Google is one of the true powerhouses of the internet.
With this in mind, law firms can’t afford to sleep on Google. After all, people use Google every day to actively search for lawyers and legal services. And Search Engine Optimization (SEO) holds the key to getting your business discovered by these users.
Want to harness the power of SEO for your law firm? Here’s how to plan an SEO strategy from start to finish.
Law Firm SEO Defined
Before you can begin planning your SEO strategy, you need to understand what law firm SEO is and why it matters for your law firm.
Law firm SEO refers to the practice of optimizing your website and online platforms to rank high in search engines in order to drive organic traffic to your law firm. It involves targeting the search terms (i.e. “keywords”) people are using to find services like yours.
Benefits of SEO for Law Firms
SEO matters for law firms for a variety of reasons. SEO allows you to:
Target people searching for the types of services you offer, in your local area
Optimize your website experience to be faster and more user-friendly
Address technical issues on your site that may be hindering performance
Publish content that’s valuable and relevant to your audience
Reach more users through online directories and local listings
Improve engagement, clicks, and lead generation on your website
Increase your visibility in video search and YouTube
The benefits of SEO for law firms don’t end there, but the success of your SEO depends on having a data-driven strategy. Below, we’ll dive into how to get the most from your SEO efforts.
Step 1: Launch Your Law Firm’s Website
Your law firm’s website is one of the most important assets you own when it comes to your digital marketing. It’s the primary platform needed in order to optimize for Google and drive organic leads.
The infrastructure, design, experience, and content on your website all play a role in driving traffic and converting visitors into potential clients. With this in mind, you’ll want a website that ticks all the boxes:
Design - Your website should be attractive, professional, and well-designed. Whether you use a template or hire a designer, it’s important that your website looks good to your potential clients.
Speed - Your website needs to have a fast load time so your content is easily rendered and visible to website visitors. If it’s slow, it may turn away new clients.
Experience - A positive website experience is needed in order to make a good impression on visitors. This means having interactive design elements, a great design for mobile and desktop devices, and engaging images and media.
Infrastructure - Your website might look great but the technical infrastructure is so important. You’ll want a website that’s technically sound, secure, fast, and indexable by search engines.
Content - The content on your website makes all the difference in attracting new users and converting them into clients. “Content” here means the words on the web page, images, videos, downloadables, and any other content asset that communicates a message to your users.
Once you’ve launched (or redesigned) an attractive, fast, and user-friendly website, you can start to optimize your website to generate organic traffic using SEO.
Step 2: Conduct SEO Keyword Research
“Keywords” are the terms people enter into Google Search in order to find information, products, businesses, etc. For law firms, keywords mean the words potential clients use to find lawyers, legal information, and legal services.
Your keyword strategy lays the foundation of your SEO efforts because it determines what keywords you are hoping to rank for. Believe it or not, different law firms require different keyword strategies because the terms vary depending on the practice area, location, and audience.
First, make a list of words that you associate with your law firm. For example, for a family law firm, some words may be “family lawyer”, “family law services”, “file for divorce”, etc.
Next, consider which of these terms should be modified with a geo-specific term. In most cases, if you service a particular geographic area, you will want to target geo-specific terms. For example: “seattle family law”, “seattle family lawyer”, etc.
Once you’ve created a relatively exhaustive list of terms related to your business and services, use an SEO tool to look up the Search Volume and Keyword Difficulty of every keyword. We recommend tools like SEMRush.com or Ahrefs.com to do this. These will tell you whether a term is being searched for and how hard it is to rank for.
Finally, use your chosen SEO tool to find additional keywords. You can use the Related Keywords report or search your competitors’ domains to surface untapped keyword opportunities. Add these keywords to your list to establish the foundation of your SEO strategy.
Step 3: Develop Optimized Content
Your keyword research will gradually reveal what terms you should optimize your website for. For example, the Search Volume data may show that “seattle family lawyer” is a worthy term to target on your website.
Keywords can then be mapped to new or existing web pages. Be sure to “cluster” keywords that are closely related to each other. For example, your “seattle divorce law services” page should also likely target “seattle divorce lawyer” and “divorce lawyer in seattle”.
