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Law Firm SEO: Top Search Engine Optimization Strategies for Lawyers

For most people, Google is their go-to search tool for finding legal services. Being the largest search engine online today, Google is a significant source of leads for law firms and practicing attorneys.

But ranking high in the Google search results is not always an easy feat. You need Search Engine Optimization to improve your law firm website, increase your rankings, and attract new leads in droves.

The good news is that SEO for attorneys is made simple with the right strategies. 

In this comprehensive SEO for lawyers guide, you’ll learn:

  • What search engine optimization is (and why it matters)

  • The fundamentals of law firm SEO

  • On-site SEO tips for lawyers

  • How to conduct SEO keyword research

  • How to write legal content for your blog

  • The essentials of local SEO for law firms

  • Top link building tactics for law firms

Want to improve your Google rankings and drive more clients to your website? Let’s dive in.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a type of digital marketing that works to help businesses and websites attract more visitors from search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Specifically, law firm SEO is the practice of using data-driven tactics to attract more prospective clients online.

Prospective clients turn to search engines (namely, Google) to search for legal services, find a lawyer in their area, read law firm reviews, and compare their options. Law firm SEO helps lawyers stand out online, making them the obvious choice ahead of their competitors.

Why is Law Firm SEO Important?

SEO is a powerful marketing tool in helping law firms attract more clients online. Not only can SEO help your law firm rank higher in the search results, but it can increase website engagement and generate more leads for your business.

Ranking at the top of search doesn’t happen overnight, and it usually doesn’t happen without some intervention on your part to improve your site’s SEO. That’s why it’s important to invest in SEO strategies early on to increase your chances of ranking above your local competitors.

Benefits of SEO for Lawyers

There are a variety of benefits that come from using search engine optimization on your website. These benefits can include:

  • Attracting more users to your law firm’s website

  • Increasing your visibility in local search

  • Generating more positive reviews for your business

  • Increasing engagement on your website

  • Converting website visitors into potential clients

  • Attracting high-quality backlinks to your site

  • Ranking above your competitors

  • Tapping into new service areas and markets

  • Creating a holistic content strategy to reach more users

The benefits of SEO don’t stop there. If you want to attract more clients to your law firm on a consistent basis - and improve your digital marketing overall - it’s worth it to get started with SEO.

Does My Law Firm Need a Website for SEO?

The legal industry is highly competitive, which means law firms need to do everything they can to stay ahead of the competition. While it’s possible to attract clients without a website, it’s highly recommended that you have one in order to get the most out of SEO.

Having a website gives you a platform to optimize your business for Google search and provides a medium through which potential clients can contact you. It also gives you a place where you can publish content, post client testimonials, and provide clients with information about your firm.

Having an attractive, search engine optimized website can make a huge difference when it comes to getting your law firm noticed online. 

The Fundamentals of Law Firm SEO

There are essentially four essentials that are required for a successful SEO strategy. These include:

  1. Technical SEO

  2. Content

  3. Link Building

  4. Local SEO

Technical SEO

Technical SEO involves the technical optimization of your website, including the site structure, navigation, load speed, and link structure. Without a fast, functional, and user-friendly website, no amount of content or backlinks will be enough to maximize your rankings.

To have a technically-sound website, your site must:

  • Be optimize for mobile devices (smartphones and tablets)

  • Be indexable by search engines (by having an optimized sitemap)

  • Be secure; having an updated SSL certificate

  • Avoid broken links and 404 pages

  • Be easy to navigate 

  • Have a fast load time (under 3 seconds)

Technical SEO is arguably the most complex part of SEO, as it requires some knowledge of website management and development. When optimizing your law firm website, it may be best to work with a technical SEO expert and/or web developer the handle the technical optimization of your site. 

Content Marketing

In the SEO world, content is king. It’s virtually impossible to have an informative, user-friendly website without content. With that in mind, your law firm website should have web pages and blog articles that contain valuable content that’s both written for your target audience and optimized for search engines.

Link Building

Backlinks occur when another website or online platform links to your website. When reputable, authoritative websites link to your site, this can boost your own site’s authority. This is a plus in the eyes of Google, as Google’s algorithm strives to show high-authority sites to users.

Link building is the practice of driving links to your website, through a variety of methods.

The key thing to keep in mind is that you should be working to earn high-quality links, not just a massive volume of links. It’s best to earn these links organically or through outreach rather than through buying links from a vendor.

Local SEO

Local SEO is a type of SEO that’s unique to local businesses. This is because local businesses serve specific geographical areas and, therefore, their potential customers are often using geo-specific terms to find services in their area.

For example, someone is more likely to search for “family lawyer in Seattle” than simply “lawyer” or “attorney”, because they know they need a lawyer in their area. So, law firms then need to use these localized terms in their content, as well as build out their local online listings (such as on Google My Business, Bing Places, and the like).

