The first place people go today to find a lawyer is the internet. Implementing SEO for law firm websites is the most effective way to rank well on Google’s search engine results and encourage new clients to contact the firm.
Unlike other industries where cold calling is part of the everyday push for new clients, lawyers can’t solicit new clients (Rule 7.3(a) of the American Bar Association prohibits it). Instead, legal firms and attorneys routinely buy commercial spots on network television and rent billboards for advertisements.
However, prospective clients still search the internet for a Google search to learn more about a lawyer. A law firm’s website may represent the client’s first contact with the firm, which means optimizing the website is necessary.
A poorly designed website without search engine optimization won’t receive an appreciable level of visitor traffic, and it certainly won’t encourage people seeking legal advice to contact the firm for help. Like a home’s curb appeal on the market, a law firm’s website is where first impressions are made.
Let’s explore law firm SEO and how law firms can use search engines to market their firm, build organic search results, and give visitors confidence in the firm’s ability to help prospective clients seeking legal advice or representation.
What is search engine optimization (SEO)?
Every business with an online presence must maximize its website’s effectiveness by employing search engine optimization (SEO). A law firm’s SEO plan aims to make sure the website appears high on a list of search engine results for various search phrases.
Search engine optimization has been around since the late 1990s, and it’s become a necessary part of any internet marketing strategy. SEO for lawyers is incredibly valuable because of the ability of an optimized site to attract local visitors. Some lawyers are licensed to work in a few states, so appearing in local and organic search results for the firm’s state of practice is the best way to connect with viable clients.
For example, a tax attorney working in Dallas, Texas, might want to rank highly on a local search that includes the phrase “tax lawyer Dallas.” To achieve high search engine rankings for that keyword phrase, the law firm must employ certain tactics that appeal to search engines like Google and, to a lesser degree, Bing, Facebook, and Twitter.
Why do lawyers need an optimized website?
Search engine optimization isn’t the most exciting concept in the world, but it’s a topic of vital importance to lawyers and law firms because of the client intake process. When a law firm optimizes its website to collect information from prospective clients, the data saved in its website form makes it easier to collect lead information for further review.
A properly optimized site is also the best chance a law firm has to find new clients in the area. A basic site constructed using an automated tool is a good start, but it won’t go far in helping the law firm find new local clients. Only with the help of Google and a high search engine ranking will the law firm enjoy a steady stream of new prospective clients.
SEO for lawyers is the modern equivalent of the Yellow Pages. At one time, the Yellow Pages was all someone needed to find a local business. Today, prospective clients use Google instead, so it’s essential for law firms to use it as a primary marketing device.
What is attorney SEO?
Search engine optimization is a concept that any businessperson in any industry can use, but there are some specific methods law firms can use to maximize their SEO and marketing dollars. To rank well on search engine results pages, web designers for law firm sites should consider the following.
Keyword Research for Attorneys
Legal websites thrive when they use keywords that attract local visitors to the firm’s website. Keyword research is a process that identifies terms that are most likely to help a law firm rank well in the local search results on Google.
Google routinely updates its algorithms, meaning law firms and their web design teams must conduct keyword research regularly to optimize their website. A keyword or keyword phrase is what a potential client enters into Google.
In response to that search, Google returns a list of results.
A law firm focusing on keywords like “divorce lawyer California” must feature that keyword throughout the website. Doing so will encourage Google to feature that website at the top of its search results.
When someone searches for “divorce lawyer California,” Google wants to give the searcher the most accurate results possible. Using keywords effectively throughout the law firm website means Google will prioritize that website in local search results, which helps drive more prospective clients to the website.
Let’s take a real-world example of a website with good keyword usage: Ruben Law Firm of Maryland and their Maryland divorce page.
This practice area page shows clear evidence of law firm SEO with relevant keywords scattered throughout the page. The first sentence contains the essential keyword phrase “Maryland divorce lawyer,” and the page title also features the keyword phrase “Maryland divorce.”
The page should always feature the keyword phrase in the title and variations on that phrase throughout the page.
For this example, variations include “Maryland divorce attorney,” “top lawyers in Maryland,” and “Maryland family law,” all of which the law firm’s site uses. Law firm SEO strategy also recommends including the primary keyword in the title tags, page titles, and meta descriptions in the page code.
The page’s source code reveals several meta tags with the keyword “Maryland divorce.” Meta tags aren’t visible to anyone (or thing) except the search engine robots that crawl the internet, searching for new information for search listings.
