Law Firm SEO, Rankings For Successful Law Firm Marketing
Law firm SEO, or optimizing an attorney website for search engines, is a critical part of any law firm marketing strategy in this digital age. Unfortunately, developing, implementing, and maintaining a successful SEO strategy takes time, energy, and technical knowledge that many busy attorneys just don’t have.
When your law firm partners with Consultwebs, our experts handle all of the details of your digital marketing campaign to ensure you are getting the results you want. Imagine having less stress, more time, a better return on investment, and more cases from the web.
Year after year, law firms have chosen to partner and stay with Consultwebs because:
- We focus exclusively on digital marketing for law firms. At Consultwebs, we only work with law firms, so we know that every firm is unique. We do not employ a one-size-fits-all strategy to our law firm SEO methods. Instead, we tailor every campaign we manage to each firm’s needs, goals, market, and brand.
- We have been in this business for 20 years. Since 1999, Consultwebs has been helping law firms in a broad range of practice areas get more cases from the web. Given our deep experience in the legal field, we understand well the paths that your potential clients take online to look for a lawyer, and we have honed our approach to successfully turn clicks into clients.
- We take a comprehensive, strategic approach. Our team has extensive expertise in technical on-page law firm SEO, local optimization, outreach and off-site optimization, and lawyer pay-per-click (PPC) strategies. In fact, our company is a certified Google Premier Partner, which means we meet the stringent technical training and knowledge requirements established by Google Ads.
- We deliver results you can measure. By applying lessons learned from the different lawyer marketing campaigns we run for our many clients and consistently implementing best practices, Consultwebs produces digital marketing results that our clients can count in their caseloads.
- We keep it personal. Consultwebs believes in building personalized partnerships with our law firm clients. Every client is paired with a team of experienced digital marketing experts who use the latest technology to develop smart marketing strategies and deliver unprecedented results. Your team is always available to talk with you about your campaign. Ultimately, your success is the true measure of our success.
If you are ready to take the next step with your marketing strategy:
- Download our free law firm SEO self-assessment.
- Review our in-depth resources for free tips from our experts on SEO for lawyers.
- Contact us now to speak with a search marketing expert.
What Is Law Firm SEO?
Asking 100 legal marketing professionals, “What is SEO for lawyers?” might very well produce 100 slightly different answers. This speaks to the nuance and ever-changing landscape of the industry.
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.
A comprehensive law firm SEO marketing strategy is one of the best ways to get more visitors, more leads, and more cases from the web.
What Can You Gain from Successful SEO for Attorneys?
When properly managed, a law firm’s website and SEO campaign can be one of its largest sources of new leads and cases, and it can bring an excellent return on investment (ROI) to the firm. A legal SEO campaign that isn’t properly managed can be a constant source of work, frustration, and stress, not to mention the wasted expense.
Successful law firm SEO campaigns:
- Get more traffic and visibility
- Bring in more leads and cases
- Generate more revenue
- Reduce cost-per-case
- Ease stress and frustration
- Provide a good return on investment
Here’s How Consultwebs Can Make a Difference in Your Law Firm SEO
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. You may not understand everything that is being done to get your vehicle running smoothly, but you certainly should be asking questions so you understand what you are paying for.
While our results and client satisfaction speak for themselves, the experts at Consultwebs are always available to “take you under the hood” of your digital marketing strategy. We are happy to talk about every detail of your campaign, including explaining how we perform technical (“on-site”) optimization, local optimization, and off-site optimization. Your Consultwebs marketing team is also always available to personally answer questions about why we are doing what we are doing.
Our 200-Point Checklist for Law Firm SEO
Consultwebs employs a 200-point checklist for our law firm websites to ensure their SEO strength. Effective search engine optimization for lawyers, however, is not a static process. It takes steady monitoring from the time of launch, which means we review and adjust sites on an ongoing basis so that they continue to supply visitors with the information they are seeking and help firms achieve their goals.
From the moment your website launches and for as long as you are partnered with Consultwebs, our digital marketing team will ensure your site follows lawyer SEO best practices and Google Webmaster Guidelines for on-site optimization. Some of the major areas covered as part of our 200-point checklist include:
- Internal Links: These are the links that connect one page on a domain to a different page on the same domain. They only reference a site’s own content, helping with navigation and information hierarchy. A solid internal link structure is a signal that the content on your site is intuitively arranged and information is easy to find. It also helps users navigate your site easily, spending more time and consuming more content.
