Law Firm SEO Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Jan 14, 2022 | Digital Marketing, Law Firm Marketing, SEO

Law Firm SEO Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This is a frequently asked questions page that answers all the relevant questions on law firm SEO. If you have any questions that aren’t mentioned here, please feel free to reach out and we’ll be happy to answer any of your questions!

Some of the most frequently asked questions about law firm SEO are:

How Regularly Should a Law Firm Website be Optimized?
The ideal answer to this question is that once your law firm website is optimized for search engines, it hardly needs to be optimized again. This is the most common answer offered by most digital marketing agencies. But this isn’t just something that SEO experts say lightly since it is supported by facts and logic.

When your website is already optimized, for it to be optimized again, certain conditions must change, such as –

  • Google’s algorithms have changed,
  • The laws have changed,
  • Facts published on your pages have changed.

If these things haven’t changed, your website doesn’t need to be further optimized, assuming that it was perfectly optimized in the first place.

However, your website may still see a dip in ranking or may not favorably rank on the search engines results page due to several other factors that may not be related to your SEO strategies. Moreover, they may not be solved by further optimization of your site too. These factors include –

  • Your competitors have more and improved content,
  • You have insufficient content despite your site being “optimized”,
  • Certain bad practices and tricks were used by your SEO agency (such as buying links) for which you are being punished.

How Long Does It Take for SEO on A Law Firm Website to Work?
The amount of time it can take for SEO to show results for your law firm depends on how the work is being done, the efforts made by your SEO team, and the resources that are being poured into the effort. Many factors are into play that eventually determines whether your law firm’s SEO efforts are being successful or not. Some of them are –

  • How much content is there on the website,
  • Quality of the content published,
  • The uniqueness of content published,
  • Architecture and structure of the website,
  • How the content is formatted,
  • UX design,
  • Competitiveness in your market,
  • Geographic targeting and how narrow or broad it is,
  • If earlier your previous marketing agency engaged in linking building thereby harming the credibility of your SEO efforts.
  • Whether too many design frills are hampering the content of your website that in turn is affecting SEO (a simple website structure gets better rankings).

You must realize that creating a sustainable web presence takes time, especially with organic SEO. If you are willing to be patient, willing to not take quick fixes and shortcuts, eventually you will gain with SEO.

Should Lawyers Be Concerned About Longtail SEO?
By now we all know why people use Google. It’s simple – to get answers. Their queries are the keyword drivers that determine the kind of traffic that lands on your website. Most searches for law firms are directed through queries for specific information. Very few simply look for lawyers (in a specific location). This means that longtail or detailed keywords are likely to be more effective for your law firm website, at least this is what most marketing agencies will tell you.

If your law firm is simply optimizing for the head, for phrases such as “Seattle personal injury lawyer” or “Colorado DUI attorney” and not concentrating on tail phrases such as “who pays for medical expenses and rental car after an accident in Seattle” and “will I lose my pilot’s license after a marijuana DUI in Colorado” than you are simply wasting time and resources.

Optimizing simply for the head of the keyword spectrum means that you end up spending more energy and money on clicks that already see huge competition. Doing this will only add a little to your list of viable cases but is more likely to diminish marketing ROI.

On the other hand, law firm websites that concentrate on longtail keywords have a greater likelihood of conversion and tend to get better rankings with general searches too.

What Does Off-Site SEO Mean?
Off-site SEO is the practice of getting backlinks from other sites. It is a common, though not entirely legitimate practice, of paying other websites to get links to your law firm website. You must understand that Google doesn’t appreciate off-site SEO as it frequently levies penalties that directly affect a website’s good ranking. Off-site SEO seems like an easy shortcut but for its consequences, it simply isn’t worth enough.

Should I Get Backlinks for My Law Firm Website?
When other websites link content to your website, it helps in improving your Google rankings. It is a good thing. But if you are paying someone to get that link, it is not appreciated by the search engine. It directly violates Google’s Guidelines. So, if your SEO agency is suggesting buying backlinks, stop right there. It’s like bribing the judge to win a case – that doesn’t help your cause, does it?

