Laws of UX Series: Miller’s Law, Peak-End Rule, and the Serial Position Effect.

Laws of UX are a collection of design heuristics created by Jon Yablonski to help designers leverage psychology to create more human-centered experiences. You can find explanations for each law on the website lawsofux.com, as well as an in-depth case study regarding his thought process on his website, jonyablonski.com

This will be a series of blog posts briefly covering the many laws and how they can help designers create better experiences for law firms.

 

Millers Law1) Miller’s Law

“The average person can only keep 7 (plus or minus 2) items in their working memory.”

Milller’s Law is named after George Miller, a cognitive psychologist who believed that the average number of objects the average human can hold in working memory is seven (plus or minus two).

Miller’s law suggest we use “chunking” in order to organize content in a way that will help users process and understand content easily. Chunking, meaning short “chunks” of information that users can read and scan quickly.

If your website consists of massive walls of content, it might be worth rewriting into grouped, shorter content that is easier to consume. Here are some guidelines to follow that will help you follow Miller’s Law and create content that is easier for your users to consume.

  1. Use bullet-points and easy to read headings.
  2. Try to keep text lines around 50-75 characters.
  3. Use clear visual hiarchy and group related items together

 

Peak-End Rule Poster2) Peak-End Rule

“People judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak and at its end, rather than the total sum or average of every moment of the experience.”

Think back to a particular memory. It could be your first concert, a holiday from your childhood or a family vacation. The memory that you recall is created from how you felt during its peak moments and how it ended. This is because users focus on the most intense points of an experience and the final moments.

This is important when thinking about your firm. Whether it’s your website, your intake or how you conduct yourself with your clients, people will only recall the most intense points and the final moments that they experienced with you. It is also important to point out that people recall negative experiences more instensly than positive ones.

Focus on the moments that your service has been the most helpful, or areas where you feel you excel the most and make them better.

 

Serial Position Effect3) Serial Position Effect

“Users have a propensity to best remember the first and last items in a series.”

The Serial Position Effect describes how the position of an item in a sequence affects how users recall them. You can find this being put to work in many website navigations. The items within the navigation that are most important are almost always on the far left and the far right (home being far left and contact being far right). This isn’t always the case, especially when designers feel the need to remove the navigation on desktop and opt for a hamburger menu (hint: don’t do that).

In order to minimize strain for your users, try to limit the number of options you have in your navigation, practice area cards, etc. In most cases, more is not necessarily better.

 

Link Building Through Community and Connection

There are so many creative PR and link building tactics to explore that we often neglect the most obvious opportunities.

Many link building plans that we come up rely on digital publishers that we may not have a personal connection to. They require casting a larger net, investing some serious outreach time, and offering something of significant value in return.

Have You Heard of Networking?

One way to ease the link building process and increase the likelihood that your efforts will succeed is to utilize your personal and professional connections.

It’s a pretty universally understood idea. Networking is good. Networking leads to opportunities. But, you would be surprised how many undiscovered connection link placement opportunities most attorneys have out there.

Why Network Link Building

Network link building provides an opportunity to develop a relevant and natural backlink profile. Most of the connections you have are likely from around your area, and if they are not, their sites will normally be relevant to your practice. The value of a link is not simply based on domain rating. The locality and topic of websites can affect the value of a link.

Connection Opportunities

To begin network link building, you must start by making an outreach list and identifying opportunities. If you’re having a hard time getting started, consider the following tactics.

Board Member Link Building

Most associations have pages which list out their board members. If you or an attorney at your firm is a member of a board, go to the association’s website and look for a page listing board members. You can then reach out to the association and ask them to add a link to the attorney’s profile for more information. No board member page? No problem. Reach out and ask if there is somewhere that a profile can be added.

Example:

If you have a personal connection at the association, contact them. If not, search for contact information on the site. If there are multiple contacts listed, give preference to web admins and communications officers. The most suitable contact will depend on the specific organization.

