Aug 222012

Lawyers tend to be at the mercy of SEO companies because the technical aspects of websites like HTML and site architecture can be overwhelming. For a fast paced trial lawyer, hearing a sales associate at an SEO company talk in tech language is like listening to an audio CLE about the history of secured transactions law.

In a seven part series, I and my partner, are going through each of the elements of SEO. Last month, we discussed Content and HTML.  Now, I’m going to discuss site architecture.

The following is an infographic from Search Engine Land, which in my view, does a great job of listing all the basic SEO elements:

SEL SEO Ranking Factors

The Periodic Table Of SEO Ranking Factors, used with permission

Legal Website Content Writers & Paying Attention to Site Architecture

Websites are designed on the front end-what you see, and the back end-what you don’t see. Site architecture refers mostly to the back-end aspects of a website: crawling, website load speed and uniform resource locator (URL).

1. Website Crawling and Lawyer Website Content

Search engines employs what are known as “spiders” to crawl websites. These spiders see and read only HTML coding, not normal text. Nor do the spiders see images, they only read the labels or “ALT text” attached to an image. So the HTML code needs to be clean and images correctly labeled with an ALT text.

Crawl errors should be corrected quickly. Some crawl errors like a “404 Not Found” error aren’t going to make a huge difference for ranking purposes, but the more crawl errors you have, the more you need to pay attention to how and why the errors are occurring.

2. Website Speed and Lawyer Website Content

Website speed or load time is increasingly important and according to Google, site load speed is considered in its search algorithm. Site load time is crucial. In fact, in a study cited by Google, known as the Gomez study, nearly 1/3 of visitors will begin abandoning websites at between 1 to 5 seconds.

Due to sizes of the files, videos tend to be the largest factor affecting site load time. So, a website with a high number of videos will load more slowly than a website without any videos.  This does not mean that a website should not have videos. Videos are an important way for visitors to assess the credibility of a lawyer they are thinking of hiring.  Videos can be loaded on YouTube and then embedded on a website page. This not only saves precious site load time, it also has another function-added SEO value. That’s because Google owns YouTube and will promote its videos on YouTube by returning them in search results.

3. URL Architecture and Lawyer Website Content

Relevancy of the URL to the content of the page is a key factor in website architecture. Unique URL’s are crucial, as duplicates create problems and will not be ranked. Content writers should be sure to manually input the URL and be sure it matches the content. For example, for an article about slip and fall accidents in Texas, the URL should be something like “www.xyzlawfirm.com/slip-and-fall-accident-lawyer-Texas”

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