From the #1 Ranking Lawyer SEO Expert:
The Complete Guide to Search Engine
Optimization For Law Firms
The Complete Guide to Search Engine
Optimization For Law Firms
A high-level lawyer SEO campaign will make your phones ring, and keep your pipeline full of leads so you can land more cases… and generate (a lot) more revenue.
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THE ULTIMATE STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO SEO FOR LAWYERS
If you want more clients and cases, and you’re wondering if a professionally managed SEO campaign would be a profitable investment… there are really only 2 things you need to know.
FIRST… Almost two-thirds (62%) of legal-related searched are ‘non-branded.’
That means most of your potential clients are conducting ‘generic’ searches when they’re looking for attorney. A search query like ‘Orlando car accident attorney’ is an example of a ‘generic’ search.
SECOND… 72% of people searching for advice from an attorney only contact one law firm.
What this means for you.
You can compete for clients with even the biggest law firms in your market, and… you don’t need a $million a month budget for TV and billboard ads to build a successful, high-growth firm.
The majority of people searching online for legal representation do not already have a particular attorney or firm in mind.
That one simple fact is the key to the enormous opportunity available to you online… if you develop a high visibility presence in local and organic search results, you will start generating more phone calls, leads, and new cases for your firm.
SEO gives you visibility… precisely when it matters most.
Can you think of a better time to have your firm’s name and glowing client reviews in front of potential clients than the prices moment they are searching for an attorney online?
And online is where they are searching.
There are over 200 Google searches per day for ‘personal injury attorney los angeles.’ And if you had to rely on pay-per-click advertising, every click would cost you almost $72 – with no guarantee that expensive click would turn into a lead for your firm.
Over 60 Google searches per day for ‘personal injury attorney Miami.’
Over 40 Google searches a day for ‘personal injury attorney Chicago.’
Goals of a successful SEO marketing campaign:
Goal #1: Start generating more phone calls from prospective clients.
How you achieve this: By ranking in the top spots of Google’s Maps 3-Pack.
Goal #2: Generate more online leads by (significantly) increasing organic search traffic to your website.
How you achieve this: By getting onto Page 1 of the organic search results… and then becoming the #1 ranking local attorney in Google SERP’s
Goal #3: Achieve at least a 5X ROI – with the ultimate goal being 10X.
How you achieve this: By reaching Goal #1 and Goal #2.
SEO Produces Unbeatable ROI As Your Traffic Grows
There’s a big difference between owning your search engine visibility with SEO vs. leasing it with pay-per-click advertising.
Pay-per-click ads can certainly be a valuable piece in the overall marketing plan for a law firm, depending on the practice area and how new the firm is.
PPC delivers expensive website traffic with every click
However, when you run PPC ads on platforms like Google Adwords, you pay for every click to your website. Every single click.
You pay regardless of whether or not that person ever contacts your law firm.
What you’re paying for with those clicks is raw website traffic.
And according to a recently updated report published by WordStream, keywords for legal-related searches rank in the Top 4 categories of the most expensive clicks on the Google Adwords PPC advertising platform.
If you’re bidding on the kind of ultra-competitive legal keywords that your prospective clients are searching online, the cost of that raw website traffic you’re buying can quickly climb into the five-figures a month range.
SEO delivers an ever-increasing ROI with every click
With the right SEO company handling your campaign, your law firm’s search engine rankings are going to improve.
When your website makes it onto the first page on the SERP’s, and you start getting traffic to your site, you aren’t paying on a per-click basis.
Which means your marketing costs don’t increase as you climb into the top positions on page one, and start getting even more clicks, and more traffic to your website.
Phone calls are even better than clicks
Getting into the Maps 3-Pack should be your first ‘major’ campaign goal when you invest in lawyer SEO.
The biggest benefit in taking over one of the Top 3 spots in Maps is that you will begin to get phone calls from prospective clients.
Google continues to test and improve the design of the Maps 3-Pack, and over the last several years those improvements have had an interesting effect on searcher behavior.
An increasing percentage of people searching online for an attorney started calling one of the lawyers in the Maps 3-Pack using the click-to-call button… and skipped the traditional step of visiting the law firm’s website entirely.
According to a report by Conversion Sciences: Inbound phone calls are 10-15 times more likely to convert than inbound web leads.
Phone calls from ranking in Google’s Maps 3-Pack can supercharge the returns from your law firm SEO investment, and contribute to the long-term benefit of owning your search results visibility rather than just leasing it with expensive pay-per-click ads.
Components of an SEO Campaign
A comprehensive website audit is the foundation of any successful SEO campaign for an existing website. The goal is to identify elements of your site that need to be corrected, restructured, and/or properly optimized.
The ‘big-picture’ aspects of your website that will typically be covered in an SEO audit include:
- technical SEO elements
- indexation & crawlability
- site architecture
- backlink profile
- keyword analysis
- content analysis
- keyword cannibalization issues
- internal linking
- local optimization
- on-page elements
- page speed & mobile speed
- competitive analysis
User-Friendly Website Structure
The ‘architecture’ of your website refers to how the pages are structured, organized, how they interlink, and the URL’s that are chosen for each page. Optimizing your site’s architecture provides two benefits:
SEO-friendly site structure and navigation allows potential clients to quickly and easily find the information they are looking for on your site. Optimizing for user experience in this way will lower your website’s bounce rate, and increase the amount of time people spend on your site.
