The area of criminal defense is by far one of the most competitive sectors of the legal profession. Throughout the nation, criminal defense lawyers strive to capture a respectable market share and connect with prospective clients via online advertising.
If you hope to compete in this crowded field, your law firm must leverage a cohesive search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Below, we explore the various ranking processes used by top search engines and explain how you can use these mechanisms to achieve your marketing goals.
Why Is SEO for Criminal Defense Attorneys So Important?
SEO services for lawyers have become a valuable commodity in the modern digital marketing environment for several reasons. First and foremost, criminal defense attorney SEO is far more economical than pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
While PPC advertising can certainly serve as a component of a winning law firm marketing strategy, it is too expensive to serve as a long-term solution. This concern is particularly true in the legal industry, as the average cost per click is higher than in many other fields.
In addition to being more sustainable and cost-effective, criminal defense SEO offers several other advantages. By investing in SEO, criminal defense lawyers can establish their law firm as a professional and knowledgeable entity. This positioning will help the law firm differentiate itself in the crowded and competitive criminal defense sector.
Like most criminal defense firms, your law firm likely specializes in representing specific criminal defense clients. While you are certainly capable of taking on all sorts of criminal defense cases, focusing on your areas of expertise will be beneficial to both your clients and your reputation as criminal lawyers. It enhances your market positioning.
SEO campaigns allow you to highlight your specific criminal defense skill set so that you can attract the types of cases that you want. You can set up your SEO strategy in a manner that draws in your ideal site visitors.
For instance, if you rank for legal keyword phrases like "DUI attorneys" or "DUI lawyers," you will increase your visibility among potential clients who need assistance with DUI-related matters. This same basic premise can be applied to any criminal defense topics.
Which Criminal Defense Law Firms Need SEO?
Virtually any criminal defense law firm can benefit from adopting a comprehensive search engine optimization strategy. If your criminal defense firm operates in any of the following areas, then you need to be leveraging SEO:
- Internet crimes
- Firearms-related offenses
- Tax crimes
- White-collar crimes
- Sex crimes
- Property crimes
- Drug possession
- Violent crimes
By creating and leveraging an SEO strategy, criminal defense firms like yours can become more visible when prospective clients conduct a Google search. In addition to making your firm easier to find on a Google search, a criminal defense SEO strategy will make your law firm's website content more visible across all search engines.
Over time, your law firm SEO strategy will help you climb the rankings of search engine results pages (SERPs). The ultimate goal of these efforts is to obtain first-page rankings for your homepage and other content or resources on your website.
Criminal defense firms that are on the first page of the results displayed by search engines acquire the majority of site traffic. Conversely, law firms located on page two and beyond will struggle to generate respectable amounts of organic traffic.
Some site visitors will simply be seeking information related to your practice areas. Other visitors may be past clients who are looking for your contact number so that they can refer an acquaintance to your firm. While not all of this additional traffic will consist of paying clients, it is all valuable to your long-term growth efforts.
Types of SEO
The chances are that you are familiar with the basic principles of SEO for lawyers. However, let's briefly recap it to ensure we are all on the same page.
At its core, search engine optimization is about making your website more visible in organic search results. Also known as "organic web results," organic search results include the websites listed below the paid ads at the top of Google SERPs.
Every time a user conducts a query, Google's search results algorithm chooses which websites to list on each SERP based on a variety of SEO best practices.
There is a common misconception that SEO internet marketing is entirely centered around stuffing relevant keywords into on-site content like blog articles, local directories, and service pages. Although keywords are an important component of your SEO efforts, they are only a fraction of overall search engine optimization.
If you want to draw more attention to your online content and create a strategy that produces measurable results, you must address all facets of criminal defense SEO. The specific types of SEO worth considering include the following:
On-page SEO is what most law firms think of when discussing search engine optimization. Cohesive on-page SEO is about publishing optimized content, using the right keywords in a logical manner, choosing an appropriate URL structure, and acquiring high-quality backlinks.
We know that's a lot to unpack, so let's break these concepts down piece by piece.
The obvious component of on-page SEO involves deciding which keyword SERPs you want to rank on and then strategically incorporating those search terms into your content.
