SEO for Law: The Complete Guide
Search engine optimization is simultaneously one of the most powerful, yet underused, tools in a law firm’s digital marketing kit. As advancements in search continue, it has completely disrupted the way people look for legal services. In this blog, we’ll walk you through exactly what is law firm SEO, why it’s important for your legal practice, and how you can rank your website on Google Page 1 for your preferred keywords. Whether you have your own legal practice or are an agency catering to law firm clients, this guide will teach you how legal SEO can help boost your business.
What is Law firm SEO?
Law firm SEO refers to a set of techniques and best practices that can help your law website rank high and obtain a first page position on Google SERPs for people who are looking to hire legal services. There’s a whole host of strategies and tactics which websites employ, so let’s talk about them!
SEO: The Basics
SEO stands for search engine optimization and it’s the process of optimizing your website in a way that search engines like Google show your content right there on the top for a particular search query.
So, there are 3 characters at play here: the searchers, using some words to describe what they are looking for, the search engine getting that query and based on its algorithms showing links which it thinks best answers the query and finally, you, a business who wants the search engine to show your content to the searcher.
As a law firm, you should know that the way people look for legal services has changed drastically as compared to previous years. This is pretty clear when we see that 97% of people use a search engine when looking to hire for local services like law. And 74% of people tend to visit a law firms’ website before making the final call.
All this presents a huge opportunity for you. With a solid SEO strategy in place, you can get more visibility and conversions – all in a cost-effective manner.
How is SEO Done?
Now that we’ve covered what SEO is and how it can essentially help you get more clients, let’s get down to the brass tacks. In this section, we’ll be taking you through all the steps needed to implement an effective SEO strategy and reap the rewards from it.
We’ll start off with the basis of a good SEO strategy i.e keyword research followed up with content creation. Next, we’ll share some tips regarding content writing and how to optimize it for SEO. Then we’ll dive deep into some technical factors you need to consider related to SEO. Further on, we’ll discuss what local SEO is and why is it super important for your law firm. Then we’ll get to one of the most important factors of SEO i.e link building. And finally, we’ll talk about how you can measure your SEO performance, see what’s working and what’s not. There’s plenty to cover so buckle up and let’s get right to it.
Keyword Research and Content Creation
As we mentioned earlier, the foundation of your SEO strategy starts with a thorough keyword research. Without knowing what words searchers use to look for your services, you will be shooting in the dark. After all, 75% of searchers never get to the second search page on Google. So if you’re ranking on those pages for an important keyword, you’re missing out.
Here, asking yourself 4 simple questions will help you a lot when doing keyword research.
1. What type of keywords do people use?
Long tail keywords are generally more focused in their intent and have a relatively lower volume because of that. For example “Best attorneys for car accidents in Wisconsin” is an example of a long tail keyword.
Short tail keywords are generally broader in nature and therefore have more competition. For example, with the keyword“legal services” you’re not sure if the search intent is toward hiring legal services, or studying about it or something else. It’s always a good idea to have a mix of both long tail and short tail keywords to target.
2. What is the search volume of the keywords?
You don’t want to target words that people rarely use to get to your service. See how many times a particular keyword has been searched for using tools like Keywords Planner. More on useful tools to use for keyword research later.
3. What is the intent?
As mentioned above, knowing the intent of the searchers will help you to know whether they are looking to hire or just need information.
4. How competitive is the keyword?
This will help you in understanding how hard it will be for you to rank for a particular keyword. If you’re just starting out, you’d ideally want to target keywords with medium to low competition and work your way up from there.
Tools for Keyword Research
If you’re looking for some tools that can do the heavy lifting for you during the keyword research, tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush and Google’s Keyword Planner can go a long way to help you find the relevant keywords for you to rank for.
Once you’re done with the keyword research, it’s then time to use them around your website. Keywords can be specifically used in 2 key areas of your law website:
1. Blogs or knowledge center: This is where you can focus on gaining trust and awareness of the audience by writing on various topics related to law and get lots of backlinks targeted towards your website. If you’re not sure what backlinks are, don’t worry, we have a whole section on it later. So stick around.
2. Services section: Each of the services that you provide needs to have a separate tab and separate content. For example, if your expertise includes Employment Law, Immigration Law, Divorce Law, and so on, each of these needs to have an exclusive page describing what you’re offering highlighted with calls to action. These pages are virtually where all the conversions will happen so be sure to be as detailed and convincing as possible.
Content Writing Tips
Wondering how do you come up with quality content that ranks higher on Google? In this section, we’ll discuss exactly that.
The first pro-tip is focusing on EAT. Regardless of the type of content you’re putting up, if you’re looking to score a top position in the search rankings, it needs to have 3 qualities. And they are conveniently termed as EAT.
EAT stands for Expertise Authority and Trust. This is a framework used by Google quality reviewers to gauge how helpful a particular piece of content is to answer a customer’s query. Some ways to incorporate EAT in your content is to:
- get credible people to write for you and add their author information,
- contribute to industry publications,
- get an SSL certificate for your website,
- add multiple perspectives on the same topics and
- link to credible sources.
