Almost all of the world accesses the nooks and crannies of the internet through the power of search engines. Whether it’s Google or Yahoo or even Bing, search engines have become an integral part of our daily lives.
However, as much as we all use search engines, we don’t really stop and think about how the search engine works. We don’t ask “How did the engine know to display what we wanted?” We don’t consider the nitty gritty of how search engines index or organize all the hundreds and thousands of websites across the internet and make them available in order of relevance when we type a few words in and press ‘Enter’.
This is where the magic of SEO – that is “Search Engine Optimization” – works. Mastering SEO Marketing is the best way to get yourself in front of your target audience.
What Exactly Is SEO?
We already know that people don’t look beyond the first page of the Google most of the time. There is even an understanding that when you go to the second page, it means you are desperate.
So, when someone searches for “lawyers in my area”, which companies appear on the first page of the results? Is it yours? If not, what do you need to do so that your law firm appears on that page? What do you need to do so that users click on your website’s link? Search engines like Google work by way of a complex algorithm that scores every existing website and then depending on how relevant a website is to a user’s query, displaying it. We don’t need to go into the details of how it works. What we do need to know is how can we take advantage of it?
SEO improves your search engine ranking, making potential customers more likely to find your website in their search engines result page (SERP) and clicking on it and then ultimately becoming your client. Working on SEO for lawyers and law firms involves analyzing the existing online presence of your firm and then taking a number of actions to make you stand out from your competitors.
It must be noted that SEO is a long-term marketing strategy, which requires you to commit to a long-term, dynamic strategy when it comes to online marketing. Whether you do it yourself or you hire experts to do it for you, this guide is intended to give you the basic information you need to know about SEO marketing for law firms and lawyers.
Factors Important To SEO Marketing For Lawyer
Those who don’t know much about SEO will attempt to explain SEO as a bit of “internet magic that involves using the right keywords”. This is not true. While including the correct keywords into the content of your website does allow the search engine to identify the intent of your webpage, SEO involves several components.
Website Optimization: Your website must be market up with a header, content, URL, image, title tag and meta attributions all of which share with the search engine the manner in which to index your content. Your site attribution designations are used by search engines to file your site in an appropriate location so that it is displayed when users are looking for it. This process is not unlike a library and book numbers. If the book isn’t catalogued away in the right section, finding it will be near impossible.
Navigability: Getting the user to your site is one thing, but once they’re there, they shouldn’t find a mess. If you’ve used to internet, you sure must have come across a site that was simply a pain to navigate. That is not the kind of site you want your users to find on arrival. Everything from the number of times potential clients click on your site, the amount of time they spend there and even the instances when a user clicks your site and then immediately clicks the “back” button – something known as a bounce – all affect your SEO for Lawyers.
Content: You can have an entire site that is just made up of the right keywords, but that won’t matter in the end. Modern search engines know better than that. What you need is constantly updated, informative and useful content so that users are drawn to your website. The only content worth publishing are content that are genuinely written and incorporate relevant keywords.
Backlinks: Part of the search engine’s process is to crawl through all the websites and read them quickly. As they do this, the search engine will from one page to the next through links. It is important that you link internally, from one page of your website to another, without leaving any dead ends. But the concept of backlinks is that when another website includes a link to your firm’s page, the search engine arrives to your site and this improves your ranking on the SERP.
Obviously, when you use keywords that are specific and relevant to your industry – in this case law firms – you will have a better chance of climbing your way through the SERP. But like we said earlier, it is more than just sprinkling in a few hot keywords. A good SEO for Lawyers marketing strategy will start with an internet marketing analysis of your website.
Analyzing Your Website
To keep your users engages and to improve your SEO rankings, you need a website that is easy and intuitive to make your way through. You website’s navigability can be analyzed by considering a variety of factors.
Dead ends/400 errors: You know what dead ends are and chances are, you’ve come across a 404 Not Found page. If the users of your website find a dead end or a 400 error page, then they are likely to leave your website.
Content Organization: A strong website structure allows search engines to crawl through your website in an easier manner. More importantly, this increases the time your users spend on your website by having a rational roadmap that they can follow.