Donation & Sponsorship Link Building

Have you made a donation in the past or sponsored an event? If so, reach out to the organization and ask that you be added to their sponsors page; most non profit websites will have one. Similar to Board of Directors link building, don’t be afraid to reach out if there is no page. Ask if they would consider adding one or linking elsewhere. Be sure to be human and express that you are happy to support their organization.

Local Business Link Building

  • Do you have a friend that owns a business?
  • Is there a service provider that you firm refers clients to?
  • Is there a restaurant that your team loves to go to for lunch?

Reach out and offer to write them a review to be published on their website and ask that a link to your firm be added to your name in the review.

Podcast & Webinar Guesting

Do you have any friends or business connections who have done webinars or who have podcasts? Reach out and suggest a topic of discussion and offer to be a guest in their next session. It’s an effort to consistently produce content and find guests for podcasts and webinars, and you may be helping your connection out. Just be sure to ask for a link on the event page or in the episode description.

Follow Up

Many organizations and businesses are overwhelmed right now. Even if they say they will add the link they may get distracted my other work and forget. Make sure to gently follow up with them. Most people will be thankful for the reminder.

Get Creative

These are just a few ideas for how to use your connections to develop links for your website. As you consider your connections think about what you might be able to provide them. The best link building is based on providing value to the website you’re hoping to get a link from. These are tough times for most businesses and organizations. Think about how you can nurture your connections and help them, even in a mall way.

Is Creating Content Fueling Traffic to Your Law Practice?

The Answer Is Yes, Creating Relevant & Fresh Content That Benefits Users Fuels Traffic.

I was on a call with a client who’s somewhat new to Mockingbird, and we were looking at a year-over-year comparison of their organic traffic in Google Analytics.

Looking at the data, it was apparent there was a jump in traffic in 2020. 

I asked, “What are you doing differently compared to last year?”

They responded, “We started blogging regularly.”

Here’s a snapshot of the data we were viewing together:

Year over year comparison of organic traffic, comparing before actively blogging to actively publishing content

Let’s take a closer look at this data as we explore why you should be creating content and tracking the traffic you get to your website. 

We’ll also cover strategies for brainstorming ideas and the internal linking of the content on your website

We’ve heard it before. Create a blog to drive traffic, but why does it work, and how do we do it correctly?

To put it loosely, as an attorney, you’re an authority in your practice area, and when you have something to say important enough to share with others, they listen.

Not only are you sharing, but people are finding it useful—the definition of quality content.

What Criteria Should We Judge a Piece of Content as Quality?

Google’s  E-A-T standards break content into three primary metrics to determine its quality. 

  • Expertise
  • Authority
  • Trustworthiness

Simply put, do users find your content useful?

Try this exercise: Put yourself in the shoes of users on your website. 

They are likely there seeking answers in their attempt to navigate the law, and if you’re willing to share your experience and providing guidance regardless of whether they become a client or not, well, that sets you apart from other attorneys as an authority.

Begs the Question, How Do We Quantify the quality of a piece of content? 

In Google Analytics, we compare specific metrics like:

  • Session duration – How long users were on your page. The default duration for a session is 30 minutes max before resetting.  
  • Bounce rate – the percentage of people who land on the page and leave without any action
  • New vs. returning users – are both excellent, but increased returning users implies retention and new chances for conversion with an already engaged audience.
  • Pages Per Session – How many pages did they view on your website? Having relevant internal links in your content gives users seeking more specific information that opportunity.
  • Increased Conversions – Increased traffic doesn’t matter if your content doesn’t at least assist conversions elsewhere on your website. 

Google analytics metrics of year over year comparison of organic traffic. Giving an idea of user behavior

 

A Closer Look Into The Data: This view shows overall traffic went up, but the bounce rate increased, and pages viewed, average session duration and conversions are down, telling us that this content may not be resonating with the ideal audience, suggesting a change in strategy. 

The goal is to pay attention to the data, and set benchmarks for yourself, then it’s easier to spot trends and make adjustments if needed.

