Our Process For Law Firm Search Engine Optimization
Step 1: Discovery & Evaluation
Getting to know you, and learning about your firm is an important first step in figuring out exactly what we can do to help you, and if we’re a good fit for your firm.
During the Discovery meeting, we’ll talk about your:
- Goals and objectives
- Current marketing efforts
- Past marketing efforts
- Previous experience with SEO services
- Ratios for the types of cases you handle
- Competition and your market
- Questions you have about our company
A More Personal Approach To Discovery… instead of sending you an ‘intake’ form or document to fill out, we have someone from our team speak with you on the phone to discuss the basic information we need to get the ball rolling for the Discovery and Evaluation phase. We take notes from the conversation (which typically takes about 30 minutes), and then we complete the intake step for you.
STEP 2 SEO Audit & Analysis Of Your Website
If it looks like we might be a good fit for each other, we can take the next step which is an in-depth audit of your website. The audits we do are significantly more detailed than the ‘free’ audits offered by most law firm SEO companies.
If we’ve already decided to move forward on your SEO campaign together, the audit is included as part of the work we do for you. If we’re still considering working together, the cost of the SEO audit can be applied to the first month of your campaign should we agree to move forward after reviewing the results of the audit together.
Your SEO audit will include our analysis of:
- Your current rankings for high-value keywords
- Basic On-site optimization issues on your website
- Advanced analysis of theming, title tags and meta descriptions
- Technical SEO scores and issues
- The URL structure of your website (it matters!)
- The existing content on your website
- Your Local Search profile
- Maps 3-Pack rankings
- Citations and directories
- Google My Business listing
- The backlink profile of your website
- The anchor text profile of your website
- Competitive analysis
STEP 3 Keyword Research
The next step in organizing the SEO campaign for your firm is identifying, organizing, and prioritizing the keywords relevant to your practice area and specific market.
We research keyword variations, and opportunities so we can build a list of the search terms we can target that will have the greatest impact on your business. The cumulative effect of ranking for your high-value (most competitive) keywords, as well as the keyword variations we identify gives us the opportunity to produce an above-average return-on-investment for your search engine optimization campaign.
It’s important fo us to determine the different phrases your ideal clients are using when they conduct an online search for an attorney to solve their problem. Having a firm grasp on which keywords are likely to be the most profitable for you allows us to focus our efforts and resources on the searches that are likely to bring in qualified leads for your firm.
STEP 4: Website Architecture
You won’t hear much about the importance of website architecture from most lawyer SEO agencies, but it’s a critical piece of the search engine optimization process. The pages of your website need to be ordered in a way that makes it easy for search engine crawlers to understand your site.
Google’s algorithm likes tightly focused content. Optimal website structure (also referred to as website hierarchy) allows you to build greater topical-relevance with the search engines.
The process of ‘theming’ your site correctly allows the search engines to have a higher degree of confidence that your page is the most relevant to the searcher’s intentions.
STEP 5 On-Page Optimization
We’ve finalized the list of keywords we will target for your site, and optimized the URL’s and overall website structure to make it easier for search engine crawlers to understand what your site is about. Now it’s time to turn our attention to on-page optimization.
On-page SEO has evolved dramatically
Even just a few years ago, on-page SEO (also known as on-site) was thought by most to be
placing (or stuffing) your keywords in the right html tags, and in the right places on the page.
Unfortunately, some people – even some SEO ‘professionals’ still believe this to be the case.
- Our on-page SEO for law firms checklist
- Compelling, keyword-rich title elements
- Enticing meta descriptions that attract clicks
- Logically-structured (and short) SEO-friendly URL’s
- Internal linking
- Image optimization
- Geo-tagging of images
- Structured data markup (local schema)
- Optimization of HTML header tags
- Proper integration of exact match keywords
- Optimal use of latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords
- User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) analysis
STEP 6 Comprehensive, Focused Content Development
Theming your site with tightly-focused content
With your website architecture optimized in a logical structure, we are then able to ‘theme’ specific pages of your site with tightly-focused content. Attempting to combine multiple topics that aren’t related closely enough on the same page is a common mistake – many SEO agencies still do this.
For example, if you were organizing a website for a criminal defense attorney, you wouldn’t want to include content about potential DUI penalties and defense strategies on the same page with information about defending someone accused of a drug crime. Intermingling unrelated topics on the same page only serves to confuse search engine algorithms (not to mention your website visitors) about what your page is really all about.
Google is in the user-experience business. All the other search engines are in the same user-experience business as Google. So they want to show people who use their search engine the most relevant, and in-depth content to their search query.
When search engines see that your content covers a topic in-depth, they know you are offering their users everything they’re looking for about that topic in one place. Giving Google and other search engines what they want and needs to provide searchers with a great user-experience is a much better SEO philosophy than all the gimmicks, and strategies designed to manipulate their algorithms.