Backlinks: Backlinks, like we mentioned, are links from other websites that link back to your site. The number of sites that point to your site is a massive indicator of your website’s performance and presence on the internet.
Internal links: When there are internal links within your website, interconnecting all your pages, it allows your user’s to easily navigate your site and it can also increase the time they spend on your site. Internal links also allow the search engine crawlers to thoroughly explore your site. You can also use internal links to redirect users to older pages in your site, to give them more exposure.
External links: To a search engine, external links in your website mean that you’ve done your research and included citations and links back to your sources. All search engines are trying to give their users the most value. External links pointing to other sites is an indicator of your website being a one-stop-shop for any and all information on the topic.
Word count: It sounds obvious, but not everyone realizes that word count plays a large role in SEO ranking. The more detailed your content is, the more detailed content you have, the more the chances of your website climbing up the ranks of the SERP for the relevant words.
While SEO does involve your presence of your firm’s website all around the internet (backlinks, social media and whatnot), your presence has to start somewhere. As such, the foundation of Search Engine Optimization for your website starts with your website, with the content you put into your website, with the keywords you chose to include and with the links you create.
You can benchmark your website’s performance by measuring your website’s results against key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine how well your SEO for Lawyers strategy is working or not. KPIs analyze your website’s structure and your link profile. Both of these factors influence your rankings on search engines and consequently, the ability for your potential clients to find you. Your internet marketing can be analyzed through several methods.
Improve Law Firm SEO and ROI
Identify and improve your strategy. That is, if you have one at all. If you don’t have one, the first thing you need is to make a proper internet marketing strategy. Just putting together a bunch of content and publishing a website is not going to work.
Use the tools available. The concept of SEOs and internet marketing have been around for a while. Therefore, a variety of tools exist to help you in all your SEO needs. Tools like Google Analytics, Keyword Planner, AHREFS, SEMrush, in addition to a whole host of others all exist with the purpose of helping with SEO and internet marketing strategies. These tools will allow you to have an insightful look at your website’s performance, how many users you have and how they got to your website.
Take a look at your links. Your website’s links, like we’ve mentioned earlier, play a large part in SEO rankings. So, conduct a link analysis. Find out if your links are broken, if you’re linking to trustworthy and authoritative sources. Add more links if you need, links to authoritative sources. The more well-sourced your links are, the better your search engine rankings will be.
On-Site VS Off-Site SEO For Lawyers
The difference between on-site SEO and off-site SEO are exactly what their names sound like. The former happens entirely within your website. Whether it’s the front end or the back end, these are the actions that take place on your site that bolster your efforts in SEO Marketing. Off-site SEO has nothing to do with your site and everything to do with methods outside of it that significantly contribute to your marketing campaign.
On-Site SEO For Lawyers and Law Firms
You need a thorough strategy in hand to ensure your website is fully optimized so that it can get a high-ranking in the SERP and get you the relevant traffic. On-site SEO plays a large role in any good internet marketing strategy and involves several different areas, including but not limited to:
- Keywords: While keywords are not the be all and end all of SEOs, having the relevant keywords goes a long way in helping your site. You can get a start in finding out what are the right keywords to use by comparing sites similar to yours to see what keywords they are using – Google Analytics is very helpful in this regard.
- Website Structure Optimization: Your website your have all it’s pages structured in a rational manner. An unoptimized irrelevant mess will not draw in any users, and most likely will repel anyone who visits your site.
- Headings: Headings (like H1, H2, H3 and so on) are identified by the search engines and can help with making your website properly organized. The kind of heading you use will also help.
- Title Tags: Much like a file name, title tags explain exactly what is on the website and help users find their way to your website. Title tags must be made with the right keywords describing the content on the page.
- Meta-Description: A meta-description is a <160 character description of your website/page on the search engine results page. Because of their low character count, the philosophy of “less is more” is key.
