Search Engine Optimization for Law Firms: Part 5 Good2bSocial Academy
Last week, we covered Good2bSocial’s Digital Academy’s course on paid social media advertising for law firms, outlining the importance of developing a paid social media search campaign for law firms, and how law firms can use targeted advertising on social media. Good2bSocial’s Digital Academy includes eight modules that provide legal marketers with essential knowledge of digital marketing concepts, including a course on search engine optimization (SEO). Good2bSocial’s Digital Academy course helps legal marketers establish a baseline of digital marketing concepts through videos, articles, podcasts and completing assignments it also provides law firm marketing departments an objective way to assess team members or potential hires legal marketing knowledge.
Good2bSocial’s Digital Marketing Academy refines social media, content marketing, and SEO best practices and applies them to the legal services industry. Per Guy Alvarez CEO of Good2bSocial and the course instructor:
“We’ve been partnering with some of the world’s largest law firms to develop custom legal marketing programs for over ten years. Building a robust on-line presence for legal and professional services organization’s is a different process than retail or other industries, we packaged up years of collective knowledge in one place and also provide a way to accurately assess the knowledge of the legal marketers participating in the program.”
While SEO is an essential part of any law firm’s online marketing strategy, achieving great results isn’t always an easy task. Unlike other online law firm marketing strategies, an effective SEO strategy provides steady and exponential growth over time in both visibility and credibility. Good2bSocial’s 2020 Law Firm Digital Marketing Survey revealed that a quarter of firms already have a comprehensive SEO strategy in place, and 20 percent of the law firms surveyed said they don’t optimize keywords.
Law firms should follow some basic guidelines to build a solid SEO foundation. Good2bSocial‘s course on building an effective SEO strategy for law firms, provides a comprehensive roadmap and easy to follow SEO checklist for law firm websites, blogs and social media sites.
Starting with keyword research, legal marketers can start creating an SEO strategy for their thought leadership, website and social media content by following a few easy steps.
What are the Fundamental Parts of SEO Keyword Research?
Picking a few relevant words or phrases that reflect the type of law that the firm practices, in what locations they operate and what industries they have expertise in, is a great way for law firms to start with SEO. Once a few phrases are selected, legal marketers can then find related terms and determine how well the firm will rank in search results. A few keyword research tools suggested by Good2bSocial include Google Keyword Planner, Google Autocomplete, SEMRush and WordStream’s Keyword Tool. A tip to keep in mind is to target keywords that will balance high traffic and low competition.
Next, once keywords are identified, legal marketers should select a target keyword for every page on the law firm’s website and associated blogs. The thought process is to focus search engine results on the selected page. Having more than one keyword focus often dilutes search results. Another way to boost search engine results for a page is to include long-tail keywords in inbound links, paying attention to include the targeted keywords in the links.
How Should Law Firms Draft Titles, Meta Text and Format Pages to Enhance SEO?
Law firm pages should include targeted keywords and phrases in the page title within the first two to three words. Page titles should be under 70 characters to avoid the title being cut off. Legal marketers should strive to use natural language, that potential clients would search for when crafting page titles, taking into consideration that the page title is the first thing that potential clients will see in the search results and is also a component part of the page’s URL.
Meta descriptions for law firm pages should contain the target keywords in language used in internet searches, and should be 156 characters or less to avoid being cut off in search results. Meta titles and descriptions should be clear and concise and should entice the reader to go to the page to learn more about the law firm, the firm’s lawyers or their thought leadership.
Featured Snippets on Google are also an important part of optimizing content for SEO. Featured Snippets are the bits of text that appear at the top of Google Search results that answer a searcher’s question. Featured Snippets are important because they occupy the majority of space on the search engine results page, drawing in potential clients looking for specific information and allowing law firms to demonstrate their expertise and build their brand. Law firms should structure their internet content to fit the Featured Snippet spot by structuring the content according to the type of Snippet. Featured Snippets can be paragraphs, lists, tables and videos. Paragraphs with images tend to get the most traffic, followed by lists.
How Often Should Law Firms Update Content for Optimum SEO?
Updating thought leadership content keeps it relevant, entices web crawlers to reindex the page, and is crucial for top search engine rankings. When updating old content, law firms should update the publish date as well. Updating content brings crawlers back and helps improve a law firm’s expertise authority and trustworthiness (EAT) rating. Unmaintained and abandoned law firm website content can lower a law firm’s EAT rating.
How to Format Images and Content to Improve SEO?
Formatting content correctly is as important as using relevant keywords. Legal marketers should use targeted keywords in paragraph and page headings written in natural language. Law firms should also use subheadings to reinforce ideas and break up blocks of text in the page for readers and signal important concepts to search engines.
