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February, 2nd
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Digital Marketing for Criminal Defense Attorneys (Comprehensive Guide)

November 22, 2022
20 min

How can you grow your criminal defense firm

This guide delves deeper into criminal defense attorney marketing and provides simple, actionable steps to:

  • Craft criminal defense marketing initiatives that reach the right audience
  • Focus on digital marketing best practices
  • Make authentic connections with potential criminal defense clients
  • Generate more solid leads and increase your conversion rate

As an award-winning law firm digital marketing agency specializing in marketing for criminal defense attorneys, we offer you expert SEO services for lawyers and the benefit of our experience working with criminal law firms.

How to Get DUI and Criminal Defense Clients

A steady flow of clients is essential for your criminal defense firm to thrive. But more than this, you need the right kind of clients — in other words, clients whom you can competently serve and who can afford your services. Successfully building a strong client base is a multistep process.

How to Get DUI and Criminal Defense Clients?

  • Determine your ideal client
  • Build a strong criminal defense law firm brand with a clear value proposition
  • Build a responsive, well-designed attorney website for a great user experience
  • Leverage the instant power of attorney PPC advertising
  • Boost your performance with a well-thought-out SEO strategy
  • Establish your presence on social media
  • Last but not least: Encourage reviews

Investing time in each of these steps will effectively lead to more clients for your criminal defense firm. Although some firms can devote time and resources to these tasks, many of them choose to rely on a digital marketing agency to handle the core criminal defense lawyer advertising tasks.

Determine Your Ideal Client

Your buyer persona

For a criminal defense or DUI lawyer, your buyer persona is someone who has been arrested for driving while intoxicated or a friend or family member of that person. Your persona should consider age, income and education, marital status, and employment status.

Once you’ve identified your buyer persona and target audience, you can tailor your criminal law ads to respond to that buyer’s needs.

Keep in mind that the characteristics of your buyer persona may be prone to change over time or at certain times of the year due to the arrival of the holiday seasons, important events and occurrences, and societal trends.

As such, it is important to continually reevaluate the characteristics of your desired client base and adjust your criminal defense attorney marketing strategy accordingly.

Build a Strong Criminal Defense Law Firm Brand With a Clear Value Proposition

Marketing for criminal defense firms and attorneys is unique; special care should be taken to understand its idiosyncrasies and how to use them to your advantage. If you don't, your marketing efforts may fail to capture the nuances that are important to successful criminal defense attorney marketing.

How does marketing for criminal defense attorneys differ from marketing for other types of law firms? It is even more vital for criminal defense lawyers to establish trust by matching their personality with client expectations and conveying to clients that they have their best interests in mind.

Criminal defense lawyers must take the following into account:

  • A short decision cycle, which creates a sense of urgency
  • Clients who can afford to pay upfront, in contrast to personal injury lawyers
  • A need to project a personality that matches clients' expectations
  • A larger number of keywords to target

Some keywords searched for by criminal defense clients are common, such as "DUI" and "defense attorney." But potential clients face a wide variety of charges. They tend to research their specific charges on the internet, which means more keywords to work with.

Build a Responsive, Well-Designed Attorney Website for a Great User Experience

Did you know that nearly 50% of website visitors will leave if a page doesn’t load in three seconds or less? Your clients can’t hire you if they can’t navigate your site to find information on how to contact you.

A responsive, functional law firm website design that's intuitive and scalable to handle unexpected bumps in traffic will keep site visitors from going to the next DUI law firm.

Your website should be visually appealing and easy to navigate. It should also:

  • Be optimized for mobile use — many of your clients may be using their phones to find a lawyer
Brooks and Radchenko design
  • List your services — be specific
Show our practice areas
  • Contain testimonials, trust badges, and other detailed reasons why clients should have you represent them in court
Show the client information that may incline him to choose you
  • Provide clear ways to contact your firm, including a live chat option, contact form, and phone number
Provide ways to contact you
  • Reiterate your value proposition and contribute to your brand persona
Negin Yamini's brand name
  • Describe defendants' experiences and the nature of your legal services, from arrest through court, to give clients an idea of what to expect
Defendant's refferalls
  • Newsletter signup form
E-newsletter subscription

