What Is Lawyer SEO?
Lawyer search engine optimization (SEO) encompasses a variety of digital marketing techniques that help increase the visibility of your site on search engines when potential clients conduct relevant keyword searches. By implementing a successful SEO strategy, you will attract more traffic to your law firm's website. This traffic will also be more relevant to your particular services.
There are many ways to do SEO for lawyers, like keyword research, link-building, content optimization, technical SEO, and Google My Business (now known as Google Business Profile) page creation and management. Search engine optimization is so effective that a study showed that 79% of law firms view SEO as their most important marketing channel.
Why Is Attorney SEO Important?
Attorney SEO is important because it helps your web pages display at or near the top of Google’s organic search results, leading to an increase in traffic and leads. This is crucial because sites that don’t earn those high rankings in search receive significantly fewer clicks.
The first organic search result in Google, for example, has an average click-through rate of 28.5%. This drops to 15% and 11% for the second and third results and falls off exponentially thereafter.
As you can see, the importance of your site ranking in the top three results cannot be understated. After all, outside of referrals, search engine results and law firm website visits are the two most popular methods for finding an attorney.
Lawyer SEO Ranking Factors
Google and other search engines consider several different factors when ranking law firm websites. These are:
Content Quality, Relevance, Originality, and Formatting
Google’s first priority is its users. It’s no longer enough to keyword stuff your law firm's website content; you must provide relevant, trustworthy content if you hope to rank highly in search. If your content is readable and engaging, that’s even better. Because of this, any SEO efforts that don’t include content quality are likely to fall short.
Use of Internal and External Links
Internal links give users a path to navigate your law firm site, but they also help search engines index your web pages correctly.
External links communicate information about the quality of your website and the usefulness of its content. Generally, high-authority websites tend to link to other high-authority sites. You can also use external links to increase credibility with site visitors.
Technical SEO encompasses optimization efforts that are not specifically related to your web page content but still have an impact on your rankings in results. Page performance is one of the most important aspects of technical SEO; slow-loading pages create a poor user experience and can lead to a lower ranking.
UX and UI as Measured by RankBrain
RankBrain is artificial intelligence technology that Google implemented to help determine which pages should rank for which searches. This tool prioritizes search results based on its understanding of the context and relevance of web pages.
Prior to RankBrain, search results were almost entirely driven by the presence of keywords, making low-effort content viable for business owners to produce and generate traffic. But now (ideally), RankBrain returns the results that will create the best user experience.
Even the domain name of your website can impact your SEO success. For example, using a relevant keyword in a domain could help your optimization efforts. On the other hand, if you decide to purchase a parked domain for your website that seems perfect for your purposes, you should verify that it hasn’t been used in any linking schemes that may have harmed your domain’s credibility.
Difference Between SEO and Other Law Firm Marketing Channels
In many ways, SEO is the foundation of digital marketing. There are so many different activities that combine to make online marketing for lawyers successful. However, none of them are going to be very effective if there isn’t a working, effective SEO strategy. The truth is that attorneys can build a solid online presence with a sole focus on search engine optimization. They really can’t do that with other digital marketing efforts.
SEO vs. PPC
Lawyers who are faced with the cost and effort of online marketing may ask, is search engine optimization necessary? Can’t I just invest in top-ranking with pay-per-click strategies? That’s a good question, and the answer is complex.
On the one hand, yes. PPC does have faster results in terms of ranking and traffic.
However, SEO is a better long-term strategy and has a lower initial cost. Attorneys also want to pay very close attention to the ROI of their pay-per-click campaigns since law firm PPC is among the most expensive strategies, with clicks costing up to $1000 each.
Don’t discount one for the other. The most effective results will come from a combination of both approaches. Consider the pros and cons of PPC vs. SEO, then determine the weight you’ll give each one in your marketing strategy.
SEO vs. SMM
SEO is the work you put in to increase website visibility and traffic. SMM is the work that attorneys do to establish an online presence via social media channels. Law firm social media marketing is absolutely important. Still, it should take a temporary backseat while you’re working to establish your law firm’s website and create your SEO strategy.
SEO Strategy for Attorneys
Effective SEO for lawyers begins with a strategy. The first step for creating that is a current state analysis. You need to fully understand your website’s current performance. How are you ranking for the most relevant keywords? Where is the money you’ve budgeted for search engine optimization being spent? How much effort would it take for you to dominate search in your niche? Once you understand these things, you can begin working on a strategy.
