When we think about the content that goes onto our website, we consider several factors, and we take into account some basic best practices for Google. We are generally looking at the following factors:
- Content that is engaging, informative, accessible, and does not alienate any portion of our target audience
- Educational content that positions us as an authority and utilizes calls-to-action and brevity to showcase urgency (These will increase conversions for qualified traffic, and address people with lower attention spans searching on their phones.)
- Writing original, unique content and avoiding plagiarized content that leads to getting dinged by Google.
Let us talk briefly about that last point: Many people are often concerned about plagiarized content on their website since it has been perceived to be a penalty on their website. In the grand scheme of things, having duplicate textual content on your website is not going to be a negative factor on your website, but it certainly is not going to benefit your website either. For example, on a legal website, citing and referencing laws and statutes has to be done verbatim. You would not want to change the language or intent of the law’s phrasing that needs to be communicated word-for-word from its origin.
Determining the Originality of Your Website’s Content
Copyscape (copyscape.com) is a great tool to help you determine what content on your website may have been created without enough originality. Also, Copyscape is useful because it can inform you as to which of your competitors has lifted your content without changing a sentence. You might be surprised to learn how often this happens in the legal space. In addition, Copyscape will pinpoint what pages on your website may have been created with placeholder content that was never again addressed.
Other Forms of Content on Your Website
When we talk about content, it is almost always assumed that we are talking about pages, blogs, etc. While that may be true, you should also consider all the types of content that may be found on a website. Such content can include videos, images, graphics, infographics, etc. When you think about it, it would seem strange to use a generic video for a firm overview video. Infographics are almost always custom-made for a law firm website, unless they are from another website (i.e., an .edu, .gov, or .org) with the source cited.
Stock Imagery on Your Website Is Duplicate Content
How come stock imagery has become so ubiquitous in the legal space, all while providing next to no value for our website visitors?
Admittedly, there is plenty of stock imagery on Market My Market. Stock imagery performs a perfunctory function. When you post a blog, including the featured image is a normal part of a process. That process, however, is changing because images are a form of content. Since images are a form of content, the stock imagery used by hundreds of other websites should be considered duplicate content. Referring to the comments above regarding duplicate content, stock imagery (duplicate content) will not necessarily harm your website, but it certainly does not add any SEO value. In fact, it may harm you from a user experience standpoint.
Stock Images Survey
To elaborate on this point, we surveyed 250 people and had them look at three images:
- An image of a car wreck with distressed drivers (“Wreck”)
- An image of someone visiting a doctor with a cast (“Injury”)
- An image of the lawyers of a firm poised in the lobby of their law firm (“Firm Photo”)
We then told the survey-takers to imagine they were involved in an accident and are now seeking a lawyer. We asked them what image would resonate with them the most if it was the first image they saw when landing on the website. Here are the results of the survey:
Most Preferred Image
The following are the results for the most preferred image:
- Wreck: 15.94%
- Injury: 29.47%
- Firm Photo: 54.59%
As you can see, more than half of the people surveyed selected the Firm Photo.
Least Preferred Image
The following are the results for the least preferred image:
- Wreck: 48.59%
- Injury: 36.59%
- Firm Photo: 15.12%
According to the survey results, the image of the wreck was the least preferred.
The survey takers also provided reasons for their selections. Some of the reasons for each choice are listed below:
Why You Preferred an Image
The following are some of the reasons why the survey takers selected their most preferred image:
- Wreck: “shows a real-life situation;” “shows what law firm does”
- Injury: “shows someone being helped;” “shows one person taking care of another”
- Firm Photo: “looks professional;” “looks like a team of professionals”
The Firm Photo communicated a sense of professionalism to the survey takers, and it was selected as the most preferred image by the most people.
Why You Did Not Prefer an Image
The following are some of the reasons why the survey takers selected their least preferred image:
- Wreck: “looks quarrelsome;” “looks like they’re about to fight”
- Injury: “doesn’t remind me of a law firm;” “gives a bad impression”
- Firm Photo: “group looks intimidating and expensive;” “too serious looking”
The Firm Photo was an original (you would not want stock imagery lawyers showcasing your firm). Perhaps a reason behind the Firm Photo being the most preferred image is that consumers are inundated with stock imagery so much that it is not preferential.
Leading a Page with a Stock Image versus an Original Image
We did ask one last question of our survey takers: Was it important at all to have an image lead on a page for a professional service? Including an image above the fold of a page has been a part of the website process for so long that we have not taken a step back to determine if it is even necessary.
The most common response in regard to this last question was an 8/10, though the average was about a 6.67. This indicates that the average respondent was leaning toward preferring an image, but the presence of an image certainly did not make or break the page. Without an overwhelming preference for an image to lead a page, can a generic, misguided image leave a bad first impression for your firm?
Most marketing campaigns put such a huge emphasis on unique, textual content, but they rarely focus on visual content (i.e., videos and images). Would having a professional photographer at your firm, who creates an entire library of images of your lawyers, your office, and your community, leave a stronger impression on your potential clients? Having original imagery on your website would also be considered unique content and indexed by Google (as verified by Google images). What sort of SEO implications may there be from taking this initiative? This could be another way of separating yourself from your competition.
Contact the Content Marketing Specialists at Market My Market
At Market My Market, we focus on helping your business gain more organic traffic and qualified leads by utilizing a variety of proven SEO tools and research methods to build your online presence. Let’s work together so we can make the most of your marketing. Schedule a free consultation by completing our contact form today.