Google Algorithm 2014 Year in Review

With 2015 coming to a close it is safe to say it was a wild and crazy ride for many legal websites. The year started slow but late May introduced us to Panda 4.0 which continued to push website owners to produce quality content. Any type of thin content that has been repeated across multiple domains and networks was neutralized and sometimes penalized. Creating quality content that is 100% original is imperative for any law firm looking to rank near the top of Google search; especially with each subsequent Panda update.

After the Panda 4.0 update in May it was rather quiet. Most SEO “gurus” predicted the next major update was not going to happen until the Penguin 3.0 refresh that was expected in October. In late July 2014 we got quite the surprise. An unusual Google Local Maps update that some dubbed “Pigeon” changed many of the search results for business professionals such as lawyers and attorneys. After quite a bit of analysis it was determined by many that the Google Local Maps search results reflected organic search results much closer than prior to the “Pigeon” release. Since late July 2014 some Local Maps search results have returned to normal while some have adjusted on a weekly or monthly basis. What the “Pigeon” update taught us is that it takes a very strong website presence to rank in Google Maps; not just a listing through Google My Business.

The most talked about Google algorithm update was Penguin 3.0. Google had refreshed the Penguin algorithm twice a year until 2014. The refreshes tend to be in April and October. In April of 2014 there was only┬ánot a Penguin update which shocked many; especially webmasters that had cleaned up their link portfolio and received a positive response from their reconsideration request. The newest Penguin refresh tends to “bring back” those websites that had cleaned up their links after being penalized by over optimizing in the past. With the April 2014 Penguin refresh not happening some lawyers and attorneys had to wait until October 2014 to see their search traffic return.

Through it all, Google continues to try and tweak search results to fit what the user is looking for. In all the documents and patents you read from Google it always mentions the satisfaction of the end user. If the end user is not satisfied they will go to a different search engine such as Yahoo!, Bing or AOL. Google has done an excellent job of remaining at the top of customer satisfaction when it comes to technology services and/or products.

As a legal professional, it is very important to stay abreast of the situation in terms of what Google is doing. That said, your skills and abilities lie in the courtroom winning cases for your clients. Do not dig too deep into the Google algorithms or search results as it will only make your head spin. Instead, work to create amazing content that is consumed and shared by your website visitors. If your website visitors enjoy their experience on your website there is a high likelihood that it will rank in Google search.

Jesse Wojdylo is the owner and CEO of Wojdylo Media.