Keyword Research for Lawyers
Keyword research is the work you do to identify the words and phrases that potential clients use to search for the services you offer. These terms may be entered as phrases or articulated as questions, so you should consider both.
Keywords are the foundation of an SEO campaign; they impact content, metadata, tags, and even URLs. As such, keyword research should under no circumstance be treated as an afterthought. You have to have a firm understanding of the best keyword phrases for your law firm to increase your ranking and connect with clients.
There are two primary types of keywords. Short-tail keywords are phrases 1–3 words in length and typically quite broad, such as “criminal lawyer”. While this could be a good choice, it’s difficult to optimize for these kinds of keywords because they aren’t very specific.
Because they’re so broad, these shorter keywords also come with a lot of competition. Not only will most of your direct competitors be using this same keyword, but you’ll also be fighting for attention with firms that specialize in everything from misdemeanors to federal crimes, even if you only work in one small aspect of criminal law.
On the other hand, long-tail keywords are lengthier and more specific. For example, “criminal lawyer for drug offenses”. Long-tail keywords can also be location-specific, such as “criminal lawyer in Southern Illinois”. These keywords should be used in conjunction with short-tail keywords to narrow your focus and ensure that you’re getting relevant traffic and better results than firms failing to take advantage of this strategy.
But it helps to think beyond these two categories. Rather than just categorizing keywords as long-tail or short-tail, consider that they might be:
These are keyword phrases that reflect who the potential client is. For example, “attorney for immigrants” indicates who the service is for, not just what the service is.
These keywords describe the legal services your practice offers, such as “labor arbitration and negotiation”.
Evergreen keyword phrases are always relevant to your area of practice, even as years go by.
These are keywords that become popular for a short time due to current events or trends in the media or popular culture.
These keywords narrow down a precise area where someone might be looking for services or information. These are especially important for brick-and-mortar businesses that want to stand out among the local competition.
LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords are ones that are closely related to another chosen keyword. They indicate other words and phrases people may be searching for, allowing you to include more keywords and potentially capture more traffic.
Once you’ve developed a list of words and phrases during keyword research, you must identify the intent behind the searches. After all, people who are entering legal-related keywords into Google could have a range of intentions. They may want to:
- Gather information about a legal issue that interests them
- Hire an attorney to assist them with a legal problem
- Determine whether they have a case worth pursuing
- Compare different law firms in the same region
When you understand the reader’s intent, you’ll be able to create content that matches what they’re looking for, rather than laser-focusing on stuffing content with a specific three-word phrase over and over again. Content that doesn’t match user intent will just create frustration and lead to increased bounce rates (users leaving your site after viewing a single page).
Keyword Research Tools
Several keyword tools make it easier to identify the right keyword phrases for optimizing your content, ranking higher in search results, and attracting your target audience.
Ahrefs is a keyword generator that helps law firms identify long- and short-tail keywords, highlighting those with significant traffic potential and low competition. The platform also includes a competitive analysis tool.
Google Trends helps identify trending keywords. This is an excellent resource for identifying keywords to use when creating optimized blog posts and guest articles that take advantage of current events and searches.
This is a free Chrome extension that displays search volume data from the search results page. It includes keyword suggestions, visibility information, page data, and cost per click.
A comprehensive keyword research tool, Moz allows users to quickly discover and prioritize the best keyword phrases for their law firms.
QuestionDB is a tool that helps users understand which questions people are asking about a variety of topics. By simply typing in a broad topic keyword, the tool will return the most popular questions pertaining to it.
Self-Directed Keyword Research
Keyword research can be made easier with tools, but as an attorney, you have a special insight into the needs of your potential clients due to an expert understanding of your area of law and your relationships with your existing clients. By applying your knowledge, you can derive a list of keywords to optimize for in your SEO campaign that other firms may not be taking advantage of.
Here are some things to take into consideration:
- Questions you receive from prospective clients
- Keywords that are commonly associated with your practice area
- Location-specific keywords that target where you practice law
- Google search auto-complete for long-tail keyword building
- Trending topics in your practice area
For example, if you work in contract law, one of your keywords will surely be simply “contract law”. However, because you know the business inside and out, you’re in a great position to deduce what specific questions your potential customers have regarding contract law. This will help you come up with dozens of relevant keywords that a tool could easily miss.
When you’ve exhausted your efforts in self-directed research, taking advantage of powerful tools like Ahrefs can flesh out your preparatory steps and help you finalize a list of keywords that can serve as the backbone for an effective SEO strategy.
