You’ve Got Questions About SEO, and We’ve Got Answers!

Our clients often ask us questions about SEO, and for good reason! The rules of SEO seem to change frequently and keeping up with the current recommendations is a daunting task. Here, we answer the most common questions our SEO team gets.

We hope that you find the SEO answers you seek on this page. If you don’t please do not hesitate to call 888-886-0939 to speak with a member of our U.S.-based SEO team.


 

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  • I'm so overwhelmed. How am I supposed to find all of the mistakes in my local listings and fix them? HELP!

    I've got a bit of bad news. As you feared, it's not as simple as it should be to find mistakes in your local listings and clean them up. Is it possible to do so? Absolutely, and we will show you how in this article. But is it an easy, ten-minute task? No. However, with a little perseverance and patience, we have faith that you can do it. Here's how.

    To clean up your local citations, we suggest that you use the following websites:

    • Yext. Yext is a fantastic service that finds everywhere your business is listed. This can be a long, long list. In addition to just finding your local citations, Yext will scan all of these listings, showing you everywhere there is incorrect information, missing citations, or missing information. This includes mistakes in your phone number, address, and business name—all of which are crucial to the success of your local listing.
    • Whitespark. If your local listings are correct, but you don't feel you're doing enough to take advantage of local search, try using Whitespark. This service will find new, niche-specific local citation sources that you aren't taking advantage of. It will also give you links to your current listings, allowing you to ensure the information found there is correct.  

    Erasing Local Citation MistakeOnce you find any mistakes in your local listings, it's time to fix them. Some of the fixes can be as simple as logging into your account and changing a "5" to a "7" in your phone number, but others will be much harder to correct. It can mean contacting each host of the listing sites where your information is wrong and getting them to fix it. And while doing so is possible—we do it all the time—the process can be lengthy and daunting.

    There Is Good News, Too

    The first bit of good news is that you know what local listings are, and you recognize how important they are and want to ensure that you're getting them right. Huzzah! Also, you have come to us for the answers. At Foster, we are experts at creating and fixing local listings. We love digging into your listings, cleaning them up, and then watching as your local traffic goes through the roof. Seriously, what could be better than that?!

    The other good news is that you now have the answer to your question, and you have a choice: go it alone and fix your local citations by yourself or enlist our local-citation cleaning team to help.

    If you'd like for our team to take care of your local listing for you—be that creating a new listing, cleaning up a current listing, or helping you change your location—we'd love to help. To get going, just call 888-886-0939, and a member of our SEO team will help you make the most of local search.

  • What are local citations, and why do they matter?

    Local Citation Mistakes Cause AvalancheLocal citations are other websites on the internet where your business name, address, and phone number are listed. Back in the day, the only place you had to get your local listing right was the Yellow Pages. Now, your listing is scattered all over the internet and, when incorrect, has the potential to snowball into an avalanche of misinformation and missed opportunities.

    How the Local Citation Snowball Gets Rolling

    The three big names in local search are Yahoo, Bing, and Google. However, there are many other sites that pull your information from the big guys and one another. So if your information is incorrect on any of your local listings, it's likely listed incorrectly on multiple sites. 

    When this happens, your listing and your local SEO efforts could be buried under tons of incorrect listings, suffocating your local search power and threatening the life of your practice.   

    I'm Listed Where?!

    Local search is a big deal, so there is a good chance that your information is listed in more places than you know. To find out where your practice is listed, we suggest using the free website Yext. Yext will scan local listing sites and let you know where—and how—you're listed on each of the 50 most popular sites, apps, and maps.

    This handy tool can help you find any mistakes in your listings. However, it will be up to you to correct mistakes everywhere your local citations are incorrect. If there are many mistakes across many sites, this can be an extremely time-consuming process.

    Another way to check your local citations is to request our free website audit. We will check to see if your local citations are correct and, if they're not, can take over the process of repairing all your listings. 

    No matter how you get it done, get it done. Incorrect local citations have a huge impact on your local SEO power, affecting your local marketing efforts more than you know. For help digging yourself out, call 888-886-0939 today.

  • Can you explain Google's Hummingbird update to me?

    Sure, I'd love to!

    The Hummingbird update is Google's latest attempt to give searchers better results. While prior updates—think Panda and Penguin—focused on penalizing websites, the Hummingbird changes Google's search algorithm altogether. It's like they tore down the walls of their house and put in new appliances, flooring, and drywall, keeping only the parts of the structure that were sturdy and sound.

    Aristotle and the Hummingbird

    Aristotle famously stated, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." That’s what the Hummingbird update is all about.  