- Content: The most important thing on a webpage is the content. No amount of technical tinkering can make up for content that is poorly written and/or not relevant to a searcher’s needs. From a content standpoint, optimization begins with identifying content needs, which can include basic blogs and static pages, or more visually engaging content such as videos, infographics, and Slideshare presentations. Our creative team, writers, and editors (which include attorneys who have years of experience covering legal topics) abide by journalistic standards that convey content authority.
- Titles: First impressions matter on the web. Title tags appear in browsers, search engine results pages, and external websites. These title tags provide the user with a snapshot of what the page contains, often through keywords and branding. Expertly crafted titles help your content stand out and make a good first impression.
- Mobile Compatibility: Google has championed “mobile friendliness” as an important factor in search rankings. Smartphones and tablets account for an ever-increasing share of Internet usage and represent more than half of all Google searches. Having a law firm website that is great-looking and easy-to-navigate on desktop screens is no longer enough. Your site must be equally impressive and responsive when viewed on smaller devices, with sufficiently large text and links that are easy to click. Every site that Consultwebs produces uses “responsive design” to give users the best experience, regardless of what type of device they are using. Our team has stayed ahead of this trend and boasts an impressive portfolio of mobile-friendly designs.
Law Firm Website User Experience Matters Most
Content, links, mobile-friendliness, titles, page speeds, and the many other on-site law firm 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 attorney 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 digital media experts and content specialists is dedicated to taking a people-first approach to attorney 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 for lawyers should never get in the way of user experience. We believe that your clients and prospects are the most important factor in any decision, and we work to ensure they find your website and reach out to get the help that they need.
Some Questions You May Have About Legal SEO
At Consultwebs, we get all kinds of questions from attorneys and legal marketers about law firm SEO and other online marketing activities. While the best law firm SEO results are based on myriad factors that are parts of search engine algorithms, the information below is designed to give you some additional insight into how SEO works for law firms.
And because there is discussion in the legal SEO community about what items are truly ranking factors and what items are not, we have also created a resource that answers a few common misconceptions about SEO for lawyers:
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 clients 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 get 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, and provide many opportunities for them to contact you for help.
- 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 have to make sure it is optimized properly. Create titles and descriptions for your pages that 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 are 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.)
How does Google determine rank for websites?
Google, the world’s leading search engine, is thought to use around 200 ranking factors, or “signals,” to determine how well a site ranks for a given web search query. The company asserts that SEO is about making small modifications and incremental improvements to your law firm’s website that impact your site’s user experience and performance in organic search engine results.
It’s critical to note how Google interrelates user experience and search results. Many of Google’s most significant changes to the way it measures law firm website rankings focus on the user, or the person performing the web search. Google algorithms (the complex formulas it uses to determine website rankings) essentially measure website quality, as explained in an oft-cited company memo.
How do Google algorithms affect SEO for lawyers?
Google algorithms are created by people trying to put themselves in the shoes of users and ascertain which pages/sites they would view as high-quality and which they would view as low-quality. Similarly, SEO for lawyers is the work of online marketing experts who use technical tools, heuristics, and their knowledge of legal consumer behavior to try to determine what searchers want and how they can provide it.
Successful search marketing for lawyers is not merely the practice of meeting the technical criteria specified by Google. Indeed, expert legal marketing professionals can keep pace with the search giant by adhering to its own No. 1 corporate philosophy: Focus on user experience and the rest will take care of itself.
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 engines. 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 law firm PPC advertising with Google Ads 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 are 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 are 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 legal 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. Instead, focus on getting listed in industry-relevant directories that have an audience that 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 law firm 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 want. A new look for your site and some fresh, expertly written and optimized content are probably exactly what you need. At Consultwebs, the websites and content that we create belong to our clients. We don’t 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 quickly? 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 about black-hat or gray-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, the 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.
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 have multiple pages on your website that cover the same topic, or if you’re using boilerplate 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 a legal SEO campaign?
Here are some basic metrics that you’ll want to monitor to be sure your campaign is moving in the right direction:
- Organic Traffic
- Referral Traffic
- Direct Traffic
- Bounce Rate
- Average Time Spent on Site
- Conversion Rate
- Referring Domains
- Indexed Pages
- Click Through Rate, Keywords, Impressions, and Clicks in Google Search Console
- 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 have a brand-new website and your competitors have been actively marketing for years, you should be prepared to accept that you have 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. However, 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 law firm’s 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 someone outside your firm, we recommend finding someone who:
- Understands your audience’s core concerns, feelings, and needs
- Has extensive experience writing for legal marketing campaigns
- Has a clear understanding of how to choose the topics and keywords that will help the content get ranked
- Has knowledge of bar regulations
At Consultwebs, our content team is made up of licensed attorneys, journalists, and legal marketing professionals who have extensive experience crafting high-quality, conversion-focused content for law firms.
