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SEO for Family Law Attorneys

updated
July 25, 2022
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How do potential clients find your family law firm? You definitely get new clients from word-of-mouth recommendations. People needing family law services will also check out online reviews to find the lawyer they need.

So it's important to always nurture those sources. With that being said, most of your prospects are likely to find your law firm through their preferred search engines. This likelihood is why it's so important to focus on search engine optimization as a way to acquire new clients.

Your family law firm needs a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to maximize your reach and ensure you appear in those page-one search results. If you can do that, you will gain more clients through search but also create a ripple effect.

As you create relevant content that improves your law firm search rankings, you will also build authority, earn backlinks, and improve your ability to attract new clients through multiple channels. Below, we'll go over the steps it takes to create a family law SEO strategy that makes that happen.

How Do People Find a Family Law Attorney?

How Do People Find a Family Law Attorney

As with most other services, people turn to the internet when they want to find family law attorneys. There's a reason for this. Someone who needs a family law attorney may have painful and personal reasons for seeking a lawyer. They may not wish to ask friends or family.

Additionally, family law practice is complex. Cases can take long periods of time to resolve, whereas other areas of law can be more expedient. This disparity can drive your potential clients to very carefully research their options, look into online reviews, and read plenty of content related to family and divorce law.

All of this means that family law attorneys face some unique challenges when it comes to marketing their services online. At the same time, law firm SEO best practices still apply.

You really want your family law firm to rank on page one of the search engine results. Also, since people search locally for attorneys, you want to optimize for local SEO results. To attain this goal, you want to take a multi-faceted approach that includes:

  • Optimizing your family law website for Google search
  • Engaging in online marketing that reaches your target audience

To accomplish these search engine optimization goals, you need to develop an effective strategy built around achieving long-term results. Remember that your competitors are most likely investing in their own efforts to improve their organic search rankings and draw clients away from your website.

How SEO for Family Lawyers Works

The SEO campaign is an important part of a divorce and family lawyer's overall marketing strategy. It is important for its own purpose but also helps achieve other marketing goals. 

An effective search engine optimization strategy will bring more traffic from people who are looking for family or divorce lawyers. Your search engine optimization campaign should:

  • Consider your website, legal directories, and your profile on Google My Business
  • Contain specific goals
  • Emphasize a strong content strategy based on keyword research
  • Be subject to regular analysis and adjustment based on progress towards your firm's goals

What Is SEO?

What Is SEO

SEO is the collection of actions you take to ensure that your family law firm earns high rankings in search engine results. There are three aspects to SEO for family lawyers that are the same for businesses in any other industry.

The first involves taking steps to ensure that Google is able to properly index your website on a regular basis.

Second, you want to create and publish relevant content that meets the search intentions of your potential clients. This includes ranking for major search keywords like "divorce attorneys" and answering the questions that people ask while searching for a family lawyer.

Finally, you must build authority and thought leadership through the creation of high-quality content that earns backlinks from reputable sites and provides users with the answer to the questions they have. When you earn links from other sites thanks to a powerful link-building strategy, they will have an exceptionally positive impact on your search results.

Also, keep in mind that family law falls under Google's "Your Money or Your Life" content category. This classification means your content is subject to even more verification processes. Your standards of accuracy and quality must be extremely high and aim to meet the needs of potential clients in your state.

Let's take a look at the three key components that are involved in creating and executing a solid SEO strategy.

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3 Main Components of a Divorce Lawyer SEO Strategy

Your family law SEO strategy will be divided into three parts. These are:

  • Technical SEO
  • Local SEO
  • Content 

If you successfully get all three of these components working together, your law firm will experience more traffic from engaged people who are actively searching for a divorce lawyer.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is a set of actions you take that enable Google to crawl and index your website. Then, it uses the information it finds to better understand what your website is sharing.

Here are some of the more common problems that occur with technical SEO:

  • Failure to optimize for mobile
  • Missing alt tags for images
  • Title tags that exceed 60 characters that can cause Google to index pages incorrectly
  • Duplicate content issues — the same content is published on more than one page
  • A lack of meta descriptions summarizing your content for easy access

It's good to start your efforts with SEO. This approach will create a solid foundation for the rest of the optimization that you do. Most family lawyers will outsource this work to an SEO pro who will conduct a website audit to find and repair any issues. These problems can cause your site to experience lower ranking, fewer conversions, and overall performance issues.

The benefit of using an SEO expert is that they know SEO best practices, and their suggestions will align with those. Some technical issues can emerge over a period of time, while others may exist from the time you first launch your website.

While it may take time for some of the benefits of technical SEO to become clear, you will see an overall improvement in your site's search rankings.

Nonindexed Pages

In technical SEO, you want to control what Google can access. For example, if you use WordPress, that system tends to generate archive pages. Those really aren't useful in terms of content or search.