Ahrefs Keyword Research
Ahrefs is one of the most popular keyword tools, commonly used to automate keyword research workflows and return accurate results. Follow these basic steps to get started:
Enter a keyword in Keyword Explorer: Start by entering a base keyword into the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer. In the case of the above example, “contract law”.
Review Keyword Data: Once you enter the keyword, you will see details about the target phrase, including search volume and keyword difficulty. You will be able to see how frequently the keyword is used, where it is trending, and other information that indicates how competitive the phrase is.
Identify Alternative Keyword Ideas: In addition to showing data about the keyword you have entered, Ahrefs will also display additional keyword suggestions. This will include emerging keyword ideas that are newly trending.
Discover Search Rankings and Usage: Ahrefs will also show how the keyword you have selected has been ranking over some time. This includes displaying the URLs of competitors and other sites using the same keyword.
Open Content Explorer: Content Explorer allows you to drill down a bit further into the content that is using the keyword phrase you’ve selected. This includes the number of social shares, amount of organic traffic, domain authority, and referring pages.
Niche and Competitive Research for Lawyers
There is one area in which lawyers are at a distinct advantage when it comes to marketing, and that’s identifying sources of offline competition. Older, more established firms may not be investing much money or time in online marketing efforts because they can attract people to their websites more directly, simply thanks to name recognition and referrals.
But as a result, many attorneys stop here when it comes to researching their competition, assuming that they already know who their competitors are. Since most legal practice is done locally, they define their competitors as other local law firms that offer services in the same practice areas.
This is correct but too limited. While these local firms are key competitors, keyword research can reveal other competing firms and entities that must be considered when it comes to marketing efforts. Attorneys must widen their view by examining the search engine results page carefully. When it comes to earning website traffic and leads, that’s where they’ll find their competitors.
Your keyword research will pay off significantly here. In addition to recognizing where your web pages are ranking for the keywords you’ve selected, pay attention to your competitors as well. Specifically, investigate those earning higher rankings for your target keywords (and presumably more traffic).
The primary benefit of keyword research is that it allows you to identify missteps early on. For example, you may uncover that a keyword you had initially selected simply doesn’t get the search volume you wanted, or that a more specific version of that keyword is going to reach a better-qualified audience.
For example, an attorney who practices estate law may assume that their competition is limited to other lawyers in that niche. However, when they look at search engine results, they may realize that they are also in competition with companies that offer products such as do-it-yourself wills.
Bonus Tip: Is your practice focused on a single city and practice area? If so, you should indeed look at the websites of law firms in your practice area, but don’t neglect examining firms in other cities. Pay close attention to their online presence, particularly backlinks and practice area pages. You could be the first law firm in your city and niche to adopt some of those practices, and that’s a great way to create growth.
Lawyers’ Backlinks and References
Competitive link research is necessary if you plan to include link-building in your SEO strategy. This research will also give you some insights into what you need to do to achieve the same organic ranking that your better-performing competitors are enjoying. Here are the steps you can take to do this research yourself:
First, identify the right competitors. You want to focus on law firms that have an SEO presence that is at least as strong as yours, if not more. These are most likely to be the law practices that are getting your share of traffic and leads because they are already implementing proven SEO tactics and getting help from specialists.
Now, choose a backlink and reference research tool. This will help you automate the competitive research you do. Semrush has a reputable tool, as does Moz.
Once you begin your research, be wary of outdated or questionable link-building tactics. For example, if you see the same anchor text phrases used for a competitor’s content over and over, that’s a red flag. They may have followed some bad advice or hired an SEO firm that used unscrupulous techniques. If the law firm is still ranking well despite these bad practices, it could be that they disavowed the links or simply that enough time has passed.
Some other outdated techniques you should disregard are:
- Blog network links
- Use of article directories
- Guest posts on open contribution sites
- Low-quality directory links
These antiquated link-building tactics probably aren’t the reason why your competitors are ranking, and they won’t be very helpful to you either.
Instead, focus on what does work. Which of your competitors’ content pieces are earning the most links? Note the content format, topic, length, and date of publication. Consider what you can do to repeat their success in a way that adds more value and aligns with your brand.
Some link-building happens naturally. For example, web content writers will often search Google for sources and generally choose from the highest-ranking posts to link. However, active outreach can also play a huge role. Is your competitor earning links from bloggers or media outlets? That’s a good sign that they are actively reaching out to these sources and building relationships.
Determine Your Business Goals, Budget, and Resources
Before you delve into law firm SEO, you must first evaluate your position. For one, you should examine your current law firm marketing budget, as well as what you can spend on search engine optimization in the future.
