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Grow Your Practice With SEO for Criminal Defense Lawyers

February 24, 2023
16 min

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. Without it, prospects will be going to your competitors instead. 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 with SEO for criminal defense lawyers.

What Is Criminal Defense SEO?

How SEO works

Criminal defense SEO is the practice of optimizing your site's content and performance to have a better chance of ranking highly on popular search engine results pages like Google or Bing. Ideally, your tactics will result in your page appearing near the top of the rankings for keywords relevant to your criminal defense law firm.

There are multiple factors involved in SEO, some of which are quite complex. However, a few strategies include using relevant keywords, proper keyword placement, content creation, and technical factors like schema and page load speed.

With a solid SEO strategy, you'll find it easier to attract potential clients to your criminal law practice through online search results.

The Benefits of SEO for Criminal Defense Lawyers

Key SEO benefits

Every business needs a regular influx of new clients, and law firms are no different. However, attracting new clients to a criminal defense law firm is no easy (or cheap) task.

For example, you can leverage pay-per-click (PPC) advertising for criminal defense marketing to place your practice at the top of search results for a fee. Interested people who see your ad will click on your website, which may result in a potential lead.

However, PPC advertising for lawyers is exponentially more expensive than other criminal defense attorneys digital marketing techniques. On average, a single click for legal services is $6.45 and may run as high as $1,000.

On the other hand, SEO is a much more affordable way to obtain clients over the long run. There are many benefits to SEO, including:

  • Implementing a sustainable and cost-effective strategy
  • Establishing authority and credibility as a criminal defense attorney
  • Enhancing your market positioning
  • Differentiating your firm from your competitors

So while SEO for lawyers can take some time to implement, it's worth the work.

7 Best Criminal Defense Law Firm SEO Practices

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 SEO strategies for criminal defense attorney marketing you should focus on include the following:

1. Set Up a Google My Business for a Criminal Defense Law Firm

Create a GMB profile

Formerly known as Google My Business, a Google Business Profile for lawyers is very important for your SEO strategy. After all, your profile is often a potential client's first introduction to your law firm and will include specific information about your legal practice, including its name, location, and contact information. It should also list your practice areas and contain keywords relevant to your target audience.

Google Business Profile is critical for lawyers who have a local presence. Think about it; if no one can find your law firm because it doesn't have an accurate listing on Google, you're unlikely to attract new clients through online searches. In fact, Google Business Profile is one of the most important parts of local SEO.

Local SEO for lawyers can help in two ways. First, it helps to limit your competition to only 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.

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.

It's important to note that many businesses already have unclaimed profiles. If this is the case for your law firm, you can claim your law firm's listing by establishing a Google Business Profile account.

2. Register for Relevant Criminal Defense Directories

Create your profile on Justia

Many criminal defense firms overlook legal directories, but lawyer directories provide an additional layer of credibility to your law firm that Google appreciates. Besides your website and your Google Business Profile, search engines will see that other legitimate websites list your law firm in their directory and therefore attribute more authority to your firm.

You'll also create a backlink to your website, which can improve your domain authority. And the higher your domain authority is, the more likely you are to appear higher in the search results.

While there are numerous online directories, you only want to sign up with reputable directories that are relevant to your law firm. Signing up with a scam directory just to obtain another backlink will only hurt your search rankings.

A few of the directories we recommend for criminal defense firms include Avvo and Justia. They're free to sign up for, and once you do, you can begin attracting new inquiries from potential clients.

You might also consider signing up for directories or review sites that aren't directly related to law. For example, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a well-known organization that rates you according to your compliance and time as a lawyer. You can list your law firm with the BBB to add another layer of authority to your criminal defense law firm.

3. Create a High-Quality Website for Criminal Defense Attorneys

Live chat and chat bot on a website

It's essential to have a quality website that your visitors can easily navigate to learn more about you and your criminal defense practice. A well-designed website is visually appealing and explains why potential clients should choose you as their criminal defense attorney.

Creating a quality website isn't just about its appearance. Technical SEO is just as important, so your site should load quickly, provide a fast way to contact you, and list some essential facts about your law firm that can increase your authority (such as the number of cases you've handled or your years practicing criminal law).

Many websites also incorporate a chatbox, which allows visitors to obtain further information or schedule a consultation.

Here's a great example of a criminal defense law firm that incorporates a chatbot on its website:

An example of chatbot

Ideally, your website will be more than a simple landing page. You should also have a lawyer blog with lots of content related to criminal law and an FAQ section that addresses common inquiries.

You should also communicate your value proposition, explaining why clients should choose you over other criminal defense law firms. For example, take a look at this website, which establishes a persona for a criminal defense attorney:

Why choose you

When it comes to creating 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.

Another feature that can make your website stand out is client testimonials. Reviews provide social proof and credibility to your criminal defense law firm, and potential clients will incorporate them into their decision-making process. So including a few especially positive reviews on your site can strongly benefit your law firm.

4. Build Powerful Landing Pages

On that note, your website should include a landing page that outlines your criminal defense firm's expertise and skills. Here, you'll pitch to your potential clients why they need to select you as their attorney.

You'll want to incorporate certain factors like client testimonials, your firm's location, and practice areas into your landing page. Make sure to keep it simple and brief, linking to additional practice pages to give visitors more details.

