In today’s digital world, so many people go online to find information and compare their options. If it’s difficult for people to find you online, you’re probably losing a lot of potential customers. But first, because this guide focuses on SEO for lawyers who are just getting started with developing an online lead generation strategy, let’s start with definitions so you can get started attracting potential clients.
It can be difficult to get a law firm to rank at the top of Google Search. Legal practitioners might find it difficult to stand out in one of the most competitive fields for digital marketing. Some lawyers are aware that SEO is essential for achieving top Google rankings, but others are not educated in SEO. How do you know where to begin? And how do you know if you are taking the right first step?
What is Search Engine Optimization(SEO)?
The big challenge that persists when doing SEO for law firms is to try to figure out how to get your law firm to the top of the organic search results. Although there are plenty of vendors offering law firm SEO, there are no foolproof plans or guarantees that you’ll be able to rank in the number one position in the organic search results. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to improve your chances of ranking on the first page of the search results. If you’re able to understand the basic factors search engines evaluate when deciding which websites hold the most value to online users, it’s easy to cut through the noise in the market and catch the eye of prospects.
The biggest challenge when doing SEO for law firms is figuring out how to get your law firm to the top of the organic search results. Although there are numerous vendors offering law firm SEO, there are no foolproof plans or guarantees that you will rank at the top of the organic search results. Fortunately, there are several methods for increasing your chances of ranking on the first page of search results. It’s simple to cut through the market noise and catch the attention of prospects if you understand the basic factors search engines consider when deciding which websites have the most value to online users.
Law Firm SEO or Attorney SEO
Law Firm Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing website traffic by obtaining first-page ranking positions on search engines such as Google search results and Bing. When people need a lawyer or legal services, they usually look for one of the following options:
- Engines of discovery
- The power of word-of-mouth
- Social networking sites
Search engines are not only the most popular but also the most easily measured return on investment (ROI). The ability to reach a large number of people organically (i.e. without advertising) on social media has declined significantly in recent years, particularly on platforms like Facebook. As a result, many businesses have resorted to paid advertising on them (as Facebook desired). It’s already clear that most people rely on search engines to find legal services. While social media and word of mouth are important, online search almost always dominates the research phase. When we examine the digital marketing channels used by Morgan and Morgan to drive website traffic, we see that organic search outperforms social media and paid advertising.
Why is SEO for Law Firms Important?
The legal marketing industry is a cutthroat one. If you own a law firm and want to generate new clients as part of your marketing strategy, whether or not your website can be found in Google search is critical. Organic search traffic is a significant marketing channel that is frequently overlooked by law firms looking to grow their business. However, research suggests that more attention should be paid to improving law firm SEO. Most legal consumers looked for a lawyer through an online search, which was tied for the second-most of any method. SEO may appear difficult to grasp, particularly if your law firm has never invested in this type of marketing, but it is an essential component of a basic marketing strategy for law firms.
Law Firm SEO First Step
The following is a guide to help law firms understand the basics of search engine optimization (SEO). Its purpose is not to be a complete how-to manual or answer every question you may have but rather to present the top five most asked questions about law firm SEO in a simple, easy-to-read format. If after reading these tips you have any additional questions or want more information please contact us at any time.
Become Acquainted with SEO
The first step in SEO for lawyers is to become acquainted with the topic. This may appear backward because you don’t know where to start with your SEO strategy, but that is precisely the point. Education is the key to developing an effective, data-driven strategy. Understanding SEO principles will allow you to hold your internal team or external partners accountable for delivering the results you want. You’ll be better prepared to set reasonable expectations for your internal or external SEO staff.
You can learn about SEO by watching YouTube videos, joining Facebook groups, attending conferences and masterminds, or reading online publications. Other publications on the subject (such as Law Firm SEO) can assist attorneys in learning how to improve the visibility of their website, use SEO, and increase Google ranks, online traffic, leads, and signed cases. Some of the most skilled SEO professionals are self-taught. When search engine optimization first became a field of study, there were no college courses, books, or videos on the subject. Many of the best new SEO specialists learn by doing: they build a website, optimize it, track its rankings, and analyze the results. As a result, many of today’s top SEO experts are self-taught, and self-education is still an option for learning SEO. Nowadays, anyone can study SEO, and there are more resources than ever for doing so for free!
