Page Indexing Issues being fixed by Google

UPDATE 4/10/19: Google has announced this issue has been fully resolved.

Last Thursday, webmasters started noticing issues with Google’s indexation of pages throughout the web. Google had been removing pages from their search results for no apparent reason.

Google acknowledged the issue on Saturday, while also incorrectly reporting that the issues had been fixed. They haven’t provided any specific information around what caused the problem in the first place.

google search liaison indexing issue tweets

On Sunday, Danny Sullivan tweeted from the Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) that they are actively working on completely resolving the issue and that it was mostly fixed.

In his tweet, Danny also stated that the problem is solely on Google’s end, however, if there are high-importance pages that you noticed have been de-indexed you can request re-indexing through Google Search Console’s URL Inspection Tool.

request (re)indexing url inspection tool

John Mueller pointed out that even once the issue has been fixed, webmasters shouldn’t expect that all their website’s pages be added back to Google’s index. Additionally, he stated that “Awesome sites with minimal duplication help us recognize the value of indexing more of your pages.”

john mueller google indexing issues

5 Popular Web Hosting Companies Vulnerable to Simple Takeover Hacks

Security vulnerabilities are nothing new when it comes to tech. Every day, we are increasingly and often unknowingly putting ourselves at risk for digital intruders. Doorbells, hot tubs, baby monitors, Facebook, Google+ and yes, website hosting companies to name a few. The consequences include potential access to your accounts, sensitive information, or worse.

A recent report by Paulos Yibelo, an experienced security researcher, found that five popular web hosting companies were easily hacked by one or more means:

  1. Bluehost
  2. Dreamhost
  3. HostGator
  4. OVH
  5. iPage

Paulos identified dozens of bugs that vary in severity and allow hackers access to sensitive information, full account takeovers or both.

Given the importance of security, it’s worth noting that the article says the vulnerabilities have been fixed. That said, it may be time to invest in a higher quality hosting company, especially if you use a popular content management system (CMS) like WordPress.

New “Follow” Button For Google Maps

Currently rolling out only to those using Google Maps for Android, Google is now giving users the ability to “follow” specific businesses as announced on their blog. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before IOS users start seeing this feature as well.

Once a user starts following a business on Google, they start to receive news from that business, like events, offers and other updates. The news, events and updates show up under the “For You” tab within Google Maps.

google maps for you tab example

GMB (Google My Business) Posts Shouldn’t Be Ignored

 

This Google Map update shows that Google is putting more stock into the Google My Business posts and so should your firm.

Prior to this update, users would only find your business’s Google post and Q&A if they actively searched for your business and found the Knowledge Panel or business listing. Now, this information can be actively sent to users that have shown an interest in your services.

We’ll have to see how this unfolds and the implications to your law firm’s marketing strategy as the feature is rolled out.

Interestingly, this update comes at a time when Google+ has been discontinued following a massive data breach and trust in Facebook is at a low.

Call Tracking or No Call Tracking – Choose Wisely

you're not wrong just not helpful imageWhen a law firm starts an engagement with our marketing agency, we always setup our reporting and infrastructure. This includes call tracking. We communicate the value of this during the “sales” process. I like to think it’s what makes our law firm marketing services more attractive than the competition’s.

Once this setup has been completed, the conversation often goes like this:

Attorney [A]: Hey – why is my number changing on my website?! You guys are sending my business to the wrong attorney!!

Mockingbird [MB]: That’s call tracking working as it should! It allows us to measure which marketing channels are working and which ones are not. We’ve confirmed the numbers are forwarding to your firm. Give it a try!

A: Oh. Well I don’t want it.

MB: You should! Without it, we won’t have useful data to make accurate business decisions with your marketing investment.

A: I’ve had the same phone numbers for years. People have it memorized. Scrap call tracking.

MB: We aren’t willing to fly this plane blind. You’re investing thousands of dollars in PPC and we need to know if it’s working. It’s also vital to lowering your cost per lead and client metrics over time. You should continue to use your direct number on your business cards and give it to new clients during your on-boarding process!

