How to Use (the Right) Keywords in Your Blog Posts

How do users find your blog posts online? Unless they subscribe to your newsletter or follow you on social media, the answer is likely that they find your content through search engine queries.

Knowing this, it is extremely valuable to develop your content based on what users are searching for.

In a previous article, it was said that to optimize your blog posts for search you should be utilizing keywords. But what are keywords, how do you identify them, and how should they be used within your content?

What are keywords?

According to Moz, “keywords are the words someone types (or speaks!) into a search engine.” There are many factors that determine which result a search engine will serve for a user query, but one major indicator of content relevance is the words that are being used.

Here is an example search query and result:

All of the search terms being used can be found in the title, description, and body of the blog post. This indicates to search engines that the information is relevant to the searcher. In order to have a high performing, traffic and lead driving blog, you must write content that users are searching for.

So, what can you do with this information? Well, you could guess which words your potential audience is using, or you can identify the right keywords like a real SEO pro.

How do you identify keywords?

What is a digital marketer without her tools? When identifying which keywords you should use, it’s helpful to use a keyword planner, such as Moz’s Keyword Explorer.

This tool can help you with your content development with two main features:

  1. Explore by Keyword – Type in a word or phrase and get back related keywords.
  2. Explore by Site – Type in a webpage or site and get back keywords that it ranks for.

After the list of words is generated, you will need to decide which keywords make the most sense for your content strategy. The two components you should focus on are search volume and difficulty score: The search volume tells you how many people are searching for that keyword each month and the difficulty score will tell you the strength of the pages that are currently ranking for that keyword.

To determine if a keyword presents a good ranking opportunity you must consider both search volume and difficulty.

For example, just because the search volume for a term is low does not mean that you shouldn’t pursue it. If a keyword has a low search volume, but also low difficulty score, you may have a good chance of ranking for that term. If a term has low search volume and a high difficulty score, that may not be a keyword that you should pursue using.

How should keywords be used in your content?

Once you identify the words that your potential clients are searching for, the next step is to implement them into your content.

Topic

One way we suggest brainstorming ideas for blog posts is to consider what questions your clients have asked you in the past. One way to supplement that exercise is by using Serpstat Questions. Once you have identified the keywords you would like to use, you can enter them in the Serpstat and generate popular questions that use that word.

Title & Description

Make sure that you are optimizing the title and description with the keywords that you have identified.

Do Not Keyword Stuff

I repeat, do not keyword stuff. Search engines are not dumb. There was a time in which you could list a bunch of keywords on your page and you might end up ranking. That day has passed.

Today, you must produce quality content that uses keywords organically, not in an unnecessary and contrived manner. Instead of hunting for all of the sentences in which you can cram in your keywords, simply aim to answer the question, the word usage will come naturally (I couldn’t stop using the words “keyword” and “how” in this post if I tried).

Blog Smarter, Not Harder

Many attorneys are of the belief that having an active blog is the key to online success. Most of us have heard the phrase “content is king,” and many of us have bought into it.

While content is important, there is no point pushing out blog posts that no one will read. If you’re currently blogging once a week, but you’re not seeing any results, try cutting it back to once or twice a month, but do your research first. Follow the steps outlined in this article, and keep at it.

You have valuable knowledge, you just have to figure out which pieces of it potential clients are actually searching for.

Slow Site? Speed it Up with PHP 7.3

There are many factors that affect the speed of your website. But one that is often overlooked is PHP. PHP is a scripting language used to develop WordPress themes and plugins.

This language is regularly being updated and improved upon, but without regular back end updates, many sites get left in the dust.

The newest version of PHP, PHP 7.3, has just been released. Upgrading from PHP 7.2 to PHP 7.3 can result in a 15% decrease in request processing time (WP Engine).

Speed is a major ranking factor for search engines. Users expect sites to load near instantly, and when they don’t, they move on to the next search result. Knowing this, search engines favor sites with short load times. If your site is too slow, users will be less likely to find your business online.

Even if users do find your business, a long load time may reduce the likelihood that they stay on your site. According to WP Engine, “Slow-loading sites are the number one cause of page abandonment across all audiences.”

Bottom line, a slow website means lost traffic, lost leads, and fewer clients. 

