About Doug Mills

Doug is the Founder, and Lead Strategist at Monopolists. His expertise has led the company to become the #1 ranking lawyer SEO expert on Google in just its first year.He doesn’t enjoy talking about himself in the third person, but understands that’s how these Author Bio's work. Doug’s passion is helping attorney entrepreneurs exceed their business goals by dominating local search.
Doug Mills: Founder and Lead Strategist at Monopolists SEO.

The Complete Guide To Technical SEO

2020-01-17T19:28:32-07:00

What is technical optimization for your website?

Technical SEO refers to the process of optimizing your website in order to help search engine bots (also known as crawlers or spiders) successfully:

  • access all the pages you want indexed
  • crawl the pages of your website
  • understand the content of your site
  • index the webpages of your site
  • render the pages of your website in web browsers

Technical SEO isn’t exciting (at least not to normal people anyway), but it is an important part of any attorney SEO campaign. Getting the technicals aspects of your website correct becomes even more critical when you’re operating in an online vertical that’s as competitive as legal services.

 

Website Architecture/URL Structure

Creating user-friendly URL’s that are also SEO-friendly for the pages on your site is a top priority at the start of any website optimization campaign.

Here’s a basic example of how to create a user-friendly URL:

www.YourSite.com/topic

Let’s say you’re a DUI attorney…

www.YourSite.com/dui

Now let’s take this one step further, and create a URL that’s also URL friendly…

www.YourSite.com/dui-attorney-city

Finally, let’s assume you also offer representation in other types of criminal defense cases in addition to driving under the influence…

www.YourSite.com/practice-areas/dui-attorney-city

Now we’ve provided the type of URL structure that will help the search engine crawlers better understand your website.

 

Adding an SSL Certificate To Make Your Website HTTPS

Installing an SSL certificate on your site means that any user-input information such as:

  • personal information
  • usernames
  • passwords

… is encrypted when it is transferred between your site, and the server.

 

image of web browser warning on http site

 

Adding an SSL certificate creates an HTTPS version of your website, which creates a situation that must be addressed at the same time.

 

‘Merge’ the Versions of Your Site Into One Preferred Domain

Believe it or not, you actually have 4 different versions of your website:

  1. http://www.YourSite.com
  2. https://www.YourSite.com
  3. http:/YourSite.com
  4. https://YourSite.com

 

You didn’t do anything to create these different versions of your site, but the search engines recognize all four of these URL formats.

The problem with that is… the search engines don’t consider these different versions of your website to be the same. They actually consider each version to be a different (separate) site.

We don’t want that. Very bad for rankings.

So we need to consolidate all four versions of your site, so that there is one – and only one site recognized by the search engines.

 

The 301 Redirect

Most SEO professionals simply create a 301 redirect that points three of the versions to the fourth version (URL) for your website.

For example, if you decided to use:

https://www.YourSite.com

 

… as the one version of your site you wanted the search engines to recognize.

You would simply setup a 301 redirect for the other versions that all point to https://www.YourSite.com.

A 301 redirect tells the search engines that a particular URL has been permanently moved to another destination URL.

You can think of it like the change of address form you would fill out at the Post Office when you move to a new house.

 

Canonicals

You can use the canonical tag when you have more than one page on your site that is essentially the same. More precisely, when you have more than one page dedicated to the same topic, including a lot of the same content.

The canonical tag lets the search engines know which webpage is your preferred page for that topic.

Canonicals give the search engines one webpage (URL) that should be displayed in the SERP’s, and funnels the SEO value of the other pages on that same topic to the preferred webpage you setup as the canonical.

The Complete Guide To Technical SEO2020-01-17T19:28:32-07:00

Ultimate Guide To The Top Local Search Ranking Factors

2020-01-17T19:28:15-07:00

Revealed: The Top Search Ranking Factors For Local Businesses

Most searches for legal services are local in nature.

So how do you make sure your site rankings in the Maps 3-Pack, and in Google’s organic listings for relevant local searches?

Optimizing for local search results can get confusing (and overwhelming) pretty quickly, with over 300 ranking signals having been identified by professionals from the top law firm SEO services

 

screenshot of the local maps 3-pack in Google search results

 

 

From a big-picture perspective, optimizing for local search really comes down to just a few things.

  • Trust
  • Relevance
  • Authority

 

Trust

You have to build trust with the search engines. Google wants to know that:

  • You are who you say you are
  • you’re located where you say you’re located
  • you actually do what you say you do (your services)

Building trust takes time. Time, effort, and resources.