The next content writing tip which will help you to attract and retain more potential customers is readability. If you have to read two articles on the same topic but one of them does not have headings, is full of clutter, has long paragraphs, and does not contain any images while the other one has all that, which one would you read? It’s pretty clear which one you would choose. Although it is indirectly related to rankings, readability does have a big impact on your SEO.
Include LSI Keywords:
The last tip we’d like to share is adding lots of LSI keywords to your content. LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing and these are super critical to let Google know that you’re not just stuffing keywords into your content. These keywords are conceptually related to your targeted keywords and it allows you to have a natural flow in your content.
That’s a wrap for this section. If you’re looking to know more about creating content, do check out our latest blog on 5 copywriting tips.
Setting Up Your Website for Technical SEO Factors
A big part of the attorney SEO process revolves around how different functions of your website are optimized. This is an important consideration before you get going with creating content based on your keyword research. In this section, we’ll discuss how you can make your website optimized for search engines starting with your URL … all the way to the images you use on the website.
Among the many best practices which Google shares with webmasters, optimizing the URLs is one of the key ones. URLs are among the first things a search engine and probably your customers see, so it’s important to give due attention. Some useful tips to optimize your URL include:
- Include keywords close to the root domain. For instance, abclaw.com/immigration-lawyer is a good example of having the keyword “immigration lawyer” close to the root domain, “abclaw.com”
- Your URL structure shouldn’t send confusing signals to Google about how you categorize your services. The reason why having a defined URL structure is important is that it allows you to pass equity, or in simple words, votes of trust your domain link has to other internal links. Use a flat structure as that allows all your URL to be on the same level of the site architecture. Multiple sub-folders may push certain pages down hence getting less equity.
- Use hyphens to connect different words and ditch underscores.
- Use as few characters in your URL as possible.
It is also super important to optimize your title tags and Meta description. What this means is for all the content on your website, you need to have titles tags having the keyword you’re targeting and a Meta description describing what the link is about. Some key considerations to have when writing titles are:
- Use your target keywords within the meta tags
- Use a maximum of 60 characters; no one likes to read long headings
- Have your keyword as early in the title as possible
- If you want to attract local customers, include the name of the state or city
- Don’t mix different practices or locations; have separate pages for each
Just like the title, meta descriptions provide you with the opportunity to pitch to prospective customers how useful your link could be in answering a particular search query. Include your primary keyword, the name of the region you’re targeting and the service you’re offering. Don’t include all the details in the description to allow the searcher to click through the link.
Check Your Website’s Speed:
Your website speed has a strong correlation with the bounce rate. It all boils down to 3 seconds. That’s how much your website has to retain a customer who has viewed your link on mobile.
So start off by knowing where you currently stand. Use the diagnostic scan of PageSpeed Insights. If your load time is quite high, chances are it’s probably because of high resolution images. Tools like JPEG optimizer can prove to be quite handy here.
Optimizing Your Internal Links:
When we talk about optimizing your website, a major part of that includes optimizing your internal links. Internal links are used when you add a link of another page of your website to a particular page thus creating a bridge between the two. This helps to distribute link equity to the more important pages of your website and consequently get them ranked higher. Moreover, an effective internal linking strategy helps the searcher in navigating the website, which creates a better user experience.
Securing a top spot in the SERPs has become all the more competitive in recent years. It’s important to stand out from the competition and make it easier for the searcher to click on your link. That is where schema markups can play an important role. Put simply, schemas are a way for you to categorize certain parts of your content so that it can be uniquely shown in the search results. Say, for example, you have 5 star reviews from happy clients. Using rating schema, you can show that rating in the SERPs and ultimately have higher click through rates.
Adding alt text to your images is another great way to tell Google what the image is about and rank for the particular keyword accordingly. This way, you can optimize for keywords with less ranking difficulty while not adding them in your body text.
Local SEO for Law Firms
Among all the lawyer SEO tactics, optimizing for local searches has got to be right on the top of your priority list simply because it opens so many doors of opportunities for you. Say someone needs an insurance lawyer in the area where you operate. Wouldn’t you want your website to show up for that particular query? In this section, we’ll discuss how you can make sure your website appears every time someone is looking for your services in your vicinity.
Google My Business:
Just like the overall SEO process, Google uses different factors to provide ranking to websites for local searches as well. These ranking factors include:
1. Relevance: Once a searcher enters a local query Google looks for the most relevant answer in the Google My Business listing created. Therefore, it is super important for you to optimize your GMB profile accordingly. You can do that by:
- Choosing the most accurate category for your services. Be as narrow as possible.
- Being as detailed with your description as possible
- Adding plenty of images. Like loads of them since they really help you to pop up for local searches.
