If you want your law practice to not only survive but also thrive, it’s imperative that you get a consistent stream of new clients. While there are various ways to promote and market your law firm website online, the best way to get found is to invest some time into search engine optimization for law firms.
After all, once you’ve nailed down legal SEO, you can count on more organic traffic to your website from the search engines which leads to more local clients, and ultimately reduces the need to spend money on advertising.
In fact, various research shows that 96% of people seeking legal advice use a search engine. That same article also shows that 38% of people use the Internet to find an attorney.
The numbers above clearly show the importance of SEO for law firms which is why in this article we’ll discuss the basics of SEO for lawyers, show you potential SEO pitfalls to avoid, and share tips on recommended SEO practices for law firm websites.
SEO Basics for Law Firm Websites
When it comes to SEO for lawyers, it’s worth mentioning that search engine optimization for law firms isn't that difficult. In fact, it doesn’t differ from search engine optimization strategies for other types of websites.
In a nutshell, SEO helps your law firm website rank higher for specific keywords and terms in search engine result pages than other law firm websites in the same area.
For example, if you’re a corporate lawyer in Boston, Massachusetts, you’ll notice that when someone uses those search terms, there are more than 8 million results.
If your website is ranked on the first page of Google, you've got better chances of getting more leads, inquiries, and more clients because most people won’t have the time to go through all of those results and will usually stick to first page results.
As such, search engine optimization for lawyers is a great and proven way to increase your law firm’s visibility online and net you more clients. Your SEO strategy should involve finding the correct keywords for your law firm, optimizing your website not only for those keywords but for local SEO as well, and a few other tactics we'll cover in more depth later in this article.
Why SEO Is Better Than Traditional Marketing
Now that you know what SEO for lawyers entails, let’s discuss why it’s more beneficial to invest time and resources into creating a solid legal SEO strategy rather than traditional marketing.
When it comes to traditional marketing, you rely on newspaper ads, direct mail, business cards, cold calling, networking, and other marketing strategies to generate new leads.
However, traditional marketing comes at a cost:
- You don’t have control over who sees your ads nor can you measure the success of your ad, which means it’s hard to calculate your return on investment (ROI).
- Traditional marketing means you’ll have to repeat the process and continually re-invest in ads, networking or other methods which not only impacts your budget, it also requires time investment
- Focuses on reaching out to potential clients who may or may not need your services at that particular moment and comes with the risk of them not remembering you when they actually need your services
SEO marketing, on the other hand, comes with the following benefits:
- Helps you generate interest and attract organic and relevant traffic and clients who are more likely to book an appointment because you provide a solution to their immediate need
- Doesn’t require a lot of upkeep once it’s set up properly. Once you optimize your site for specific keywords and search terms, your website will always show up as a result which means you only need to ensure that it stays high up on the results page with quality, fresh content
- It’s easier to see what's working and what’s not so you can tweak and optimize without going over your budget
- Focuses on educating about your services and making it easier for clients to find you and come to you exactly when they need your services
It’s also worth mentioning that according to Search Engine Journal, SEO leads have a significantly higher close rate compared to outbound leads.
Search Engine Optimization Best Practices for Law Firms
There is no denying that SEO has a bit of a learning curve and does require an initial time investment, however, given the benefits are long-term, it certainly is worth the effort. Here are a few tips and best practices to get you started with SEO for your law firm.
1. Analyze Competitors
A good place to start is to analyze your competitors or, in this case, other lawyers and law firms in your area and see how they structure their website, which keywords and terms they're using.
Make note of the type of content they publish on their blog and see which sites are linking back to them. You can use a tool like Alexa to perform this research and then find ways to implement those techniques on your site.
2. Research Keywords
Once you know what your competitors are doing, it’s time to research keywords you noted and get ideas for additional keywords you can use on your website. Consider a tool like Google Keyword Tool to see search terms related to the keywords you want to rank for and add them to your list.
You’ll also want to pay attention to local keywords such as your city and county. Use those keywords in your title or meta tags, on your About page, in blog post titles, image alt tags, and URLs.
3. Fill Out Your Title and Meta Description Tag
Your title and meta descriptions are used by the search engines to display your website and they'll be the first thing users see when they search for a law firm or an attorney in their area.
To make sure your title and meta description aren’t cut off in the search engine result pages, limit the title to 60 characters and ensure your meta description isn’t more than 200 characters.