Second, you must also evaluate the current state of your law firm’s search engine performance. By establishing a baseline, you will then be able to define realistic goals that are achievable within a reasonable amount of time. When the subject is SEO, search ranking is an obvious goal, but you must also consider conversion rates and ROI.
Beyond the money you have set aside for marketing purposes, you should also examine the resources you already have at your disposal. For example, as mentioned, numerous tools can help you create and execute better SEO campaigns. If you have some of these already, you can set more aggressive goals. And what about your personnel? Are there people on your staff with SEO knowledge and the time to dedicate to a search campaign?
This is also where you must consider the value of your time. After all, do-it-yourself SEO takes a significant amount of time, up to several hours each day. That’s an investment that will pay off, but you would be losing billing time and reducing your return on investment.
On the other hand, if you have aggressive growth goals for your law practice, an agency could do the work more efficiently and potentially for less money than your average billing rate.
Once you’ve thoroughly established your current standing, you can continue to refine your goals to ensure you plot a sustainable, measurable growth trajectory using tactics like SMART goals and key performance indicators (KPIs).
Create SMART Goals and KPIs
After establishing some broader law firm SEO goals for lawyers, it’s time to move on to a new stage. This is where you will begin to form a more actionable law firm SEO strategy. The best way to start is by setting SMART goals. These are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Essentially, these are specific goals for which you set clear metrics for success that will lead to a meaningful accomplishment within a reasonable amount of time.
On the subject of SEO for lawyers, a SMART goal might be, “We will increase our traffic for keywords in the category of alimony and child support by 20% within 180 days”. This meets all of the criteria for SMART.
Additional SMART Goal Examples
- Optimize 10 pages currently displaying on page 2 of SERP to page 1 by Q3
- Increase overall organic traffic to practice area pages by 10% in 30 days
- Boost revenue from organic traffic sources by 15% in 2023
- Decrease bounce rate by 5% by EOY
Law firm SEO goals must be supported with key performance indicators (KPIs). These are often used as the specific measurements that indicate how well progress is being made when you apply your law firm SEO strategy. For example, average engagement time is an important KPI for search engine optimization. It indicates that people are clicking on your links and engaging with your content in meaningful ways.
Additional KPI Examples
Consider using some of these other important metrics when establishing your KPIs:
- Content Efficiency: This is an indicator of the performance of your content, measured by how individual content pieces are performing against a specific goal. When determining ROI, make sure you take into consideration the content production costs.
- Search Visibility: Simple page ranking is a helpful metric, but it may not represent what you think it does. Actual rank is a better reflection of search visibility because it takes into consideration the real estate that local search results, images, shopping posts, knowledge graph results, etc., take up on page one.
- New vs. Returning Visitors: Google Analytics can help you distinguish new site visitors from returning visitors. Both are valuable, but returning visitors are more likely to convert and thus worth paying a bit more attention to.
- Client Lifetime Value: This is the earnings you receive from a client throughout their relationship with your firm. This can help you identify your most lucrative SEO strategies.
- Brand Visibility in Search: It’s important to know how your landing pages and practice area pages are performing in search results. However, it’s also important to understand how visible your law firm is as a whole. This metric considers channels outside of your sites, such as your YouTube channel, social media posts, image results, and position zero results in search.
Create a Marketing Strategy
You’ve accomplished quite a bit by this point. You’ve completed keyword research, identified your competitors, and clearly defined SMART goals and the metrics to track them. You’ve successfully taken the first steps of creating a marketing strategy that centers on SEO for lawyers.
But you’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to SEO. The next step will be to take a look at your content to see how it can be optimized to reach your target audience, build authority, and earn top-of-page search rankings.
Keep in mind that an SEO agency can make fast work of these processes. The experience an expert brings to the table means you can implement a winning SEO strategy that much sooner.
Content marketing for lawyers is the strategic use of blog posts, videos, web pages, and other content to increase interest in your services. It’s a key part of any law firm’s marketing strategy and one of the biggest influencing factors in SEO for lawyers. If you provide people with the content that they need when they need it, you will increase traffic, engagement, and search rankings.
Additionally, content boosts brand awareness and helps to establish your law firm as a thought leader. It is also the ideal tool for reaching potential clients at any point in the sales funnel.
However, it’s important to optimize for each part of the funnel:
- High-Funnel Prospects: When first capturing the attention of a prospect, your goal should be to provide helpful, informative content. For example, a personal injury blog post that details what to do if you are contacted by an insurance company.