    Before, Google relied heavily on the actual keywords users typed into the search bar. You typed in a query, and Google bots combed the internet for the exact phrase you typed in. You got results that contained precisely what you asked for—even if it wasn't exactly what you really wanted. 

    Now, the phrase a user types is quickly dismantled. Each word is taken into account as a separate entity. The Hummingbird does this by parsing the grammar of your search term, looking for synonyms and, in the end, deciding what your intent was.

    By taking apart your search phrase and making the most of your words, Google's Hummingbird is able to give you truly personalized, valuable search results.

    The Hummingbird Update and Your Attorney Web Marketing Plan

    Now that you understand what the Hummingbird update is, you're likely wondering what you can do to please the little bugger.

    If you are already writing dynamic content, making the most of social media for your law firm, focusing on your USP, and catering all content to the needs of your ideal client, you don't need to do a thing.
    The Hummingbird update only affects those relying on keyword stuffing, spammy marketing techniques, and weak web content.

    Not sure if you're website is sweet enough to catch the attention of the Hummingbird? Call 888-886-0939. Our attorney SEO experts can help you determine what you need to do to make your attorney marketing plan attract even the most finicky nectar sipper.

  • What the heck are domain extensions?

    A domain extension is the suffix found at the end of a web address. For example, in fosterwebmarketing.com, “com” is the domain extension. Since the advent of the internet, domain extensions haven't been discussed much. You pick from the few available and move on with your life.

    While there are multiple choices for domain extensions—.gov, .org, .net—most businesses use .com as their domain extension. But it may soon be possible for anyone with a website to choose and purchase a custom domain extension. These extensions are called gTLD's and may forever change the internet landscape. 

    Domain ScrabbleWhat the Heck Is a gTLD?

    A gTLD is a Generic Top-Level Domain. This is anything after the "dot" in a web address. Thus far, we are used to seeing a very limited number of domain extensions when we cruise the internet. But, if the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has their way, anyone will be able to purchase and use any gTLD.

    What the Heck Does This Mean for Me?

    As an attorney, this could mean an opportunity to get a very unique, very searchable URL. For example, an attorney in Boston could buy the gTLD .bostonattorney. In theory, owning and using this gTLD could boost the attorney's SEO power and help him or her stand out from the competition.

    Did you notice the words "in theory" above? It's important that you do because, for now, everything about domain gTLDs is conjecture and theory. Nobody knows what will happen when gTLDs are rolled out. Will people buy into them and begin using and trusting them? Will they help or hurt businesses' SEO efforts? Nobody knows, and we are all guessing, watching, and waiting.

    For more information on gTLD's and your law firm, please call 888-430-8377. Our attorney SEO team loves nothing more than to talk about the big, exciting future of the internet at large and, more specifically, the marketing needs of attorneys. It's what we do and what we love, so feel free to call us up and talk shop.

  • Google has announced it will no longer provide keyword data about searches. What does that mean for my website?

    In late 2011, Google started to encrypt its searches for users who were signed into their Gmail accounts while completing searches in Google. This resulted in an increase in “not provided” keyword data being recorded in Google Analytics. In layman’s terms, this basically meant that, as a website owner, you couldn’t see the search phrase used by someone who found your website while signed into his Gmail account.

    Although this was a road bump for search marketers to analyze keyword data, we rarely saw the percentage of “not provided” above 30 percent for lawyers.

    In recent weeks online marketers have noticed a steady rise in the percentage of “not provided” data being passed into Google Analytics. This all came to a head on Sunday night when Google redirected all searches completed in its search engine to encrypted search. This has increased the percentage of “not provided” for organic Google searches to 95 percent or more.

    What Does This Increase in “Not Provided” Keyword Data Mean for My Website?

    First off, this new change will in no way change the performance of your website. What it does mean is that there is going to be a shift in the way online marketers can analyze organic traffic to your site. Some things to keep in mind:

    • Don’t freak out. Google is not the only search engine out there and others still provide this keyword data.
    • This should only reinforce the fact that you should not be focusing on high-level vanity keywords, but instead long-tailed search phrases that convert.
    • As always, write content to inform and engage human visitors to your site and not to help improve your rankings in search engines.
    • Choose another yardstick. There is a variety of other measurements to help you understand the success of your law firm’s SEO program.

    If you are worried about how this news will affect your law firm’s search engine optimization, please do not fret. Foster Web Marketing’s team of attorney SEO specialists can help make sure your website is performing well even after this big piece of news from the king of search engines. Schedule a free website audit to make sure your online marketing efforts are working the way they should be.

  • What is the difference between a referring domain and a backlink?

