Search Engine Optimization (SEO) marketing for law firms
Last Updated: Nov 2, 2022
The best law firm SEO marketing strategies and techniques
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the combination of different strategies designed to increase the visitors to your law firm's website by improving your position in the search results pages: the pages that appear when conducting a search on Google, Bing, or another search engine.
It is a well-known reality that if your law firm appears higher up in the search results, especially if you can make it to the first page, you will attract more visitors to your website. SEO does not involve paid advertising to drive the results. The goal is that if visitors click on your page within the organic search results, they will contact your firm to learn more about your services; however, your website must deliver the required information that the visitor is looking for.
One of the key challenges when navigating SEO for law firms is discovering what methods will get your firm to the top of the organic search results, which is the holy grail. Many companies offer law firm SEO and may claim to get your website to the top of the search results in very little; however, the reality is that there is no guarantee that you will be able to rank in the number one position of the organic search results. Moreover, once you make it to a high position in the search results, it requires consistent work to maintain that position.
The good thing is that there are many ways to increase your chance of ranking on the first page of the search results. If you have not begun any SEO for your law firm's website, there are also some lower-hanging fruit methods that you can take advantage of, or if you have already started the process, there are many techniques still to employ.
Some can view SEO as a kind of dark art and mysterious subject. However, once you understand the basic principles and reasons search engines evaluate which websites have the most value to online users, it is easier to cut through the noise and focus on the SEO techniques that will make a difference in providing value.
The critical law firm SEO ranking factors can be categorized into three core areas:
This relates to the words and other types of content, for example, images or video, that are placed on your law firm's website pages. Taking steps to enhance your website with high-quality content will optimize the user experience and boost your website's ranking in the search results; the key is creating content that addresses user intent, in other words, what the visitor is looking for.
This relates to the impression, trustworthiness, and authority your law firm holds online compared to other law firms. One of the main factors that influence this is the number and quality of external websites that link to your law firm's website, which will also increase the number of website visitors via referral traffic.
Finally, this relates to user experience (UX). UX is one of Google's primary ranking factors when assessing which websites should get more points to have a chance of being higher up in the search results. There are various aspects to consider for UX, including page speed, optimized tagging, and site structure. Optimizing the UX of your website will enhance your brand image and increase your chances of being ranked higher in the search results.
Why is SEO for law firms important?
For law firms that are looking to grow their business sustainably, organic search traffic is a crucial marketing channel that will support the growth of your law firm over the long term.
SEO may seem like a complex or highly technical discipline, particularly if your law firm has never conducted this type of marketing work; however, it is an essential part of any basic marketing strategy for law firms. Moreover, it does not need to be overly complicated if you focus on the core principles.
Now we will explore each of these core SEO principles that are fundamental to improving your search engine ranking.
The main reason for content on your law firm's website pages should be to provide great value.
What does excellent website content look like in relation to law firm SEO? It boils down to fulfilling the following three standards:
1) Your content needs to address the question or search term asked by the user
One case in point, if you want your law firm's website to come up for the search term "family lawyer in Singapore", you should include specific content on your website that explains to potential clients about your expertise in family law. When looking at it in this way, it is both simple and logical.
Put yourself in the shoes of a potential client. If they reach your website, they will have some questions in their mind, for example:
Is the law firm in Singapore?
Does the law firm specialize in family law?
Can the law firm address my specific need?
Does the law firm look like a good one?
Is the law firm likely to be within my budget?
Then, once they have answered these questions, they may be able to answer the question: do I want to consider this law firm for my case?
This is why the content on your law firm's website should include answers to the potential client's questions. Search engines such as Google aim to send users to a website most likely to answer the user's questions. If you can create a page where Google thinks your law firm's website is expected to match the user's intent, this increases the chance of your website being ranked higher in the search results pages.
Spend some time considering different ways your law firm can address the potential questions visitors in your target audience might have. For example, you might include service descriptions with valuable information for the user, what types of clients use your services, and client testimonials. Be sure to keep your website pages up-to-date; as your firm evolves, so should your website.
2) Your content should be keyword optimized
Answering a user's questions is one of the key steps. However, it is also vital to demonstrate to search engines that you are answering users' questions effectively. Answering questions well will have a significant impact on SEO for law firms.
This process can be achieved through keywords. A search engine, such as Google, assesses your website by sending out an automated bot to review your site content to understand every web page's details.