Google Search Console is another tool you can use to compare impressions vs. clicks on your content. If impressions are high and clicks low, you can safely assume that your content isn’t alluring to users.

Clicks versus impressions search console performance dashboard

A Closer Look Into The Data: This data on the search console performance dashboard shows clicks versus impressions over 90 days. Seeing that in the summer months had more engagement is an opportunity to look back at that content and see where tweaks can be made our strategy.

Spikes in clicks and impressions both, are also noteworthy to look into, sometimes yielding insight, other times not.

Comparing all this data helps puts you in the mindset to do one of three things:

  1. Merge this piece of content with something else on your site
  2. Scrap it entirely
  3. Update this piece of content to be more relevant.

How Do We Get People To Discover The Content You’ve Written?

Good old fashioned keyword research, that’s how.

If you’re unfamiliar, keywords are the terms and phrases people use when researching subjects online. 

You might think, “How am I supposed to know what people are searching for? I can’t read minds.”

Don’t worry; we got you!

Keyword planners are helpful tools that you can use to determine if enough people are searching for terms you’re interested in using. 

Keyword planner tools now come into play. These are my favorites:

Note: Both tools require you to create a free account to access them. 

Google Trends &  support doc is another helpful tool if you’re stuck between a few terms and is curious about which terms are used more frequently.

Now Test Your Keyword List in the search results to Learn The Search Intent.

What you think your keywords will pull up in the results may be different in actuality. 

Sometimes a keyword will pull up multiple topics; then, it’s a matter of figuring out the ratio of intent; are most of the search results related to your topic? 

If so, then you can be comfortable that your content is showing up when it needs to.

Another useful method of helping users find what they want is the Internal Link Sculpting of your content. 

Linking out to relevant content on your site from a central point, like your practice areas, for example. 

Another way to think of this is content hubs

That way, when users land on the page, they have everything they need at their fingertips, quickly navigating out and back to this hub.

Cornerstone content is also a valuable strategy for creating hubs for relevant content.

This content could be a blog post that’s an in-depth resource that has relevance across your practice areas and supporting content.

What About Fresh Content? Do You Need to Post Blogs Weekly or Something?

No need to post weekly. Unless it’s relevant and your users find it valuable, see the feedback loop?

As an attorney, you’re most likely to have your core practice area pages and content cornerstones. 

These don’t need to be updated for the sake of it, only when needed.

What you could do instead is create supporting content that’s timely and relevant to link back to your core content that’s always performed well.

This benefits you in two ways:

  1. Your authority continues to grow as your breadth of knowledge provides rabbit holes for your users to follow.
  2. Search engines in their crawls, like your users, learn more about what you have to offer by crawling your internal linking network.

Tactics You Can Employ to Learn What Users Need from Your Content:

  • During intake calls with new leads, ask them what they were searching for, and if they found it.
  • Ask current and past clients you’re still in contact with.
  • Your current FAQ is often an opportunity to expand on topics relevant to your practice.
  • Take a peek at your competitors’ FAQs, and ask yourself, “What are they not answering, or how can I explain it more thoroughly. 

“Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

-Pablo Picasso

Once You’ve got an idea of what your users need, you’re closer to knowing their intent.

Let’s Take This Opportunity to Recap:

Today we’ve covered strategies for content creation, and why it’s important, but we’ve also gotten an opportunity to share and critique data from a client who’s actively creating content.

I’ve linked to quite a few resources as well through this post, so please explore them and bookmark those you find useful.

So what should your next steps be? May already be creating content or just getting started.

  1. If you aren’t taking a look at your data, you should, the more practice you have in these dashboards the easier it gets.
  2. Start setting benchmarks for yourself, you’ll begin to start noticing trends to help you adjust your strategy
  3. Practice writing content.

Now that you’re more informed on content creation, it’s time to get some practice in, because practice makes progress.

If you’re short on time and have the resources, consider us your outsourced marketing department. 