Images also play an important role in formatting content for SEO. Images keep readers interested in your content and break up the text. Legal marketers should also add alt tags and alt attributes to content to describe the image to search engine crawlers and helps the author better direct how images are index by search engines. Legal marketers can further improve images on their site by creating search engine friendly captions, and using smaller images (compressed file size) to improve page load times, which helps with both SEO and the user’s experience.
Why URL Structure and Sitemaps are Important?
Sitemaps are important for search engines. Sitemaps, a list of pages on a website, helps search engines to see all the pages on a law firm website, allowing for faster and more accurate results in searches.
URLs also play an important role in SEO. URLs should both describe the content on the page and include target keywords. Instead of URLs containing numbers, they should contain the title of the blog or what the page features, like an attorney’s biography.
Additionally, law firms should consider including robots.txt files (aka robots exclusion protocol or standard) on their website. Robots.txt files function as a request that tells web robots (usually search engines) which pages on your website site to crawl.
Why would you want to tell a search engine to not crawl certain pages on your website? Google’s crawlers have what’s known as a crawl budget, which you don’t want to waste crawling unimportant or similar pages on your site. One of the most common uses of the robots.txt file is to maximize search engines’ crawl budgets by telling them to not crawl the parts of your site that aren’t displayed to the public, such as your login page or to avoid a duplicate content penalty when you have various versions of the same webpage like a printer-friendly version of a webpage.
How to Manage Law Firm Social Media and Business Presence?
Curating thought leadership and sharing it on social media helps boost search results for law firms, by populating and connecting various websites with the same messaging that your firm controls, therefore, reinforcing the messaging and also drowning out negative messages With more followers and shares, a law firm’s authority with search engines also grows. Much like SEO keyword research, law firms grow their presence online finding and defining their audience through consistent messaging on owned properties, including your firm’s website, blogs, legal directories, press releases, biographies on bylined thought leadership with reputable publishers, Wiki pages, local directories like Yelp or business directories like Crunchbase and social media sites. As outlined in Module 3 of Good2bSocial’s Digital Marketing Certification, defining key characteristics of an ideal law firm buyer persona helps the firm understand how to reach the audience they want on social media and other owned properties through targeting marketing collateral directly to them. A consistent message on various websites helps search engines connect the dots about what your firm and attorneys are known for and controls the firm’s brand messaging.
In the same vein, legal marketers should promote a law firm’s business online through Google My Business. Clients in a law firm’s geographic area can view the business listing, read and write reviews, find the office on a map and see contact information. Firms should have a Google Business Profile for each office location and some firms go as far as developing individual Google Business Profiles for each attorney in their firm. To further improve SEO, law firms should include their address and phone number on multiple pages on their website to help search engines show your website to local prospects.
What is the Best Way to Improve a Law Firm’s Search and Mobile Performance?
Performance of law firm websites for the reader is as important as having great thought leadership content. Page speed is a key part of the user experience. Pages that take too long to load have higher bounce rates, leading to users spending less time on the website. Law firms looking to improve load speed can use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Same thing for pages that have been deleted and lead to a 404 page not found error. Google is increasingly focusing on user experience and a page not found webpage, shows poor website hygiene, so when you delete or move a webpage, make sure you redirect the removed or changed page to a functioning webpage.
Legal marketers should also pay attention to how a law firm’s website looks on mobile devices. More users today use mobile devices to look for legal help than desktops, making mobile sites or responsive website design more important than ever. Load speed is important to websites loading well on mobile devices. As well as optimizing for voice search, utilizing Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) improves mobile performance and overall rankings.
Key Takeaways for Improving Law Firm SEO
While getting started on improving SEO can be a daunting task, Good2bSocial provides law firms a roadmap for law firms to follow to help with conducting keyword research, formatting pages correctly, improving URL structures and optimizing page performance. One of the final steps law firms can take to improve SEO is to conduct an SEO audit to find weak spots that can be improved upon Good2bSocial Academy gives legal marketers the tools to get started on improving their firm’s SEO. To learn more about the Good2bSocial Academy and the law firm focused topics, click here.
To Read Part 1 Good2bSocial Digital Academy for Law Firms - Inbound Marketing and Client Journey Mapping, click here.
To read Part 2 Good2bSocial Digital Academy Content Marketing Strategy for Law Firms Click Here.
To read Part 3 Good2bSocial Digital Academy -- Developing a Successful Social Media Strategy for Law Firms, click here
To read Part 4 Good2bSocial Digital Academy -- Paid Social Media Advertising Campaigns for Law Firms, click here
To read Part 6 Good2bSocial Digital Academy -- Paid Search Advertising for Law Firms, click here.
To read Part 7 Good2bSocial Digital Academy -- Email Marketing for Law Firms, click here
To read Part 8 Good2bSocial Digital Academy -- Legal Marketing Campaign Measurement and Analytics:, click here
Stay tuned for more details on the topics and key takeaways included in the other modules of the Good2bSocial Academy.
Rachel Popa contributed to this article.