Once you start getting into the nuts and bolts of building your website, you will want to employ all of the best practices used in criminal law firm website design. Research and trial and error have demonstrated that these practices offer the most successful marketing results for criminal defense law firms and lawyers:

  • Use testimonials, awards, and the like to inspire trust with site browsers. Video testimonials can be quite effective.
Show your clients' testimonials
  • Integrate videos and images to support the legal literature on your website. Doing so can help keep browsers on your site longer and make them more engaged.
Integrate media on your website
  • Build a diverse and effective layout of website elements and design that facilitates easy navigation of your site and web pages.
Build a diverse and effective layout of website elements
  • Use your brand's color scheme throughout the website, along with your logo and other identifying trademarks of your firm. Doing so will help ensure you have a consistent presentation throughout your site.
Your website brand's color
  • Keep your site easy to navigate with straightforward menus, as well as footers, headers, and dropdowns.
Straightforward menu
  • Don't forget to include photographs of your attorneys as well as other members of your legal team, including paralegals and secretaries. Prospective clients love to put faces to names early on when deciding who to hire.
Your law firm team
  • Lastly, never forget to add calls to action throughout your website. Criminal defense clients often respond well to calls to action, and many will not act without one.
Include call-to-actions throughout your site

It takes skill, training, and experience to accomplish these tasks successfully. Instead of building a website from scratch, look to an experienced digital marketing agency that works with law firms. Find one with a demonstrated track record of successful criminal law and legal website design, and let them help you maximize your website.

Relatability is key: Include headshots and bios for each attorney in your law firm. Highlight their education, training, and professional achievements, mentioning any relevant skills. These bios will help potential clients feel connected to your attorneys and make your law firm look more trustworthy.

Leverage the Instant Power of PPC Advertising for Criminal Defense Lawyers

These ads appear at the top of a search return page — even above those sites that organically rank at the top — granting you more visibility. Each time a user clicks through the link to your site, you’ll pay a small amount. If they don't click, you don’t pay.

Running a successful criminal defense PPC advertising campaign for law firms requires choosing and using the most effective keywords that will successfully bring prospective clients to your website. With enough time, you can set up and launch a viable PPC campaign on your own. But it's not always easy to find enough time in a busy law firm schedule. Like many lawyers, you might benefit from hiring an experienced digital marketing agency for law firms to handle your campaign.

If you do decide to carry out your own PPC campaign, there are a variety of tools — many of them free — that will help you research the keywords you will need. Ahrefs, Semrush, and Google Ads are good places to begin.

These platforms will help you identify and choose the most relevant keywords for your site. Since they are user-friendly and straightforward, it's not a bad idea to take an hour or two to check them out. To get started, head over to Google and enter the words "criminal defense attorney" into the search box. Observe the results that appear on the search engine results page (SERP). From what you see here, you can begin building your keyword list. Type these keywords into both Google and Ahrefs and see what comes up.

Type a keyword into Google
Type a keyword into Ahrefs

When you're ready, getting started with Google Ads is quite simple. First, choose your desired objective, which may include sales, leads, website traffic, app promotion, and brand awareness and reach, among others. The site then walks you through a simple, intuitive process that helps you accomplish your keyword and PPC objectives.

Choose your PPC campaign objective

As you explore these platforms, take advantage of this extremely useful life hack: Create a keyword list that is populated by both short- and long-tail keywords. These long-tail keywords will come in handy when you are competing in more niche or specialized areas of criminal law.

Create your own keyword list

To gauge the effectiveness of your PPC efforts, you will need to monitor key performance indicators, or KPIs, throughout the entire campaign. The primary selling point of Google Ads is that you can monitor every important KPI through Google Analytics. In contrast, KPI monitoring is more limited on platforms like Ahrefs and Semrush.

Monitor KPIs throughout the entire campaign

The KPIs you should be monitoring on your landing pages include bounce rate, time spent, and average session duration, all of which can be tracked using Google Analytics.

