How On Page Optimization Increases Your Law Firm’s Ranking in Local Search Result

October 15 , 2021 | BY Matthew Stark


On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization — it’s a perfect match for local SEO. On a basic level, on-page SEO is about organizing information on your web pages. The goal is to communicate clearly, especially when it comes to communicating with Google’s search engine algorithms.

Algorithms aren’t your bailiwick? Don’t sweat the technical details. We’ll go into that later in this post in slightly more detail.

For now, we’re going to start by talking about why on-page optimization is important for humans, then we’ll move to how it works with Google. Here are the topics:

Optimizing for Humans

  • Who’s Reading Your Site?
  • Understanding and Writing to Your Market
  • Focusing Articles on Specific Topics
  • Writing Enough to Explain the Subject
  • Getting Specific About Your Territory

Optimizing for Search Engines

  • SEO Basics: Keywords and Ranking
  • Ranking for Local Searches
  • The Importance of Business Listings

tablet with search results

Who’s Reading Your Site?

One of the core ideas of local marketing is focusing on specific groups of people. You identify your market, understand what they want, and share your services with those people.

There’s a lot that goes into this seemingly intuitive process. For example, a full marketing consultation and analysis might include:

  • Going over your case history
  • Reaching out to recent satisfied clients
  • Analyzing your firm’s territory and area of practice
  • Reading online reviews of your firm
  • Calculating the profitability and opportunity value of your past cases
  • Reviewing your existing publications, such as your website

All these things and more can help you grow your business. It’s about getting the big picture of who needs your services and then filling in the details with quantitative evidence.

For some firms, it can seem easy at first. Many general practice law firms start out defining their markets as anyone in their territory, for example. This is especially true for local SEO.

Even if that’s the case — even if you are talking to every adult in your county — how much do you know about your territory? What’s the average reading level, income, and age? How many people are using mobile devices to search for lawyers versus traditional computers?

There are multiple ways to get the information you need to make your decisions but (at least online) they’re all relatively technical. Forward Lawyer Marketing can help you better understand your market. We use real-world data from your own website and the internet at large to inform your decisions and grow your business.

Understanding and Writing to Your Market

Search engines accept user input. They then display results. Ideally, the results will match the input as closely as possible. That matching is a big part of on-page SEO.

Once you get to know your market, it’s time to craft a message. You’ll want to match the style of your communications to what people expect from a law firm — specifically, what they expect for your area of practice and your geographical territory.

There is no single way to do this that works for everybody. Techniques and approaches vary widely even within areas of practice. For example, a criminal defense lawyer who focuses on corporate fraud and embezzlement in the suburbs would need a much different type of message than one who focuses on violent crimes in the city center.

Another common issue with the law is jargon (admittedly, it’s also an issue with online marketing). If your firm provides services for other firms, some technical language is great. If you’re addressing the general public, it’s usually a good idea to keep the Latin to a minimum.

Again, why does all of this matter for on-page SEO? It matters because you’re optimizing your website for search engines to match searchers with your pages. In other words, you have to give the people what they’re searching for — in the exact same words they’re using. More on that later in the “keywords” section.

Focusing Articles on Specific Topics

As you already know, there is an abundance of information on the Internet. Focusing your web pages with on-page optimization helps you stand out for specific topics.

For example, it’s good to have a family law page on your website if you’re a general practice firm. What’s even better is to have an organized structure of pages on sub-topics and sub-sub-topics within the realm of family law.

For example, you could have a family law page and then a separate divorce page elaborating on that. Elaborating on the divorce page, you could have sections for asset division, child custody, support agreements, military divorce, same-sex divorce, and alternative dispute resolution.

It’s important to have these different sections because part of on-page optimization involves linking. You would insert links for related topics between pages. This lets your visitors navigate easily, learning as much as possible about specific subjects without getting bogged down in irrelevant information.

Writing Enough to Explain the Subject

Being specific is one thing, but it does not pay to be terse when doing on-page SEO. Search engines record word counts of web pages. If a page on a complex topic is too short, it is not an optimal situation.

You don’t have to fully educate your website visitors. They don’t need to pass the bar. On the other hand, you need more than a blurb.

Specifically, you should usually have 500 to 1,500 words of focused discussion per topic. This length lets the search engine know that your page will answer the questions people are asking.

Getting Specific About Your Territory

Local on-page SEO often involves what we call “geo-focused content”. This can range from simple techniques to comprehensive local articles. Here are some possible elements of a geo-focused web page:

  • Includes your town, county (or parish), or state
  • Mentions neighboring towns
  • Includes information about local courts
  • References local events or landmarks
  • Gives directions to your office

An example of a good subject for a fully geo-focused page might be a new office, a featured practice area, or a local charity event. Light geographical references, such as mentioning a town name, work well for on-page SEO regardless of the topic.

keyword research

SEO Basics: Keywords and Ranking

Up to this point we’ve been talking about on-page local optimization in the more general sense. That should provide the context for these slightly more technical topics.

The first (and most important) SEO concept we’re going to talk about is “keyword”. Keywords are words or phrases that we use when writing your web pages. We choose them based on large datasets of internet searches that relate to your topic and your general area of practice.

For example “on-page optimization” is one of our keywords for this article. “Poughkeepsie car accident lawyer” might be an example we use for a client.

These keywords give us more than just a conceptual anchor for the articles that we write. They also anchor our articles to search terms. It helps us match your website with people using those keywords.

In the early days of internet search, you could just stick all of your keywords into a word bank somewhere on the page and show up on the first page of results. These days, search engines are much more nuanced and have much more data to use. This gives us a more precise search experience.

That brings us to the next major topic: search rank. The purpose of on-page optimization is to have your website rank highly for specific keywords. For example, you want to show up when someone searches for your town and your area of practice (remember “Poughkeepsie car accident lawyer”).

Search engines determine rank based on a complex analysis that involves both on-page and off-page factors. One thing’s for sure though — higher ranks are better. In fact, the whole point of optimizing the page is to rank higher in the results.

Local Services Ads

Ranking for Local Searches

That is a lot to think about. Here’s a quick summary of some of the things we do on-page to rank higher in local searches:

  • Use local keywords that include your area of practice and geographical location
  • Write geo-focused pages for your offices and specific practice areas
  • Link general pages to location pages
  • Optimize for voice and mobile searches
  • Optimize your website’s loading speed for mobile devices
  • Go into detail on each topic
  • Write articles on specific subcategories of your practice

The Importance of Business Listings

It is not technically on-page, but one of the key elements of success in local searches is business listings. On Google, there’s something called Google My Business. This is a profile for your firm that you can update and manage.

When Google has relevant, up-to-date, complete information about your firm, it is much easier for the search engine to match you with people who might need your services. Having a good review score might also make you eligible for other programs, such as Local Service Ads.

Contact FORWARD Lawyer Marketing Today

Search engines are an increasingly important tool for finding lawyers. The first step for that is on-page optimization — it helps the search engines find you.

At FORWARD Lawyer Marketing we believe in taking a “leave no stone unturned” approach when it comes to our legal clients. With that in mind, we employ extremely experienced people in the industry. Our SEO Director has been marketing online for well over two decades and oversees all SEO tasks including editing content and performing on-page optimization as well as internal and external linking. Our specialty is law firm marketing and SEO for lawyers at FORWARD Lawyer Marketing, call us at (888) 590-9687 to discuss how we can increase the revenue of your law firm.