A: What if a client saves a call tracking number?

MB: The number will still work! We encourage you to give your direct number to every new client when they sign with your firm. We only report on first time callers, because we wouldn’t want to miscount existing clients that call back using a tracking number as a new lead.

A: If I decide to leave MB, what happens?

MB: We don’t hold you hostage. We would hate to see you go, however, we setup your tools so that you own them. If you want to stop leveraging CallRail, they can port any phone number out from their system and into your preferred call software.

A: I’ll just ask my clients how they found me.

MB: They will tell you “the internet”. Which isn’t wrong, it’s just not helpful.

A: You’re not going to budge on this are you?

MB: Nope.

Call Tracking – Making Your Law Firm Successful

Our 10 Commandments are displayed proudly on the wall every employee (and visitor) sees them as they enter our office.

#3 is “Don’t Make Clients Happy, Make Them Successful.” Call tracking will help our marketing agency make your law firm successful.

If you don’t like it, there are at least a dozen other law firm marketing agencies that will light your money on fire for you. We’re just not one of them.

How to Properly Add URL Parameters to Facebook Ads

Tracking the efficacy of your law firm’s marketing and advertising is vital to understanding how well your investments are paying off. Proper UTM codes, a type of URL parameter for Google Analytics, is the first step to accurately tracking campaigns.

How and where you implement these URL parameters varies based on what platform you’re running ads from.

Facebook ads has a “Tracking” section where you can add custom parameters for each of your ads. If configured properly, you can categorize traffic and conversions in the proper marketing channel.

The important thing to remember when implementing these in Facebook is you should NOT include the ‘?’ before these parameters in this section. Facebook automatically amends the destination URL to include the ‘?’ before the parameter you entered.

url parameters facebook

You can find the official Facebook help article here.

URL Building Resources

There are a variety of URL parameter tools that can help you make the UTM codes that interface into Google Analytics.

Is Your Law Firm Domain Registered Through Weebly? That’s a Paddlin’

Full disclosure: This post is more of a public service announcement than a typical “how to” post on improving your law firm’s online marketing.

Pros and Cons of Using Weebly as your Registrar

Pros: They do all of your DNS configurations for you!

Cons: You’re required to have them do all of you DNS configurations for you.

My Experience Using Weebly’s Support to Update DNS

I recently helped migrate a website from a shared hosting environment on Blue Host to a faster, cleaner hosting environment with WP Engine. A typical WordPress website migration for a site with less than 25 pages takes 2-3 hours. Most of this time is spent backing up, crawling, uploading files and verifying everything made the move without issues.

There are many things that can complicate a migration. If you have an overly complex DNS that isn’t setup well, things get complicated quickly. The likelihood that your DNS setup is configured well is 5%. If you’re domain is registered through Weebly, it’s 0%.

Since Weebly tries to make things as easy on you (the attorney) as possible, they don’t have a typical Cpanel or advanced DNS settings page to create and adjust normal DNS settings like GoDaddy, or Namecheap, or Blue Host, or Host Gator, or…

Unfortunately for my client and to make things worse, his Name Servers were pointed away from Weebly and over to Bluehost. Which is where he had configured his email settings (MX records).

This means that I had to move ALL of his DNS settings away from Blue Host over to Weebly, in addition to moving all of his Website files from Blue Host to the new hosting company: WP Engine.

Because Weebly does all of the DNS changes for you, I had to contact their support to make a whole lot of very important, highly technical DNS changes for me. Yikes.

This also meant that I need to carefully articulate what changes I needs made and when. Ugh.

This also meant that I have to repeat myself multiple times. Doh.

This also meant that I have to work on behalf of my client and not on behalf of me – the guy who knows what he is doing (no offense). Bleh.

This also meant that they need to change the Name Servers BACK to Weebly’s Name Servers, which takes 48 hours to update across the web AFTER they finally make the changes. Boo.

