What Do Google’s Quality Standards Mean for Lawyers?
To have a successful and effective law firm website, it’s important to know about all of the different elements that define success in the digital world. One of those key elements is E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness and is part of Google’s Search Quality Rater guidelines, and used to evaluate the quality of a website or web page. Google only promotes websites that showcase credibility, and without it, a law firm’s website can struggle to compete in search engine rankings. When it comes to the main content on your law firm’s website, E-A-T should be a top priority.
How Does Google Define E-A-T?
Let’s break down the acronym to gain a better understanding of how improving your law firm website’s E-A-T can make a significant difference in your online visibility. First, you have ‘Expertise’. You want your website to reflect the fact that you are indeed an expert in your area of law. You can do this by making sure your main content is accurate, informative, and useful.
Next, you need to display your ‘Authoritativeness’. Building up valuable content that’s on-brand with your law firm can help you stand out as a legal authority figure in the digital world. Finally, your law firm website should be ‘Trustworthy’. This means your main content is not misleading or disingenuous. You can’t build trust by deceiving users or providing false information, so your content should also be reliable and a credible source for your potential clients.
Unlike page speed or keywords, E-A-T is not technically a ranking factor. However, E-A-T is an important movement in search engine optimization and Google continues to urge website managers and creators to consider it when building content.
What is YMYL?
Your law firm’s website falls under a category Google refers to as YMYL (Your Money, Your Life). This category includes any kind of topic that can impact a person’s finances, safety, health, or happiness. For instance, social services, retirement planning, medical advice, parenting support, and law firms all fall under the YMYL category. Because of the level of importance of these topics, Google has very high standards for its main content. This is why it’s vital to consider E-A-T when building your law firm’s website.
Who is Google’s rating team?
While algorithms are designed with precision in mind and can compute thousands of different variables at once, nothing really beats a human evaluation. About 10,000 people were recruited by Google to become their E-A-T rating team. Their key objective is to take a qualitative approach instead of a quantitative approach to measuring the value of websites. In other words, it’s not just about rankings and numbers, it’s about considering varying elements of a website to ensure that it does indeed live up to its expertise, authority, and trustworthiness when showcasing a topic, product, or service. Google’s E-A-T rating team acts as a review system that evaluates websites to identify any issues with the algorithm and ensure that it’s working effectively. You can think of Google’s E-A-T rating team as a security system that backs up their algorithm and checks to make sure that they’re not only providing relevant information to users, they’re providing accurate, in-depth, and credible content that’s useful to users.
How Do Google Raters Determine a Low-Quality Page?
It can be very helpful for lawyers to know what a Google rating expert might consider as “low-quality”. Many times, the intention behind a website can be completely positive, but the webpage can still end up with a low-quality rating because specific elements aren’t presented properly or they’re simply missing. The Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines (SQEG) that Google released for public use provides examples of what defines high-quality content and low-quality content. The very first point in their checklist of what constitutes “low quality” is an inadequate level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. This highlights the recent wave of importance in E-A-T for law firm websites. Even if all of your content is accurate and well-written, it can still be considered a low-quality page if your main content lacks the level of information a potential client may need or if your content isn’t serving a purpose.
How Do Google Raters Determine a High-Quality Page?
So what makes a website high-quality? There are a number of different characteristics that Google raters consider when classifying a webpage as “high-quality”. And you guessed it! According to their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines (SQEG) … E-A-T is number one on their high-quality checklist! Your law firm website has to be able to achieve its communication goals and achieve them well through the lenses of expertise, authority, and trust. There also has to be a “satisfying amount of high-quality main content”, so even if your content is accurate and includes expert tips on legal issues in your area of practice, it needs to have enough of it to satisfy a potential client. A positive reputation is also an essential element to a high-quality rating. There are a number of different ways lawyers can achieve this, especially if your branding is on-point and you have a high level of credibility amongst your community.
Why is a Search Quality Rating Important for My Law Firm?
