SEO for lawyers is competitive — many firms are out there trying to rank for the same keywords. The more information you have in a situation like this, the better you’re likely to perform.
We’ve put together a brief overview of SEO in this post. After you read this, you should be able to have an informed conversation about SEO with any consultant you’re interested in hiring. Here are our topics:
If you’d prefer to start taking action immediately, we’re available for individual consultations. If you have any questions related to your firm’s business development plan, strategy for your specific practice area, or the legal marketing ethics in your jurisdiction, please feel free to contact us.
SEO stands for engine optimization. It’s a crucial part of your success in any comprehensive online business development strategy. The purpose is to:
The way SEO accomplishes these goals is by increasing your rank on search engine results pages. This is important because people rarely search beyond the first results page.
By ranking higher, more people see your firm’s website. However, increasing your search engine rank requires a complex effort — an effort that demands artistic, technical, and strategic acumen.
Keywords are the most important elements of SEO. These are the words and phrases that people will use to search for information about your firm. There are limitless possibilities when it comes to keywords, but that doesn’t mean that all possibilities are equally probable.
In other words, keywords should be the most common words that people use when searching for the exact topic you’re discussing on each page. A page about divorce lawyers should feature the phrase “divorce lawyer” prominently, for example.
Older strategies tended to stuff articles full of these words and phrases, sometimes even going as far as to include word banks that were only there for search engines. It’s now possible to rank higher by including all of the most important phrases naturally in your content.
Keywords are important, so it’s essential to put thought into selecting them. One of the most famous mistakes in internet marketing is to use an intuitive approach to selecting keywords. For consistent results, you need research.
Keyword research is the systematic investigation and selection of keywords for your website. It involves several stages, from high-level conceptualization to data-driven analysis:
Optimizing for search engines takes time. It also takes time for your work to show results — you can’t always tell immediately if a specific page has the potential to perform well. Keyword research gives you the analytical edge you need to accelerate the ranking process. It also makes success more predictable.
Most law firms have some type of web presence. That means that you probably already have a search rank. You might even have a general idea of how your firm is performing online — maybe you’ve Googled yourself.
Establishing the baseline for your search engine performance is a more complex version of googling yourself. It involves looking at a variety of technical metrics for your website as a whole and for each page or article you’ve published. Here are some of the items that go into SEO performance analysis:
The first item on that list, the total number of people visiting your website via search engines, is probably the most important thing. At the very least, that’s the goal: to get more people visiting your site.
User behavior also provides insights into how successful you are at SEO. When people visit your page and decide to stay, it means you’re providing the information they were looking for with those specific keywords.
There are two main technical concerns that most law offices have with their websites in terms of updating their search engine optimization. The first is load time, and the second is mobile compatibility.
Loading time is influenced by a variety of factors. The service that hosts your website plays a role. So do any security, encryption, analytics, or filtering services that you use. The media content on your pages, such as videos, audio, and images, is also important.
Loading time should be as quick as possible. It has a direct result on your rank in search engines. After people are on your page, the speed with which everything loads also has an indirect result on search engine rank in that it can influence whether people stay on your website or leave immediately because things are too slow to load.
The next big technical concern is mobile optimization. Many contemporary websites are optimized for mobile, but some law firms still have less-than-ideal mobile versions. More and more people are searching for lawyers using their personal handheld devices, such as tablets and phones, so mobile optimization is definitely relevant for attorneys.
One of the prerequisites of SEO is making your information available for search engines. There are some basic techniques, such as using formatted text instead of images with text in them. Google, for example, can index the content of files like Adobe PDFs and Microsoft PowerPoint documents — useful for publishing certain types of content on the web.
For the most part, you’ll be using conventional webpage formats when you publish articles. However, it’s important to ensure that search engines are allowed to index your site and have access to all of the information you want people to find.
Quality writing is a crucial part of SEO for lawyers. People easily pick up on filler and fluff, especially when they’re looking for something specific like legal help. The wrinkle here is that you still need to incorporate your keywords into your articles.
Copywriting for a law office is a much different exercise than most of the writing that happens in a law firm. Webpages are typically less specific, more persuasive, and use less technical language than even email conversations you might have with a client. Copywriting quality comes from a variety of factors:
Your writing should also be able to convey the brand of your office. This might not directly affect search rank — but it will help set expectations. That should help you convert website visitors to new clients more easily.
Search engines are able to read the content on optimized websites. They use that information to match sites with the words users search for. However, that’s only one element of search rank.
Linking is also important. Links are one way that search engines determine how reputable and authoritative a website is — in other words, how likely it is to have useful information. For example, popular websites have thousands of links pointing traffic towards them.
Incoming links (backlinks, in SEO jargon) ideally provide visitors directly to your website. Search engines also take stock of the quantity and quality of your backlinks when determining your rank. Good links can help considerably, whereas spammy or link-farm backlinks can actually lower your rank.
In what might seem like a paradox, getting more visitor traffic to your website can increase your search rank. However, it’s not all about quantity. The quality of engagement with your site is important, too.
Research shows that only certain types of visitor behaviors are really helpful when you’re trying to rank higher on Google, for example. In general, these behaviors are indicative of someone who really wants to hear what you have to say on your website:
How do you get people to engage like this? It all comes down to a unified, user-focused SEO strategy that provides useful, compelling content in a well-organized way.
SEO requires some commitment, but search engines make tracking relatively straightforward. Through tools like Google Search Console, you can access all of the metrics you need to maintain oversight over your newly optimized pages.
FORWARD Lawyer Marketing has helped law offices across the country rank higher for the most competitive keywords out there using SEO for lawyers. We can start from scratch with custom web design or come in and apply our proven, data-driven approach to your existing website. Contact us today at (888) 590-9687 to set up your free personal consultation and site audit.