How do you build trust with a search engine?

You need votes, and you need consistency.

Votes = Trust

Every backlink you acquire from a high-quality, authoritative website is like a ‘vote’ in Google’s eyes. The more ‘votes’ you have the more trust you earn with Google.

Consistency builds on that trust

The more Google sees consistent information across the internet that corroborates things such as the information in your Google My Business listing, the more certain the algorithm can be that the information is correct.

Think about it this way.

When you create a Google My Business listing for your firm, Google actually has no way of knowing if you’re a real business or not.

Sure, they send you a verification postcard, but Maps search results in many industries are full of fake, spammy listings that aren’t legitimate, local businesses.

The search engines don’t dispatch a real person to physically verify that it’s really you, and that you actually have an office at the location you listed in your GMB profile.

Remember, the algorithm is just a machine. It’s a computer.

So Google has to rely on the next most viable option to determine if they should trust you… which is to use the information they find about your business in other places online to confirm what you’ve told them.

Relevance

You have to build relevance in the eyes of the search engine algorithms for the searches that are important to your practice area(s).

Building relevance also takes time, effort, and resources.

Authority

At the same time that you’re building trust, and relevance with the search engines, you also have to increase the authority of your website.

Google My Business (GMB) Signals

Primary GMB Category

It’s very important to choose the most appropriate primary category for your GMB listing. If there is a primary category available that more closely matches your practice area than a generic category like lawyer, or law firm – choose the more specific category.

For example, most criminal defense (and DUI) attorneys select ‘criminal justice lawyer’ as their primary GMB category.

Not surprisingly, attorneys at personal injury firms choose ‘personal injury lawyer’ as their primary category.

After you’ve chosen the most specific category available relating to your practice area, then you want to choose several secondary GMB categories.

Secondary GMB Categories

Your work isn’t done once you’ve selected the primary category for your GMB listing. You also want to add several supporting categories to your listing as well.

Categories like lawyer, and law firm are generic, but they will be useful when you ‘theme’ inner-pages on your website for additional, or sub-practice areas.

Site Mirroring – Step 1

It’s important to include your primary Google My Business category in the h1 header tag on the appropriate page of your website – the page with the theme that most closely matches that category.

Example: A criminal defense attorney with a single office location would include the primary GMB category ‘criminal justice lawyer’ in the h1 header tag on the home page of his or her site.

You want Google to see your primary category reflected prominently in the HTML code of the appropriate page on your website.

Site Mirroring – Step 2

Uploading a collection of images to your Google My Business listing is an important part of optimizing your profile.

Some examples of the types of images you should upload to GMB are:

  • images of individual attorneys in your firm
  • group images of your attorneys
  • images of the interior of your office
  • images of the exterior of your office location
  • Images of your signage
  • images of billboards or other advertising assets
  • images of awards your firm has won
  • seals and logos of recognition you have received

For example, if you’ve been named a Top 100 Attorney, that’s the type of recognition you’d want to upload a seal or logo for to your GMB images.

Ultimate Guide To The Top Local Search Ranking Factors2020-01-17T19:28:15-07:00

How To Spy On Your SEO Agency – The Ultimate Cheat Sheet

2020-01-17T18:51:18-07:00

Telltale Signs That Your SEO Campaign Is Just Burning Money

Do you recognize any (or all) of these 4 signs that your SEO campaign is a dud?

#1 – You’ve been stuck on page 2 (or worse) of Google search results.

#2 – You haven’t see any improvement in the organic search traffic coming to your website.

#3 – You aren’t ranking in the local Maps 3-Pack – (searching while at your office doesn’t count!).

#4 – Your Google My Business listing isn’t generating phone calls from potential clients. READ MORE

How To Spy On Your SEO Agency – The Ultimate Cheat Sheet2020-01-17T18:51:18-07:00

The Ultimate Guide To Off-Page SEO For Professionals

2020-01-18T11:22:32-07:00

The Only Off-Page Optimization Guide You’ll Ever Need

What is off-page optimization?

Essentially, just about anything you can do to improve your positioning the SERP’s that isn’t actually on your website falls under the umbrella of off-page.

Most people assume that off-page optimization refers strictly to link-building activities.

While link-building is certainly the foundation, off-page also encompasses other factors like social media, and brand mentions.

 

graphic depicting the various aspects of off-page seo

 

Why is off-page SEO so important to search engine rankings?

Off-page, at least the link-building aspect of it, is a lot like a popularity content.

