This blog post is also available in: Español (Spanish)
It doesn’t take a law degree to see that the legal SEO game is quite competitive, with firms from all over duking it out in the SERPs in an effort to attract more clients in a saturated online space.
In this article, I’ll go through some best practices for cutting through the noise of law firm SEO so you can get more clients on the books–and ideally, leaving glowing reviews.
What You’ll Learn:
- Why law firm SEO matters
- How it differs from traditional SEO
- How local SEO affects legal SEO
- The importance of titles
- How graphics benefit legal websites
- How to use structured data to increase visibility in the SERPs
- How reviews affect your law firm’s rank
- How Google’s latest changes impact it
- How to use video to effectively market your firm
Why You Should Care About Law Firm SEO
The legal industry is highly competitive. Some may even go so far as to say that it’s cutthroat.
Once you open the doors to your law firm, people won’t just start coming to you. You have to let them know that you’re available and can be of great service to them. That’s where these practices come in handy.
Let’s take a look at a few statistics:
- 98% of people looking for legal assistance use a search engine
- 74% of those people use a law firm’s website and take action
- 72% only contact one lawyer during their search
- 62% perform a generic local search for an attorney
These numbers indicate that the vast majority of folks search for an attorney online and end up sticking with the one that stood out as the best attorney for their case. Talk about making a great first impression.
Is Law Firm SEO Different Than SEO in General?
As is the case with all types of SEO, this serves as a way to ensure that your website appears at the top of the SERPs when people search for terms related to your legal expertise.
But there are a few things that are unique about legal marketing versus well, marketing marketing. For one, legal SEO is in part a local effort.
For example, if you’re a patent attorney located in Phoenix, Arizona, you probably want people to see your law firm at the top of the SERPs when someone types in “patent attorney Phoenix, AZ.”
You’ll get more inquiries about your business that way from people who might actually use your services. Local SEO, of course, presents search results based on broad match terms and location, rather than longtail keywords.
That said, it’s not just local that law firms need to think about. There is also a huge opportunity to capitalize on niche keywords, like those listed here.
Beyond that, law firms also have an opportunity to build a reputation by creating content that answers questions and educates the public. This is one of the many tips that will pay off in the long run.
So, while getting new clients is likely going to be the main goal for your strategy, targeting general search terms is a worthwhile secondary goal, as it will help you build a reputation as an expert in your field.
Build out your content strategy by listing your firm’s practice areas and create categories where you can create high-quality content. Some ideas include the following:
- How-to guides
- Blog posts on key topics for your target audience
- Answers to FAQs
- Locally-focused content
- Articles that break down technical topics and make them more accessible.
Start With Local Optimization
Recall the example above about somebody searching for a patent attorney in Phoenix, Arizona. That “Phoenix, Arizona” part is extremely important for SEO purposes.
General search terms like “what to look for in a patent attorney” will present users with a list of websites from all over the country, so you’re not necessarily attracting new clients. Searchers looking for general information might be conducting some general information about say, whether they need a patent attorney, but aren’t looking to get one on retainer.
So, the local qualifier works much like situations where people Google things like “plumber near me” or “hair salon in Phoenix, AZ,” to find a professional nearby. With that in mind, one of your top priorities should be to really focus on Local SEO for law firms.
Local SEO optimizes your website so that people find it when they’re searching for a law firm in their region.
In the case above, Google understood that somebody was conducting a local search because “Phoenix, Arizona” was added to the search query. So Google would return results that are local to Phoenix.
Unless you’re a well-respected national or international law firm, chances are pretty good that you should begin your strategy with Local SEO.
A few things you need to do to get your website optimized for local:
Review Your Google My Business Page
Now let’s go over a few tips.
If you don’t already have one, sign up for a Google My Business (GMB) page. The main benefit of a GMB page is, it provides Google with all relevant business details from your location to hours of operation. Your firm will show up on the map any time someone types in a relevant search term.
You’ll want to make sure to correctly categorize your law firm on the GMB page. That will help your site rank when people search for keywords relevant to your area of practice.
