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Introduction

Is your law firm website failing to drive traffic, create leads, or make conversions for your practice? One of the main reasons could be that your customers cannot find your website. If so, it may be time to invest in SEO services.

Gone are the days when a listing on Yellow Pages, a beautiful billboard, or a radio ad drove lines of customers to your office. In this digital age, the average consumer spends 8 hours on the internet, and when they need information, they use a search engine such as Google or Bing.

Furthermore, the average internet surfer does not go past the first page on Google when looking for information. Therefore, if your page falls on pages 2, 3, or even further back on Google, the chances of being found are almost zero.

Referrals are a reliable and valuable source of leads for any legal practice. Nevertheless, even the majority of references now take place on digital platforms such as Facebook, Google, and Nextdoor.

This is where law firm SEO comes in.

While it is possible to get on page one of Google by subscribing to pay per click (PPC) advertising, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a more robust marketing strategy. SEO beats PPC by far because it helps you get to the top search results organically and produces leads that convert 14 times better compared to print ads.

To help you navigate the complex world of SEO and stay ahead of the competition, we have created this comprehensive and practical law firm SEO guide. These techniques will also help you weed out the bad proposals in case you were looking for a qualified agency to provide you with SEO services for your law firm.

What is law firm SEO and why is it essential to your business?

SEO is a digital marketing technique that develops your overall online presence to increase the organic search traffic to your website and thus increase your rates of conversion.

Consumers Go Online To Search For Business

Graphic by Blue Corona

Right now, Google is unmatched when it comes to search traffic. Consider this: 96% of people looking for legal advice do so via a search engine, and 74% of consumers visit a law firm’s website ready to acquire legal services.

As a result, the law firms have become incredibly competitive when it comes to SEO, making it more difficult for your page to rank higher, especially if you are a new or small firm. But with the right skills or SEO company for law firms, you can outdo your competitors and realize a massive increase in sales.

How law firm SEO works

Search engines such as Google use computer programs called crawlers to analyze all pages on the web and categorize them according to some predefined metrics. This information is arguably the most extensive database in existence.

When a user searches for something, for example, ‘affordable DUI attorneys,’ Google uses a mix of machine learning and artificial intelligence to fetch the results that best match the user’s request from their massive database.

Therefore, SEO work entails tweaking your website, social media sites, and other online platforms to make it easier and more likely for Google to recommend your website to users when they type in specific keywords.

We’ve rounded out our SEO tips for law firms by illustrating how you can build your campaign in 10 steps:

Step 1: Find the right law firm keywords

Any successful SEO campaign starts with comprehensive keyword research. More specifically, you need to establish a list of at least ten target keywords. This rule applies whether you are a small law firm that specializes in one field, such as DUI attorneys or a large firm that offers various services such as criminal law, contract law, corporate law, etc.

This is how you find the right keywords for your firm:

Utilize keyword research tools

1. Google keyword planner – because it’s obviously from Google

Google Keyword Planner is a useful keyword research tool powered by Google and available for free. What makes it unique is that it provides you with data directly from Google, the biggest search engine in existence in leaps and bounds.

To use this tool, just type in a few phrases or keywords in the Find new keywords section, and it will suggest a list of other related phrases.

2. Keyworddit – keywords from Reddit

If you are looking for rare keywords that most of your competitors know nothing about, try Keyworddit. This tool pulls its keyword suggestions directly from Reddit, giving you access to untapped and less competitive keywords.

Keep in mind that this tool is only suitable for law firm websites that target an audience that hangs out on Reddit.

3. KWFinder – for long-tail keywords

KWFinder is another useful SEO tool that offers a wide range of keyword ideas. As a result, it is perfect for finding long-tail keywords with low competition.

4. SEMRush and Ahrefs – for sourcing competitors’ keywords

SEMRush and Ahrefs are tools that make it easy to find out what keywords your competitors are ranking for by typing in their URLs.

Choosing the best keywords

One Does Not Simply Rank On Google

Meme by HubSpot

After sourcing for a wide range of keywords, now it is time to pick the best from the list. But how do you pick the best keywords?  Well, here are the factors to look out for:

Low competition keywords

To increase your chances of ranking higher, look for less competitive keywords. There are various ways to find out whether a keyword is competitive or not. First, you can use a keyword research tool, such as the ones mentioned above.

Secondly, you can simply type in the keyword in question on Google and analyze the search results. For instance, if the results are packed with dozens of highly authoritative legal sites on page 1 and 2, you may want to pick a different phrase.

The following table shows the competitiveness of various fields of practice with respect to SEO:

Legal Practices And Keyword Competitiveness

High search volume

Typically, the higher the search volume for a particular keyword, the better, but there’s more to the story. You see, popular keywords with high search volume are often more competitive and, therefore, harder to rank for on Google. Try to find less competitive keywords with a high or moderate search volume by looking at the competitive analysis section of KWFinder or a similar tool.

Intent mapping

The Buyers Journey

Infographic by HubSpot

Intent mapping is a technique used to optimize web pages to match the intention of the user.

