This article focuses on the best practices for lawyer SEO and illustrates how law firms can improve their web presence by working on search engine optimization.
Your prospective clients are looking for the best lawyers in town. Yes, that would be you, but have you met them yet? Maybe not. It’s most likely that you haven’t met your potential clients because your lawyer website is not performing efficiently and connecting you to people as it should. It’s time to work on your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) to see where you are falling short and how you can improve your website’s overall performance.
In this article, we shall be focusing on the best practices for lawyer SEO and how you can get your website to perform better with the right focus on content marketing and search engine optimization. The article will highlight the importance of law firm SEO, how you can attract more clients with a well-oiled website, and how little tweaks here and there (from time to time) are all it takes to get a high-performing website.
Let’s get started!
Lawyer SEO – The Basics
So, what is SEO for lawyers? Simply put, it is the practice of making your law firm website accessible and searchable for people who are looking for professionals like you online. This means that if your website is easily searchable on the Internet, more prospective clients will know about your expertise and services and hence will have more chances of connecting with you.
While setting up your website, your SEO goal should be –
- To make it easier for search engines to find the site,
- To create content that is useful and relevant
The most important thing you need to understand about SEO is that search engine bots crawl websites – millions of websites every day – looking for high-quality and relevant information because users are constantly looking for relevant information. These crawling bots continuously index and list sites according to relevance and in comparison, with other competing websites. We shall be talking in detail about how SEO works later. For now, you must understand that in the US (and elsewhere too) Google is the most preferred search engine and should be your area of focus. The other popular search engines are Bing and DuckDuckGo and you shouldn’t completely ignore them.
When we talk about law firm SEO, we are talking about putting context in content to improve their searchability. As a lawyer, you know what your clients seek, you know your area of expertise, you know your law and community – all you need to do is put them together for better contextualization. This is what SEO is for – making sense of all the information you and others have, distilling what’s new and important, and highlighting content that best focuses on your firm’s skills and expertise.
Importance of Lawyer SEO Marketing
Why do you practice law? Well, to help your clients with matters of the law. Lawyer SEO marketing is also similar, rather it is an extension of your law practice. Here you help serve your clients – but on an online platform. Here your constant endeavor is to turn your prospective clients into paying ones.
Many statistics reiterate the importance of SEO for lawyer websites. Let’s see.
- Around 96% of people looking for legal advice begin their search online
- Prospective clients spend an average of 6 hours online every day
- 51% of traffic directed to websites come from organic searches
- Being on the first page of Google is important. 75% of people don’t scroll beyond the first page
- Lawyer SEO can help improve your conversion rates by 15%
- Though pay-per-click ads are helpful, research shows SEO is more effective in getting leads
- Specialized law firms that specifically target their audience and work on their SEO to meet their audience requirements rank higher on Google
Stats only reiterate what you must already realize – law firm SEO helps serve your clients better. Simple.
As lawyers, you will understand your profession better. But you also need to look at the profession from your client’s point of view. It’s only then you will realize that the public generally gets intimidated by the law and does not easily understand what legal representation entails. They go to the Internet and search engines to look for answers to complicated concepts and legalese. The job of your law SEO is to simplify and contextualize the law so that prospective clients trust you and keep coming back to you.
Legal SEO Terms You Should Know
Though your knowledge about the law may be impeccable, do not be worried if you do not understand SEO yet. Search engine optimization isn’t tough or complicated. There are just a few keywords that you need to be aware of. Here’s a quick list.
- Traffic – It is the number of visitors on your website over a measured period.
- Organic Traffic – It is the traffic that gets directed to your website simply from a search engine results page based on a query search by a user. No ads, social media, or backlinks are used to drive traffic. For example, when someone searches ‘divorce attorneys in San Francisco’ on Google and reaches your site because you were listed on the first page – that’s organic traffic.
- Query – People don’t always have questions that they want answers to. Most of the time, they enter a couple of words on the search box and wait for the suggested results to pop up. For example, “DUI defense attorney” isn’t a question, it’s simply a query.
- Ranking – It is the list of websites displayed by a search engine to meet a user’s query. Ranking on search engines is based on a variety of factors.
- Ranking Factors – Google and other search engines rank websites based on several factors. The frequency of updates, website speed and loading time, backlinks to your website, mobile responsiveness are some of the factors that determine search engine ranking.
- Conversion Rates – It is the measurement of site visitors taking actual action after visiting a website such as filling out a contact form on the site or personally calling you.
- Keywords – They are the focused terms or phrases that you use on your website to help search engines know what your content is all about.
