The future of organic search for law firms

Posted by Chris Davidson, business development director, and Gavin Ward, projects director, at Legal Futures Associate MLT Digital

Chris Davidson

In a significant turn of events, thousands of internal Google search API documents have recently been leaked, shedding light on the intricate workings of the search giant’s ranking algorithms.

While this leak provides a treasure trove of information, it’s essential to approach the revelations with a mix of curiosity and caution.

Here, we’ll delve into the key takeaways from the leaked documents and explore what they mean for the future of organic search and their impact for law firms.

Key insights from the leak

Brand authority matters more than ever
One of the stand-out revelations from the leak is the critical importance of brand authority. Rand Fishkin, co-founder of SparkToro, emphasised in his blog post that building a notable, popular and well-recognised brand outside of Google search is crucial for improving organic search rankings and traffic.

This insight aligns with the notion that Google favours established brands that users trust and recognise.

Clicks and user behaviour impact rankings
Contrary to Google’s longstanding denials, the leaked documents confirm that user behaviour metrics such as clicks, dwell time and impressions do influence rankings. This means that how users interact with your site post-click can significantly impact your site’s visibility in search results.

Chrome data utilisation
The documents also reveal that Google uses data from Chrome to inform its ranking algorithms. This includes valuable user behaviour information that helps Google assess the quality and relevance of web pages. This insight underscores the importance of providing a seamless and engaging user experience to maintain and improve search rankings.

Link categorisation and freshness
Links are categorised into low, medium, and high quality, with fresher links from high-quality sources carrying more weight. This highlights the ongoing importance of link building as a core SEO strategy but with a renewed focus on acquiring fresh, high-quality backlinks.

Sandbox for new domains
The concept of a ‘sandbox’ for new domains, where SEO efforts may be muted until trust is established, has been a topic of debate for years. The leaked documents confirm that new domains are indeed subject to a sandbox period, emphasising the need for a strategic and patient approach when launching new websites.

Authorship influence
The track record of expertise and authority of a writer can influence rankings. This reinforces the value of building a strong personal brand and demonstrating expertise in your field through content creation.

Implications for SEO strategies

  1. Focus on brand building
    Given the heightened importance of brand authority, businesses should invest in building a recognisable and trustworthy brand. This involves not only SEO but also broader marketing efforts, including social media, public relations, and content marketing.
  2. Optimise for user engagement
    With user behaviour metrics playing a crucial role in rankings, optimising for user engagement is paramount. Ensure your website is user-friendly, loads quickly, and provides valuable, engaging content that keeps visitors on your site longer.
  3. Leverage Chrome data insights
    Understanding that Google uses Chrome data for ranking means that you should prioritise user experience (UX) improvements. Monitor user behaviour through analytics tools and make data-driven decisions to enhance your site’s performance.
  4. Quality over quantity in link building
    Focus on acquiring high-quality, fresh backlinks rather than merely increasing the number of links. Develop relationships with reputable sites and create shareable, valuable content that naturally attracts links.
  5. Strategic launch for new domains
    When launching a new domain, be prepared for the initial sandbox period. Develop a comprehensive SEO strategy that includes building trust signals and gradually increasing your site’s authority.
  6. Showcase author expertise
    Highlight the expertise and authority of your content creators. Use author bios, by-lines, and author pages to showcase their credentials and build trust with both users and search engines.
  7. Strategic shift in SEO approach
    Building on these revelations, industry thought-leader Michael King advocates for strategic shifts in SEO approach to align with the new insights gleaned from the leak.

Emphasising the symbiotic relationship between SEO and UX, he highlights the importance of optimising for user engagement metrics, such as clicks and session success, to enhance search visibility.

Additionally, Michael underscores the need for experimentation-driven SEO, urging practitioners to test and adapt strategies to the dynamic nature of Google’s algorithms.

Impact on law firm SEO and online business generation strategies

Gavin Ward

The leak provides a rare glimpse into the complex algorithms that drive organic search rankings. While the insights are invaluable, it’s crucial to remember that the search landscape is continually evolving.

By focusing on building a strong brand, optimising for user engagement, leveraging data insights, prioritising quality link building and showcasing author expertise, businesses can navigate the future of organic search with confidence and resilience.

And as for us as a digital agency for law firms, the leak will be influencing our approach to SEO strategy. We’ll be continuing to study some of the most prolific materials and commentary.

As with the recent cookie consent updates which has been affecting marketers’ ability to measure and report on some law firm website traffic and enquiry data, it will be necessary to adapt and innovate to provide a competitive advantage for our law firm clients.

With this monumental leak, something Danny Goodwin on Search Engine Land has described as likely to become “one of the biggest stories in the history of SEO and Google search”, one thing remains clear: the journey towards mastering organic search for online business generation purposes is an ongoing pursuit, fuelled by curiosity, collaboration, and a relentless pursuit of knowledge and expertise.

Stay curious, stay informed, and continue to adapt your SEO strategies to align with the ever-changing dynamics of search engine algorithms.


Leave a Comment

By clicking Submit you consent to Legal Futures storing your personal data and confirm you have read our Privacy Policy and section 5 of our Terms & Conditions which deals with user-generated content. All comments will be moderated before posting.

Required fields are marked *
Email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Loading animation