Including the main keywords in the titles and first paragraph indicates to Google’s robots what keywords are important to the firm. Google rewards excellent keyword choice and proper keyword placement with high search rankings.
Above all: keywords should accurately represent the search terms a legitimate visitor might use to find the website.
Website Optimization for Lawyers
Website optimization makes a website’s content and coding attractive to search engines. A beautifully designed site isn’t necessarily Google-friendly if it doesn’t abide by some rules for onsite optimization.
Website optimization impacts everything from the URL (that’s the web address) to the meta description (the information inserted into the website’s code that only the search engine can read).
For example, when a law firm’s web designer creates a page about a Cincinnati attorney’s DWI services, the URL should include the page’s most important keyword phrase: Cincinnati DWI attorney.
Every page within the website should adhere to this practice. Using a keyword for the URL is much more impactful regarding search results than employing a random series of letters or numbers. Don’t name the page “12345.html” because it’s the 12,345th page on the website. Rather, ensure the URL includes the target keyword for the page.
The law firm web designer should also employ “schema” for legal services in the website’s code. A schema is a code that helps search engines identify important elements on a web page and display those elements in search results.
For example, the law firm can use a review schema, which will cause Google to display ratings and reviews within organic search results. Using schema is normally overseen by professional web designers and law firm SEO specialists. Onsite optimization is multifaceted and complex; a professional SEO expert is usually the best for implementing it.
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Content Marketing for Law Firms
One of the biggest mistakes any law firm can make when writing content for the firm’s website is posting unoriginal content anywhere on the site. From blog posts to service pages, the easiest way to get on Google’s bad side is to copy content from another website.
Online plagiarism will make it extremely tough for a law firm to show up anywhere in local search results.
Content written for a legal website should be unique; professional content creators generally have access to plagiarism checkers like Grammarly Premium, but the web design team needs to run those checkers before making any content live.
In addition to ensuring that all content for the website is unique and not duplicated, the content should also convince the reader that it is authoritative and thoroughly researched. References from authoritative sources help tremendously in creating believable and high-quality content.
In virtually all cases, content should also cover a topic entirely rather than a summary. Lengthy or “long-form” content that ensures readers don’t have any outstanding questions by the time they reach the end of the page is more effective than brief summaries or “short-form” content.
Consider the website of Damiens Law, a tax law firm based in Mississippi with a second office in Tennessee. The firm’s website explains at great length their practice areas, as well as the types of tax problems that a client may face. Most pages feature several paragraphs that fully cover important topics in tax law.
For example, the page detailing asset seizure features almost 1,000 words of content on that topic and links to other related areas on the website. The page contains genuinely useful information, and when visitors spend time reading the content, Google’s robots take note and boost the website’s ranking.
Conversely, a website that doesn’t feature much content that users don’t visit for more than a few seconds might not achieve a good ranking.
Technical SEO for Lawyer Websites
Technical SEO is one of the most advanced topics in search engine optimization for law firms. Technical SEO measures how successful a website is in following Google’s rules.
Measuring technical SEO efforts generally means looking at the website’s code, which means hiring a law firm SEO expert.
One of the most important facets of technical SEO is loading time. A poorly coded website that takes forever to load will cause huge problems for any firm trying to rank well on Google’s search results. Every additional millisecond a webpage takes to open reduces a website’s rank.
Another essential part of technical SEO is how easy it is for Google’s web crawlers to explore the website. Google uses robots to search the entire internet, and a poorly coded website that’s difficult to crawl will result in poor search results.
A website that’s easy for a robotic crawler to examine is also easy for humans to visit and explore.
Web designers and search engine optimization teams can use the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide for more information about what Google wants to see in its SEO results. Google doesn’t reveal absolutely everything about how they rank websites, but they share some of what makes a website rank well in its search listings.
Hyperlocal SEO Marketing for Law Firms
The average law firm will have an attorney or attorneys licensed to practice law in one state. Sometimes, lawyers receive special permission to practice in another state, but most firms operate in a limited geographical area.
It’s unlikely that an Arizona lawyer will file a case in Montana, so why should the Arizona law firm appear in search results from a computer in another state? Local search results are good for law firms because a greater percentage of web searches will result in valuable clicks for the lawyer’s website.
One of the factors Google uses for local search results is distance, but it’s not the only factor. Relevance will always play an important role, but secondarily, distance will influence rank, too. A law firm in Miami should focus on optimizing content for people in Miami and the surrounding region.