Having an SEO-friendly site architecture makes it easier for search engine crawlers to find, and index all the pages on your site.
In-depth keyword research impacts every facet of a successful SEO campaign for any law firm. Targeted keywords inform decisions regarding the on-page SEO, content development, outreach and link-building, as well as the architecture of your website.
We start with a list of seed keywords, and delve into related searches that people are typing into the search engines. Then we evaluate the keywords your competitors are ranking for using tools that provide insight into the most popular, and the most profitable organic keywords.
Local Search & Google My Business
Most law firms generate their clients from their local market. It doesn’t matter if you have one office, or a dozen locations in different cities, you must optimize your Google My Business (GMB) listing to have any chance of competing in local search results – the Maps 3-Pack.
Although local SEO and traditional SEO do share some aspects in common… local SEO is a highly-specialized niche that requires a significant amount of optimization efforts that are completely different from traditional SEO aimed at increasing organic rankings.
On-page, also referred to as on-site optimization encompasses all the elements found on a web page itself.
On-page elements include:
- the page content
- HTML code
- keyword usage
- title tags
- header tags
- schema markup
- internal links
One of the most important aspects of on-page is creating relevance with the search engines for your targeted keyword queries.
While off-page SEO includes more than just backlinks, outreach and link-building are the primary focus of most off-page optimization efforts. Producing great content that appeals to, and informs your website visitors is the best way to earn high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites.
However, backlinks don’t just magically appear just because you start producing new content. Outreach to webmasters and publishers is how you secure those backlinks, and build the number of Referring Domains (RD’s) in your site’s backlink profile.
Building an authoritative (and diverse) backlink profile by increasing the number of Referring Domains linking to your site is how you develop greater trust and authority with search engines.
Content That’s Tightly-Focused & ‘Complete’
Along with backlinks, and RankBrain, content is one of the top 3 Google ranking factors. Search engines like tightly-focused content because it allows them to show the most relevant content to a specific search query.
Producing content that completely answers a searcher’s questions about a topic is how you develop authoritative content.
Relevance and authority are the one-two punch for making the search engines love your content.
Search Intent And Matching Your Content To It
You can’t just assume you know what information people are looking for when they perform a particular search. You have to do the research, and find out what Google thinks will satisfy the answers people are looking for.
Then you need to develop your content to match up with what Google believes people want from that query.
Creating an organized plan to match up your content ‘buckets’ to specific pages (URL’s) on your site helps you achieve two very important objectives. Maximizing the ranking of individual pages for your high-value keywords, and avoiding the rankings damage caused by keyword cannibalization.
Mobile-Friendly & Responsive Website
If you want to convert website visitors to prospects, it’s important to optimize the mobile version of your site for UX (user experience) signals.
The RankBrain algorithm developed by Google is engineered to analyze how searchers interact with your website, and to incorporate those UX signals into how your website ranks in online search results.
Having a responsive website that is easy to navigate on mobile devices is a key part of sending the right user experience signals to the search engines.
Technical SEO Audit
Almost two-thirds of all searches on Google are performed on a mobile device. Even more important is the fact that 95% of all mobile searches are performed on Google.
To protect and maintain their dominance in mobile search, Google has rolled out their Mobile-First Index, and mobile speed is definitely a factor in how rankings are determined by search engines on mobile devices.
Page speed (and your resulting page speed) is a measure of how fast the content (text, images, etc.) on a page loads in a web browser. The server a website resides on, the page file size, and image compression all play a role in how how quickly a page will load.
Google has used page speed as a ranking factor since 2010, and Google began placing even greater importance on page speed when they rolled out the ‘Speed’ update in 2018. So having a slow-loading website isn’t just annoying to your potential clients, it can definitely hurt your search engine rankings as well.
Having A Secure Website (SSL)
If you want people to submit their information via your website, they had better see that reassuring little padlock icon in their browser bar when they visit your site.
The moment a searcher sees the ‘Not Secure’ warning in the browser bar, it’s over. If you haven’t migrated your website to https: yet, you are losing an incredible percentage of your visitors who will never fill out and submit your contact form.
Analytics & Reporting
Google Analytics tracks all of the most important metrics of your website. Rankings by keyword, how much traffic your site is getting from individual sources, click-through-rates, etc.
You can also see some of the most important ‘big-picture’ metrics related to your SEO campaign, such as overall organic visibility, and organic keyword growth.
Understanding The Landscape Of Google SERP’s
Google is constantly evolving, and it’s not just their algorithm that changes.
They test and tweak how their search engine results pages (SERP’s) are structured as well.
Unfortunately, most of that evolution does not favor law firms looking to generate leads from their local market.
Here’s an example of what a typical person sees if they search for a personal injury attorney in Dallas, TX.
3 Categories of Search Results
Paid (Adwords) Ads: there are three ads at the very top of the SERP, and usually a couple more at the bottom of the page – below the organic results.
