Law Firm SEO, Rankings For Successful Law Firm Marketing

Law Firm SEO

Optimizing an attorney website for search engines is a critical part of any law firm’s marketing strategy in this digital age. We know every firm is unique.  Consultwebs does not employ a one-size-fits all strategy to our campaigns.  Instead, we tailor every campaign we manage to the each firm’s needs, goals, market and brand.

As digital media continues to eclipse the old stalwarts of television, print, and radio as the most important advertising format, law firm SEO (search engine optimization) becomes ever more indispensable.  Even more important than including SEO as an integral part of your marketing strategy, is working with a company that understands marketing for lawyers, inside and out.

Traffic Report For Law Firm SEOGone are the days when marketers broadly targeted audiences based on common denominators such as time slots and subscribership. Advertisers today can hone in on prospects with a level of precision that makes Mad Men look like amateurs. Aided by technology, advertising is now done in real time.

But while the rise of the Internet, Google, and screen culture have laid the groundwork for this marketing revolution, the engine that makes it run is still people. Consultwebs recognizes this and emphasizes talent working seamlessly with technology to develop strategy and provide unprecedented legal marketing results. To get a better idea of how your firm is doing with its online marketing efforts, download our free self-assessment pdf or other resources, or get free tips on law firm SEO.

What is Lawyer SEO?

Lawyer Search Engine MarketingAsking 100 search engine marketing professionals, “What is SEO?” might very well produce 100 slightly-different answers. This speaks to the nuance and ever-changing landscape of the industry.

Non-SEOs generally understand that search engine optimization is the science of getting webpages to appear at the top of search engine result pages for particular search terms. But attorney SEO is an art as much as it is a science, and expert practitioners must have creative as well as technical skills.  SEO is one of the ways to feed the top of a law firm’s client funnel to get more visitors, more leads, and more cases from the web.

More about SEO

Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO For Law Firms

Despite what less-scrupulous online marketing companies might tell you, there are no “hacks” or shortcuts to creating pages and sites that obtain a high ranking and hold onto it. Consultwebs knows that success online takes strategic planning, creativity, high-quality content and lots of hard work.

More about Black Hat vs. White Hat

Elements of Proper On-Site Optimization For Law Firms

On-site optimization analysisSearch engine optimization is not merely a technical process, but ensuring the technical health of a site is part and parcel of successful SEO.

The workings of SEO are, admittedly, a bit nebulous to non-experts. Hiring a company to manage your website can feel a bit like taking your car to the mechanic in that you must trust his or her expertise and hope for the best.

While our results and client satisfaction speak for themselves, Consultwebs would like to take you under the hood, as it were, and explain a little bit about how we perform technical (“on-site”) optimization.

More about On-Site Optimization

Website User Experience Matters Most

Law Firm Website User Experience DiscussionContent, links, mobile-friendliness, titles, pages speed, and the many other on-site SEO aspects that are quality-checked by Consultwebs for our clients share one central theme: the user.

You know them as clients and potential clients. They’re the people who visit your site in hopes of finding legal help for their situations. How well our marketing campaigns work for clients ultimately depends on the quality of the user experience. In short, users need to find helpful information, delivered to them in an easy fashion, and optimized for the devices that they are using.

Our team of consultants and content experts is dedicated to law firm marketing. We work exclusively with lawyers and law firms, giving us unique insights into what works — and just as importantly, what doesn’t work — in online law firm marketing. Our guiding principle is that technical SEO should never trump user experience. We believe that clients and prospects are the most important factor in any decision, and work to ensure they find our client’s websites, so that they can get the help that they need.

Tips For Evaluating A Legal Search Marketing Vendor

  1. Evaluate 10 of their current clients. Examine their search engine rankings and – if you can obtain access – their website analytics. If your potential SEO vendor does not list their current clients on their website, consider it to be a warning sign. It isn’t a bad practice to evaluate the vendor’s website as well. Does their webpage prominently appear on search engine results’ pages? If a vendor cannot achieve rankings for themselves, it is unlikely they will be able to achieve rankings for you. Contact their references. Ask if the vendor delivered on their promises, if the firm is obtaining the expected ROI and if they would choose the vendor if they were making the decision again.
  2. High quality content is critical for your Web marketing campaign. Ask for content writing examples. Review their current clients’ website content. Ask your prospective legal marketing provider how many licensed attorney writers they have on staff. Licensed attorneys will provide relevant and substantive material for your law firm’s website that will appeal to readers and to the search engines. Again if this information is not readily provided, be warned.
  3. Ask the vendor you are considering how long they have provided internet marketing services. Longevity is valuable. Not only do search engine algorithms reward long-standing sites, clients benefit from the knowledge and results that many years’ experience in the field bring. Additionally, established legal specific vendors will have experience and networks that will benefit you. If the vendor promises top rankings within e.g., ninety days, run. It is impossible today to achieve top rankings for competitive phrases in a short period of time.
  4. Find out how many staff members your potential vendor employs to run campaigns. Is there an entire team of lawyer seo marketing experts or is it a one-man show? The more employees that are dedicated to your legal marketing campaign’s success, the more professionally trained eyes are on your marketing campaign’s results.
  5. And don’t forget design! If your website ranks well but is not compelling, you will not obtain conversions. Not all designs are the same, and a vendor with experienced designers can create a site that works well for SEO as well as converting those visitors into leads.