It’s helpful to think of backlinks as ‘votes.’ Search engines look at backlinks as the measure of a website’s ‘popularity’ with other websites – and people as well.

The more backlinks you have from other websites, the more value you build in the eyes (the algorithms) of the search engines.

All these ‘votes’ for your website must mean that you have plenty of high-quality, authoritative content on your site.

 

No one actually knows how the different ranking factors are weighted in Google’s algorithm.

But according to data from a study conducted by Moz, it is widely believed that off-page related factors account for more than 50% of where a site ranks in the SERP’s.

 

In hyper-competitive online verticals like law firm search engine optimization, you need to build as many high-quality backlinks as you possibly can from quality websites that have high domain authority ratings. 

 

Trust And Authority

When you first launch your shiny new website, you’re the new kid on the block, with o friends, and no reputation.

The more backlinks (votes) you accumulate for your site, the more trust you establish with the search engines.

It takes time to develop trust with any search algorithm, but if you stick to acquiring backlinks from other quality sites with strong domain authority, you will enhance your reputation with Google.

 

Relevance

Off-page signals, such as anchor text, are also used by search engine algorithms to help determine what your site is about.

Because anchor text has been such a widely abused part of link-building, it’s best to follow a conservative anchor text strategy.

You will still be able to let the search engines understand what your site is all about, and the anchor text in your backlink profile will look natural.

 

Types of BackLinks

How a link was earned determines how it is classified for SEO purposes, and there are essentially three basic categories of backlinks.

 

Natural links

These are he type of links you earn by producing content, and they require no direct action on your part.

 

Manually-created links

These are the links that you acquire through the direct result of your efforts. Manually-created links usually involve some form of outreach on your part.

 

Self-created links

These are the links that you create yourself – hence the name. Forum comment links, directory links, press releases, and blog comments are a few examples of self-created links.

 

How the value of a backlink is determined

It should come as no surprise that SEO professionals will always advise you to avoid links from low-quality, or spammy websites. You want links from other high-quality, authoritative websites ‘voting’ for – linking to, your site.

But what factors do search engines use to assess the quality, or value of the links pointing to your site?

  • Popularity of the referring domain
  • Topical relevance between the referring domain and your site
  • The anchor text in the backlink
  • The trustworthiness of the referring domain
  • Authority of the referring domain
  • Authority of the specific page (URL) contains the backlink.

 

screenshot of a backlink profile in ahrefs

The Ultimate Guide To Off-Page SEO For Professionals2020-01-18T11:22:32-07:00

The Ultimate On-Page Optimization Guide For Professionals

2020-01-18T11:00:15-07:00

The Only On-Page Optimization Guide You’ll Ever Need

What is on-page optimization?

On-page optimization refers to process of enhancing or improving the various elements found on the pages of a website in order to improve the site’s search engine rankings.

 

On-page SEO factors include:

  • URL of the page
  • title tag
  • content of the web page
  • header tags (h1, h2, h3 – h6)
  • image optimization and image alt text
  • video optimization
  • mobile-friendliness (responsive design)
  • Keyword usage and densities
  • internal linking

Is on-page SEO the same thing as on-site SEO?

Yes.

 

Make Sure Your URL’s Are SEO-Friendly

You’ve probably seen blog articles with URL’s like this:

www.SomeAttorneyWebsite.com/category/post/197684

That URL tells the search engines absolutely nothing about the topic of the web page.

 

Try To Include Primary Keyword In Your Domain

Whenever possible, it’s best practice to include your keyword in the URL when building out a new webpage, such as a blog post.

 

Here’s an example.

Let’s say you’re a personal injury attorney in San Diego, and you write an article for your blog about what to do (or not to do) when you’ve been in a car accident.

You might choose a URL like this for your article.

www.SmithPersonalInjuryLaw.com/san-diego-car-accident-checklist

 

See how we worked the key phrase ‘car accident’ in there?

 

Getting your target keyword (or phrase) in the URL helps both your website visitors, as well as the search engine crawlers understand what your new web page is about.

 

There is one very important exception to this rule, however…

If you already have the target keyword (or phrase) in the root domain for your website, repeating it again in your URL could put you at risk of over-optimizing the page, as well as keyword cannibalization.

 

So if the URL for your website was:

www.CarAccidentLawyerSanDiego.com … you would NOT want your blog article URL to look like this:

www.CarAccidentLawyerSanDiego.com/san-diego-car-accident-lawyer-checklist

And yes, people actually do create ridiculously over-optimized URL’s like that.

