You’ve heard that SEO is a powerful tool for bringing in leads, but exactly how does it work? Search engines are constantly evolving, yet there are underlying fundamental elements that remain fairly unchanged. Google has cracked down on obsolete and questionable practices, so it’s crucial to understand exactly how to properly show up in search engine results pages (SERPs). We’ll break this down, so you can start on building an effective strategy for your law firm.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the art of optimizing and creating content on your website in order to rank high on search engines, particularly on the first page of Google, Yahoo!, or Bing. The whole premise of SEO is getting your website in front of users who are searching for words related to the services that you provide.
Keep in mind that search engines are looking for the best answers to people’s searches and questions. It’s in Google’s best interest to rank high-quality content, so that when a potential client searches for “how to mediate my divorce case,” they get reliable information from the search results.
A key note is to differentiate between the ads and organic results on page 1 of search results. However, Google changes how they display ads from time to time. As of 2021, they will mark up to the first 4 and last 3 results with the word “Ad,” in front of the listings on page 1.
Your goal with SEO is to appear in the first 10 results that don’t have the “Ad” label in front of the search results.
Simply put, don’t trust websites that promise to send hundreds or thousands of visitors or links to your website to “trick” Google into believing that users are flooding to your site. This will backfire and goes against the concept of placing high quality content in front of your potential law client base.
Content is effective in both attracting the search engines and helping your organization make connections with site visitors. However, content encompasses more than your law firm’s web pages. Rather, content can come if many forms including:
The more engaging and effective content you have on your site, the more likely your visitors will be to spend more time on your website, signaling to Google that your firm’s site is valuable. Plus, you have a higher chance the visitor will contact you for legal needs.
Ideally, create content that internet users are interested in reading and sharing. Usually, this comes in the form of information that is educational, entertaining, or both. The more users and websites link to your site’s content, the more likely you will rank higher on Google.
What makes content valuable? In short, by being helpful and easy to digest. Let’s take a look.
In your industry, this means you must speak to your readers in plain English. Avoid legalese and highly technical jargon. Speak to them in a manner that helps them understand the importance of their situation without going over their head. Remember, you want to help them understand what to do in an already stressful situation, especially if they are reaching out for legal services. Don’t make them feel overwhelmed—more than they are already.
Write about topics related to your law firm’s specific practices early and often. Engage with groups on social media, participate in forum discussions, and learn the key terms or words related to your firm’s core competencies. Post articles on real world scenarios. For example, hospice fraud defense firm, Fenton Law Group, answers the question “What are the various types of hospice fraud?.” Explore your specialty topic in great detail, so that the reader walks away with clear next steps and the knows that you are the authority on all things employment law.
Readers get turned off by content that’s a constant stream of advertising and sales pitches. Of course, you can use sales language on contact us pages, but, even then, show how you provide value before you display the call to action. The Smith & Benowitz site’s contact page starts with a friendly photo of the team and starts with the text, “We are here to help.” as opposed to “Contact Your Legal Team Today.”
Create content that can be used for each phase of their decision-making process. This means that there are clients who know they need a lawyer now, but others want to start slow and educate themselves before picking up the phone.
Keyword optimization or keyword research is the process of researching, analyzing, and properly selecting the best keywords that would drive qualified, targeted traffic from search engines. The keywords you choose must be relevant to the legal services you provide, be highly targeted, be attainable, and have a significant volume of traffic.
The first step would be to make a list of important and relevant topics about your firm. Add these topics to columns in a spreadsheet. Next, underneath the topics, you will begin to fill in the keywords or phrases. These keywords and phrases will be what you are wanting to rank for on the search engine results pages. This is a creative way to get to know your business. This is also an excellent opportunity to bring in an SEO specialist to help with the discovery and truly understand your business.
On-page SEO refers to things you can add to or optimize on your firm’s website pages. It can get a bit technical, but it’s important to understand that On-page SEO is a factor to helping you get ranked.
When strategically placing your SEO keywords and phrases on your pages, it’s important to avoid over-optimization. Google and other search engines will penalize your page if it attempts to use keywords too many times throughout the content. Don’t stuff the word “COVID employment law” a hundred times to try to capture Google’s attention. It won’t work. Instead, cover the topic comprehensively and naturally using variations of the keyword.
In addition, make sure that each piece of content focuses on just one or two keywords. This helps ensure that your content is specific and relevant. Trying to tackle too many keywords at once may negatively impact your search engine optimization as it often makes for unfocused and thin content.
While site content plays a vital role in your search engine rankings, it’s also important to consider your site architecture. Organize your content clearly. As a law firm, categorize your practice areas so that they are easy for users and Google alike to scan through. Create and submit your sitemap to search engines to improve your site’s crawlability.
Yet another concern when it comes to your site’s architecture is whether or not your website is mobile-friendly. Your clients are searching for legal information and firms on their mobile devices, more than ever. Ensure that potential clients are able to view, read, and navigate your website from their mobile devices. Not only does this impact their user experience, but it will also affect your SEO optimization.
With On-page SEO elements, your firm has complete control. With off-page SEO factors, there are a few factors that are out of your control but can impact your ranking. Though you do not have direct control over these off-page factors, there are ways that you can improve your chances of having these factors work out in your favor. Let’s review them.
Not only is it vital for your law firm to rank high, but it is also essential to foster trust and cement a sense of authority in your chosen field. Aside from your content, you must appear as the best amongst the search results.
A majority of off-site SEO is reliant on building links back to your site. Links act as a glue that holds the web together. Search engines often use links in order to determine if a piece of content or a specific website is valuable or not. Similar to content, getting high-quality links is crucial and has always proven to be a great tactic in lawyer SEO marketing and ranking.
It is no secret that there is a debate on the relevance of links. This is primarily due to Google cracking down on various SEO methods that are deemed outdated. While there is much to be disliked about link spamming, there is however a lot of merit in creating quality links instead.
So what exactly qualifies as a quality link? These are some key characteristics to look out for:
Social media provides you with a unique opportunity to reach customers and potential site visitors. Rather than seeing social media as an SEO play, your primary focus should be to engage your clients with high quality content. Use it to share content that links back to your site. Essentially, social media acts as a satellite to your SEO strategy, rather than a core element.
In today’s uber-competitive landscape in the law industry, it’s not only essential to have a functioning website, but one that stand-outs with helpful content and a usable design. Not only will SEO help you appear higher on search engine results pages, but it will also help build your brand, boost credibility, increase engagement, and will help you stay ahead of your competitors. If all this feels overwhelming to you, don’t worry. Reach out to us—we are happy to help with any questions you may have.