It’s much easier to edit the content than research, write, edit, and publish it. 

Reach out and complete the form-fill below to speak with our sales team and our President and founder Conrad Saam. 

What Happens When There’s No Anchor Text?

You may be familiar with the idea of anchor text, the words you click to follow a link on a website. You may also be aware that that anchor text has importance from an SEO perspective. So what happens when a website sends a link with no anchor text, just a raw, or, “naked” url with a link (example: https://mockingbird.marketing/). Before getting into Google’s answer, let’s give some background.

What is anchor text, and why should I care?

As mentioned above, anchor text is the actual words you click to follow a link on a site. These links can be either internal or external. Internal links refer to other pages on the same site, while external links point out to another site. For both internal and external links, search engines take anchor text as a clue about what the content on a given page is about, above and beyond just that of the content on the page. If Google sees a page with appropriately named anchor text for “personal injury law firm”, “car accident stats”, and “truck wreck lawyer”, that’s even more evidence that the page really is about personal injury law.

Now, you have no control (or at least, very little) over the anchor text that sites linking to your own use for anchor text. With that being said, there are a set of best practices for your own internal anchor text:

  1. Succinct: be as efficient with your words as possible. What is the page you’re sending users to about?
  2. Relevant: does the page you’re sending users to actually apply to what the page is about?
  3. Low keyword density: in the google old days, SEOs could easily spam anchor text with great results. Now, the pendulum has swung the other direction, and search engines are hyper-critical of keyword heavy anchor text. Back to item number 1, be succinct.
  4. Not generic: be helpful guiding users to another page

How are naked URLs treated by Google?

Given that background, what happens if anchor text isn’t there, and a webmaster just puts the actual link in content? In a Google Office Hours SEO Hangout Google’s John Mueller gave the following response:

“… in that situation we treat that URL as anchor text. From what I understand, our systems do try to recognize this and say well, this is just a URL that is linked, it’s not that there’s a valuable anchor here. So we can take this into account as a link but we can’t really use that anchor text for anything in particular. So from that point of view it’s a normal link but we don’t have any context there.”

What does this tell us? My biggest takeaways from this response are that 1. anchor text is important. Google is definitely still paying attention to the linked words within content, and 2. Google isn’t paying too close attention the the context of the anchor text. I would have expected John to lead with the idea that in the absence of anchor text, context, or the text surrounding the anchor text, is used to gain a sense of what the link is about, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. When asked about this John followed up with:

“Yeah, yeah… I mean that’s something we do definitely take into account but it’s very secondary. I mean there’s no kind of like value of strength for the context there but I’d say it’s like that anchor text is really obvious and we can collect that and we can look at that overall and kind of the context of the linking pages is something well. It’s like we also need to think about at some point. But the anchor text is really kind of the primary thing.”

So, long story short, anchor text is still important, and Google still leans on it to help them figure out what is important on a page.

Google Screened for Lawyers: What You Need to Know

We sat down with Mockingbird’s Matthew Moore to go over Google’s brand new product, Google Screened.  Matt’s run millions and millions of dollars of Local Service Ads (like Screened) as the lead for Sears home services and brings his experience to the legal world in a 60 minute breakdown of Google Screened. Matt shares his experience here, going over the economics of the model, how it impacts SPAM in local, and what Sears learned in order to be successful.

Spotting The Hallmarks of SEO Balderdash

If you can bring yourself to sit through the entire video here, it’s going to come across as pretty haughty and dismissive. But that was my honest assessment of the crap I was listening to. The micropoint to this post is, “taking selfies in front of local landmarks won’t expand your Local Search results,” but the main point of my post is larger.  Watch (if you can) the entire thing as Jason Brown and I defrock tactics used to make someone look more experienced than they are:

  • Sliver bullet to SEO success
  • Modicum of plausibility
  • Lack of specific examples and data
  • Trappings of authority

And if you start to smell some of that from an “SEO expert”, try doing a little research. Searching for “selfie” on Search Engine Land turns up…well…not much, and nothing in the way of Local Search magic bullets; although there is this interesting 2014 post about a Goolebot selfie at the beach:

Source: SearchEngineLand: https://searchengineland.com/search-pics-google-cardboard-googlebot-beach-matt-cutts-selfie-195404

And if you are a law firm staffer who was sent around the city to take pics of yourself at various local landmarks, overtip your local restaurant and head back to the office. You are wasting your time. Sorry.