The indicators you should measure

Relevant Landing Pages

Once your users click on the ad, they need to land somewhere. Having a dedicated landing page for the specific service they're searching for is better than just dumping them onto your firm’s home page.

Boost Your Performance With a Well-Thought-Out SEO Strategy

SEO for lawyers means optimizing your attorney website content or blog for the web bots that search engines use to match websites with a user query, such as “DUI lawyer near me.” 

You can take clear, effective steps to carry out search engine optimization for your website, many of which are detailed below.

Create Relevant and Engaging Content With the Right Keywords

The right keywords are crucial for your website's success. However, keywords alone will not get you the results you are looking for. You need fresh, dynamic content that speaks directly to the needs of your potential clients and ranks highly with search engine bots. In other words, you need content that answers your potential clients' questions.

Most visitors to legal websites are looking for answers to legal questions (such as information on DUI punishments in California) or are searching for an attorney to hire.

Creating a different page for each practice area allows potential clients to easily arrive at the service page they need. Breaking your website down into practice areas also means your content will be treated more favorably by search engine bots.

But how do you decide what content to use? Start with your keywords. As with your PPC search, you can use tools such as Ahrefs and Semrush to explore various criminal defense keywords.

Start with keywords research

During this step, peruse some of the content found on competitors' websites, such as blogs, articles, landing pages, and podcasts. You will likely find many of the same topics covered by different defense attorneys, which indicates that these particular topics are popular. Creating similar content will make your website more relevant to searchers.

When reading through content from other criminal defense firms, pay close attention to the keywords they use and add the relevant ones to your list. Ahrefs is particularly helpful for this task. You can paste an entire article into Ahrefs' Site Explorer box to get a list of the content's keywords.

When you start creating keyword-rich content for your pages, make a clear plan of attack. Each page presents an opportunity to maximize keyword efficiency. By giving each practice area a dedicated web page, you increase your odds of being seen because the names of each page contain principal keywords.

Practice area pages are also a great opportunity to provide visitors to your site with legal content that is directly relevant to common searches. Keep in mind that general legal content found on criminal defense blogs, such as news commentary and the like, are typically not useful SEO examples. As such, it is important to include content that browsers will find useful, such as FAQs and tips.

These steps will help you better understand how to create criminal defense practice area power pages:

  • Give each of your practice areas its own web page
Practice areas pages
  • Make sure pages are well-designed and user friendly
  • Keep paragraphs short and use bullet points when possible
  • Stay away from legalese and industry jargon
  • Include various forms of media, such as video, photos, and sound clips
  • Don't skimp on important details, but avoid fluff
  • Know and answer the questions that are important to your target audience
  • Place your firm's name and the page's headline above the fold of the web page
  • Lead with a moving hook at the start of each page
  • Have a table of contents with anchor links
  • Make use of subheadings to highlight relevant information
  • Place keywords in headers throughout the content
  • Demonstrate your ability and willingness to help
  • Use an optimized image for each section
  • Place internal links throughout the content
  • Cite relevant laws and include local facts and information
  • Include tables and diagrams when possible
  • Provide links to authoritative sites
  • Make use of a FAQ section
  • Optimize content for your specific geographic area

Invest Time in Citations and Link Building

In Google's book, hyperlinks from reputable sites that lead visitors to your site are considered recommendations. Establishing these links requires you to write content about your area of practice — typically, a short article — and have it posted on a respected website. These guest posts, as they are called, help build confidence in your brand and establish your competence as a defense attorney for potential clients who browse these reputable sites.

There are many legal sites that allow guest posts by attorneys, but it is important to focus your energies and resources on sites that will contribute the most to your website development efforts.

Resources for lawyers

Site traffic volume is an important parameter to consider when choosing a site. In any case, you should seek to guest post on sites that have a decent level of regular traffic. Otherwise, you could be losing valuable time creating and posting content that never gets seen.

A few of the more popular high-traffic options to consider include US Legal and Law360. Both sites offer visitors legal information and answers to a wide variety of questions and inquiries. Law360 is a great resource for criminal defense attorneys who work with white-collar and corporate clients. US Legal caters to many areas of criminal law, particularly DUI and drug law cases.