    Before we discuss the difference between a referring domain and a backlink, it's best that we get on the same page by going over a few basic terms.

    Just the Facts, Ma'am  

    • Domain: A domain is an organization's unique descriptor listed within a URL. For example, in the URL “http://www.honkeytonk.edu,” honkeytonk is the domain name.
    • Referring Domain: Also known as a ref domain, a referring domain is a domain that backlinks are coming from.
    • Backlink: A backlink is a link on another website that points to your site.

    So a referring domain is where your backlinks are coming from, and backlinks are the links on the websites that link back to your site. Think of the referring domain as a phone number and backlinks as the number of times you've gotten a call from that particular number.

    Why You Need to Know the Difference

    If you've dug into your backlink profile or had us do so with a free website analysis, then you have seen how many referring domains and backlinks are associated with your website. But what do they mean?

    What you're looking for is the ratio of referring domains to backlinks. If you have a ton of backlinks and not very many referring domains, your backlink profile is very weak. For example, if you have 10 referring domains and 110 backlinks, Google is likely dinging your site for shady backlinks, which negatively impacts your page rank.

    They punish high backlinks and low referring domains because, when a high number of backlinks come from a few sites, it's almost always a paid linking scheme, such as a private blog network. Increasingly, search engines are de-indexing blog networks. If your website is connected to the de-indexed network, your ranking will be affected. Because of this, it's best to stay far away from paid blog networks.

    Getting Better Backlinks

    If you find that your backlinks are all coming from a few referring domains, you have some work to do. Begin by reading our advice on the best way to get backlinks for SEO. Using these tips, begin to slowly increase the number of backlinks pointing to your site. This will take time, but it's worth the effort. Google is always on the lookout for quality, natural backlinks and will reward your handsomely if you are able to obtain them.  

    Want more advice on how to improve your law firm website's backlink profile and increase your SEO power? Call 888.886.0939 to request your free website analysis or speak with a member of our attorney SEO team.

  • How can local SEO help my business?

    When done right, local SEO has the potential to not only help your law firm, but explode your practice.

    This is because Google and other search engines, like Yahoo!, recognize that their users are increasingly demanding high-quality, local results. To give their users—your potential clients—what they want, search engines have improved their algorithms to ensure that searchers get exactly what they want.  

    Getting In on the Local SEO Game

    To get you started, I'm going to cover the basics of local SEO—what you need to know now about local search SEO:

    • Grow where you're planted, or move. It's important that you know that local search results on Google work best when your business is located within the city you want to be found in. For example, if your personal injury law office is in Grapevine, but you want to be found in Dallas—and the Dallas personal injury market in Dallas is flooded—you may be out of luck. While you can and should put some effort into getting found organically in Dallas (e.g. including Dallas-centric keyword phrases in your content), there isn't much you can do in Google Local or Google Maps to get found. Some attorneys choose to move their offices or open a satellite office in order to get in on a more desirable city. Alternately, you can increase your efforts in Grapevine in order to be the top local attorney in your home city.
    • The devil is in the details. If critical information—business name, address, or phone number—is incorrect on any listing site, your local search SEO power will take a hit. So, if you are Foreman & Gary on one site and Gary and Foreman on another, or if your address is off by just one number, your firm won't be easily found during local searches.
    • Realize the power of reviews. Reviews are an important piece of the local SEO puzzle. Reviews give consumers confidence in your services, and they send signals to Google that you are a business worthy of page one. If you don't have any online reviews, or if you only have a few, it's time to get an online review strategy.

    Local SEO is all about taking advantage of your local market. To get help in doing so, request a free website audit,or call one of our local SEO experts at 888.886.0939. We'd love to help you dominate your local market.

  • What are Regular Expressions and how do I use them?

    Regular Expressions, also known as RegEx, are a way to use characters—such as | and \—to make analytics magic happen. But, more specifically, they are used to do things like create custom filters and goals in Google Analytics. Confused already? Don't stress. We are about to break it down for you.

    The Basics of Regular Expressions

    RegEx operates on a set of very strict rules. Much like a programming language, each symbol and combination of symbols must be correct in order for the expression to work. Unlike some of the more inexact sciences of website analytics, RegEx is very precise.    

    Let's look at one of the symbols we listed above, |. Known as the pipe symbol, | is used to symbolize or. So, if you want to create a filter that gives you results for attorney or lawyer, you would use attorney|lawyer. Easy, right? Right. And while this is just one of the many symbols—and combinations of symbols—it's a start. If you keep at it, you'll soon understand the entire RegEx language and be using like a pro. 

    But Why Bother Learning Regular Expressions?