Your call to action on the landing page should speak directly to the client's concerns. For example, take a look at this particular landing page for a DUI lawyer:

Build powerful landing pages

Here, the lawyer immediately identifies a client's concern — keeping their driver's license. People charged with a DUI who don't want to lose their driver's license will likely take the next step of scheduling a consultation with an attorney.

5. Set Up Practice Pages on Your Criminal Defense Website

Your website should include multiple practice pages that provide information about the specific areas of criminal law you practice. Each practice page should also encourage your visitors to take the next step: scheduling a consultation with you.

For example, if your law firm provides legal assistance with speeding tickets, theft, and drug crimes, you'll want to have each type of crime on a separate practice page. Within those practice pages, you'll create content relevant to the charges and a contact form to schedule a consultation with you. You should also include an FAQ section that addresses typical questions clients have.

You might also consider creating landing pages for each location if you practice in multiple cities or your location services several nearby towns. That way, you'll attract a broader audience to your website.

6. Pay Close Attention to Your Content

Write relevant content

Even with an optimized Google Business Profile, a flashy website, and relevant backlinks that establish you as an authority in criminal defense law, you can't ignore content marketing.

Content marketing involves creating blogs, articles, how-to guides, and videos relevant to your criminal defense practice. This content establishes your credibility and enhances your SEO.

So what types of content should you create? We recommend that you start with blogs and articles. You can choose criminal defense topics such as defenses for criminal charges, how plea bargains work, or the stages of a criminal case. Just make sure that your content directly relates to the services you provide.

Ideally, you'll want to publish at least ten blogs per month. This is enough to signal to the search engines that you have an active site that regularly publishes content. In turn, search engines will reward you with more organic traffic that can become potential clients.

If you can't find the time to write ten blogs each month, consider outsourcing the work to a legal freelance writer. A writer can help you fill in the gaps as you focus on growing your law firm.

On-Page Optimization for Criminal Defense Lawyers

On-page SEO refers to how the visible content on your site influences your rankings in search results. A few examples of on-page SEO include publishing regular content, optimizing your page titles and meta descriptions for the keywords you're targeting, and using links to encourage readers to visit other pages on your website.

A good rule of thumb is to keep your content scannable and digestible. Remember that most people will only stay on your page for a few minutes, so breaking apart your text with scannable headings and bullet lists makes it easier for visitors to find the information they need.

You'll also want to avoid lengthy text blocks that aren't reader-friendly. Instead, keep your paragraphs to about five sentences, and start a new section if you need more space. You can also retain reader attention by breaking up your text with images that are relevant to your content.

Create Substantive Criminal Defense FAQs

Criminal defense law firms can see a significant uptick in traffic by incorporating FAQs into their landing pages and articles. These sections typically appear at the bottom of the page, but they have a specific schema that attracts search engines.

Here, you can incorporate common questions to help your readers. For example, consider a landing page for a criminal defense lawyer who provides assistance to people charged with a DUI. Questions the attorney might incorporate into their FAQ section include:

  • Will I go to jail for a DUI?
  • How long will a DUI stay on my driving record?
  • How do I defend against a DUI?
  • Is a DUI a felony or a misdemeanor?

Do Thorough Keyword Research

Keyword research helps you identify the terms your target audience is looking for and the phrases that search engines want to see on your pages. 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.

Several tools can help you with keyword research. Semrush is one of the most well-known keyword planning tools, but it is costly. However, with Semrush, you also find out what keywords your competitors are ranking for. This information allows you to identify gaps where your competition hasn't yet created content.

Another popular tool is Ahrefs Keywords Explorer. With Ahrefs, you get lots of information about your keywords, including search volume and the cost-per-click for the keyword. However, it also identifies the difficulty of ranking for the keyword, which is helpful for new firms that are just gaining a footing in the market.

7. Build Backlinks With Other Websites

An example of backlinks

Another factor that impacts your criminal defense law firm's appearance in organic search results is backlinks. 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.

As a form of off-page SEO, all search engines consider backlinks from other web resources when determining the trustworthiness of your website. The more backlinks you can obtain, the better.

You can start the process by establishing a Google Business Profile and including your law firm in legal directories. Another way to build links is through guest posting: creating content for other high-ranking websites in exchange for a link to your firm's website. While guest posting does require some time, it can be helpful to your criminal defense attorney SEO strategy.

It's also possible to obtain backlinks by donating to charitable organizations in your area. Often, charities will include a backlink to the donor's website, giving you a slight boost in your search engine rankings.

Extra Tip: Improve Your Criminal Defense SEO With Google EAT

Google uses its Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) criteria to evaluate websites' credibility. You can read more about the E-A-T in Google's Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. 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 an expert 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, leading to a higher traffic volume.

Can I Do SEO for Criminal Defense Attorneys Myself?

Yes, it is definitely possible. 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 write guest blogs, reach out to local media outlets or businesses, join organizations or associations, or donate 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. Simply leaving a positive rating and commenting on your Google Business Profile, your past clients can help your web pages achieve first-page rankings.

Remember that SEO isn't a one-time endeavor. It's an ongoing effort that will require significant time to manage. Also, keep in mind that your caseload will likely increase as your firm begins to see the initial results from your SEO efforts. As a result, you may find that you no longer have the time for content creation, link building, and other SEO strategies.

So rather than spending time creating and fostering a digital marketing strategy, most criminal lawyers outsource the task to qualified SEO agencies and well-trained SEO specialists who can maintain their web presence as they concentrate on their clients. Often, outsourcing brings in better results than trying to handle everything yourself.

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.

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