Those category, date, author, and tag archives aren't valuable to users and don't carry any sort of authority signals. However, they are still necessary in order for certain WordPress functions to work properly. So they can't be eliminated.

These pages should be marked with a no-index tag. They exist, but if the tag is used, Google knows not to crawl or index those pages.

Representing The Best Version of Your Website

You also want to ensure that Google only receives one version of your site to crawl and that it is the correct version. The problem that often occurs is that there may be a WWW domain name and a naked domain version of your site.

This duplication can cause issues, including link equity concerns. These problems can cause your site to lose the "link juice" — or SEO authority — that it earns from other sites. Fortunately, these redirect issues can be fixed with better website configuration.

In some cases, if your site uses SSL, there may also be a non-HTTPS copy of your site that is available. This duplication means that someone could connect with your non-secured website over public WiFi. Then, any information they share would not be encrypted and could be seen by others.

This misconfiguration is an SEO problem and a potential legal nightmare. A professional should be able to find serious concerns like this and bring them to your attention so they can be fixed right away.

Local SEO

local SEO

When someone in need of legal help searches for a local keyword such as "family law attorneys in Des Moines," Google has three ranking factors that it considers when it determines which divorce and family law websites rank at or near the top of the page. Those are:

  • Relevance
  • Distance
  • Prominence

Because of this, you want your website to contain as many location signals as possible. These signals should also be contained in law firm directories and your Google My Business (GMB) profile. Location signals let Google know where you do business and will cause the search engine to prioritize your law firm when people in your area search for family law lawyers.

Here are a few proven tactics for boosting your local SEO:

  • Write out detailed service descriptions for your Google My Business profile
  • Maintain an updated website URL and hours of operation
  • Regularly add new images and content to your GMB profile
  • Provide a full list of your areas of expertise on directories and GMB
  • Solicit reviews from satisfied clients

As you can see, there are various steps you can take.

Citations and Directories

If you list your law firm in respected legal directories like Avvo and Justia, you create a relevant backlink to your website. Additionally, these listings provide one more place for your firm name and information to appear in Google search results.

With that being said, be very selective about the directories you choose. Many are nothing more than spam listings that could degrade your site's authority and reputation.

Review Sites

Social proof is really important — it helps get a positive word out about your family and divorce law practice. You will find that you can build reviews by asking previous clients if they would be willing to write a review about your services. These reviews build up your credibility — especially if the reviews are largely positive and spread over a period of time.

Google My Business

It's easy to claim your GMB profile. Just do the following:

  • Got to Google My Business to claim your profile
  • Select your primary business category — "Divorce Attorney" or "Family Lawyer"
  • Complete the information for location and services
  • Add contact information
  • Wait for a postcard to verify your location

When you claim your GMB profile, you can confirm your business name, location, hours of operation, and website.

Off-Page SEO

A citation is any mention of your law firm's name, location, and contact information outside of your own website. Citations appear in articles on divorce law, review sites, and directories.

Google views citations similarly to backlinks. They use them to help evaluate your credibility. If you can build a diverse set of accurate citations on Yelp, Yahoo, or other sites, this will definitely benefit your SEO objectives. It's also good for marketing overall.

Both backlinks and citations are helpful. Unfortunately, it takes a significant amount of time and effort to build them. It also involves tasks outside of a lawyer's areas of expertise. You will have to decide whether you want to take this on yourself or have a professional handle this for you.

You have the same option with your law firm social media presence. It is definitely worth the effort to create a social media presence for your family law firm. However, this will only work if you regularly post new content — one more thing that takes time you may not have.

Many divorce attorneys use social media managers. It's easy to see why. They also delegate many SEO and related tasks, including website maintenance, link building, pay-per-click (PPC) ads management, updating social media accounts, and other online marketing efforts to experienced third-party firms

What Content Can Family and Divorce Lawyers Produce?

The content that you publish on your family law website impacts marketing and SEO. It grabs the attention of search engines and allows you to differentiate yourself from other family lawyers. The content you publish to your website can be categorized in one of three ways.

Emotional Content

One way to stand out is to create content that is empathetic and in line with the needs of your audience. It's fairly clear that people who are seeking out the help of a family or divorce attorney are going through something stressful.

Make sure that you share information in a way that is reassuring. Showcase the fact that you are experienced and capable. Emphasize your specific areas of expertise, such as custody or child support. Share stories of cases where you received positive outcomes for your clients.

Answer the question, "What makes my law firm different?" You want to leave potential clients with a feeling of reassurance that you are there to advocate for them and have the skills to do so. Then show that you deliver your services in a way that truly sets you apart from the crowd.

This illustration can be a daunting task, and you might consider looking into professional help to develop a content plan for your family law practice. An SEO agency can look at your existing content, help fix any issues found, and work to create new content ideas that highlight your strengths.