Security

Additionally, PHP 7.3 improves website security. WordPress requires regular software updates in order to ensure security. No major security issues have been detected in PHP 7.2, but it is best practice to keep all components of your website up to date, including PHP. Unlike older versions, PHP 7.3 is actively supported by WP Engine. This means that if vulnerabilities are found, the host will resolve them before a security breach can occur.

Upgrading to PHP 7.3

Updating your website’s PHP is relatively simple, but like any technical change, making this switch does have the potential to cause issues on your site. If you would like your PHP upgrade to be handled by professionals, contact Mockingbird for help.

How to Not F$%k Up Your Site Launch

Your website is ready to launch! Congrats! Now I know you’re excited to get your shiny new site in front of your users, but there are a few critical steps to take before pressing the (figurative) go button.

It may seem like a simple task, but properly launching a website takes technical knowledge and experience. Missing one step can lead to lost domain authority, lost traffic, and bottom line…fewer leads and clients.

Recently a law firm came to us baffled by the fact that their beautiful new website was performing so poorly. Minutes after digging into the site, our team knew that some crucial errors were made during launch. Pages weren’t added and/or redirected properly, 17 backlinks from high domain authority sites were lost, odd pages were being indexed in search results. They spent tens of thousands of dollars on a site that was sinking.

Though these missteps are reversible, it is, of course, better to avoid the traffic drop in the first place.

Here are a few steps you can take to avoid tanking your site traffic:

1) Ensure URLs Match (or Are Handled Properly)

Make sure your new website URLs exactly match your old website URLs. If your old Traumatic Brain Injury practice area page was domain.com/tbi-injury/ make sure it is the same on the new site. If you would like to change it to domain.com/practice-areas/tbi-injury/ make sure that you have a redirect in place. These redirects should ideally be made at the domain level.

2) Uncheck Discourage Search Engines

This may seem like a no-brainer, but this little checkbox can easily go unnoticed. Make sure that you are not asking search engines to ignore your site. Uncheck the box!

3) Update Robots.txt

Make sure that you aren’t asking search engines to not crawl your site through your robots.txt either. The “/” below signifies that you want to block search engines from crawling your entire site. Remove this. Also, not as detrimental, but add your XML sitemap here to show search engines where to find all of your pages.

4) Run a Screaming Frog Crawl

Run another crawl of your site. Make sure that there are no internal 404s or unnecessary 301s within your site. If there are any, fix them!

And much much more…

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to properly executing a site launch. If you truly want to ensure your site launch goes off without a hitch, call a marketing company that knows what they’re doing.

The Art of Historic Backlink Development

Recently, while scouring the web for mentions of a client, I found a killer article he was featured in on a prestigious website with a high domain rating. The article had no link to the client’s website. Thus, he was missing out on a great opportunity to be associated with an authoritative publication. So, I reached out to the web admin and asked for credit, and boom, our client got a well-deserved high-quality backlink that many would pay big bucks for.

The Power of Lookback Link-building

Lookback Link-building (coined by Mockingbird’s Kelsey Butchcoe) is one method of creative link-building (and you don’t even have to be that creative to do it). Mockingbird is known for telling people to stop Googling themselves, but I’m here to tell you to Google yourself! Not to see how you rank (see Stop Googling Yourself) but to find lost opportunities for backlinks.

Another client of ours has had numerous speaking engagements with high-quality publications and news sources, but the majority of online mentions he has received lack links to his website. We are now in the process of reaching out to these websites and artfully (without sounding like marketers) asking for credit (AKA backlinks) for the information. Not every webmaster will readily respond to the request, but some will…perhaps with a bit of pestering.

Researching opportunities for historic backlinking can uncover a treasure trove of potential link building. So, search for your name, your firm, anything you may be associated with. Did you get mentioned online for sponsoring a marathon or doing a news interview? Were you featured in your alma mater’s monthly alumni blog? Reach out to the web admin, you might just get a great natural link, for free!

Is Your Firm’s NAP Consistent Across the Web?

NAP is your firm’s name, address, and phone number.

In terms of Search Engine Optimization, it is very important that your business’s presence be consistent across the internet. This means that your firm should be listed with the exact same information (NAP) on all directories, social platforms, etc.