- SERP – The search engine result page (SERP) is the page a user sees after typing a query on a search engine. Any website aims to rank higher on the SERP to drive more traffic.
- Featured Snippets – Some answers (usually in bullet form) get displayed on the Google search page and you don’t need to click on any link to know the basics of the topic – this is called featured snippets.
- Backlinks – When it comes to considered ranking factors, backlinks are very important. They are links to your site from other websites.
- Content – The ultimate juice in your website, the thing that drives traffic and rankings. Blogs, service pages, educational articles, infographics, FAQs are all content.
Types of SEO
When we talk about attorney website SEO, apart from the terminologies we talked about earlier, there are two broad types of SEO that you must know.
- Onsite SEO – Onsite SEO is the process of preparing your website for search engine optimization. This isn’t just about updating content from time to time but also deliberating on keyword selection, use of headings, images, videos, title tags, meta descriptions, sitemaps, etc.
- Offsite SEO – Offsite SEO is important but quite out of your control. For example, backlinks are necessary for SERP, and placing them in on you but whether they get clicked and users reach your site isn’t in your control.
Between the two, onsite SEO is the more important factor determining your SEO performance. It is more in your control and if done properly can lead to better rankings. While focusing on the onsite SEO, you must also lean towards either local SEO (where you use a targeting mechanism catering to your immediate community) or national SEO (optimizing your website keeping in mind a broader reach).
There are, of course, many other SEO terms that experts know and use. But for your law firm SEO, these are the basics that you must know right now.
How Lawyers Can Get Started with Website Optimization
If you want clients walking through your doors, you must first get them to visit your website. That’s why SEO is important. Now, that we know some of the SEO terms, let’s focus on basic tips that will help you get your website started and running.
1 — Have Your Data Before You Begin
The best way to build your website is to have enough information to get started. Collecting targeted data will help you know where your focus should be and how to move forward. The first thing to do is to get Google Analytics running. This you can do by –
Step 1 – Setting Up Google Analytics – This all-purpose dashboard keeps a tab of all your traffic data and helps you understand your website’s performance.
Step 2 – Setting Up Google Tag Manager – With the help of the Google Tag Manager, you can see how your posts are performing, posts that are attracting traffic, and more.
Once both are running, you connect them by setting specific tags that will help you track visitors and their behavior.
Set Goals on Google Analytics – The best way to optimally use the Analytics dashboard is by setting goals such as contact form completions, chat messages, newsletter signups, phone calls, etc. If you start tracking them from the beginning, you can monitor your site’s growth over time.
Connect to Google Search Console – Through this console, you can keep track of how often your site is crawled, names of sites that are linked to yours, your keywords that are featured in search queries, etc.
It is best to begin at the basic level just by setting up your Google Analytics and then adding on the other tools as you move forward. If you keep your lawyer website targeted and functioning, you can get better results over time.
2 — Work on Improving Conversions
As a law firm, the main objective of your website must be conversions. You must aim to get more people visiting your site to personally contact you with questions and cases. Prioritize conversions by –
- Putting out contact information on every page, at the header or footer
- Ensure that your contact page and contact forms are easy to use
- Ensure that there is a CTA (Call to Action) at the end of every content
- Add a chatbot or pop-up that helps visitors connect with you easily.
The idea behind these tools should be to help your visitors get in touch with you promptly.
3 — Be Mobile Friendly
Until 2020, Google prioritized indexing desktop versions of websites but after their announcement to start indexing mobile-ready sites first on 5th March 2020, now their bots work differently. This means that unless your website is mobile-friendly, you are not going to get favorably ranked.
To ensure that your website is mobile responsive and friendly, you may need to redesign the site, add new themes and plugins, graphics, and fonts. You must also test its performance by checking its speed and layout. Unless your website can be seamlessly viewed on multiple devices, it will no longer be favorably ranked by Google.
4 — Focus on Building the Content
You may have often heard the term ‘content is king’. For an attorney website, this is particularly true because what you write will determine who visits your site. So, if your site is filled with jargon and too many legal terms, don’t expect returning visitors. On the other hand, if your website is a storehouse of information – of relevant, legible, and easily understandable information, visitors will keep coming back for more.
Focus on content that best describes your services, area of expertise, and approach to handling cases. You can also include bios of your team members to give it a more humane touch.
As you go about building the site, add more long-form content by updating blogs and articles, especially on litigation, legal terms, and similar content that interest people.
Don’t try to be pushy with your content. Your aim should be to attract visitors so that you can build a relationship with them. Content development is basically about planning and ensuring that there are regular updates. If you think you are not up for the job, get in touch with us – Cyrusson Inc. We have a great content development team to help you.