To illustrate, legal customers fall into three main categories:

  • Clients seeking information on your services

  • Clients ready to buy your services
  • Customers looking for information on a specific case

Ultimately, the clients looking for your services are the easiest to convert into sales. You target these clients using what are known as ‘money keywords’. Examples of money keywords include:

  • Hire Florida estate planning attorney
  • Michigan contract lawyer near me

Aside from those looking to hire your services, you also want to appeal to those seeking more information on your services and convert them into clients at some point. Target this group using information or discover keywords. Examples of information keywords include:

  • Michigan personal injury lawyers
  • Florida estate planning attorney charges

Lastly, you want to be there for those clients looking for information on an ongoing case using ‘attention keywords’. Examples of attention keywords include:

  • What are EB-5 visa requirements?
  • Can I handle my own DUI legal defense?

Although it may seem like a tedious process, following these steps will give you much-needed insight into two things:

  • How to design and structure your website
  • The best type of content to populate your site with

Step 2: Find out what your competitors are doing right

Podium For Seo Competitors

Now that you have a new list of keywords ready, it is time to check out what the market looks like by analyzing your current performance against your competitors.

There are more than a couple of hundred factors that go into deciding the ranking of a page, but like most things, not all of them are equal. Some that Google gives most priority include:

  • Your website’s security (HTTPS vs. HTTP)
  • The level of mobile-friendliness
  • The loading speed of pages on site
  • The existence and correctness of a schema markup – a type of web code that helps crawlers index sites better
  • Social signals that lead back to your website
  • Backlinks pointing back to your site
  • On-site optimization such as the use of pictures, quality content, etc.

Use the list above to create a spreadsheet with a column dedicated to your practice and one for the competitors. Next, make an objective and thorough comparison. You will find that some are doing much better than you, or worse, depending on the category.

This exercise will enable you to know exactly where you stand against your competitors by exposing your strengths and weaknesses.

Step 3: Publish SEO friendly content

Congratulations! You are now ready to type the first word that goes into your law firm website!

Now, the question is, how do you optimize your content to rank higher on Google using your keywords?

1. Create long, comprehensive pages

Seo Word Count Research

Graphic by Neil Patel

According to industry studies, longer content, of around 2,000 words rank better compared to short, highly-summarized pieces, as you can see from the chart below:

However, this is not to say that you should fill your blog posts and other content with fluff just to make them longer. Instead, focus on covering every topic in detail and preferably on one page. In most cases, this takes a lot of words.

2. Make use of visual content

Visuals are an essential part of any content you publish online, whether a social media, blog, or an ad. Visual content is especially useful for getting social media shares and backlinks. Visuals also grab attention and make it easier for visitors to read your content.

3. Showcase your expertise by publishing authoritative content

Authoritative content is simply one that is written by an expert and brings new information and ideas to the table. It’s an excellent source of backlinks and social shares, as evidenced by a recent analysis of millions of websites by BuzzSumo. What’s interesting to note that most content never gets even a single link or social share.

To create authoritative content, check the topics that your competitors have not covered yet, or ones that are not appropriately done, then create content that will solve a painful problem for your target market.

Step 4: On-site optimization

Accurate View Of On Page Seo

Infographic by Hermish.com

Now that you have comprehensive and authoritative content on your site, it is time to optimize your website. Here is how to optimize your law firm website for SEO:

1. Secure your site (HTTPS vs. HTTP)

Ever notice the small padlock icon on authority sites when surfing the internet? It means that they run on a secure (HTTPS) protocol.

If your site still runs on HTTP, you are at risk of being a victim of cyber-attack, which occurs every 39 seconds. Moreover, 82% of internet users do not browse unsecured sites.

2. Improve your site speed

If your site takes 10 seconds to load, half of your visitors will not even wait to find out what you are offering. You can check your site’s loading speed here.

3. Optimize for mobile

The average user spends more than five hours a day online using a mobile device. Furthermore, 57.6% of searches for law firm keywords happen on a smartphone.

4. Optimize link building

Linking is an important SEO strategy that helps Google find and index the pages on your site correctly. It also improves the link authority of your law firm website, boosting your ranking.

Therefore, link any new post to related posts, and make sure you are also paying attention to internal link building from your own articles.

5. Add your keywords organically

As a rule of thumb, use your target keyword in your URLs. Also, remember to keep URLs short. They play a crucial role in Google’s ranking algorithms since they help Google know how your site is structured.

Next, use your target keyword at the beginning of your title tag whenever possible. And lastly, use your target keywords in the first 150 words of your content. All these will immediately let Google know what is essential on your site.

Step 5: Local law firm SEO optimization

Besides optimizing the content on your website, you should make sure that clients can find you from the local pack in Google’s search results.

The local pack is a section of Google Maps results that appears on a regular Google search. The box normally appears under the paid ads and above the organic search results with details of businesses related to a search query, as shown below.

Search Results Types

Your law firm website can appear in the local pack only if you have a Google my business account. One of the most sensible SEO tips for law firms is to update and optimize your profile on your local state Bar Association websites, including:

  • Justia
  • Avvo
  • Super Lawyers
  • Law Info
  • Law Guru
  • Lawyers US Legal

Keeping a profile that is updated and consistent with the information on your website on such platforms will increase your chances of showing up in organic search results.