Considering E-A-T may seem like an obvious goal for any website, regardless if it’s for a law firm or any other good or service. You’ll rarely find a lawyer, business owner, or blogger who disagrees with the idea of including E-A-T in the main content of their website. However, it can be easy to be swayed by marketing goals rather than producing high-quality content. Poor quality law firm websites may include main content that promises something an attorney can’t deliver, stretches the truth to benefit revenue, or doesn’t capture the essence or purpose of the practice. The main content on a poor-quality website may fall in line with forces of influence in advertising, but it will lack true expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. So why is all of this search quality rating stuff important? It all comes down to the big picture, which is the search engine. In order for the vast population to become consistent searchers of information and online consumers, we have to build trust and place value in the places where our information is stored. Google wants its users to keep coming back for more information. To achieve this, they place a lot of value in search engine quality ratings.
How Can I Improve My Law Firm Website’s E-A-T?
There are multiple steps we take to make sure that your law firm website is sending all the right E-A-T signals to Google’s rating team. The foundation of credibility is valuable, high-quality content, and this can be achieved through a number of different main content strategies. Let’s break down the most important concepts that need to be included in building a law firm’s website with E-A-T as a top priority.
Any potential clients that are on your law firm website should know who owns the site and who contributed to the main content of the site. This can be done through consistent branding, labeling authors of blogs, or making sure that the law firm’s name and date of content creation are clear. When your new clients are scanning from page to page, they should be able to clearly see your law firm’s name and contact information listed on each page. This proves ownership over your legal services as well as your main content.
Do Not Deceive
As we mentioned above, sometimes it can be easy to mislead or fluff your content in order to achieve a marketing goal. If your content includes misleading, deceptive, or false information with an intent to lure in a client for your own benefit, this will immediately result in a poor-quality rating from Google’s rating team. In addition, if you’ve copied content or created a similar logo from your competitor, Google’s rating team will note this as poor-quality. Overall, anytime you take an unethical approach to your content with the intention of boosting your own law firm’s business, you’ll suffer rating consequences from Google’s team.
Achieve Your Purpose
When it comes to achieving your purpose, the plan is clear! You have to showcase what you do best, and that’s practicing in your area of law. Since you’re an expert in your area of law, whether it be family law, criminal defense, or immigration, you need to prove this by providing relevant and useful content that highlights your area of expertise. What are key ideas or objectives you want potential clients to know? What are general legal guidelines that they should understand? What are some legal tips you can offer? Are there frequently asked questions that your average client has that you can list and answer on your website? These are all strategies to establish your purpose online.
There are several ways to build trust with your potential clients and credibility with your law firm’s brand. One powerful way to do this is through client reviews and case results. Making five-star reviews and successful case results visible on your law firm’s main page can be beneficial when building trust with your community and new clients. Of course, including valuable, useful, practical, and accurate main content is also a way to build trust and establish your expertise in your area of law.
Showcase Your Good Reputation
Your reputation in your community and your area of law will be investigated by a Google rater. On About Me or Main Pages, it’s a good idea to list any accolades, awards, honors, educational achievements, published works, or anything else that highlights your legal authority. Your legal career doesn’t have to be the only way to boost your reputation either. Users and potential clients love to see active leaders in their community. If you’re a philanthropist or you’re closely associated with a local charity, ask for permission to cite your relationship on your website and how your law firm benefits their organization.
Consider the User Experience
You always want to put yourself into the shoes of the user. What are the flaws that draw you away from websites? Are there annoying pop-up ads? Does the page contain errors? Does it take a long time to load? Is it difficult to read? Is your main content riddled with spelling or grammatical errors? Are there security issues? In general, you want to offer a pleasing user experience, so make sure your law firm’s web page is properly maintained at all times.
It’s always a good idea to review your law firm website’s Homepage and About Me section to make sure that the above-mentioned items are evident. Making these details visible can help Google’s rating team understand your level of legal expertise, how you stand out as an authority figure in your area of law, and that you can be trusted as an online legal resource.
E-A-T for Lawyers
If you’d like to learn more about how to improve your law firm’s website, contact our Law Firm Marketing agency for a full evaluation and content management plan that can help you rank better and achieve high-quality ratings!