5 — Improve User Experience
You have done everything by the books – built an engaging site, put in amazing content, and have great plans for how it’s all going to work out. Unfortunately, there are hardly any visitors. What’s going wrong? Maybe it’s time to check the page speed and UX.
Did you know that in 3 seconds, visitors to a site decide whether the wait is worth it and can simply leave? In 5 seconds of loading time, 90% will move out of your site. That’s why page speeds are so crucial. Fortunately, Google has many speed test sites for you to check the efficiency of your site. Run those tests.
Other reasons why people are bouncing off your website? Your site is hard to navigate, there is too much illegible content and it’s not accessible to everyone (especially those with disabilities). Whenever you build a site, look at it from the user’s perspective to find faults.
6 — Keep The URL Simple
If you want your visitors to remember you by your URL, you must keep it short and simple. Also, if you want to be properly indexed by Google, the URLs must be simple. The domain name, that is, the first part of the URL is usually your law firm’s name which is followed by everything else. The more complicated you make the URL, the harder it becomes to search for search engines and people.
Keep the URL short and straightforward rather than long with too many words.
7 — Make Your Site Secured
Have you noticed how some websites start with HTTP and some others with HTTPS? The difference between the two, in very simple words, is the level of security. HTTPS is more secure as it has enhanced layers of security certificates and is preferable when you are collecting sensitive and personal data from your visitors.
If your goal is to build client trust, you must build a website that promotes trust.
Developing Content for Lawyer Websites
We cannot reiterate the importance of content enough. It is the brick and mortar that builds and shapes your website. you must get it right. Developing content for a lawyer website is slightly different. Certain rules are specific since there is so much legalese involved.
There is a lot you need to get straight before you publish anything on the website. So, before you get started, keep the following things in mind.
Decide What You Want to Write
Usually, the most difficult part of developing website content is deciding what you want to publish on the site. This becomes more difficult for a lawyer website since there is so much technicality involved, jargon you use every day, etc.? So how do you simplify the law without distorting its meaning? This is something you must decide before publishing any content. Ask yourself the following questions.
- What is my key area of expertise?
- Why do I need to write about this specific part of the law?
- Do I want more cases such as these?
- Finally, do I want to pursue this in the long term?
Unless you have a long-term plan for your firm, you should not develop content because every blog and every web content published should help you realize your dream. Brainstorm before you begin.
Narrow Down Your Service Areas
You are a lawyer – that’s great but do you have all the answers? Every visitor to your site will have a specific purpose, a query that you must be able to answer. Do you have the specialized knowledge for that? Probably not. Thus, stick to your specialty – do not over-generalize yourself as just a lawyer. Focus on key service areas – types of cases you have successfully handled. After you brainstorm, a pattern will emerge.
Not only should the content be specific but down the line, you should be able to narrow down your expertise further. For example, you are a family lawyer but now specialize in adoption and representation for children. That’s what your content should focus on immediately.
Generating three to five service areas will help you develop focused content. This will also position you as an expert in your area and will help improve rankings on search engines.
Focus on Getting SEO Keywords Right
The right set of keywords can take you straight ahead of the competition and you can be easily found on the Internet where there are so many law firms like yours fighting for recognition. It is not easy zeroing down on the right set of SEO keywords for your attorney’s website, but it is doable. There are several online tools that you can use to help generate a list of SEO keywords. Some tools you can use are –
- Moz – It is a free keyword analyzer tool that helps select the best legal keywords for your website. The platform also runs a free domain analysis that checks how your website is running and where it needs improvement.
- SEMRush – It is a highly effective tool that provides you with data for topics you have selected. Once you enter your target keywords, you get a detailed analysis of high-performing keywords that are closest to your search.
- Ahrefs – It is a full-service platform for SEO queries that you can use to understand your requirements.
Further, Google also offers help in the form of a keyword planner. You can use it to create website content. But it is tied up to Google Ads. Explore all the options and create an exhaustive list of SEO keywords to work your content around.
Build Your List of Legal SEO Keywords
You should have two kinds of SEO keywords – the core keywords that can appear in almost all your content and other keywords that help narrow down your expertise and keyword search. For example, if you are a divorce attorney in San Francisco, you should have two types of keywords. The first and obvious one is ‘divorce attorney in San Francisco’. This will be the most competitive keyword, yet your aim should be to rank highly on the first page of a search engine with this keyword.
The second type of keyword would be the long-tail keywords and should thus be more specific. “How much does a divorce attorney charge in San Francisco” or “best advice from a San Francisco divorce attorney” are two such examples. Long-tail keywords can be used as topics for blogs and articles.
