SEO for Law Firms: An Attorney’s Quick Start Guide to Search Engine Optimization

SEO for Law Firms: An Attorney’s Quick Start Guide to Search Engine Optimization

More than 50% of website traffic is brought in through a search engines like Google, Google having most of the market share for searches as well. Failing to optimize your content for search engines, could cause you to miss out on meaningful website traffic. If clients can’t find you online, how will they find you at all?

With a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, you can attract new clients and build your practice. Neglecting SEO for law firms strategy and practices, however, could cause you to fall behind. If competitors rank above you, your would-be clients will find and choose them instead. Get ahead of the competition. Keep reading to discover the essential legal SEO tactics you need to succeed.

  1. Start with Your Website

Before using the following SEO tips, you should to start with your website. Your site’s appearance and functionality can both impact your SEO rankings and client conversions.

For example, it’s important to make sure your site loads quickly. A slow-loading website could potentially irritate visitors. The longer people have to wait, the more likely they are to leave and move onto someone else’s website, that someone else being your competition.

You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to determine what’s slowing your site down. You might need to remove an old plugin application or begin condensing and compressing your images. There are plenty of ways to speed up a website, and most of the time ,settings and configuration adjustments are permanent, so you won’t have to keep babysitting site speed issues later.

Google wants to provide its users with the best possible experience. In order to prioritize user experience (UX), you need to make life easier for your visitors. Speeding up your site is a good start.

Make sure your site is easy to navigate as well. The navigation should appear organized and easy to understand. Otherwise, visitors might struggle to find what they’re looking for. Be sure to test functionality of your website navigations from desktop, tablet and mobile to ensure all kinds of visitors will have a seamless experience.

Try using UX design trends, including minimalism, to improve your site. For example, you can utilize white space to give your content more room to breathe. You can also use shorter sentences and paragraphs to improve readability. You want to avoid walls of text, or too many images against your text. You want a nice balance to have your design looking great, and to provide the best image to potential clients.

Make sure your site is secure. Look for “HTTPS” in front of your URL. If you don’t have an SSL certificate yet, get one. SSL encryption is the standard for the internet now. Most hosting providers will issue these for free, or at a yearly cost.

Improving your website’s design and functionality will keep visitors on your site, improving your chances of generating new leads. If this all seems a bit outside of your wheel-house, and you were considering a new website anyways….check out our fully managed websites for attorneys and law firms. They include the website, full management and optimization for the site at a flat monthly rate. See pricing details here: https://www.launchpadlegalmarketing.com/websites/.

  1. Consider Your Keywords

One of the most important components of a legal SEO strategy is your keywords. What are your clients searching for online? Make a list of keywords to target by using online keyword tools like:

  • SpyFu
  • Google Trends
  • Google Keyword Planner
  • SEMRush
  • Ahrefs

We primarily use SEMRush premium account, which provides more actionable data than you can imagine. Once you have a list of keywords, determine which are relevant to your areas of practice. For example, do you specialize in personal injury law or divorce/family law? In that case, focus on keywords related to those case types.

Don’t forget to consider the client’s search intent. What exactly are they looking for? Do they want to find a lawyer who offers these services? Maybe they’re more concerned about what to do after a car accident, or when it’s time to call a divorce lawyer.

Google’s machine learning makes it easier for Google to understand the user’s search intent. With that in mind, you need to understand what your clients are looking for, too. Then, you can craft content that fits their searches. The more closely the content matches the search, the better chance you have of getting on the board for that specific search. Don’t forget geography either. If you’re in Los Angeles, make the content specific to your base of operations. For local searches, Google wants to display local and relevant results. An easy way to do this is to add your city name in the keyword. Example, rather than “Personal Injury Attorney” as your focus for your website or page, “Personal Injury Attorney in Los Angeles” is an instantly better focus to rank.

Keyword research can be difficult if it is all new to you. What to rank for, how to implement website changes to optimize and more. If that’s the boat you’re in, check out our Attorney and Law Firm SEO Bundles. They start at about 1/3 the cost of the big guys, but have dedication and transparency built in.

  1. Check Out the Competition 

Once you have a list of keywords to target, search for those keywords online. Which blog posts and websites appear at the top of the search page? Read the articles and pages that are already ranking for those keywords. What stands out about those posts? Make a note of what is different about your content pages and articles.

Maybe your competitors are using infographics alongside their posts. Maybe they’re using videos instead of text. Either way, determine what your competitors are doing to earn a top-of-page ranking. Essentially Google search is your cheat sheet. You can see exactly who Google is displaying and you can see exactly what that website is doing. With a bit more research on some quality SEO tools, you can find the exact recipe for ranking that search term.

A number of fairly easy to change factors can impact your ranking. For example, how long is the content? Did you include links from authoritative websites? Are your images and graphics search engine optimized as well? Once you determine what your competitors are doing to land on page one, you can improve your own strategy to start climbing the page.

  1. Love the Locals

SEO for law firms strategies aren’t only about marketing your services or expertise. In order to attract new clients, you also need to think about your community, which is where most of your new leads will come from.

Start by updating your Google My Business listing. Make sure your contact information is accurate and up-to-date. Then, ask previous clients if they’ll post a review on your Google My Business listing or other listing accounts like Yelp, Avvo and more. Make sure to add these reviews to your website, too. A testimonial section can go a long way for potential clients looking at you as an option for their problems. It helps you build brand trust, which can help you acquire new clients.