    While there are numerous SEO optimization tools, we believe that knowledge of RegEx is an excellent addition to your SEO tool box. Even for an analytics newbie like yourself, Regular Expressions can be very useful. To show you how, we will give an example.

    Let's say you want to hit all variations of your targeted keyword. This is a great idea because creating these filters will give you a good idea if your targeted keyword—Divorce Attorney Layton, UT—is bringing you much traffic. But filtering for all the variations of this phrase would require creating filters for Utah, UT, Layton, divorce, attorney, and attorneys.   

    However, if you use RegEx, you will be able to create just one filter: “Layton UT Utah Divorce Attorneys. divorce attorneys?|divorce lawyers?”  and, on a second line, which indicates the “and” expression to include, “Layton UT|Layton Utah”.

    Regular Expressions give you the power to become more involved in the analytics of your website. And, besides, using RegEx is just plain cool. Think of how clever you'll feel when you know the difference between | and \. And, as a bonus, you'll be able to tell fantastic techie jokes like, "/Everybody stand back/ I know regular expressions." Hilarious!

    Plus, there are some tasks that Google simply won't let you do without using RegEx. So, if you want to perform even mid-level analytics tasks, you must be familiar with RegEx.

    Want to learn more about Regular Expressions? Or do you wish you could forever erase the memory of RegEx from your mind? Either way, call 888.886.0939. We can take over your analytics efforts or help you get a firm grip on this awesome analytics tool. No matter what you decide, our killer attorney SEO team can help you achieve your web marketing goals and dominate the competition.

  • How can I survive Penguin 2.0?

    To make it through Penguin 2.0 and beyond, it's crucial that you clean house. This means throwing bad links in the garbage and monitoring those you deem "good."

    To help you do so, we look to Steven Forsyth of In The Company Of Huskies. Steven recently wrote an excellent blog on how to not only survive the Penguin 2.0 update but thrive in its wake. At Foster Web Marketing, we agree that the following steps will help you get your site clean and keep it that way—assuring you an attorney website that flourishes, no matter what Google throws at it:  

    • Step 1: Review Your Links. To find out which links are pointing to your website, it's recommended that you use SEOMoz, MajesticSEO, and Google Webmaster Tools. Each of these sites allows you to download all the backlinks they find pointing to your website. Enter all the links the three sources gave you into a spreadsheet, and remove any duplicates. This should give you a very complete link profile.
    • Step 2: Grade Your Links. With your spreadsheet complete, you'll need to grade your links. This will take time, as you'll have to look at each site and determine the quality of the link. What you want is a list of Good Links (high traffic from reputable websites), OK Links (decent sites that don't generate site traffic), Paid Links (nofollowed, high-traffic links), Advertising Links (add a nofollow tag to these, see below), and Spam (any links that appear to be added just to cheat search results). Make a list of just the Good, OK, and Paid Links, and use a link management tool like the one at BuzzStream to monitor these links. Once they have your list, they will alert you if any of the links change status so that you can take action, such as removing bad links.
    • Step 3: Add Nofollow Tags. Have you paid someone to advertise on a website or blog? Hint: These are your Advertising Links from above. If so, it's important that these links do not help you rank better for certain search terms. To ensure they don't, you'll need to apply a nofollow tag to your Advertising Links. This will save you from being penalized for buying or selling links.
    • Step 4: Clean Your Link Profile. Your last job is to deal with any bad links—those you marked Spam Links. To get rid of these, you'll need to contact the webmaster for each of the sites and politely ask that they remove the tag. This can be problematic, as some of the sites no longer have a webmaster. However, it's important that you try. If there are links you simply cannot get rid of, try using Google’s Link Disavow Tool. Google will look over the links and, if they find that they cannot be removed manually, they will discount their value.

    Maintaining Your Squeaky Clean Image

    Now that you've done the work required to clean up any bad links on your site and monitor the good, it's time to figure out how best to keep your website clean. For starters, it's important that you not let links scare you. Search engines still use links in their ranking algorithms, so it's crucial that you keep creating links; you'll just want to check that sites that link to yours are of good quality and from reputable sites.

    To do so, every month or so, go through the steps above and assess the cleanliness of the links associated with your site. Think of it like washing your hands before you eat; 20 seconds of good hard  scrubbing every so often can save your attorney website from coming down with a case of Dirty Link Penalty-itis.  

    Interested in a Free Website Cleaning Service?

    In response to our clients' concerns over the constant stream of updates from Google, we are now offering a free web audit for attorneys. We will comb over your site and identify any bad links, bad content, and over-optimization. Our attorney SEO strategy team will then suggest the best way to clean up your site, thereby protecting your law firm from the next round of updates.

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