"Setting up this
website really couldn´t have
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I am
very satisfied
with the
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Gary Zarin
Jury Verdict Review Publications

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Search Engine Optimization
The Guide to Best Practices

In this era of Internet Marketing, everybody knows the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It is the buzzword in today's market. The one thing you need to promote your law firm online. Without a doubt, you need an online presence to run a law practice in today’s market. A foolproof way to reach new clients is through high positioning in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Simply put, your well-optimized web site is your door to prospective clients. This article is an introduction to Search Engine Optimization methods, briefly explaining effective ways to attract traffic to your web site.

There are two types of SEO techniques: White Hat and Black Hat. White Hat techniques are effective steps recommended by the Search Engines. Black Hats techniques may seem effective, but are deceptive and offer short-term benefits. In other words, you should follow White Hat methods to optimize your site. You should never even think about frowned-upon schemes like link farming, spamdexing, or any other dishonest methods.

How They See Your Pages

Search engines use automatic indexers to crawl and scan web pages. The other names of these programs are bots, web spiders, and web crawlers. They view site contents in a way different from how a normal person does. Search engine companies are working on making the web crawlers perceive the sites like a human being, thus making them appreciate the actual merit of a web site. Programmers are continually working on refining the crawlers. Consequently web crawlers will become "ultra brilliant" and will process a web site's contents with intelligence analogous to that of a human being.

Often when you try a search string, what you may find are pages packed with advertisements and a "bunch" of keywords, without any actual use to you. The site's name may also look very familiar. For instance, you might technoarti.com. The average internet user is a fast typist and may make the mistake of typing "arti" in place of "rati." This typo will land them on the fake site, rather then the popular blog review site. These sites have a nickname in the industry - MFA or Made for Adsense - due to the popularity of the Google's AdSense program.

If you are serious about your online presence, you should not create an MFA site, as it will only help remove your site permanently from the search engine indexes as soon as the search engines determine the "value" of your site.

Get Indexed

You have to make your sites look the best to yourself and to potential clients. You have to view your content through the eyes of a client that comes to your page actually looking for your services. Create the content with that perception.

The first step is to do keyword research. Keyword research helps you determine what phrases potential clients are likely to type into a search engine when they are looking for a firm such as yours. You can do this by brainstorming and trying various phrases in the search box. See if those phrases return similar law firms. At Juris Design, we us a combination of brainstorming, our years of experience and third party tools, such as those provided by Google and WordTracker. The best keywords are focused and are phrases 3-5 words long. Armed with this list, we determine the themes and navigation of the site

Having the keyword list, content creation now begins. At the same time, our designer begins creating your design. Google and other search engines will index good content. Good positioning in the search engines will bring visitors. The design and quality of the content will turn visitors into clients.

To jumpstart indexing, we will submit sitemaps of your site to the major search engines. Sitemaps are specially formatted files that suggest to the search engines how best to index your site.

Directory Listings

Once your site appears on the search engines, we encourage you to get listed in the major directories, such as the Open Directory Project, Yahoo!, and Business.com. We would also guide you to select certain high quality second-tier directory. Directory submission is done in order to obtain some initial high quality incoming links, which are very important.

It is wise not to pay attention to Paid to Click or Paid to Read schemes. They can offer you nothing more than "empty traffic.". This traffic is primarily third-world mercenaries, who just look for some extra income offered by the PTC sites. Also, please note that many of the PTC and PTR schemes are fraudulent. If you advertise through one of these sites, it is possible for your site to be blacklisted, because the search engines are blacklisting so many of the PTC sites. The danger is that they can permanently remove your web site from the indexes. Similarly, you should also not "blast" advertisements through e-mail spamming.

What you want instead is genuine traffic that finds and evaluates the merit of your content. Effective, ethical SEO techniques will spread your merit to the Internet masses. Repeat visits from interested clients will gradually improving your worth, or authority, in the search engine's eyes.

SEO and Webpage Structure

Page organization and HTML structure can affect your page ranking by hundreds. You are to maintain a site with great organization, HTML structure, and ease of use for the visitors. The site has to conform to the rules of HTML or any other scripting language used in it. You need not be a web programmer to know whether your site conforms to the script rules, just get a web-based utility that checks the web pages for errors. Google search for “Web site Validation,” will locate one such utility for you. The best web site validation tool is none other than Google Webmaster Tools, accessible from your Google account. If you find errors in your pages, you are trying to optimize, correct them by hiring a web programmer. Most of the SEO companies do this as part of their job.