 

Even a lot of SEO companies do it without realizing the problems they are creating.

 

Here’s a typical example of a ridiculously over-optimized URL.

 

screenshot of an over-optimized URL example

 

When you have a keyword (or keyword phrase) in your root domain, you have to walk a fine line when it comes to creating the inner-URL’s for your website.

Many companies that provide SEO services for law firms fall into the trap of over-optimizing the inner-URL’s for their clients, and cause their websites to get stuck on Page 2 – or worse.

 

 

What is HTML?

Before we cover the important HTML elements (like title tags, and header tags) that affect the on-page SEO of your site, it would probably help to understand what HTML stands for, right?

 

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language, which is a standardized language (or system) that specifies how elements on a webpage should be rendered by web browsers.

Title Tags

 

A title tag is an HTML element that does exactly what its name implies… it specifies the title of a specific webpage.

The title tag’s purpose is to let both the search engines, and potential website visitors know what they can expect from the content of the webpage.

 

Here’s how a title tag looks in the HTMl code of a webpage…

 

<title> The Definitive Guide To Perfecting Your On-Page Optimization | Monopolists Law Firm SEO Experts </title>

 

And here’s what a title tag looks like on a search results page…

 

 

screenshot of an html title tag as displayed on a search results page

 

Start Your Title Tag With Your Primary Keyword

When you’re crafting the title tag for a webpage, choose your most valuable keyword for that particular page, and put it at the beginning of your title tag.

 

NOTE: If you’re a local business, don’t include your City with your primary keyword just yet. That comes next.

 

Title Tags For National Websites – Include Keyword Variations

If you’re competing for rankings in national search results, you’ll want to include a variation of your primary keyword next.

So add a pipe symbol | and a space.

Then add a variation of your primary keyword.

Once you enter your keyword variation, you can add another pipe symbol, and then put in your brand name – the name of your company.

 

Title tags For Local Websites – Include Your Geo-Location

If you’re a local business, competing in local search results, you probably won’t have room in the title tag to include a keyword variation, because you need to get your your city and state in there.

So, for a local business website, you would add a pipe symbol | and a space after your primary keyword.

Then enter your City, St (abbreviation).

After your location, add another pipe symbol and a space. Then, just as you would for a national website, enter the name of your company – your brand name.

 

 

 

Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions don’t necessarily have a direct affect on your search engine rankings, but… well-written meta descriptions can have a huge impact on your click-through-rate (CTR), and your click-through-rate does factor into where search engines are willing to rank your site in the SERP’s.

 

Header Tags

Header tags (H1, H2, H3…) help search engines understand what a web page on your site is all about. H tags (as they’re also referred to) allow the the search crawlers to understand which content is the most important.

 

The Ultimate On-Page Optimization Guide For Professionals2020-01-18T11:00:15-07:00

Top 10 Search Engine Ranking Factors For Optimizing Your Website

2020-01-17T17:40:04-07:00

The 10 Most Important Search Engine Ranking Factors For Topping The Google SERP’s

There are hundreds of search engine rankings factors that affect how well your website will rank in search results. But we’ve boiled the list down to the Top 10 most important factors that you want to focus on first.

1. Quality Content

The quality, and completeness of the content on your site is the ultimate ranking factor., If your content isn’t up to snuff, it doesn’t matter how perfectly optimized your website is. You aren’t going to rank anywhere near the top spots on page one.

So what exactly is ‘quality content’ in Google’s eyes? READ MORE

Top 10 Search Engine Ranking Factors For Optimizing Your Website2020-01-17T17:40:04-07:00

Why You Need Search Engine Optimization To Grow Your Practice

2020-01-17T17:47:53-07:00

5 Reasons You Need SEO To Reach Your Goals

Have you ever wondered what the most successful firms in every major metro in the U.S. have in common?

With very few exceptions, they’ve all invested in building a dominant presence in online search results by finding the best SEO company for lawyers, and partnering with them on a high-powered search engine optimization campaign. READ MORE

Why You Need Search Engine Optimization To Grow Your Practice2020-01-17T17:47:53-07:00

What Is Search Engine Optimization Anyway?

2020-01-17T17:52:59-07:00

What does search engine optimization actually mean?

SEO = Search Engine Optimization

So now you obviously understand that SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, but you probably don’t know what exactly it is that needs to be optimized for your website – not to mention how to go about actually doing any of it. READ MORE

What Is Search Engine Optimization Anyway?2020-01-17T17:52:59-07:00