The law firm may also benefit from optimizing content for nearby locations like Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Boca Raton, especially if the firm regularly files cases in those cities. Brick & mortar businesses like lawyers benefit immensely from optimizing a website for location.
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Reputation Management for Attorneys
Reviews are one of the most impactful parts of a website, especially when it comes to law firms. A survey conducted by Trustpilot in 2020 indicated that almost 90 percent of respondents read reviews before buying products.
For today’s average web searcher, reviews play an important role in decision-making.
Personal recommendations are one way that lawyers pick up new clients, but reviews are important, too, because not everyone knows someone who has used a lawyer. For example, a person who needs to hire an estate lawyer might not know anyone who’s ever used a lawyer for probate.
Reviews help prospective clients choose a lawyer without feeling like they’re reading an advertisement.
Building a healthy number of Google reviews is extremely helpful for increasing rank with the search engine. Google reviews improve a business’s prominence, which is one of the factors Google uses when calculating a page’s rank for local search results.
The law firm’s web design team should make it easy for past clients to leave reviews by including a form on the website for review submissions. It’s important to remember, however, that some review websites prohibit review solicitations.
Therefore, firms should avoid incentivizing past clients to leave reviews for websites like Yelp, which forbids review solicitation.
The Washington Family Law Group reviews page showcases lengthy, in-depth reviews from past clients. The reviews only use first names, which helps maintain anonymity but go into reasonable detail about each client’s experience with the firm.
It’s also possible to examine reviews directly through Google by searching for any type of lawyer, firm, practice area, or geographical location. An important consideration regarding Google reviews is that the search engine uses reviews in its ranking algorithm.
Firms can bolster SEO for law firm websites by paying attention to Google reviews and encouraging past clients to leave reviews. Not only do reviews help placement within search engines, but they also help potential clients find a lawyer they can trust.
Perform a search on Google for “Chicago personal injury lawyer” or any similar phrase with “lawyer” and the name of a city or state. On the first page of search results, Google will offer a short list of lawyers and firms operating in that geographical area. Each listing will feature a rating, which may encourage someone to click on the listing.
Important Sections for a Law Firm Website
A law firm’s website is more than just a homepage. The firm should include the following optimized sections within its website.
About the Firm. A quick trip into the firm’s history and how it was started helps visitors determine whether the firm has the right type of experience for their legal needs. An about page should have links that lead to each of the biography pages of the firm’s lawyers.
Practice Area Pages. Each practice area the firm pursues should have its own practice area page with information about past cases and general information about those practice areas that visitors may find valuable, even if they’re not actively looking for a lawyer.
Biography Pages. The average person may find it intimidating to call a lawyer, and bio pages help humanize the firm’s attorneys. Biographies should include education, experience, awards, and links to articles or publications about the attorney. Some personal information is fine, too.
Blog Page. A blog is one of the best ways to keep a lawyer’s website current, and it’s an opportunity for lawyers to deliver valuable information to prospective clients. Visitors will appreciate getting information about legal topics without having to pay a lawyer.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Law firms may have a single FAQ page with a long list of questions and answers, or they might include FAQ sections on every page. Answering questions as often as possible throughout the website helps get a place on Google’s “people also ask” section.
Law firms may also consider podcasts, videos, and infographics as additional pages on the website. Website visitors consume content in various ways, and it’s helpful to provide information that visitors may read, hear, or see, depending on their preference.
How does Google rank websites?
Google never shows its entire hand regarding the algorithm its robots use to rank websites, but the search engine giant does provide some advice to businesses wanting to increase rank.
Remember that Google updates its algorithms frequently, so firms must revisit their SEO efforts regularly to ensure the website complies with the latest guidance from Google.
However, one factor that will likely never change in the algorithm is the importance Google places on authoritative, credible, and accurate information.
If we boil Google down to its most basic reason for existing, it’s the search results. Google can’t thrive if it doesn’t deliver accurate and valuable search results.
Therefore, Google will only rank websites highly when those websites provide good information. A law firm that emphasizes accuracy and the value of information will always have the opportunity to increase its rank with Google and smaller search engines like Bing.
Blogging for Lawyers
Creating a website and adhering to SEO practices doesn’t end after the web designer presses “publish” on the website. Even after the team completes the initial site, work must continue with blogging and social media campaigns.
Blogging is often the easiest option because it doesn’t require maintaining a separate account like Twitter and LinkedIn require.
Blogging is one of the easiest ways to keep a website relevant in a very straightforward way.