As you consider what content can do for your firm, think beyond writing. Images, videos on law, photos, and infographics are all powerful content formats. You should be investing in all of these to really gain online traction.

Educational Practice Area Content

Educational Practice Area Content

Educational practice area content is the content that closely focuses on your practice and the keywords that you wish to rank for. Start by thinking about phrases that people might enter into Google if they are looking for family law help.

These might include "child custody lawyer," "divorce attorney," "child support," "alimony," or "visitation rights." Content addressing these topics should be featured prominently on your website. Your posts on these subjects should emphasize your expertise as well as your team's.

Google does consider word count when it evaluates content. You want your law firm website content and posts to have the ideal length. The best approach is to adequately answer the question or problem being addressed. 

Then, show your specific expertise by writing about case studies, publishing snippets from positive reviews, and providing information about the services you provide. Basically, you want to be a source of information and thought leadership. You also want to promote yourself as the divorce lawyer who is the best choice.

Supporting Content

You can improve your SEO significantly if your site is able to rank for different subjects and keywords. This approach is challenging for family lawyers because your area of practice is small — so the competition over main keywords and topic areas can be intense.

What you can do is expand your content a bit. Write attorney blogs, create case studies, and produce whitepapers. These will help you rank for longtail keywords in addition to the main keywords that have so much competition. Then, you can link from the supporting content back to your main posts.

Also, engagement metrics such as time-on-page have an impact on search rankings. Give visitors plenty of content to consume, so they spend more time on your site.

Remember to make that content easy to digest with plenty of images, white space, bulleted lists, and subheadings. All of these steps will lead to better engagement with your content, boost your rankings, and establish your site as one that Google should regard as high-authority.

Family Law Keyword Research

Family Law Keyword Research

At one point, you could simply throw keywords onto a web page, and you would rank for them on Google. Now, search engine algorithms are much more sophisticated.

Google has made several changes over the years to return better, more relevant search results to its users. Keep in mind that Google's function is to provide users with search results they need, not promote a particular business.

Keywords still matter. You need to use them in your content to get the page one ranking you want. However, Google now considers relevancy, quality, and search intent. To get the best results today, you need to:

  • Conduct keyword research
  • Place keywords in your content in a way that's relevant
  • Balance main keywords with longer, more specific keywords
  • Avoid overusing keywords or inserting irrelevant keywords

It's important to understand that the work around keywords is ongoing. You must continually research keywords and trending topics. Because topics of interest in family law are always changing, so are search engine algorithms. 

Establishing Credibility Through Link Building

Link building is the most challenging aspect of SEO for family law attorneys. In many cases, it's also the most important.

Google's PageRank system considers the links from external sites to your web pages when it determines how high you should rank in search results. However, it isn't just the number of links that matter. Quality is important. Google won't reward your site with a better ranking if spammy, untrustworthy sites link to it.

The best approach is passive link building. This approach simply involves creating content that is relevant and valuable enough that other content writers cite your pages as sources. It is demanding and time-consuming.

Another option is guest posting. In this model, you write expert articles on family law for other websites. In return, you can often link back to your own family law website. 

Finally, broken link building involves finding links to family law websites that are no longer in operation. Then, you offer to recreate that content in exchange for links to your site.

Are SEO & PPC a Good Idea for Family Law Attorneys?

Paid advertising works. If you invest in pay-per-click ads, people will come to your family law website. However, there are both pros and cons to relying on PPC campaigns.

The first downside is that they can be pricey. On the other hand, search engines like Google give a prominent ranking to paid search ads. Your PPC links will be visible to people who are trying to find a divorce or family law attorney. There are also people who will deliberately skip ads in order to click on the organic results they trust more.

Ultimately, paid ads tend to work faster. However, organic results tend to perform better over time. Because of this, neither option should be dismissed. Instead, both SEO and PPC can be used as part of your online law firm marketing strategy.

SEO services for lawyers such as site optimization, keyword research, and content creation will improve site ranking and increase traffic. Law firm PPC management can be used to generate revenue while also helping your firm build a bigger online presence.

Getting Your Family Law Firm Started with SEO

At this point, the idea of developing an SEO strategy for your family law firm may seem overwhelming. It definitely is a complicated process, and the rules change often.

Despite that, it is well worth the time and effort it takes. When people need advice from a family law attorney, they are going to rely on search engines like Google. If your site isn't present in those search results, your business is going to struggle.

Fortunately, there is help available. A digital marketing agency for law firms can help you with a current state analysis that includes a close look at your website, keywords, content, search engine rankings, and traffic sources.

Then, based on that information, it can help you create and execute the right SEO strategy. If you're interested in outsourcing SEO so that you can focus on providing top legal services, we can help. Just contact us for a free consultation.

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Top techniques for busy lawyers to bring in more clients in 2022
  • 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
August, 31st
11 am CT60 minutes
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    Sasha Berson is a legal marketing expert

    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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