- Custom Content: It goes without saying that your website needs to offer custom content to your audience. Whatever it is, it should be easily readable, engaging and be between the 1,000 to 20,000 word count range. Marketing your law firm with the right custom content will play a large part in improving your SEO for Lawyers rankings.
- Google Analytics: Like mentioned earlier, one of the tools available to you is Google Analytics – a tool that tracks various aspects of your website, such as traffic, click-through rates, keyword rankings and more. The data from Google Analytics will help you analyze and track your website’s improvements.
- Google Search Console: Google Search Console is a no-charge web service provided by Google for webmasters. It allows you to check indexing status and optimize visibility of your websites, fix issues and make your website shine.
- On-site security: Any website needs to be secure, and you as a law firm need to make your that your website has security that will prevent any attacks, make sure there is information leaks or viruses spreading through your website. It’s not a good look for a law firm to have it’s website affect the computer of a potential client.
- On-site load speed: We live in a fast paced world and nobody likes to wait. Your website needs to optimized and it has to load fast. Faster loading speeds also contribute to your search engine ranking.
- Calls to Action: Once a user is in your site, you need to make them more likely to have a relationship with you. Buttons, links and other calls to action must be spread around your site allowing your users to easily engage with you.
Maintaining An Active Blog
There are generally two types of content in any website. The first are static pages that contain general information and these pages will remain relevant and unchanging for a reasonable amount of time. The second is a blog. An essential part of keeping your website updated is a blog that is filled with current information that is relevant to your audience. Every new blog post you make is another reason for you clients to stop by your website.
Having an active blog in your website will help your SEO rankings. By constantly updating your blog with new and relevant content, you can increase user engagement. One-time users may come back to keep themselves updated, users may comment and communicate, all of which increase your site’s SEO rankings.
However, as it has been stated earlier, a good SEO strategy needs not just any content, it needs quality content. The blog posts you make need to be of a certain standard, and further, you need to make sure that your blog is constantly updated. A dead blog doesn’t contribute to your site, so you can’t get away with writing a few posts and letting it be. To continually direct traffic to your blog, you need to actively blog over time.
There are some questions you can consider to help you create and maintain an active blog:
- Who is your target audience?
- What is your brand?
- What is the message you want your blog to convey?
- How will you incorporate visual/aural elements into your blog?
- How frequently will you post?
- Will you write your posts yourself or hire a writer?
- Will you manage your blog yourself or hire an internet marketing firm?
Note: When you’re writing up your blog posts, you need to make sure that you use internal links – linking pages within your site – so that your site is fully optimized. Like we mentioned earlier, interlinking pages allows Google and other search engines’ spiders to thoroughly explore your website.
SEO For Lawyers and Ethical Advertising
To move clients from the “potential” category to being actual clients, your advertising campaign has to maximize visibility. A respectable strategy will avoid spam and useless content, instead focusing on quality. There are different rules for different states when it comes to the rights of the public and advertisers in terms of marketing for a law firm. Whatever your states rules and regulations are, there are still social and business considerations to make when you are advertising as a lawyer.
For a start, your advertisements should not be deceptive, misleading or offensive. In addition to turning potential clients away, there are potential legal ramifications for dishonest activity. As a lawyer, who is supposed to uphold the law, you will be held to a higher advertising standard. For a start, stick to the following rules:
- Don’t publish misleading information.
- Unless approved by your state’s bar association, do no claim to be an expert.
- Under any circumstances, don’t guarantee outcomes for potential clients.
Local VS National / Global Internet Marketing Strategy
Having content is not enough. You need to make sure that your efforts are received by the intended audience and to do that, you need to implement geomodifiers in your technical optimizations. A geomodifier makes sure that your website is related to the correct geographical area, so that it shows up on searches pertaining to that area.
When someone searches for “New York Divorce Lawyers” or “Entertainment Law in Portland”, it is the geomodifier that makes sure that law firms and lawyers in the area show up in the SERP. By focusing on specific subjects and geographical places, you can find the correct audience for your website. National SEO is a more broader technique. In these cases, specific phrases like “DUI cases” or “personal injury law” will show specific results in the results page.