Blogs can cover essential topics in the legal realm, as well as current events that impact the legal realm. In addition to keeping the website current and updated for search engines, blogging is also an excellent method for building a reputation as an authoritative voice for the firm and its legal team.
Finding a Niche Topic for the Legal Blog
It may seem tempting to post as often as possible and to get the firm’s name out on the web with great frequency, but it’s better to consider a more focused type of blogging. For example, a legal team that specializes in personal injury law probably wouldn’t legitimately benefit from a blog written about divorce law.
Rather, the blogging team should consider a blog that offers advice about personal injury law. Not only will prospective clients find this information valuable, but offering many posts on a single area of practice will encourage readers to look at multiple blog posts and eventually contact the law firm for assistance when necessary.
A focused blog also makes it easier for legal teams to showcase their knowledge and passion in a highly visible area. Respected blogs get positive attention from Google, so they’re valuable assets for multiple reasons. A quality blog is never a waste of time and will always add value to the firm’s online endeavors.
Using Current Events for New Topics
At a certain point, it may become difficult for the law firm’s blogger to think of new topics. One option for increasing the relevance of the blog and the variety of topics is to use current events as a guide.
For a law firm that deals in corporate law, a quick scan of the news should always result in a few stories that the firm can use as jumping-off points for blog discussions. It’s even worth posting early or more often when a particularly important story comes along. A legal blog that’s updated frequently will get a lot of attention from Google, and using current events in blog posts can result in better rankings.
Writing With Keywords
All blog posts should focus on a keyword or two, and choosing keywords that apply to legal practice is helpful. It’s unlikely that a keyword for family law would benefit a law firm that focuses on criminal defense law. Firms will see greater value from posting blogs that relate to the practice.
It’s usually best to aim for a keyword density of one to two percent. No rules specifically dictate these percentages, but the ratio generally works out to about one or two keywords inserted every 100 words. In ideal circumstances, the keyword should appear in the blog’s URL and the title. Often, the URL uses the same words as the title anyway.
Focusing on Quality
Lawyers are a respected facet of society, and they’re often considered intelligent people who put a lot of time into education and their work. Lawyers spend long hours building their cases, which means a poorly written blog may do more harm than good.
The law firm shouldn’t post blogs just to feed the internet machine. Instead, the blogs posted should contain valuable information and well-written content. It’s better to publish a quality blog that doesn’t adhere to every SEO practice than to write one that sounds forced or hurried because there’s a publishing deadline.
It’s essential to think about the blog’s audience and not just the ranking algorithm on Google. A blog that receives legitimate traffic and interest will always offer more value to the firm than a blog posted simply to get something up there on the web. Quality matters an incredible amount when it comes to blogging.
Long Form Content
Blog posts come in all shapes and sizes, but the minimum is around 800 words. However, it’s often recommended that blogs reach at least 1,500 to 2,000 words, and some studies indicate blog posts reaching up to 2,400 words perform even better with Google’s algorithm. However, avoiding adhering to a large word count is important unless there is legitimate and valuable information to share.
Reaching high word counts is often easier when the legal blog focuses on a specific area of practice and one known very well by the firm’s lawyers. A tax attorney will have a much easier time writing 2,000 words about upcoming tax law changes than recent developments in criminal law and recidivism.
Quality Blogs Receive Backlinks
Creating a quality website with accurate information helps the law firm receive backlinks, which occurs when a website’s team places a link on their website to another website. Google holds websites with many backlinks in high esteem, which are a significant help to law firms seeking better search engine rankings.
Law firm sites should aim for at least 40 to 50 backlinks that land visitors at the firm’s homepage, but building those links takes time. Publishing valuable information in blog posts is often a much easier way to secure backlinks, especially when those posts include information from an authoritative source and citations.
Avoiding Simplistic Language
The writer of a legal blog post mustn’t weigh the piece down with technical jargon. However, it’s also important that the blog doesn’t assume the average reader can’t understand basic legal terminology.
Many legal terms exist in the national lexicon, and using them in a blog can add legitimacy and weight to the writing.
Many readers should understand a word like mediation, especially if they’re looking for that legal service, but you may need to define phrases that accompany arbitration, like alternative dispute resolution, qualified arbitrator, and collective bargaining agreement. If you’re concerned about the legal knowledge of readers, consider adding a glossary to the end of the blog.
Using a Writer for Blogging Activities
One of the decisions the firm will make when creating a blog is whether to assign the task to one of the firm’s lawyers, a legal assistant, or an outside writer. In the right circumstances, any of these choices is appropriate.
