“If you were working with an attorney to improve a law firm’s search engine optimization, what would be your #1 tip to get results?”
This is the question we posed to more than 50 SEO specialists. Their answers will provide you with good direction whether you’re formulating your own law firm SEO strategy or just looking for general advice.
If you want to improve your own website rankings or your clients’ website listings in the search engines, then this expert roundup blog post is what you’re lomooking for.
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Let’s start off with…
Having worked with plenty of law firms, I would say typically the thing they fall short on the most is producing high quality answers to questions their potential clients might have about their services as a means to attract would-be clients.
There usually isn’t a lot of local competition for these types of phrases and typically, visitors are pretty intentional when it comes to law, so they usually convert well once they’ve read content like this.
There are plenty of other things law firms can do, but this is just one where I see firms fall short.
Regardless of the client, I always start with an audit. This tells me a lot about the client, their specific practice areas, as well as the competition they are up against. From this initial analysis I’m able to quickly identify the opportunity areas that will provide quick wins for the client, and solidify enough upfront trust to establish an ongoing relationship.
Most of the legal clients we work with are local SEO projects, some with multiple locations, others with multi-lingual targeting within a single geographic location. We are even working with a defamation attorney right now that has international clients. As a result, the strategy and approach varies a bit. That’s why I always start with the audit. The insights save us a lot of time spinning our wheels, instead of of getting shit done.
All that said, we look across the following areas:
From there, we can usually find quick win opportunities. Knowing that this is kind of a “duh” answer so far, I’ll list out the tactics that move the needle the most for legal clients. Each of these tactics fall under what I like to think of more as a single “framework” that delivers short and long term results.
Content audits: Basically – we analyze all the indexed content on the site, and look at 4 key metrics – links, organic traffic, conversions and engagement. We map data points across these 4 areas down to the page-level and make one of 4 recommendations…(1) Keep, (2) Remove, (3) Improve, (4) Consolidate. After we have executed on this, the client will often see immediate organic traffic gains, and have a really solid content base to build all ongoing efforts from. We recently did this with a client in the defamation law space. In 7 months there site has gone from ~3,500 organic visits and 130 online leads a month, to ~10,000 organic visits and 299 leads in August. And, that was without writing a single new post or page on the site.
This strategy works well in legal, because clients often come to us with a ton of content already on their site after working with other companies for years on their SEO.
Existing KW research: Once we have established the base, we identify all the low hanging fruit on the website. I’ve written in-depth about the process here. Basically, we emerge with a shortlist of pages with existing rankings 6-20, that with a little promo can make some quick gains.
Citations & Reviews: Citations have long been known as a staple in the local SEO ranking factors. We get the client listed or updated on the top 50 directories, then run a manual submission campaign using Bright Local to build out the profile and get some more niche relevant listings.
On top of that, we use our in-house review management system to collect positive reviews across the major review sites and sync a live feed to the client’s site. This social proof is massive for conversions.
Google My Business: It amazes how many clients come to us with a poor GMB page, or none at all. This is the centerpiece of the local search presence. We spend a lot of upfront time optimizing that profile, and building links to it.
BONUS: Legal is an incredibly competitive space. So, if a client has some budget, while they are working on SEO, I often recommend running a small local PPC campaign to get immediate visibility in the SERPs, and get the phone ringing. This is particularly effective now that you can run ads in the map pack. I usually start with Click-to-Call only campaigns on mobile devices.
“If you were working with an attorney to improve their law firm’s search engine optimization, what would be your #1 tip to get results?” Invest in videos that provide value to prospective clients.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is often considered one of the most important strategies to utilize when marketing your law firm. If you’re not on the first page of Google, chances are potential clients won’t even end up on your page- in fact, less than 10% of internet users even venture to the second page of search results.
SEO differs from paid marketing in that it relies on organic growth, which relies almost exclusively on targeted content marketing. To have an effective content marketing strategy, you must first have valuable, desirable content – that’s where video comes in.
Video marketing is a proven strategy to enhance your brand, but that’s not all it does. Videos have become a dominating force in online activity, and companies are responding by making their content more visual and interactive. HighQ predicted that 2017 will be the year of video marketing, and there’s a reason for that.