Spoiler Alert: this video is just as cringey as public selfies.

 

Attorney Kate Furek’s DIY Website- A Rare Success Story

Mockingbird recently hosted a webinar in which Agency Founder, Conrad Saam, interviewed attorney Kate Furek, who created her own badass law firm website.

Kate offered such great advice to attorneys looking to build their own websites, it felt selfish to keep the footage in the vault.

This video covers:

  • Choosing a CMS
  • Color selection and branding
  • The importance of great photography and what you need to keep in mind when taking photos
  • How to manage contact forms
  • Developing with SEO in mind

And much more…

Enjoy and good luck on your own website building endeavor!

 

Is Avvo (coming) Back?

Back in early May, I wrote a post: Avvo in SEO Traffic Free Fall. One of the many questions fielded about this was, may the come back?  The answer was “probably” – from everything I could tell (including Avvo’s pointed “no comment” to the question around what was going on with their traffic), this looked like a one-off SEO penalty, with a sudden and otherwise inexplicable drop in traffic.  Note from that previous article that this was for a select set of high value, head terms; the fall-off in volume was also anecdotally corroborated by numerous attorneys.

I’ve been able to get my mitts on an Avvo email that suggests not only was I correct in the original assessment, but that (possibly) they are at the beginning of a rebound. This is (somewhat) corroborated by a variety of third party reporting systems that sync with the timing from this Avvo data – which shows a hitting the bottom mark sometime in the middle of June.

So here are the data points:

From Avvo

This is the graph circulating Avvo that shows a pretty impressive traffic growth – again, if this is accurate it would support my supposition that this was an SEO penalty (or a major major stupid technical whoopsie, which I doubt would go unsolved for this long).  Note that this graph does not show at all these rankings are for – for all we know its “fuzzy bunny slipper lawyer” or just focused on Lincoln, Nebraska.  Also note that the overall number of terms for which they rank top 3 is still minuscule.  Finally, this graph starts at the beginning of May, which is exactly when I first published my study, which means it conveniently leaves out the cratering that occurred during February and March (read: its built to paint them in a very positive light.).

SEMRush & ahrefs

SEMRush and ahrefs (both spectacularly inaccurate albeit directionally helpful third-party tools) show a traffic turnaround coinciding with the data above from Avvo. Of note, these tools give us a chance to look much further back for historical context and suggest the directory is still a ways off from its former zenith.

But… Ranking Reports

I hate ranking reports, but it was Gyi Tsakalakis’ ranking report of 250 head terms that first tipped me off on the Avvo decline.  So I circled back and the results still aren’t pretty.  While this is a very very very slim sampling of head terms, there seems to have been no movement within this set:

My advice?  Watch closely and as always, monitor success through your own reporting metrics, not your vendors’.

 

Google Introduces Core Web Vitals

In early May, Google announced they would be tracking user experience by the creation of three new web vitals or as they say, “essential metrics for a healthy site.” In the beginning of July, google had its annual web dev live conference where the first day was majority focused on explaining these new vitals and how to optimize these vitals. Measuring user experience will always be a moving target and Google has stated that they will be reviewing web vitals annually during their I/O conference. I will cover what these web vitals are and some overview learning of watching videos form the conference.

Overview of the New Core Web Vitals

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

LCP measures loading and speed by marking when the largest (usually primary content) is loaded into the viewport. A great example of this would be a hero image often found on websites. Your target goal of LCP should be 2.5seconds or less when the page first starts loading. Google explains LCP more in depth.

