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Google March 2012 Search Quality Updates & Your Law Firm

I’m a big fan of Google’s search quality highlights. In February, I thought the local updates were among the most important. In these most recent updates, I’m hopeful that the anchor text update plays a significant role in my small neck of the web. Here’s how some of Google’s most recent updates may impact your law firm’s online business development strategies:

Better scoring of news groupings.
Google organizes news into groups on the same story. They score news results to determine the ordering of these groups for a given query. They report that this recent update slightly improves their scoring system.

If you’re fortunate enough to get into Google News, this most recent update may help you. On the other hand, if your firm is cranking out crappy online press releases, this scoring update is likely to hurt your efforts.

Improvements to autocomplete backends, coverage.
Google reports that its update to autocomplete means more efficient CPU usage and more comprehensive predictions.

If you’re not using autocomplete as part of your keyword discovery and content development process, you’re missing out. You’d probably be surprised to learn about how autocomplete is impacting the way your prospective clients are consolidated into a more finite set of queries due to autocomplete.

Better indexing of profile pages. This update increases the comprehensiveness of public profile pages in Google’s index from more than two-hundred social sites.

Don’t think participating in social matters? It does. But don’t limit yourself to claiming profiles at the big three (facebook, twitter, linkedin). Find ways to publish different forms of content on sites like slideshare.

High-quality sites algorithm data update and freshness improvements. Updated data for “Panda” and improvements in database freshness.

Nothing really that new here. This is yet another iteration of Panda and freshness. But it is further validation of Google’s commitment to “better” results by these means, so pay attention to how to avoid “panda problems.”

Tweaks to handling of anchor text.
Google has turned off a classifier related to anchor text (the visible text appearing in links).

Building links containing exact and partial match keyword anchor text has been an arrow in the quivers of SEOs going on several years now. As any SEO knows, this tactic has been badly abused. This has led to strategies like inter-linking resource pages, article directory spam, and the like. I’m hoping this is the update that knocks some of these more commonly employed tactics down and surfaces sites that have avoided this kind of these elementary tactics.

Better handling of queries with both navigational and local intent. This update impacts searches that contain both local intent and navigational intent to surface highly relevant navigational results or local results towards the top of the page.

This update will benefit firms that are working to build brand or subject-matter expertise awareness. If your site is becoming recognized as a resource on a subject, you’ll likely benefit from this particular update.

Improvements to processing for detection of site quality. This improvement allows Google to get greater confidence in their classifications.

If you’ve been putting out great information for your visitors, hopefully this update will reward you. If not, you may find this update more a penalty, than an update…

Better interpretation and use of anchor text. Google has updated how they interpret and use anchor text, and determine how relevant a given anchor might be for a given query and website.

Again, anchor text spam is probably one of Google’s biggest thorn. Understanding naturally occurring anchor text, as opposed to, overly optimized or spam anchor text, is a big development that will likely hurt a lot of sites. However, it is yet to be seen just how much these anchor text updates will really impact the results. Here’s hoping…

These are just a couple of Google’s search quality updates for March. I encourage you to visit the Inside Search blog for the full list, as well as, the uncut video of their search quality meeting. Following these updates goes a long way in helping you understand in which direction Google search is headed. And that’s really the best way to stay atop the results.