Generating website traffic can be a tough component of your firm’s marketing strategy, especially in the age of paid advertisements. With an average of 3 to 4 homepage ads coming from sponsored companies, getting your company to the first page of Google can be a daunting task. However, having relevant and high-quality videos on your site is proven to boost your search rankings more effectively than organic content alone. Google rewards relevance and quality, so if your firm adds videos to your site, it could significantly improve SEO. Here are a few statistics to highlight the positive impact videos can have:
Video can also influence metrics such as your bounce rate – by improving the overall content on your page by including quickly digestible content like video, you can increase the odds that visitors stay on your page.
Numbers don’t lie, and search rankings don’t either. Videos are truly an impactful way to gain the upper hand in the competitive law industry, and can exponentially increase traffic to your firm’s website.
This is a fiercely competitive industry. So getting the basics of your Local SEO and on page work dialed in is essential here. But it won’t be the competitive difference maker.
The difference maker in competitive industries is always authority, so the most important tip is to focus on building authority. This, of course, is easy to say, but not always so easy to do in practice.
What I would focus on here is creating content that truly helps the law firm’s potential customers. Something that is truly useful and authoritative.
I would then concentrate on promoting and building links to that content to help raise visibility of that content piece (or pieces) and to build up domain level link authority. This is strategically simple but there can be a lot of moving parts. I covered this approach in more detail in a recent Search Engine Land column.
There are plenty of opportunities to comment on the legal perspective of current news. I would encourage members of the firms to write or dictate their perspective on this.
I would craft this into a blog post, with graphics and video where possible, get it signed off, and then promote it to local, national, and trade media to build links and grow the reputation of the firm. Or perhaps create a piece of content or an online app that translate legal speak to ‘human.’ There are many legal terms that be frightening or difficult to understand.
Making a dictionary that explains legalese using videos, gif, famous movie references, and visual examples would be strong promotional and consumer content that could be targeted to specific sectors such as students, families, immigrants, etc. depending on the law firm’s focus.
Finally, creating top tips or mistakes to avoid lists for legal issues could work very well. For example, key things to know to maintain compliance with your O-1 visa. Top considerations for a prenup. How to save money on taxes when you are a dual resident.
All of these topics can be targets to particular audiences and linked to current news cycles, helping to grow not just domain authority but also brand awareness and conversions.
My advice would be to focus on local, local, local. From keyword research and content development to link building and citation building, it is critical for law firms to consider their local audience if they truly want to generate leads from organic search.
For example, if I was in a serious car accident on a busy New Jersey highway, I would want a personal injury lawyer from that surrounding area who understands the local court system and has experience in representing other individuals who have been in my shoes.
With this being said, when working with law firms, I put in place a SEO campaign that allows them to be first and foremost a legal expert in their geographic location so they can establish that trust and authority with the people who will need their services the most.
Working with attorneys, it is vital to look into the physical business location while considering their websites’ SEO signals. In legal business, prospective clients are most likely to search for a lawyer nearby.
The website needs to convey that important information to Google and users alike. Ensuring search engines understand the locality of the business is a crucial first step towards creating positive user signals before anything else.
Of course, in a vertical as competitive as the legal business, one fundamental signal will hardly suffice to achieve the goal of persistent visibility in search results for relevant, converting queries. It is, however, the first step towards providing a great user experience and to win the SERP game big.
I’ve done SEO for attorneys at one-person offices, five-person offices, and nationwide law firms. Successful lawyers have deep personal connections to their community, either their city or industry. The bulk of their business comes through connections (this means the best cases, incl. the best-paid cases). A successful lawyer with 15-20 years of experience doesn’t need much marketing: connections and reputation do the job. A young attorney however needs to be found by clients who don’t have connections.
So young attorneys should be seen wherever their clients are looking: Yellow Pages, bus stop benches, radio/TV, and digital marketing (SEO, Adwords, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). If they’re using digital media, then the website and ads must work on both desktop and mobile devices. All lawyers, young or senior, should have an up-to-date website that works for both desktop and mobile, plus be listed in Google Maps. With regards to SEO, the attorney should clearly state his/her name, area of expertise, location, and show credibility and authority. This allows Google to rank the lawyer’s website higher.
