Google Giveth ... and Google Taketh Away ... without warning!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) -- like estate planning -- is not a once-and-done proposition. If your law firm website has been optimized for search engine ranking, don't be lulled into a false sense of security. You may be at the top of Google's Page One today, but tomorrow may be a whole new story!
Don't ask me how I know ...
Okay -- ask me. Let me tell you a little story about search engine optimization and the whimsical guys at Google.
We were strolling happily down Website-Leads-Rolling-in-Lane with our IMS website comfortably ranked #1 on Google's Page One for the search string, "Estate Planning Newsletters." We have held this position, quite happily I might add, for a good long time.
One might have thought we had a virtual lock on it.
One might have thought wrong. Nobody has a virtual lock on anything when it comes to Google. Those guys are always working! They change their algorithms frequently, just to keep things interesting, I suppose.
Fortunately, we practice what we preach around here. We monitor the SEO of our own website, just like we do those of our clients. Every Monday night, our monitoring software kicks itself on and runs dozens of detailed reports. Some of those reports arrive in my inbox on Tuesday mornings as handy dandy PDFs.
Well ... last week, one arrived in my inbox bearing bad tidings. We were no longer #1 on Google's Page One. In fact, we weren't #2 either. Or #7, or even #78.
Google had DROPPED us from their rankings! I mean completely jettisoned us into the Black Hole of the world wide web. Oh, we still ranked for other important search strings ... but anyone searching for an Estate Planning Newsletter on Google would not find us! (To make things even more confounding, Yahoo and Bing! both kept us on Page One ... go figure!)
What had happened?
We may never know. Google does not take phone calls.
But I can tell you what I did! First, I checked and re-checked my numbers just to make sure I wasn't seeing things. Honestly, it was hard to believe. But once I was absolutely sure it was not some April Fool's joke, I got myself (and my staff) to work.
We downloaded, revised and uploaded a new .htaccess file with a few revised re-directs that we thought MIGHT have been causing the problem.
I downloaded, revised and uploaded new SEO code to several of our key pages.
Then we created a new sitemap and re-submitted it to Google, just to get their attention.
Then I did one more thing. Not willing to simply waste a week of marketing to wait-and-see what Google might do next, I launched a new Google AdWords pay-per-click campaign. I set up a modest budget, composed a straightforward ad, and set a bid that would almost guarantee space on Google's Page One for "Estate Planning Newsletters." So, while I was waiting for Google to re-index us, I would cover my bases with a paid listing.
So we were still on Google's Page One last week -- sort of -- even if only by the grace of Pay-Per-Click (Note: if anyone "guarantees" you a Page One listing on Google, they are probably talking about pay-per-click and not organic search. I'm just saying...)
Thankfully, I see today that Google has now rediscovered us and we are near the top of Page Two. This happened so quickly that I know we are on the right course. I expect we will get back to the top of Page One.
Here's the moral of the story -- if I hadn't monitored my site, I probably would not have known that we were dropped from the index...at least I would not have known as quickly. I would not have done the damage-control with the pay-per-click. And I would not have acted so quickly to get us back in the index.
I will continue to monitor the site, and watch it climb. And if it stalls, I will do some more work to get it back on track.
We do the exact same thing for our Essentials clients. Sometimes clients ask why we include SEO monitoring and maintenance in their monthly fee. This is why.
No one has a magic wand. No one can control Google. And no one has an answer hotline to Google to find why they do the things they do.
Google Giveth ... and Google Taketh Away.
Monitoring helps us get it back!