Maps 3-Pack: Currently, there are three ‘organic’ (not paid) listings for local attorneys and one Paid Ad in the Maps 3-Pack – displayed just below the the Paid Ads.
Organic Listings: Most of the time, you will see 10 listings in the organic results.
The organic results are where it gets tricky for any local attorney trying to generate leads from organic search – especially if you aren’t showing in the Maps 3-Pack.
In this example, a search for ‘personal injury attorney Dallas TX,’ the first three organic listings are not for local law firms.
They’re authority sites, also referred to as directories, or review aggregators.
In fact, 6 out of the first 7 results in the organic section for ‘personal injury attorney Dallas TX’ are authority/directory sites.
Ranking In Google’s Maps 3-Pack Should Be Your Top Priority
The search results page (SERP) that we see for ‘personal injury attorney Dallas TX’ has a total of 17 listings (or positions) available, and includes a mix of paid ads, and ‘organic’ (unpaid) listings.
Out of the 17 positions available on this SERP:
- 4 positions are taken up by paid (Adwords) ads
- 6 are taken up by ‘authority’ sites – think Avvo or SuperLawyers
- Leaving only 7 positions available for actual personal injury attorneys located in Dallas to generate phone calls and website traffic.
Searchers are presented with four paid (Adwords) ads – before they even see the first ‘organic’ (unpaid) listings in the Maps section.
Fortunately for the attorneys who rank in the top spots of the Maps 3-Pack, the paid ads account for only a very small percentage of the clicks that come from most search results pages.
By focusing your initial SEO efforts on ranking in the top spots of the Maps 3-Pack, your firm can capture phone calls and leads from searchers – before they are diverted (and distracted) by the increasing number of ’authority sites’ in the organic listings below the Maps.
Maps 3-Pack + Good Reviews = Make Your Phone Ring
The Maps 3-Pack dominates most of the prime screen real estate in Google SERP’s.
When your firm ranks in one of those top 3 spots in Maps, not only can you capture online leads before they are diverted into the abyss of the big ‘authority sites’ – you can actually short-circuit the typical ‘investigative process’ searchers have traditionally felt like they needed to perform before contacting an attorney.
That means people may skip visiting your website altogether. Instead, they just use the click-to-call button in your GMB listing to contact you.
There are three ingredients necessary if you want to start taking leads away from legal directory sites like Avvo, and start generating more phone calls from prospective clients:
- Take over one of the top spots in the Maps 3-Pack
- Have great Google reviews from clients
- Have a high ‘Average Rating’ from those reviews
You can see in the screenshot above that this criminal defense attorney has over 50 client reviews, and an awesome average review rating of 4.9.
When your firm ranks in the Maps 3-Pack, and searchers see that you have lots of great reviews, you’re making the decision of which attorney they should contact easy for them.
Instead of having to spend time on multiple websites ‘investigating’ several different local law firms, they can see the information that important to them… that your firm has lots of very satisfied clients who have been through the same thing they are facing now.
And… Google has made it so easy for them to contact with the click-to-call button in your GMB listing.
A Word About The Big Legal Directories And Review Sites
Most attorneys grimace at the mere mention of the big, national review-aggregator sites like Avvo, also referred to as ‘authority sites.’
And that’s understandable.
Authority sites ‘steal’ (divert is probably a more accurate description) a significant percentage of clicks, and website traffic from the local attorneys who actually serve people who are searching for legal services.
Best Advice: Part of your marketing strategy should be to leverage your attorney profile on the top review-aggregator sites. Here’s why…
As you can see from the screenshot below, the top legal directory sites:
… all have exceptionally high Domain Rating’s – a measure of their Domain Authority with Google.
Legal directories (also referred to as authority sites) like these have tens of thousands of Referring Domains, and millions of backlinks.
They rank on Page 1 of Google’s organic listings for just about every prime legal keyword you can imagine.
It is very difficult (although not impossible) for a local law firm to outrank these powerful aggregator websites for high-value keywords.
Google favors these big ‘review-aggregators’ sites because they are viewed as ‘big brands’ and represent (in Google’s eyes) a better-user experience for searchers.
The Good News About Some Legal Directory Sites Is…
You don’t have to invest in one of their Premium (or paid) profile options to leverage the power of any of these big, national ‘lawyer review’ sites.
For example, your Avvo Rating is NOT based on client reviews. It’s actually based on the completeness of your Avvo profile.
You can achieve a ’10 Superb’ Avvo Rating by simply setting aside the time to complete the various sections of your profile.
If your firm isn’t ranking in the top spots of the Maps 3-Pack, and you aren’t on Page 1 of organic search results either, you have the option to invest in the ‘paid’ ads on Avvo, which are usually referred to as ‘premium’ profiles on other legal directories.
Paid ads or ‘premium’ profile listings on the most popular legal directory websites can improve your chances of capturing more ‘organic traffic’ – without paying the outrageous prices associated with most legal-related searches on Google’s Adwords cost-per-click advertising platform.