The legal services space is very challenging for SEO due to competition and investment in the space. Most attorneys have the budget to spend on SEO, so you quickly find that much of the low-hanging fruit typically available in SEO does not provide any real boosts, but simply helps get you closer to “par” with your competitors.
Having a mobile friendly site that is well structured, full of great content, easily accessible for mobile, free of errors, and efficient for crawlers is a norm in the space, and authority really becomes the key to setting you apart from competitors for search rankings.
To really be effective as a law firm, it’s important that you have the type of in-depth content that will support link growth by being an exceptional resource for others, and even more importantly…that you are seeking out opportunities to have your subject matter expertise highlighted in the media.
This is most often through guest appearances on local news networks, contributing legal opinion in articles on major sites, and increasingly by establishing a pro-bono service offering that identifies you as more altruistic than others in your space.
My #1 tip would be for the law firm to create some great content and publish it on its website or blog. Without content, it will be difficult to rank in the search engines.
The process would be to analyze the target audience and to find a sweet spot between the services that the law firm offers and the needs/wants/questions from the target audience. That will make it clear what topics need to be tackled.
Then it would be all about creating great quality content that answers questions that the audience has in order to attract them to the site, help them, inform them, and educate them.
The blog or the website should be optimized to get leads, too, so I would include live chat and other call to actions to get in touch for those who are tempted to take it further.
Create a Rip Off Report-like site that negatively reviews all of your competition. It’s not particularly ethical and probably risky legally, but you’ll get a lot of search engine traffic for people looking for attorneys.
Or hire an SEO consultant who knows what he’s/she’s doing.
I think before you do anything, you need to conduct research on your ideal client. Every law office has a niche and ideal client. Understanding the makeup of these clients goes a long way in developing an SEO and content marketing strategy.
You need to understand not only their demographics, but also what makes them tick inside. Once you do that and write documents like personas, it becomes easier to do everything else.
I have done a lot of work helping attorneys who have been the victims of bad SEO work. In the past, it was commonplace to see legal websites that had absolutely horrible link profiles because an SEO company had spent hours building low quality directory and article links. Many of these websites received manual unnatural links penalties or were negatively affected by Google’s Penguin algorithm.
Now, links are still very important, but the only links that really move the needle are ones that have real purpose outside of SEO. If you can figure out a way to earn links rather than build your own, then you have a formula that really should help improve rankings.
But who wants to link to their attorney’s website? That makes link earning hard. However, I have seen some attorneys earn some fantastic links.
One of the things that works the best is to do something that journalists want to write about. Examples could include doing some pro bono work for a community group, setting up a petition, or bringing awareness to a real problem in our society.
Once you have a case or situation that you can talk about publicly, then create content that people truly want to read that describes the situation.
This means that someone in the firm who has good legal experience needs to write this content as opposed to a journalist who works for your web design company.
Then, start spreading the word via traditional PR outlets, social media shares, etc. If you do things correctly, you’ll often get lots of people talking about this situation, writing about it, and linking to it.
A few good links like this can make a huge difference.
I would follow the legal news, such as new large and ground-breaking cases that change the industry, legal news in the media, etc.
I would comment on each development in blog posts and on social media.
In addition, I would write blog posts on longtail terms and create guides around the biggest service terms they want to rank for.
Finally, I’d make sure to have a conversion strategy around each segment of keywords.
My one SEO tip for law firms is to increase user satisfaction, user metrics, and the overall experience of your legal website—basically, build your brand. Creating a better experience that wows potential customers (and Google) includes the following:
One of the best ways to improve your SEO/content marketing is to build relationships with others in your field.
My Real Estate blog, Maximum Real Estate Exposure, would not be so well recognized and highly ranked online without help from others. Of course, you need to have exceptional content or all the networking will do very little for you.
People need a reason to want to share your content socially and link to it via their own site. When you have content that is worthwhile to others, building relationships should be easy. We all love to see our name in the spotlight.
When you can build a tribe of people who are willing to share your content, you’ll find your rankings increasing naturally. Over the years, I have built a network of people who are regular bloggers that want to achieve visibility online.
By being of mutual help to one another, the goal is far easier. Don’t think of those in your field as competitors, but as folks who can be mutually beneficial to one another.