Google Ranking Factors for Law Firm Websites

The top Google ranking factors are essentially the same for law firms as they are for any other type of business, aside from local SEO. “Ranking factors” are essentially the elements Google’s algorithm looks for when determining whether (and how) it should rank a website.

Your goal as a law firm business owner is to try and tick off all of these boxes. If your site includes all of these top ranking factors, you’re well on your way to having an optimized site that ranks above your competitors.

These top ranking factors for Google include:

  1. Having a secure and accessible website

  2. Passing Google’s Page Speed and Mobile Page Speed tests

  3. Being optimized for mobile devices

  4. Your website’s domain age and authority

  5. Having optimized web content

  6. Tackling your technical SEO

  7. Optimizing for User Experience (UX)

  8. Having high-quality backlinks

How to Conduct Keyword Research for Law Firms

Before you can start optimizing your site for certain search terms, you need to figure out what those terms should be. Keyword research involves identifying what key terms your potential clients are searching for when looking for businesses like yours.

Many lawyers assume that their target audience is searching for keywords like “lawyer” or “law firm”, but this is not necessarily the case. You need to conduct thorough, data-driven keyword research to find the right terms, as well as uncover their search volume and competition level.

1. Use SEO keyword tools

Lawyers can use SEO keyword research tools like Ahrefs.com or SEMRush.com to find keywords. These tools not only show you how much search volume a keyword gets, but also how difficult it will be to compete for it.

Use these tools to research your own initial keyword ideas, find related keywords, and spy on your competitors’ keyword strategies. Knowledge is power, and having the best data on your side will only help your SEO strategy become stronger. 

2. Brainstorm searchable key terms.

Sometimes it’s best to simply start with a brain dump of keyword ideas that might apply to your website. Consider:

  • The types of services you offer

  • How you would describe your business in a few words

  • The types of clients you work with

  • The results you’ve generated for clients

  • What your competitors are targeting

  • Your service area(s)

  • The questions your potential clients are likely asking

For example, a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles is likely to think up search terms like:

  • LA personal injury attorney

  • LA personal injury lawyer

  • Personal injury lawyer LA

  • Personal injury law LA

  • Los angeles pi lawyer

  • Who to call after an accident

  • Car accident lawyer LA

  • Personal injury law services

  • What does a pi lawyer do

The above terms are all potential keywords you could search for using your chosen keyword research tool. Over time, you’re likely to add to this list by discovering related terms and other keywords you’d like to target on your website.

3. Consider localized keywords.

In the previous example, you saw some keyword options that included localized terms like “LA” and “Los Angeles”. If you are a law firm that targets specific service areas, then you will want to identify localized terms as well.

See if you can find key terms for each of the areas you serve. Look for variations of these localized terms, such as “LA”, “Los Angeles”, and “Los Angeles, CA”. It’s best to target these terms so your law firm is able to compete locally versus at a more competitive, national level. 

4. Identify related keywords.

Once you search for the key terms in your chosen SEO keyword research tool, you can use the tool to find “Related Keywords”. This is a great way to find terms you might not have thought of before. If they seem like a good fit for your site, add them to your list.

5. Scope out your competitors’ keywords.

Finally, you can use those same SEO tools to search your competitors’ domains and see which keywords they are targeting. You are likely to find some interesting phrases you might want to target on your own site. These terms can then be applied to new web pages or blog articles. 

On-Site SEO Tips for Lawyers

On-site (or “on-page”) SEO involves optimization that occurs on your website (as opposed to optimizing your other online profiles or building backlinks). On-site SEO is important because your website serves as essentially the foundation of your entire SEO strategy.

Fortunately, on-page SEO tends to be the most accessible form of SEO and therefore the easiest for lawyers to implement on their own. 

Here are a few tips for optimizing your website:

  • Use your focus keyword in the title tag of your page. Your title meta tag is one of the strongest signals that search engines look out for.

  • Include your keyword(s) in the meta description of your page or post. This description should accurately (and concisely) explain what the content is about.

  • Include your keyword in your H1 tag. This is the “title” that appears when you visit the web page or blog post.

  • Use keywords throughout your page copy. In writing a web page or article, your content should thoroughly cover the topic and naturally include your target keyword, as well as related keywords.

  • Optimize your page/post length. Look at the top-ranking pages or articles for your target keyword and try to write content that’s around the same length. Ideally, your content should provide more value than what’s already ranking.

  • Avoid duplicate content. The content on your web pages should be original, and you should avoid using the same content across multiple pages. 

  • Optimize your images by reducing the file size, including a descriptive file name, and adding optimized (descriptive) image alt text. Only use original images or graphics, or royalty-free images, to avoid copyright issues.