What can law firms gain from successful SEO?

Consultwebs talking with clientsWhen properly managed, a law firm’s website and SEO campaign can be one of it’s largest sources of new leads and cases, and can bring an excellent ROI to the firm. An SEO campaign that isn’t properly managed can be a constant source of work, frustration and stress, not to mention the wasted expense. Firms that have successful SEO campaigns get:

  • More traffic and visibility
  • More leads & cases
  • More revenue
  • Less stress & frustration
  • Lower cost-per-case
  • Good return on their investment

Holistic SEO for Attorneys and the Consultwebs Advantage

Reviewing SEO Report with ClientOffering an exceptional user experience for a client’s web users, is crucial, but other aspects of our consulting work are also important. In addition to producing beautiful websites with great, engaging content, we also work on the more technical aspects of law firm website optimization, such as back link profiles, keywords, click-through-rate, and titles, tags, meta descriptions and “off-site” metrics.

Consultwebs employs a holistic approach to marketing that focuses on utilizing experts to build your law firm’s brand. Recognized brands are more trusted and therefore more likely to attract and retain clients. Using traditional public relations tactics as well as the latest digital marketing strategies, we translate the best of what your firm does offline, into the online marketplace.

Consultwebs adds value in ways that the competition doesn’t. One of the more notable ways we do this is through our Creative Team. Having a structured team of dedicated creatives allows Consultwebs to create and execute innovative content campaigns that establish authority and increase brand visibility for law firms. Strong ideas are the backbone of a successful marketing campaign.

Whether through practice area pages, blog posts, press releases, infographics, videos, Slideshares, email and social media campaigns, or specialty projects, our expert team will create top-notch content that drives actionable leads.

Satisfied Law Firm Web Marketing ClientWhen a law firm partners with Consultwebs, our experts handle all of the details that busy lawyers and legal professionals shouldn’t need to worry about.  When those items are taken care of, firms can allocate more time to other efforts, and projects that can bring them additional success. Imagine having less stress, more time, better results and more cases from the Web.

You can learn more about how Consultwebs is uniquely positioned to help your law practice succeed by contacting us for a Free Consultation.

Some questions you may have about search engine optimization

At Consultwebs, we get all kinds of questions from attorneys and legal marketers about SEO and other online marketing activities.  While SEO results are based on myriad factors that are parts of search engine algorithms, and there is discussion in the SEO community even about what items are truly ranking factors and what items are not, the information below is designed to give you some additional insight into how SEO works for law firms.

What do I need for my website to appear on the first page of search results?

This is a complicated question, and the items below are not exhaustive, but here are some foundational items that you need to make sure are in place to give your site its best chance of reaching page 1 of the search results for relevant terms.

  • In depth research. You need to understand your client and their pain points as well as how to select the appropriate keywords and topics that are going to be the building blocks for your content.
  • Amazing content. Answer questions with your content, demonstrate your firm’s expertise and prove that you can help solve your prospects problems and put their lives back on track.
  • Design. Your website should have a modern design that is focused on providing a great user experience. Make it easy for people to find what they are looking for.
  • Speed and Mobile-Friendliness. With so many compelling statistics about mobile usage, you know that lots of searchers are going to be viewing your site on their mobile devices. In order to serve them well, your website needs to be fast and optimized for the mobile experience.
  • On page optimization. Once your site has great content that your users need, you need to make sure it is optimized properly. Create titles and descriptions for your pages that help compel people to click on your search result listing. Interlink your pages together to provide easy access to more in-depth information. Create graphics and videos to supplement your content and update your pages regularly with new statistics and facts.
  • Local optimization. Make sure your correct business name address and phone number is present on your website. Sign up for a Google My Business listing and start registering for other local directories. Using services like Moz Local and Yext can help you save time and effort.
  • Off-site optimization. Promote the amazing content you’ve created on relevant websites, social media and with key influencers in order to gain high-quality links to your site. (Read more about links below)

What is the difference between SEO and SEM

SEO is about optimizing your website to get better rankings and more traffic from organic search results, which are the unpaid listings in Google and other search engine results. SEM, or search engine marketing, goes beyond SEO and is associated with paid options to bring more visibility and traffic to a website. It involves methods such as PPC advertising like Google Adwords and Bing Ads.