#1 Build & curate NAP listings (name, address, phone)
#2 Generate content around each area of practice
#3 Acquire local link signals
There are a lot of tips I’d love to share, from claiming and optimizing local listings, to making their web pages suck less (no oceans of jargon, please!)
But…I’m a content guy, so that’s where my head goes right away.
A lot of lawyers think they need these big blogs full of content to attract links.
Rather than dump a bunch of money into a blog—which takes time to maintain that lawyers don’t have, and a constant budget to feed that could be spent elsewhere—focus on creating a handful of really strong evergreen resources based on what your clients are constantly asking during initial calls.
Think about it from a lead’s perspective: many have never hired a lawyer before. Content that helps them know what to expect isn’t just great for driving people to contact you, it’s also highly shareable.
If I had a law client, I’d tell them to build the best-written, most visually engaging resources for people considering hiring lawyers, and then share the hell out of those.
As a content marketer, I would suggest that lawyers survey their clients and prospects about the the most pressing questions or the most painful issues they have about the lawyer’s area of practice (i.e., “If my wife divorces me for cheating, will I lose custody of my kids?”). Lawyers need to pay really careful attention to the exact words clients use to describe their problems, since clients often describe legal issues differently from a lawyer would.For example, I may be a securities lawyer, but a client may refer to me as a “PPM Lawyer”.
I would then create very detailed content that answers those questions and provides actionable advice and case studies, using both blog copy and video. In these articles, avoid selling (i.e., if you cheated on your spouse and need to talk to a lawyer, call me). It just pisses potential clients off.
The title for each post and video would be the question their clients ask in their own words — even if the terms/words used by the client are not how the attorney would describe the issue.
By building a library of these question/answer posts, you begin to optimize your website for the long tail natural language search your clients will most likely use when they have a legal problem you can solve.
As a side note, I see a lot of firms who do a good job with search rankings, but then do a crap job of creating a user experience on their site that converts (obviously not the clients of Rankings.io). If you do a great job of driving traffic but your clients are turned off when they get there, you’ve just wasted a lot of effort.
Give the web searcher what they are looking for better than everyone else.
We work with 3 attorneys currently. My number one tip is to focus on building a solid taxonomy from aggregate competitor research (at the page-level) and to build as much supportive content under the primary practice area you are optimizing for.
We did this for slip and fall recently and came up with over 50 new pages we could create around places people slip and fall and causes of slip and fall accidents. The results a week into the content build out?
We work with a lot of attorneys so here you go:
There’s not just one tip which will get it done. They need to set up and optimize pages for each service they offer with 500 words of content and a video explanation, setup Google My Business, and get 20+ 5 star reviews, then get/build guest post backlinks to those service pages and the GMB listing.
Should be ranking within months depending on the budget.
The basic things are often overlooked. The first step in rankings is simply to make sure you indicate relevance, by using the target key phrase in the title, header, and body text. The easiest and fastest way to do this is with the “Control + F” test. Just go the page and search for the phrase using the “find” feature in your browser.
(image source: Orbit Media)
If you expect a page to rank for “business litigation services,” then you should see that phrase highlighted in the headers and body. You might also see it in the links on that page, but remember, link text doesn’t indicate the relevance of the page you’re on. Instead, it indicates the relevance of the page it links to.
If you didn’t indicate the relevance for the target phrase, don’t expect it to rank!
My #1 tip for improving a law firm’s SEO would be to get listed on industry-specific directories. A large majority of people look for a local law firm, so the Local SEO side of the project would be super important.
Not only do law firm directories rank pretty well, being associated with that business category also helps build Google’s trust with your business. It’s a super competitive industry, so small jobs like this can make all the difference in getting you ranking at the top of the search results.
My #1 tip would be to create helpful, problem solving content to lay a solid SEO foundation. SEO is about problem solving more than ever.
Whether the firm hired skilled freelance writers or boosted its credibility by having lawyers write articles, the smart way to build your SEO on a solid foundation is to patiently and persistently write robust, thorough content through a blog.
SEO and content marketing tactics have been widely adopted to the point that everyone has pushed out large volumes of decent content. Decent content on a subject matter is affordable on a weekly basis.
Any decent writer can produce it. As a result, we see the same five tips, best practices, and how-to blogs across every website.