Start With The Right Website Architecture For Your Firm’s Site
The optimal website architecture for your site depends on the type of law firm you have, and the number of practices areas you focus on.
Neglecting to adopt the best URL structure when building out your website can make it harder (and more expensive) to achieve results from any future law firm SEO campaign.
The goal is to have the optimal URL structure for the pages on your site, and a simple, easy-to-follow navigation menu that allows users (potential clients) to quickly and easily find the information they are looking for.
OPTIMIZE FOR LOCAL SEARCH RESULTS
Maps 3-Pack Optimization Starts With Your Google My Business Listing
Most attorneys create the Google My Business (GMB) listing for their law firm, but then do little else to optimize their profile. That’s a shame, because your GMB listing plays a huge part in your ability to rank in local search results – Google’s Maps 3-Pack.
Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP)
The combination of your firm’s name, address, and phone number is referred to as your NAP. Everything about your NAP must be exactly correct – down to the smallest detail.
Get your GMB categories right
Depending on your practice area(s), you don’t want to choose a generic category like ‘lawyer’ or ‘law firm’ for your primary GMB category.
For example, as a DUI lawyer – whether you offer representation for other types of criminal defense cases, you would choose ‘criminal justice attorney’ as your primary Google My Business (GMB) category.
A personal injury firm would obviously want to select ‘personal injury attorney’ as their primary GMB category.
Don’t stop with just your primary GMB category. Selecting the best primary category is incredibly important, but so is making sure that you select all the appropriate secondary categories as well.
You can select secondary categories such as lawyer, and law firm to be included your GMB listing. These secondary categories will be useful when theming your practice area pages as part of your Maps 3-Pack optimization.
Website URL In Your Google My Business Listing
If you have only one location, you’ll want to use the URL for your Home page as the website URL in your GMB listing. If you have multiple locations, you will want to:
- create a separate GMB listing for each location
- use your Location page (not your Home page) as the website URL in each corresponding GMB listing.
There is an exception to this rule for some multi-location law firms, depending on how your website has been structured. If your Home page also serves as the Location page for your primary office (your headquarters) – then you would use the URL of your Home page as your website URL for the GMB listing for that location/office.
Your GMB Description
Use the description available in your GMB listing to talk about your services, and your firm. You don’t need to stuff exact match keywords like ‘We’re the best Orlando car accident attorney in Florida’ into your description. Getting your state, or your county in the description is fine, but you don’t need to over-do it here.
Be sure to include a link to your important Services pages in the description field of your GMB profile as well.
Create Your Google My Business Website
You have the option to create a ‘GMB website,’ and you should always take advantage of the opportunity to build out an asset on any Google property that you can.
Your GMB website does not replace your actual website, nor would you want it to.
Embed A Google Map Of Your Location
Use Google Maps to create a map detailing your location, and embed that map on either your Home page – or the appropriate Location page if you have multiple locations.
Upload (Optimized) Images To Your GMB Profile
Be sure to add images of your location to your Google My business profile – both the inside of your office, as well as the exterior. You’ll also want to add images of yourself, any associates or partners, as well as your employees.
Optimizing your images is an important part of a process we call ‘site mirroring,’ Optimizing your images is not the same as geo-tagging them (with your GPS coordinates), but you’ll want to do that as well.
It goes without saying that you should try to get 5-star Google reviews from your clients whenever you can. There are several good review management platforms available that make getting, and managing reviews much easier.
Google Trusted Photographers
If you don’t have the time to take the pictures yourself, you can hire a photographer from Google’s list of trusted photographers. They will come to your location, and take all the pictures you’ll want for your listing, and they even have the ability to upload the images directly to your GMB profile.
These photographers also offer the option of creating a 360 Tour of your office if you want to go the extra mile.
Citations and Directory Listings
A citation is defined as an ‘online mention of your business’ name, address, and phone number.’ Although the raw number of citations you have plays a bit less of a role in Maps 3-Pack rankings than it did several years ago, getting high-quality citations is still a very important part of Local SEO.
Types of Citations – accurate citations with consistent information about your business from authoritative (high domain authority) sites send a strong ranking signal to search engines for local search results.
There are two types of citations to consider when optimizing for local search:
These are the more formal version of a citation. Structured citations are found on the big directory sites like Yelp, Avvo, SuperLawyers, and YP.com.
These are mentions of your business information on blog sites, media websites, and other sites where the data is not ‘structured’ as it would be in a directory listing.
Accurate and consistent is the key here. You don’t want even the slightest inconsistency in your NAP to appear in any of your citations and directory listings online. That’s why it’s so important to be very precise when you enter your name, address, and phone number in your Google My Business listing.
Mapping Your Keywords For Better Search Engine Rankings
What is Keyword Mapping?
Keyword mapping is the process of categorizing your keywords into closely-related groups, and assigning them to specific pages (URL’s) on your website.
Most website owners (and even many SEO companies) don’t go beyond the basics when it comes to keyword research. They compile a long list of target keywords, but then they neglect to properly ‘map’ those keywords which would allow them to create focused, and efficient ‘content plan’ for their site.