Will .gov and .edu Backlinks Help My Law Firm SEO?
NO. That’s a simple and straightforward answer. Unfortunately, this is one of the easiest lies that dubious marketing agencies are likely to sell you. According to their claims, you can buy backlinks from .edu (educational institutions) and .gov (government departments) sites. The reality is however different. This is a scam because Google sees them as spam magnets.

Google guidelines say that any backlinks from .edu sites must be tagged as “no follow” which completely negates any potential SEO benefit you could get from such backlinks. If Google’s recommendations are followed, the search engine will not follow such backlinks which will not boost your SEO (as you expected). Such links get identified as spam and (in the best case scenario) will be ignored.

Will Link Building Service Help My Law Firm Website?
No, it won’t. It is almost impossible to come ahead with such a strategy. The best you may expect is to break even. What’s more likely to happen is that you will sabotage the fates of your website because Google doesn’t recommend such tactics.

Does Buying PPC Ads (pay-per-click ads) from Google Help SEO?
This is a big fat lie often told by misleading marketing agencies to law attorneys that purchasing PPC ads on Google will positively impact search engine rankings. We must categorically mention that this is completely false and misleading. A Google partnership doesn’t help SEO, it simply gives you the license to resell Google products such as AdWords.

Google clearly states that there is no correlation between buying PPC ads and organic search rankings. In a Google search results page, there are two types of search results displayed – paid advertisements that are displayed as “Ads” and/or “Sponsored” and organic search results. One doesn’t have any correlation with the other. Google doesn’t accept money to improve your search results rankings which means that it costs nothing to rank organically.

If any marketing agency is promising you favorable organic rankings on Google based on PPC ads, they are blatantly lying. Think of it like this – if a law firm sells this idea to their clients that because they are friends with the judge, they can favorably alter the judgment. You know it as well as we do, this doesn’t happen. Similarly, buying PPC ads doesn’t help your SEO.

What Are Some of the SEO Tactics A Law Firm Should Avoid?
There are hordes of advice on SEO tactics online. Some are useful but most are useless. One of the worst SEO advice you will come across is that links are more important than content. Certain agencies promote this, but this claim is not only fake but also almost impossible to verify.

Some of the ideas about SEO tactics that your law firm should ignore are –

  • Press Releases are Good for SEO – No, they are not. We aren’t saying that press releases have no value, they surely do. They help create media attention but from an SEO perspective, they add no value and haven’t added any in the last many years.
  • Participating in Content Farms – Content farms are websites that seek to drive “link juice” to other websites. Participating in content farms doesn’t do your firm any good, in fact, it harms your SEO prospects.
  • Submitting Websites to Link Directories – It is true that in the early 2000s, Google advised businesses to submit their sites to relevant directories. But they have long removed this guideline which means that today submitting your website to any link directory can be counterproductive.
  • Paying to Get Guest Blog Posts or Links Published – If your digital marketing agency is suggesting you pay to get your blog posts published in prestigious publications such as HuffPost, Business Insider, and the likes, they are doing you a disservice. Paid blog posts must have a “nofollow” tag which means that they cannot help in SEO.
  • Offering “Benefits” as Link-Baits – Offering scholarships or other benefits in exchange for getting your law firm’s link posted somewhere is a scrupulous act that doesn’t help SEO.
  • Becoming a Part of Link Schemes – Some SEO companies practice cross-linking their client websites with one another to trick search engines. Some even buy and sell links. Such schemes are never helpful.
    Google says this on link schemes, “Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.”

Whenever you work with any SEO agency, try to understand their off-site actions. Ask them to keep a log of their activities so that you can audit them later. Auditing their actions will tell you if they are participating in link schemes on your behalf and if so, you can make them stop. If they refuse to log their activities, be wary of their activities.