You can try to make content that is 10x bigger and better. But that is costly and hard to do consistently. Instead, you can get more value out of the same resources by spending a bit more time on up front research.
Find out why your attorney is unique. Every attorney has special talents, connections, insight, history, and life lessons that go into their success as an attorney. And better yet, their passion to practice law. Have your writers and editors call in for a discovery meeting with the attorney that you treat as if writing a biography.
Give writers a chance to ask questions and dig into areas they find inspiring about their subject. If you get your writers inspired about a person and that person’s passion for practicing law, you will get that special thing that pushes your content beyond the everyday, every-website blog posts.
As my #1 tip, I’d highly recommend that any attorney or law firm website prioritize speeding up their website.
Google is hyper-focused on speed and getting users the information they seek as fast as possible, and that focus on speed as a ranking signal will only continue to grow. BTW here’s a fantastic list of 101 tips to improve site speed http://www.digitalexaminer.com/101-page-and-site-speed-optimization-tips/.
We’re seeing some pretty incredible results with organic traffic boosts across client sites when we’re able to improve load times.
Increasing site speed is also a scalable activity because many of the improvements you can make (like fixing render blocking CSS and JS) will boost load times for not just the page but the entire site.
What’s more, the majority of law firm sites I’ve worked on and seen are notoriously slow. So, given how important site speed is to Google (and users), if a law firm focuses on boosting load times they’ll be miles ahead of their competitors.
Don’t Overstep the Boundaries of Your Niche
When setting up a niche website, the most important thing to keep in mind is the audience you plan to attract.
People who look for the nearest law firm in Google are unlikely to require a blog post about 10 ways to tell a competent lawyer from a fraud. Instead, they’ll want help with a very specific problem, which will show in their search request: for example, “bankruptcy law firm London” or “criminal lawyer Manchester.”
Being a representative of your office, you know better than anyone what kind of services you provide. That knowledge is the foundation on which your site will stand. Aim precisely at the audience that wants what you have to offer.
A legal service firm is meant to help people with a narrow set of very characteristic problems that you may find only where the law is involved. Some firms specialize only in a certain area, such as family law, and therefore deal with issues like divorce, alimony and child support.
Other firms take on multiple areas; they cast a bigger net and occupy a wider niche. Takeaways: the content of your firm’s website must be optimized strictly for the issues you deal with. Act within your niche, or else you will attract an audience that needs something your website cannot provide.
Read my article for more tips:
I’ve implemented SEO on law sites both nationwide and worldwide since 1995. You might think that my #1 SEO tip might have changed in these past 20+ years. But unfortunately, my tip is the same now as it was in 1995.
Attorneys are notorious for writing and speaking in “legalese” (legal jargon). I understand that if they are marketing their law-firm website to other law-firm websites, it’s okay to write and speak in legal jargon.
However, if a law firm is targeting users who don’t understand legal jargon, then guess what? Lose the legal jargon…or use it in combination with the users’ keyword phrases. As we often say in the usability/UX industry, “Use the users’ language.”
Lawyers have to be careful when conducting keyword research. If they encounter “legalese” in the keyword research tools, they should understand that those specific queries are likely ones that other attorneys are doing. Use that data for legal-specific pages.
One example might be a family attorney. His or her target audience is unlikely to use the keyword phrase “spousal support” when conducting a search in the US. “Alimony” (without the quotes) is a more likely search term. Therefore, a family-attorney website should use BOTH terms on specific pages. Use the users’ language…but also inform them of what the legal term means.
Another example might be a corporate attorney. His or her target audience is likely to use some business jargon. This website should include business jargon in the right context on the website.
I’m certainly not saying that attorneys should never use legal keyword phrases on their websites. Use the RIGHT words in the RIGHT context. Use the users’ language on your websites. The result? More search engine traffic, more trust, and more conversions.
I’d say the most important gap in most law firms’ SEO strategy that I see is content.
Law firms either try to fit all of their practice areas onto a single page instead of breaking the practice areas out into their own landing pages, or they have a single practice area with only one page of content dedicated to it. Instead, they should consistently create new content with the help of their attorney experts.
My #1 tip is to lean heavy into content. The deeper and richer your content is, the more change you have to rank for short-tail and long-tail keywords alike.
