Should you really be worried about Google rankings?

  • 11/08/2015

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The Legal Services Board stated in July that many law firms are ‘missing out’ due to not ranking highly in Google searches.

The Board’s research found that unregulated organisations frequently rank above solicitor firms in search results, for terms like ‘legal help for divorce’. It sounds serious – but should you be worried?

A means, not an end

Most people will turn first and foremost to a search engine when looking for instant answers to their questions. Appearing prominently in search results is of course likely to result in more traffic – which is why many businesses have obsessively sought higher rankings for several years.

But the fact is, rankings are different for everyone these days – based on search history, location, and countless other factors in Google’s algorithm; so you may end up seeing different search results to a colleague for exactly the same term. It’s also a bit narrow minded to be focusing on a ‘golden keyword’ bearing in mind the myriad variations and turns of phrase that could be used. Instead, it makes sense to think about your overall ‘visibility’ – how frequently you’re appearing in results, for a huge range of different searches.

Of course, visibility just means you’re appearing in front of people. How many people who saw your site in search results actually clicked on it? How many engaged with the site? And how many went on to convert and become a case? There’s no point pumping all your time and money into being #1 if it doesn’t translate into results.

The multi-channel customer

Smart businesses know that search is just one channel in the digital mix. Your social presence, email marketing, paid advertising and content marketing strategy are all equally crucial for generating traffic and engagement – and each channel has its own role to play.

People use search engines when they’re looking for answers. But search has limitations when it comes to increasing brand awareness, or encouraging return visits. Earlier in the funnel you should focus on awareness and thought leadership, later in the funnel it’s about optimising conversion points and engagement. A great digital strategy will capture your audience at every stage of the journey, not just the point where they type something into Google.

Obsessing over rankings is not only outdated – it’s failing to see the bigger picture. These are the firms who are truly ‘missing out’.

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