After validating your web site source code, check for the general page organization and “viewability,” which are a very important metrics in calculating Page Rank (PR). You should have a web site that is easily viewable to the users.

Important SEO Guidelines

  1. HTML Structure and Organization: It is very important that the page be well organized - both visually and in the HTML code. the HTML code should be valid and semantically correct. This is why we generally recommend using Content Management Systems.
  2. Keyword-Rich, Unique Content: Have great quality content in your pages. Write good, engaging articles that attract visitors to the inner pages. The average time the user spends on a page is a very important metric in calculating where your site should appear in the results.
  3. Meta Tags and Headings with Keywords: Make your Meta tags rich with your keywords. Meta tags are HTML tags that search engines analyze for the page's description - so make the most of it! Also, have descriptive section headings. Your site's address also may have one of the top keywords.
  4. Page Size: The recommendation is that you keep the web page size as small as possible. The smaller the size the better, and the faster it loads. However, do not make it too small. About 5-20 KB of size per page should be optimal. If the page is larger, rich with multimedia content, then the site loads more slowly. Search engines can deem this as a poor quality.
  5. Link Popularity: Link popularity is an important metric in determining your position. A highly ranked site will have many good-quality links coming into it from various websites. To obtain incoming links, you can, for example, make blog comments and forum posts with links to your pages. The search engines highly value these links. As the quality is important, so is the quantity. Make it a habit to write to the webmasters of top relevant sites to link to you (you can mention sites that already link to you in subsequent e-mails). Aim to increase the number of quality incoming links every month. This will continue to increase your web site's ranking and will drive traffic. Note that the link text you use should be one of your top keywords (very important!). You should not create too many links in a small span of time, however, which is a characteristic of link spamming.
  6. Internal Linking: Sites should link internally as well as externally. You can have a front-page article linking to a relevant internal page. Design your sites with all the important links on the homepage itself. Update your archives periodically to create links to your latest content. There should be no broken links on your site.
  7. Site Map: Site maps are very important to the your web site. If you don't have one, try to make one quickly, or we can help you do it.
  8. Outgoing Links: Outgoing links are also important, though not as much as the incoming ones. You should create outgoing links to the web sites that you think are useful and relevant to your visitors. If you have some outgoing links to highly ranked sites with information relevant to your practice, then you will rank higher than your competitors will. Most webmasters and even SEO professionals overlook this. You should not, however, create a "Links" page. Your outgoing links should be spread throughout your site, where they are relevant.
  9. Multimedia Content: The content of a well-optimized homepage should be based largely on text rather than on multimedia. Multi-media content, rich with banners, flash movies, and widgets, might look attractive to an average user but not to a web crawler.
  10. Website Hosting: Is your web site hosted on a reliable server without any significant downtime? If your site is down when a web crawler tries to access it, then it will adversely affect your ranking. In addition, if your site is down for several hours, then the search engine may even drop it from the index, giving you chance to start it all over again. Be careful in choosing your web site hosting company!

Besides these basic things, there is much more that affects the search engine ranking of sites; Google itself uses more than "two hundred" different metrics in gauging the Page Rank of a site. Make sure that you contact a very reputable and reliable SEO company to optimize your site.

How to Choose an SEO Company or Professional

Search engine giant Google gives may tips in selecting SEO companies or professionals. They also inform of the ways to add your web site into their search index. They provide tips on how to avoid SEOs that use dangerous practices, which, in time, will remove your site permanently from the index. The following are the main suggestions:

  1. Genuine SEOs and professional consultants do not send spam mails telling the status of your web site, offering to submit your site to obscure search engines and directories. Good SEOs get their business from their genuinely well-optimized web sites.
  2. Genuine SEOs do not guarantee No. 1 position in Google's SERPs. There is no such thing as "Priority Submit" to Google. You can submit your site to Google even without the help of an SEO - you can go to the "Add URL" page in Google, and submit your URL.
  3. You should avoid SEOs who advertise site submission to thousands of search engines. There are only a handful of primary search engines.
  4. You should check the web sites of the clients of the SEO firm you are considering. Try to get the maximum information about their service before hiring them.

It should, however, be noted that "Content is King." So, have engaging and valuable content. Also, update the site regularly with fresh material. Search engine ranks will only help you scramble to the top; the rest is all up you!



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