5 Benefits Of Creating A Keyword Map For Your Site
- You have a single document you can refer to that details which pages of your site are associated with specific keywords, or groups of keywords.
- Helps you to easily create a hierarchy of topical relevance for your main topics, Tier 1 sub-topics, and Tier 2 sub-topics.
- Your keyword map helps guide your link-building efforts, as well as the internal linking strategy for your site.
- Allows you to identify the best navigational structure for your site.
- Helps to efficiently create an intuitive funnel that mimics your customer’s journey
The Consequences Of Neglecting To Map Your Keywords
Assigning specific pages on your site to keywords related to a tightly-focused topic will help you avoid one of the biggest problems that keeps websites from ever ranking on Page 1 of the SERP’s… keyword cannibalization.
Keyword cannibalization is occurs when you have multiple pages on your website competing for the same keyword.
This dynamic confuses search engine algorithms, as they aren’t sure which page they should serve up for that keyword.
So instead of having a page on your website that ranks in the top 10 organic listings for a certain keyword, you might have one page that ranks 16th, and another page that ranks 22nd.
By planning out your pages (in advance), and mapping specific keywords to the corresponding pages on your site, you can avoid wasting your resources and efforts.
‘Power-Up’ Your Practice Areas
Unless you specialize in exactly one type of case, you’re going to need practice area pages built on inner-URL’s of your website.
For example, a personal injury law firm would need practice area ‘power pages’ devoted to several different types of cases:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Uber accidents
- Wrongful death
- Medical malpractice
For most law firms, practice area pages are even more important than the Home page… because your practice area pages are the ones that you will focus on ranking in Google search results.
There are 2 goals for your practice area power page:
- Provide in-depth information
- Create value
How much content do you need on your practice area pages?
However much content the ranking pages (practice area pages) for the top 2 or 3 sites have?
Do a search for the keyword related to the practice area page you’re planning to create.
Example: ‘Dallas car accident attorney’
Now go look at the ranking pages for the top 2 or 3 local attorneys you find in the organic search results.
If the ranking pages of the top sites for the keyword ‘Dallas car accident attorney’ have 1,500 words of content, you know you need to be in that ballpark.
But don’t go overboard and create 4,000 words of content. Stay relatively close to what Google is showing you they like for that particular search.
Include an FAQ’s section on your power pages
Don’t make people click away from your practice area pages to visit a ‘general’ FAQ’s section elsewhere on your website. Give them the information they’re looking for by including keyword specific FAQ’s right there on your practice area page.
If you’re creating your DUI power page, then you should have a set of FAQ’s focused specifically on DUI on the page.
Other elements you should include on practice area pages:
- Lists of bullet points
- Your trust and authority logos
- A review or testimonial
- A call-to-action
Keep the content on your practice area pages tightly-focused
The last thing you want is to create additional pages that target the same keywords related to a particular practice area. For example, a personal injury firm should only have one page devoted to ‘truck accidents.’ If you create other pages that are too closely related to the same keyword, you will confuse the search engines, and find yourself stuck trying to fix keyword cannibalization issues.
Use Video For More Conversions From Your Website
Adding a video to your Home page can increase the amount of time visitors spend on your site (dwell time), but how do you measure the value of that dwell time in terms of generating new cases and clients?
You can’t really.
But… if you add video to your ranking (practice area) pages, you can significantly increase your conversion rate – by as much as 80% in a test conducted by EyeWideDigital.
Video Helps Build Trust and Connection
Video is extremely effective in helping potential clients decide who they ultimately want to do business with.
According to Forbes magazine, 90% of consumers say that video ‘helped them make purchasing decisions.’
If you want to see an example of a firm that really understands how to connect with people in their videos (and their marketing), check out the YouTube channel of personal injury law firm Farah & Farah.
NOTE: Farah and Farah not only have great website and YouTube videos. Their firm’s television ads are some of the best I’ve ever seen when it comes to connecting with people on a personal level.
Ultimately, you want the videos on your website (and your YouTube channel) to convey two things to potential clients:
- You understand them, and what they are going through.
- You can help.
Post Your Videos On YouTube
Every law firm should have a YouTube channel, and you can (and should) upload the videos from your website to your channel.
People spend more time watching videos on YouTube every day than they do on Netflix and facebook… combined!
And yes, people actually do search Youtube for legal advice.
Good topics for your videos
- Legal FAQ’s related to your practice area
- ‘What to do if…’ videos
- ‘What not to do if…’ videos
- Explainer videos about your practice area
- How the process works
- Client testimonial videos
- Behind the scenes (the people) at your firm
PRO TIP: Be sure to group the different kinds of videos you upload to YouTube into Playlists.
Tips for Optimizing Your Videos On YouTube
- Write a compelling title for your video
- Be sure to include your keyword in the video title
- Write a clear, and concise description (include your keyword) for your videos that will grab the attention of searchers
- Create an attractive thumbnail image with a smiling face for your video
- Include subtitles for people who aren’t able to listen to the audio
- Make use of tags for your videos
- Upload a transcript of the video content
Blog Content That Generates Leads and Clients
Come on… stop rolling your eyes. We know you’re busy with clients, the legal work that keeps revenue coming in the door, and managing your law firm.