Common Issues Affecting LCP

  • Slow server response times
    • Cheap hosting
    • Terrible server side coding
    • Unoptimized database queries
  • Render blocking JS/CSS – Before website loads content, it has to parse HTML page. CSS and JS files by default block the rending of this page till they are loaded.
  • Slow resource times
    • Unoptimized images – usually the main culprit
    • Loading videos
  • Client-side rendering – using JavaScript to dynamically load content like API calls and not optimizing or caching the calls.

You can learn to optimize for LCP from Google.

First Input Delay (FID)

FPD measures your sites interactivity and responsiveness by measuring how long it takes for a user to interact with your page as it loads. It measures the delay of your web page being unresponsive to the user. Goal is to have a FPD of 100 milliseconds or less. Google explains FID more in depth.

JavaScript Biggest Offender

The greatest impact of FID come from JavaScript. Javascript blocks the webpage from loading until it’s executed, it’s known as “render blocking.” For internal JavaScript files, it’s best to optimize and chunk your Javascript code. Third party scripts affect your site’s loading speed too.

You can learn more in depth ways to optimize FID from Google.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

CLS measures visual stability by quantifying any unexpected layout shifts of visible web content. Think of when a page loads and you start reading an article, then an image loads in and pushes the paragraph down or a website banner load sin late and shows the entire web page lower, both of these are examples of CLS. CLS is calculated by impact fraction * distance fraction.

Common Issues Affecting CLS

  • Images without dimensions – always include width and height attribute on media elements such as images or videos
  • Ads, embeds, iframes, etc, without dimensions
  • Dynamically loaded content (often from APIs) – don’t forget to save some allotted space for any content being loaded dynamically. Avoid loading new content above existing content, unless triggered by a user interaction like a load more button.
  • Web fonts causing FOIT(Flash of Invisible Text)/FOUT(Flash of unsettled text)

You can learn more in depth ways to optimize CLS from Google.

Measuring Web Vitals

Along with the announcement of these new core web vitals came some new tooling and updated to existing tools. Google measures these three metrics with two types of data. Lab data is artificial interactions used to track down errors and bugs. Field Data is real world users and how they are interacting with your site. If 75% of the page views meet the good threshold for each measurement, then the website is classified as having a good performance for that metric. First let’s explain Lighthouse, the main technology powering these tools.

Lighthouse: the Underlying Technology

Google uses Lighthouse, a website auditing tool that powers different tools to measure these vitals. Lighthouse 6.0 has been released with reporting on the three new core web vital metrics. The web core vitals: Largest Contentful Paint, Cumlative Layoutshift, and Total Blocking Time (Lab data to simulate First Input Delay) are now added into the scoring system. The performance scoring system is broken down below.

Weight % Audit
15 First Contentful Paint (FCP)
15 Speed Index
25 Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
15 Time to Interactive (TTI)
25 Total Blocking Time (TbT)
5 Cumlative Layout Shift (CLS)

Tools Provided to Measure your Website

  • Pagespeed Insights – a tool that has been around for a long time and shouldn’t be new to anyone working with websites. What is new is leverages Lighthouse to measure core vitals. Great for finding and diagnosing easily replicable errors.
  • Chrome UX Report (CrUX) – uses real users for data and be setup using Data Studio or BigQuery to create reports. Developers can also leverage the CrUX API to pull in JSON data and visualize it how they’d like.
  • Search Console – has a new web vitals report built in based on real user data. Awesome for a constant monitoring tool your live website and uses real world data.
  • Chrome Dev Tools – had some new features implemented into the performance tab to measure core web vitals. You can also perform lighthouse audits direct int he Chrome dev tools as well. You can learn more from the web dev live video. Very useful for local debugging.
  • Web vital extension – you know Google had to create a Chrome extension.
  • Site Kit from Google – a WordPress Plugin from Google that connects to Google services and displays an overview in your WP dashboard.