For attorneys and law firms, understanding the critical role of SEO is critical. Search engines hands down offer the easiest way for law firms to drive new clients. Whether you are a solo law practitioner or a large law firm, in today’s legal profession, if you want to stand out online, you can’t do it without SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Why do lawyers need SEO?
Most importantly, attorneys need SEO because there is loads of competition online. Law firms know that 96 percent of people looking for legal advice use a search engine. For this reason, many law firms invest loads of money into their SEO.
SEO is one of the most important marketing tactics your law firm needs to get to the top of the search engines. Without SEO, your website will be lost in the sea of online competition. It’s really that simple.
Twenty years ago, there was little competition online for attorneys. It was enough for a law firm to have any website, and you could expect potential clients to find your website. If you started a law practice, you would hire a web designer to build you a website, and you were done. The days when all you needed was a website and people would find it are long gone. Today, if you want more clients, your website needs to rank on page one for relevant keywords.
People used to use the phone book to find attorneys, but it has been clear for years that Google, Bing, and Yahoo replaced the Yellow Pages of the world. The old ways of marketing your law firm no longer work.
SEO begins with your law firm’s website. The level of success you can reach in terms of SEO has everything to do with your website and your website’s content.
What is attorney SEO?
Attorney Search Engine Optimization (SEO) includes strategies, tactics, and techniques that help law firm website rank for competitive keywords. The argument for attorney SEO is to attract more prospective clients to a law firm’s website. The goal of attorney SEO is to obtaining first-page ranking positions for highly competitive keyword phrases in search engines (such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo).
Most people search online to find an attorney or various legal services. Word-of-mouth advertising also relevant, but it is a passive way to attract clients. SEO is active. You control which search term you want to rank for and develop a working SEO strategy to make it happen.
Search engine optimization offers long term benefits for law firms. Content marketing, for instance, presents two major benefits: the first is the potential to rank for more relevant keywords, and the second is that publishing an exceptionally well-written piece of content on your website can attract organic links, resulting in higher search engine rankings.
Does your law firm want more website traffic, leads, and clients?
The only way to get there is with a solid SEO strategy designed for attorneys and law firms. If your law firm is located in the USA, you must know this number, 313 million. That is the number of people in the USA who are active internet users. What does that mean for your law practice? Your customers are online. Even if you didn’t think so earlier. Your current and future customers are searching online for exactly the same services your law firm offers. People have law-related questions, and they want to find your law firm. They are searching for specific reasons. Some of them need a business attorney to handle new contracts. Others are searching because they need help with wills or trusts, and they want to find an estate attorney. At any given moment, there are hundreds and thousands of searches for attorneys online.
Most attorneys don’t benefit from online searches because they ignore the important role of SEO in promoting their law practice.
SEO is more valuable for attorneys than paid search.
Many law firms don’t want to deal with SEO. Instead, they opt for paid search. They think that with the paid search, they can get traffic immediately to the website. They don’t know that 80 percent of people who search for attorneys online ignore paid search results.
When you pay for traffic, you are paying for marketing visibility. It is a temporary solution that is unsustainable for most law firms. The cost of paid traffic increases all the time, and the visibility you are paying for disappears as soon as you stop paying for it.
Pay-per-click advertising is an expense, but SEO is an investment.
The content you publish and backlinks you acquire have a long-lasting impact on your website. When you invest in SEO, you are creating a long-term asset for your law firm. With SEO, you own the traffic instead of paying rent on overpriced keywords.
With so many people using search, it makes sense that lawyers who want more clients should make SEO part of their long term marketing strategy.
Organic Search Is Better for Law Firms
Since most prospective clients use organic search to find and hire law firms, you should make SEO a top marketing priority. Arguably SEO offers the highest return on investment for law firms. People who search for attorneys online are more likely to click on organic search results than paid results.
What does that mean to your law firm?
Lawyers that want cheap and constant traffic to their website must make SEO a priority.
So, now that we all agree that SEO and organic search are important to your law practice’s success let’s talk about how to do SEO for your website.
Can lawyers do their own SEO?
Lawyers can do their own SEO, but most of them shouldn’t. But, if you decide to do your own SEO, you need to do the following:
- Create a list of relevant keywords for your law practice. This should be a long list, at least 100 keyword phrases, but you could easily come up with twice as many.
- Build a website.
- Create a web page for each target keyword. Yes, that means one page for each keyword phrase, so one hundred keywords would require one hundred pages. No one said it was going to be easy to do your own SEO.
