Recovering From a Google Penalty (For Lawyers)
If you are a law firm and you are working on getting more clients and referrals through online marketing, chances are you’re using SEO as an effective method to expose the site to natural search traffic. SEO is a complicated beast and you need to have your wits about you to make sure you don’t anger Google and land you law website with a penalty. The fact of the matter is that Google does not like SEO and it is a way to use their system against them. This is even truer if you are using black hat techniques which are frowned upon, to say the least.
If your website happens to get a penalty it is your job to identify the problem and rectify it. Fortunately, recovering from a penalty is not difficult if you know what you’re doing. This article will lend a helping hand to the lawyers who might not know what to do if they’re hit with a penalty.
What To Rule Out First
Before we even discuss penalties it may be the case that your site has dropped in Google rankings for another reason. Sometimes you may not have optimized your site properly and it may be giving the users an unpleasant experience. If Google sees that your site is getting a lot of bounces then it may assume your site should not be at the top of Google and reduce you as such. There are a number of things to check before you switch to code red and presume you’ve received a penalty.
- Check the server – sometimes your server may have a few problems and this can be reducing the user experience. Check the server speeds and files to see if there is anything wrong. As well as speed, there may also be issues when it comes to Google crawling.
- Crawling issues – If Google is unable to crawl your site for whatever reason than they will not rank you properly. Check to see if your site is crawlable and use some of the crawling tools Google provides.
- Broken links and redirects – your site may have a few broken links or improper redirects on it and this can mess with the crawling that Google initializes. If they identify that you have broken links guiding users to nowhere they may de-rank your site.
If you check these things and find everything to be in tip-top condition, then you may need to check other aspects because you’ve probably been hit with a penalty.
Understand Your Animals
Google is notorious for unleashing their new, big algorithm changes and they tend to give some of the SEO monitoring changes cute, harmless names like Panda and Penguin. However, do not be fooled by their pleasant names because they will hit and harm your site if they see anything out of the ordinary. Each animal looks at different aspects of your website and they will penalize you if they notice anything that looks SEO and spammy.
The Panda update came into play and started penalizing sites based on their usability and content. This system will identify your content and if they notice you have spun it or your blogs are all duplicated it will hit you hard and de-rank you where necessary. It will also look at your site speed and responsiveness and rank you according to the speed.
The Penguin update is all about the main component of SEO – links. The software will crawl your site and will identify any links that look spammy and inappropriate and will penalize you if it finds anything that is not Google friendly. This can be related to both inbound and outbound links as well as specific anchor text. If you are spamming your law site with links you will get de-ranked sooner or later so don’t practice it.
Types of Penalty
So now that you know about the cute little animals that can hurt your law firm’s website if you’re engaging in dodgy SEO, it can help to know what kind of penalties Google can hand out to you. There are two types of penalty you can receive from Google: manual penalties and algorithmic penalties.
- Manual penalties – These are actually the result of a human review and not a machine/software review. These are handed out to a site that has been in contact with a site reviewer and they will take a look at your site and, with a human eye, will identify the links and content. If they do not like what they see they can give you a manual penalty and will ask you to fix the site. Once you have fixed the site you will have to ask for a reconsideration. That only applies to manual penalties.
- Algorithmic penalties – These penalties are dished out by the automated animals that run through Google spam detection and site reviewing software and they can give you a penalty on many of the things that have been discussed above. These penalties are a little more troublesome because they do not give you a clear message about what the problem is and you will need to dig around your website to find any issues. It may be speed, user-friendliness or content related. It can take quite a bit of time to find the problem but once you do your site will begin to rank again.
How To Recover Your Law Firm’s Site
So maybe you have been hit with a penalty and you are in need of assistance. The good thing is that penalties are rectifiable and your site can be saved. Depending on the penalty you have received you will have to go into your site and have a root around, finding any issues with the links or content. Once you find them fix them.
Clean Up Your Mess
There are a number of a ways you can fix the issues once you have had a look at your law firm’s website and it really depends on the issues you have. You can take a look at Google’s site guidelines or you can hire someone to help you out. There are plenty of experts that will lend a hand and help you get rid of a Google penalty.
If the issue is to do with content maybe hire a content or copy writer to get you some quality, unique content. You should also check your backlinks and see if there are any toxic links. If there are, you can disavow and hopefully recover. Toxic backlinks are a big reason websites get algorithmic penalties.
If you have received a manual penalty you will at least know what is the issue. You can fix it and you then have to send off a reconsideration report to notify Google you have repaired the site and you want to be ranked again.
It is generally good practice to avoid Google penalties altogether with white hat SEO and proper optimizations. Unfortunately, the older, black hat methods do not tend to work as well unless you perform them properly with the appropriate safety otherwise Google will find out and de-rank you. Once you have identified the problem, however, you can often rectify it easily through some manual labor or through hiring an expert. Hopefully, this article is helpful.
Hiring An SEO Agency To Fix A Penalty
If you don’t have the time or you’re still not sure exactly what you’re doing to recover your law firm’s website from a penalty, then it’s best to let the experts handle it. Our agency, CoFlex Marketing, works exclusively with law firms like yours across the United States to generate new cases by providing web design and SEO Internet marketing services. Our work experience has significantly impacted the success of each SEO marketing campaign resulting in satisfied and loyal clients. Let us show you what we can do to help your law firm remove a penalty so you can start generating new clients from your website again. Fill out this quick contact form and we’ll arrange a time to talk on the phone with you about your Google penalty.