Optimizing Google My Business account

The information contained in the local pack mentioned above comes directly from your Google My Business account. GMB is the easiest and fastest way to list your law firm on Google Maps. Therefore, it is important to claim and update your GMB account whenever necessary.

Google uses your GMB account to display your company’s:

  • Location
  • Phone number
  • Address
  • Business hours
  • Website link
  • Average reviews
  • Offers, coupons, and updates

Step 6: Build backlinks

Backlink

Graphic by Moz

Without proper link building, no SEO campaign would be complete.

Google’s algorithms analyze the links pointing back to your site to determine the quality of your content and, therefore, how to rank your site. Links act as votes of confidence for your website, and the more you get, the more authoritative Google assumes your law firm website is.

This is how you build quality links pointing back to your site:

1. Email outreach

Nothing will happen if you just sit back and hope that your content will link back to you. On the other hand, if you promote your content to people that can share it widely, then you can get backlinks from authoritative sources.

One of the surest link building strategies available is email outreach. When carrying out an email outreach campaign, don’t be pushy or spammy. Look up the people you want to approach and communicate with them on a personal but professional level.

2. Guest post outreach

Although guest posting does not carry as much weight as it used to in Google’s algorithm, it’s still a useful way of building quality links. Whether or not you think this is one of the SEO trends that will last, here are the essential points to keep in mind:

Step 7: Prune ‘dead pages’

‘Dead’ or ‘zombie’ pages are the pages on your website that do not bring any traffic and are therefore useless.

The best way to go about them is by simply deleting these pages. Doing so will boost your ranking significantly, because as you can see from this SEO report, Google penalizes sites with low-quality pages.

Step 8: Optimize for RankBrain through user intent

Google Rankbrain

Graphic by Express Writers

With the improvement of machine learning and artificial intelligence, Google is becoming unbelievably smart. One of Google’s most bespoke AI algorithms is known as RankBrain. Believe it or not, RankBrain recognizes signals that show whether someone was happy with the search results or not

To optimize for RankBrain, your content must match the user intent. In other words, your content should give the user what they are searching for; otherwise, they will leave your page quickly, and Google will take note.

Step 9: Track and measure law firm SEO results

After applying all the law firm SEO strategies above, it is time to test their effectiveness. You achieve this by measuring, tracking, and analyzing the critical data. These include:

  • Keyword rankings
  • Total leads
  • Cost per lead
  • Revenue
  • Number of social shares
  • Site speed
  • Amount of impressions
  • Return on marketing investment
  • Number of brand mentions
  • Your website traffic
  • Bounce rate
  • Total new clients
  • Lead-to-sale conversion rate
  • Book rate (from calls)

Tools to help you measure these Key Performance Indicators:

1. Google Analytics – for tracking organic traffic

Google Analytics

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industrys standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

If it’s dropping, you probably want to revisit and tweak your SEO strategies.

Bear in mind that law firm SEO results typically take weeks, if not months, before the outcome can be visible. That said, if you follow the techniques in this guide, you should be able to expect your law firm website’s search rankings to start improving in 4-6 weeks.

2. Google search console

Google Search Console allows you to dig deeper into your site’s performance by analyzing details such as:

  • The traffic from Google that came to your site
  • The exact keywords people used to find your site
  • The most visited pages on your website from organic traffic

There are more tools and techniques to track and analyze your data. In some cases, it’s best to seek professional help, such as an SEO company for law firms. They will be able to best answer questions on the metrics measured on the tools and assist you with your SEO action plans.

Step 10: Adjust your law firm SEO strategy based on new insights

Change Seo Strategy Sign

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

After tracking and analyzing your results, it is time to make the necessary changes. You may not need to fix anything that is not broken; however, any drop in traffic or slow movement in one category should be a red flag signaling you to switch up your strategy.

Make sure to take a look at the following:

A decrease in web traffic – Determine the pages with decreased, or stagnating traffic then ask yourself: did you make any drastic changes? How fast are they loading? Are there any broken links? Have you made any changes punishable by Google?

A drop in keyword rankings – establish which rankings dropped and optimize the pages differently and fully.

Leads – A drop in leads could be due to many factors. For example, tax attorneys will see a spike in demand for their services during the months and weeks before the deadline for filing tax returns. Check to see that your web forms are working and whether visitors are clicking on your various lead magnets. In short, you want to make sense of all the data.

Once you have enough information from your analysis, make the necessary tweaks, and put the new strategies to the test again. Law firm SEO, just like any other type of SEO, is a continuous process, and from time to time, you will have to measure and analyze your results to maintain a favorable ranking on search engines.

Conclusion

Admittedly, this law firm SEO guide is quite extensive, and you may feel overwhelmed by all the work that goes into a good SEO strategy and campaign.

Nevertheless, we’ve made sure to write everything you need to start and run a successful SEO campaign for your law firm website.  With these SEO tips for law firms, you can now work towards making sure your clients are able to find your law firm website online.

If you would like to speak with a law firm SEO specialist, get in touch with us today.

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