Your SEO for Lawyers campaign needs to consider the right geomodifiers to make sure that your intended target audience has easy access to your website.
Website Structure For SEO For Lawyers
We touched on what website structure is and why it is important earlier in the article. Basically, the more well-organized your website is, the easier it is for both potential clients and search engine crawlers to make their way through your site.
But what does a good website structure mean? What are the elements it is composed of?
Hierarchy: Search engines find it easier to sort through your website if the content is organized under separate “umbrellas”, each one pertaining to a select topic. Website hierarchy is something that must be planned out before you create your website, and you should make sure your URL matches the hierarchy of the site.
Site maps: A site map is basically a list of the pages in your site. Having this is essential for the crawlers to thoroughly explore your site.
Simplicity: From the UI to the formatting and layout, a simpler site is better than an overly complex one. Too many buttons, drop down menus, links, advertisements will all just confuse your user and complicate their experience.
Page levels: While there is a need for nested pages – subpages under subpage under a mainpage – to create a hierarchy, having just subpage after subpage after subpage, will be counterproductive to your website’s organization.
Mobile UI/UX: It should be obvious in today’s world, but if it’s not: make sure you website works on a phone, or even better, create a different UI and provide a dedicated user experience for your website on mobile. A large number of people use their phones and their tablets to access the internet, and you do not want to scare them away.
After the basic framework of your website and then filled it with content, the next step is to work on your website’s off-site SEO.
Off-Site SEO For Lawyers and Law Firms
Off-site SEO is done, as the name implies, outside of your website. Whether it’s through social media shares or links to your website in other websites, when trustworthy sources link back to your website, your SEO improves.
We’ve talked about backlinks before, but considering they are relevant and very important to your off-site SEO, we’ll touch on them once more. Backlinks are links on other websites that direct users to your website. Both the number and the type of backlinks that direct to yours will affect your website’s Domain Authority (DA) and it’s rank on the SERP.
Domain Authority is a search engine ranking score that predicts how well a site will perform in the SERP. You can view your website’s DA by using MozBar (a free Chrome extension), Link Explorer or the SERP Analysis section of the Keyword Explorer tool, in addition to other SEO tools around the internet.
Your link profile is made up of a list of all the other website’s that backlink to yours. Ideally you want your link profile to be composed of a number of reputable and established sites. Establishing a robust link profile is very important and comes with a number of benefits like:
- Search engines identify you as a trustworthy site
- Your audience will identify you as a trustworthy site
- You will rank higher on search engines
However, as it is known, quality is preferred over quantity. While good backlinks from reputable sites will increase your SEO, backlinks from spam or low-effort sites will most certainly have the opposite effect.
There are number of ways in which you can gain good backlinks. Being featured in a news article, being mentioned in well-distributed blog or you yourself writing a guest post in another blog can all give you a good backlink that can enhance your SEO rankings.
The Search Engine algorithms can easily discern between an authoritative website and an unauthoritative website. Despite there existing websites whose sole purpose is to feature backlinks, buying a backlink on such sites is a cause for your SEO ranking dropping. It might even end with you going back and removing these backlinks because they hurt your rankings.
It must also be noted that like everything else, backlinks are also meant to be part of a long-term strategy. New links are better than old links, and therefore, you must make sure that accruing good, solid backlinks is a continual process.
Improving SEO For Lawyers Through Social Media
Around 80% of the population of the United States use social media as of 2018. Nearly 90% of the population between the ages of 18-29 use social media. These statistics mean something.
They mean that social media is the perfect place for you to advertise your Law firm. There are two advantages to a social media presence, the first and obvious one being that social media allows potential clients to see your business and it’s reputation online and second, and not so obvious, engagement on social media is interpreted by search engines as a sign that users prefer your website. This will improve your SEO for Lawyers ranking.
Benefits of Social Media include:
- Exposure to a wider audience
- Increased user engagement
- Building a closer relationship with your clients
- Improving your brand
- Increases SEO
You should take full advantage of social media by creating content that makes users want to click on the link. Videos, images, infographics – they all increase user engagement. Latching on to the current trend and taking advantage of them will also help you a lot. Users will click on your links, leave comments and share the content around. In addition to improving your SEO, the process will also expand your business’ following and help you make a name for yourself.