- Each page should have at least 1,500 words of content, but 2,000 words would be better. If you want to rank for a highly competitive keyword, you might need to create even longer content. A web page you would like to rank for a highly competitive keyword might need a 7,000-word article.
- You need to optimize every page for the target keyword. That means you need to optimize the headline and subheadings.
Let’s say you want to write that 7,000-word article. How many hours would it take you? All that time you are spending on SEO, you are taking away from client time. Unless you are a brand new attorney and you don’t have any clients, you might want to spend your own time on SEO. But, if you are already working with clients, it’s unlikely that you will have the time to SEO your site.
Law firms should optimize their website for search engines in the following way:
Select Your Target Keywords Based on Intent
Think about it; your clients don’t use the same language about the law as you do. When potential prospects are looking for legal advice, they use their own words. If you are a family law attorney, your most important keyword isn’t “family law attorney” because that is not what people would type in a search window.
It is much more likely that a person would type “how to file for divorce in San Diego” or “divorce attorney near me.” People might search for the most reputable attorney in an area and use a keyword phrase like “best divorce lawyer in Los Angeles.”
The goal is to rank for the keywords people would use to find an attorney with your specialization. People use real sentences when they search for lawyers, not just keywords. Create pages of content about the keywords.
If your law firm has multiple locations (San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County), you need to create separate pages to target each location.
Optimize Attorney Website for Local Search
- Optimize your website to show up for localized searches.
- Include your target keyword into GMB “Google My Business” titles. (For example, “San Diego divorce attorney – Your Name”)
- To get the most out of it, Verify your GMB account.
- Make sure that your most important keywords are part of your business description. You can write up to 750-words, so you can naturally include a lot of relevant keywords in your description.
- Ask your clients for Google reviews. Reviews are great social proof, and they can also help with your search engine rankings. Respond to all reviews. Even if there is a review you disagree with, respond with an intent to resolve the issue. You can also get reviews on other platforms such as Facebook and Yelp.
Create SEO Optimized Content
Every page should focus on one keyword phrase. Don’t try to create content that is optimized for many different keywords. Target intent keywords. Use the target keyword in the page URL. Also, use the target keyword in the page title. Use related keywords in the subtitles.
Each page you create should be valuable information regarding your law practice. You are not writing an advertisement for your law firm. The content you write has to be valuable, informational, and client-focused, not law firm focused. Clients don’t care where you went to school or how long you have been a lawyer. They want to know that you are an expert in your field and that you are their best option.
SEO your URLs
The URL of each page of your website should be optimized for your target keywords. For example, if you want to rank for “San Diego estate attorney” and “wills and trust lawyer in San Diego,” you must have URLs with those keywords.
URL #1 – http://lawfirmwebsite.com/san-diego-estate-attorney/
URL #2 – http://lawfirmwebsite.com/san-diego-wills-trust-lawyer/
Each URL should be unique. You should have a list of relevant keywords for your law firm. Create a unique URL for each keyword you want to rank for.
SEO each page title
Each page title should include a target keyword. The key here is to have a unique page title for each page. Don’t try to cram too many keywords into each page title.
Here are some example page titles:
- San Diego estate attorney
- Trust attorney in San Diego
- San Diego wills lawyer
- Best San Diego estate law firm
You can easily develop 100 or more unique page titles for your law firm. Most lawyers have too few pages on their websites. Their pages lack optimization for important keywords. The page titles don’t include relevant keywords.
SEO each header
Include your target keyword into the header. For an even greater effect, start the header with your target keyword. Your header tags give context and structure to your content. Each header should give the reader an idea of the information they can get from the text that follows below.
The title of the page should introduce the topic of your web page. For example, if you are a family law attorney, you could have an article about finding a divorce attorney. So, the title of your article should include “Find or finding a divorce attorney.”
The subtitles should include relevant keywords to “finding a divorce attorney.” With the subtitles, you provide insight into the key details of the article, while optimizing the page for relevant keywords. Subsequent headers or subtitles serve as additional sub-headings within each section, just as multiple sub-topics may split up a book chapter.
SEO each image
There are two ways you can SEO your images.
- Include your target keyword within the file name. For example, “san-diego-web-designer.jpg”
- Include your target keyword within the alt tag.
Include keywords in website content
It is best to include your target keywords within the content of your page 3-5 times. Always include your most important target keyword within the first paragraph of the content.
It is also important to use variations on your keyword.
- Web design
- Design your website
- Website design ideas
- How to redesign your website
Link to related pages using your target keywords. If you have content relevant to each other, link them to each other. For example, if your target keyword is “hire a web designer” link it to a relevant page on your website.