Are you trying to win new clients for your law firm? Prospective customers are already using search engines to find you, and having an effective SEO (search engine optimization) plan for your law firm is the best way to take advantage of this!
Need proof? Check out these stats…
Additionally, your law firm website is a great spot to generate new leads for your firm. 74% of consumers who visit a law firm’s website end up taking action, such as contacting the firm by phone.
Also, the lawyer SEO competition doesn’t necessarily reflect the legal market you’re in. Only 35% of law firm websites have been updated in the last 3 years, and 40% of law firms don’t even have a law firm website.
In short, by applying an effective law firm SEO strategy, you’ll leap ahead of most of your competitors.
To help you put together your own SEO campaign, I’ll show you how to rank your law firm #1 in Google – step-by-step.
Step 1. Determine Website Structure
Step 2. Setup Your GMB Listing
Step 3. Improve Your Site Speed
Step 4. Mobile Optimization
Step 5. Implement SSL
Step 6. Understand Search Intent
Step 7. Find the right keywords
PAGES & CONTENT
Step 8. Identify User Content Goals
Step 9. Format Your Pages Properly
Step 10. Optimize Your Home Page
Step 11. Create Practice Pages
Step 12. Rank Better with Blog Posts
Step 13. Fix Zombie Pages
DOMINATE LOCAL SEARCH
Step 14. Tailor Pages to Markets
Step 15. Legal Directory Citations
Step 16. Claim & Manage Reviews
Step 17. Outbound Links
Step 18. Inbound Links
Step 19. Tools to Use
Step 20. KPIs
Structure your own website so your users (and Google) can find everything. Your website needs to have a defined structure. Without one, it’s difficult for users to navigate and difficult for search engines to crawl and discover your web pages.
Users need to be able to easily find what they’re looking for. This means that you need to understand what information people seek out when visiting your law firm’s website and put that important information on the homepage or make it easy to access from the navigation bar.
For example, if a prospective client is looking for a personal injury attorney in Miami, they may search your firm’s website for practice areas, office location, reviews, and the about section.
Look at how this law firm’s website quickly addresses those needs with their navigation bar.
If you’re unsure about what users are likely to look for on your website, search Google for your practice areas and look at the top ranking competitors sites to get ideas for your navigation and site layout.
Finally, it’s important to make sure your navigation menu is usable both on desktop and mobile.
In fact, 31% of all law firm related website traffic comes from mobile, so a large amount of your leads are likely to come from a mobile device.
Take a look at how this law firm’s website made their navigation menu easy to access and use on mobile phones.
This is referred to as the “tap area” of a button and is a key component of converting on mobile devices. Make sure this is sized appropriately for phones and fingers of all sizes. Users can become easily frustrated if they have a difficult time tapping the correct button on a mobile device and may leave your site.
Google also uses your law firm’s website structure to determine what website content is important and relevant information. Here are a few ways to help Google crawl your law firm website in a more effective way.
Ideally, your website as a whole should be structured like a pyramid, with your home page at the top, your category pages (the ones in your navigation menu) beneath that, and your individual pages beneath your category pages.
Not only does this make it very easy for users to find relevant content on your site, but also makes it easier for search engines to index each page of your website.
This means that they should only have one slash after the .com, .net, etc (aka. the “top-level-domain”).
So, your about page should look like https://yourdomain.com/about
Any individual pages that are a subset of your category pages, like blog articles, should only have two slashes after the top-level-domain.
For example, blog articles would look like this: https://yourdomain.com/blog/how-to-hire-a-personal-injury-lawyer
Clear URL structure makes it easy for search engine crawlers to find pages on your law firm website.
The placement of navigation items is an important factor for users and search engines alike. While users are more likely to pay attention to navigation titles, search engines use the anchor text of these navigation items to determine the topical relevance of a page.
What is anchor text?
Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink.
Here’s what it looks like in your site’s code
If we inspect the code on Harell & Harell’s site, we can see this in action. Here’s the navigation menu item’s anchor text for the user.