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 to 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 are 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 are 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 the high quality services you provide 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 three, four, 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 seems to focus on.
Some long-tail searches may have more associated intent than other 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. Law firm SEO isn’t just about getting ranked. It’s about making sure you stay on top with your attorney marketing strategy.
Google makes changes to its 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.
What is Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO for lawyers?
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 in digital marketing for lawyers takes strategic planning, creativity, high-quality content, and lots of hard work.
In the early days of online marketing for law firms, it was relatively easy to “game” the system by using what’s known as Black Hat SEO. Black Hat practices include keyword “stuffing” and gaining a large number of links from low-quality sites.
It’s getting harder to game the Google system as its algorithms become more sophisticated. The company even has an entire department designed to crack down on “spam” sites.
Determined Black Hats will always work to try to find a way to gain unnatural search result advantages, however temporary those advantages may be. They could be enough to propel a client to the top of the search rankings for weeks or even months. However, when (not if) Google catches on, punitive action will follow and rankings will drop well below what they were to begin with — sometimes irrevocably so.
White Hat SEOs refrain from taking this short-term gain/long-term risk approach. White Hats focus on steady improvements that take the long view of a client’s goals. Over time, incremental changes that do right by Google and legal marketing best practices deliver the best return on a law firm’s marketing investment. White-Hat link building for law firm websites is an activity that takes a lot of time, work, and expertise.
Consultwebs does not make empty promises to clients about speedy rankings or results. Instead, we offer the combined strength of dozens of longtime digital marketing experts, 20 years’ worth of experience in law firm SEO and online marketing, and a user-centric approach to campaigns, providing high-quality websites, content, and services. Most importantly, our results speak for themselves.
Tips for Evaluating a Legal SEO Vendor
- Evaluate 10 of the company’s current clients. Examine their search engine rankings and – if you can obtain access – their website analytics. If your potential law firm SEO vendor does not list its current clients on its website, or does not have many attorney websites listed, consider it to be a warning sign. It isn’t a bad practice to evaluate the vendor’s website as well. Does its webpage prominently appear on search engine results’ pages? If a vendor cannot achieve rankings for itself, it is unlikely to be able to achieve rankings for you. Contact its references. Ask if the vendor delivered on its promises, if the firm is obtaining the expected ROI, and if the client would choose the vendor if they were making the decision again.
- Ask for content writing examples. High-quality content is critical for your web marketing campaign. Review the vendor’s current clients’ website content. Ask your prospective legal marketing provider whether they have licensed attorney writers 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.
- Ask how long the company has 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 SEO specific vendors will have experience and networks that will benefit you. If the vendor promises top rankings within e.g., 90 days, run. It is impossible today to achieve top rankings for competitive phrases in a short period of time without resorting to risky Black-Hat tactics.
- 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 who are dedicated to your legal marketing campaign’s success, the more professionally trained eyes are on your marketing campaign’s results.
- Review the design portfolio. 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 legal SEO as well as converting those visitors into leads.
- Ask about how you will communicate with the vendor. As with any customer support relationship, getting stuck in a system of automated phone trees, online support tickets, and unreturned messages can be frustrating. Ask whether you will have a dedicated personal marketing professional who is accountable for managing your campaign and answering your calls. Also ask how the results of your marketing strategy will be measured and shared with you in a meaningful way.
Comprehensive SEO for Lawyers and the Consultwebs Advantage
At Consultwebs, we believe that offering an exceptional user experience for your potential clients is crucial. However, our team delivers so much more than that.
In addition to producing beautiful websites with high-quality content, we also work on the more technical aspects of attorney website optimization. Our SEO experts manage your site’s backlink profiles, keyword strategies, click-through-rates, titles, tags, meta descriptions, and “off-site” metrics. We take care of all the time-consuming details so you can focus on your practice.
Consultwebs adds value in ways that other SEO vendors don’t, and we produce results you can measure. Learn more about how Consultwebs is uniquely positioned to help your law practice succeed by contacting us for a free consultation.