Will My Firm Face Legal Ethical Issues While Attempting Law Firm SEO?
This is a possibility. This is likely to occur if a non-attorney SEO expert works on your website. They may alter the text that can change legal meanings. They may use layman keywords (that are otherwise effective) but for a law firm can have a different meaning. Another common issue is the use of comparative language commonly used in SEO such as “best lawyer”, “a specialist” or “expert”. These terms can pose serious ethical issues for a law firm.

As an attorney, it must be your job to read every word published on your website. You cannot allow your SEO agency to alter words that can have multiple meanings. It is always advisable that you assign the task to an agency with previous experience of working with law firms.

Can Page Load Speed Affect the Ranking of My Law Firm Website?
It is true that Google mentions page loading speed as a ranking factor, but that’s just one of the hundreds of factors notified by Google. However, many SEO agencies tend to give page load speeds a lot of importance saying that a slow loading page can sink your SEO prospects. That’s not entirely true.

A website must primarily have relevant content to rank well. A web page with no structure, design, or content will invariably load fast but it will not rank because it has nothing to show. At the same time, a page with heavy content and image which is likely to take time to load will also not rank well.

Thus, the key is page speed optimization and simply not page load speed.

Will Using AMP Pages for My Law Firm’s Mobile Version Help?
Sometime back Google had started promoting the AMP framework with the promise that AMP pages loaded faster as they were pre-loaded with Google’s search results. This was surely one of the many experimental projects of Google but unfortunately, it didn’t really take off. However, many agencies saw the AMP framework as a good selling point. They promised law firms better rankings, but this never happened. In fact, law firm websites that used the AMP framework were left with lesser effective UX that also compromised the website’s responsive features.

Since the launch of the AMP framework, Google has received its fair share of criticism. Though it continues to exist, it is no longer seen as an advantageous platform for websites that aren’t looking for headline panels or are not news sites. Earlier the framework was necessary if you wanted to get into the “Top Stories” carousel, but Google has lifted this restriction.

Anyhow, AMP doesn’t seem to have any advantage for attorney websites which means that there is no rational reason why you need to use it today.

For Better Law Firm SEO, Should I Use Meta Keywords?
Some SEO agencies do talk about adding keywords to law firm websites and blogs. They say that adding meta keywords improves SEO, but it isn’t so. Google no longer uses “keywords” meta tag in its rankings which means that it has no bearing on your attorney website SEO.

Which Search Engines Should I Submit My Law Firm Websites To?
Any competent SEO expert would tell you that you don’t need to “submit” your law firm website to search engines. This should happen automatically when a sitemap is created while building a website’s framework. Automatic robot files get created that tell search engines that your website is up and running. It is the sitemap that tells the search engines every time an old page is updated or a new one is added.
Paying extra for this service is simply a useless expense that you should avoid.

What Is the Use of an XML Sitemap and How Does It Help a Site’s SEO?
An XML sitemap is a machine-related readable list of pages of your law firm website that helps search engines know what to crawl through. It is the XML sitemap that indicates when a new page is added or updated, and when the search engine should re-index your site. A competent SEO agency such as ours (Cyrusson Inc.) ensures that your website has an XML sitemap.

What Is a Meta Description?
Simply put, meta description is a short text included within an HTML tag that is located at the top of a web page or blog post and which summarizes the content of the page. Typically, search engines can show the meta description while displaying results, especially when a user query matches the content of the description. However, search engines can also substitute this with an excerpt from the page if it deems that to be more relevant to the search query.

Meta descriptions aren’t one of the ranking factors which means that you do not necessarily need to add them to every page. So, if you leave a meta description area empty, Google will fill it with a description that it thinks will be most relevant to the searcher. But, if you decide to add Meta descriptions, you must add unique ones for every web page. Recycling the same meta description has no value.

The recommended length of these descriptions is 160 characters.

How Prepared Must I Be Before Exploring the Agency Model for SEO?
Cyrusson Inc. believes that clients who know what they are looking for also have a better understanding of how SEO works. But this isn’t just what we believe in. Even Google advocates that consumers read their Webmaster Guidelines to know how search engines work.

