Introduction to Law Firm SEO

Local SEO (Search engine optimization) is the optimization of your online properties so your law firm (or legal technology business) can be found in localized searches.

When done correctly, generating leads using Google can be by far the easiest way to drive new clients to a law firm.

  • 74% of consumers visit a law firm’s website to take action.
  • 96% of people seeking legal advice use a search engine.

 

This isn’t just a guide to help complete beginners do all the work for their campaigns from now on. This is a guide that shows how much work an actual Law Firm Marketing & SEO company can do for you – it should serve as a warning to all those emails and proposals that you get saying “we will do your SEO for $500 and guarantee page one rankings.”

I hope it serves as a testament to how much real work needs to go into a Local SEO campaign in order for a business to have a shot at topping the local search results, why it can be expensive, and an explanation for why, even when it is more expensive, the ROI will often trump the expense.

 

The Foundation – A Good Website

Everything in SEO starts with a solid website foundation. If you have a poorly made website, it will not only slow, or even prevent, you from ranking favorably.

And even if you do rank well, your campaign will take longer, be more expensive, and then your new traffic will likely convert at a relatively low level, further reducing the benefit you see from all the hard work you’ve done with your SEO efforts.

Thus, building a well designed, SEO optimized, well structured, and a technically sound website is the beginning of every SEO campaign.

If you want an audit of your website to see if it “makes the cut” for what we consider a good website, talk with our award-winning website design team, and get an audit of your website design.

 

Audit

Just like a doctor needs a diagnosis before they can prescribe anything before you get started fixing, optimizing, and “SEOing” your website, it’s important to first “take your pulse” by running a Local SEO analysis and audit.

This is for the following reasons:

  • You need to determine what elements of your website are poorly optimized or incomplete.
  • Audits will help you understand the current value that search is bringing to your business and where improvements can be made
  • A proper analysis will help you define the level of competition in your space. Before you can start working you need to know how much work is gonna be required

If you fail any of these checks, then you are leaving opportunity on the table, because your website is not ranking as well as it could be, and traffic is going to your competitors!

1. Rank for your brand

2. Brand Blanket check

3. Prominent CTA above the fold

4. A phone number in header & footer

5. Rank for your main service keyword

6. Pass Google’s website speed test

7. Pass Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

8. Analytics is installed

9. FB Pixel is installed

10. SSL is installed

 

Alternatively, if you would like us to run an ROI and Competitive Analysis, we can show your firm how much monthly revenue is out there waiting to be scooped up, and how much resources it will take to achieve that.

Click here to schedule a complimentary ROI audit of your website

 

What does a Local SEO campaign for Attorneys look like?

  1. We run an ROI analysis to determine the opportunity for your business
  2. We complete a 91+ point competitive audit/analysis of your website and competitors
  3. We run audits to find technical problems, on page issues, and off-page competition
  4. We optimize all the problems we found
  5. We build high-quality relevant links and content to outpace your competition
  6. We promote your content and run reports to analyze the impact of your efforts

 

Analytics

It takes a while for your site to reach the top of Google and start getting traffic (6 to 12 months), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can (and definitely should) be tracking in the meantime.

These Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs) will tell you if you’re heading in the right direction while you wait for Google to put you on the top of its search results.

What You Should Be Tracking and Optimizing:

  • Ahrefs

    • Ahrefs Rank
    • DR
    • Referring Domains
    • Keywords (Top 100 positions)
    • Keywords (Top 3 positions)
    • Keywords (4—10 positions)
    • Keywords (11 – 50 positions)

 

  • Google Analytics

    • Sessions/mo.

 

  • Google Business

    • Clicks to Website
    • Request Directions
    • Calls

 

  • Google Search Console

    • Setup your Google search console and verify there are no manual penalties on your website

 

  • Goals

    • Email List / Contacts
    • Goal Completion: Thank You Page

 

 

Keyword Research for Law Firms

Understanding Keywords and Search Behavior to Rank for Legal Terms

 

“Money” keywords.

