SEO Guide For Lawyers
Search Engine Optimization can be intimidating because it involves so many contributing factors and techniques. This guide will help make sense of it all and what you can do right here and now to begin improving your results.
The first thing you should know is that SEO for legal firms doesn’t have a distinguishable “finish line”. Complicated search algorithms that determine SERP (search engine results page) placement are constantly updating and competitors are always stepping up their game in order to outrank you. Simplified, this means law firm SEO requires an ongoing commitment to ensure you reach the top organic spots, then more importantly stay there.
With more people searching online for legal services every year it’s no wonder why SEO for legal firms is rising in popularity. Outside of direct referrals, it is tied for 1st place amongst people searching for a lawyer.
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What is Law Firm SEO?
Law Firm SEO is when SEO professionals utilize trusted, white-hat techniques for improving organic rankings and tailor them specifically to the legal profession. The primary goal is for your website to be favorably viewed by search engines like Google. This is achieved by optimizing the site and establishing authority in your particular areas of legal practice.
So what are these SEO techniques? And how can they be utilized by legal professionals? The below sections discuss which areas of your website can be improved and will make a noticeable impact on your website’s standings.
Important to note that there is no “standard solution” or out-of-the-box service that can be applied to get you to that #1 spot on SERPs. If any business or specialist offers such a promise, probably a good sign to look elsewhere.
Every website is different:
- There are different platforms for building websites such as WordPress, Squarespace or Shopify (CMS). There are also HTML (hard coded) sites that are quicker to load but more difficult to manage and require coding knowledge to make small changes.
- Some websites have 5 pages, others have a few hundred – the time it requires to optimize can be drastically different between the two.
- Quality of Existing Content. Were your content topics researched before being written or did someone in the office assume those topics were worth writing about? If topics were “pulled out of a hat” then that content might have no relevance and could even be hurting your SEO.
- Site Structure. How are the site’s URLs organized? Are there logical categories and subcategories (Site/Services/Family-law/Child-custody-services) or is it a random mess with no logic (Site/Uploads/Christine’s-folder/draft2/Custody-Services)? Google needs to understand these pages to index them correctly, if it can’t decipher your website’s page hierarchy then it will prioritize a competitor that did it correctly.
- How quickly do pages load? We are used to fast-loading web pages, anything over 3-4 seconds, and people start “bouncing”. Pingdom is a great website to see how your site performs https://tools.pingdom.com/
- Link status. There are outgoing links, like the one above that provide the reader with useful information but the really important links are incoming links that other sites send users to your web pages. The more incoming or “backlinks” you have the more authority you have on that particular topic.
Due to the above factors, each website needs to be carefully reviewed to determine its individual strengths and weaknesses. Based on those findings a customized approach can then be designed.
Technical SEO refers to actions or improvements made on a website that make it perform better – in the eyes of search engines. Most technical SEO tasks rarely get noticed by website visitors because so much of it is in the back-end. Typical actions include fixing any errors like 404’s (missing web page), removing bloated media folders and unnecessary plugins. Most humans won’t notice these improvements but it will have a positive impact on your website.
Title-tags are also incredibly important, without proper tags and meta descriptions your website content could be invisible to people searching for it. Therefore accurate and succinct data must be included so it is properly indexed. For images and media Alt-Tags are also very important, be sure to input useful descriptions of each piece of media, otherwise it could be viewed as “dead space” by algorithm crawler bots.
By far the most popular element of SEO is content marketing. After all, it’s the easiest to understand and therefore a good place to start. If you want more visitor traffic on a specific page, then it’s probably a smart idea to start writing about it, at length. The key thing to remember when writing content is: Will the content on this page answer the search query? Is it easily laid out, does it have the who, what, why, where and when, and does it have attractive media strategically located to keep readers engaged?
All Pages Are Not Equal
The way you produce and publish content for a high-traffic service page is not the same as an “About Us” page or a blog post. A service landing page should be one of your top converting pages. It should have concise and well written calls to action placed at strategic locations throughout the page and easy to fill out forms. Compare that to a blog post like this post you’re reading right now, which is purely informational. It is not designed to convert people into paying clients. It is designed to attract traffic to this URL, and keep the reader engaged and (hopefully) visit other pages throughout the website.
Links & Citations
Think of links as the cool kids in high school. Everyone wants to be seen with the cool kids because if someone who is respected, respects you, then you get respect by association. Links work the exact same way.
Every conceivable topic has websites that everyone instantly recognizes and respects in regards to their authority on that particular topic. The auto sector would have MotorTrend and Car & Driver. Tech News would have sites like The Verge, and Gizmodo. Fashion would have Vogue – you get the idea.
The above sites deserve their prominent placement on SERPs because they have consistently released high-quality content, multiple times a day for decades. If they publish an article and link to your little-known website for whatever reason, Google and other search engines would immediately notice this and reward you with a slightly higher authority than you had before.
It is advisable to seek out and cultivate relationships with content managers on highly respected websites or social media pages within your area of practice. It is a good strategy to identify all levels of opportunities and prioritize them accordingly, for high-value links it may be worth developing content, especially for them, that way the likelihood they will agree to participate is higher.
Citations are similar in that they provide a mention, contact info, and possibly a link to your website from their own website. However citations are not embedded in articles, blogs or general content, they are from directories.
General business directories like your local Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce are prime examples. Target professional directories that are more related to the legal industry and if possible your specific area(s) of practice. It is important when adding your contact information that it be exactly the same, every time. Your firm’s Name, Address, and Phone # or NAP seem simple enough but even slight variations can hurt your chances. Make sure to keep the same exact format (123) 555-LAWS every time! Don’t switch it up and use 123 555-5297 and then something different in another directory. Consistency is key.
Importance of SEO for Law Firms
It’s no secret that the legal profession is competitive, and SEO for legal firms is no different. This heightens the need for a strategic marketing plan that ensures organic growth and lower dependence on paid advertising campaigns. After all, if your website routinely attracts leads organically, then your firm can focus more on what it does best, representing your clients and winning cases.
By ignoring lawyer SEO you are effectively handing off clients to competing firms that are willing to make the investment. Once a website makes a dedicated and ongoing commitment to SEO and Content Marketing then it is very hard to dislodge them from the top organic spots on SERPs.
Cost of Law Firm SEO
This is a very popular question and for good reason. With so much mystery surrounding law firm SEO tactics, what it is and how it’s done it’s like going to a new mechanic with a classic foreign car….you have no idea what’s in store or even what the price range is. That’s because it’s a specialized service that is customized to each website and therefore can have a large spectrum of possibilities.
The state of the website plays a large factor, if it’s a 10 page site it will be easier and quicker to achieve all that needs to be done to get it into good shape. If it has 250 pages, has not been managed for years then it’ll take longer and time = money.
Competition will also have an affect on the length of time needed to produce results. If your firm is located in downtown Chicago then it’s safe to assume the competition will be much stronger than in a small town in Saskatchewan. This means in larger markets you can’t half-ass it, you will need to be deliberate and strategic in your efforts in order to dominate SERPs.
Why Choose Search Authority Law Firm SEO Services?
The entire Search Authority team approaches every client as if they were a strategic partner.
Our team genuinely wants your firm to succeed. Our fully customized approach not only takes into consideration your website’s current status but also your goals, budget and timelines. By formulating a bespoke experience Search Authority ensures you will get exactly what you asked for, sustained organic growth and to dominate the competition.