But… developing an effective blog isn’t as hard, or as time-consuming as you might think.
Articles for your blog don’t necessarily have to be long (2,000 words) in order to be effective. They just need to be long enough to answer a specific question prospective clients might have about something related to your practice area.
And… you can always update an article by adding small chunks of new, relevant content to it over time.
You also don’t have to produce 10 articles at once to get your blog ‘off the ground.’ You can start with setting aside 60-90 minutes to organize, and write just one blog article.
Make it good. Then next month – write another one.
Popular types of blog articles for lawyer websites:
- FAQ information
- Checklists (with downloadable PDF’s)
- Articles that explain complex legal subjects in layman’s terms
- ‘Roadmaps’ on how the legal process works in your practice area
- Do’s & Don’ts articles
- Common (client) pitfalls related to your practice area
Benefits of investing in your website’s blog
Creating articles for your blog to answer the questions that potential clients might have, accomplishes several things that will help generate new cases for your law firm.
- positions you as ‘the authority’ in your practice area
- builds trust with potential clients
- creates good user-experience signals for Google’s RankBrain
A word of caution when choosing topics for your blog articles…
One of the goals of an effective SEO campaign is to produce blog articles that ‘support’ your practice area pages through strategic internal linking.
You want to avoid creating articles titles that compete with (or cannibalize) the content on your practice area pages.
Beyond the article titles, you want to make sure your h1 (Header tag) doesn’t combine keywords that create ‘cannibalization’ issues with your practice area pages.
Important Elements To Include In Your Blog Articles
- short paragraphs
- bullet points
- visuals (images, infographics, etc.)
- ‘internal links’ to important pages
- free resources also known as ‘lead magnets’
- CTA’s (calls-to-action)
- social sharing buttons
- your author bio
Why including your author bio is important
Google gives greater weight to content on a particular topic that is written by people the algorithm perceives as experts.
In February of 2019, Google confirmed that E-A-T is an important part of their algorithm.
What is E-A-T?
E-A-T is an acronym for:
Google’s algorithm values all three of those attributes when evaluating a new piece of content as it’s being indexed.
If you don’t work on establishing your E-A-T, Google has nothing to differentiate you from someone sitting at a computer in their parents’ basement cranking out legal articles in their underwear.
(you’re welcome for that visual, by the way)
Always include a simple author bio, with a link to your site, and your LinkedIn profile in any article you wrote for your blog – as well as any article you write for other professional websites and publications.
On-Site SEO For Lawyers
Website Structure Optimization
Optimizing the structure of your site (website architecture) involves simplifying your navigational hierarchy, and creating URL’s for the pages on your site that are both SEO-friendly (for the search crawlers), and user-friendly for your website visitors.
These HTML tags (also referred to as meta-titles) are the online equivalent of a chapter in a book. Title tags serve to describe the content of a webpage to the search crawlers, and potential website visitors.
Also an HTML tag, the meta-description serves two purposes. It appears in the search engine results pages (the SERP’s), and is used to describe the content of each page.
The second function of a well-written meta-description is to make your website stand out from your competition, and entice searchers to visit your site.
Heading Tags (h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6)
Heading tags are used to help search engines better understand what a webpage is about by creating a hierarchy for the content, and organizing it in a logical structure.
Creating unique content is an important part of the on-page SEO for any website. Having duplicate content on your site can negatively impact your rankings.
Duplicate content comes in two forms – phrases, sentences, or paragraphs that are repeated on multiple pages of your own website, or that is identical to the content found on another site.
Images and other visual elements make your site more user-friendly, but they also provide an opportunity to enhance the SEO of the web page itself.
Optimizing the file names, tags, and descriptions of your images is an often overlooked aspect of on-page optimization.
The most important thing to remember about image alt-text is to keep it simple, as the goal is to accurately describe the image. Write your alt-text as if you were attempting to explain the image to someone over the phone.
A common SEO mistake is keyword-stuffing image alt-text. You don’t need to include keywords in your alt-text unless it is necessary to accurately describe the image.
Internal links obviously help visitors navigate your website, but they are also used to establish the information hierarchy for your site. When structured correctly, internal links can also help increase the page authority, and rankings of specific pages on your site.
Structured Data (Schema Markup)
Structured data is special ‘markup’ that is added into the HTML code of a webpage that provides additional details about the page content to search engines.
Commonly referred to as schema markup, structured data is an important part of the geo-location aspect of local SEO, and also for helping search engines generate ‘rich snippets’ – also known as featured snippets.
With the rollout of Google’s mobile-first index, responsive website design is more important than ever. Making sure that your website not only passes the Google Mobile-Friendly Test, but that it a user-friendly experience (Mobile UX) on all devices is a critical component of the on-page SEO for your site.
Off-Site SEO For Attorney Websites
The primary goal of off-site SEO (also referred to as off-page SEO) is to show Google that other people, and other websites think your site has value.
A well-executed off-page SEO campaign improves Google’s perception of your site’s:
Building high-quality backlinks is at the core of off-page optimization.