Law is one of the most competitive spaces out there for SEO, so doing bare minimum optimizations only keeps you treading water. As a lawyer, you have an opportunity to write in-depth, expert content about your areas of practice.
While we generally advise 400 words minimum for most businesses, a lawyer should be looking at 1000+ words per page if possible, with a user-friendly layout and enticing CTAs throughout.
The trick to getting great results from SEO in 2017 is to think outside of the standard “content” box.
Most people look and fight for easy to think of topics and keywords because they can’t imagine how wide their net can be for catching potential customers.
Instead of just using content ideas that are tightly associated with your main topic, you have to “go wide” with your research.
People who might be interested in your products or services have lots of different problems and interests. And it is up to you to explore them and see which ones are relevant to your business.
Then you can write SEO optimized content to bring them to your website and slowly nurture them into customers.
If you want some ideas on how to start finding these ideas you can read a recent post I wrote on this topic.
First, I do a lot of legal marketing, especially with our own law firm located at https://www.milner-markee.com. My wife and mother-in-law are both immigration attorneys and so I’ve “seen it all” in respect to most legal marketing methods.
By far the most effective strategy that has worked for the firm has been using Avvo.com. Avvo, especially in select verticals like immigration, personal injury, and bankruptcy, dominate Google local search results.
These high local placements lead to a large amount of traffic to specialty referral pages on Avvo that local attorneys can leverage by buying “blocks” of impressions on those pages.
These blocks cover both specialties and geographical areas. The secret for attorneys utilizing this service, especially those paying for placement, is to fully fill-out and optimize their profiles.
For example, this profile for Attorney Tifany Markee
(https://www.avvo.com/attorneys/92127-ca-tifany-markee-298534.html) does very well competitively for three main reasons; she has fully filled out her profile and garnered a coveted 10/10 Avvo Rating, she has 20+ personal and professional referrals
and she has invested time on the Avvo site, contributing 160+ legal answers
to the community
These optimizations have allowed her, and in turn the firm, to leverage Avvo extremely well and increase both referrals and bottom-line traffic to their site at the same time.
Zero-in on “Near Me” Google Visibility
As a legal professional barred to practice law in a single state, there are very real boundaries to consider in SEO and marketing: they are called laws.
One way to achieve results in SEO without encroaching on legalities is to geo-target your keywords.
If you are a lawyer in Wynwood, Miami (where my SEO agency is located), you serve clients in South Florida, and the focus is on immigration, try employing geographic parameters, such as Immigration Delray Beach Lawyer or Immigration Palm Beach Lawyers or Immigration Key West Lawyer.
Make no mistake, I’m not advocating creating hundreds of “keyword stuffed” webpages for immigration lawyer plus every possible city and town in South Florida…unless you want to trigger Panda filters.
Rather, a smart marketer who understands how Google’s RankBrain works, can include these keywords in a long-term content strategy focused on geo-focused content and related topics.
A webpage with a case study about how the lawyer helped an immigration client in “Delray Beach” or an article covering the specifics of a newsworthy immigration case in Key West—the closest point in US territory to Cuba, actually—might be a good place to start. Through an expanded geographic target, you will have more referrals without a headache of unwanted contact.
There’s no one magic bullet answer to this, so my top tip would be to focus on the on-page SEO for the site. Things like citations and backlinks and all the other standard SEO work out there will only do so much, but with proper on page SEO, you can rank a site without any of the above. However, you can’t rank a site with citations and backlinks if the onpage is not right.
I think the biggest tip I could give would be to make sure Google My Business has been set up correctly. It’s difficult to get any success without this, unless you’re in a very weak SERP.
My #1 tip for is to focus on building relationships. I enjoy interviewing people for my podcast and summits because I get to learn more about my niche, and the interviews count as content. I publish these interviews, and the power happens when each guest shares the episode with his/her audience.
Repeat the process with hundreds of guests, and you’ll have a big increase in traffic over the long-term. In the short-term, you can get family and friends to review your podcast so it gets more traction.
My number one tip would be to build case studies around a firm’s clients. Not only would these case studies be great reading, but they would also connect with the target audience, help to build the site’s topical authority, and help the firm’s consumers.