What is off-site SEO and is it important to my website’s success?

Off site SEO has to do with the promotional methods that are used to send positive signals to your website in order to help increase traffic and rankings. This includes link outreach for great content assets that you have on your website.  

What value does ongoing blogging bring to my website and online campaign?

It really depends on how good your content is. If you’re posting just for the sake of posting, or because you think that frequent posting is great for your SEO, then ongoing blogging isn’t going to help. It could even hurt you in the long run. If you have a site with a lot of thin content pages that get little interaction, Google could see your site as being low quality. However if you’re focused on creating blog content that inspires readers, gets traffic, is shared on social media and is often linked to, ongoing blogging may serve to provide you with a steady stream of new leads. Here is an article that further discusses law firm blogs.

I’ve heard some SEO companies say that being listed in online directories is bad, and others say it’s good.  What’s the truth?

It all comes down to quality and relevancy of the directories. Don’t worry about spending time or effort on non-specific directory packages and focus on getting listed in industry-relevant directories that have an audience which could convert into leads for you. Directories that can bring you good traffic, and good prospects are good ones to consider.

I want to change my SEO vendor but my current company says they own the site and the content.  What can I do?

We hear about this problem from time to time. Some SEO companies may retain the rights to your content, your design, or even your domain, so be cautious when considering your options.  Others may use proprietary platforms and say that websites can’t be given to you without significant costs being incurred to transfer the site to another platform.

Unfortunately if you signed a contract and agreed to similar terms there may not be very many options outside of starting fresh. In most cases if you’re looking to switch vendors, it’s because you’re not getting the results you’re looking for. A new look for your site, and some fresh, expertly written and optimized content is probably exactly what you need. At Consultwebs the websites and content that we create belong to our clients. We’ll never hold your website or content hostage.

Do I need a .law or .lawyer domain?

From a brand management perspective it may be a good idea to secure your firm’s name in different top-level domain urls.  From an SEO perspective, there is likely little difference between .com, .law, .lawyer and others. Don’t think that just by putting your website on a .law or .lawyer domain that it will make it easier to rank. You still should have a great design, well thought-out site structure, excellent content and authoritative links to have the best odds to rank well.

What are backlinks and why are they so important?

Backlinks are simply when a website has a hyperlink to a page of another website. Backlinks are one of many quality signals that Google uses to determine what pages should rank at the top for a given keyword phrase. Years ago whoever had the most backlinks won. Today, it is much more about quality than quantity, with high-authority links being a signal to search engines that there is something of value on the page that is being linked to.

If I have great content on my site but a weak link profile, will I still rank well?

First, are you sure you have great content? When is the last time you looked at your analytics? Are people coming to your site and leaving? Are they converting into leads? If you truly have great content and it is reflected in how people interact with your website you’re likely not going to need as many links as you might think to rank well. Google wants to rank sites that solve the searchers query. If your site truly has great content, you have a much better shot at ranking well, but getting a few high-quality links to your pages will certainly help your results.

How do I get links in a way that I won’t be penalized by Google and other search engines?

Focus on creating valuable, actionable content that solves a problem, provides insights and guides people to their desired end goal. Then start sharing it with your audience and others related to your industry. If you’ve truly made it your goal to provide value, as opposed to just trying to get links then you’ll never have to worry black-hat or grey-hat link building tactics that could get you a Google penalty, or negatively affect your results.

What is NAP and why is consistency important?

Your NAP is the official Name, Address and Phone Number of your business. Different business data aggregators such as Infogroup capture and share this information with other companies. When determining how you rank in local results, Google scans the web for mentions of your business name, address, phone number, website URL, and several other data points. It then compares that information to other data sources, including the major data providers and possibly even post office records, state business filings, and telephone records. The cleaner and more consistent you make it for Google to determine the right information, easier it is to rank in your local area.

What are citations and why are they important?

A citation is merely a mention of your business’ NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) on another website.  Citations can appear on any site. Law firms may have citations on relevant sites such as Avvo, Facebook, Yelp and Bing. The more high quality citations your website has the higher the likelihood of being able to get visibility in, and traffic from, Google’s map results, also known as the local pack.

Question: When is “duplicate content” a problem?  And why?

Duplicate content can be a major problem when it’s on your own website. Years ago, when Google first released its Panda update, it was looking for websites that were low in quality from a content perspective. As the algorithms have evolved, they have become pretty picky about what they want to include in their index. If you’ve got multiple pages on your website that cover the same topic or if you’re using boiler plate content for calls to action or other types of filler then you could suffer a drop in traffic.

