Top 8 SEO tips to improve your law firm website
Everything you need to know about harnessing the benefits of SEO for your law practice.
11 May 2021 · 8 min read
Bill Gates hit the nail on the head when he said, “if your business is not online, then your business will be out of business.” But today, it’s not enough to just have an online presence. If your company is to compete favorably in today’s digital space and bring in a steady flow of new clients, it must be searchable and easily visible on the web.
That’s basically what search engine optimization (SEO) is all about!
The need for proper SEO is even more pronounced among law firms. In fact, there is no successful digital marketing strategy among law firms today that isn’t rooted in SEO. With that in mind, let’s look at everything you need to know about harnessing the benefits of SEO for your law practice.
But first, let’s cover the basics.
What is SEO for law firms?
When we talk about search engine optimization for lawyers, it simply means taking active steps to optimize the strategies and tactics to improve your law firm’s position on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. When your law practice ranks high on the results of an organic search, you’re opening the doors to high-quality website traffic, non-stop leads, and improved industry credibility.
Did you know that as much as 93% of online experiences start by searching for relevant terms on Google and other search engines? Also, over 70% of online users don’t go beyond page one of a search engine results page (SERP).
So take a moment now and do a quick search for your primary area of practice coupled with your main service area. For example, if you practice DUI law in New Jersey, do a Google search for ‘DUI law in New Jersey.’ Did your law firm appear on the first page of the SERP? If yes, then you’re obviously doing a great job with your SEO efforts. Keep it up. If not, you need to step up your SEO game or continue losing out on potential clients.
Two main categories of SEO
Regardless of the industry, there are two broad categories of search engine optimization:
- On-site SEO
As the name implies, on-site SEO is when you optimize your website for better search engine rankings, based on current SEO best practices. The main word to consider here is ‘current’ because search engines tend to update or completely replace their algorithms for determining online search rankings from time to time. The main strategies under on-site SEO include keyword-rich website content, internal linking, and technical SEO.
- Off-site SEO
These are the strategies you use to improve your rankings and visibility on other media and platforms outside your website, hence the name. With off-site SEO, the aim is to optimize your online presence in other places across the internet to build authority and credibility while also improving brand visibility and accessibility. The main strategies under off-site SEO include link-building, outreach programs, and paid placements in relevant online directories.
In order to build a successful marketing strategy, you’ll need to do well in both areas as they are often interdependent on each other.
How is law firm SEO different from other industry SEO?
Specialized attorney SEO is different from SEO for other industries because law firm marketing mainly revolves around local engagement.
Of course, several other industries thrive on local engagements, such as restaurants and retail outlets. But the main difference here is that legal practices provide services, not products. This means that their entire target market is made up of local audiences, unlike products-based businesses that can simply ship their products to another state or even anywhere in the world.
Think about it — you may have thousands of followers on social media and people talking about your law firm halfway across the world, but your main revenue will come from the people within your local service area(s). For example, it is highly unlikely for someone in need of a personal injury lawyer in California to begin their search in Florida.
Law firm SEO focuses on specific geographic criteria. It is primarily concerned with positioning your practice to the people who genuinely need your professional lawyer services around your local community.
So basically, the online identity of your law firm must be visible in the right places where potential clients are able to make a meaningful connection. With strategic law firm SEO, you can get there faster. In addition, proven attorney SEO strategies relay the importance and reliability of your services — and your successes — to positively impact their decision-making.
Why is SEO integral to law firm marketing?
No matter your legal practice area, you cannot afford to overlook search engine optimization. But what exactly can SEO do for law firms? Well, for one, organic search is the main driver of website traffic. If you’re not familiar with the math, it’s simple — more website traffic = more prospective clients.
- Law firm SEO connects you with the right target audience
At any given time, there are over 4.6 billion active internet users. Your SEO efforts help you carve up your market share of this massive crowd. Even better is the fact that with law firm SEO, these people that need your services actually seek you out. There’s nothing quite like having prospective clients come to you as opposed to you running after them.
