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Ask any attorney where quality clients usually come, and they’ll likely say online leads. That’s why the most successful law practices implement SEO strategies to climb to the top of search engine rankings.
Here, you’ll find:
- How to improve your law firm SEO strategy
- How SEO efforts fit into your law firm’s marketing plan
- Three tips to boost your optimization efforts
- Whether you need an agency for law firm SEO success (spoiler: it depends)
If you’re here, you likely typed something along the lines of “law firm SEO” into the ol’ Google search, which brought you to us.
(Hi and welcome.)
You probably heard about the benefits of search engine optimization (SEO), and are looking to climb higher on Google’s search engine results page (SERP). So we’re going to give you an overview of tangible tips to improve that SEO ranking, for law firms specifically, to make that happen.
SEO: The benefits for attorneys
The purpose of SEO for any website is to rank higher (ideally the first page) in the SERP. For those competitive souls among us, it might also be about the thrill of victory over our competitors.
The long-term goal, however, is to convert. In other words, get prospective clients to take action when they visit your site — probably by reaching out for a consultation.
And while there are different marketing strategies to make this happen, like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, social media marketing, and email marketing, SEO is an effective way to bring in new clients by directing quality leads to your law firm’s website.
How does SEO help with this?
1. Brand recognition
The more potential clients see your site and your firm’s name in their searches, the more likely they are to turn to you when they need your legal services. Searchers have a tendency to trust a name they recognize, and being at the top of the SERP gets users familiar with your firm.
Internet users have a bias toward sites that rank higher — but for good reason. Search engines prioritize sites that are safe, useful, and user friendly. And high-quality content adds to this authority by demonstrating your firm’s knowledge of your field, which leads users to choose you over the competition.
Pro tip: Make sure all your awards, achievements, reviews, and contact information (don’t forget a phone number) are on your site.
3. High-quality leads
One of the key drivers of SEO is sending quality leads to your site. Sure, traffic is nice, but if they don’t convert (i.e. contact you for services), there’s not much benefit.
SEO helps Google’s algorithm focus on connecting with target audiences who actually need your services and are willing to pay for them.
There are a host of other benefits, but it’s enough to say this: Law firms need websites to survive today, and websites need SEO.
Of course, digital marketing agencies have inundated the ether with information about what SEO is, why SEO works, and how to implement it. At HawkSEM, we have blogs that break down the SEO basics and why they matter. But there are a few key elements that are particularly useful to law firms. Let’s break them down.
3 SEO tips for attorneys
We’re about to dive into some law firm-specific SEO strategies.
And while the SEO basics don’t waver, regardless of your industry (think keyword research, on-page or on-site SEO, competitive analysis, quality content, and technical SEO), there are some often overlooked marketing strategies we customized to your law firm needs.
1. Implement local SEO best practices
If you have a brick-and-mortar office (or offices), then your legal marketing strategy needs to be optimized for local searches — enter local SEO.
Here are the highlights:
- Create Google My Business (GMB) listings for each of your offices that are optimized for your practice areas and your service area
- Build and optimize citations in other directories such as Yelp, YP.com, AVVO, NOLO, Justia, and any associations or counsels where you are a member
- Eliminate duplicate listings that lead to confusion
- Claim and optimize unclaimed business profiles and listings in directories
- Encourage your clients to leave reviews and testimonials
- Respond to reviews, positive reviews and negative alike, with grace and professionalism
These are just a few key bullet points, but they can often be enough to set you apart from your competitors. You can learn more about local SEO best practices here.
2. Check in on your user experience
Technical SEO is an imperative SEO strategy for any website, the emphasis being on the user experience (UX) and website design.
Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo are primarily concerned with how users feel about your site. If you aren’t offering a site that is appealing to most website visitors, on desktop and mobile devices, Google and the gang will stop serving your site in search results altogether.
So, how can you make your law firm’s site more user friendly?
Make it safe
The difference between http and https is more than just a letter.
