Be Neutral
A Publication of the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution


This is one in a series of marketing articles that will explain e-marketing in layman’s terms.  This information is provided to help you modify your online presence to get your practice noticed.

Marketing Tip: Think Your Website is Optimized for Google?  Think Again !

The folks at Google have done it again – they’ve made a significant change that will affect how your website ranks with them !  All of the search engines use an algorithm to determine where your website ranks in their listing.  Obviously you want to show up on the first page or at least the second if that’s how you want people to find you.  For Google, fully 60% of the weighting is based on backlinks, so to have any hope of ranking well, you need to pay a lot of attention to these.

What is a backlink ?  It is a link to your website from another.  Here are some examples of common backlinks:

Online college alumni directory

Bar or other professional directory

The bio section of any article that you write

Your social media (LinkedIn, Facebook) profiles

Websites where you are listed as a resource

Organization directories (e.g.

The most important backlinks are those where the linking website ranks highly with Google.  Websites rank high with Google when they’ve had a lot of traffic or been in existence for a long time.  Prime examples of high-ranking sites would be your bar association website or your alumni website. 

At the same time, websites that associate you with a primary keyword as an embedded link carry a tremendous amount of weight.  For example, if someone were writing an article about divorce and mentioned divorce mediation as an option, then the fact that the term “divorce mediation” linked to your website (as indicated by the color and the underline) would automatically boost you in the rankings.

As with most good things, this method of boosting your search engine rankings has attracted a lot of scam artists.  Within days of registering a new domain name you’ll find you are innundated with mailings to sell you backlinks with guarantees to put you in the top 10 of a Google search. 

Until recently these specific backlinks did have some impact – but no longer !  As of the end of March, Google no longer includes paid backlinks when calculating your search engine ranking.  As of this writing it is not known if that includes those listings where you have paid to be a member.

What does all of this really mean to you ?  First of all, you need to make sure your website (not just your email address) is listed with every legitimate resource.  The same is true for everyone who works for you – even your administrative assistants and paralegals should have your website listed on their social media profiles !

Next, you need to pay attention to SEO (search engine optimization) for your website.  You need to ensure that your content is rich in the keywords / phrases that people are searching for.  Please remember to use the Google Keyword Estimator Tool (free) to find out what people are really searching for to ensure that your site comes up.  Making those words bigger & bolder and orienting them to the upper left hand corner of the page will ensure that you get the most benefit from using them.  There are many other issues to pay attention to, and if you’ll check the articles that we’ve written, which are posted to the archive, they’ll guide you through the process of making your website the best it can be.


Michele Gibson is a Georgia-registered neutral and a certified emerging media consultant.  She is the president of Digital Smart Tool, LLC – an e-marketing firm offering website design, SEO, electronic newsletters, social media coaching, and marketing training seminars.


Phone: 404-592-3367  E-mail: