Search engine optimization (SEO) uses keywords to make your website rank higher in search results. Since over 90% of people only look at the first page of search engine results, you need to make sure that your law firm is there, right where your potential clients are looking.
While word of mouth and local advertisements can play a big role in finding clients, SEO for lawyers is just as important as it is for any other business or website. If your site ranks highly in search results, you’ll be able to connect with clients who need you.
Even if you get most of your business from word of mouth and client referrals, you still need a website.
Since people don’t use phone books anymore but have the internet at their fingertips, hosting a site with some basic information and a way to contact you will still help potential customers find your firm.
You might have your law firm listed online with various business listings like Google My Business, Yelp, Foursquare, and more, which is a good start. But to take advantage of law firm SEO, you need a site where you can control the content and the messaging.
With 96% of people using search engines to find legal advice, using keywords on your landing pages and blog posts will help get your site seen. While paid ads might help push your site to the top of the results, you’re spending money on something you could easily create on your own by optimizing attorney SEO.
Google is the most popular search engine on the internet, so while some potential clients might use Bing, Yahoo, or DuckDuckGo, Google is the search engine you want to focus on the most since this is where 85%+ of searches are happening in the United States on the web.
Google determines where websites rank based on a lot of different factors such as site speed, usability, content, links, and security. In 2021, if you have the foundational signals right, you will want to focus on links and content to continue to grow your search presence.
Links [also called backlinks, inbound links, etc.]
Google crawls website content and checks for links that link to other websites. This acts as a vote of confidence in Google’s eyes. So for example if you were on your local news website and they linked to your law firm website, this would act as a vote.
Another site linking back to yours is like a vote of confidence. When Google scrapes the internet and finds links to your page, it will boost your site up the ranks accordingly. The best links are typically contextual and included in the content, not displayed as ads on the sidebar or in the footer.
Content [Content can be text, videos & images, but Google crawls the text]
While basic business listings will help you get noticed in local searches, having a website with quality content will give Google more information to pull from when compiling their search results.
It’s only logical that the more content you have, the more efficiently potential visitors can find your site. If you practice family law, you’ll want to publish content exclusive to your knowledge.
Think of cases you’ve covered and what blog posts you could write about them: divorces, custody agreements, child support, domestic violence, and more. You can write posts about how your firm handles these cases, but you can also share general resources and information.
The more content you can share about these topics, even if it doesn’t relate strictly to your practice, the more traffic you can get, and the more these articles can be linked. Content, traffic, and links will all boost your law firm SEO.
RankBrain takes the typical search engine algorithm a step farther to try and understand the searcher’s intent. If a user searches for “Miami child support,” RankBrain tries to interpret if the person is looking for a lawyer to help with child support, specific numbers to calculate it, or how to collect it.
It may sound like the algorithm is taking a shot in the dark, but it’s basing the results off of the searches the user has previously conducted. If the same user had also searched “Miami divorce attorneys,” they would rank the results differently.
It might seem like there’s no way to make this work for you because it all depends on the searcher, but having a variety of content on your site will cover your bases.
If you list divorces in your services, have a blog post about calculating child support, and an article about how to collect it if you live in Miami, then your post will jump out to RankBrain and be presented as a top result.
Choosing The Best Keywords For Your Law Firm
Keywords are vital for attorney SEO, so you’ll want to make sure you choose relevant terms and use the best placement.
You want to choose keywords relevant to your topics and make sure they are words searchers will use. A potential client might not know specific law terminology, so you want to think of keywords that would come to mind when they’re searching for your services.
You can also choose keywords by checking out the competition. Visit other law firms and see what keywords they target by reading their posts and looking at their metatags. You might find some keywords you haven’t been using, and this research might help you think of even more.
A keyword doesn’t have to be a single term; long-tail keywords are strings of three or more words or phrases. While they might not result in more users finding your page, they will result in more relevant users finding your page. That can result in visitors spending more time on your site, which will improve your SEO ranking.
Once you pick keywords, make sure you update them periodically. As new information and research come out in your field, you might want to add more words or replace some that aren’t resulting in as many visitors.
You can place keywords in page titles, article headlines, headings, body text, and anchor text of links you use. You can also use keywords in the alt tags of images you post so search engines can pull them for image results.