A clear keyword approach will support potential clients in reading your website content and making it clear to search engines that you are, for example, a "family lawyer in Singapore".
To comprehensively optimize your website content for keywords, placing your keywords in the appropriate areas of the page is a critical step, including:
- Title tag
- Description tag
- Headings and subheadings
- Consistently throughout paragraphs
- In the web page's URL
3) Your website should include a variety of content that focuses on keywords in the same category
This is one of the more intricate aspects of law firm SEO. It entails finding a primary keyword, along with variations or long-tail forms of the target keyword. This step enables your content to cover the topic as comprehensibly as possible for users searching online.
If you have done your research correctly, most target users will search with the most popular keyword; however, some will search using more natural language or keyword variations. The aim is to generate a good level of content that answers search inquiries relevant to your primary target keyword.
As a case in point, suppose the primary keyword you aim to rank for is "family lawyer in Singapore", variations of this keyword may include "best family lawyer in Singapore" and "rates for a family lawyer in Singapore".
You may have conducted a robust on-page optimization strategy, yet if your off-page SEO is not on point (or 'Link Building') strategy, your online presence will never gain momentum.
Even if your law firm's website is well designed and the content is optimized, if no links are coming back, your website will not rank highly in the search results.
The process of generating links is called 'off-site optimization', otherwise known as 'off-page optimization'.
External links can be viewed as votes for your law firm's website. The more votes your website receives, the higher the search rankings you may get.
External links or 'backlinks' (these are external pages that link back to your website) – are one of the most essential indicators of how search engines will rank your firm's website. Suppose your website content is well optimized; however, you are still not seeing the results you are looking for, then it is probable that Google and other search engines, may not be too familiar with your website – which means you may be lacking a strong online presence.
A link from a relevant and authoritative website is more valuable than multiple links from a range of less relevant or poor-quality sites (for example, link farms). Google's algorithms have already taken much of the value from leveraging link directories, and using these types of services could negatively impact your search ranking. Keeping up to speed with algorithm changes is an important part of SEO to limit any negative impact stemming from changes in order to achieve consistently high search rankings.
How to generate the right links for your law firm
There are multiple ways to generate links to your law firm's website; here are some of the primary ones:
- Creating and sharing persuasive content – Creating valuable content and broadcasting it effectively via online networks can increase your chance of generating beneficial links.
- Adding directory submissions – to quality directories (not link farms)
- Using appropriate anchor text that varies between exact match anchor text for specific keywords, no anchor text (only the URL), and other anchor text variations.
- Using 'white hat' SEO techniques (as opposed to black hat or negative SEO methods)
- Local link acquisition for relevancy – generating thousands of links from websites in other countries is unlikely to support your ranking for local search (such as Google My Business); moreover, you may be penalized. An alternative approach is to generate high-quality, relevant local links over quantity.
There are ten key areas to improving your law firm's website content and authority, which should also boost your website traffic and conversions.
E-A-T – Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness
Google uses E-A-T to assess content creators, websites, and other online platforms. This method values high-quality content and rates sites that have better quality content. Websites that consist of low-quality content will be ranked lower.
Google's highest-quality content scoring correlates directly with what appears in the search results. E-A-T is a sizeable influencing factor for Google's organic search results.
The title tag relates to an HTML tag located in the head section of every website page. This section is an indicator and provides context about the page content.
Meta descriptions continue to be a fundamental point of optimization for SEO and have been from the beginning of SEO. Google states that meta descriptions do not impact rankings. However, some experts indicate that optimized descriptions can support your search ranking, even if some benefits are indirect.
For example, optimizing your meta description can boost:
- Click-through rate
- Perception of the value of the page content
Improving these two points will, in turn, impact search rankings.
If your aim is for your website content to rank well in the search results, including enticing and clear headlines will undoubtedly support this. Sometimes, the headline is overlooked; however, an impactful title can be the factor if a potential client clicks through to your law firm's website.
A compelling headline should stand out and generate interest. This will reassure users to click through to the content to learn more.
Header tags are HTML elements that distinguish your headings from the subheadings in the website content. Header tags do not necessarily impact search rankings directly, but they can still play an important role and purpose for website users to support your law firm's website.
Here are a couple of the indirect impact factors on your rankings:
- Allowing your content to be more accessible and attractive to visitors
- Offering search engines enhanced context in a keyword-rich format
For lawyers, SEO copywriting is creating content that offers value to website visitors while serving search engines. Creating quality SEO content means having a strategy not limited to keyword research.