Backlinks are s simply links (hyperlinks) on other websites – known as Referring Domains (RD’s) that point to your site.
If your website has a profile of backlinks from other popular sites,, then search engines assume your site must have the type of awesome content that provides value to searchers.
From the perspective of the search engines, if you didn’t have great content – why would anyone bother linking to your site, right?
For most local law firms, just adding great content to your site isn’t going to result in a flood of backlinks from other websites – without some extra effort to get your content noticed.
Outreach involves contacting publishers and webmasters of other websites to let them know that you’ve added an informative piece of content to your site… on a topic that people are interested in.
Outreach can also involve offering to produce valuable content (articles) for someone else’s website in return for a backlink to your site – and having your author bio included with the article.
Focus On Building A Natural ‘Healthy’ Link Profile
Your website’s ‘link profile’ is the overall collection of backlinks pointing to your site.
For most lawyer websites, a ‘natural’ link profile will include links from a variety of sources, such as:
social media profiles
social bookmarking sites
forum comment links
… in addition to links from high-authority websites from inside, and outside the legal niche.
Anchor text is the visible part of a link. It’s the clickable text that you see on the webpage, and what’s in the anchor text of links pointing back to your site (your anchor text profile) is a critically important part of off-page SEO.
There are essentially 9 different types, or categories of anchor text:
- naked URL
- brand + keyword
- keyword variations
- partial match
- exact match
- ‘no anchor’
Anchor Text Profile
Your site’s anchor text profile is the portfolio of different anchor text in the backlinks pointing to your site – and the ratios, or percentages of each type of anchor.
Penalties For Over-Optimized Anchor Text
If you get too aggressive with exact match, partial match, or keyword variations in your anchor text, you can expect to get hit by Google’s Penguin algorithm.
The Penguin algorithm is targeted at punishing sites for ‘backlink manipulation.’ It analyzes the quality of the backlinks pointing to your website, AND the anchor text of those links.
If your anchor text distribution doesn’t fall within the parameters that Google has determined constitute a ‘natural’ anchor text profile, your site will get penalized, and your rankings will collapse.
Social Media For Law Firms
Social media isn’t designed for busy, successful people. However… certain social media platforms can be an incredible source of leads – if you take the right approach.
Of all the social media platforms, the ones with the most potential for a solid return-on-investment from lawyer advertising are facebook, and YouTube.
According to Pew Research, an astonishing 74% of facebook users visit the site on a daily basis. Not far behind is YouTube, with 51% of their users making daily visits to the site.
We advise attorneys to invest in having professional, and attractive social media profiles created on facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
People are going to visit your social profiles, and you want to make a good initial impression.
You will get client reviews on Facebook, and people will share your YouTube videos. Both of which send important ‘social signals’ to the search engines.
Social Signals and SEO
Social signals are essentially Likes and shares on your social media profiles.
If you understand how search engines work, it makes sense that social signals would help provide some increased level of trust with Google, although it’s impossible to quantify just how much.
Higher rankings means significantly increased visibility online, which results in more traffic to your website, as well as more people visiting your facebook page – all of which results in more engagement with your social profiles.
It’s essentially a loop that continues to send reassuring ‘signals’ to the search engines that your firm is a credible organization.
Changes to ABA Guidelines Governing Lawyer Advertising
In most states, law firm websites are considered ‘advertisements.’
The American Bar Association approved several changes to their rules on legal advertising. One of those changes lifts the prohibition on attorneys referring to themselves as ‘specialists’ in a particular legal area.
In the past, lawyers risked a violation of advertising guidelines if they used terms such a ‘expert,’ or ‘specialized’ – without having been ‘certified’ by the Board of Legal Specialization in their state.
The ABA’s rule change means that as long as you don’t run afoul of your State Bar’s guidelines on legal advertising, lawyers can now refer to themselves as ‘specialists’ based on their experience, education, and training instead of needing a formal ‘certification.’
Optimize Your Website’s Page Load Speed
Google is in the ‘user-experience’ business, and few things create a bad user experience like a site that loads at a painfully slow pace.
That’s why page load speed, and mobile speed are considered such important rankings factors among most SEO professionals. Fast load speed won’t help you rank a poorly-optimized website, but a slow page load times will cause your rankings to drop no matter how well your site has been optimized otherwise.
2-Second Threshold For Page Load Time
Most people expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less, and almost half of people attempting to visit a site will abandon the page if it takes more than three seconds to load.
Fortunately, Google has a free tool to check your page load speed called PageSpeed Insights. The average page speed score for sites checked using PageSpeed Insights ranges from anywhere from 50 – 89%, but you should set a score of at least 90% as the goal for your site.
Here are a few tips to improve your website’s page load speed:
- Choose a premium hosting provider
- Install a cache plugin if you have a WordPress site
- Minimize your time-to-first-byte (TTFB)
- Compress your images
- Use ‘Lazy Loading’ to priority above-the-fold content
Analytics and Reporting
The most popular tool for tracking a website’s progress, and the ROI from your SEO campaign is Google Analytics.