So, if you do not want to fall into counterproductive traps many SEO agencies will lure you into, be informed so that you can ask relevant questions.

With Cyrusson Inc. by your side, you can be sure that all your attorney SEO needs are fulfilled. Even then, we recommend some questions that you should ask before hiring any search engine optimization company.

  • How Many Years Have You Been in Business?
    Ask this so that you know how stable the SEO agency is. However, be wary of certain scammers who operate under one business name for a while and quickly regroup into another when something untoward tarnishes their name. Some also jump into the internet marketing business to make quick money without real experience.
  • Does Anyone in the Company Have Criminal Records?
    As a lawyer, you must be extra careful of the people you do business with. Before hiring any SEO agency ensure that they haven’t employed convicted felons and troublemakers who may sabotage your website.
  • Do You Work with Full-Time Employees or Do They Hold Other Jobs?
    You will come across many law firm SEO providers who showcase themselves as heavyweights simply by listing a lot of independent contractors as employees. This is misleading. Ask the agency how many full-time employees they have and how many work on a contractual basis. If you want to be extra careful, you can also lookup for individual employee profiles on LinkedIn to know more about them.
  • Do You Work with Offshore Companies?
    It is unethical if an SEO agency works with offshore companies or outsources their work while hiding the fact from their clients. If they do, they must come clean about it. Moreover, since in a law firm website every word count, offshoring may create a language barrier that you should definitely avoid.
  • Does Your Agency Provide Employee Benefits?
    Agencies providing basic benefits such as medical, 401K to their employees is an indication that they are invested in their team. It is also a sign of stability. That’s why you should ask about how an agency cares for its employees.
  • Do You Work According to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines?
    If any agency doesn’t know what that is, don’t associate with them. If they say they “mostly” follow the guidelines, steer away from in another direction, and if they say that they have their own set of guidelines which is why they don’t follow Google’s guidelines, run away faster.
  • Do the People in Your Agency Working on My Website’s SEO Have Any Legal Background? Working on a law firm’s website is different than working for other types of websites. The people working on creating, editing, and optimizing the website must have the necessary legal knowledge so that they comply with the law. Since you are ethically responsible for carefully publishing everything on your website, SEO experts must also keep this in mind.
  • Do Your Employees Understand Legal Ethics, Especially Rules 7.1, 7.2, and 7.3 or their equivalents?

If the agency you zeroed in on does not understand legal ethics, you could get in trouble with the bar for their negligence. Are you willing to pay such a heavy price?

  • Does Your Agency Have an Adequate Understanding of The Nature of Law Practice in My Geographical Area?
    The purpose of optimizing your website is to reach out to viable clients. This can only happen when the agency understands your geographical location and the demography of the clients. Make sure they know how to look for potential clients for you.
  • Does Your Agency Have Some Special Relationship with Google?
    If their answer is yes, you must look for the exit door. Google has always focused on offering the best search results to its users and there is no way an agency can bypass the strict and secretive algorithms of Google’s search results.
  • Can You List the Things Your Agency Will Do For My Law Firm Website’s SEO?
    If an agency is unwilling to share details, you must move away from them. However, if they provide details, some of which are unclear, seek clarification. Do not just blindly agree to everything they say because they are supposed to know better.

What Is Duplicate Content, and Can It Hurt My Law Firm’s Website?
According to Google, duplicate content is the “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely matches other content or are appreciably similar.”

Google doesn’t penalize every duplicate content. Rather it provides suggestions and assists with tools on how to avoid duplicating content.

Having said so some law firm marketing agencies try to trick their clients (as well as Google) by creating a single page of content and then duplicating it by replacing keywords. For example, they create a page on local personal injury and then duplicate it by replacing the name of the city with new pages. This isn’t a good practice and should be avoided.