When new clients are searching for legal websites, they will typically query phrases or words related to the issues they are facing. For example, someone facing DUI charges would probably query a phrase such as "DUI criminal defense lawyers." If you seek to rank on that SERP, you should consider using the phrase above or a similar one in your content.
With that being said, criminal defense is one of the most competitive sectors when it comes to both paid and organic search results. You should consider leveraging local SEO tactics when crafting your content.
Let's say you serve the Miami area and specialize in DUI criminal defense. Instead of using the aforementioned phrase, you may want to try to rank for the phrase "DUI criminal defense lawyers in Miami."
Local SEO can help in two ways. First, you will only be competing against other criminal defense attorneys in your area. Second, you are more likely to connect with potential new clients who actually reside in or near the city you serve.
Now, let's turn our attention to the universal resource locator (URL) structure. This term refers to the directory code that appears as the web address for each page of your law firm's website.
Ideally, the URL for each page, including your home page, should include the keywords you are attempting to rank for or some variation thereof. Google's algorithm analyzes your URL and dozens of other factors when deciding how to rank your page.
URLs certainly matter, but they are nowhere near as vital as backlinks. In recent years, Google and other search engines have started paying much closer attention to the number and quality of backlinks that websites have.
A backlink is a link on another page that directs users to your website via one of your URLs. High-quality backlinks from reputable websites will help you climb the ranking, whereas broken links from others that lead to content you no longer carry can hurt your standing on SERPs.
While backlinks are essential to the success of your SEO strategy, internal links between different pages on your site are also a consideration. A few well-placed internal links will help site visitors easily navigate between related web pages. They will improve the browsing experience and functionality of your website, which translates into a better SERP rank.
Some marketing agencies lump on-page SEO in with technical SEO. This practice is not necessarily incorrect, as technical SEO should occur in tandem with on-page SEO. However, technical SEO is so critical to digital marketing for criminal defense law firms that we elected to devote an entire section to it.
Whereas the previous section focused on keyword selection, backlinks, and similar issues, technical SEO best practices address underlying issues that can affect website ranking. The technical SEO component of your marketing strategy will address concerns such as your title tag, meta description, article titles, sub-headers, and image alt tags.
The title tag is the text that appears on SERPs, just under your law firm's website URL. It is the text displayed in bright blue. The meta description is listed underneath the title tag and includes a brief synopsis of the webpage.
Typically, title tags have to contain fewer than 65 characters, and meta descriptions must contain fewer than 156 characters. Your keyword should always be included in the meta description. If possible, you should include it in the title tag as well.
The title tag and meta description represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to technical SEO. There are many other factors that your law firm must consider in order to avoid accidentally undermining your other SEO efforts.
It is generally a good idea to partner with an experienced SEO firm for criminal defense lawyers. Such a firm will be able to optimize your content and manage all other components of your SEO strategy.
The third and final type of SEO for criminal defense is off-page SEO. As the name suggests, this category of SEO cannot be addressed with on-page activities.
Your primary focus in off-page SEO is to establish your law firm's website as a source of authority and expertise. Google's algorithm scrutinizes all types of websites, but it is particularly critical of those belonging to members of the legal profession.
However, the guidelines are nearly 200 pages. To help save time, we have provided the highlights of the guidelines as they pertain to off-page SEO.
There are several ways to bolster the credibility of your law firm and its website. The most effective way is to acquire a handful of those backlinks that we discussed during the previous SEO sections.
Unscrupulous marketing agencies might offer to provide your law firm with lots of backlinks in order to rapidly increase your ranking on top search engines. However, Google will heavily penalize your website's rankings if you are found to be engaging in this type of paid puffery.
Whether you elect to work with a marketing firm or decide to oversee link building yourself, it is important that you only leverage legitimate practices.
For instance, you could offer to write guest legal blogs for another legitimate and established legal publishing website and ask to include links back to your content in the article. Alternatively, you could get more involved in your local community, connect with local media outlets, or join a highly reputable organization or society that lists members and their URLs.
Additionally, you should do your best to acquire as many legitimate five-star reviews as possible. Google reviews are the most valuable, but reviews from third-party sites can be beneficial as well.
Types of Keywords
Great keyword research will lay the foundation for a successful online marketing strategy. Conversely, incomplete or inadequate keyword research will hinder your SEO for criminal defense efforts and make it more difficult to connect with prospects online.