Header tags (commonly called H tags) outline the structure of your page. Often times, an H tag is used as the title displayed on the page, while the page title is what’s displayed in the organic search results.
Common H tag page formatting looks like this:
Notice the difference between these 2 articles. One is using H tags properly, while the other is writing their headlines in plain text.
Header Tags Used Properly
When writing your H tags, keep a few things in mind:
85% of people use online maps, such as Google Maps, to find legal services.
Google Maps is a huge part of local SEO. If your firm largely targets local clients, then getting listed on Google Maps is a must.
So, how do you get listed on Google Maps?
By creating a Google My Business listing.
Google uses information from Google My Business to display information for searches that have local area intent.
Clearly, it’s important that this information is up-to-date, accurate, and fully optimized.
Here’s how to optimize your firm’s Google My Business account:
If you’re interested in seeing how users behave with your listing, check out Google My Business insights.
Google is now mobile-first, which means they assume users are accessing your site with a 5G connection.
They want to provide users with a great page experience. Presenting users with slow websites doesn’t accomplish this, so if you want higher rankings, your website needs to be fast.
Due to its impact on user experience, website speed is one of the most important SEO ranking factors.
If a website takes a long time to load, the user will click back to Google to find a better choice. Google will simply think the user didn’t find what they were looking for and your website rank will drop.
Amazon found clear correlations between page speed and bounce rate. Just a few seconds too long, and your users are 32% more likely to leave.
To make your site as fast as possible, use Google’s PageSpeed Tool to see how your site loads on desktop and on a 5G connection. This tool is a simple way to discover any issues that you can address to make your site faster.
Consider this – you’re a personal injury attorney, and a potential client just got into a car accident.
They try to access your site to call you, but they have a poor mobile connection.
Or worse, they’re nervous – their adrenaline is pumping – and they’re having trouble tapping their screen with accuracy.
Your website takes too long to load, and when it finally does, the user pushes the wrong button on accident, so they move on to the next listing in Google.
This is why mobile optimization is important for attorney websites.
At a minimum, you should make sure that:
Check out Lawrence Law Group’s site as an example of doing this correctly.
This, and Google prioritizes mobile experiences when ranking websites.
Ever come across a website and see something like this?
As an attorney, you know that trust between you and your target audience is important, so why would this be any different online?
This is what happens when a website isn’t secured with an SSL certificate.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and is essentially a form of validation for your website that confirm there aren’t any intermediaries between a page and the web host that could potentially steal a users information.
Basically, an SSL certificate proves that a website is who they say they are. This is shown by a site having https instead of http at the beginning of their domain.
Google has also confirmed that it is, in fact, taken into consideration for rankings.
Often times, you can get an SSL certificate through your web hosting provider. They’re usually available for an annual fee, and will fix all of the issues associated with “website not secure” popups or messages.
If you prefer to go the route of free, or would rather have your SSL certificate not tied to your web hosting provider, you can use a service like Let’s Encrypt instead.
Once you get your certificate set up, plug your homepage https URL into Why No Padlock? to have their tool crawl your site and make sure it’s implemented correctly.
A few things to note about getting your site SSL certified:
Before you start optimizing your law firm’s website, you need to know what kind of keywords you’re going to go after.
In attorney SEO, as in all SEO, a keyword is really just a search term that Google’s users type to find what they’re looking for.
What they’re looking for is described as searcher intent – and can be broken down into three categories:
Searcher intent addresses the question “what are the searchers really looking for?”
Let’s assume a musician is trying to copyright their music. Here are some search terms they might use in each stage.
In this example, the musician wanted to protect their music, learned more about what’s involved, then narrowed down the options until they found the best one for them, then took steps to contact the appropriate firm.
The closer a user gets to a purchase, the longer the keywords usually are. This is where the phrase long-tail keywords comes from.
Now that you understand searcher intent and know about how people use Google to make purchases, let’s dive into some keyword research.
To find new keyword phrase ideas, just head over to Google’s Keyword Planner, log in, and click “Discover new keywords.”
Next, enter your website or a keyword of your choice to get started. For this example, I’m going to enter a keyword.
