How do people find the right attorney? More and more are answering that question by going online. According to data cited by Thomson Reuters, the internet is now the most popular way to find and research a lawyer. Nearly half of all people surveyed start their search for an attorney on the internet. Only 15 percent had a pre-existing relationship with their lawyer this is why SEO is crucial for lawyers and law firms.
For most legal practice areas—personal injury, criminal defense, family law, wills and trusts, business law, etc—it is a competitive landscape and the ability to attract new clients is essential. Law firms that do not use the best search engine optimization (SEO) practices are at serious risk of falling behind their competition quickly. In this article, you will find an overview of SEO best practices for law firms.
As defined by TechTarget, search engine optimization (SEO) is the “science of improving a website to increase its visibility when people search for products or services.” In other words, SEO is a strategic approach designed to make a website more visible to the people who are trying to search for it using Google, Bing, and other search engines. Notably, SEO is targeting search traffic organically without having to pay for that traffic. This is in contrast to direct advertising―such as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising—the goal of which is to drive even more traffic through paid methods. In practice, SEO involves several strategies, including both on-page SEO and off-page SEO:
SEO is still primarily about Google rankings. According to data from Statista, more than 90% of all global internet searches are run through Google. Performing well in Google search results will put a law firm in the best position to succeed. Though, top search engine competitors like Bing, Yahoo, etc. can also make a difference as well.
As previously mentioned, SEO is crucial for lawyers and law firms. As noted previously, more and more people are turning to the internet to find and research an attorney. If you have a family law firm in Las Vegas, you will want to be as visible as possible when people search for family law services in the region. It is a hyper-competitive market. A well-developed SEO strategy could be the difference between your law firm appearing on the first page of Google results for a family law firm and it getting buried on the fifth page. SEO matters because it can help your law firm:
Keywords have long been an essential aspect of search engine optimization. Broadly defined, a keyword is a word or short phrase that is associated with a particular subject. Put another way, it is what people are typing into Google when they run a search. For example, a person who was hurt in a motor vehicle collision may search for a “car accident attorney.”
In the very early days of the internet, search engine algorithms were relatively rudimentary—meaning that websites could get positive search results by “spamming” keywords. However, those days are long gone. In 2022, a website that is full of spam keywords will very likely be down-ranked by Google.
That being said, keywords are still a very important part of SEO. A website and web content should include relevant, authoritative, and high-volume keywords. Keyword research is important. Law firms need to know how to find and target the right keywords so that they can improve their SEO rankings and generate more traffic. Ultimately, it is unpaid web traffic that will turn into leads.
Content is king in search engine optimization for law firms. Content marketing should be a big part of any law firm’s SEO strategy. Content marketing is simply the creation and sharing of content. It is not about pitching your law firm’s services to potential clients—at least not directly. Instead, content creation is about sharing relevant, useful information that is related to your core practice area. Content creation is crucial for several different reasons. Most notably, content marketing:
Content comes in a wide range of different forms. For a law firm website, content marketing starts with building “evergreen” practice area pages. These pages can serve as the foundation for a particular service offered by the law firm. From there, content can include everything from blogs and articles to ebooks, photographs, and even videos. Well-tailored content will typically be drafted in a manner that includes the keywords that your law firm needs to rank highly on search engines. Law firms that are not consistently creating content are at risk of falling behind on SEO.
Backlinks are another important part of SEO rankings. A backlink is a link from a page on one website to a page on a separate website. At a technical level, search engine algorithms essentially navigate the internet by “crawling” through links. Backlinks help to create connectivity between web pages. For SEO, backlinks matter. A website that has a high number of backlinks is likely to rank far better on search engine results than a website that has few or no backlinks. You can think of backlinks as “nodes of approval” from other websites.
A law firm website that has a high number of backlinks from trusted websites will perform better in SEO rankings. It should be emphasized that not all backlinks are created equal. Quite the contrary, Google’s algorithm is so sophisticated that it can evaluate the quality of each backlink. Law firms need high-quality backlinks. A backlink from a low-quality website is not going to provide much value for SEO purposes. There is a concept called “domain authority”—and the higher the authority of the backlinker, the better the backlink is for your website.
As noted previously, the overwhelming majority of internet searches are performed using Google. For this reason, all lawyers and law firms must focus on improving their SEO visibility on Google’s platform. In June 2014, Google introduced the Google Business Profile. All law firms should ensure that their Google My Business account is properly set up and maximized for SEO. It is one of the quickest and most efficient steps that you can take to improve your SEO rankings. It allows law firms to better stand out on Google for free.
For attorneys and law firms, local SEO is critically important. Mailchimp describes local SEO as “a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that helps your business be more visible in local search results on Google.” While there are certainly some exceptions, lawyers and law firms are typically not trying to find clients nationwide. Firms are looking for clients in their local market area. Indeed, a firm’s main target areas may be largely restricted to a few counties or a city and its surrounding suburbs.
Imagine that you are a partner at a law firm that primarily practices personal injury law in South Florida. Your SEO strategy should be focused on trying to improve your website’s visibility for personal injury law and related searches in Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County, and the surrounding areas. Getting positive SEO results in Chicago, Seattle, or other far-away cities is not going to do much to help you attract new clients. Here are some key elements of a local SEO strategy for lawyers and law firms:
As you can see, a good SEO strategy for your law firm is critical to its success today. If you need assistance with SEO for your law firm, ONE400 is an award-winning marketing company focused completely on the legal field. Learn more at www.one400.com.