Hiring An SEO Company For Your Lawyer SEO and Marketing Campaigns
You can break down SEO companies into two types: white hat agencies and black hat agencies.
It is vital that the company you choose to work for your SEO for Lawyers campaign is aligned with your ethics. Choosing the wrong company to represent you on the internet will definitely backfire on you.
Employing a white hat SEO company is a worthwhile investment. They focus on the long-term strategy and aim to increase the number of actual human users who visit your website. This will pay off for years to come. However, black hat SEO companies use cheap tricks, bots and not entirely ethical ways to take advantage on any loopholes in the way search engines work. The result will be that users are ultimately turned away from your site.
The differences between the two types of SEO companies can be broken down as follows:
Black Hat SEO Companies
- Use unrelated keywords
- Use keyword stacking/stuffing
- Use tiny text, hidden texts and hidden links
- Use duplicated content or a mirror site
- Practice bait-and-switch or page swapping
- Produce spam blogs with no good content
White Hat SEO Companies
- Produce quality content
- Use semantic markup
- Research keywords
- Use relevant and effective keywords
- Use well-sourced links
- Use good inbound links
- Use specific title tags and meta-descriptions
How To Track The Effectiveness Of The SEO For Lawyers Campaign ?
To succeed in any industry, you need to constantly measure and track your company’s growth. Part of doing so is tracking the effectiveness of your internet marketing campaigns. There are a variety of questions you can ask to track and measure the effectiveness of your SEO for Lawyers campaign:
- Is your profitability increasing?
- How are your clients finding you?
- Is your customer base growing steadily?
- How many of your clients found you on the internet?
- How many of them found you through social media?
- Is your Domain Authority ranking increasing?
- Is your SERP ranking increasing?
How Long Does SEO For Lawyers Usually Take?
As we mentioned earlier, SEO is a continual process and should be part of your long-term strategy. SEO is based on fresh content and the search engine algorithms are constantly changing. To keep up, you need to continually update your page, add new quality and maintain a steady presence on social media. There is no definitive answer to when SEO will actually impact your business, but SEO is very important and does help, if just in small ways. However, to get a idea of when you will see solid results from your SEO for Lawyers campaign, there are several factors you can consider:
- How long your website has been up and running is a key factor. You don’t start at the top of the SERP rankings, and only by continually publishing content will the search engine algorithms take notice of your site and recognize it worthy of displaying amongst the top results in the SERP.
- Having a functional site is also important. A impossible to navigate site with a lot of broken links will signal to the Search Engines that your site is not worth sending users to.
- Having an SEO Campaign is another part of it. SEO is a very involved and technical process that requires expertise. Hiring the right experts, unless you know what you’re doing, will also contribute to your rankings, because they can fine tune your site to perform well.
- The quality and quantity of content on your website will also play a large part. You need to consider whether you are updating your site with quality content and doing it constantly.
In addition, there are number of tools that allow you to track your website’s growth. Popular tools include Google’s Google Analytics and Google Webmaster. These tools are popular because they are effective.
- Phone Tracking: Phone tracking is a tool that helps you figure out which campaigns or keywords prompted a user to call you.
- Form Tracking: This is the process of setting your site up to track where a form is being sent from and sending the form immediately to you, allowing you to start a conversation with a potential client.
- Traffic Reports: These track keywords that are currently trending. They also help you track where the traffic to your website is coming from and what kind of traffic it is.
- Ranking Reports: Ranking reports manage the keywords in your site, and rank them based on what has the highest impact and what has the lowest.
SEO For Lawyers: Our Proven Solution to Internet Marketing
Internet marketing is more than just creating a site and waiting for something to happen. To ensure that your website grows and has a solid presence online, you need to use Search Engine Optimization. Whether you do it by yourself or with the help of an internet marketing company, optimizing your website and watching it rise up the SERP ranks is an exciting process. It is one that will help your website go to the next level.