Search engine optimization seems approachable to most lawyers. After all, how could it be more complex than the law?
Well — SEO isn’t all that difficult, compared to practicing law, IF you have been educated in it. But, like in any professional pursuit, success in marketing requires focus. Law firm marketing takes ethics, dedication, experience, and — perhaps most importantly — a daily commitment to keeping up with the newest techniques, technologies, and realities of the online advertising and marketing world. You also need a holistic vision of online marketing to understand how SEO fits into your greater business development goals.
In this article, we’re going to look at some of the challenges you face as an attorney, paralegal, or in-house marketing director when using a DIY approach for your law firm’s SEO campaign. Then, we’ll look at the professional services available. Here are the topics:
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When you first start thinking about SEO, you will probably find a lot of very friendly YouTube videos, blogs, and tutorials online. Many of them are targeting specific keywords, such as “how to do your own SEO”, but actually selling professional services.
However, to maintain the connection to this popular keyword, there’s usually some DIY how-to content. We’d recommend simply ignoring it.
First off, lawyer search engine optimization differs from general web marketing for other businesses. Second, some of these how-to guides are part of a strategy to onboard you as a client via ebooks, subscriptions, etc. Finally, you usually have to have a marketing background to get the most out of the good how-to articles.
We’d also recommend ignoring Google’s user-friendly beginner articles. They’re to get people started on a career as an SEO analyst, strategist, or consultant. For all of their usefulness, these articles are not intended to give you a marketing edge in a profession as competitive as law.
If you want to learn some of this DIY stuff, go for it. But we would recommend using that baseline knowledge as a means of choosing a competent professional — not a means of replacing one.
Beyond learning all of the intricacies of search engine optimization, another thing you probably do not have time for is advanced analytics. Unfortunately, this is an absolute prerequisite for any successful SEO campaign.
You can’t just eyeball it. You cannot intuit what will be the most competitive popular focus or keyword related to the main idea of a certain practice area. A marketing firm, on the other hand, will have the time and historical data to make those analyses and decisions.
Another reason you need a professional is for quality writing and visual content. Your website needs a certain level of aesthetic, informational, and technical refinement to perform well on search engine rankings.
Now, nobody would argue that there is a lot of writing involved in practicing law. Many are even competent photographers, designers, artists, computer programmers, and so on. There’s a fair amount of skill on all fronts.
Again, the issue here isn’t really the ability — it’s the focus. Marketing copywriting has a different set of skills. It’s a different practice than writing professional letters, contracts, and briefs.
Try to write with lawyerly precision, and chances are that you’ll miss certain phrasing that helps you rank. Design from a purely aesthetic standpoint, and you’ll miss some of the finer technical points that increase your search rank. In short, it’s better to hire a pro.
Why do you start any business development practice? To grow your business, of course: to gain more attention, to get more leads, and to secure more clients. Your investment’s value is measured in those terms.
Another word to the attorneys trying a DIY SEO approach, especially in single-lawyer practices: Your time is, frankly, worth more than ours as SEO experts. Hiring a pro should simultaneously get you more clients and free up time so you can help them better.
As mentioned in our intro, you get a lot more than just keyword analysis when you hire an SEO pro. The following sections will dive into some of the details.
One of the first and most important services you will get from an SEO expert is strategic planning. Strategy, as we mentioned before, is really the only way to get predictable results.
The first step is getting informed. This involves testing your website for a number of important searches. It also involves establishing a baseline performance from which you will be able to track your progress throughout the campaign.
This baseline of performance is also one of the ways that we can prove to you that our services are effective. In short, it is the first step towards your success.
After an initial strategic overview that takes into account your current performance and your future goals, we need to go a little deeper. We need to analyze your website on a technical and content level.
This analysis will help us to discover what changes we need to make. We might need to modify some of your settings, add markup language, change some of the existing articles, beef up some of your webpages, add new articles, develop new sections, and more. It all depends on what you already have in place.
You may notice that revisions were among one of the possibilities. Pros often recommend revisions to your website based on several common factors, such as the length of your articles, their layout, their focus, and so on.
There are also some more advanced rewrite needs we sometimes see. Reading level is also sometimes an issue for lawyers who write their own content. For firms that rotate through different authors or have had multiple different contact agencies, brand voice and tone are also sometimes an issue.
Far and away, however, the most common rewrite requirement is length. Few attorneys give enough background and specificity to adequately inform readers about their webpage topics. Those who do provide enough detail often tend to overwrite, making pages difficult to navigate and slower to rank.
During revision, we make technical, marketing, and quality-based considerations. The result is a beefed-up (or pared-down), focused article that performs the way it should for your topic.
Getting new articles for your website is also a key part of SEO. Search engines look for the consistent publication of new content, whether through blogs or through new permanent web pages.
Furthermore, search engines look for multiple, authoritative pages within the same general subject. They look for this because the people who published in this way tend to be experts that have the information people are looking for.
You might have authority in family law, personal injury law, or another practice area. You might even have a specific niche you target. A professional law firm marketing consultant can help you share that knowledge and experience with the people looking for your services. Google calls what they are looking for E-A-T, which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. The content posted on your website should meet this standard.
Up to this point, you might still feel like you can handle SEO all by yourself. However, tracking and monitoring is where most do-it-yourself approaches fail.
Tracking a campaign requires you to first establish performance tracking systems. After that, you need to monitor them and interpret the data that you receive. This often involves customizing reports so you’re not drowning in data that doesn’t really apply to your growth phase. Of course, the prerequisite to all of this is that you know what everything is called and how each data point informs you about your progress — or lack thereof.
While you are keeping track of your progress through data-driven analytics, you need to decide where to put your resources so they best advance your goals. There are two parts of this: Doubling down on what works and changing gears when your strategy doesn’t bear fruit.
Identifying success is relatively simple. If you are tracking your performance, you can see which pages are rising the fastest in rank and which have the highest ranks.
Changing gears isn’t so easy. If a page is not performing as you expect, it is sometimes difficult to narrow down the exact reason. You need to think about your business — maybe pages aren’t ranking because of market behavior. You also need to know how different aspects of your page might be lowering your rank or inhibiting your growth.
At FORWARD Lawyer Marketing, we have nationwide experience with many different types of law firms. Our law firm SEO professionals and marketing experts know how to optimize attorney websites so that they rank well on search engines and put the best possible image forward for the firm.
Give us a call today if you are ready to stop doing it yourself and start doing it in a way that shows real results fast. During our analysis, we’ll take a look at your situation and describe exactly how we believe we can help. Call 888-590-9687 or contact us online today.