Make sure you include relevant keywords in the “Description” field on your GMB page. Use this section to explain who you are, what you do, and where you’re located.
Often, Google pulls information from GMB profiles instead of your website, so you’ll want to make sure that you take the time to create a profile that represents who you serve, your area(s) of expertise, location, experience, and whatever else you want to use as a digital first impression.
It’s important to note that the description should look natural–the goal is to be useful to potential clients first, not appease the Google gods. Be careful not to stuff your GMB description with a bunch of keywords that relate to your practice.
Update Your Directory Listings
While we’re on the topic of local law firm SEO, you’ll want to make sure all listings are consistent across the web. Business name, address, and phone number (NAP) should be the same on not only GMB, but your website, review sites like Yelp or Avvo, and even old school directories like the White Pages.
Citations seem like a small detail, but they matter because that multi-touch point consistency creates trust and authority with your audience. And, of course, NAP citations are a ranking signal that Google uses when determining which businesses go to the top of the results list.
You should obviously include your NAP in any law firm or business directories online. Pay particular attention to directories relevant to your expertise (for example, a nationwide directory of patent attorneys).
You can also add citations on other online properties as well. If you write a blog post for another site, be sure to include your NAP at the bottom of the post.
Add a Map to Your Site
Again, the more information you can provide to Google, the better.
To boost your law firm website SEO, add a Google map to your “About Us” or “Contact Us” page to further reinforce your appearance in the local search results.
Luckily, this is one of those low-hanging SEO fruits. All you’ll need to do is head over to Google Maps, navigate to your location, and click “Share or Embed map” from the menu in the top left corner and select “Embed map.” From there, you can choose a size and paste the code in the back end of your website. This will really help boost your results.
Law Firm SEO Starts With a Title
Maybe we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but Google judges websites by their titles all the time. That’s why your title needs to explain what you do in just a few characters.
Fortunately, website technology makes that very simple with the <title> tag. Use that tag to explain to the world who you are and why somebody might be interested in hiring you.
If your name is John Smith and you’re a patent attorney in Phoenix, Arizona, then your title tag should read something like: “John Smith, Patent Attorney in Phoenix, Arizona.” Being clear and concise will go a long way.
Things to keep in mind
- Be very clear about what page you want to rank for what
- Have clear optimization for your home page, category pages, service pages and blog pages
- If you are in multiple locations and regions, account for that with HTML pages
We are not finished with optimized law firm website SEO just yet. Once you’re done with your title, it’s time to move on to adding a description about your law firm.
Unlike the title, the description doesn’t have its own named tag. It’s really just an attribute of a <meta> tag.
It looks like this: <meta description=”my description goes here”/>
Use the description attribute to include the same info that you put in the title tag, plus a little more. For example: “John Smith is a licensed patent attorney in Phoenix, Arizona with more than 15 years of experience.”
Note that the example above hits all the right points: it explains who you are, what you do, and where you’re located. Plus, it adds a little marketing (“more than 15 years of experience”) that’s too long for a <title> tag.
In order to make your law firm website more visually appealing to visitors, you should incorporate graphics.
While that might seem like a given to some, you’d be surprised how many bland, boring websites are taking up space on the web.
Using interesting visual elements such as graphics helps to break up monotonous text. If gives your audience something to keep their attention.
These days, structured data is a key element in getting the most visibility in the search results.
Structured Data is a great way to increase the number of opportunities to boost your results organically.
Schema.org is a vocabulary made up of tags you can add to your website that helps Google organize information so they can (their words) display your content in “creative ways.”
While adding schema markup to your site is not an official ranking factor, it plays a role in helping your firm increase its visibility by providing the search engine with more context during indexing.
When optimizing your law firm’s website, you can start by just learning about the Local Business part of schema.org.
Specifically, pay attention to the “address” element. You’ll use that element to add in your business address.
Again, you’re doing this to make it easy on Google to determine the location of your business.
There’s an important point here, though. It’s that you decide how you want your name and address to appear and stick to it everywhere you reference it.