SEO Law Fundamentals
Every SEO strategy begins with the fundamentals. Even the best “SEO strategy” will fail if you do not understand the fundamentals of SEO. Later on, you’ll build on these foundations by experimenting with different approaches and determining which ones work best for your website. Here are the SEO fundamentals you should be aware of:
Consider going to trial without knowing the facts of the case. The result would be disastrous. The same is true when you add new pages and articles to your website. After technical SEO, keyword research is the foundation of good SEO. If you create content without first conducting keyword research, you will waste time and money trying to get people to your site for search terms that no one searches for.
Keyword research entails determining the search terms (“keywords”) that people use to find businesses, products, services, and information via search engines. SEO strategy revolves around optimizing the website and platforms for keywords related to services that your target audience is searching for. Search phrases are largely connected with two audience personas when it comes to law firm keyword research:
Legal information searchers and lawyers seek.
People are looking for information regarding a legal issue or problem, as well as those looking for a lawyer or law business in particular. Identify search terms for both groups when conducting keyword research for your legal practice. For example, if you’re a family lawyer, terms like “how to file for divorce” or “how to settle a custody issue” for information seekers and “family lawyer Kirkland” or “Kirkland divorce lawyer” for lawyer seekers can come up.
When it comes to online marketing, law firms must follow a number of regulatory and accessibility guidelines. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) now includes, among other things, business websites, physical offices, and businesses with websites. That means your website must be usable by people with hearing, vision, or physical disabilities. In terms of SEO, this could entail changing image alt text for e-readers or adding subtitles to your YouTube videos.
Law Firm Marketing Content
Content marketing, especially attorney SEO marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to drive qualified traffic from your target audience to your website. Understanding the key differences between practice area pages and blog post articles, as well as how to properly group them throughout your site’s hierarchy, can mean the difference between ranking and not ranking. Certain advertising rules apply to lawyers that may not apply to other businesses. Consider the following scenario:
- If you aren’t certified or accredited, don’t pretend to be an “expert.”
- Don’t make deceptive or fraudulent statements, such as claiming to be the “best” law company. The guidelines on advertising set forth by the State Bar prohibit legal firms to avoid solicitations that are “untrue, confusing, deceptive, or misleading” to users.
- Before using a trading name, check your state’s legislation. Practicing under a trading name, for example, is prohibited unless certain conditions are met.
SEO Off-Page Optimization
“Off-page” Off-site optimization, such as Google Business Profile optimization, link building, and directory listings, is referred to as SEO. Off-site SEO is an important way for law firms to drive backlinks, referral traffic, reviews, and leads via online listings. Positive reviews can help build trust with potential clients and even help your Google My Business profile rank higher than other lawyer profiles. However, keep in mind that the American Bar Association Rule 7.2 (b) specifies that lawyers cannot compensate anyone for a testimonial or recommendation, so make sure your testimonials adhere to this.
Local SEO involves optimizing your website and online platforms for geo-specific search terms. It takes advantage of proximity signals to help you rank for the localized terms users are searching for – and target users in a specific location. You can improve your law firm’s local SEO by using keywords that specify your law firm’s location or service area – for example, “LA Personal Injury Attorney” or “Denver Family Law.” You can also include your address, directions, and a map of your law firm’s location on your website.
Technical SEO involves addressing your website’s site structure, security, indexation, and speed. To ensure your website is fast, accessible, and crawlable by search engines, you’ll need to address technical SEO. The basics of technical SEO for all types of businesses include:
- Optimizing page speed/website load time by reducing image sizes and improving content rendering on your website.
- Fixing broken links/404 pages with redirects.
- Avoid duplicate title tags, meta descriptions, page content, and H1 headings.
- Ensuring your website has a secure SSL certificate (HTTPS) set up.
- Make sure your website design is optimized for mobile and desktop.
- Finding and fixing crawl errors and sitemap issues.