  • Searcher Intent: Consumer is actively looking for the products/services you offer, they just haven’t decided who to use in obtaining a solution.
  • KW examples: New Jersey personal injury attorney, new york construction accident lawyer

 

“Longtail Money” Keywords:

  • Searcher Intent: The searcher is looking for the specific products/services you offer, but uses a longer search query
  • KW examples: the best personal injury attorney in Syracuse new york

 

“Discover” keywords.

  • Searcher Intent: The searcher is looking to learn – they need more information on the products/services you provide.
  • KW examples: Pasadena DUI lawyer reviews, Pasadena DUI lawyer cost,

 

“Attention & Support” keywords.

  • Searcher Intent: The searcher is looking for information specific to their case or situation.
  • KW examples: How do I fill out a Visa correctly? What is the average length of a DUI jail sentence?

 

Note: A good strategy is to try and rank for the longer, less competitive, search strings first while working towards ranking for your primary money keywords

 

Site Structure Can Have A Huge Impact on an Attorneys SEO

Site structure plays a very important role in your website’s ability to be navigated easily by users, as well as Google’s crawler – known as Googlebot.

Depending on the size of your law firm, you want to make sure that your website’s structure makes sense to consumers and search engines alike. The first step is to know what structure your firm will fall into:

 

Single Location, Single Service

  • An attorney with one office in Pasadena, CA who only handles personal injury cases

 

Single Location, Multiple Services

  • An attorney with one office in Pasadena, CA who handles personal injury cases and employment law cases

 

Multiple Locations, Single Service

  • A lawyer with an office in Pasadena, CA and Burbank, CA and Sacramento, CA who only handles personal injury cases

 

Multiple Locations, Multiple Services

  • A law firm with multiple locations or offices that handle many types of cases and clients

 

Once you determine where your practice falls in terms of site structure it is important to craft your website silo structure to complement your practice.

 

On Page Optimization

Optimize your on-page elements to cover a variety of keywords, long tail keywords, and variations of how people will be identifying and searching for your content.

 

Technical Optimization

  • URL

    • Make sure your URLs are clear, concise, and contain your primary term.

 

  • Title

    • Make sure your Page titles are of the appropriate length, descriptive, and contain variations of the terms you want to rank for.
    • Google will normally display the first 50–60 characters of a title tag. Studies show that if you keep your titles under 60 characters, you can expect about 90% of your titles to properly display.

 

  • H1

    • Make sure your H1 is a variation of the page title and contains a variation of your keywords
    • Make sure you do not have more than one H1 tag on the page

 

  • Image File Name

    • Name your files with keywords relevant to your image and the page they will go on

 

  • Image Alt Text

    • Alt text helps search engines understand what an image is about. Make sure your image alt texts are descriptive.

 

  • Content

    • Write content for your readers, and naturally, the keywords and phrases you want to rank for will be in your content. Make sure your content is informative, original, and accurate/up-to-date.

 

  • Internal Linking

    • Inside of your content, link to other pages that are relevant to the words and phrases in your content.

 

  • Schema

    • Schema, or structured data, is code (semantic vocabulary) that helps search engines understand websites and return more informative results for users.
    • Mark up your HTML code with the appropriate schema markup for increased relevance and to help Google understand the items on your page more easily.

 

This is just a start, however, and a great way to optimize your “service” pages correctly. However, “Info” type content is what generates real shares and links.

One of the primary ways to rank your website pages highly in Google is to acquire links from good websites – but who wants to link to your service pages or your homepage? Nobody does.

Because that doesn’t provide any value to their readership, they want to link to authoritative, informational, educational, and even entertaining content. That’s why you need a blog.

 

Content Optimization

Your small business SEO will get a significant boost from the right content. Many small business owners put products and contact details on their website and that’s basically it. But there is so much more to tell and share!

Focus on making an awesome first impression on your potential customer. Write about your business, your business goals, how great your products are and things like that. You can also discuss market developments or local events that relate to your business.