The important thing to remember here is to balance your content in a manner where you use the right amount of legalese yet make it simple for a reader to understand. You must be able to predict what people want to read. Don’t write something you like, expecting your visitors to also read them.
Write and Publish High-Quality Content for Searcher Intent
Your keyword research may be excellent, and you may have listed a great set of keywords but they will all be for naught if they aren’t backed by high-quality content that is read by a lot of people. Keep the following things in mind while writing content.
- Short-format content doesn’t get many views. Your targeted word count should be between 500 and 2000 as they are likely to get more views and shares.
- The trick for getting more likes and shares is to write even a complex topic simply. For a lawyer website that’s going to be your biggest challenge as you need to target a wider non-legal understanding audience.
- Organize the content with relevant headers and segment sections with lists and bullet points. This makes the content engaging and motivates readers to continue scrolling.
- Use graphics and images to break the monotony of the content. It helps to keep the readers engaged.
- You should have a clear and distinct voice that is appealing as well as interesting to the reader. Think of it as creating the first good impression while meeting a client personally.
A lot of traffic comes from mobile device users. You need to keep that in mind while optimizing your content – they must be mobile device ready. Mobile screen devices are small so you must organize your content that helps visitors navigate as well as read properly.
Do not forget the basics of why you are publishing content. Keep the searcher in mind every time you write. When you keep your target audience in mind you write accordingly. Since as a law firm you will be speaking out to the public, your “voice” should be casual yet informative. Also, do not forget to add a call-to-action button at the end of every content as it gives your readers the scope to contact you with queries.
It is also important to remember that every visitor to your site will not take a desirable action, that is, they will not be converted into your clients. Some visit just for the content and that’s okay. When you continue to publish quality content, not only do your rankings improve but over a period people start trusting your “voice”.
Write and Publish High-Quality Content for Search Engine Intent
Once you have written high-quality content keeping in mind both SEO keywords and searcher intent, your next focus should be to meet search engine requirements. You must publish content in a manner that is attractive to search engine bots. They “crawl” sites at varying times to see if anything is interesting. If they find your content to be informative and attractive, they will rank it higher.
To be able to rank higher, you need to keep in mind the following things.
- Add Keywords in the Title – Apart from scanning the entire content, search engine bots mostly crawl titles. Quirky titles may attract your audience, but they may not please the bots. Strike a balance so that both the bots and your readers enjoy the title.
- Add Keywords in the URLs – URLs that have exact keywords as used in the content, rank better. Keep that in mind.
- Don’t Forget the Meta-Description – After titles, meta descriptions decide search engine rankings. They are the brief description of the content that mostly appears on SERPs. Meta descriptions shouldn’t be longer than 160 characters and must succinctly describe to the searcher the content.
- Add Keywords to Pictures and Videos – Use keywords to tag pictures and videos. This will help to further improve ranking, especially in image-only searches.
- Ask Experts to Write for You – As a lawyer, you may consider yourself the expert. But to improve the credibility of the content on your site, invite other experts from the profession to write for you. You can also hire content writers who have a strong understanding of the law to write for you. Cyrusson Inc. has a great team of content creators and writers who have the knowledge and expertise to help you develop content for your law firm website.
Local SEO and Its Importance, Best Practices
People mostly search for two things online – services and products near them, and general information. When people search for law firms online they often look for “near me” searches. That’s mostly because rules, regulations, and laws change from county to county, state to state – and sometimes town to town. As a law firm using SEO to generate a lead, it makes sense to focus on local SEO.
Search terms with affixes “near me” and “near me now” are increasingly becoming popular. Over the last few years, their popularity has grown by 500% to 900%. Whenever people need a lawyer, whether it is for a divorce or a settlement, they look for a “near me lawyer”. Local searches are more used on mobile devices which means that if your site is optimized for mobile devices, it has a better chance of reaching out to more potential clients.
There are more than one and a half million attorneys in the US, and you are just one of them. The right SEO tricks, most importantly local SEO tricks are one of the sure-shot ways of reaching out to your clients and leads.
How to Get Started with Local Legal SEO
SEO isn’t something you can do once and forget. It is an ongoing process. Local SEO is more so. Your efforts must continuously be on improving the quality of your site (and its content), gathering more reviews (where permissible), and staying at the top of the search engine rankings.
The ideal place to get started with your local SEO efforts is with Moz’s basic guide on how to do local SEO. A free “presence check” is a good place to begin as with this you can see how your site is currently appearing on the Internet. Based on the report, you can get incorrect listings removed, and add newer business listings accordingly. By paying a basic fee, you can also get listings updated or corrected.