For example: If your business is located at 123 Main Street, and you prefer to abbreviate “Street” with “St.”, then you must list your business that way online all the time. Otherwise, you’re going to limit your chances of reaching the top of the search results.
Of course, there are numerous other Local Business elements that you’ll want to use as well (“email”, “legalName”, “telephone”, etc.). The more info you add, the more you’re telling Google about your business. That’s a good thing.
You can mark-up a whole range of things you’d like searchers to see from the SERPs, including reviews, contact information, the area your firm serves, or even your ethics policy. You can get the full list on the schema.org site. The list can be very helpful for SEO for law firms.
The main benefit of adding structured data to your site is that it allows you to let Google know that you’d like your content to be featured as a rich result. Rich results get more SERP real estate than any other front-page listing, which of course, likely leads to a boost in traffic.
Additionally, you may want to mark up FAQ pages or how-to content for an additional shot at appearing in the rich results.
Though this isn’t a hard and fast rule, Google seems to favor long-form content when it comes to rich results, as one longer piece tends to have more chances of answering multiple questions people are searching for.
Quick Schema Tips
- Schema for your location
- Schema for your industry
- Schema for your reviews and aggregate schema for your service
- Schema for your logo
- Schema for your breadcrumbs
Get Some Reviews
Any business can benefit from positive reviews, but when people are searching for someone to handle their legal matters, the stakes are higher than say, taking a chance on a new clothing company or trying a new restaurant. That’s why you only want to implement the best practices.
Google also uses reviews as a ranking signal for rankings. That’s why you want plenty of positive reviews.
How do you get reviews? The answer is actually quite simple.
Ask for them.
Ask a satisfied client to leave a review on Google or sites like Avvo, Facebook, or Yelp. Make sure your web copy, blog content, and other communications link to a place to leave a review, so you’re not making it difficult for your clients to share positive feedback.
We should mention that you do need to be careful here. Tactics like paying for reviews, swapping reviews with other attorneys or asking employees to pose as clients will likely backfire in the long run.
Another thing worth mentioning is, you need to respond to your reviews, positive and negative alike.
Google’s ranking system places a lot of weight on reviews, taking responsiveness into account along with whatever star-rating customers give you. While this might seem difficult, especially in the case of receiving negative feedback, it is good for boosting law firm SEO.
How Google’s Latest Changes Impact Law Firm SEO
When thinking about what are the best strategies, you should give a lot of consideration to content marketing
Content marketing is one of the best ways you can demonstrate your expertise in front of an audience searching for answers to burning legal questions.
For years now, law firms have been flooding the SERPs with content, simply by pumping it out on the regular–and often, stuffing blog posts with keywords.
Recently, Google’s algorithm has been prioritizing content based on relevance, reputation, and usefulness–for more on this, you can read up on the search engine’s EAT guidelines here.
For law firms, that means in addition to marking up the pages you’d like featured as a rich result, you’ll need to step up your content game.
Legal content falls into a category known as Your Money or Your Life–YMYL for short.
These types of websites are held to a higher standard than say, a personal blog where the writer shares their opinions on fashion or video games. Law firm SEO needs to have stricter rules and requirements.
Let’s say you’ve written an article entitled, “5 Myths About Patent Law.” As the title suggests, you might go over some common misconceptions about patent law.
The goal is to attract people who search for “myths about patent law” so they visit your website and book your legal services.
Beyond leveraging your own legal knowledge, you’ll want to cite known legal experts, studies, and real-world examples to lend some weight to your content and establish credibility.
Also, be sure to write and link to (or include on the article page) your own author bio, and mention any professional memberships, industry organizations, expert endorsements you’ve obtained over the years.
How to Use Video Effectively
We don’t need to say this again, but video content is still on the rise.
For law firms, it presents an opportunity to make a personal connection with potential clients and build trust before they decide to book a consultation.
It’s also another way to increase your chances of coming up in an organic search.
How Should You Use Video?
Well, the answer to this one is, you’ll use it for many of the same things you’re using your blog content for. Including the following:
- Answering common legal questions
- Giving viewers a behind the scenes view of your law firm.
