Google is constantly looking to update its services and product offerings, creating a seamless experience for businesses and searchers. To aid in these efforts, the internet giant introduced several updates that assist in privacy & security, rankings, and UX (user experience). With its recent focus on security and anti-spam, Google introduced a search spam update that rolled out in two parts and is now functioning in full force. 

We’ve previously covered multiple long-awaited privacy updates (and the cookie-less future that has been postponed for now), the new page experience update, and the Core Web Vitals that aim to change the weight and importance of certain factors (such as HTTPS, speed, and mobile-first websites). The most recent update (other than the Core Updates) started rolling out on June 23 and continued on June 28. This algorithmic update aims to lift the quality of search results, improve the experience of the searchers, and provide a fairer environment for businesses. We’ve compiled and analyzed the information available in order to better understand its impact on law firms. Let’s take a look.

  • How does Google define spam?

According to Google, any disruptive behavior that doesn’t help users find helpful and relevant content can be considered web spam. Google says that 99% of the total visits from the SERPs are spam-free. However, this 1% is still significant, accounting for over 25b spam webpages every day. It’s unlikely that your law firm’s website will ever be identified as spam, as we suspect that you don’t fall into the category of tricking searchers through content or malicious installations. In the unfortunate event that you suspect you might have been flagged, it could be due to bad actors that hack websites. You should always keep an eye on your website’s security and work closely with your webmaster to stay proactive. If you find yourself in trouble, assess the extent of the issue and act as quickly as possible to restore your quality and resubmit your website to Google for review.

As part of our regular work to improve results, we’ve released a spam update to our systems. You can learn more about our efforts to fight spam in this post:

And this video below:

— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) June 23, 2021

  • What do we know about the new spam update?

At the moment, Google has yet to make an official announcement with all the steps and details and won’t until next year when they release their annual report. However, we’ve read between the lines in order identify and share the key points.

  1. The first and most prominent part of Google’s plan is clearing the SERPs from spam content that misleads searchers and provides a poor user experience. By identifying such websites, Google plans to penalize pages using black hat techniques, such as keyword stuffing and link purchasing. Subsequently, this rewards legitimate businesses that follow best practices and invest in infrastructure and quality content. Our suggestion to keep your law firm’s website safe would be to build SEO strategies that don’t violate Google’s terms and conditions. Simultaneously, invest in unique, original content that provides users with the kind of legal advice they could be looking for.

Some of the most critical things to avoid:

  • Automatically generated content.
  • Cloaking.
  • Insecure redirects.
  • Thin or copied content.
  • Cloaking.
  • Hidden links or text.
  • Irrelevant keyword-stuffing.
  • Abuse of structured data markup.
  1. The second part is all about security. While we’re sure no attorney reading this has ill-intent or malicious properties on their law firm website, hacking is not science fiction. Keeping your assets secure and your visitors safe begins with periodical audits and an assessment of your website’s status. Set clear goals for your internal team or external partners, ensure that you follow HTTPS protocols, store any data securely, and don’t leave any space for bad actors that might take advantage of a loophole.

Tip: Monitor your webpages for visitor-generated spam and remove it whenever necessary.

  1. Our last point goes focuses on Google Search Ads and the spam removal that occurs at that end of the search network. As we already mentioned, this isn’t an official Google announcement, and there’s no confirmation on the matter. We’re basing it on our experience as an agency handling multiple law firm Google Ad campaigns. That being said, lately we’ve noticed fewer click fraud attempts. If our observation is correct and the situation continues to improve, we’re potentially looking at a significant improvement in the overall Google Ad experience. This is an improvement that benefits searchers who will have more options at their hands because advertisers will be able to allocate their budget properly. It also benefits law firms investing in Google Ads who will no longer have to fear wasting ad dollars on click farms and bots.

Tip: A click fraud prevention strategy is an indispensable component of any successful PPC campaign. If you don’t have one in place, you risk wasting a portion of your advertising budget.

Time for our takeaways:

  • Google is constantly looking for ways to optimize its services by releasing updates for page experience, security, and ranking factors (among others).
  • One of the latest updates is all about protection from spam and malicious content.
  • Auditing and assessing your law firm’s website periodically can help you stay on top of changes, offer a seamless experience to your visitors, and lower your risk of being penalized by Google.