- Including all of your practice specialties being offered in a particular region
- Sharing the same information on your GMB profile which you have everywhere else
- And finally, adding a link to your website
2. Distance: Another factor that Google considers while showing local search results is how close your offering is to the searcher’s vicinity. In fact, this is the number 1 ranking factor since, even if your firm provides the services the searcher is looking for, if it’s in another state or city, it’s of no use.
3. Prominence: The third factor is prominence. This means how credible your website is to be ranked on the local search page. This is determined primarily by:
- The number of other websites which are linking to yours thus creating authority for you
- Your articles or publications on other websites
- Whether or not you appear in local directories. This includes your Name, Address and Phone Number
- The number of reviews and the ratings you have from previous clients
Some important sites where you need to claim your business and focus on getting reviews include Avvo, Lawyers.com, Findlaw, Yelp, BBB.org and of course, Yellow Pages. The idea is to be visible everywhere a potential customer could go to check for the services you offer. Here’s a quick intro to each:
Avvo is one of the most prominent legal directories on the web. It allows you to rank for the branded searches and you can even receive endorsements from peers. Customers can browse the attorneys by practice area, city, and state. If you claim your profile on the site, you will receive a rating based on your profile and information from state bar associations.
Lawyers.com is another important directory for lawyers. Their website mentions a network of 1 million lawyers in 1000+ practice areas with 25 million monthly visitors. It also shows your rating from peers, clients, your Avvo rating, and any awards that you may have.
Websites like Super lawyers, Lawinfo and abogado.com all come under FindLaw, which boasts 11 million monthly visitors. Law firms’ profiles include information like areas of law, office location, office hours, and payment options. Attorney profiles include the biography, education and training, and client recommendations of an attorney.
You should definitely consider putting in some efforts to gain reviews on Yelp. It integrates your reviews from different websites to provide a holistic view of your offerings. A word of caution though: you can get banned or struggle to get a good ranking if you’re found soliciting reviews so make sure to steer clear of that.
In terms of its content, BBB can be considered as an authority from Google. The reviews here are relatively anonymous with only the first name and initial of the last name shown. People come here to look for different categories of businesses and charities so the scope for client search is generally broader.
The good ’ol Yellow Pages does rank well in the SERPs as well. One 5-star review here will get your ratings displayed in its search results. It’s got a huge collection of indexed pages and still gets significant traffic in 2020.
As mentioned earlier, one of the most important ranking factors for your website is link building. We can’t put enough emphasis on the fact that link building will help you with your website with years to come.
So what is link building anyways you might ask. In simple words, for Google to rank websites, it sees how credible and authoritative a particular website is based on the search query. This is gauged by how many other sites with quality content have links to your website in their content.
Some great ways to generate backlinks for your law website includes:
1. Guest Posting
With guest posting, you’re reaching out to reputable publishers in your niche and providing them with great content. This increases your visibility and introduces you to an audience that may otherwise have not engaged with you before. Guest posting is a great way to earn backlinks, but you should check out the publisher’s authority and reputation to see whether they are a good fit for you.
2. Directory Specific Links
Getting links from law-specific directories with high authority is also another great source for links. Do check how active a certain directory is. Some popular directories include Avvo, FindLaw, Super Lawyers etc.
Reach out to popular journals or publications to find interview opportunities. Transcribe and publish the interview in your blog.
Infographics are also really useful to build links. Gather some data on any key topic, get a design made and publish it on your website.
5. Edu links
Many law firms roll out scholarships for law students in various colleges and universities. A partnership with an educational institution can help you earn a powerful .edu backlink.
Measure Performance and Adapt Accordingly
Once your SEO strategy is in place, you need to get into analysis mode to see what’s working and what’s not. Very rarely would you find any strategy which works smoothly all the time. You will always need to adapt as per any roadblocks that come your way.
So to measure how your website is performing on different levels, keep an eye on the following Key Performance Indicators:
1. Website traffic
To assess this and other KPIs, it is very important that you use Google Analytics. Once you’re in the dashboard, select a date range and see how much your organic traffic has increased since you started implementing SEO strategies. See page-wise traffic as well to know which page of your site your customers are most interested in.
2. Bounce rate
While you’re using Google Analytics, do check the bounce rate of your website. If it is anything more than 50% percent, it is a worrying sign and needs serious attention.
3. Page rankings
Get your hands on Google Search Console to see where your pages rank. This will give you a fair idea of how long you have come to show up in the SERPs and how much more effort is required for different keywords
It all comes down to leads, doesn’t it? See how many more leads did you get and whether they were through calls, web forms, live chat or any other contact option you may have on your website
5. Website audit
To assess how well your website is performing on different technical parameters, get your website audited. You can either hire a professional to do that for you or you can simply use Google Search Console’s crawl report to know if there is something seriously wrong with the back-end of your website.
So guys, there you have it. We’re so happy that you stuck around till the end. Our sincere hope is that this guide helped you to understand how SEO can help you with your law firm and get that phone ringing again. Remember, what makes any strategy successful is how committed you are to it.