Law Firm Marketing: SEO For Lawyers
Updated: Jul 31
Today we are starting a 3-part series on digital marketing for law firms. Each article will cover a specific tool that improves the digital marketing of law firms.
Today's article will cover search engine optimization (SEO) for law firms. We will discuss what SEO is & isn't, how you can improve your firm's SEO, and how it helps you attract and retain clients in the long term.
SEO For Law Firms: What Is SEO?
Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing a website or online content to improve its visibility and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). The goal of SEO is to attract more organic (non-paid) traffic from search engines like Google, Bing, and others. By optimizing various aspects of a website, SEO aims to make it more search engine-friendly, leading to higher rankings and increased visibility to potential visitors.
What this means for law firms is developing and optimizing content for your website that will eventually rank for important search terms, specifically those that potential clients are searching. For example, if you are an attorney that specializes in criminal defense, you will want to rank highly for keywords like "best defense lawyer near me" or "I need a criminal defense attorney." There are literally millions of keywords you can rank for, and the best attorneys and law firms rank for many of them.
There are several components to SEO for law firms. The most important of them are:
Identifying relevant and valuable keywords or phrases that users are likely to search for when looking for information related to your website's content.
Making specific changes to the website's content, structure, and HTML tags to align with targeted keywords and improve search engine crawlers' understanding of the page's content.
Building high-quality backlinks from other reputable websites to increase the authority and credibility of your website in the eyes of search engines.
Ensuring that the website's technical aspects, such as website speed, mobile-friendliness, crawlability, and indexing, are optimized for better search engine performance.
Producing valuable, relevant, and high-quality content that satisfies users' search intent, which can lead to higher rankings and more organic traffic.
User Experience (UX):
Improving the overall user experience on the website, making it easy to navigate, engaging, and providing valuable information.
SEO For Law Firms: What SEO isn't
Not everything that increases your web visibility is SEO. In fact, a lot of the things that many think are SEO techniques aren't, and this can lead to confusion. Below are some things that many will tell you are SEO techniques, but are really something entirely different.
Social Media Promotion
Social media is a great way to deliver your content to your audience. It is highly recommended that you utilize social media platforms to promote your blog articles and other content. But it is not something that is SEO.
Google Business Profiles
Some years ago, there was a hot buzzword going around "local SEO." This term became so popular, it became its own industry, with entire agencies built simply to work on "local SEO." However, "local SEO" isn't REALLY a thing. Google Business profiles are fine to set up and use. However, they are not going to improve your SEO, and in fact, can hinder the performance by stealing clicks from your links on the SERP.
Paid Search Ads
While getting your paid ads to the top of the SERP is a goal in and of itself, it is not an SEO-related technique. Paid search is a great tool for law firms, and it will be covered in the next article on law firm marketing.
How To Improve Your Law Firm's SEO
There are multiple ways to improve the SEO of your firm's website. Whether large or small, there are always things to do that can help you stand out and rank on the search engine results page. While the 6 items above are definitely important, how you go about implementing them is key to SEO success.
Improve Your Law Firm's SEO Through Keyword Research
The place all SEO begins is with keyword research. Understanding the important search terms and how to rank for them is going to get your firm on page one of Google, but you need a baseline to start.
Suppose you manage a personal injury law firm. If your firm is large and has been in business for a long time, you might already rank highly for the high volume keywords you want to rank for. But what if you're a newer firm? How do you begin to rank for valuable search terms and keywords? It comes down to understanding how to perform keyword research and using the right tools.
Tools like SEMRush or Moz can help you isolate the important keywords and begin working on ranking for them. These tools are helpful in many ways, but keyword research is one of their top functions.
If you are a small or newer firm, you may want to isolate the terms that are easier to rank for. It helps to think about search intent, and what a user means when they enter a query into Google or Bing. Is the intent "informational"? Is it "transactional"? By focusing on the intent, you will understand what keywords you want to focus on.
Improving SEO for Attorneys By On-Page Optimization
One of the ways you can improve your law firm website's SEO is via on-page optimization. This includes improving the URL structure, internal linking, and HTML tags to better focus around the keywords you identified in your research. But how do you do this?