You can use keywords as hashtags in your social media posts. This can drive traffic to your site by appealing to visitors who might not have found your firm otherwise. Sharing site links and keyword hashtags on social media will also make your content more likely to be shared, which increases traffic.
Law firms typically serve their community, so you want to keep your SEO local. If users in New York City search “divorce attorneys” and your firm in Miami is the top result, you’ve wasted that SEO on someone who will never be your client.
Targeting your law firm SEO in your city and the surrounding area will increase the likelihood that your initial site visitors will become clients. This can be as simple as inserting your city and surrounding area as keywords, blog post titles, article headings, and link anchor text.
While you might be able to interact with clients through your website and email, you’ll probably want them to know where you’re located. Embedding a Google Map into your website can also help your search rankings.
A map will help potential clients pinpoint your location while also giving them all relevant business data, like address, phone number, and directions, in one place. Having an embedded map will keep users on your site for a longer time, which will be addressed more in the Traffic section.
Updating your content will keep it relevant, and it will also rank higher in the search engine results. The more helpful information you post, the more people will share links on social media. Remember, links are one of the factors Google uses to rank your site.
Offering quality content will also bring people to your website. In the case of blog posts, your keywords don’t have to be local. The information you write in blog posts can be relevant to people regardless of where they live.
If you’re an expert in the field or have subject-specific certificates, include this information on your website and write relevant articles so others will share and link to them. Use supporting sources when you have them because this shows that you’re committed to providing the best information.
Consider the reader’s attention span when you format your content. You can share a lot of information broken down into shorter paragraphs and bulleted lists. Using detailed subheadings will help users find the information they need while also giving you another place to put keywords.
Getting website traffic will also help your site rank higher in search engine results—the more popular your site seems, the better. Traffic isn’t just how many people click through to your site, though; you need to consider other variables, such as:
- direct website visits
- length of time spent on site
- number of pages visited
Direct website visits mean the viewer comes straight to your website, either by typing in your site address, clicking a bookmark, or following direct links from emails and other places on the web.
Any traffic will help boost your site’s rankings because it means people are coming to your site, but other traffic isn’t as influential. Different types of traffic include:
- organic traffic, which comes from search engine results
- paid traffic, when users click on paid or sponsored advertisements
- social traffic, when visitors click through links on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn
Since the length of time spent on your site is critical, you want to think of ways to keep visitors engaged. Embedding relevant videos is an excellent way to extend the visit length. Using images and infographics also increase visit time while giving your viewers information quickly
Including internal links to related content on your page is a good way to keep people on your site while increasing the number of pages they view. Keep your site easy to navigate, with no broken links, a site map, and a search feature. Ensure your site has a quick load time, so visitors don’t get fed up waiting for it to load and close the window.
On-Site vs. Off-Site SEO
While your focus should be on on-site SEO, off-site SEO can also benefit your rankings. We have addressed both in this article, but clarifying will help you use both to their fullest extent.
On-site SEO has been explained in-depth, so you know how optimizing attorney SEO will help these outlets. Since you can produce all of this content, it should take most of your attention when you’re increasing SEO.
On-Site SEO is content that you control, such as:
- post content
- external authoritative links
Off-site SEO focuses on having other sites link back to yours. Backlinks drive traffic to your website and position you in a position of authority. To encourage off-site SEO, you can create quality content that others will want to share and link.
A way to get off-site SEO is to:
- produce interesting and engaging content others want to share
- have an active social media profile that engages with others
- guest blog for others in the field and link back to your website
- encourage reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and relevant business pages
How to Create SEO
Learning the basics of SEO for lawyers can give you an idea of how it will work for your firm. You have to figure out how to create SEO: by doing it yourself or hiring an outside firm.
Do It Yourself
It doesn’t seem too hard to select some keywords and write blog posts, but there are pros and cons to doing it yourself.
- keeps you involved with all aspects of your firm
- doesn’t require an additional expense
- adds another task to your plate
- can be difficult if you’re not tech-savvy
Hire a Legal Marketing Firm
Consider the pros and cons before you hire someone to do this work for you.
- experts can implement best practices
- you don’t have to do the work yourself
- is an additional expense for your business
- you have to submit new keywords and info to an external source
While word of mouth and client referrals are great ways to bring in future customers, it’s a passive way of finding business. Law firm SEO puts your website at the top of the search results. If you’re not implementing SEO for lawyers, you should take advantage of all the benefits it can bring to your law firm.