When conducting keyword research, you must be mindful of several issues, including how competitive each phrase is and whether it is relevant to your area of practice. You should also contemplate a user's intent when they query a particular phrase.
On that note, there are four different classes of keywords, each of which coincides with a specific type of user intent. These keyword types are:
As the name suggests, "informational keywords" are words or phrases that users might query when seeking to be informed. These queries often contain question words like when, how, or what.
Information keywords are not as valuable to your law firm's SEO strategy as some other types of keywords. Users who query these phrases typically want concise, readily-available information.
However, informational keywords are not totally worthless. You can leverage some informational keywords in your educational blog articles. For example, users facing DUI charges might query a phrase like "How much is a DUI?" If your site happens to contain an article with the same title, you may generate valuable traffic.
While this person might simply be seeking cursory information regarding the financial repercussions of their recent DUI charge, you can leverage this opportunity to showcase your services and expertise.
Navigational keywords are by far the least valuable type of keyword. A navigational query is a keyword search used to find a specific website, business, or platform. Examples include the search terms "Facebook" or "Instagram."
The prevalence of navigational keywords does not pose a major threat to your criminal defense law SEO strategy. However, you should be wary of these phrases when setting up a PPC campaign.
Depending on your campaign settings, your PPC ads may be displayed when users query specific direction to one of your competitors. If this occurs and the user accidentally clicks on your ad, you have just wasted some of your marketing budget and potentially made a negative impression on a prospective client.
The majority of your SEO efforts will involve commercial keywords. This group of keywords includes phrases related to specific services, such as those offered by your criminal defense law firm. Examples include "DUI attorney" and "White-collar criminal defense attorney."
Users querying commercial keywords have an interest in your expertise and services. However, they may not necessarily be ready to hire your law firm.
It is still important to provide content for individuals querying commercial keywords, even if they are simply looking for information. By serving this segment of users, you can establish your criminal defense law firm as an authority in your areas of practice.
Transactional keywords are unquestionably the most valuable. Naturally, this makes them some of the most challenging terms to rank for.
For your purposes, all transactional keywords are phrases that indicate the user has a strong intent to hire a criminal defense lawyer. Transactional keywords may include phrases such as "Hire a criminal defense attorney" or "Criminal defense law firm near me."
You should consider targeting transactional keywords with law firm SEO tactics and PPC ads. A multi-faceted approach will generate a higher traffic volume and help you acquire more clients.
Criminal Defense Attorney Local SEO
When it comes to online marketing for criminal defense law firms, local SEO for lawyers is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. Local SEO focuses on differentiating your practice from other law firms within your city or region.
Once you create your free GBP account, you can claim your law firm on Google Maps and other Google applications. You can ensure that your phone number, address, business hours, and other contact information are accurately reflected across Google's services.
As part of your local SEO strategy, make sure to include city-specific keywords in your content. The most obvious example is the name of the city in which you are located. You should also list other areas you serve so that you will appear in searches conducted by prospective clients in neighboring communities.
If you want to increase your visibility in your local area, you will also need to acquire a collection of Google reviews. Businesses with a high rating and many total reviews are ranked higher than negatively rated law firms or those with little to no feedback.
Don't Forget About UX
With all this talk about SEO and climbing the rankings on search engines, it can be all too easy to lose sight of the person who your content is truly designed for — the user. At the end of the day, providing the best user experience (UX) possible should be at the center of any law firm SEO strategy.
There are many ways to improve the UX. You can include links throughout each web page so that users can more easily navigate your site, and you can include legal directories that provide insights about each member of your law firm. You should also craft powerful service pages that artfully describe your services, expertise, and knowledge assets.
In addition, you should ensure that your site architecture is conducive to an enjoyable browsing experience. Site speed is another key consideration, as no one likes contending with a slow and unresponsive website, and slow loading can hurt your SERP ranking.
Investing in the user experience will keep your site visitors happy and supplement your other SEO efforts.
By providing a high-quality UX, you can reduce your bounce rate, the percentage of users who only visit a single page of your site before leaving. Maintaining a low bounce rate will also help your website improve its SERPs ranking.
Not sure where to begin when it comes to upgrading your site's UX? Why not partner with a proven web design firm for lawyers?