- Mid-Funnel Prospects: Clients at this stage are usually certain they need an attorney but aren’t convinced your firm is the right one. They’re also still seeking information, but their questions are much more specific. For example, a criminal defense client might want to know when it’s a good idea to take a plea agreement. Ideal content for a mid-funnel prospect might be an explainer video about the criminal court process.
- Low-Funnel Prospects: Low-funnel prospects are at the decision-making stage, so content directed at them should be focused on conversions. Your goal is to remove doubt and convince potential clients that your law firm can solve their problems. Case studies work very well at this stage, as does long-form content such as ebooks.
By presenting prospects with content that aligns with their needs at any point in time, every piece of content you offer creates an important touchpoint, which then creates an opportunity to engage with potential clients.
There are many ways to provide this content, one of the most important being your website.
Attorney Website Content
It helps to create a balance of content types and understand how each content type can add value to your content marketing and search engine optimization efforts. Here are some of the most popular content types for attorneys.
Practice Area Pages
These are sales-focused pages that you publish on your website. Each of these pages should focus on one specific practice area. In some cases, it helps to be even more specific than that. For example, a criminal defense attorney might divide their practice area pages into traffic law, felony cases, and appeals.
When creating these pages, it’s important to optimize for the right search keywords, especially the titles and headings. They should have the words lawyer and attorney as well as other relevant phrases. For criminal law, it might be “Traffic Ticket Defense Attorney in Phoenix”. The people who land on these pages are the most likely to be interested in hiring an attorney. It’s important to make that process easy for them by providing multiple calls to action.
Blog content is important for SEO, as it helps your law firm’s website earn backlinks. Additionally, legal blog posts create awareness. They also provide your law firm with the opportunity to engage with potential clients who are in the research phase. Blog posts are also key for building authority. These are all ranking factors for SEO for lawyers.
Fortunately, there are plenty of interesting legal topics to write about, and they’re typically separated into two categories. The first category includes trending or newsworthy topics. These could be recent court decisions, legal issues that are causing political and social debate, or local cases that are getting significant attention.
To consistently post blogs that take advantage of trending topics, pay attention to local and national news, social media, legal journals, and other sources to get ideas. This category should not be ignored; when you write about trending topics, you can integrate trending keyword phrases into your content and draw a larger audience to your website.
The second category of blogs you can produce is evergreen topics. These are legal topics that will always draw interest, no matter the season, and they can help establish you and your firm as a great source of information.
For example, think about the questions your clients ask you most frequently. By producing content that answers these questions proactively, you establish yourself as a thought leader. These topics tend to relate directly to your practice area and give you the opportunity to showcase your expertise.
These are similar to service area pages. However, they include information that is focused on a specific location. These work well for law firms that cover a wider geographic area and want to provide more detail on the specific services they offer for each location.
For example, a large maritime law firm might have service pages for “commercial fishing accident attorneys in (city name)” for multiple coastal cities that they serve.
Single-location law practices should also create location-specific pages. These will be optimized for local search and help connect with area clients by drilling down into even more specific local keywords. For example, a Chicago law firm could mention Navy Pier or Lakeshore Drive.
Case studies are ideal website content for appealing to people who want to hire an attorney but are undecided about which law firm to use. Case studies go over the details of specific cases that your law firm has won. They describe the details of the case, the approach to assisting the client, and the outcome. Case studies showcase your expertise and can show potential clients that you have worked on cases similar to theirs.
Infographics are visual depictions of complex concepts. These are ideal for breaking down legal information in a way that people can better understand. For example, you can create or share an infographic that depicts the process of filing a lawsuit and going to court. Infographics tend to earn backlinks and help you establish your authority in your field. Like blog posts, they often appeal most to people in the awareness and research stages.
Attorney podcasts are another way for attorneys to establish thought leadership by taking deeper dives into important topics. They also appeal to people who may not be inclined to engage with blog posts. Podcasts can be published directly on your law firm’s website. They can also be published on one of many podcast sites and apps, then linked back to your site.
Lawyer videos are engaging and tend to draw views and backlinks. They can be created to appeal to people in various stages of the buying journey. For example, an introductory video describing your firm and what it does is ideal for the awareness stage. A detailed video describing how you advocate for your clients is ideal for people who are actively looking to hire an attorney.
There are different video types that you can create, and each can be used to achieve specific marketing goals. For example, a client testimonial video can help convert mid and low-funnel customers.