  • Fix broken links by setting up 301 redirects. Avoid changing the URLs of your pages or posts unless absolutely necessary. Have a user-friendly 404 page that directs users to other pages of your site if they encounter a broken link.

  • Add internal links within your content to other pages and posts on your site. This helps users find the information they’re looking for and keeps them on your site for longer. 

How to Write Legal Content for Your Blog

Your law firm website should contain optimized web pages that describe your services, but you should also have blog articles that draw in potential clients. Beyond your Home, About, Contact, and service pages, blog articles work to attract a wider audience and provide value to users.

This is where you can get a bit more creative with your content ideas. Brainstorm some topics and then use keyword research tools to determine whether any of these terms have search volume. Then you can turn them into blog posts.

For example, some interesting legal blog post ideas include:

  • “X Things to Look for When Hiring a Y Lawyer”

  • “X Things to Do Before Filing for Divorce”

  • “X Steps to Filing a Personal Injury Claim”

  • “What to Do if You Get Injured on the Job”

  • “X Steps to Settling a Child Custody Dispute”

  • “Complete Guide to X Law for [Audience]”

  • “What You Need to Know About [State]’s New X Law”

  • “Need a X Lawyer? Here’s How to Choose the Best One for You”

Once you have a topic in mind – and have confirmed that there is search volume for this topic – you can write an informative blog post. Then, follow on-site SEO best practices to ensure your post is optimized for search engines. Again, this includes:

  • Using the focus keyword in the title tag

  • Writing an optimized meta description

  • Using your target keyword(s) throughout the content

  • Adding descriptive H2 headings

  • Adding internal links

  • Including original, optimized images

Local SEO Essentials for Law Firms

As a local service business, your law firm needs local SEO in order to rank high in local search. This not only involves using localized keywords on your website, but also optimizing your local online listings.

Google My Business

Google My Business (GMB) is a free platform that allows businesses to create online profiles to drive traffic and attract customers/clients. You can claim an existing listing or create a new one. Best practices for optimizing your GMB listing are to include your business name, address, phone number, hours, and website link, add images to your profile, and generate positive client reviews.

Online Directories

There are a variety of reputable online directories that allow law firms to post their business information. This is a good way to generate traffic, attract clients, and, sometimes, earn a backlink. Some of the top legal directories include Avvo, FindLaw, BBB, eLocal, Superpages, Yellow Pages, Bing Places, and Yelp.

Localized Content

While it can be difficult to find localized keywords that relate to the services you offer, it’s still worth it to try and create localized content for your niche. This might include topics like “Best Lawyers in [ Area ]” or even something more broad like “X Businesses That Are Serving the Community in [ Area ]”.

You should use your geo-specific keywords throughout your content and be on the lookout for more localized keyword opportunities. This would be a good time to scope out what your competitors are doing and see if you can tackle any of these topics on your own site.

Link Building Strategies for Law Firms

The last “essential” of law firm SEO is link building, which involves earning links back to your website. There are many organic methods you can use, but this can be quite a competitive endeavor, especially in the legal niche.

Some of the most common law firm link building strategies include:

  • Creating linkable assets (blog articles, guides, ebook, etc.) that sites will link to organically

  • Conducting outreach to niche websites to earn links directly

  • Guest posting on other websites in exchange for links

  • Posting your business information to online directories

  • Creating white papers, case studies, and “ultimate guides” you can circulate to other platforms

Link building can get a bit tedious, but it is worth it when it comes to the authority you can earn for your site. Need more ideas? Check out this post on 8 link building ideas for law firms.

Law Firm SEO Made Simple

Law firm SEO can seem complicated, especially if you’re new to this type of digital marketing. But with the right strategies, you can start taking steps today to improve your SEO over time. SEO is a marathon, not a sprint, and now’s the best time to get started to set your site up for long-term growth.

By implementing on-page SEO, technical SEO, content marketing, local SEO, and link building, you’ll be well on your way to having an optimized law firm website. Over time, you’ll increase your Google rankings, generate more traffic, and, hopefully, attract more clients to your firm.

Copyright 2021 © Hennessey DigitalNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 77
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About this Author

Jason Hennessey CEO Hennessey Digital

Jason Hennessey is an internationally-recognized SEO expert, author, speaker, entrepreneur, and business executive. Since 2001, Jason has been reverse-engineering the Google algorithm as a self-taught student and practitioner of SEO and search marketing. 

As CEO of Hennessey Digital since 2015, Jason leads a team of 100+ digital marketing experts. Because of his reputation as an authority in legal SEO, he has grown a small consultancy into a $10M+ business that made the Inc. 5000 list for the second year in a row in 2020. A keynote speaker, webinar host, and...

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