By C J Oakes
Building anything takes time and effort. Before a law firm builds their first office, they have hired an architect, planners, checked zoning and easements, obtained permits, arranged contractors, and much more. There is an enormous bit of planning that goes into constructing just the right building for the Firm.
Yet, oddly when many law firms build their website, less than a fraction of the planning goes into its construction. Think for a moment what would happen if the physical building had the same degree of planning as the website. Would it be a sound structure?
Not likely. In fact, it would not be long before the partners began to discover serious problems. They may even begin to think that it would be better to raze the entire structure and start fresh. Before taking such a drastic step, however, they would certainly get an opinion from an expert.
Is it Better to Revamp or Raze and Rebuild a Poorly Performing Law Firm Website?
Just as a building sometimes must be razed to the ground because of construction faults, at times it may be best to entirely destroy a website. There can be many reasons for this from security issues to the use of shifty elements by unsavory webmasters.
Prior to 2011, Google used Page Rank and webmasters relied on SEO to help websites drive to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). Post 2011, Google has created a system wherein the best content, that is, the best information rises to the top. Thus, a website can have several pages and numerous blogs that perform well while many others do not. Page Rank is gone (for now) and SEO is not quite what it was in the past, though it is still important.
Pre-end-of-Page Rank, there were some webmasters who used gimmicks to trick the search engines. When Google introduced their Panda and Penguin updates many websites entered what has come to be called the Google Black Hole — the sites were penalized so severely that some believe there is no return for them. This is part of the reason some content marketers are today saying it is better to just destroy the old website and build a new one, generally using a new domain name. Is this really necessary?
Can a Website Recover from the Google Black Hole?
If a website is penalized by Google, it will have to eliminate the problems associated with the penalty. In some cases, finding out the problem may not be easy. One of the first things which can be done is to check if the site is penalized. There are many websites which can analyze the site and let you know. One is called ismysitepenalized.com. It is free to use and will tell you if Google has attached any penalties to the site.
Another, even better way is to use Google Webmaster Tools. Register your site free and within a few days, Google will tell you every problem your website has (if any).
Also, you should know that early in 2017, Congress eliminated Obama-era Internet privacy protections. When they did this, part of the bill allowed for reduced security by ISPs. This made it necessary for individual website owners to secure their websites to protect visitors. If a website does not have an active security certificate, Google penalizes the site AND places a small notification beside the search result.
The point to all of this is that yes, any website can recover from penalties imposed by Google. It may take some time and effort, but the key is finding what is the problem and fixing it. If the problem is masked within the coding, finding the problem may be more costly than simply building a new website.
How to Know if it Would be Better to Fix the Site or Start from Scratch
Just a decade ago, websites were built using methods rarely employed today. Just as building the site was time-consuming, finding problems is even more time-consuming. Just as a website which has been hacked and contains faulty coding is costly to repair, finding coding tricks takes time, even for the best coders.
Just as a building with a faulty foundation COULD be repaired but at too high a price, a website with coding issues may not be worth the effort.
The best bet is to have a webmaster look at the issues and provide recommendations and estimates. Then, get a second opinion. Maybe a third.
Find out first if there are penalties. Then, find out what is causing the penalties. After this, you can determine the cost to repair. Only then can a wise decision be made whether to raze the entire site and rebuild or revamp what is already there.
C J Oakes operates Oakes Writing from his home in Lubbock, Texas.
He works largely in WordPress, but started building websites in the age before that platform. He learned SEO in the early days and always stood fast to the White Hat methods. Today, he creates content using the same principles. This results in articles and blogs that always get traffic.
If you have a website that is underperforming and you suspect that it could be penalized, call Oakes Writing at 337-660-4774, write CJOakes@OakesWriting.com, or complete the simple form below.