When a lawyer writes the blog personally, it’s helpful to write in the first person and to address the reader. These methods create a connection with readers and build trust.
Another option is using one of the firm’s legal assistants or paralegals. These individuals are highly knowledgeable about the firm’s area of practice and can take the onus of writing a weekly blog off one of the busy lawyers. However, it’s important to ensure that the lawyer or assistant can write before assigning the task.
Significant law knowledge takes years to learn, but every lawyer isn’t a born writer. The type of writing present in a legal document, like a trial brief, doesn’t always translate neatly into blogging, so it’s helpful to consider an outside writer with some legal experience for the blogging task.
Law Firm Blog Examples
- James Newby Law. The James Newby Law Firm is a criminal defense firm in Colorado Springs, and the firm maintains a blog on topics routinely under discussion at a criminal defense firm. One of the best parts of a blog is that it’s the perfect place to focus on vital keywords for the firm. In this case, the blog features topics like “traffic attorney,” “misdemeanor charges,” and “arrest for DUI.” These blogs provide helpful information for people searching for legal representation and keywords for Google.
- Fried and Fried. Someone looking for a divorce attorney in or around Fort Myers, Florida, might see the blog from the legal team at Fried and Fried. Blogs contain valuable keyword phrases like “equitable division of property,” “prenup,” and “Florida divorce.” People looking for advice on these topics will learn helpful information from the firm’s blog and find an option for a divorce lawyer in Fort Myers.
- Berman & Simmons. Berman & Simmons is a firm in Maine with practice areas like personal injury law. A quick look through their blog showcases valuable topics for people needing a personal injury lawyer, like car accidents, settlements, and medical malpractice. This blog offers the firm prime internet real estate to use keywords that will lure visitors to the site and regularly updated pages that the search engines crawl.
Hyperlinking and Building Links
It’s not just the clicks within Google’s search results and other search engines that help a law firm’s website boost visibility. Incoming hyperlinks from other websites – particularly reputable websites – are important. These links indicate to Google that other professionals in the field consider the law firm’s website an authoritative source on a particular subject.
Why does a law firm need to focus on link-building?
Link building is important because it’s one of the ranking factors Google uses when grading websites. It’s worth noting that most websites don’t have any backlinks, which means building just a few will go a long way in increasing the firm’s reputation with Google. Backlinks give law firms an incredible competitive edge.
Is it better for law firm sites to get more or quality links?
As with many things related to websites and ranking on Google, it’s always better to focus on quality rather than quantity. Search engine optimization is no longer the wild west of marketing, which means more of something isn’t always more impressive. Rather, high-quality links will always offer greater benefits.
Is it worth buying backlinks when first starting a law firm website?
One of the easiest ways to violate Google’s webmaster guidelines is to buy links for the website. It’s better to wait for the linking activity to occur naturally over time than to buy a slew of links that get posted in record time. Google doesn’t consider those bought links an asset for search rankings. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to linking.
What’s the easiest way to build links for law firms?
Creating a quality website will always be more rewarding for a law firm. Success isn’t instant when building a website and reaching the number one position on search results. It’s much easier to hold onto a high ranking that the law firm built using legitimate backlinks rather than a ranking that was artificially inflated through the use of questionable SEO efforts.
Legitimate Options for Law Firms to Build Backlinks
It’s not always a matter of waiting for linking activity to appear magically. Firms have options to create legitimate links around the web that help increase backlinks quickly and easily. Consider the following.
1. Add the firm’s profile to a legal directory
Free legal directories exist online and are an easy way to activate backlinks easily and transparently. Paid directories exist, too, but it’s not absolutely necessary to pay for inclusion in a paid directory.
When using paid directories, it’s helpful to use Google Analytics to track the performance of the link, which helps the law firm determine whether the paid directory is worth the investment. Popular options include Justia, Avvo, NOLO, and lawyers.com.
2. Get listed in the directory for the firm’s alma mater.
Many law schools keep a list of alumni on their website, and it’s an excellent place to secure a backlink because of the innate respect given to colleges and universities. A link from an educational (.edu) address carries significant weight, as long as the institution of higher learning is legitimate.
Law school websites occasionally host blogs, and they even allow alumni to publish guest posts. The guest post will feature a biography of the writer and a valuable link to the law firm’s website.
3. Build partnerships with local businesses and organizations.
Creating partnerships with other local businesses is helpful in multiple ways. It allows the law firm to build a positive reputation at the local level and presents opportunities to share links with various groups.