Unless you know how your local SEO is performing, you cannot improve your strategy. Thus, the above-mentioned step is important. Once you know your starting point, you can move ahead accordingly. To do so, keep the following things in mind.
Set Up and Optimize Google Business Profile
The best way to get started with your local SEO efforts is by setting up your Google My Business profile and optimizing it accordingly. Google My Business is geared towards local “near me” searchers which means that it helps to pinpoint your firm’s geographical location apart from telling people more about your business. It is a free tool that can greatly improve your “local search” prospects. A completely organic search tool kit, gives relevant photos of your firm, a local map for direction, and features links to your website. Simply put, it is a free advertising tool that can help catch prospective clients’ attention quickly.
This is how you set up your Google My Business profile.
- Claim your Business to Set Up Your Profile – In the first step, you need to first claim your business listing and then rightly place a map marker online. This may mean putting a marker on a specific location or a broader service area. Then you need to choose service categories. Keep note that you need to be specific while defining your specialty and law firm’s expertise.
- Verify Your Law Firm’s Operations – Once you set up Google My Business, you will receive a postcard on your physical address. This is Google’s way of verifying your business operations. Reply to it so that you can get verified within two weeks.
- Working on Improving Your Listing – You should be at the top of your game once you are verified by Google. Thus, in the meantime (of getting verified), work on improving your listings. Ensure that your website is providing adequate information to the clients (this also helps improve listings on Google). Keep the following things in mind too –
o Build a complete profile by adding physical address, working hours, contact details, etc.
o Describe your business, years of experience, practice areas, awards and recognitions, attorneys associated with your firm.
o Add relevant graphics and images.
o Work on building reviews.
The listing must be seen as the first step to relationship building. The hours you spend dry listing every fact about your law firm later helps Google My Business to define your practice which ultimately conveys to prospective clients your area of expertise.
List Yourself in Other Local Search Directories
Do you need to list anywhere else other than Google? Even though Google accounts for over six billion searches every day, you still mustn’t forget the rest. There are innumerable small and industry-specific listing sites that are very popular. They can get you right in front of potential clients, especially when you are having trouble reaching the top on Google’s SERP.
Focus on Yelp, Bing, the Better Business Bureau, and Facebook to stay locally connected to your immediate prospective clients. You must also look for state bar associations and other legal review sites as they can connect you to local clients.
If you are serious about local SEO, then you must take advantage of free local business directories. The more you get listed in local directories the number of links pointing towards your site will also increase. Known as backlinks, Google bots love them! And so should you.
Don’t Ignore Reviews – They Can Make or Break Your Local SEO Efforts
Reviews are the 21st century equivalent to personal recommendations. While looking for products or services online, people trust reviews more than brand/ service descriptions. So, if you do not have reviews up on your site and social media pages, get working now.
Though we did mention earlier that publishing reviews on law firm websites are slightly difficult since you must adhere to rules and regulations, check how you can work around the existing norms to get a few reviews published.
Make it easy for your clients to write reviews for you. Integrate review requests in every marketing material you send out and wait for them to respond.
Have a Comprehensive Review Strategy in Place
Getting your clients to review you in one thing, organizing and responding to them is quite another. And that’s something you must be able to do if you are serious about local SEO.
You must take into consideration that along with positive reviews, there will be a few negative reviews too. You must face them, deal with them, and respond to them as formally and cordially as you can. Unless you acknowledge the bad criticisms, you cannot move ahead. A single bad review (especially one that’s left un-replied) can garner more eyeballs than five positive reviews.
Keep Track of Your Local SEO Efforts
Once you have done everything you need to get your local SEO right, it’s time to look back and check out the analytics. This will show you your performance in terms of the number of visitors, length of time they spend on the site, what kind of information they look for, and whether they find it or not. It is these data that can help you improve not just your local SEO efforts but also the overall SEO of the site.
Remember, the end goal for maintaining a high-quality law firm website is to engage with your clients (existing and prospective) better. This isn’t a one-off thing but rather an ongoing process. You must constantly work on search engine optimization to get desirable results.
By now you would have realized that it takes a lot of effort, time, and expertise to get desirable search engine rankings. It’s hard work and though as a lawyer you may be used to working hard, this may not be your area of expertise. That’s why you should get a team of SEO experts onboard to help you understand the navigate the murky waters.
At Cyrusson Inc. we are committed to helping law firms understand SEO as best as we can and guide you in your efforts to make your web presence top-notch. Get in touch with us today and let’s talk about ways we can work together!