Use Case: lawyers.com vs. attorneys.com

Market Brew’s CTO reveals how lawyers.com could easily pass attorneys.com in search rank for the term “attorney”, and how anyone can use this white-hat tactic for their own traffic gain.

Preface

Nothing magical or black-hat is discussed here. We will use the Market Brew predictive platform to first reveal the true search ranking situation for the term “attorney”, a term that brings potential traffic and leads for the legal industry.

We could have chosen any keyword or phrase, this is just an example.

As anyone could see on Google, as of January 5th, 2015, attorneys.com shows up on the 1st page for the term, while lawyers.com shows up on the bottom of the 2nd page.

We will ignore all other results in this use case, for simplicity sake. This is often standard practice: we pick only a few “marker” sites to simulate, which saves us (or the user) processing power, and therefore cost. There is, in fact, no statistical need to simulate every site, to obtain the metrics and action plan, as you will clearly see below.

Setup

The first thing you will want to do is create a new Analysis Group. Each Analysis Group is made up of two or more sites, and one or more keywords. For this use case, simply add the keyword “attorney” and the sites “lawyers.com” and “attorneys.com”.

Once this is done, we can click on “Simulate a Search” and, of course, search for “attorney”.

Analysis

First off, it looks like our standard search engine model is working beautifully. Both webpages are correct, and they are also in the correct order (according to the comparison against Google). This means that we do NOT need to mess around with the “Query Scoring Boost Factors” as our search engine model is already giving us a highly correlated model of what is happening on Google.

Market Brew’s Search Engine Results for the keyword “attorney”.

Second, you can see IMMEDIATELY what is causing the home page for lawyers.com to be below the home page for attorneys.com. It is NOT the off-page power, or what we call Net Total Link Flow. Net Total Link Flow is a “scored” version of PageRank, which basically takes the standard PageRank model and applies a family of core algorithms that are responsible for filtering out SPAM. Our model is telling us that the home page for lawyers.com has about 200x more ranking power than the home page for attorneys.com.

If it is not the off-page ranking power, then it MUST be the semantic/content scoring. Hovering over the Query Score gives us a breakdown of what is going on (note: for better clarity, here I show the XLS report that is easily retrievable by clicking the XLS icon next to the search results).

Query Score Breakdown for the keyword “attorney”.

You can clearly see that attorneys.com is getting a HUGE boost for their domain name match, as well as a boost in both Market Focus, HTML, and META Title. Lawyers.com has a LOT of ground to catch up, but given its significant edge in ranking power (Net Total Link Flow Boost), it CAN be done.

Implementation

So the first thing to do is to change the home page on lawyers.com to be more about the keyword “attorney”, right? WRONG. Remember, the home page for lawyers.com is responsible for targeting THEIR HIGHEST REVENUE-PRODUCING keyword, which is “lawyer” (this is easily determined by a number of keyword research tools, including inside Market Brew). If we change the home page to target “attorney”, we could potentially lose a significant amount of traffic.

Instead, let’s find an internal page that lawyers.com has, which would be best suitable for this conversion. Preferably one that doesn’t currently bring in a lot of traffic (none would be best!) and is also the closest to having “attorney” already in the content. We can use our Link Flow Distribution screen to do this very easily. With only one keyword in this example Analysis Group (“attorney”), the Link Flow Distribution screen will attempt to notify us what the correct page should be.

(From the Link Flow Distribution screen) The top Webpages to go in this position, that best match the Target Keyword “attorney” are:

  1. (Score: 32.12) http://www.lawyers.com/toms-river/new-jersey/diana-l-anderson-1114800-a/
  2. (Score: 30.00) http://www.lawyers.com/bankruptcy/delaware/find-law-firms-by-city/
  3. (Score: 30.00) http://www.lawyers.com/bankruptcy/nevada/find-law-firms-by-city/
  4. (Score: 26.26) http://www.lawyers.com/
  5. (Score: 23.07) http://www.lawyers.com/automobile-accidents/find-law-firms-by-location/

None of these pages really makes sense, other than the home page, and this is because they really don’t have a page dedicated to the keyword “attorney”. Let’s check Google to see what it says ranks high for the keyword “attorney”, but just for lawyers.com.

Google Search for keyword “attorney”, restricted to lawyers.com.

Why didn’t this page show up in Market Brew? Because it no longer exists. Clicking on this result takes you to…wait for it… attorneys.com! So we can definitely confirm that there USED to be a page for this on lawyers.com, but no longer. They have 301 redirected the page to the attorneys.com site (they either own this site, or someone on the SEO team is about to get fired).

I’m going to assume that lawyers.com owns attorneys.com, so there is no real reason to outrank attorneys.com. But, why not use this information to get a page within lawyers.com up to the 1st page for “attorney”? Wouldn’t it be nice to have attorneys.com and lawyers.com pages #1 and #2? Because we can use the attorneys.com home page as a STATISTICAL MARKER, this allows us to determine just how much improvement is required to get a page to this position. We can create a dedicated page within lawyers.com about “attorney”, and model it after the attorneys.com home page.

Market Focus Screen for the Home Page of attorneys.com.

We already know the Net Total Link Flow that this new lawyers.com page will need to match the home page for attorneys.com: 1.51 (see Net Total Link Flow in search listing screenshot above). Here are the steps:

  1. Create a new page on lawyers.com, with a URL containing the word “attorney”.
  2. Add internal links from lawyers.com to this new page. It needs to have around 1.51 Net Total Link Flow.
  3. Add content to the page centered around the keyword “attorney”.
  4. Make sure that incoming links to the new page have the keyword “attorney”.
  5. Test! Use the Market Brew platform to run a search for “attorney” and see how close the query scores are to each other. You should aim to get within 1% or less difference in query scores.

Conclusion

I don’t prescribe EXACTLY how much to do where, because that isn’t how things work. It is an iterative process. We know generally, based on the statistical model that Market Brew gives us, what needs to happen. Because you can easily re-crawl and re-calculate all of these numbers inside the Market Brew platform, there is no need to worry about “getting it right the first time”. You will get close, adjust, test, get closer, adjust, test, and continue this iterative process until you have simulated that your new lawyers.com page is now ranking very close to the home page of attorneys.com.

Once you have verified you have a new page setup for lawyers.com that ranks very close to attorneys.com, all you have to do is sit back and wait for Google to catch up…in about 60 days!

About The Author


Scott Stouffer is a Co-Founder and CTO of MarketBrew.com. Market Brew is an enterprise-grade predictive analytics tool that allows marketers to effectively see search rankings, 60 days before they happen. Mr. Stouffer is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and holds a M.S. in both Computer and Electrical Engineering. He has been behind the wave of technology at Market Brew. For more information about Market Brew, visit www.MarketBrew.com.