STEP 7 Optimize Google My Business Listing
Everyone knows you should fill out your Google My Business (GMB) profile as completely as possible, so I won’t bore you with the obvious. Here is a partial list of the optimization work we do for your GMB listing:
- Verification issues (if needed)
- Name, address, and phone (NAP) accuracy
- Email and business hours
- Proper primary category selection
- Secondary categories (if appropriate)
- Your business description
- Optimizing and adding photos
- Google short name for your business (if available)
Online Reviews for your law firm
Developing a solid review profile is a key component of building a successful local search presence. Maintaining a high average (stars) rating, and a consistent velocity for new client reviews should be your two primary goals when it comes to client reviews.
Bonus: To help give you the best chance of achieving these goals, and to make it easier to get client reviews, we provide our clients with the best-in-class review platform that can be incorporated directly into your website – at no additional cost to you.
STEP 8 Local Search Optimization
We will already have analyzed your citations, and established your Citations Score as part of your SEO audit. A citation is reference to your firm, your name, address, and phone number (NAP) specifically, on citation and directory sites across the internet.
First, we want to ensure your NAP is consistent across all listings, and correct any with inconsistent or inaccurate information. For example, if your firm has moved o a new location, we want to make sure that all your citations have been updated with your new address.
Many lawyer SEO agencies still focus on the outdated goal of building as many citations as possible. Anyone who focuses on the quantity of citations over the quality of citations they will build does not understand the sea change that occurred in local search several years ago.
We know the top citation and legal directories where your firm needs to be listed for maximum benefit to your Google Maps 3-Pack rankings. If we see your competitors have strong citations on sites where you aren’t listed, then we want to get those same strong citations for your firm.
One of the most important factors Google uses to determine which attorneys to display in a Maps 3-Pack search result is proximity to the searcher. We have developed proprietary strategies to help maximize the geographic area where Google will consider your firm relevant to a given search.
Trust – does Google trust your website?
Trust and relevance are the two big picture factors we focus on to maximize your visibility in Maps 3-Pack (local search) results. Getting links from online properties with very specific characteristics that we know enhance the level of trust Google has in your site is a key component of our approach to helping our clients dominate local search results.
Site mirroring = more trust
We pioneered the concept of site mirroring when it comes to local search results. Our site mirroring process builds loads of trust between your website and the search engines.
Relevance – does Google think your site is relevant to a given search?
When it comes to local search rankings, you need the search engines to find you relevant, both in terms of geographic location and the keywords related to your practice area. We’ve tested and developed our own strategies to help make your site highly-relevant for your city, and your practice area.
STEP 9 Outreach & Link Building
Most link-building campaigns are focused on quantity over quality when creating to a typical law firm website. The prevailing wisdom is that the more Referring Domains (websites that link to your site) you have, the better you will rank in search results.
We’re glad most other SEO agencies in the legal space still subscribe to this now obsolete philosophy when it comes to link-building.
Emphasis on backlinks from quality sites…
We’ve developed strong relationships with a tremendous number of high-domain authority websites as a result of our past outreach & link-building campaigns. These relationships allow us to focus on creating the kind of content that will earn high-quality backlinks for your site.
Highly-relevant links to turbocharge your rankings…
We understand link-building at a much deeper level than other companies that specialize in SEO for law firms. That’s not hyperbole either.
For example, our own website outranks our competitors for the most competitive searches in the lawyer SEO space… even though they have 10x more referring domains than we do. And we achieved our rankings purely with white-hat link building strategies.
How do we do it? High-quality backlinks with above-average relevance scores (way above average) from authoritative sites.
We also analyze the backlink profiles of your top-ranking competitors to identify opportunities to acquire strong backlinks that you don’t have. We use a number of link-building strategies, some our own, and others that we’ve adopted and improved upon. These strategies combine to form a framework that allows us to create a very powerful, rank-boosting backlink profile for your website.
Links We Don’t Build: Scholarship link-building to acquire .edu links has been in vogue the last few years. That is, until Google dropped the hammer on this practice with the Maccabees update, and started penalizing websites that engaged in scholarship link-building on Christmas Day 2018.
We sounded the alarm regarding the impending demise of Scholarship link-building well before the Maccabees update, and advised other SEO agencies to abandon the practice. If you see Scholarship link building mentioned on an SEO company’s website, and they aren’t warning against it, close your web browser and delete them from your History. Building Scholarship links will get your site penalized.
STEP 10 Website Analytics
One of the first things we do after launching your SEO campaign is install Google Analytics on your website, and verify your domain (the URL for your site) in Google’s Search Console. Next, we set your site up in our rank tracking, and backlink monitoring tools to track the progress, and the health of your website.
Each month, your GMB dashboard will show you how many people called your office from the click-to-call feature on your GMB listing in Google’s Maps 3-Pack search results. You’ll be able to see how much traffic your website has received as well.
We track your rankings for the keywords we’re targeting, and other important metrics so we can both monitor the progress of your campaign. Once we’ve solidified your rankings in the Maps 3-Pack search results, the key indicators of success become:
- The number of phone calls coming into your office
- The amount of traffic to your website
- The number of contact forms being submitted
These three numbers are ultimately how you determine the ROI from the investment in your SEO campaign.
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