Many lawyers are also gaining a following on TikTok by producing short-format videos where they answer common legal questions or address myths and misconceptions about the law.
Here are a few other examples of video content you can create:
- Attorney profile videos
- Thought leadership videos explaining popular topics
- Roundtable discussions between lawyers and other experts
- Practice area explainer videos
Do some competitive research here. Also, be sure to create and share videos that fit the platform you’re using — the videos you upload to TikTok should be very different from the videos you share with your audience on LinkedIn.
Blogging for Lawyers
If your SEO for lawyers strategy includes blog posts, and it should, consider adopting the pillar-cluster structure. In law firm SEO, these are also known as topic clusters. This is an ideal way of organizing blog posts on your law firm’s website. Essentially, posts on a specific topic are linked together and back to a pillar post.
This approach works well for two reasons. The first is that by structuring posts this way, you help search engines like Google understand your content and how it relates to search intent. Also, by linking related posts together, you give website visitors a way to navigate from one post to another to gather more information.
In many cases, attorneys get the best search engine optimization results by establishing a detailed practice area page as a cluster page. For example, “Intellectual Property Attorney”. Then, pages are built around that to answer more specific questions relating to that topic. For example,” Who owns something I invented on the job?” or, “Is it IP theft to use another person’s idea in my business if they haven’t obtained a copyright?”.
It can help to view the pillar post as casting a wide net and the cluster posts as taking a deeper dive. However, all posts should follow best practices for blogging and web content. These include:
- Using subheadings
- Adding tags
- Inserting videos and other images
- Writing short paragraphs
- Using bulleted and ordered lists
If you want topic clusters to work for law firm SEO, proper linking is absolutely important. Each pillar page should link to the relevant cluster pages. The cluster pages can link to each other but should link to the pillar page.
Guest posting is very similar to blogging. It’s posting relevant content in your area of expertise to connect with a larger audience. The difference is that you do this on trusted platforms outside of your website. This helps to boost awareness of your law practice and connect with potential clients.
There are many platforms that welcome written contributions from attorneys. For example, reach out to:
- Legal and academic journals
- Business publications
- Relevant websites (like a realtor website for a real estate law attorney)
- Help a Reporter Out and #JournoRequest on Twitter to find media requests for attorneys
You may have to engage in some networking to find guest posting opportunities, but if you can establish yourself as a valuable content creator, other bloggers and publications will seek you out.
Keep in mind that you only benefit from reaching a wider audience if those readers are interested in what you have to say and have the potential to be interested in your services. For this reason, you should avoid open contribution sites that allow anyone to upload content and publish it.
In addition to the marketing benefits of guest posting, it also comes with an SEO advantage: Guest posting is an excellent way to earn quality backlinks. While publication guidelines for guest articles may vary, most will allow you to include a link or two back to your website. This will usually be an in-content link or a link that is included in your author bio.
These backlinks are an SEO ranking factor, but only if they meet certain criteria. For example, Google and other search engines only value backlinks from websites with high domain authority. You won’t get any benefit from a low-ranking article directory or one that is known for backlinking schemes.
To investigate the domain authority of a given site, use SEO tools such as Ahrefs. However, you may already have a fairly good idea of which sites are highly respected, earn a lot of traffic, and have been around long enough in your field to be well-established.
For example, Bloomberg Law and LexisNexis both have high domain authority and plenty of traffic. Another option would be your local bar association website.
Social Media for Attorneys
Social media for attorneys can have a positive impact on your search engine optimization efforts. Take a close look at some best practices.
Developing Social Media Accounts for Lawyers
If you create a social media presence for your law firm, here are some general guidelines to follow:
- Complete all of your law firm account information, and keep it up to date
- Use pictures of yourself and your team for your social media accounts
- Share more informative than promotional content
- Be responsive to comments and other engagement
- Post regularly to maintain your audience
Remember that social media is a great place to build relationships with potential clients. It’s also a place to build important connections with other businesses and thought leaders in the legal field.
Special Considerations for Law Firm Social Media
As an attorney, there are specific guidelines you must follow to ensure you create an ethical, professional social media presence. Your bar association will have these details available. However, much of this will involve avoiding conflicts of interest, protecting client confidentiality, and being careful about the claims you make.
You’ll also need to consider whether your personal account should be made public for potential clients to connect with you. The best choice really depends on the style of your account. If your personal account contains relevant, professional content, then it’s fine to use it to connect with your target audience.