You’ll notice that you have columns that show you the monthly search volume and the cost-per-click bid range if you were to run ads.
If a keyword has a high bid, that means advertisers are bidding high amounts for that search query in PPC advertising campaigns –likely because it drives sales.
That means these keywords are likely to have high purchase intent. These are the keywords that you’ll likely want to target with pages that have lots of call-to-actions.
If you want more keyword ideas, you can leverage Google. Just take one of your chosen keywords, plug it into Google’s search box, and look at the “People also ask” section.
If you click one of the questions, Google automatically generates more of them.
When you find your keywords, remember to use your primary keyword within the H1 and title tags of your page. This gives the search engines a clear indication as to what the page is about. For more information on keywords and keyword research check out Keywords 101: A Beginner’s Guide.
Google prioritizes pages based on how it views search intent for different terms. You won’t be able to effectively rank a product page for an informational search.
Google often prioritizes long-form content, but content that meets a user’s need always wins out.
It’s the difference between “how to find a good accident lawyer” and “accident lawyer near me” searches. One will land on a blog post/long form content, the other on a directory or services page.
Think about it like this – someone with a broken faucet is looking for contact info for an available plumber, not a long-form article on plumbing.
When formatting your page, there are a few things that need consideration.
Let’s go over each of these.
The page title is the clickable headline of your page that appears on search engine results pages (commonly referred to as SERPs).
When writing your title tags, keep a few things in mind.
Here are some examples of well formatted page titles, and one that’s not as well formatted:
Page descriptions are the short paragraph of text placed in the HTML that describe the contents of a page. These are known as “meta descriptions” and will show under your page in the organic search results.
Google has specifically stated that they do not use the meta description as a ranking signal. However, the number of people who click on your website vs. others is a ranking signal, and the meta description influences a user’s decision to click on your website.
Because of this, the meta description indirectly influences your rankings.
So, when writing your meta descriptions, do so with the goal of convincing users to click on your listing rather than stuffing keywords in there.
Here are a few things that can accomplish this:
Your homepage is the most valuable page on your site. Here are some ways to make it have a better chance of securing top rankings.
As far as search engines are concerned, your home page carries the most weight in terms of value. Because of this, it’s best to optimize the page for your most competitive keyword.
Boyd Law does this very well.
Your page may not rank right away, but as you build your domain authority and visibility, it will climb closer to the top of the search results.
You need to establish credibility and trust as quickly as possible. The best way to do this is featuring reviews or testimonials on your homepage.
Take a look at how Morgan & Morgan features powerful video testimonials on their homepage.
Google uses dwell time as a ranking factor, so it’s in your best interest to keep users engaged on your homepage as long as possible. Using videos or other visual graphics accomplish this.
Look at how The Law Offices of Peter C. Bronstein does this.
A clear, consistent call-to-action is what generates leads.
When writing your CTA, you want to keep 3 things in mind.
Let’s look at an example of a good CTA vs. one that could use some work.
After your homepage, your practice area pages are going to be the next most valuable in your SEO efforts.
It’s important to make individual pages for each practice area because it gives you more opportunity to go after keywords related to those practice areas by addressing the specific needs of that audience.
If we look at Morgan & Morgan’s website, we’ll see that they have a dropdown listing all of their practice areas.
You already have lots of legal info in your head from your experience. Creating high-quality content on your site that communicates this effectively to potential clients positions you as an authority in your legal space.
Consider your practice areas and think about how you can create great content and super-detailed blog articles that help potential clients.
Things like step-by-step guides, simplifying otherwise complex topics, or even simple blog posts on key pain points your audience may face are great examples of this.
Look at how Peterson Watts Law Group does this with their music copyright article.
You can come up with content marketing ideas by:
When you create your content, keep in mind that you’re writing for the internet – which means you should make your content easy to skim. Here’s how:
When writing your content, while it is important to intersperse your keywords throughout, Google algorithms are getting better at understanding language and will understand synonyms related to the topi. It’s more important that the topic is covered in full, and keyword stuffing won’t work. The primary objective should be that your content fully addresses the needs of its audience.