It is essential to put people first, as you are writing content for potential clients, not a robot, so the best approach is to create relevant, high-quality, and meaningful content. The search engines will recognize this and rank your site higher in the search results.
Keyword cannibalization relates to honing in on a single search term across multiple pages, damaging your website's SEO. Having multiple pages ranking for the same keyword means your website pages compete with each other.
Creating new content is important, but reviewing your existing website content is essential through a content audit.
Auditing your content will allow you to assess if your content is supporting your aims and providing a return on investment (ROI). An effective content audit will also tell you if the existing content is still correct or outdated and no longer relevant.
Conducting a regular website content audit can support the growth of your SEO strategy.
Images make your website more appealing; however, they also need to be optimized correctly to extract any SEO value.
Image optimization has multiple benefits, such as:
- Extra ranking possibilities (such as appearing in Google Images search results)
- Enhanced user experience
- Faster webpage loading time
Optimizing images should be a core part of your on-page optimization, and they should be used to support the content. This means including descriptive titles and alt texts.
It is challenging to maintain users' engagement, but taking some steps can increase your chance of success. Increasing user engagement can be boosted by prioritizing the user experience (UX) and journey, optimizing site speed, and content optimization.
Local SEO for lawyers
Local SEO is a fundamental part of online marketing for law firms. This approach matters to smaller legal practices as much as multinational law firms, as in both cases, there will be potential clients who search for local services (whether that be Singapore, Paris, Hong Kong, London, or New York). In relation to local SEO best practices, there are multiple local ranking factors to consider. One of the critical aspects is the use of consistent, structured local citations.
Effective local SEO means that you have optimized your law firm's website content for specific localities. In practice, suppose your firm has several office locations; this means that you should have a specific optimized webpage on your site for each location to communicate to your local audience effectively.
If you can do this better than competing law firms, your website will rank higher and stand a chance of being placed in the desirable three-pack on Google's search results page.
It is essential to have an accurate and comprehensive Google My Business (GMB) profile listing, to align with your law firm's website.
The name, address, and phone (known as 'NAP') information taken from your firm's website and other online platforms must match the NAP within GMB.
Fixing any inconsistencies in your NAP, such as inaccurate business data, is vital to Google's local search algorithm. As a case in point, Google Maps requires accurate data for users to call the correct number and receive accurate directions. If your online NAP information is incorrect, Google will place less trust in your listing, reducing the chance of it appearing in the search results.
Google reviews are another important factor in local SEO rankings, so it is a good idea to ask satisfied clients to add a Google review of your law firm. It is best practice not to request a positive review directly; instead, focus your efforts on clients you know are satisfied with your services.
Do not consider engaging in fake reviews or asking anyone else to generate these. For example, it is not a good idea to ask your colleagues to write fake reviews; the same principle applies to writing fake bad reviews about your competitors. Alternatively, create a plan for generating a good level of positive reviews and include in this plan the steps you will take to react to any negative reviews you receive, which can occur over time.
Every time you add a directory listing, ensure that your name, address, and phone number are consistent. Reach out to any directories that display inaccurate data and promptly have these corrected. This is important because Google references the NAP data in your GMB profile with other NAP data displayed online, such as through business directories and inconsistencies, which can lower trust with Google.
SEO for lawyers is a long-term process that requires a consistent approach. It is unrealistic to expect instant results and for your law firm's website to jump in the search engine rankings straightaway. Do not trust SEO consultants or companies that claim they can deliver instant results; patience pays off. As a best practice, focus on regularly creating valuable content relevant to your target audience while building high-quality backlinks, adhering to Google's guidelines and updates, and generating positive client reviews.
Monitor your progress consistently and assess the impact of your SEO work by using tools such as Google Analytics. By taking this long-term, consistent approach, your firm will be able to identify the actions that are more likely to continue to offer SEO success and attract more potential clients.
Whether you are conducting the SEO in-house or with the support of an expert, you can focus on the principles. Concentrating on better quality and maintaining sufficient quantity compared with competitors will allow your law firm's website to be placed higher in the search rankings.
Lawzana offers SEO benefits with all paid memberships, and we encourage you to invite clients to leave reviews on your Lawzana profile. Lawzana provides marketing and web development services; if you have any questions related to SEO for law firms or law firm marketing in general, please do not hesitate to contact our expert team at [email protected]