You must also steer clear from agencies who advocate renting content. Companies that rent content do so to multiple law firms. This means they are likely to provide the same content to multiple law firms. In such a situation, none of you will have any SEO benefit because when the same content is published on different websites, they add no-index tags which block search engines from indexing such pages all together. When they do this, they ensure that you do not get penalized for the duplicate content, but this gives your web page no SEO benefits whatsoever.

It is always recommended that you publish fresh content that’s written from scratch. However, in case of law, statutes can be quoted and hence may be duplicated.

Is There Anything Called “Top of Google” and Can Your Agency Ensure This for My Law Firm’s Website?
Let’s get this straight – there is nothing called the “top of Google”. It is a simple misconception which many marketing agencies use to lure their clients.

Does “PageRank” Count Anymore?
PageRank was Google’s first algorithm to determine search rankings. Over the years, they added to the list of algorithms though PageRank remained the most popular. The idea behind PageRank was to determine the importance of a website by “counting the number and quality of links to a page”. It was based on the assumption that a website that received more links from other websites was likely to be more important.

Over the years, marketers tried to sell backlinks to influence Google rankings. So, Google stopped using PageRank as a ranking factor. Even then, its essence remains, and marketers try to sell its importance to their clients. But you must understand that it isn’t a ranking factor anymore.

How Often Should Blogs in My Law Firm’s Website be Updated?
It is no secret that blogging is one of the most effective marketing activities that you can use. You must blog but how often and how much?

Well, that depends on several factors such as,

  • Your area of expertise,
  • Your geographical location,
  • The demography of your potential clients,
  • Your competitors and their activities on the web,
  • The evolution of news in your practice area.

The general rule is that the more you blog, the better it is. However, it cannot be seen as a blanket rule simply because a lawyer specializing in estate planning cannot blog as adequately as an attorney specializing in personal injury law.

At Cyrusson Inc. we recommend you (or at least get somebody) to blog once a week.

What is Black Hat SEO?
It is the practice of trying to trick Google to give a website a better ranking by using some nefarious tactics. However, these tactics can never be hidden because Google always invariably catches them. And when they do so, they punish SEO agencies who employ these tactics while also penalizing the website where it was used. So, even if there is some promise of short-term gain, it isn’t worth it in the long run.  

What is White Hat SEO?
It refers to the use of SEO tactics that are following Google’s guidelines. In White Hat SEO, no tricks and deceptions are used. This is the standard practice that you should follow while seeking SEO for your website. Currently, white hat focuses on how content is created for a website.

Should My Law Firm Be Interested in Link Disavowal?
We cannot mention enough times how backlinks can backfire. They are bad for SEO as Google can penalize if you pay somebody to get backlinks for you. However, if your competitor uses them to sabotage your website, there is a way to mitigate the damage with Google’s help. Disavowing links needs expertise which is why we don’t recommend attorneys to try it on their own. Unless you understand all the instructions and know-how to disavowal links, don’t do it by yourself.

Cyrusson Inc. understands link disavowal and will help you with the process if the need arises.

Can Anybody Harm My Law Office’s SEO?
While it is not impossible, it is highly unlikely for a competitor to sabotage your SEO efforts. Even if that happens, the source is likely to be an outsourced SEO agency that uses strategies such as link building, directory submissions (basically strategies that many providers call beneficial).

The truth is that is it easier and more cost-effective to work on building one’s website SEO rather than worry about sabotaging a competitor’s SEO, not to mention less risky too.

It is common for law firms to question their competitors’ intentions because their website’s not performing well, but you should understand that the problem is likely to be in your SEO strategy and not your competitor’s intentions.

Will The History of a Domain Name Affect SEO and How?
Yes, the history of a domain name affects SEO – both positively and negatively. An old domain that has been around for some time and has a history of following the best practices and has many useful contents under its name will be favored over a new domain name with equally good content. But, if an old domain was involved in link buying or gaming search engines, it can be a curse. This kind of negative history can follow you through even if you intend to follow Google’s guidelines now.

When buying a previously owned domain name, make sure you know its history. If a domain was involved in bad practices, it will not be of any use to you. This means that simply because a domain is aged, it isn’t better. A newly registered domain might be better.