- Law firm SEO helps you remain competitive
An AccuRanker2017 study showed that the legal industry is the most competitive when it comes to SEO. The study analyzed hundreds of thousands of SERPs across various industries and concluded that legal practices have the largest barriers when it comes to driving high-quality website traffic. Therefore, having an effective SEO strategy in place is nothing short of a necessity if you want to stay ahead of the competition.
- Law firm SEO builds and promotes your credibility
Without trust and credibility, no business can succeed. This is a simple fact. People looking for a lawyer’s services are generally facing some form of problem, and they must be able to trust that you can deliver a tailored solution. SEO builds your website authority, which in turn promotes its credibility. This credibility then leads to trust.
- SEO results are measurable
Law firm SEO delivers measurable results. In fact, SEO has advanced over the years to the point where you can track everything that’s happening on your law firm website or landing page. With this level of insight, it’s easy to identify what strategies and tactics are working and which ones need tweaking to achieve your desired marketing goals. This makes your SEO efforts more cost-effective.
- But I’m already running paid advertising campaigns — why do I need SEO?
For starters, SEO brings in free organic traffic. Yes, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a proven way to gain immediate online visibility, but unless you’ve got deep pockets, those costs can quickly add up and deplete your entire marketing budget in no time.
One of the best things about organic traffic (besides being free) is that it usually signals buyer intent. For example, if someone is doing a Google search for lawyer services, it’s likely because they genuinely need those services and are willing to pay for them.
In this way, SEO levels the playing field for both big-name legal practices and small-time law firms. In fact, with the right lawyer SEO strategy, you could enjoy better search engine visibility and high-quality organic traffic than some of your big name-brand competitors.
Another reason to invest more in SEO is that its benefits are compounding and long-lasting. Sure, PPC ads deliver quick results, but once you stop spending money, the pipeline dries up. However, with lawyer SEO, your optimized content can continue to drive traffic and rank on SERPs long after you posted it. In the long run, this can translate to higher revenues at a far lower cost.
Smart tips for dominating SEO for your law firm
Now that you understand the basics of law firm SEO and why you need to implement it properly, let’s look at some great tips for ensuring that you get the most from your SEO efforts.
1. Create a user-centric law firm website
A website design focused on optimizing user experience is the perfect foundation for any serious online marketing strategy. It doesn’t matter how sound your SEO strategy may be if online searchers are treated to a poor user experience upon landing on your website.
When it comes to user-centric website design, the main question you want to answer is — what’s in it for the customer? So here’s how to go about it.
- Start with an easy to read domain name
The domain name is basically the name of your law firm’s website. Some people just use the business name as the domain name, which is a great idea in legal marketing since your business name is unique. Another option is to use an SEO-friendly domain name. For example, if your main area of practice is DUI law, you could include the word ‘DUI’ in your domain name. This makes it easier for search engines to immediately recognize what your website is all about.
- Make the information easy to skim
The average online user doesn’t read word for word. Instead, they skim through the page looking to pick out key information that’s relevant to their needs. This means that information on your home page and other web pages should be easy to skim — no jargon, no complex legal terms, and no large blocks of text. Sentences should be concise, paragraphs should be broken into bite-sized pieces, and where possible, use bullet points to articulate your message.
- Use graphics and images to break up text
This makes the information on the web page more engaging and easier to digest. You can also use bold text for important terms. This makes them stand out to the reader and allows for an easier flow.
- Make your website easy to navigate
This just means making sure that your website visitors can find what they’re looking for in as few clicks as possible. It’s also important to ensure that all key pages are easily from the homepage.
Note: Of course, it goes without saying that your website must also be mobile responsive. With more and more people accessing the web through their mobile devices, having a mobile-friendly website design is an absolute must.
2. Turbocharge your website’s speed
Website speed is an important SEO ranking factor. The standard web loading is at three seconds or lower, though in reality, this standard is often hard to meet. Still, you want to make sure your web pages aren’t taking forever to load.