4. Claim Your Google My Business Listing
Make sure to get your law firm listed in Google My Business. You’ll be asked to provide basic information such as your address, contact information, address, and business information. You’ll need to go through the verification process either by getting a postcard from Google in the mail or by using your phone number.
Once your listing is approved, you can then add additional details such as your website, history, areas of practice, and more. Your clients can also leave you reviews, which will show up in search results similar to the screenshot above.
5. Be Consistent With Details
Consistency matters when it comes to SEO for law firms since different spellings can give off the impression that the information belongs to two different law firms. Your law firm’s name, address, and phone number should be the same across your website, directory listings, social media, and other online channels.
6. Ask Clients for Reviews
Another way to improve your legal SEO and grow your website traffic is by getting online reviews from your customers. According to multiple sources, reviews are becoming increasingly important for anyone who runs a business.
Once users see your website listed with positive reviews, they'll be more likely to click through to your site than a competitor with no reviews. A few places that you can point your clients to include Google Reviews, Facebook, Yelp, and others.
7. Use Schema Markup
Schema markup or structured data markup helps search engines better understand your site, but it also makes your website appear slightly different in search engines. Usually, a simple text snippet will be accompanied by star ratings, breadcrumbs, video, site links, and more. This can give you an edge over your competitors whose results will be displayed as plain text in search engine results page.
8. SEO for Law Firm Websites
Be sure to optimize your website and make sure it’s responsive. If you take into consideration that 69% of users use both a smartphone and a PC for researching lawyers (and other topics), it’s imperative that your website looks and works great on both desktop and mobile devices.
Additionally, your website should load fast since research shows that 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. A great place to start is to test the responsiveness and speed of your website using tools like Google Mobile Friendly Test and Pingdom Tools.
If you find that you need to improve your website, you can check out our collection of WordPress themes and HTML templates for lawyers; which are not only responsive but also optimized to load fast and created with the best SEO practices in mind.
9. Start a Blog
The last tip on our list is to start a blog. While blogging regularly is time intensive, it'll help your website to be crawled by search engines on a regular basis since you'll be publishing quality content. It'll also help you establish your expertise and authority, and build trust with potential clients, especially if you take time to explain complicated legal terms.
Search Engine Optimization Pitfalls For Law Firms to Avoid
Before we wrap up this article, let’s cover the common SEO pitfalls to avoid so you don’t accidentally hurt your SEO rank.
1. Avoid Sending Out Press Releases
Press releases were once a valuable tactic for improving SEO, but those benefits have been done away with in Google’s Panda update. If you submit a press release every time you win a case or every time you get published in a legal publication, you'll diminish the value of your work which is why search engines no longer consider press releases when evaluating websites.
Instead of using them for SEO purposes, consider press releases when your law firm achieved something truly newsworthy and as a means of establishing a relationship with the press.
2. Don’t Be Tempted By Link Schemes
While you might be tempted to exchange links with another website or even buying backlinks in an effort to get your site ranked high as fast as possible, be aware of the fact that the tactic can backfire on you. If the site you’re linking to or that’s linking to your site is perceived as spammy, your SEO rank will decline because your site will be seen in the same way.
3. Avoid Paying for Guest Posts on High Ranking Websites
While guest posting can have SEO benefits if you take the time to submit a high-quality article that's helpful to the readers of the site you’re guest posting on, you shouldn’t have to pay for that opportunity.
Some less than reputable SEO agencies will attempt to charge you for a guest post submissions on sites like Huffington Post or Business Insider. This won’t do much for your SEO rank since most of the links will be set to nofollow.
4. Avoid Paying for Listings In Local Link Directories
Getting listed in local online directories used to be a recommended SEO practice that not only gave you a backlink to your site, it also allowed your law firm to appear in search engines while your website didn’t yet receive a lot of visitors and traffic. Nowadays Google and other search engines discourage links from link directories, so avoid paying for any SEO services that suggest this tactic.
Grow Your Law Firm Website Traffic With SEO
As you can see, legal SEO isn't that difficult to understand and apply. Keep in mind that SEO is a long-term strategy, so it'll take some time to see the results but once you’ve set it up, you’ll reap benefits for many years to come.
Use the tips in this article to create your law firm search engine optimization strategy and grow your website’s traffic.