This is also a good time to decide whether you will create a separate page for each of the attorneys in your firm. There are good reasons to create individual social media accounts for your staff attorneys. If you have lawyers on your team who are experts in different areas of law, it may be helpful to establish a separate profile for them. This is also a good idea if you have experienced attorneys who have established reputations.
How Much Does Social Media Impact SEO for Lawyers?
An organic social media presence for attorneys can have a positive effect on your search engine optimization. However, it’s important to temper your expectations. You will see much more of an impact by developing a solid keyword strategy and focusing on website optimization.
While social media marketing may have other benefits, it isn’t used as a ranking factor by Google. As such, your popularity on social media won’t dramatically increase your ranking on the search engine results page, though you can see a benefit if you are able to increase traffic to your pages by promoting content on your social platforms.
But what social media marketing can do is increase your law firm’s brand recognition. This could lead to some additional traffic from search engine results simply because potential clients may recognize your name.
Ultimately, social media and SEO campaigns both offer a good ROI. However, when it comes to earning directly attributable leads and conversions, SEO comes out far ahead.
Best Social Media Platforms for Lawyer SEO
Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook are widely considered to be the best platforms for attorneys. It’s easy to see why. Twitter is an excellent platform for taking part in conversations that are relevant to your practice area. Facebook has a large audience. LinkedIn is ideal for professional connections and publishing thought leadership content.
However, this doesn’t mean that other platforms aren’t also valuable. Many lawyers are attracting large audiences and driving traffic with engaging lawyer TikTok videos. Others are using Reddit to share their expertise by participating in various law-related subreddits or using sponsored posts to promote their law practices.
Content Marketing Strategy
A strong content marketing plan is a key part of your SEO campaign. When you use content to improve your law firm’s SEO, start with your own website. Relevant, well-written content that is organized into topic clusters is easier for audiences to consume and for search engines to index.
Make your website content more engaging with videos and other visuals. Bolster your content marketing strategies with social media content and guest posting to create more awareness, build a larger audience, and attract more traffic to your law firm’s website.
Onsite Search Engine Optimization for Lawyers
Onsite optimization is a multi-faceted effort to improve your website’s content, structure, and coding for the purpose of making it easier for search engines to index your site. This optimization influences some of the top ranking factors that Google considers, so it’s one of the most important parts of SEO.
Keep in mind that many of the changes involved in onsite optimization will require the help of a professional website developer. They have the skills needed to make changes to your site architecture, CMS, and hierarchy.
Choosing the Best CMS for Your Law Firm’s Website
A content management system (CMS) is a platform for managing your website. Law firms and other businesses often choose a CMS because it automates a significant portion of creating and managing a website. This can leave more time for practicing law, engaging new clients, and creating better web content.
Before you decide whether you want to use a CMS and which one is best for your law firm, it helps to understand some of the most common features of content management systems.
- Administrative dashboard and permissions management
- Collaboration between content creators and developers
- Analytics tools
- Social media integration
- Ability to add and modify web pages and blog posts
Additionally, many CMS platforms have tools or add-ons that provide your website with extra functionality. There are even tools to help with law firm SEO.
Lawyers will also need to consider ease of use, cost, and security before they choose a CMS. Some of the most popular content management systems are:
- WordPress: WordPress is an open-source CMS that is used by millions of businesses worldwide. It is also supported by hundreds of developers that produce various themes and plugins that provide businesses with a range of functions. These include search engine optimization, site security, e-commerce, and more.
- FirmWise: FirmWise is not as widely used as WordPress, but it is specifically intended for use by law firms. It offers website hosting, administration, and scalable growth, and law firms can choose to use FirmWise solutions directly out of the box or bring in their own designers for customization.
- Joomla: Like WordPress, Joomla is another free, open-source content management system. This framework allows developers to integrate advanced functions into law firm websites, such as communication tools and data reporting.
- LawLytics: LawLytics offers full-service website solutions for law firms that includes a site content generator, website security, reporting tools, and more. LawLytics is easier to set up than other CMS options, but the trade-off is less design flexibility, which can lead to a similar look from one site to the next.
If you choose a CMS tool for your law firm website, take cost and complexity into consideration as well. There are some CMS platforms that are designed for people with at least some coding skills. Others are more simple. Although, in many cases, law firms will still hire a website development agency to help with their website creation and management, no matter which CMS they choose.
Does My Law Firm Need a Well-Designed Website for a Successful SEO Campaign?
Yes, SEO for lawyers is dependent on good design services for your law firm’s website. Your website content is what draws the attention of search engines and provides the information your audience needs. It’s also what allows you to rank for relevant keywords and increase your ranking on search engine results pages.
