Home » 3 Examples of How Lawyers Can Optimize Articles for Google’s Helpful Content Update

3 Examples of How Lawyers Can Optimize Articles for Google’s Helpful Content Update

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I recently spoke on a panel at the New York City Bar’s Small Law Firm Symposium and discussed the state of SEO for lawyers in 2022. During my portion, I talked about Google’s Helpful Content algorithm update, which rolled out this past August.

The Helpful Content update was designed to reward web pages that focused on “people-first” content. Per Google:

The helpful content update aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.

Google gave a thorough, if abstract, rundown of what “helpful content” entails. Matt G. Southern at Search Engine Journal goes into more detail, providing explanations on each guideline and what they mean for content creators.

The result of the update was penalties on web pages that focused on quantity instead of quality and used keyword stuffing. Web pages with content that focused on helping users grasp concepts and were formatted for easy reading were the winners in this update.

At Digital Dynamo, we’ve been creating helpful content with our SEO content writing for a long time now, and it wasn’t surprising when our clients’ sites saw gains in search after the update rolled out. We know how to craft content that offers value to users, which helps it rank.

As part of my presentation at the Small Law Firm Symposium, I researched content opportunities lawyers could capitalize on in search results, and then discussed how to craft the content so it was optimized. My time ran out and I wasn’t able to go into detail on these opportunities, so I am sharing them here in this article.

Content Opportunity for Personal Injury Lawyers

personal injury lawyer seo

Target term: What to do after a workplace injury

Nationally, this exact query, “what to do after a workplace injury,” gets 20 searches a month, but the topic yields more than 3000 searches a month. To rank on the first search engine results page (SERP) for this query would be a coup for a personal injury lawyer, especially one that specializes in workplace injuries and accidents.

I also like this query as a target because there’s a good chance that if you follow my guidelines for the article you write, you’ll outrank the competition (at least as of November 2022).

To have the best chance at ranking nationally on the first SERP for this query, do the following:

  1. Provide a Step-by-Step List

You’ll see many of the ranking results for this query feature a list, which is not surprising – Google loves lists, especially numbered lists, and you have a stronger chance at ranking if you use one.

In your article that’s answering the query “what to do after a workplace injury”, provides readers with a step-by-step list of what one needs to do in the aftermath of a workplace injury. Keep the list between 5-10 steps, and give each one a title, so it looks something like this:

  1. Report the Injury

Reporting the injury is a necessary first step…

  1. Complete a workplace injury report

A workplace injury report helps provide a paper trail…

  1. Give Examples of Tools to Use

To have the best chance at ranking, you want to provide valuable content to users.

It’s my understanding that keeping contemporaneous notes in the aftermath of an on-the-job injury can help your case, so in addition to recommending journaling as one of the steps in your list, suggest a tool like Google Keep for taking notes.

  1. Provide an Honest Depiction of What to Expect During the Consultation with the Attorney

Most people have never spoken to a personal injury attorney about a legal case that impacts them. Since the goal is to create content that provides value to readers, outline for readers what to expect when they meet with a personal injury attorney. Detail what they should come prepared with, what questions will be asked of them, and what the expected outcomes from that meeting will be.

  1. Create a table with examples of what makes someone eligible or ineligible for a strong workplace injury case

Tables are great for ranking because they signal to search engines that you’ve formatted the content in a way that’s easy for users to understand.

To help create valuable content, write a section that is dedicated to confronting the factors that impact the outcome of a workplace injury case. Then format the content of that section into a table – you can have “Likely Good Outcome” and “Likely Bad Outcome” as the column names, then list the corresponding factors under each category.

Content Opportunity for Bankruptcy Lawyers

bankruptcy lawyer seo

Target term: Does bankruptcy affect security clearance

Nationally, this query and similar queries get a combined search volume of 70 searches a month, but the keyword difficulty for this term is a 7, meaning it will be an easy query for which to rank. If you write an article to tackle this topic, this is how you should format it to give it the best chance in search results:

  1. Answer the question right away

Out the gate, provide the answer to the question this article is tackling. Make it direct and concise: Filing for bankruptcy will not automatically impact your ability to obtain or maintain a security clearance. And then you can provide a deeper explanation of the issue.

  1. Create an infographic

Not all financial situations that lead to bankruptcy are created equal when it comes to security clearances. Factors like job loss, divorce, or medical debts that led to bankruptcy are viewed more favorably than factors like irresponsible spending, financial crimes, or failing to pay taxes. Illustrate the differences by putting them in an infographic. Infographics are great for ranking, helping users understand complex ideas, and creating linkable assets (collateral that other sites want to link to).

  1. Use Anecdotes or Case Studies

It’s easier for people to understand a concept when you root it in real-world scenarios. In this article, tell the story of a client (keeping it anonymous) whose job was dependent on their security clearance, but they wanted to file for bankruptcy. Describe the emotions and worries this client had, then discuss the outcome bankruptcy had on his life and job (this case study should support the stance you take in the article).

  1. Create an FAQ

These are good questions to answer in the article. They should be broached in an FAQ section:

  • Who is a good candidate for bankruptcy?
  • What are the benefits of bankruptcy?
  • What are the drawbacks of bankruptcy?

You can add even more questions that you feel are relevant to this FAQ section.

Content Opportunity for Immigration Lawyers

immigration lawyer seo

Target term: What happens if you divorce before green card interview

This exact query gets 210 searches a month and has a keyword difficulty score of 31, which is fairly low. The results that rank for this query (as of November 2022) do contain a good deal of information, but they lack formatting and visual assets that mark them as “helpful content.” This is where an immigration lawyer who is ready to create great content can grab search rankings.

  1. Use a Table of Contents

This topic is complicated, with many factors to consider. Many of the top-ranking articles for this query average more than 3000 words, meaning the content is long and dense. You want to write a thorough article that covers all important aspects of this issue, and you want to present the content in a format that is easy to navigate. Thus, your article should be accompanied by a Table of Contents, which links to each section in the article.

  1. Break it down by situation

It is my understanding that different situations can affect the outcome of your green card status if you divorce or separate before your interview. Answer what to expect in these different situations:

  • Is the divorce due to domestic violence?
  • Is the divorce due to irreconcilable differences?
  • Are you separating instead of divorcing?
  • Is your spouse on a visa?

Feel free to expand on this list.

  1. Create a table or chart

You can then format these situations with your answers in a table or chart. As previously mentioned, content that features tables or charts has a stronger chance at ranking.

Remember, the goal is to create valuable content for users. Don’t just throw your thoughts on a web page; put on your teacher hat, create content that clearly and thoroughly addresses the topic, and leverage bullet points, numbered lists, tables, infographics, and other elements that will make the concept easier to understand. You want your readers to walk away from your article feeling like they learned something. If you achieve this, Google will reward you with a great search ranking.

If you want to learn more about SEO or digital marketing for small or solo law firms, please contact Digital Dynamo about our SEO services for small business.