After the sad news of Queen Elizabeth’s death on 8 September 2022, the Crown Office advised that the title Queen’s Counsel (QC) should change to King’s Counsel (KC) with immediate effect. This threw up a surprising number of tasks for chambers’ website editors and digital agencies, including any or all of:
- Changing the names on individual profiles, and any related barrister references throughout the website
- Updating all references in profile and practice area text
- Changing URLs and setting up redirects so that old URLs (e.g. yourdomain.com/barrister/some-name-qc) don’t break
- Updating headings & filters on your barristers list page
- Checking form email notifications for any references
- Updating ALT tags added to images for accessibility reasons
- Running a full database search-and-replace to look for any other references
- Checking details of videos hosted on e.g. Vimeo
- (optional) Updating all historic references in page, post, publication & event copy, event registrations etc. You may decide not to do this, but it’s worth considering the possible impact on your SEO efforts.
- Re-indexing your on-site search engine
- Asking Google and Bing to re-index your site
- Changes to your LinkedIn, Twitter and other social profiles.
- Updating profiles your KCs may have on other websites, e.g. universities where they teach, or personal blogs & websites.
Search engine optimisation (SEO)
Changing a KC’s profile’s title and URL will likely have an adverse effect on the person’s search engine ranking in the short term; at the very least, Google will take a few days to notice and reflect the change (even if a re-index is requested). But that’s easily solved; more difficult is to get all external websites (including legal directories, media websites, overseas chambers, universities etc) to update their profiles. Doing this may require reaching out to those organisations, and it’s important to do so as external ‘backlinks’ are important not only to the profile’s ranking but to the other results that appear next to it.
Another issue is with historic content. If a KC was mentioned in 100 articles (both on your chambers site and external websites) in the past as a QC, and you decide to leave those references untouched on the basis they were a QC at the time, that’s probably correct – but it means 100 articles that won’t link to the profile using KC in the keywords. And Google notices this too. However, they also have a system for synonyms (which can’t be affected by request, unfortunately); we suspect they will notice that KC is the same thing as QC, and adjust accordingly.
One more thing you may not have thought of. British KCs are now competing with celebrities in Kansas City for top spot in the Google rankings:
We think the measures above will help, but these are uncharted waters, so we’re keeping an eye on rankings for our retainer package clients.
Directories and other websites
UPDATE: As of 14 September, the Legal 500 had updated its listings to use KC, but Chambers UK Bar had not. This will no doubt be in hand, but a KC may also appear in other places that need updating: a personal blog, a university teaching profile, other directories etc. It will assist the barrister’s search engine ranking to have them updated, so requests should be sent to the editors or managers of all such websites.
We can help our clients wherever needed with the required changes. Please consider and confirm the exact changes you want made. For example, if a news item was written about someone when they were a QC, should it be updated to KC in the title & copy? Or only in related barrister links that might appear in a sidebar? If someone registered for an event last year with QC in their name, should this be updated in the database? If the answer is “yes, in all cases”, we can run a blanket search-and-replace and the task is easier; if not, then different parts of the site need to be tackled separately.
Please note the full job may take a few hours’ work, depending on the number of KCs at your chambers, the amount of content on your website, and other complexities. Just email [email protected] with detail of the changes you’d like made.
We’re also happy to help non-clients with WordPress websites if you don’t have an agency who can help you with this work; email [email protected] for assistance.
Image credit: Garry Knight, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.