Imagine that the person just charged with an assault charge goes online looking for advice and finds a case study on the very subject/charge they have been given. This is superb for building client trust, and the loved ones of those charged will also be searching for help/case studies.
The key is for these case studies to be in-depth. When it comes to talking about the law, we are often looking at potential custodial sentences. People want to read in-depth information when they could end up in prison
Most lawyers and law firms are usually “local,” therefore, local SEO tactics should be applied to rank well in the search engines.
Most users seeking the services of a lawyer would do so locally, and most of the time it is time sensitive and urgent. Below are my tips on ensuring your website is optimised for local SEO:
Great question. For the past 7-8 years I’ve been doing SEO on one attorney or another, so I suppose I have a lot of experience on this. Before I did SEO, I did a lot of IT work and web design for lawyers.
On the other hand, I think my client would be pretty angry with me (maybe even sue) if I gave out the #1 tactic that I’m using on him right now. I will say this: before he hired us, he spent quite a bit of coin on having some videos produced. Having quality content on hand (a knowledge base, steady blog posts, videos, podcasts…even tweets and Instagram posts) can really help propel you into the SERPs.
I’ll also say this about attorneys and SEO in general: they all have big budgets and a lot of them are kind of shady, moreso than other industries. Depending on the industry, some of them throw ungodly amounts of money at SEO and local PPC, so if you really want to compete, it helps to work with some of these clients with the bigger budgets.
Build in-content links to your legal domain’s target pages. One way to do that is to create a scholarship program and publish a page targeted to legal colleges and universities.
This would allow you to get links from .edu sites that are still relevant to your brand and can tremendously improve the site’s domain authority. Here are a few ways to get started:
I will use buzzsumo to check the number one ranking site to see which article is the most shared on facebook, then rewrite those articles as part of the content marketing plan.
I will also use SEMrush to check the keywords using the number one ranking site keywords and then target them, too.
Start with prioritizing the keyword phrases that will give you the most returns. This means that all your content marketing and promotion work will revolve around just a small set of keywords and their landing pages.
– Local keyword phrases are great choices.
– Keywords that are already ranking (below the #1 spot) are also great choices as the work will be minimal and the returns will be huge long term.
A little optimization and some structured data added along with citations will go a long way to boosting these pages and getting you leads.
It’s easy to jump in and go straight for hard keywords, but that’s not the way to go right off the bat for extremely competitive niches like this.
Build the trust first with those types of keyword phrases as you build towards the larger, more competitive ones. You’ll find it easier to rank for them long term, especially if it’s local.
The #1 Tip would be to claim and optimize your Google Business listing for your firm’s key office location(s).
We have seen strong local visibility continue to drive consistent cases for law firms, but a firm must also have a strategy for earning new (positive) reviews.
Local visibility with a strong reviews rating (4+ Star) is one of the most powerful marketing tools on the web today.
I recommend studying your Google Search Console data and focusing on tactics that will have the most impact in your high priority practice areas. There is a tremendous amount of useful information in GSC. Use it to improve your search results and your lead generation.
Look beyond technical legal content. Previously, I worked as an in-house SEO at a law firm and at the time, we did not have a technical legal writer, so we focused on entertaining legal and personal injury-related pieces such as “10 Texting While Walking Accidents Caught on Video.”
Here is an action plan:
I would first check the firm’s competitors, check what keywords they are targeting, and work backwards from the competitor’s most shared content to their backlinks.
I would improve further the value being presented by the client website by using social media as a platform to increase social validation and followers, and then I would create a weekly podcast where the client will answer questions about law.
Value = Service.
Remember that it’s not about you. This can be difficult, but the people who are coming to your site don’t want to be hit with information about where you went to law school and how many awards you have. Instead, focus on their needs. When someone comes to your site, they’re looking for information to help them—to solve their problems. They’re overwhelmed and in search of someone who cares and connects with them, so use your site as an entry point to build upon an educational, trusting relationship with them.
My number one tip would be one your on-site SEO is taken care of. I would focus on local citation building—this is the building of your listings within high quality niche specific directories that do not necessarily link to your website.
Why are these important?
The value of your business being mentioned with presence of NAP (name, address, and phone) means that Google sees your business as a legitimate one within the right directory. The more mentions of your business within these directories, the better you will rank with in local rankings.