Likewise, if your site contains large portions of content that also appears on other websites, it could certainly affect your site’s ability to rank. Especially if your site is not recognized as the canonical version of the content, you could be missing out on significant search traffic if users are sent to another version of the content on a different site. Make sure the content on each of your pages is unique and valuable to your audience.

What types of benchmarks and metrics should I track for an SEO campaign?

Here are some basic metrics that you’ll want to monitor to be sure your campaign is moving in the right direction:

Site Performance

  • Organic Traffic
  • Referral Traffic
  • Direct Traffic
  • Bounce Rate
  • Average Time Spent on Site
  • Pageviews
  • Conversion Rate

SEO Metrics

  • Referring Domains
  • Backlinks
  • Indexed Pages
  • Click Through Rate, Keywords, Impressions & Clicks in Google Search Console

Social Metrics

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Any other social networks that you’re active or share your content on.

When will I start to see results from SEO?

It all depends on where you’re starting compared to those ranking above you. If you’ve got a brand new website and your competitors have been actively marketing for years you should be prepared to accept that you’ve got some catching up to do. Depending on the strength of the players in the market, the investment of time and resources that you make into your strategy, and lots of other factors, catching up could take several months, or several years. If you have an established website with good traffic and decent rankings, already, the time to see results will certainly be reduced.

Why is it important to have online reviews from places like Google and Yelp?

Citations and reviews are major pieces to how Google ranks your site locally. Beyond search ranking factors, reviews can serve as social proof to your prospects that your firm will provide them with great service. The more reviews you have across a variety of platforms like Google, Yelp and Facebook, the more quality signals you’ll send back to Google, as well as to your future clients.

How do I get more online reviews?

Getting unhappy clients to leave a review is not a problem. In most cases you don’t even have to ask! Getting reviews from happy clients can be challenging without the proper systems in place. There are lots of potential ways to get more online reviews. Simply asking your clients is a good place to start. A few other ideas include: Incentivizing your staff to follow up with past clients; Running a contest for your staff to collect reviews and turning it into a friendly competition, Building the quest for reviews into your firm’s culture and processes. Consultwebs has an online reviews bundle with some resources to help you on your way.  Always remember to keep your practices in line with applicable bar regulations and review platform guidelines.

What offline activities can affect my online presence?

Be focused on providing value to your community. Do things that are selfless and newsworthy, fun and thought provoking. Sponsor a charity or local event. Run a scholarship campaign for students. Volunteer at your local shelter. Ask people about the things that are important to them and if it’s inline with your culture don’t be afraid to get involved. The better known you are offline, the easier it will be to dominate online.

Who should write my online content?

If you entrust the writing of your online content to another, we recommend finding someone who:

  • Knows your audience’s core beliefs, feelings and desires.
  • Is an expert on the subject matter.
  • Has a clear understanding of how to choose the topics and keywords that will help the content get ranked.
  • Has knowledge of bar regulations.

How does TV advertising affect SEO?

TV advertising can have an amazing effect on the number of brand searches people in your area perform to get your website. Google loves brands because they have an already established level of trust associated with them. When more people are searching for your brand it can make it easier to get ranked for other terms as well.

Do I need custom photos and video on my website?

Would you show up to court in jogging pants and t-shirt? Would the judge, jury, your client or peers take you seriously? In the same respect, if the images and videos that you’re using on your website are old, low quality, poorly lit and/or unprofessional your visitors are likely not going to take you seriously. If you’re looking to get a new design implemented for your website, your firm should be prepared to invest in getting the type of photos and videos that are going to impress your visitors and properly represent who you are and what you do for your clients.

Why should I target certain keywords instead of others?

If your firm is just getting started with SEO, some keywords are probably much too competitive to go after straight out of the gate. In most cases you’re going to get much more traction by focusing on long-tail search phrases. These are sometimes defined as searches that have 3-4 or more words in them. These types of phrases have less search traffic in general but are easier to rank for and will provide a boost in traffic quicker than just focusing on the high volume, (and often high cost-per-click) phrases that everyone is seeming to focus on. Some long-tail searches may have more associated intent than some larger-volume searches. Focusing on the long tail may also give you more opportunities to rank in the featured snippet section of the search results.

If my site is already ranking well, why do I need to continue with SEO?

Just because you’re ranking well today, doesn’t mean it will continue that way into the future. Everyone is fighting for the top spots and if you let off the gas when you’re close to the finish line, you may see your competition pass you by. SEO isn’t just about getting ranked. It’s about making sure you stay on top.

Google makes changes to it’s algorithm all the time and doesn’t always let people know when or what has changed. In the same way that you bring in experts to help build a strong case for your clients, you should always be sure that your online campaign is being monitored and improved upon by experts who are passionate about making sure you’re able to keep helping those who need you.

 

 

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