Once you have mapped these keywords to either existing pages or new page topics, you can start on a framework to either optimize or create content, respectively. Here are the basics to consider:
Title Tags - Use the primary chosen keyword for your page within what’s called the title tag” of the page. For example, the title tag for a Divorce Law Services page might read: “Divorce Law Services Seattle | PP&G Law Group”
Meta Descriptions - The meta description is the coded element on a web page that describes what the page is about. You can use a primary or a related keyword here. For example, a great meta description for a Divorce Law Services page might be: “Looking for Divorce Law Services in Seattle? PP&G Law Group helps individuals and families navigate the divorce process, filing, mediation, and more.”
H1 Heading - The H1 heading is another coded element that is often the visual title on a web page. It is often a slightly different version of the title tag. For example, “Divorce Law Services” is typically an appropriate H1 heading for such a page.
Body Content - The body content on a page is the bulk of the content. It is the content that portrays the information or effectively describes the service. Your body content should use your keywords naturally throughout the page and, ideally, provide more value than your competitors’ pages ranking for the same terms.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what’s referred to as “on-page SEO”. On-page SEO, in general, though, involves writing content that benefits your users and is optimized for the keywords you wish to target.
Step 4: Own Your Local Organic Presence
Law firms are heavily reliant on Local SEO in order to reach users in a particular geographic market. If you only service certain cities, states, or counties, then you will need local SEO.
Local SEO, as previously mentioned, involved optimizing for geo-specific terms and/or location-specific platforms. For example, you will want to optimize your website for city-related keywords and build out your local listings, reviews, and directories.
Here are the fundamentals of local SEO for law firms:
Keywords - Target keywords that contain geo-specific modifiers as they relate to the markets you serve.
Content - Create content on your website that is optimized for geo-specific keywords (this includes web pages and some blog article topics)
Google My Business - Google My Business (GMB) is a free platform all businesses can use to host their business information in local Search. Create your free profile and include your contact information, website link, office photos, reviews, and more.
Directories - Other directories like Yelp, Yellow Pages, Avvo, and Lawyer.com allow law firms to publish their business information to attract potential clients. Add your business to reputable directories (but avoid the spammy ones).
Reviews - Positive client reviews influence SEO and they influence sales. Ask past clients to review your business on GMB, Yelp, Bing Places, and more.
Much of local SEO requires ongoing maintenance, so be sure to monitor your listings, generate more client reviews, and create more localized content.
Step 5: Build and Manage Your Backlinks
Backlinks are links from other websites back to your own website. These backlinks lend what’s called authority to your website, making it more trustworthy in the eyes of Google. Earning backlinks from high-authority sites is great for SEO.
Building backlinks is often easier said than done, though. Here are a few ideas for how to earn backlinks:
Partnerships - Leverage existing partnerships with other law firms, blogs, and businesses to ask them to link back to your website. This could be through you writing a guest article, them hosting you on their directory, or them linking to you from an existing page or post.
PR - Conduct PR outreach or hire a PR agency to advocate for your law firm to be featured in the news and industry publications. Help a Reporter Out is an example of a website that’s often looking to feature legal experts in articles.
Guest Posting - Reach out to high-quality blogs and offer to contribute guest articles. Even better if these websites or blogs allow you to include links back to your website, free of charge.
Blogging - Publish blog posts on your own website to attract attention from other websites. If your content is amazing, this may encourage other bloggers and publishers to link to your content.
Further, you can use tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush to monitor your backlinks. These tools will reveal the number of backlinks you have earned, the quality of the backlinks, when they were acquired, and more. This will help you track your backlink acquisition efforts.
Planning a Law Firm SEO Strategy is Simple
Many marketers would have you believe that SEO is extremely complex. In reality, the basics are relatively easy to master. Once you have owned the basics, you can continue on to more involved strategies.
Of course, some markets are more competitive than others. If you are in a competitive market, it may be worth hiring a law firm SEO professional for more tailored support. Even so, knowing how to plan your own SEO strategy from the ground up will help you better understand, implement, and measure your SEO efforts.