Law Firm SEO: Ranking Guide For Successful Law Firms
We have put together the ultimate guide to building your law firm’s search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Our guide takes you through the complete SEO process, providing insights from our 20-plus years as a legal marketing agency. The tools we discuss in this guide are free to use and many are part of Google’s repertoire of free tools.
Table of Contents
In this SEO guide for lawyers, we cover the following:
- Introduction: The fundamentals of SEO for lawyers
- Chapter 1:Ranking factors for law firms
- Chapter 2: Keyword and competitor research
- Chapter 3: The basics of building and tracking your website with technical SEO
- Chapter 4: On-page optimizations to improve your rankings
- Chapter 5: Local SEO practices
- Chapter 6: Off-page optimizations using backlinks, citations, and social media
- Chapter 7: How to measure your organic success
What Is Law Firm SEO?
Law firm SEO, or optimizing an attorney website for search engine is a critical part of any law firm marketing strategy. With the help of SEO, law firms achieve better Google search ranking positions and therefore are more likely to receive more cases from their desired practice area. Unfortunately, developing, implementing, and maintaining a successful SEO strategy takes time, energy, and technical knowledge that many busy attorneys just don’t have.
People who don’t live and breathe SEO generally understand that search engine optimization is the science of getting specific pages from your law firm’s website to appear at the top of search engine results pages, known as SERPs, whenever a user searches for a particular term.
Law firm SEO is an art as much as it is a science, and expert practitioners must have creative as well as technical skills.
How Legal SEO Works
“How long until we see results?” It’s a rather common question that law firms ask when considering a new search engine optimization (SEO) campaign. This simple question has so many variables that are always changing and evolving, that it is nearly impossible to answer with one definitive answer.
To start a new campaign requires a ton of upfront work just to assess a firm’s current situation, determine what goals they want to achieve, and plan out an initial strategy. That alone can take several months. Once the technical work has actually begun, it can take a while for the campaign to get any traction and for the firm to start seeing results. While organic search results are very powerful, they do take time to obtain.
Multichannel approaches that include pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, content development and promotion, and other online and offline activities can provide results while a firm’s website is in the process of obtaining organic rankings. In a competitive industry, like legal marketing, this can be a lengthy process.
Why Is Search Engine Optimization Effective for Lawyers?
Search engines provide ratings for businesses and organizations that clients and customers review using their platform. Consumers and clients perform a large volume of searches that yield local results on smartphones and other mobile devices. Reviews are strongly aligned with ratings for local searches, making them increasingly important to all businesses, including law firms.
In terms of volume, Google is the largest search engine. It’s also the most popular, making Google My Business and Google Reviews extremely important to law firms. In fact, Google has captured between 87 and 93 percent of the market share across all platforms, depending on whether you examine the numbers monthly or yearly. They have more than 95 percent of the search market share on mobile devices.
Appearing at or near the top of search engine results or “local pack” for specific searches can increase website visits and provide more contacts with potential clients. It’s a numbers game. The more times you can discuss a case with a potential client, the more opportunities you have for new business with your law firm.
Optimizing for other search engines is also important. Overall when you optimize for Google other search engines follow suit. These search engines have smaller quantities of traffic, different niches of users, and overall there is less competition. Examples: Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, ect.
Bing for example is the second largest search engine on the web outside of Google ownership. A lot of its user base is of the older demographic group, which also means they have more purchasing power with the caveat of longer turnaround times. Bing is more straightforward about its ranking factors, and the process is more straightforward and simpler than Google’s.
Difference Between SEO and PPC
Search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising are two different methods to reach your target audience when they search for relevant keywords. The main difference between each approach is that you pay to appear in front of your target audience with PPC and SEO organically puts you in front of your audience. When using PPC advertising, the clicks your website receives are related to the cost of creating advertising content.
A simpler way to explain the difference between SEO and PPC is by thinking about it as real estate. When you own a home you invest in improving the value of the asset you own and control (like with doing SEO for your website, you own the asset and the value increases over time) With PPC or renting (Google SERPS real estate), you lose the benefits if stop paying rent – like with PPC you are only renting the ad space so you lose the benefits if you stop paying for ads.
If you are wondering what benefits come with a PPC campaign compared to organic SEO, the simple answer is speed. However, quickly and directly reaching your target audience comes with a price, something will dive into more later on. The best alternative for new and well-established law firms is a healthy balance between strong SEO practices and PPC campaigns.
What Is the First Step in SEO for Law Firms?
Digital marketing is exciting and comparatively new to traditional marketing techniques. Rapid changes in methods and innovation sometimes overwhelm attorneys, making it seem as if lawyers can never catch up to the newest methods.
Famous baseball legend, Yogi Berra, is quoted as saying “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Your first step to engaging in the best SEO practices for your law firm is to understand how SEO works. Specifically, you need to know what things Google algorithms look at to push search results to the top.
The next chapter provides a broad overview of the factors that Google uses to rank website pages, giving you the knowledge you need to build your digital marketing strategically in a way that gives you the best chance for success.