Local organizations build brand awareness in the community, but the links shared amongst organization members are often high quality because they’re connected to legitimate local businesses.
4. Write a guest blog or article for a respected industry magazine.
Legal publications constantly need new content, and many accept submissions from lawyers. These websites may have a link that reads “write for us” or something similar. Clicking that link should bring you to a page with instructions for writing for that industry publication.
These guest blogs, posts, and articles help build links, but they’re also an excellent way to find new clients. After all, writing for an authoritative magazine or industry periodical builds legitimacy with readers who may also need a lawyer.
Using Video for Law Firms
Video streaming is an incredibly popular pastime for hundreds of millions of people, but the videos people watch aren’t solely about cats, dogs, and funny internet memes. Professionals like lawyers may benefit greatly from including video in their SEO strategy.
Just as a lawyer’s optimized website should result in high rankings on Google, a video can also help the law firm rank well in search results. Keyword searches for websites are just one of the types of searches people may perform on Google.
There are also video searches, and lawyers can take full advantage of this additional search option when they include a video on their website. Video options include creating a complete YouTube channel for the firm and streaming videos directly on the law firm’s website.
Websites that feature videos are considered more valuable by Google than those that don’t, which means videos may increase the firm’s search result placement in video results and in regular search results. However, it’s important to ensure that the video is properly optimized for Google.
For example, all videos should include closed captions via an.SRT file. Closed captions help increase viewership because web surfers aren’t always interested in hearing the sound of a video, but they’re likely to watch when they can read the dialogue.
Firms that create videos should always write scripts that use optimized keyword phrases, and those phrases should appear within the video title and throughout its description. A law firm doesn’t need to make a library of videos; just a few high-quality pieces will help overall site optimization immensely.
Keyword Research for Lawyers
How do you choose the right keywords for a legal website? The most obvious choice is to pepper the website with words like “lawyer,” “attorney,” and “law firm.” However, those general keywords are found on thousands of law firm sites worldwide, and they aren’t that effective on their own.
Rather, law firms must conduct keyword research to determine the best keywords for the firm, and those keywords will usually be phrases rather than single words. Choosing keywords means figuring out the questions people are asking Google and answering those questions using specific keywords.
Not only is it necessary to choose keywords that relate directly to the law firm’s area of practice, but it’s also essential to choose keywords with good search volume. If a keyword phrase only earns three clicks a month, is there any reason to optimize an entire page on the website for that phrase?
Instead, the law firm would fare better by choosing a word with a higher search volume. However, the keywords chosen mustn’t be the most competitive in the industry. Ranking for the single keyword “lawyer” is expensive and almost impossible.
Ranking for the keyword phrase “Mobile tax lawyer” is much easier and valuable for the firm, too, because the phrase should bring in visitors looking for a tax lawyer in Mobile, Alabama.
Methods for Researching Keywords for Legal Websites
One of the easiest ways to figure out what people are asking Google is to conduct a Google search and check out the section labeled “people also ask.” For a law firm in California interested in ranking well for the phrase “lawyers in California,” some of the questions people also ask are the following.
- How much does a good lawyer cost in California?
- How much does a family lawyer cost in California?
- What’s the difference between an attorney and a lawyer?
- How much is a lawyer consultation fee in California?
During the content creation phase, the law firm and its SEO team can answer these questions and enjoy increased visibility when Google chooses its website as the answer to a “people also ask” question.
Further, answering commonly asked questions may also land the website the coveted position of “featured snippet,” where Google gives searchers a quick excerpt of text from the website at the top of the search results.
Try asking Google a question. The search engine will provide a list of “people also ask” questions, and you may also see a featured snippet at the start of the page. A snippet is just a quick answer to commonly asked questions and a great way to reach the top of the search results.
Social Media for Lawyers
At the end of the day, a law firm publishes a website to get new clients. A simple yet effective website that offers valuable information features an information-rich blog and offers accurate and timely information that will always rank well with Google.
However, many law firms decide to branch out into various social media platforms as an adjunct to law firm SEO. Social media profiles are an excellent option for driving people seeking legal advice to the firm’s website for more information.
However, there is an important caveat for lawyers using social media as part of their online strategy. ABA Model Rule 1.6 forbids lawyers from publishing client information without the client’s informed consent. Lawyers mustn’t accidentally share information that should remain confidential through a social media platform like Twitter or Facebook.
