Google is constantly trying to improve its algorithm, create better user experiences, and enrich the SERPs with results that cater to queries. These efforts are facilitated through updates, with the most notable (and large-scale) being the core updates. The latest of them occurred earlier this month, July 2021. As it’s now rolled out, we’ll review its mark on law firm digital marketing with an eye on what you can do if it has impacted your campaigns. 

On Jul 1, 2021, Google launched the most recent core algorithmic update. Usually, core updates come every few months, but this time it was a follow-up on the one in June. And that’s not the only update that took place in the last couple of months. We’ve already discussed the spam update and how it can become a great ally to your law firm’s marketing efforts as well as the new page experience update. In today’s article, we’ll concentrate on the July core update, its impact on law firm digital marketing, and tips that’ll help you to stay on top of potential challenges.

The first question that often arises is why Google moved forward with two algorithmic core updates in such a short time. The answer comes straight from Google, and it’s simple: the wide range of new features the internet behemoth wanted to introduce weren’t ready, and therefore, they decided to split it into two for a smoother process.

Some of our planned improvements for the June 2021 update aren’t quite ready, so we’re moving ahead with the parts that are, then we will follow with the rest with the July 2021 update. Most sites won’t notice either of these updates, as is typical with any core updates….

— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) June 2, 2021

  • A look into the July core update specifics

1.As Google mentioned, businesses and SEOs shouldn’t worry too much about the impact of the June core update as anything that didn’t go according to plan would get fixed with the July algorithmic update.

2. Some experts report that lately, domain crowding has been decreasing, and they are relating it to the recent core update. If that becomes a norm, it could lead to a more diverse SERP environment, with richer results and more chances for websites with relevant and original content to show on the first page(s).

3. Quality, onsite and offsite, seems to be a winner again. Google has been insisting on quality (you can read about this everywhere in their guidelines) in every part of the process. Be it unique and original content, unforced link building, or white hat law firm SEO, they seem to be drastically helping with rankings. The July update is further proof that Google is working towards SERPs that offer excellent user experience to the searchers, allowing them to find what they’re looking for without going through the frustration of browsing “worthless” webpages.

4. But there’s also the opposing view. Especially in languages other than English, some SEOs are reporting low quality or even spam-like results on the SERPs. We wouldn’t rush to any conclusions though, as it’s still early for both updates (the July core update and the spam update), and we expect things to recover and offer a smoother experience to searchers. As experts in Hispanic law firm marketing, we have noticed some movement but not related to spam content. Instead, we’ve observed larger, more established websites taking over, even in markets where the law firm isn’t active. To us, that’s further proof that well-thought out and expertly executed SEO strategies can help law firms dominate the SERPs.

Fact: The top winners of the update seem to be older and larger websites that used to be on the losing side with most previous updates.

Here are the different Pinterest ccTLDs, which saw huge visibility increases in the U.S. throughout 2020. Those sites are taking a nosedive right now.

We have already noticed for some ecomm clients that product/category pages are replacing spots previously held by Pinterest.

— Lily Ray 😏 (@lilyraynyc) July 12, 2021

  • How did the July Core update impact law firms?

According to several tools, the volatility in the July core update was milder compared to the one in June and December. That doesn’t mean businesses weren’t affected. On the contrary, as we explained above, several notable updates took place, but let’s see how severe (or not) it was for law firms. We closely monitor most of the available enterprise-level tools, but we pay special attention to SEMrush, and the platform’s volatility reports. As you can see below, law and government are among the least impacted verticals, with an average score of 2 compared to 4.7 in June. The data, combined with what we experienced on our clients’ websites, shows that most of the changes were geared towards a positive impact on websites with a complete and to-the-point SEO strategy. Most of the rest were reversals from the June update.

  • What can you do if the July core update impacted your law firm?

We’ve talked about it in our previous core update-related articles, which you can find here and here, but let’s sum it up so we have a complete overview.

  1. Monitor the SERPs and see who shows up on top. Identify what they’re doing right, compare it to your website, and find your law firm’s pain points and opportunities for improvement.
  2. Audit your content and eliminate any thin or duplicate content. Replace it with unique and original pieces, including assets like photos and videos.

Tip: Pay attention to your FAQs and Q&As, as they can be your gateway to the Google PAA section (people also ask).

  1. Review your internal and external linking and ensure that there are no forced links, no “black hat” link building, and a sufficient inter-linking between your content and other assets (such as social media accounts).
  2. Review your website’s performance in terms of speed and security. These are two of the most dominant, decisive factors for years to come, especially with the addition of the Core Web Vitals. 

And as always, it’s time for our takeaways:

  • The July 2021 core update seems to be among the milder of the recent core updates.
  • A large portion of the (limited) volatility is due to the corrections and reversals that came from the June core update.
  • Don’t panic if you have been affected, as this might be a temporary drop. No matter what the outcome is, you should look into your law firm’s SEO strategy and benchmark it against best practices and competitors.
  • The legal vertical seems to be among the least affected verticals.