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Why Your Website Isn’t on Page 1 of Google

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There are many factors that can prevent a law firm’s website from ranking organically on page 1 of Google. Below are some of the most common things we see at Everest Legal Marketing that prevents an attorney’s website from high visibility.

There are numerous factors that could impact a website’s visibility, so this should be treated merely as a guide and roadmap of where we start when engaging an attorney for law firm SEO. Feel free to read the common reasons a website is performing poorly below, but know that there could be many other factors keeping your website from ranking on Page 1 of Google organically (content cannibalization, improper Category indexing, thin content, etc).

Common Reasons for Poor Website Visibility

Lack of quality content: Google prioritizes websites that provide high-quality, informative, and relevant content to Users. If a website lacks unique, engaging content or has mass-scale duplicate content, it will not rank well.

Poor website structure and design: A website that is poorly structured and difficult to navigate can hurt its chances of ranking on page 1 of Google. This includes slow page load times, poor URL structure, poor content silos, broken internal links, and poor mobile rendering.

Inadequate keyword targeting: Targeting the wrong phrases, or not targeting any productive phrases at all, can hurt a website’s chances of ranking on page 1 of Google. It’s important to conduct keyword research and use relevant, high-volume keywords AND highly productive, low-volume phrases in your content.

Lack of high quality, relevant backlinks: Backlinks from quality websites, from content that is relevant to your practice, is an important ranking factor for Google, and a law firm website that lack high-quality backlinks will struggle to rank on page 1. It’s important to build relationships with other websites, and create link-worthy content in order to earn natural, relevant backlinks over time.

Poor User experience: Google prioritizes websites that provide a good User experience. In early 2022, Google rolled out the “Page Experience” update. This prioritizes Core Web Vitals (LCP + CLS + FID), HTTPS (SSL) security and the absence of intrusive interstitials (pop-ups).

Competitive practice and/or geography: Some practices are more competitive than others, (personal injury lawyers know this), making it more incredibly difficult to rank on page 1 of Google for worthwhile phrases. In these cases, it may take more time and effort to build up a strong online presence and improve rankings.

Analyzing Your Law Firm’s Website

SEO Audit on scrabble piecesA website audit is a comprehensive evaluation of a website’s performance, including its technical setup, on-page and off-page optimization, User experience, and other factors that can impact its visibility in search engines. TRY OUR FREE law firm SEO audit and see for yourself.

Overall, a website audit can help a law firm identify problems with their website’s performance and prioritize efforts to improve their SEO and User experience. When needed, we can also perform a more comprehensive SEO analysis for a nominal fee.

Local Visibility in the Local Pack (Maps)

Your website’s visibility in the local pack / Map section of Google is driven by separate factors than what helps you to rank in the “organic” section. Whitespark is one of the highly credible leaders in citation building and local rank tracking software, and they release an annual survey of the most impactful local ranking factors. For 2023, they found the following efforts that impact your local “Maps” visibility  in the Google local pack the most:

  • 32% impact: Google Business Profile (“GBP”) signals – Accurate primary business category & sub-categories, comprehensive services added, profile completeness, GBP age, etc.
  • 19% impact: On-page signals – What content, services and geography is mentioned on your website.
  • 16% impact: Review signals – High quantity of reviews, consistently posted over time.
  • 11% impact: Link signals – Quantity and quality of inbound backlinks to the GBP landing page (usually Home or city silo parent-page) from locally-relevant websites.
  • 8% impact: Behavioral signals – Click-through rate, mobile clicks to call, dwell time, etc.
  • 7% impact: Citation signals – Location data, NAP consistency, citation volume, etc.
  • 8% impact: Personalization – Search history, search location & proximity to business, device, etc.​

Also of note is that in late 2021, Google rolled out the most impactful update to how local businesses are displayed in the local pack in nearly a decade. Although not officially given a name by Google, the SEO industry agreed to call it the “Vicinity update“. Brightlocal says: “This update is named after the fact that it seems to primarily target proximity as a ranking factor… [and] gives [businesses] a greater chance to rank well in relevant local searches, as they’ll be competing less with businesses that are further away.”

Google “E-E-A-T” | This Matters to Lawyers

Since 2014, Google “E-A-T” (Expertise, Authority & Trustworthiness) was an acronym that applied to businesses that owned a “YMYL website”. If you don’t know what all this is, read all about Google E-A-T and watch our video.

In late 2022 Google updated E-A-T to E-E-A-T which adds Experience to Expertise, Authority & Trustworthiness. Essentially this is the whole process by which you convey your credibility to people who arrive at your website. This isn’t a setting on a website, or something you can add in easily. E-E-A-T needs to be baked into your website, content and SEO strategy.

For instance, I was recently approached by a lawyer who’s website wasn’t found for ANY search phrases except her firm’s brand name. The website was developed by a very large, and well known legal SEO marketing firm and had been up for over a year. One of the first things I noticed was that there was no “About” page or attorney profile. This glaring oversight nearly guaranteed that her website wouldn’t rank well for any competitive search phrases. No prospective client, nor Google will trust you if you don’t give several reasons to.

Seem Complicated? Don’t Worry, It Only Changes All the Time!

There’s an old saying that goes “you don’t pay the plumber to bang on the pipes, you pay the plumber because they know which pipes to bang on.” It’s true, if you don’t keep on top of this it will always be tough to arrive at, and STAY on page 1 of Google. Complicating the matter further is the endless barrage of new law firms, or legacy firms that restart their SEO effort and are investing money into it.

Are you tracking your rankings? If not, you may wake up to find your website gone from Google search results. You may want to use a rank tracking software to make sure to keep track of the trajectory of your website.

Contact Everest Legal Marketing

You can call Everest Legal Marketing at (909) 697-7484, or submit a contact form and we’ll get back in touch you ASAP. We are local to Southern California and can meet you locally or over Zoom if you’d like to discuss your SEO strategy and a competitive analysis in person.

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