Another great way to find good guest-posting platforms is through Ahrefs. When you plug your keywords into Ahrefs, the tool will return a list of pages that use your keywords. Many of these pages allow guest posting.

Local Directories

Legal directories for criminal defense attorneys advertising strategies work well for law firms that put effort into creating and maintaining their listings. With most legal directories, advertising works because these sites receive a voluminous amount of traffic, both organically and directly. These directories then send the traffic to the law firms and lawyers listed on their websites.

If your law firm is listed in most or all of the major legal directories, potential clients can get to your website quickly and easily with just a click. It is an efficient and inexpensive method of developing another stream of traffic to your website. You can also boost your appeal to potential clients by customizing your listings on these directories' websites.

The following list contains the best general and criminal defense legal directories available today:

  • FindLaw
  • Avvo
  • The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers
  • Justia
  • NOLO
  • Martindale

Some legal directories cater specifically to criminal defense attorneys. These include, along with the directory maintained by the NACDL. Listings on these sites put clients in direct contact with the specific professionals they need for their cases. It is recommended that anyone practicing criminal defense law explore these directories and join them.

Depending on the directory (it is recommended you use as many as possible), you may have a choice between free and paid services. In some cases, you may find it worthwhile to pay for a premium listing. However, many of the free options are also quite effective.

Do Not Neglect Technical SEO

Suboptimal technical aspects of your site can damage your efforts because poor user experience means low rankings on search returns. Incorrect page index, slow page speed, and clunky website architecture are typical issues with any underperforming law firm website. Google algorithms, which determine which pages are relevant enough to be at the top of search returns, emphasize strongly performing sites.

Stay Mindful of On-Site Optimization

On-site optimization is important for getting your pages ranked highly during searches. Each page includes multiple elements that can be tweaked for optimization:

  • Title of Page: This appears in bold when your site or page is ranked. It should contain your main keyword and a call to action.
  • Meta Description: This description shows up with the title when search results are posted. It offers a great opportunity to hook readers into your content.
  • H1 Title: This heading is different from your page title and should also contain your primary keyword. H1 titles are not revealed when search results are posted but are seen once a reader clicks the search result link.
  • H2/3/4 Titles: These titles are used to divide web page content into areas of interest to your potential clients. They should contain keywords that are used effectively while avoiding the appearance of being spam-like.
  • Alt Tags: These are required bits of information that describe the visual information on your site to visually impaired visitors.
  • Calls to Action: Calls to action prompt potential clients to take action. They are necessary for every business, including the legal business. Some of your future clients need an effective call to action to seal the deal.
  • Maximize Your Site for Speed: Faster is always better when it comes to the internet. As such, you don't want your site dragging for visitors. Google PageSpeed Insights can help you determine your page's speed.
  • Use HTTPS: HTTPS is a secure extension of HTTP, which is the standard protocol used for retrieving HTTP web documents. It provides an important level of security for your web page and does well with search Google rankings.
  • Effective Internal Links: Anticipate the needs of your clients and use hyperlinks to direct them to parts of your website that guide them toward the answers and services they need.

Improve Your Local Presence

Injury lawyers in Chicago

Criminal defense clients are looking for local representation. Your legal firm’s site should rank high for local SEO for law firms, which can be a different approach than general SEO. There’s a lot more detail to go into with local SEO, but for now, let's concentrate on a few visible, easy-to-launch initiatives that can produce more leads immediately.

Google Business Profile (Previously Known as Google My Business)

Google Business Profile is a free service from Google that is arguably the second-most important part of your web presence (after your own site). These snippets appear alongside the search results and offer details about your firm, including contact information, star rating, practice areas, and hours of operation. There are a few more fields, and Google will rank law firm GBP entries that are completely filled out higher than those that aren’t.

Location Pages

Location pages have the power to put your firm in contact with a steady stream of potential clients from your targeted area. Clients generally prefer local attorneys and typically respond more favorably to attorneys that cater to their geographical region. Even for law firms with a wider reach, potential clients will still gravitate to web pages that mention their city, town, or region.