Should I include Keywords in the Domain Name to Help with My Attorney SEO?
What are domain names? They are the address of your website that can be easily remembered and typed without assistance. Choosing the right domain name can make a lot of difference to your SEO game. While selecting a domain name, keeping the following things in mind helps.

  • Have a memorable name as a domain address. The idea is that people should be able to type it on a web browser without thinking. Common spellings are always effective to this end.
  • Go for “exact match domains” only if you are willing to pay for developing high-quality content to match the domain name. Earlier Google did prioritize its search results based on finding exact words typed by a searcher on a domain name, but this doesn’t happen any longer. This doesn’t mean that having a good domain name will not be advantageous, but it will only be so when the website is backed with relevant and informative content.
  • Using hyphens with keywords while registering attorney website domain names is a practice that may nor may not work out for you. The point is that if you carefully use hyphens in domains, it can improve your SEO prospects but many times it is indicative of spammy behavior (which isn’t desirable). Law firms tend to use hyphens in domain names as it makes the name readily available for registration but be careful not to use too many hyphens.

Ultimately it boils down to your intent. Why is the website important? If you want to gain favor with search engines, then a better domain name is desirable. But if you look at the domain name as a part of your overall branding, then you can alter it according to your aim.

What are the chances of My Law Firm’s SEO Getting Affected by The Hosting Environment, IP Address, and Even the Location Of The Web Hosting Server?
Certain hosting servers come with many “advantages”. Unfortunately, they host from a single server and with just one IP address. As a result, they attract scammers and spammers who can maliciously use the IP address. Since these hosting options are cheap, there is also very little accountability – which is definitely a problem.

Moreover, cheap hosting servers also open avenues for your website to be hacked allowing spammers to add malicious codes. Whenever you are sharing a hosting space, you become exposed to such downsides.

Since search engines possess the intelligence and the technology to regulate results, whenever they see something damaging their business (such as spyware, spam, malware, and/or scams) they begin “distrusting” not only the website but also the IP address, IP range, and the host.

So, to say that your website’s SEO can greatly be affected by the hosting service isn’t wrong. If you are worried about the credibility of your hosting platform, maybe it’s time to switch platforms.

If I Change to a New Domain Will It’s Bad History Affect My Law Firm’s Website?
If your previous SEO agency got your website into trouble because they didn’t follow Google’s guidelines of SEO, then simply changing the domain name may not help. It won’t especially be helpful when you transfer the site from the previous domain using a 301 redirect. In such a case, the bad history of your previous domain follows. It is much better to start afresh.

Should I Allow an SEO Company to Place a Link on My Website?
If you have read this FAQ carefully, you would notice how many times we have warned against link-building schemes. When an SEO company (specializing in law firm SEO) emails suggesting you allow them to put a link for another law website on your site, understand that it’s nothing but a link-building scheme. Do not fall for this trap, no matter how authentic and convincing they sound.

How Important is the Density of Keywords for the Success of SEO?
In the early days of search engines, a lot of emphases was paid to keyword density or finding the right balance between the use of desired keywords with the other words on the page. But over the last decade, search engines have matured so much so that today the emphasis is on user intent. If the content on your website answers the searched query (even with a lesser number of intended keywords), it’s fine. This won’t affect your SEO. Instead of focusing on the density of keywords, focus on building better and relevant content because that’s what counts today.

How Does Top-Level Domain (TLD) Affect A Law Firm Website?
There are many common TLDs (affixes that come after the dot) such as .com, .net, and .org which are very popular but can become hard to register with. Fortunately for lawyers, there are many choices of choosing from law-specific TLDs such as .law, .attorney, and .lawyer. Though these TLDs rank better on Google, there is no conclusive evidence suggesting that they are better than the traditional TLDs.

Ready To Take Your Law Firm’s SEO To The Next Level?
The team at Cyrusson is here and ready to help your Law Firm’s SEO rankings increase exponentially – Book a call today for your free consultation and quote!

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