Build Powerful Practice Area Pages and Content
When crafting practice area pages for your law firm, be detailed. While there is no need to ramble on for 3,000 words when writing a basic service page, you should not publish a few scant paragraphs either.
Generally, strive to make your pages around 750 to 1250 w0rds in length. This word count will give you enough room to adequately explain your various practice areas without boring your audience.
You should also include a frequently asked questions (FAQs) section at the bottom of each practice area page. This section will serve as a quick reference resource for users who have a specific question in mind.
It is perfectly acceptable to have an information overlap between the FAQ section and the body of the content. However, you should keep the FAQ responses concise and leave the more in-depth responses for the primary content section.
Tips on Establishing Your Criminal Defense Lawyer Credibility
If you want to establish or enhance the credibility of your criminal defense law firm, then you will need to address all three pillars of Google's E-A-T framework.
Demonstrating your expertise can be accomplished by creating high-quality content for your website. The majority of your content should focus on the area of criminal law that you specialize in.
While you should absolutely list the other types of criminal cases that you accept, consider condensing this list of services to a single page and minimizing the number of blogs or supplement articles that you publish about these topics.
Whereas you can demonstrate your expertise with on-page content, establishing your authoritativeness will require you to turn your attention to acquiring backlinks. The reason that we keep mentioning backlinks is that they are critical to your ranking in top search engines. Without backlinks, it will be tough to appease Google's algorithm.
The final pillar of the E-A-T framework is trustworthiness. To be deemed trustworthy by Google and prospective clients, your criminal defense law firm will need five-star ratings and positive reviews. You can further enhance your perceived trustworthiness by including external links to reputable websites in your on-site content.
Why are these pillars of credibility so important? There are several reasons.
Most notably, establishing your law firm as a credible source of legal information will help you stand out from the other criminal defense websites. When users view your content as trustworthy and authoritative, they are more likely to refer friends or loved ones to your site when those people are seeking criminal defense information.
Additionally, developing a reputation for being experts in the field of criminal defense will increase the likelihood that other blog writers will come across your website during their research. In turn, this increases your ability to obtain high-quality backlinks, as blog writers may cite your content when writing their own articles.
Google and other search engines scrutinize the legal, medical, and financial sectors much more stringently than other fields. If Google's algorithm deems your website unreliable or lacking in authority, it will penalize you in the search rankings.
Conversely, establishing your website as authoritative and trustworthy will supplement your other SEO efforts. Following Google's recommendations regarding E-A-T will allow you to differentiate your pages from other websites, which will lead to a higher volume of traffic.
How to Perform an SEO Campaign for Criminal Defense Lawyers
The first step to creating and leveraging an SEO campaign involves conducting comprehensive keyword research. From there, you will need to create content for your website. You should craft FAQs, blog articles, practice area pages, and other informative materials that prospective clients will find valuable.
Once you have created this content, you will need to address technical concerns such as your title tags, meta descriptions, and alt image texts. With these in place, your optimized site is ready to launch.
The next step involves acquiring quality backlinks. Remember, you can accomplish this by writing guest blogs, reaching out to local media outlets or businesses, joining organizations or associations, or donating to local entities.
Your criminal defense firm will also need to optimize its campaign for local marketing purposes. This approach will help you improve your visibility in the search results of prospective clients in your area.
Once your campaign is fully operational and you begin acquiring clients, do not forget to encourage your clients to leave reviews. By simply leaving a positive rating and comment on your Google Business Profile, your past clients can help your web pages achieve first-page rankings.
Make sure to closely monitor your SEO campaign so that you can gauge its efficacy. Managing your campaign is an ongoing and sometimes tedious process. That is why many law firms elect to outsource these responsibilities to an experienced marketing agency.
Leverage Professional Criminal Defense SEO Services
Search engine optimization is your law firm's greatest tool for connecting with prospective clients and fueling growth. However, mastering the art of online marketing for criminal defense law can be incredibly challenging. Usually, partnering with a high-performance digital marketing company, such as Grow Law Firm, is more pragmatic.
Grow Law Firm understands the unique challenges facing criminal defense attorneys. Our experienced and knowledgeable SEO specialists can help your firm leverage proven marketing strategies to expand your online reach. If you are ready to acquire more clients and optimize your visibility in the legal industry, contact Grow Law Firm today.