As long as a law firm and whoever is responsible for social media postings understand ABA Model Rule 1.6, creating social media accounts shouldn’t cause any problems. If anything, multiple accounts with various social media companies increase the likelihood that clients will find the firm at the right time: when they need legal representation.
Social media is a highly visible part of the internet where customers (or clients) have as much power as companies. Law firms mustn’t approach social media as they might have personal accounts. Just as the firm might create a posting strategy for its blog, the same holds true for its social media accounts.
Even though a post on Twitter may feature just a handful of words, those words must be chosen with care. When it comes to apps like Twitter, the internet is forever, and it has a long memory when it comes to gaffs and mistakes.
Law firms should consider social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, when building their online marketing strategy. Some firms use Instagram, too, but it’s essential that Instagram posts from law firms only feature high-quality, professional photographs. Law firms should avoid out-of-focus selfies and random photographs that aren’t authoritative and respectful of the profession.
YouTube is also an excellent option for firms that produce high-quality video content. YouTube might not seem like a traditional social media platform, but it acts just like Facebook in that it helps law firms reach new readers and potential clients. Further, a law firm’s YouTube channel is a great place to house the videos shared on other social media platforms.
Avoiding Common Law Firm SEO
Hiring a professional law firm SEO company is the best way to ensure a lawyer’s website operates as expected, but it’s important to understand some of the mistakes that legal websites might make when creating a new website or updating an existing website. Consider the following.
1. Not hiring a graphic artist or website designer.
Bad website design can doom a website’s ability to rank well on Google. Poor coding and design make it difficult for Google’s robot crawlers to explore the site. Even if a website has some great content, poor coding means that Google’s crawlers won’t ever see that great content.
Bad design is also off-putting to visitors to the website. If Google ranks the website in its search results, and visitors see the site, bad design may reflect badly on the law firm. If a legal team can’t put enough effort into a website, what does that say about their dedication to clients?
2. Failing to optimize for mobile phone users.
Today, website searches occur more often on smartphones than laptops or desktop computers. The numbers will likely continue to move in the direction of smartphones as more and more people use their smartphones as they once used their desktop computers.
Optimizing for mobile phone users means employing responsive design, which means a website will look different depending on what device the searcher uses to access it. The written content will remain consistent, but the interface will change to accommodate a user with a mouse on a computer versus a user on a smartphone.
3. Not focusing on the quality of content.
Anyone who knows anything about the legal field knows that the average case requires significant writing. However, the paragraphs one might read in a trial document should look quite different from what a visitor might read on a lawyer’s website.
Well-written content is essential for lawyers because it’s the best way to connect with prospective clients who aren’t already familiar with the law firm. In addition, Google emphasizes the quality of written content, too, which means focusing on content is important for multiple reasons.
4. Not paying attention to the site’s loading speed.
A website that loads slowly is a hassle for web searchers, but it’s also a potentially catastrophic problem for law firms interested in ranking well on Google. A website that takes just a few seconds too long to load won’t impress Google and may put all the effort put into optimizing the site content in jeopardy.
A slow site will also anger visitors who want information about the law firm and must wait more than a few seconds. Attention spans in the modern era are particularly brief, and some web searchers may back out of a website after just a few seconds when it doesn’t load quickly.
5. Lack of coding for Google’s web crawlers.
Some of the code a web designer will write within a law firm’s website isn’t for visitors to read. Instead, the information is for search engines like Google that send their robot crawlers into the site to explore it for information.
Google won’t give a lawyer’s website a good rank unless the website gives Google’s robots all the information they need to figure out where that website should appear in search engine listings. Optimization means satisfying website visitors, as well as robotic visitors.
6. Failing to optimize for local searches.
Lawyers, like doctors, building contractors, and others who meet face-to-face with customers, must employ local SEO for attorneys. Failing to research local search terms means missing out on the highest quality visitors.
The best time for a law firm’s website to appear in search results is when an individual in the firm’s service area searches. Optimizing a website to include local search terms is the best way to achieve a high rank in the search results that will benefit the law firm the most.
7. Poor keyword choice.
The term “lawyer” is one of the most expensive terms a law firm can purchase on Google Ads, but very few law firms will benefit from optimizing their website for that single word. Rather, most law firms benefit more from less common yet highly accurate keyword phrases.
Optimizing a website for the term “lawyer” might bring in visitors from far and wide, but are those visitors valuable to the law firm? Unfortunately, many visitors to the website might back out quickly because they realize they’re in a completely different region and can’t use the firm’s services.