How to go about it
- Test your website loading speed on Google’s free tool PageSpeed Insights
- Get quality website hosting
- Compress images and other heavy files
- Install a cache plugin
Check out this comprehensive guide on how to fix slow websites.
3. Make search engines love your website
This is where your on-site SEO efforts, particularly, technical SEO shines. Just as you’re trying to optimize your law firm website for human searchers, it’s equally important to optimize it for bot searchers (also known as search engine crawlers).
How to go about it
- Implement schema markups — These are code snippets that are used to provide an enhanced description of your website to search engines. While there is no direct evidence that these rich snippets can improve your website’s standing in organic search results or rankings, they do provide improved visibility, which in turn can improve click-through rates (CTR).
- Make sure all web pages have relevant title tags and meta and descriptions — You know when you do a Google search, and you see the title of each result along with a short description underneath? Those are the title tags and meta descriptions. They’re great for improving SEO because they tell searchers what that particular web page is about.
- Write alt tags for images — You’ll notice that Google SERPs have an image section. Writing alt tags helps ensure that your website images are optimized for SEO. They’re also helpful in enabling visually impaired users to identify what the image is about.
- Implement HTML tags — These help search engine crawlers identify the structure of a web page. H1 tags represent the page’s main heading, while H2 through to H6 tags are used to denote other subheadings in descending order of importance.
4. Do keyword research purposefully
Quality keyword research is the backbone of any winning SEO campaign. At its most basic, keyword research is about finding out the words or phrases with the highest search queries relevant to your industry. But it’s important to know how to do it right, or else you’ll end up wasting time and effort targeting the wrong keywords.
Doing it right just means that your SEO keyword strategy should target specific user intent while also considering their current place in the customer journey.
How to go about it
There are three main stages in the customer journey where you can implement strategic keyword research:
- Awareness stage
This stage is all about informational search queries. Here, people need information about something relating to their current needs. For example, in the case of DUI services, an informational search query could be “what to do right after a car accident?” Or “how can I get my charges for dangerous driving dropped?”
Your keyword research at this stage should be aimed at finding long-tailed keywords that relate to what information people need. This can establish you as an authority on that subject, which in turn builds trust on the part of the readers. Another benefit of long-tailed keywords is that they are less competitive and therefore have a better chance of ranking highly in an organic search.
- Evaluation stage
This is where the prospective client decides whether to hire your legal services or go to your competitor. At this stage, they’re probably searching for terms like “(your law firm name) reviews,” “Best law firm for DUI cases in (city, state),” successful DUI cases (law firm name),” and so on.
Your best approach to keyword research here is to target these search terms and address them directly in your website content. For instance, you could create a testimonials page and then optimize the content to include terms like “best,” “successful cases,” “DUI law firm,” etc.
- Transactional stage
This is where the potential client has decided to make a purchase or, in this case, hire your services. You want to be able to target search terms that revolve around how they can buy your services. These include transactional terms like “hire DUI attorney,” “hire personal injury lawyer,” and the like.
5. Publish high-quality content
High-quality content marketing is the foundation on which marketers build SEO success. Every item on this list hinges on having well-written, relevant content. In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say that the success of any digital marketing campaign hinges on the quality of the content being put out by a business.
How to go about it
Publishing high-quality website content requires a deep understanding of your industry. You need to speak in the language of your target audience and speak directly to their pain points. Here are some tips to consider:
- Always start with proper research — Who is your target audience? Why would they want your legal services? What makes your services unique and attractive? When you know who you’re writing for, it becomes much easier to craft the perfect content.
- Highlight benefits always — People don’t really care about your awesome features; they care about how these features benefit them. By focusing on benefits, you’re making the content about the reader, which is basically what good content marketing is all about.
- Utilize infographics and videos — These are content too. More importantly, they’re more engaging than your regular text content. Audience engagement is another important SEO ranking factor. This is because when people engage with your content, they’re likely to stay longer on the website and share, click other links on the page, and even share the content. This lowers your bounce rate ( the percentage of visitors who land on your site and then leave immediately instead of viewing other web pages). High bounce rates tell Google that your content is likely irrelevant and therefore undeserving of a higher SERP ranking.