- How-to content such as finding a lawyer,
- Giving short overviews on legal practice areas and what that entails.
- Client testimonial videos
As with any video strategy, there’s still room to get creative here.
Take a look at this Cautionary Tales playlist from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, who uses their YouTube to dramatize various legal issues and infractions. It can help you come up with a few ideas to boost SEO for your law firm.
Don’t Forget to Connect YouTube Content Back to Your Site
One thing you will need to think about if you plan on creating YouTube content is linking strategically from your YouTube account to your website.
YouTube, the second-largest search engine is the perfect place to pick up some organic links for law firm SEO. While YouTube links are nofollow, they do drive traffic.
Make sure you link to your website from your YouTube channel and go through your video library and link to the most relevant pages on your site. This could be anything from blog content to FAQs, service pages, or your About Us section.
Law Firm SEO FAQ
1. What Are Some Attorney Marketing Strategies?
Beyond law firm SEO, there are some attorney marketing strategies you should follow:
- Old-fashioned networking – Make sure you’re active in professional associations. For example, take clients out to lunch or dinner and attend networking events to meet new people in your field.
- A User-Friendly Website – You shouldn’t just make sure that your website is friendly to search engines, you should also ensure that it’s friendly to visitors. Include a menu that makes it easy to navigate around your site. Add social proof. Use a responsive design so it looks great on any device. Enhance the overall user experience to boost your conversion rate.
- Online advertising – Never underestimate the value of PPC. You can attract new clients with local search ads.
Email marketing – Maintain your relationship with clients by sending them emails every now and then.
2. Do I Need a Law Firm Marketing Blog?
If you’re serious about law firm SEO, you should add a blog to your website and update it regularly.
Why? Because content marketing is a great way to optimize your site for key search terms.
Use a tool like SEMRush to uncover some of the more popular keywords related to your law firm’s specialty. If you have more than one specialty, find keywords relevant to each one.
Then, produce helpful content optimized for those keywords. Make sure the content answers the kinds of questions you expect your clients to ask during initial consultations.
You’ll also demonstrate your knowledge about the law when you practice content marketing. That’s going to help attract more business as well.
3. Is Law Firm SEO Better Than PPC?
SEO vs. PPC isn’t really the best way to think about it.
Both methods are important to driving business and each represents a different piece of a broader marketing strategy.
See, optimizing your website for search helps you build credibility and over time, grow your organic traffic. It’s a way to prove value and show your audience that your firm can help clients win their next legal battle.
PPC allows you to bypass organic search results and appear in front of an audience you might not be able to reach otherwise. Use paid ads to boost your firm’s visibility, get in front of a new market, and present specific offers tied to a goal–be it conversions, lead generation, and so on.
Whether you’re a law firm or an e-commerce brand, it’s important to understand that you can’t pick one marketing strategy and call it a day. Today’s savviest firms know that marketing means optimizing for voice, fine-tuning their social presence, advertising on Google, and creating content that people actually want to read.
4. Can I Handle Law Firm SEO on My Own?
You can, but you probably shouldn’t.
That’s because law firm SEO is an ever-evolving discipline. The kinds of strategies that worked just a couple of years ago might not work anymore.
Digital marketing professionals keep up with those changes in best-practices. They can make sure that your site is in tip-top shape consistently.
Firms can hire in-house pros or work with an agency to create content and optimize your website.
Either way, it’s probably your best bet to outsource SEO for your law firm, as you’ll have more time to focus on your clients and not what Google’s latest algorithm is doing to your search rankings.
Bottom line: SEO for law firms primarily falls into the realm of Local SEO (unless you work for a large national firm).
However, you should also focus on content marketing efforts, paid ads, and building a strong reputation online.
The legal services industry is competitive and edging out other firms in your niche means optimizing for local SEO, leveraging structured data, and creating content that answers the questions your audience is looking for.
Once you’ve put some effort into optimizing your website, you should see its rank improve over time. Keep in mind, good law firm SEO is like good wine: it takes time to achieve the desired result.
If you need help, contact us now.
This blog post is also available in: Español (Spanish)