That “s” is indicative of a separate layer of encryption that provides additional security to users. Search engines warn users that a site is not secure before allowing them to visit a site with an http url. Yikes. If your site is s-less, you could be turning away tons of traffic.
Make it fast
No one wants to wait around for a page to load. If yours is one of the 60% of attorney websites built on WordPress, there are plugins that can help with load speed. If you don’t have anyone in your office with experience.
However, we recommend you proceed with caution, work with your developer, or an SEO agency. Page speed plugins and apps have been known to affect critical elements of a site.
Make it helpful
As we say in the biz, content is king. And the content on your web pages can make or break your rankings.
Quality website content should be based on keyword research and search terms, but written to inform and assist your readers. What are the most common questions you get from potential and current clients? Providing articles on your site that answer those questions is a great place to start.
And when it comes to the writing itself, avoid overwhelming users with jargon. Speak to your reader like you would speak to a potential client in your office — in a way that’s easy to understand, but demonstrates your authority and expertise.
Make it visually appealing
Your site should be as eye-catching as it is safe, fast, and helpful.
In a past life, I was a content creator for law firms. I won’t get into the number of stock photos I’ve seen with scales of justice, pillars, and burgundy — so much burgundy. Nearly every legal website is chock full of ‘em, and while they do look professional, there aren’t actually that many gavels and scales in actual law offices.
If you decide to follow the standard appearance of legal sites, be sure your images, layout, and text are appealing, clear, and formatted correctly. Think about using headings to break up your text and keywords in your title tags and meta descriptions.
To stand out, include images of your team and your offices.
3. Practice link building
Backlinks (a link from another website that directs to your site) are a key ranking factor. Like being cited in an academic paper, when other relevant websites link to yours, it confirms authority in your field.
Once upon a time, backlinks could be purchased for link building schemes and fake directories (ick). Luckily, search engines have gotten smarter, and backlink schemes are now harmful to a website’s ranking. So, how can you earn honest backlinks that boost your ranking? Read on.
Organic search results
All good things take time. And earning your ranks in the organic Google search results this is the most effective strategy in the long term. Organic traffic comes from building a site that contains high-quality content. Other site owners learn that they can count on you as a thought leader and source of truth.
Do you know someone in an adjacent field who runs a popular site or blog? Writing a guest piece for their site is a great way to gain a link to yours. Consider a trade: Invite the site owner to write their own guest blog for your site, too.
Stay up-to-date on the latest news in your practice area. When someone publishes a piece in your related field, offer your insights — they might just repost your piece and link back to your site. Google Alerts is a great way to stay in the know.
Participate in public speaking events. These organizations will typically include a link to your site, along with a blurb, when they post about the events.
Help a Reporter Out
Sites like HelpAReporter.com connect journalists seeking expert insights with professionals in that field. Journalists often submit questions that require legal advice. If you answer the question, you’ll be cited in their publication along with a link back to your site. Be sure the question is related to your practice area, though.
Charitable donations, event sponsorships, and local non-profit donations often lead to links. Why not do some good while in the pursuit of backlinks?
While these backlink types increase website traffic, domain authority, and rankings, they can take a lot of time to acquire. But the investment is worthwhile.
SEO campaigns are, overall, a marathon, not a sprint. That is especially true of link building.
Do I need an SEO agency for my law firm? As with any good SEO question, the answer is “it depends.”
If you have someone in-house who has plenty of time to invest in keyword research, competitive analysis, content marketing, web design, and technical optimization, you may not need additional SEO services.
With a little bit of research into best practices and some trial and error, they can get you showing up for the right search queries and ranking well. However, for many law firms, that’s just not the best use of their time and money.
In this case, hiring an SEO expert is probably your best bet. Be sure to look for an SEO company that will serve as a partner, helping your firm grow and maintain an upward trajectory for the long-term.
Whatever route you choose, you can be sure that implementing any one of these SEO tactics will improve your visibility online, and implementing all of them well will lead to success.