When it comes to internet marketing, it’s no secret that search engine optimization yields some of the highest returns you can find just about anywhere. If you’re reading this article, chances are you already know this and you’re just looking for that extra edge over your competitors.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through exposure in organic search engine results. Many tactics for optimizing websites are applicable across a variety of industries, but SEO strategies need to be tailored to the legal industry to be most effective for law firms.
So, how do you stand out in a growing online market where everyone is vying for the same 3 positions within the Google Local Pack? Or for the same exact search terms as you? Let’s go over a few ways.
Keyword Research And Discovery
Research is the first step needed before optimizing your website. Lawyers should focus on purchase or decision intent keywords which indicate the searcher is ready to sign up for and retain legal services. Those terms should also have decent search volume to ensure a website will receive traffic, and that can be related to how many words are in the search or even their order. For example, “Las Vegas car accident attorney” may receive more searches than “Las Vegas car accident lawyer.”
The key is to find out what people are typing into search engines and what they are looking for based on those searches. Attorneys should focus on exploring the terms related to your practice area, compare variations of your target keyword phrases to see what people are searching for, go after phrases with high search volume but moderate competition, find low competition keywords that can be targeted, use phrases and terms related to your main target keyword phrase for a page (word that are synonymous), and see what phrases your competition is ranking for and try to make your content better than theirs.
There are a variety of free and somewhat free tools out there to help with this research: SpyFu, Wordstream, SEMRush, the Google KW Planner.
Make sure while conducting your research examine different long-tail and short-tail keywords. A long-tail keyword is one that is often less competitive, but with that it also has lower search volume. In contrast, a short-tail keyword would be one that is highly competitive with lots of search traffic. Often your long-tail keywords will contain a lot more words than your short-tail keywords. For example:
Long-tail: best workplace injury attorney in Las Vegas
Short-tail: Vegas injury attorney
With short-tail keywords you can expect the search results to be inundated with other companies who have been targeting those terms heavily for years. While it’s good to target those terms as well, if you expect to see quicker results, then short-tail might be the right way to go.
Attorney-Specific Calls To Action
A call to action on any site is designed to get the visitor to act; CTAs for lawyers are different and require additional strategy as it relates to SEO. Lawyers should place their calls to action above the fold (the point at which people must start scrolling to see more information) and a phone number should be on every page of the website in a prominent location (such as the header).
There should be more than one method for contacting the law firm. Use more than just a phone number or contact form; provide multiple ways visitors can reach you.
Creating Legal Content Umbrellas
Google crawls and indexes content in a methodical and systematic way. Organization of the internet’s information works best in the legal industry when there is a page for each practice area and when practice areas are categorized in a logical manner, which also makes it easier for both people and search engines to find content on an attorney's website.
Lawyers should follow this format when organizing site content:
- The website should focus on one overall theme (such as personal injury law).
- The site should drill down into the sub-topics of the central theme (for personal injury law, that might be car accidents, slip and fall, workplace injury, etc.).
- Each page on the site should be about a singular topic area and have relevant, helpful and unique content.
Building content this way helps search engines organize it and visitors find it.
When building legal business website content, create content that matches the user’s search intent. Good, keyword rich content may help you rank, but great content is what helps a user convert to a client. Instead of trying to create content in a super competitive space for the keyword “DUI Lawyer,” try focusing on keywords like “DUI lawyer in [city], what can a dui lawyer do for you, or how much does a dui lawyer cost in [city]?”
Create long-form content (1,500+ words) surrounding those keywords and always make sure to place the local area that you’re in within the content and page title to help give it a local feel to the reader.
Content Written For Lawyers By Lawyers
Another unique aspect of lawyer SEO is the fact that content needs to be drafted by legal professionals, such as paralegals, JDs, or lawyers. Some states have strict guidelines about publishing legal advice online. Attorneys generating content should write it in-house, hire a JD or lawyer, or outsource the task to an agency with the appropriate resources.
If you draft the content yourself, make sure to follow these simple SEO best practices: use the primary keyword in the article title and headline near the front, limit titles to 70 characters, optimize meta descriptions, include keywords in URLs as well, sprinkle keyword phrases throughout content, and include anchor text with the proper keywords.
Local Attorney SEO: Leverage Aggregation Sites
Lawyers serve captive local demographics and there is often no shortage of competition, making local SEO for attorneys particularly important. Additionally, Google is moving toward monetizing local search with ads that compete for valuable local search real estate in Google My Business.
Here are some strategies for staying visible in local search:
- Join local legal and traditional directories.
- Claim your AVVO profile.
- Claim your Google My Business profile, fill it out completely, and verify it.
- Claim your Bing Business listing.
- Sign up for Yext and get listed on hundreds of local websites.
- Make location-specific pages with location-based terms on it
Link Building For Lawyers
Google announced in 2016 that links was one of the top factors that influenced where pages rank in search. Not all links are created equal, though. Attorneys need to spend time acquiring and building links from contextually relevant and high-quality sources, such as AVVO, Justia, Lawyers.com, and NOLO. The greater the number of high-quality links pointing at an attorney's website, the more likely that site is to rank well for its target keyword phrases.
Also, create citations. Citations are other profiles on the web that include your offices’ name and phone number, as well as including a backlink to your site. Be careful with citations, though, as you only want to do the top citations that you can find.
Get Those Reviews
Often these days, users look to real people who have used the services or products they’re interested in. Want people to come to you for your legal expertise? Get current and past clients to leave a review about how helpful your service was for them. The more stars you have on your profiles and more reviews you have, Google will see you as more of an authority and so will future clients. People like to feel confident that they will be in good hands, particularly when it comes to hiring an attorney, and reviews can assist with that.
To learn more about growing your law firm through SEO best practices, join us at Entrepreneurial Attorneys Summit 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 1-2, 2019. Sign up now for the conference and see your business grow.