The static, or evergreen, pages on your website are the ones you most likely have in the navigation bar on your site. These are going to be the focus of your work. Let's return to our example of a newer personal injury law firm. This firm most likely has pages in their navigation bar referring to car accident lawsuits. So the page TITLE should be "Car Accident Lawsuits." They most likely also have a page about dog bite lawsuits, so this page title should be "Dog Bite Lawsuits." The title of a page communicates not only to the website visitor but also the search engine what the page is about.
Likewise, the URL structure should mirror the page titles. For example, the pages we mentioned above should have their URL structure look like www.personalinjuryfirmname.com/car-accident-lawsuits or www.personainjuryfirmname.com/dog-bite-lawsuits. These are simple blocking and tackling issues to work on for your firm's website.
There was a trend some years back to use "cute" page titles, but this only serves to confuse the search engine algorithm and consumers. Be clear about the keywords you want these pages to rank for.
Another way to help your law firm site's SEO is by using good HTML tagging structure. By properly utilizing <H1> and <H2> tags on your content pages, you can help signal to the search engine that these are important keywords for this page's content. For example, in the pages we mentioned above, the subheadings of the content should be tagged with <H2> headlines so they are deemed more important. This helps with content organization as well, and makes the page much more readable to website visitors.
Improving Your Law Firm's SEO Through Backlinks & Off-Page Tactics
When making a decision about what products to use, we tend to look to authoritative sources for insights. When we want to find the best car to buy, we may read "Car & Driver" magazine for ideas or information. Likewise, your law firm being mentioned or featured in news articles and authoritative publications helps potential clients discover your firm and also gives it credibility.
Search engines work a lot like people in some respects, and this is one of them. If Google crawls a link from The New York Times and it links back to your site, Google deems your site more reputable. By understanding domain authority, you can leverage backlinks from authoritative sites to help your firm's site climb the ranks on the SERP. You will learn a lot from E-E-A-T related content published by Google.
How Technical Improvements Can Help Your Law Firm's Marketing
Technical improvements to your firm's website can have a major impact on your site's SEO. Some of the simpler ways to improve the technical performance of your firm's site include compressing image and video files into more modern formats. There are many online tools you can use to do this, but one of the simplest is Squoosh.
Improving Your Law Firm's SEO With Content Creation
Content creation is a more technical way of saying 'blogging.' If you want to rank for various search terms, one of the best ways to do so is to blog about them. Following all of the steps above, you can create optimized blogs that will help your site rank for high-value keywords that will improve your discoverability in search engines.
Content creation has been a central focus of the SEO plan for many law firms and has resulted in significant improvement in their overall marketing. Once you have created great content, promoting it on social channels and via email can be a great way to increase its visibility and add value to the lives of your clients.
How UX Changes Can Improve Your Law Firm's SEO
User experience has become more important in SEO over the past 5 years. A website that is pleasant to use will help consumers navigate it quickly to find the content they want without a lot of hassle.
Removing pop-ups is one easy way to improve the UX of your law firm's website. Each site is scored by Google on these factors and pop-ups are a big no-no in the eyes of the search engine algorithm. Some other things such as accessibility options for the disabled, simple or clear website architecture and other factors also factor into the overall user experience and should not be ignored.
How SEO Helps Law Firms Attract & Retain Clients
There are many reasons why someone needs to hire a lawyer or law firm. Large firms usually have divisions dedicated to various consumer law issues, but even solo practitioners can have various specialties they offer their clients. If you, for example, help a client out by filing for bankruptcy, they may wish to utilize your services later when setting up their will or estate plan. Likewise, if you are able to successfully defend a client against a lawsuit, they may come back to you when they need to file for divorce.
Customer loyalty is a fickle thing, and can be impacted by many factors. Many of these factors might be outside of your control. One that is within your control is how often you stay in touch with your clients and provide value for them. This doesn't mean to email and text your clients every time you publish a blog, or spam their inbox with other client reviews.
What it does mean is publishing valuable content on your blog on a regular basis and segmenting your email lists to only send the updates to those that would be most interested. For example, if you have a list of clients that you helped navigate the divorce process, then a blog about establishing parenting schedules might be of significant use to them. Your law firm can be smart about the way it markets itself to clients, gently reminding them you are available to help them should they require your assistance again.
Law firm marketing is something that has been stuck in the stone age for quite some time. Part two of our series on law firm marketing will focus on how to use paid search and Google ads to grow your law practice.