What do you mean exactly the same?

When we say the exact same information, we mean the exact same information… Here is an example of listing inconsistency:

Listing #1 – Correct Listing

Joe and Susan Law Group, PLLC
321 Lawyer Ave, Suite 203
Seattle, WA
(555) 555-5555
www.joeandsusanlaw.com

Listing #2 – Slightly Off

Joe & Susan Law Group
321 Lawyer Ave, #203
Seattle, WA
(555) 555-5555
joeandsusanlaw.com

If your Google My Business listing says “Suite 203”, your directory listings should not say “#203”. If you use PLLC in your business name on Apple Maps, use PLLC on your Facebook page. These small differences in listing details aren’t going to pull your firm’s web presence down into the Google dumps, but correcting these errors will improve your web authority over time.

Listing #3 – Totally Wrong

Joe Carrigan Law Firm, PLLC
321 Lawyer Ave, #250
Seattle, WA
555.555.5555
http://joeandsusanlaw.com

This large inconsistency is something we see often when helping law firms clean up their web presence. Maybe your firm went through a recent name change, maybe you’ve changed office locations, or maybe an individual incorrectly submitted your business information. Whatever the reason, it is a fundamental necessity that your firm corrects major listing inaccuracies.

Why Does NAP Consistency Matter?

Dependable firm information will help search engines understand who you are, what you do, and how users can find and reach your business. This will help establish search engine trust in your business. Varying information across the web will discourage search engines from sending users to your firm.

Correcting listing inconsistency can be an uphill battle, but there are tools that Mockingbird uses to make the cleanup a bit easier. Tools like Yext and Moz. These tools find business listings that don’t match your business information and help to suppress those listings. They also push out your correct NAP to the most authoritative and relevant information sources, such as Foursquare, Bing, Apple Maps, Whitepages, and more.

Moz and Yext help with fighting errors in listings, but often we will have to reach out directly to the listing website to get it removed or corrected. This can be a time consuming (but completely worthwhile) effort.

Is Your Firm’s NAP Consistent?

Use Mockingbird’s NAP Scanning Tool to find out how consistent your business’s listings are across the web, and please feel free to reach out for help addressing any issues that you find.

Google Reinforces the Importance of Speed & Security

Starting this month, Google is rolling out a couple of critical algorithm updates regarding speed and security. These changes have been a long time coming, and Mockingbird Marketing has made sure that our clients’ sites are prepared.

Speed

We’ve known for quite some time that desktop website speed is an important ranking factor. But now, Google will also be looking at how fast your mobile pages are and use that as a ranking factor in mobile search. In the past, Google has (not-so-subtly) hinted at the importance of mobile page speed by releasing tools like the Mobile Scorecard and Impact Calculator.

Google has stated that this change will only negatively impact the pages that “deliver the slowest experience to users.” At Mockingbird, we have several practices set in place in order to ensure quality site speed, including hosting our websites on WP Engine.

Security

Google’s Chrome browser will now mark non-HTTPS sites as ‘not secure’. This is one of the numerous changes that Google has made over the years in order to incentivize secure websites…and discourage non-secure sites.

 

This is what the recent update will look in a user’s browser.

Google has hinted at a small rankings boost for secure sites, which has successfully encouraged many webmasters to add a security certificate to their sites. This recent change, which punishes non-secure sites, solidifies the fact that user security is no longer just an option, it is a must.

Implementing HTTPS was one of Mockingbird’s essential practices long before these algorithm changes were made, and our clients websites should not be negatively affected.

Google Now Notifies Those Who Leave Reviews When Business Owners Respond

Google has announced that it will now notify users who post reviews on Google Local results after the listing/business owner responds to the review.

When you, as a listing owner, respond to a user review, Google will wait five minutes, and then send the user an email notifying them that you have responded. Google graciously allows you five minutes after posting your response before it notifies the user so that you are able to make any necessary edits (edit grammar or cool down that hastily written response).

This change should incentivize business owners to respond to reviews, whether they are positive or negative. Regardless of notifications, responding to reviews shows that a business cares and can help build relationships with clients.

In the past, responses from businesses would often go unnoticed by users, but this update is bound to change that.