 

Content Types

Some Content Topics we use at ONE400 to Entertain, Educate, and Inform:

  • Entertain – “The 5 Richest Lawyers in the World”
  • Case studies – “How we grew a personal injury practice leads by 417%”
  • Infographics – “The 5 Crucial Elements of a Good Looking Legal Logo”

 

Info content drives social shares, links and traffic and most importantly, it establishes your firm as a trusted voice and industry leader for legal advice.

Topics (& Keywords)

Finding the right topics to write about is going to depend on 3 things:

  1. What your law firm specializes in
  2. What questions do your customers typically need answers to
  3. What keywords have search volume

 

Length

  • Find your competitors content length and write something longer, more valuable, and more easily digestible
    • Keeps users on the page (dwell time)
  • Interlinking to other helpful resources:
    • Helps reduce bounce rate and increase your websites CTR
    • Helps pass link equity
    • Helps theme your website

 

Local Search Optimization for Law Firms

 

Reviews

Reviews are a huge part of Local SEO rankings and converting more leads into clients. In fact, according to this study done by INC. magazine 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from family or friends.

So, how do you go about getting good reviews? Well, lucky for you, we wrote an entire article about how to generate more online reviews for your business. I recommend you check that out – but for the short version, here is a quick list of things to get you started:

  1. Create a list:
    1. Start creating a list of your most satisfied clients.
  2. Phone Outreach:
    1. Call your past clients! This is a great opportunity to follow up and survey your clients to ask what they liked, what you can do better, and to get a review. This will help them feel taken care of, and also keep you top of mind for referrals. Let them know you will also send a follow-up email to make sure all their questions were answered.
  3. Follow-up email:
    1. Send an email with a Google review link generator.  This will direct them to a URL that opens the review box for the person if they’re logged into their Gmail account.
    2. Remember, sometimes emails get lost – use an Autoresponder to send them a few follow-ups if they don’t open the first one!
  4. Bingo! You now have a new review!

Additionally, we recommend a reputation management/review software that will help you automate and scale this outreach. A good review platform will allow you to aggregate reviews, collect more, and display them prominently in a way that helps increase consumer trust and sends positive SEO signals to your business.

 

Case Study: Aspen Dental

In less than three months with our review system, Aspen Dental more than quadrupled its Google review count, and more than doubled its total Facebook reviews. As more positive reviews are received and promoted, online reputations are strengthened, building the trust required to draw in new patients.

If you’re looking for reputation management, or want the bulk of this process handled for you, we offer a service to help our clients generate tons of reviews totally hands-off.

Contact us to learn more about our review assistance program.

 

Google My Business

GMB plays a HUGE role in local SEO. In fact, GMB listing titles get displayed in localized results, not websites.

Here are some of the strategies we use and recommend that you do if you want a strong GMB listing:

  • Claim Your Listing

 

  • Get Verified
    • Getting verified in Google Business usually requires having a postcard sent to your house, and then submitted the unique code on the postcard to verify your listing. However, there are other quicker ways to get verified – such as connecting your GSC to your GMB and verifying through there. This is just one of the expert tricks our team has up our sleeve.
  • Reviews
    • We’ve already covered how people trust reviews, but here are 2 awesome tricks you can use to help your business show up for more keywords that are relevant to the products and services you offer
      • Trick 1: Respond to all the reviews that you get.
      • Trick 2: Get LSIs and keywords in the reviews customers leave you, or the responses you leave.

 

  • Get links
    • Look at acquiring high quality, and well-trusted links to your local landing page (that is connected to your GMB listing). This will help your map pack rankings. If possible, get city/state and keyword anchor texts in your links.

 

  • Geotag for relevance
    • Geotag your images, and name them appropriately (hint: keywords variations)

 

  • Business Category
    • Choose the most accurate category for your business, this can make or break you ranking for your ideal terms

 

Apple Maps

Apple Maps is a service developed by Apple Inc. as is the default map system of iOS, macOS, and watchOS. It provides directions and business listings for any users of the Apple Maps system and also plays a significant role in voice search for iPhone users who use Siri to find directions to businesses near them.