This also meant that I have to verify they don’t mess this up….For the record, they did not mess it up but they took nearly a week to update DNS settings from start to finish.

In short, if you can at all avoid registering your domain through Weebly, I highly recommend doing so. Especially if you think you’ll eventually become large enough to hand this off to your VP of Marketing.

For those of you who need help with this, I’m happy to talk: 206-209-2125.

Building Quality Links on Trusted Sites – Email SPAM

You’ve likely received an email with a subject line like “Building quality links on trusted and high authoritative websites” or “Blogpost/Links.” Heck, even search quality representatives at Google get these embarrassingly lazy emails to try and sell high DA (domain authority) links.

Here’s an example I received this morning:

link building spam email

I appreciate being part of your team, mate. However, I’m not buying the BS.

We know what linkbuilding is, and it’s not following up to a poorly written email and handing cash to a stranger.

We know that linkbuilding, especially for law firms, is difficult. So difficult, many law firm marketing agencies won’t even bring it up to you. Go ahead – ask em. What is your SEO agency’s strategy on earning your website links?

I’m hoping their answer didn’t involve replying to Deep and spending your hard-earned money on the small chance of getting that buzzfeed link…

For the record, Google is very good at ignoring these types of links. You may even be penalized for breaking their quality guidelines.

Please, don’t fill Deep’s pockets.

gary illyes spam email links

Managing Duplicate Google My Business Listings in a Post Map Maker World

Since the old Map Maker feature was terminated at the end of March 2017, you may be left wondering how to deal with duplicate Google My Business law firm and individual practitioner pages. The information below, summarized from the recent post by Local SEO expert Joy Hawkins, should provide some direction for you and your firm.

Steps to Fixing a Duplicate Google My Business for your law firm’s listing:

  1. Find out if the duplicate listing is verified
    1. If it is, you’ll need to get access/ownership or have it unverified
    2. If it is not, continue on.
  2. Note any reviews that are on the duplicate listing. If there are positive reviews, contact google my business support to have them transferred.
  3. Compare the addresses between the listings. Do they match?
    1. If yes, contact Google My Business support via Twitter and ask them to merge
    2. If no, find out if the business used to be at the address at some point & continue
      1. If the business never existed at the wrong address, click “suggest an edit”
        1. Toggle to “Yes” next to “Place is permanently closed”
          1. Select “Never existed” as the reason and submit.
        2. If the business used to exist at the address, contact Google My Business support via twitter and ask them to change the status to “Moved”.

Special considerations for Attorneys

Attorneys can have individual practitioner pages. If you have an attorney that has a practitioner page and the attorney no longer works for your firm, contact Google My Business support via twitter and ask them to move the practitioner page to your firm’s page. This only works if the practitioner page is unverified or is willing to give you access to it. If they aren’t willing to do this, your last option is to have them update the information to the new firm.

Example of a proper individual practitioner listing:

example of google attorney practitioner page

Google’s Video on How to Hire an SEO Consultant [or Agency]

If you’re considering an investment with an SEO Consultant or SEO Agency, please watch this 11.5-minute video released by Google. Maile Ohye, Google’s Developer Programs Tech Lead, outlines important things to consider, tips on what to ask for, and even items to expect from technical audits.

A good SEO will try to prioritize what ideas can bring your business the most improvement for the least investment, and what improvements may take more time but help growth in the long term. – Maile Ohye

SEO Summary:

  • If you want long-term success, there are no silver bullets to get your site to rank #1
  • SEO takes time to implement and see benefits
  • A good SEO agency will recommend best practices for a search friendly site, and back it up with documentation directly from Google
  • Putting more keywords in the meta-keywords tag and buying links don’t work to improve SEO

Hiring process summary:

  1. Interview your potential SEO consultant or agency and make sure they are genuinely interested in you and your business
  2. Check references
  3. Ask (and likely pay) for a technical search audit
  4. Decide if you want to hire