Happy reviews will improve your legal SEO ranking. The Google Map Pack (3-4 listings on a google map on the first page of search results) is where most of search engine traffic will land. Grabbing and maintaining one of this spots can make all the difference. The listings here are ranked by a few factors, but review count is one of the major ones. Google wants to recommend/rank well established and locally trusted businesses. Those positive reviews get you on track to being that business. We explain more in our article here: The Importance of a Positive Online Reputation. We also offer a Local SEO Bundle for attorneys and law firms that includes online review generation and reputation management. You can see the options and pricing here: https://www.launchpadlegalmarketing.com/review-generation/.

  1. Kick Up Your Content

Google prioritizes unique, high-quality content. In order to use these law firm SEO tips, you need to create content consistently. Otherwise, you could risk quickly falling behind competitors, or having new competition overtake you without warning.

Make sure to mix up your content. For example, you might decide to create blog posts, videos, infographics, or quizzes. Interactive content like quizzes and polls are great for improving engagement. As you create content, make sure it’s helpful and informative. Don’t forget to prioritize the user’s search intent. Then, place your target keyword in the:

  • URL
  • Post title
  • Opening and closing paragraph
  • A header
  • Image alt tags

Don’t overstuff your content with your target keyword. When using this guide, SEO for lawyers, you want to make sure your content reads naturally. Using heavy jargon could scare off readers, as well. As mentioned above, your content should be as long or longer as the best ranking results. If you want to rank, give Google a reason rank you. Further, consistently published content is easily sharable on social media channels. Get the most from your content by sharing it across your social media profiles with an easy tool like Zoho Social, which is the tool we use in our Social Media for Attorneys packages.

  1. Keep Up With the Trends

Google’s major algorithm update, BERT, is responsible for 1 in 10 English searches performed in the US. In order to make sure the legal SEO strategies mentioned above work for your practice, you need to keep up with the trends, otherwise, your SEO strategy might fail to attract traffic. Instead, make sure you’re using the latest strategies. Here are a few BERT trends that have changed SEO for law firms in the past year.

Machine Learning – Google uses three main mechanisms when determining rankings, including:

  • BERT, which analyzes the structure of a search
  • RankBrain, which adjusts rankings based on the user’s unique data
  • Neural Matching, which determines a queries meaning

The best way to appeal to these mechanisms is to create high-quality content that matches the user’s search intent.

Zero-Click Searches – Zero-click searches are answers that appear on a search results page. These include featured snippets, which can appear as:

  • Summary paragraphs
  • Videos
  • Q&As
  • Bullet points

Make sure to structure your data to appear for these searches.

Mobile Search – Over 52% of searches occur on mobile devices. People often look for answers to their questions while they’re on-the-go. With that in mind, Google began using mobile-first indexing in March 2018 to appeal to these mobile users. In other words, Google prioritizes websites that are optimized for mobile users. If your site isn’t mobile-ready, your ranking could drop. Being connected to Google Search Console is an easy way to get mobile usability errors and notifications directly from Google. It is free and a very powerful tool.

Make sure your website is mobile-optimized. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to check. If your site is optimized, your content will appear for mobile and desktop users.

A site that isn’t mobile-optimized, however, is difficult to navigate on smaller screens. As a result, potential clients might have a difficult time reading your content or completing forms. You could end up losing potential clients if they become frustrated with your site. When people fail to click around and explore your site, your bounce rate will increase. Meanwhile, your dwell time and click through rate will drop. These metrics can all impact your SEO ranking. As you use these tips on effective SEO for law firms, make sure your site is mobile-ready. Otherwise, those clients could end up hiring your competitors.

Voice Search – Approximately 50% of all searches will occur through a voice assistant by the end of this year. In fact, one in six Americans already owns a smart speaker. That’s 35.6 million Americans using voice-activated devices at least once a month.

Think about the last time you used Siri, Alexa, or said “Okay, Google” before searching online. Chances are, you phrased your search query a certain way. In order to optimize your legal practice’s content for voice searches, you need to ask questions the way your clients do.

Most voice searches are conversational. These queries are also longer, meaning you need to start using long-tail keywords within your content. Meanwhile, Google prefers short answers for these queries (around 29 words). In order to appeal to voice searches, using SEMRush, Google Trends, and Google Keyword Planner. Determine how your clients are phrasing their questions then use that long-tail phrase as your target keyword.

Make sure the target keyword appears in the first paragraph of your content. Provide your audience with a quick, condensed answer to their question within the same paragraph. Google will use that short answer when responding to voice searches.

Go into more detail within the rest of your content. Make sure to provide your readers with in-depth, well-researched answers. Appealing to voice searches will ensure you don’t miss out on potential customers. Meanwhile, offering more in-depth information within your content will show readers you’re there to help.

Authority, Expertise, and Trust – Improving your credibility with clients will help you build brand trust. When using the legal SEO tips, focus on building credibility by using research. Look for credible law websites that already have brand authority. Link to those sites to improve your own authority. Don’t forget to showcase your expertise as well. As you use these SEO tips, your ranking will improve, allowing you to build credibility and brand trust of your own.

Affordable & Comprehensive SEO For Law Firms

Start attracting new clients! With these tips, you can use our guide, SEO for law firms, to get ahead of the competition. As your ranking increases, more people will find your site, allowing you to grow your practice. Request a free SEO analysis and start boosting your ranking today!

About The Author

Joel Smith
Joel Smith, the founder of Launchpad Legal Marketing has been helping Attorneys, Law Firms and other legal industry businesses grow their online presence for decades. He created many of the services that Launchpad Legal Marketing offers in an effort to provide clear, transparent and affordable solutions for boosting online presence.
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