- Use highly visible calls to action (CTAs) — The worst kind of website content to publish is the kind that leaves readers wondering what to do next. A CTA should be present on every web page on your site. Even if it’s a simple “Call us now” or “Subscribe now,” let your visitors know what to do next after consuming your content.
- Include an FAQ section — FAQs provide direct answers to the questions that your readers are most likely to ask about your legal services. This saves them time and improves user experience.
- Invest in blogging — The keyword here is ‘invest’ because unless you already have an active, loyal reader base, it might take some time to see results from blogging. Nevertheless, blogging is a worthwhile endeavor for two main reasons.
First, search engines love fresh content. Publishing keyword-optimized blogs regularly is a great way to satisfy that requirement. And second, blogging builds authority and credibility. The more you share about your expertise in the legal industry, the more people will see you as an authority figure, which in turn leads to higher trust and confidence in your services.
6. Double down on local SEO
Local SEO just means optimizing your law firm’s online presence for local search. This is one of the best ways to up your legal marketing game and stand out from the crowd. Additionally, it can put your law firm on the map, literally.
How to go about it
When it comes to local SEO, the first step is usually to claim your free Google My Business (GMB) listing. Your GMB profile should contain all the relevant information about your law firm, including the business name, street address, phone number, and business hours. The profile will also show client reviews and testimonials about your services, so it’s important to deliver tangible results for your clients at all times.
Another way to promote local SEO is through citations — mentions of our law firm’s business name, address, and phone number (NAP) on other relevant websites. The most common sites to optimize citations for law firms include Avvo, Yelp, Bing, and social media platforms like Linkedin, Facebook, and Reddit.
High-quality citations from relevant sites tell Google and other search engines that your website is legit and authoritative. After all, there are so many other websites linking to it.
7. Install Google Analytics
Google Analytics is another free tool that can drastically improve your overall marketing efforts. It allows you to gain insight into the performance of your website and track important metrics, so you know if you need to focus your SEO efforts on certain areas over others. The two main categories of information that it provides are
- Who is using your site?
- How are they finding it?
On a deeper level, Google Analytics provides relevant statistical information, such as
- The number of visitors to your site
- Where visitors are coming from
- How much time they spend on your site
- What device they used to access your website
- What pages the visitors landed on
- The nature of the site visit and much more
Additionally, Google Analytics allows you to set SEO goals, which you can track. For instance, you could set and track how many visitors you get from organic search, how many from non-organic, your top-performing content, and so on.
Check out ourcomplete guide on how to use Google Analytics
Another important tool is the Google Search Console. This web service provides valuable insight that you can use to optimize the visibility of your website. It provides information such as:
- Technical errors on your site
- Who is linking to your site
- Most popular keyword queries
- Internal links
- Broken pages
- Mobile-friendliness, and so on
8. Hire an SEO expert to implement these tips and best practices for you
Surely by now, you know you cannot take on all these tasks while also running your law firm. Many of them are way too technical. Where will you ever find the time to learn how to do them? Hiring a reputable SEO company to implement these tactics for you is simply the smart and pragmatic way to go.
As much as possible, you should go for an SEO agency that specializes in law firm marketing. This way, you’re sure of getting targeted SEO services from the right professionals.
At any given moment, search engines are constantly testing, updating, and refining different aspects of how websites are ranked. That’s why you cannot afford to approach your law firm SEO as a one-time thing. In any case, the most important step is getting started.
As of 2019, around 43% of solo law firms didn’t have a website. If you find yourself in this category or are simply looking to improve your overall online marketing efforts, B12 can help. We leverage artificial intelligence to create high-quality law firm websites within the shortest possible time (usually one to two weeks). What’s more, we offer a complete suite of web solutions, including SEO, blogging, copywriting, scheduling, online billing, and much more.
Sign up on B12 today to get started on building a powerful online presence for your law firm.