For example, a criminal defense or DUI lawyer working in Dallas may desire to expand their business to serve clients in cities and towns in the surrounding area. Hence, they would likely benefit from having separate practice area web pages, or satellite location pages, for these cities and towns instead of a one-size-fits-all Dallas advertisement for each of their services.

Establish Your Presence on Social Media

Establish your lawyer profile on Twitter

Although potential clients don't usually look for a defense attorney on Facebook or Instagram, social media criminal defense advertising for attorneys can effectively lead to more clients with a relatively small amount of consistent effort. If you establish a presence on social media platforms as an experienced and competent criminal defense attorney, people will remember your name and brand when they need legal help.

Relatability is one of the most important aspects of your image on social media. Potential clients want to choose attorneys who are not only experienced but who also inspire confidence. However, developing and presenting a social media image can be challenging and may be best left to an experienced digital marketing firm for lawyers.

If you do want to take on this challenge alone, you can find success by following a few guidelines. First, create an optimized profile on LinkedIn, which is the premier platform used by professionals for networking. What goes into an optimized LinkedIn profile?

  • A photograph taken by a professional
  • A headline using relevant keywords
  • An about section explaining your services
  • An education and experience section highlighting your competence
  • A skills and endorsements section

Once your profile is set up, you can start growing your network by connecting with other professionals. Eventually, you can amass a large network of contacts who are familiar with and respect your work.

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are less professional than LinkedIn, but your potential clients spend their time on these platforms. You can interact with them without directly advertising to them.

One way of accomplishing this is by posting content dealing with a relevant criminal law issue that affects potential clients. You can also respond to posts with useful information regarding criminal justice and defense issues.

Joining groups on these platforms is also a great way to increase your exposure. Once again, you do not have to engage in overt advertising and sales strategies to eventually pull clients from social media platforms. Your presence and interactions in these online communities can be enough to establish you as a go-to person for criminal defense services.

Last but Not Least: Encourage Reviews

Reviews about lawyers from real clients

Google reviews help boost your criminal defense attorney SEO, while positive reviews on other sites can help drive business your way. Don’t be afraid to ask satisfied clients to leave a review for your services once your business with them is concluded. Or, you may reach out for client testimonials on your own and publish them on your website and your GMB entry.

Measuring and Analyzing Results

No marketing strategy or campaign is complete without a way of gauging its performance. If you can't accurately judge the effectiveness of your campaign, you will have no way of knowing what is working and what is not, which is essential for your campaign's success as well as the efficient use of your resources.

Google Analytics gives you the power to scrutinize a number of different outcomes of your website development efforts, such as:

  • Clicks and views from visitors
  • Duration of site visits
  • Visitor numbers
  • Cost-per-click
  • Domains that referred traffic
  • Sales leads
  • Number of new clients

The information found in these points of evaluation is readily applicable to your website development efforts and allows you to make well-informed decisions about what and where to tweak for optimization purposes.

It's important not to wait until the end of a campaign to gather results. Instead, you should monitor your data during the execution of a plan and adjust accordingly.

The Power of Digital Marketing for Your Firm

Digital marketing for your criminal defense law firm will help you establish a steady stream of clients who need the exact services you have to offer. However, you may be quite busy with important case work and not have the time you need to completely manage every aspect of a digital marketing campaign. That is where Grow Law Firm comes in.

We are an award-winning digital marketing agency that helps law firms achieve their visions of growth through aggressive and effective online marketing strategies and campaigns. Many of our clients rely on us to manage every aspect of their digital campaigns, but we also lend a helping hand to criminal defense attorneys and law firms that choose to handle some of the marketing tasks themselves. No matter your digital marketing strategy, contact us today to learn how we can help your criminal defense law firm grow and thrive.

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Top techniques for busy lawyers to bring in more clients in 2023
  • Easy steps you can take to bring in more clients and up this year’s revenue
  • The top website and marketing mistakes holding your law firm back
February, 2nd
1.30 pm CST60 minutes
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    Sasha serves as Managing Partner for Grow Law Firm, a Chicago-based digital marketing agency focused solely on specialized growth strategies for attorneys and their practices.

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