What Does Google Actually Want from Your Website in 2023?


You can’t rank highly on Google in 2023 by outsmarting algorithms. Instead, you need a savvy content strategy and sustainable SEO plan to earn and maintain your position at the top of the search engine results pages.

As a legal website design and marketing company, we stay up to date with the newest algorithm shake-ups so we can help our clients rank. But anyone who runs a law firm or does marketing website management for a law firm can use our tips and tricks to improve their site’s search engine ranking.

So, how do you rank on Google in 2023? The short answer: write good content and know what you’re talking about. For the long answer, keep reading.

Your content must be trustworthy and valuable…

Let’s start with a term that every website owner should know: E-E-A-T.

E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trust, and these four factors play a key role in determining a website’s ranking on Google.

Trustworthiness is the first key to impressing Google in 2023.

The days are long gone when you could rank highly on Google simply by posting helpful content with keywords. Today, you need to prove that there is a trustworthy source behind the content. This means that the person associated with your content should have a public reputation as a skillful, experienced member of the legal field.

Value is the second key to ranking highly. Your website needs to provide value to your visitors beyond basic information. For instance, a visitor can get your office phone number from the Google search engine result page (SERP) without ever actually visiting your site. Instead, you need to provide factual knowledge or informed opinions on your site that deliver real value to your audience.

…enough to impress bots and real search raters hired by Google

Here’s the next term you need to know: YMYL (your money or your life).

YMYL sites are sites that “potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users.” Law firms and lawyer websites are YMYL sites, as are medical sites, civic sites, and financial sites.

Spammy information on these topics could lead to serious harm. So, to ensure that they are serving up reliable content, Google has higher-than-normal quality standards for YMYL web pages.

To determine the ranking of a YMYL site like your law firm’s website, Google will perform both an algorithmic assessment and an assessment by real human beings.

A team of real people hired by Google will visit your website and judge for themselves whether they think your site is trustworthy. These reviewers will use Google’s search rater guidelines to assess websites, and their recommendations can impact your ranking.

So how do you establish trust, according to Google?

1. For every new piece of content, assign a specific person (not your business name) as the author.

If your blog content is written by an expert at your firm, then you should assign authorship to this specific person on the post. Having an individual’s name attached to a blog post will establish credibility and raise the value of the content

If your blog content is ghostwritten or produced by a marketing agency, then you have a few additional steps. First, make sure that all externally-generated content is reviewed by an expert at your firm. Next, pick a relevant person from your team and “assign” authorship to them.

2. Publish highly detailed biographies for every attorney on your team.

Do not skimp on attorney profile updates! Include all information that can help establish an attorney’s expertise, such as where they went to school, awards they’ve won, memberships they hold, publications, and their full CV.

3. Create more content all over the Internet, not just on your website.

The more places you can get your name out there on the Internet, the more online authority you will accumulate. Think beyond your website to guest blogging, LinkedIn, TikTok, and YouTube. Where else can you inject your voice so that Google can consider you more of an expert on your subject matter?

How do you create value, according to Google?

1. Answer the searcher’s intent and provide more information.

Think beyond the keywords to figure out what someone is actually trying to accomplish. If their search term is “personal injury attorney near me”, they may be looking to hire a local attorney. How can you provide a valuable experience for this person?

Keep a user’s intent in the front of your mind as you work on your website. Perhaps the user would like to know what makes you different from other lawyers. They may want to know how a consultation works or how much you charge. Thoughtful anticipation of a user’s needs = value, according to Google.

2. Develop your own voice and have an opinion.

Go beyond just stating the facts. Tell people how to understand the facts and what the implications of the facts are. It’s okay to use strong language as long as it is factual. “I know this is bad” is more powerful than “I think this might be bad,” for example. Strong, factual language can help you rank higher.

3. Understand that accessibility is key

Accessible legal websites are a big passion of ours! Google also cares a lot about making the Internet a great experience for everybody. In fact, Google will show your website more often if your website is ADA-compliant.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) publishes web guidance for website owners to help them create an accessible website. Your website should be set up to serve visitors with a variety of disabilities, from blind people who use screen readers to paralyzed people who use eye-tracking software to navigate online.

Pro tip: Schemas can make your website easier for Google to understand

A schema is an invisible snippet of code that can help Google figure out what’s on your page. A developer can help you set up these simple microdata.

Here are eight schemas that every law firm website should have:

  • Legal service schema
  • Attorney schema
  • Organization schema
  • FAQ page schema
  • Review schema
  • Aggregate rating schema
  • Local business schema
  • Breadcrumb schema

With schemas, your website’s entry on the SERP will contain additional valuable information such as star ratings and reviews. Schemas are optional. However, they can help you stand out from your competitors on Google.

Pro tip: Adjust your keyword targeting with smart research

You don’t want 20 pages on your website all trying to rank for the same keyword. Each page should rank for a related but slightly different keyword.

To improve your ranking on Google in 2023, do a competitive analysis to see how other websites are ranking with your keywords.

Google your target keywords and see which websites are already ranking at the top of Google. Then, compare your website to those pages. This will give you a good sense of what Google thinks is valuable for your keywords, and you can use this information to adjust your approach.

Pro tip: Use Google Search Console to make sure your pages are actually indexed, not just crawled

Google Search Console is a free tool that helps website owners understand how their website is performing. Your webmaster can help you with this.

Because spam is a major problem for Google, you may encounter a “crawled but not indexed” warning on the console when you publish new content. This basically means that you can create a page on your website but Google will refuse to show it to people because it’s not valuable enough.

You should regularly check Google Search Console for pages that are labeled crawled but not indexed.

These pages are not doing you any good in their current form. Ideally, you should notice the warnings in Google Search Console and then update and enhance each page so they perform better the next time Google crawls your site.

Glossary & tools referenced in this article

SERP: Search engine results page

E-E-A-T: Experience, Expertise, Authority, Trust

YMYL: Your Money, Your Life

Google’s search rater guidelines

Free ADA website audit

Google Search Console

Google Analytics 4

Screaming Frog (a free website crawler that highlights SEO issues)

Review and next steps

To rank on Google in 2023, your website should be full of trustworthy and valuable content.

  • Every piece of content should have an author assigned to it
  • Each author should be an expert in their field
  • Include as many schemas as you can
  • Create an accessible ADA-compliant website
  • Respond to “crawled but not indexed” warnings on Google Search Console

If you can figure out what is valuable to your audience and give it to them, you’re going to rank highly.

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