  1. Claim Your Listing
  2. Get Verified
  3. Reviews

 

Bing Places

Bing Places is the Microsoft equivalent of Google Maps, and one of the primary business listing places that you will want to setup when optimizing for local search.

  1. Claim Your Listing
  2. Get Verified
  3. Reviews

 

Yelp

For Yelp, you can claim your business listing by entering your business name and address.

  1. Claim Your Listing
  2. Get Verified
  3. Reviews

 

Citation Consistency

In the world of internet marketing and SEO, citations are any occurrence of your “NAP” (name, address, phone number) online.

A citation is any use/reference online to your name, address, and phone number. Google evaluates citations as local signals to help understand and determine an entity’s authority on the web.

Having inaccurate and inconsistent NAP is one of the primary reasons that your SEO can suffer – especially locally and double-especially in the maps.

Eliminate variations of your NAP found on the web. Remove or update outdated listings (this will help Google trust your information, and also it will help customers find the right place).

Citations appear frequently in directory type sites (yelp, DexKnows, etc.) but can also be added practically anywhere that allows text – for example social profiles and web 2.0 properties like Facebook, etc.

Give yourself the best chance to rank in local search, and in the maps, by making sure you have no citation inconsistencies. – your NAP must be the exact same everywhere.

 

Strong Directory Presence

Not only do you want your citations to be consistent, you want to have a strong presence on the trustworthy and popular directories.

At ONE400 our clients are usually listed on 50+ of the topmost well-known directories

as well as hyper-targeted/relevant directories for their city and specific legal practice areas.

You will want to get listed in the right places.

Word of warning: Do not pick the wrong directories! If you get a placement on something that is not relevant, or not trusted by Google, you can actually be doing more damage than good!

 

Landing Page Optimization

Your “landing page” is the practice area of the location you are making a location for. For example, if you have a location in New Jersey that provides personal injury legal services, then you would want to have domain.com/personal-injury/new-jersey, and your Google Business Location would want to point to THAT page. Now, to further help your ability to rank locally, here are some extra tips you can use on that specific page:

  • Structured Data: Add schema markup to your location/service pages.
  • Map Embeds: Embed your Google map on your location/service landing page.
  • Driving Directions: Add driving directors to your location on your landing page.
  • NAP: Include your full NAP (name, address, phone number) exactly how it appears in your Google Business listing.

 

Social Optimization

Create the primary social accounts.

1. Facebook
2. Twitter
3. Linkedin
4. Google+
5. YouTube

 

Off Page Optimization & Promotion

Successfully promoting content will result in social shares and links, which will help your web pages rank for the keywords your content is written around, and thus lead prospective customers to your website.

This process can take months, or even years, if you try and let it happen totally organically – so we recommend taking a calculated approach to promoting your content and acquiring high quality, relevant links.

Directories

  1. Yelp
  2. Yellowpages
  3. Avvo.com
  4. Findlaw.com
  5. Etc.

 

Authority Websites

  • Get links from the relevant authority websites in your niche
    1. BBC
    2. Chamber of Commerce
    3. State Bars
    4. Your Law School Alumni Associations
    5. Awards you were nominated for or won

 

Social Media and Forum Links

  1. Legal Forums
    1. Google “legal forums”
  2. Google+

 

Q&A Links

  1. Quora
  2. Reddit

 

Link Outreach

  1. Guest Posts
  2. Resource Pages
  3. Local Press

 

Hiring a Legal Marketing Company

Questions to ask:

  1. Length of time in business
  2. Does your firm provide every employee training on the Attorney Advertising Rules?
    1. Your license is at stake here!
  3. Do you have any case studies of previous clients?
  4. How many law firms have you worked with in the past or currently work with?
  5. Are you a Google partner?
  6. Are you Bing Certified?

 

In conclusion, SEO for attorneys and law firms is a huge undertaking. Following the advice in this article can help you get an amazing start, but we know how busy you already are. On top of all the moving parts, Google is always changing its algorithm and keeping up with the changes can be impossible if you aren’t doing it full time.

We recommend speaking with our team if you have any questions about having this handled for you.

Thanks for reading, and happy ranking!

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