Blog Networks
It's been said that blogging is one way of driving natural traffic to your website. Unfortunately, Google sees any network as a potential SERP manipulation. Right now, most blog networks have shut down. Others that haven't are giving users the chance to delete all incoming links. Be careful about this.
Now that you know, don't be caught off-guard as an attorney who has practiced for several years in the legal profession. If you're smart to win 80% of your cases, it shouldn't be hard to master the smallest SEO mistakes that cost individuals who don't pay attention to them.