2019 has been sort of a weird year so far for SEO, but not a huge departure from what we’ve seen over the past few years. However, there have been a few important algorithm changes and updates that we would like to provide clarity on. We’ve also got some great suggestions on improving your search presence, site performance, and what you can do to stay ahead of your competition in today’s SEO landscape.
The August 2018 “Medic” Update and Subsequent Google Updates
Last year in August of 2018 and the weeks preceding, Google released their “Medic” update, so called by SEOs due to its high impact on sites in the medicinal field. Unfortunately, healthcare and medicine were not the only sites affected by this update. You may have noticed for yourself that late last year, your organic traffic was way down, your keyword rankings had fallen, and there were much fewer conversions on your website than there were in the past. A trusted name and “reporter” of sorts in the SEO industry, Barry Schwartz, captures the search engine results pages volatility in greater detail here, for historic reference.
There were subsequent “updates” to the Medic Update that effectively expanded on and retracted from things that Google updated about their algorithm originally – we will cover what we think you can do about these things in further detail below.
Without getting too technical, there were a bunch of things that SEOs could do in order to improve their overall site performance and search presence, as Google also released a set of guidelines that 3rd party raters were to use in their appraisals of websites:
Improve Overall Site Speed, Especially On Mobile
After Google started finalizing their “mobile first index” which simply means that Google considers the way your website looks and works on mobile before they consider your desktop site, your mobile site speed became more important than ever. Consumers have a short attention span, but Google knows better than to make them wait for the content they want to consume. Slow page-load speeds lost a lot of traction within SERPs.
Our tip: use Google Pagespeed Insights to get a list of things that you can fix on your website. If you know how to fix these issues, by all means, go right ahead. If you don’t know how, contact an SEO professional or web developer who can help you. Sitespeed goes a long way not only for SEO, but for your user experience as well!
Make sure you have author pages, and include the author on your content.
Another part of what Google updated was the importance of “EAT,” which stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. Remember earlier when we talked about how Google released the guidelines for their search quality raters? Well, this is one of the important things that raters are looking for. The important thing that you need to know about EAT is how to establish it on your own site. Here’s how:
Make sure you have an Author Bio for anyone who contributes content to your website. Here’s an example of my own! On your author bio page, you’ll want to explain who you are, what your experience is, why you are qualified to write about what you are talking about, and also some things about you so that people will actually want to read it!
But don’t stop there – you need to make sure that a link to the author page is included on the articles you have on your website. For example, at the top of this blog post is a little picture of me! On most other blog posts we have on the Answering Legal site, we’ve got a little picture of my colleague, Joe, and a link to his author bio. When you’re a lawyer, this is pretty easy.
Include where you went to undergrad, where you went to law school, your relevant experience, how long you’ve been practicing, and some of your accolades. Write about all of these things as if you’re telling a story about yourself. Get braggadocious with this.
Some other quick SEO tips for Lawyers in 2019:
Here are some really quick tidbits of information that I’d like to clarify, because there are folks out there who will try to sell you on misinformation.
- Domain authority is not a real metric. Domain authority is an estimate of how reliable a site might be in the eyes of Google, but Google does not use this arbitrary metric. It was invented as a tool for SEOs by Rand Fishkin of Moz. Again, domain authority does not come from Google, nor does Google use this metric.
- A Google “Core Algorithm Update” does not seek to punish or reward sites, nor does it focus on one single thing. These are broad updates and you should not make sudden changes, but should wait as more developments become clear and try to improve your entire website overall in the meantime.
- There have been no confirmed “updates” from Google since the “March 2019 Google Update” but there have been indexing bugs that could have made your website look as if it was performing poorly. Use Google Search Console to request indexing of any pages you notice are missing from the SERPs.
- Manipulating Click-thru rates is not only against Google’s guidelines, but Google states that Click-thru rate is not even a ranking factor.
Our Final Takeaway
Don’t focus on small-win gimmicks that get small bumps in traffic. Improve the overall quality, performance, user experience, and content of your website. That’s what Google is looking for in 2019.