So be aware when you’re responding to negative reviews that the user will almost surely see your response.

 

Example user notification

Blogging Basics: Keeping SEO in Mind

Blogs present a wonderful opportunity to produce content that can help build your website’s presence on the internet.

In order for a blog post to appear in search results and have link building potential it must be:

  1. Valuable to the reader and;
  2. Optimized for search engines

As an attorney, you have extremely valuable knowledge that users will be searching for. So, with a bit of digital marketing savvy, your blog can become a traffic driving asset.

Think Before You Write

Having an article that is valuable to readers and optimizing for search engines go hand in hand. As I’ve stated in past articles, user experience is at the root of most Google algorithm ranking factors. Don’t write for the sake of writing; write with your readers in mind. What questions are you consistently getting from clients? Do you have a fresh legal take on a current event? Whatever you’re writing about, make sure it’s something that people would actually want to read.

Structure Your Blog Post

Structure will make your content digestible for both readers and search engines. To achieve a well-structured blog post, you must utilize headings and lists. These elements help search engines understand what the content you’re producing is and for what queries it should be served.

Headings

Headings help search engines understand what the main topics of your blog posts are. Heading tags have a top-down hierarchy from <h1> to <h6>. You should only have one H1 tag (main heading), which will be the title of your post. Do not use multiple H1 tags, as having multiple H1s will confuse search engines.

(Remember, bolding and italics should not be used in place of actual headings)

Headings-structure

Lists

Bulleted and numbered lists make your content readable for users. A carefully placed list will draw the reader’s eye and allow for quick skimming. Additionally, using lists increases the likelihood that your post will be featured in a Google one box:

Write an SEO Title & Description

SEO Title

Your SEO title should be relevant to the content and include keywords that users are likely to be searching for; this includes:

  1. Subject/title of the blog post
  2. Firm location
  3. Law firm name

Prioritize title and location if you run out of characters. Remember to break up the pieces of your title with dividers to maintain structure.

Example: DUI Punishments | Seattle, WA | Law Firm Name

SEO Description

Your meta description should describe what the content is and draw the reader in. Make sure to include relevant keywords (without keyword stuffing), as Google will highlight the matching words from the user search query in your description. This will draw the eye of the reader and signal that the page is relevant.

Conclusion

Blogging for the sake of blogging is pointless. If you want your blog to have SEO value, it must be written with readers in mind and optimized for search engines. When starting a blog or ramping up current blogging efforts, start with the basics:

  • Think before you write
  • Structure your writing
  • Write quality meta descriptions and titles

and last but not least, keep at it!

Google Illustrates the Importance of Mobile Page Speed with New Website Testing Tools

Google has made it clear that site speed (and thus page speed) is one of the signals used by its algorithm to rank pages. Google representatives have even made announcements declaring that the company is “obsessed with speed.”

Why are site and page speed so important to Google?

As we know, users are at the root of most Google algorithm ranking factors. Representatives explain the importance of site speed to users stating,

Speeding up websites is important — not just to site owners, but to all Internet users. Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there.

-Amit Singhal, Google Fellow and Matt Cutts, Principal Engineer, Google Search Quality Team

Google User

To further highlight the importance of speed, Google has recently released a Mobile Scorecard and an Impact Calculator. One of these tools compares how a site performs against the competition on mobile devices, and the other aims to communicate the impact mobile speed can have on profits. Both tools aim to drive home the importance of investing in speed.

Mobile Scorecard

The mobile scorecard can be used to find out how your website stacks up to competitor sites in terms of speed. In general, if your site loads and becomes usable in five seconds or less on 3G connected devices, and in 3 seconds or less on 4G connected devices then your site is doing well in terms of speed.

You can test your site on 3G and 4G connected devices by changing settings in the upper right-hand corner of the tool

Impact Calculator

The impact calculator quantifies the potential effect that speed has on conversion rates by calculating the revenue companies could potentially gain by improving site speed. Unfortunately, due to the complicated nature of payments in the legal industry, this tool will likely not be applicable to attorneys. But, it is important to be aware of the existence of the tool, as it shows Google’s commitment to driving home the importance of site speed.

Both tools can be accessed here.