We saved the best for last when it comes to law firm SEO: technical SEO. Like no other factor, technical SEO can make or break your law firm’s SEO performance, making it a major contributor to your SEO success. It’s also the most difficult to get right, especially if you’re not an SEO expert. Technical SEO is a measurement of how “Google-friendly” your law firm’s website is. Technical SEO, like user-friendliness, includes aspects such as security and sitemaps. However, because it can be difficult to implement, many law firms choose to hire an SEO consultant who specializes in law firm SEO. It lowers the risk of having to handle everything yourself.
“Content” can refer to any visual or textual content on your website but most often refers to the words on the page – such as on your web pages and blog articles. Your content tells users and search engines what your business is about. Law firms can attract users organically through both web page/service page and blog article content. For example, you may have several service pages (optimized for service- and geo-specific keywords) and blog posts (optimized for informative, “long-tail” keywords). Think back to the two audience personas – information seekers and lawyer seekers. Try to create content for the two audiences by providing informative blog articles and pages and more descriptive service and sales pages.
The content on your law firm’s website should be able to provide preliminary answers to potential clients’ questions. Search engines want to send users to the best possible place to find answers to their questions. So, if Google believes your site is likely to satisfy the user’s intent, it is more likely to feature it higher up on its search engine results pages. In this case, Google may play an active role in generating leads for your law firm. Consider how your law firm can best respond to a website visitor’s questions. This could include detailed descriptions of your services, clear pricing, or customer testimonials. Also, make sure your website’s content and answers are up to date.
Link building is an important activity in SEO and involves actively, passively, or organically attracting links to your website from other websites. “Backlinks,” as they are called, add authority to your website. We talk more about link building for law firms below.
Tracking and Analytics
Platforms like Google Analytics and Google Search Console tell you how much traffic you’re getting, where it’s coming from, and more important metrics to your business. Tracking and analytics are important for determining if your SEO strategies are working. For a law firm’s marketing purpose, you’ll want to pay attention to a few key metrics:
- Impressions – The number of users who see your page URL in the search results (can be found via Google Search Console).
- Clicks – The number of users who click on the URL to your web page or post (can be found via Google Search Console).
- Users – The number of users who have visited a particular page or within a particular period (can be found via Google Analytics).
- Goals – Conversion tracking on your website; how many users complete a specified action (can be found via Google Analytics).
- Bounce rate – The percentage of times users visit a single page on your website and then immediately leave the page or your website overall (can be found via Google Analytics).
The above metrics can tell you how many people are visiting your website, from which channels, and how many users are taking action (like completing a contact form) on your website. This way, you can measure the effectiveness of your SEO and marketing campaigns.
SEO Strategies Going Forward
The first step of SEO is to learn the fundamentals to build a more advanced strategy off of the basics. Not only will education make you more well-versed in SEO, but it will also help you see through any shady tactics other SEO salespeople may present. Whether you choose to DIY your SEO or hire an agency, here are some other steps to take in your law firm’s search strategy.
Develop A Content Marketing Strategy
The content on your website serves a valuable purpose in telling Google and users what your site is about. Further, optimized content can work to attract new users to your site via keywords. Developing a content strategy is one of the best early steps for setting your site up for success. This means publishing descriptive and engaging web page content, posting blog articles, and experimenting with media like images and videos.
Build Authority with Article Marketing
The content on your website plays an important role in SEO, but creating content off-site can be valuable as well. Article marketing presents many ways to generate great results from your content. You can publish content on your blog, post on other blogs, write articles on LinkedIn, become a contributor to other publications, and so much more. You can generate organic traffic to your site, referral traffic from other sites, and grow your authority with expert-level content.
Earn High-Quality Backlinks
Once you have great content on your site, you can start driving links to it. Sometimes, this will happen organically, such as when other websites find you and choose to link to you; other times, you will take a more active role, such as through outreach or content marketing. There are a few ways to earn backlinks naturally. These methods can include publishing “link-worthy” content, sharing valuable tools, creating a resource guide, showcasing an infographic, and other creative ideas. Link building is an activity you should always keep in mind to improve your website’s authority.
If you are looking for an experienced Law Firm SEO company that understands the dynamics of the legal search engine industry, then we are the right choice for you. Our team at Mach1Design will help you with a free strategy session to increase and optimize your law firm’s digital presence. If you would like a free Law Firm SEO strategy session, contact [email protected] or call 318-349-4998.