Some of the metrics you can track in your Google Analytics account:
- organic traffic
- where the traffic came from
- your top-performing pages
- landing pages – bounce rate
- conversion goals
Tracking Phone Calls From Local Search Results
If your site is ranking in Google’s Maps 3-Pack, you will also want to log into your Google My Business dashboard to see how many phone calls you receive each month from your GMB listing.
Website Analysis – SEO Audits For Law Firm Websites
A technical audit is designed to help uncover issues that could be hindering your site from ranking well in the SERP’s.
- broken links
- 404 pages
- crawl errors
- indexation issues
- xml sitemap
- site load time
- keyword cannibalization
- meta titles and meta-descriptions
An off-page audit is an analysis of factors that are external to your website, such as:
- backlink profile
- brand equity
Identifying weak, or undesirable backlinks from questionable websites (Referring Domains) is an important part of being able to clean up any issues caused by previous SEO efforts, and get your site back on the right track.
An on-page, or off-site audit involves analyzing elements that exist directly on your website, such as:
- title tags
- header tags
- keyword optimization
- structured data errors
- image optimization
Auditing the content on your website involves identifying issues that can hold back your rankings. Common problems a content audit is designed to uncover include:
- duplicate content
- thin content
- content gaps
A content audit also involves a competitive analysis to determine how your website stacks up against your competitors who rank on Page 1 of Google for your desired keywords.
3 Tips To Maximize Your Return-On-Investment From Attorney SEO
You’ve put in the time, effort, and resources to get your law firm into the Maps 3-Pack, and your website is on Page 1 of Google search results.
Your getting plenty of phone calls from potential clients, and a steady flow of contact form submissions from your website.
Now it’s time to dial-in your systems so you can convert those leads into actual clients, and squeeze every ounce of ROI from your investment in law firm SEO.
#1: Lead Magnets
A lead magnet is something of value that you offer website visitors in exchange for their contact information… usually an email address.
Lead magnets are typically downloadable content that is delivered in PDF form.
Some of the most popular types of lead magnets are:
- In-depth Guides
- Special Reports
- Video (or a series of videos)
Ideas for lead magnets
Your best ideas for lead magnets will come from answering the questions and concerns you know that prospective clients in your practice area typically have.
#2: Fine Tune Your Client Intake Process
Now that you have a consistent volume of leads coming into your pipeline, it’s time to make sure you have a well-organized, efficient system for your client-intake process.
There are several legal industry experts who specialize in the client-intake process who offer excellent information, and resources on how to improve client-intake conversion rates.
#3: Lead Nurturing Email Sequences
Lead nurturing is the process of developing a relationship with potential clients at every stage of your law firm’s funnel. The most effective lead-nurturing campaigns focus on communicating two things to potential clients:
- That you understand them, and what they’re going through.
- Providing the information and answers they will find most valuable.
Developing separate lead nurturing email sequences for potential clients who have:
- submitted contact forms from your website
- those that came in for an initial consultation – but have not hired you yet
… will help you get the maximum ROI from your investment in lawyer SEO.
The Top SEO Tools
Ahrefs is the #1 tool used by top SEO professionals for everything from keyword research to site audits. The user interface is intuitive, and data is presented in a way that is easy to interpret.
Screaming Frog is the most popular technical SEO tool by far. After downloading the software, you can just enter the URL of the website you want to perform a technical audit on. In a few minutes you’ll have all the information you need to analyze the site.
BrightLocal includes a popular Rank Checker tool, but also has features for local SEO audits, Google My Business audits, and tracking your citations.
Google Analytics is the best source for many website statistics. Organic traffic data for a website is more accurate in Google Analytics than other tools like Ahrefs, or SEMRush since traffic is ‘estimated’ in the reports generated by those tools.
Yoast is by far the #1 SEO plugin for WordPress sites. Yoast makes it easier to optimize many of the SEO settings for your WordPress site, but having the initial setup performed by an expert is highly-recommended.
5 KPI’s To Quickly & Easily
Spot-Check Your SEO Campaign
Spot-Check Your SEO Campaign
KPI #1 Backlink Growth
KPI #2 Domain Authority
KPI #3 Organic Keyword Growth
KPI #4 Rankings Growth
KPI #5 Overall Organic Visibility
If you’d like more details, we’ve published a detailed guide to explain:
How to check each of these KPI’s
When you should start checking them
How to interpret them
When to start looking at other metrics
Attorney SEO stands for search engine optimization. SEO for lawyers is the process of optimizing both on-site and off-site elements of your law firm’s website to achieve the highest search engine rankings possible in order to attract people who are searching online for your services to your website.
Typically, SEO can take anywhere from 6-12 to start producing tangible results for your law firm. Exactly how long it will take your firm to rank on the 1st page depends on a variety of factors, such as:
- Your legal practice area
- The market your law firm is located in
- The level of competition
- Where your SEO campaign is starting from (your website, previous SEO)
- How aggressive your SEO campaign will be
I know ‘it depends’ isn’t the answer you’re looking for, so we’ll be able to narrow down some realistic timeframes for different starting points, and varying circumstances as we cover the factors that affect how long it will take for your SEO campaign to begin producing rankings and results.
Hi, I’m Doug.
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