Lawyers.com improves natural search by 2,000 percent

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Before May 2006, online directory Lawyers.com had great content but 
much of the Web site was not search engine friendly or optimized for 
targeted search terms. The URL structure and hierarchy of the site 
was not uniform, organized or crawlable by search engine spiders. 
There were duplicate content issues that were affecting the site's 
rankings.
Nick Chasinov, director of search engine optimization at the site's 
parent company LexisNexis, New York, discussed the site's organic 
search engine strategy with DM News associate editor Giselle Abramovich.

GA: What exactly did you do to fix the site?
NC: First off, we needed to tackle the duplicate content issue. 
Google's guidelines are very clear on where they stand with duplicate 
content and a huge percentage of our pages were taken out of their 
index. We had multiple URLs displaying the same exact content due to 
our multi-environment database driven back-end. We attacked this 
strategically by consolidating multiple URLs with duplicate content 
and implementing URL rewrite rules so dynamic URLs that were not 
search engine friendly were rewritten.  We put 301 redirects in place 
to ensure all value, including page rank, reputation and relevance 
that had accrued over the years is passed through and inherited by 
the new URLs.
Next we needed to employ what I call on-site optimization and 
optimize the pages for the specific search terms that we wanted to 
get ranked for. Since we had so much varying content across millions 
of pages it was imperative to implement a systematic strategy that 
could create unique meta data - title, descriptions and keywords - on 
a page-per-page basis efficiently.
I created keyword-centric algorithms based on the page content that 
would apply optimized titles, descriptions and keywords to every 
page. This ensured that all page meta data was optimized for the 
search engines and reflective of the actual page content. We further 
globally optimized the pages for targeted search terms by applying 
additional "on-page optimization" techniques such as h1 and h2 
headers to emphasize primary search terms.
Once we had successfully implemented the on-site optimization 
strategies, it was time to focus on the off-site optimization. It is 
no secret that Google ranks sites based on the quality of sites 
linking to the domain in question. With that in mind it was 
imperative to launch an aggressive link-building strategy to 
strengthen our back-link value in Google's eyes. If we wanted to get 
ranked for "attorney" and other extremely competitive terms we needed 
to secure some very influential inbound links. It is not about 
quantity of links but rather the quality. We identified relevant and 
authoritative sites within the legal space and secured keyword 
optimized links from their site to Lawyers.com.

What are the results of performing SEO on the site?
Since the launch of our SEO strategy in May 2006 we have secured the 
top rankings for some of the most competitive and highly sought after 
search terms in the legal space including but not limited to 
attorney, attorneys, lawyer, lawyers and attorney at law. Our organic 
rankings have improved by more than 2,000 percent, our organic 
traffic has seen double-digit visitor growth year over year from 2005 
versus the second half of 2006, triple-digit visitor growth month 
over month, and we were recognized as the No. 1 Online Lawyer 
Directory by comScore Media Metrix Custom Reports. ComScore claims 
more than 60 percent of clicks occur within the organic listings, so 
a significant presence in the organic rankings is vital to the 
success of any online business.

What are your recommendations for SEO in the legal industry?
The online legal space is so flooded with competition. The only way 
to receive significant organic traffic is to be on the first page for 
heavily searched terms and within the top three positions. I call 
this section above the fold because if the user needs to scroll, you 
are out of luck. To get there you have to secure as many relevant 
inbound links as you can to surpass the competition. Continue to 
implement the "on-site optimization" techniques, add fresh new 
keyword-optimized content and then get even more links.

What other Internet marketing tactics are used to promote Lawyers.com?
In addition to our world-class SEO campaign we continue to dominate 
in the legal space paid search market on the major search engines. We 
cooperatively integrated our PPC campaigns with our SEO strategies to 
ensure we are paying for the right terms, at the right time and at 
the right cost. It is imperative to take a holistic approach to 
Internet marketing. You need to monitor, analyze and optimize paid 
search campaigns in tandem with SEO to maximize your budget and 
visibility.

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