8. Failing to fix broken images and links.
A beautifully designed and optimized website may not remain that way forever, and it’s important to update the website as necessary, particularly to make sure that images and links remain intact. Google’s web crawlers note when images on a website are broken and will drop the website’s ranking accordingly when those images aren’t repaired.
Broken links throughout the site make it difficult for the web crawlers – and legitimate website visitors – to use the page as intended. Not only will Google ranking sink, but the poor presentation and functionality will reduce visitor confidence in the website and, by extension, the law firm.
9. Forgetting to update business data.
Over time, phone numbers and addresses may change, and it’s essential to update that data on the website and on all the social media and business account locations the law firm possesses. An old or incorrect phone number on a website means a prospective client may assume the law firm no longer exists.
Google doesn’t just crawl a website once. Their bots will visit a site every month, and frequently updated sites may receive crawls as often as every four days. Accurate information is the best way to ensure prospective clients can reach the law firm when they need it the most.
10. Assuming SEO will provide instantaneous results.
Search engine optimization is a process that takes time to implement, and it also requires time to see results from that effort. Not only will the process require time spent researching keywords, developing the website, and optimizing it, but it will also take some time to see the website appear higher in search results.
The best way to receive the most value from SEO for lawyers is to put effort into the process and remain patient as the website gains traction on search engines like Google.
Using Pay-Per-Click Advertising with Law Firm SEO
Pay-per-click advertising campaigns, usually bought through Google Ads, are an additional option for law firms interested in getting quicker results than SEO alone. The biggest drawback to using PPC campaigns is that they cost money.
In some cases, campaigns may cost significantly because of the competition for certain keywords. Legal keyword phrases are some of the most expensive and may cost more than $100 for each click. However, not all keywords are so costly. Law firms may consider PPC campaigns as an adjunct to SEO efforts.
SEO for Law Firm Websites FAQ
Does law firm SEO work?
One of the reasons SEO works for lawyers is that it’s a terrific tool for building brand visibility. An optimized website builds online legitimacy, and lawyers benefit from the trust that invariably comes with high rankings on Google.
When someone performs a search for a “Michigan divorce lawyer,” the first few results will automatically inspire a small amount of trust in the person conducting the search. The idea of trust is an essential part of building a law firm that has a reputation for treating its clients well.
Anything a business can do to improve its reputation, build trust, and expand its visibility is a good thing. Law firms that choose to employ SEO for their website will receive each of these vital benefits.
Why do lawyers need SEO?
Lawyers need SEO because it’s the best way to grow a firm organically, beyond television advertisements and billboards that often feel artificial and forced. A website optimized for current SEO practices helps law firms show an authentic and genuine face to prospective clients.
Websites properly optimized for SEO also represent a product with a high return on investment for law firms. A website that isn’t optimized may gain limited traction in search results, but nothing works better online to attract valuable clients than an optimized website.
According to the National Law Review, one of the benefits of creating an SEO website is that it’s easy to maintain a high ranking once it is achieved, as long as people are searching for the keywords optimized on the website. A healthy website may drive traffic to a law firm for years.
Do law firms need SEO?
There isn’t an industry on the planet that doesn’t need SEO. Search engine optimization is essential for any business, whether brick & mortar or virtual. Law firms need SEO because a non-optimized website won’t receive traffic on Google.
Lawyers operating in areas where many lawyers practice must employ websites optimized for search engine optimization or risk losing prospective clients to law firms that do use SEO. Without a website presence, a law firm might not reach a fraction of the clients they could with a healthy online presence.
Simply posting a few times a week on Twitter or keeping a Facebook page updated isn’t enough. Selecting a lawyer isn’t like shopping for cereal. You can’t simply choose a lawyer from a brief post on Facebook. Clients want more information, and the most effective way to share comprehensive information about a firm is through an optimized law firm website.
How does SEO help law firms?
The biggest benefit firms receive from publishing an optimized website is greater visibility in search engine results. When an individual conducts a search and sees a local law firm at the top of the search results, that result is beneficial for the searcher and the law firm.
A site that isn’t properly optimized may initially receive traffic from web searches that aren’t particularly helpful for the client. For example, an individual in Nevada looking for a corporate lawyer won’t find much benefit from seeing a link to a law firm in Mississippi.
On the other hand, a corporate law firm in Las Vegas using SEO for law firm websites will offer a Nevada resident much more value. The law firm, too, will receive greater benefit from the increase in clicks that result from valuable and accurate search results.