The thing to remember here is that even though links are important for SEO, these citation listings do not need to have links, as Google views them differently than how it views normal website links.
Here is a link to high quality citations that are worth focusing on:
Also, do not forget the local directory site with in your local area.
My #1 tip would be to answer questions and solve the problems your prospective clients have using content. Maybe that means creating on-site content that’s worth linking to and sharing socially, or maybe it involves doing guest posting that drives links back to the relevant content on your site. Not only will this support both your SEO and content marketing campaigns, it’ll make the people who do encounter your content trust you enough that they’ll hire your services (or keep you in mind for future projects).
The number one tip I’d give an attorney looking to rank in Google is to first take the time to evaluate the competition in your local area and do your keyword research homework. Finding a bunch of keywords with less competition, but enough search volume will likely lead to more success than swinging for the fences and trying to rank only for “Personal Injury”. I’d recommend tools like SEMrush and Google Adwords to start.
The most important aspect will be localized SEO and getting your results into the local 3 pack.
That means getting your NAP (name / address / phone number) accurate and consistent throughout the many different localized search and citation services (there are many tools out there to help you with this, such as Moz Local) and making sure you create a simple and easy way for your customers to review you online.
Finally, make sure your content is localized to your market. Identify what the problems occurring in your neighborhood and address them with your content vs focusing on national or international issues.
Marketing your law firm can seem like a daunting task. If I had one suggestion for attorneys to take advantage of that would bring them results, it would be to create useful and substantial content based on frequently asked questions their firm gets. Start by asking yourself and your staff what questions people ask and make a list of these questions. Then brainstorm the related topics and answer these in a substantial and informative matter better than anyone else has done so.
Write the content in a way that represents your brand and the way you want your firm to be displayed online. Think of it as a part of your personal reputation.
Once this content is written you can post it on your website, optimize it, and make it visually appealing. The key, however, is to not stop there. One of the added benefits to doing this is that the content can be re-purposed. When potential clients email you or you have calls with people that don’t turn into clients, you can collect their email address and send them the information. This also acts as a positive brand building experience for your firm while increasing your visibility in the search engines.
Useful content like this can also be re-purposed for email newsletters or videos!
Have a plan to execute, which is different than an SEO plan. We do way too many consultations where the attorney says they are going to blog regularly, and then doesn’t write a blog for months. Or promises to track where intakes come from, but makes no changes to their processes. Or makes it a goal to double the number of Google reviews, but never puts anything in place to ask more clients. SEO has very few secrets. It is about implementation and consistency. And implementation and consistency is directly tied to accountability. Take the extra five to ten minutes to form an execution plan, that includes accountability measures, so that ideas become tangible progress.
Claim and fully complete your Google My Business listing and fill out all the details. This is your first step to showing up for relevant business searches in local, the more complete the more likely everything else will back it up and get you search results.
With how localized the Google landscape has become, I would recommend focusing on both building local links, and creating local content that’s focused on setting the law firm up as an expert in its niche / areas that it serves.
There are a ton of local publications and blogs (this varies, depending on the city) that the attorney can reach out to and build a relationship with, which could lead to partnering on content, a column, Q&As, or other content to generate links/traffic back to the firm’s site. Links are definitely not a dead thing, regardless of what Google says. 😉 Obviously, getting links from larger, national publications will be beneficial, but I think a strong local play is needed first and foremost, as that’s where their immediate market will most likely be.
There is also content that can be created on their own site to promote and earn links. The goal here would be to establish them as a “go to” resource for people who may be experiencing legal trouble and looking for advice, and hopefully convert them into clients.
To start with, I’d make sure their site is local SEO’d to the max. Local SEO is a very simple thing to do, so will only take them three minutes to complete.
My second tip is to create 4000 pages of the same content but change it slightly to target specific geographical areas. Example: create a page that targets the term “Lawyers for sex offenders in Florida” this term is low competition with 6000 searches a month! Bingo! Create the page and gather up the leads.
My final tip is to create resourceful content that people want. A guide on “how to get off a murder charge” or “legal advice for animal sex perverts” spring to mind as popular content that will people linking and sharing like mad.