More importantly, your law firm’s website works tirelessly for you. It keeps customers engaged and provides great user experiences that boost Google’s ranking metrics. It’s your internet home office, and it’s worth investing money and time in law firm website design.
Creating a Website Structure
The way that you structure your website can have a positive impact on law firm SEO. Unfortunately, many law firm websites are developed over time and without the planning required to create a structure that works for search engines. If you are planning a website design or redesign, implement some of these tips.
Choose the Right Website Structure
Website structure is the way that the pages on your law firm’s website are connected to one another, how they are ordered, and even the naming conventions that you use. There are three primary structures that you can choose for your law firm’s website.
In a sequential website structure, the pages connect in a linear fashion. They tend to follow predictable user patterns. For example:
- The user goes to your law firm's home page
- User clicks on the service they are interested in
- User clicks on a CTA to fill in their contact information
This can work very well for sites that are very small and uncomplicated, especially for legal practices that offer very limited services.
This is the most common structure for law firm websites. There is a homepage that is linked out to different section pages. Those pages may also link out to subtopic pages. Each section may be based on a practice area, location, or some other logical division.
Hierarchical websites are especially popular with larger law firms. Pages for multiple areas of law can be used to create entirely separate sections of a website. This structure also works very well for the pillar cluster method of organizing website content.
Here’s an example of a hierarchical page layout:
- HomePage / CriminalDefense
- HomePage / CriminalDefense / TrafficOffenses
- HomePage / CriminalDefense / TrafficOffenses / TrafficMisdemeanors
Also, this structure does not assume that everyone visiting your law firm’s website will start at your home page. For example, someone searching a keyword phrase that relates to traffic offenses will see your traffic offenses service page instead of your home page.
3. Network Structure
This is the least common type of website for lawyers. In this structure, every page is linked to every other page. This can work for small websites, but only if there is a logical connection between every page.
Why Does Structure Impact SEO for Lawyers?
Google has shifted its focus to user experience. They want to give higher ranking to sites that are set up for ease of navigation. Additionally, a clear site structure is simply easier to index and match to search intent.
Duplicate content can cause significant issues with your law firm’s SEO efforts. It’s imperative that you take steps to avoid it.
What Is Duplicate Content?
Duplicate content refers to blocks of content that are identical or nearly identical. There are two forms of duplicate content. Internal duplication happens when the same content is copied to different web pages throughout your website. External duplication happens when two websites have the same content.
How Does Duplicate Content Impact SEO?
Google does not explicitly penalize duplicate content. However, it does filter content. If Google finds two duplicate pages, it will only choose one of them to list in search engine results.
How to Check for Duplicate Content
The best way to check for duplicate content is to use a tool such as Copyscape. This is a very reliable way to see if the content on your web pages also appears elsewhere online.
You can also use an exact match search. Take a chunk of your law firm’s website content, and search for it on Google. Make sure to enclose it in quotation marks so the search engine looks for the entire text.
What to Do About Duplicate Content
How to handle this depends on whether you have internal or external duplicate content. Here are some important considerations for internal duplicate content:
- Use header tags and unique titles and headings for each page on your site
- Give each page its own meta description
- Be careful of pages with or without trailing slashes or that use www vs. HTTP
Taking these steps should reduce some of these duplicate content issues.
If your issue is external content duplication, that can be a bit more complex. One cause of external duplication for law firm websites is content syndication. This is when you create high-quality content, then agree to have it published on other websites. For example, you may offer a thought leadership post you have written on constitutional law to a popular legal publication. If so, Google will see that as duplicate content.
What can you do about syndicated content? Probably nothing, since you offered the content freely. However, the benefit of syndicated content is reaching a wider audience and linking back to your law firm’s website. That may be worth losing some search engine ranking for a particular web page.
Content scraping is a more insidious form of external content duplication. This is when someone steals your content to add to theirs. Often, there will be some attempts to rewrite the content, but this isn’t enough to stop Google from detecting duplicate content. Ideally, the site with the copied content is penalized, but that isn’t sure proof. Fortunately, Google has a reporting mechanism that allows you to let them know about these violations.
On-Page SEO for Lawyers
On-page SEO is the practice of improving your website content, tagging, and internal linking to improve your ranking on search engine results pages. On-page SEO is very effective, but it takes an ongoing effort. You have to pay attention to multiple factors, including:
A URL slug is the last part of a website URL that describes the specific page. For example, in the URL "LawFirm.com/legalservices/criminal/10-tips-for-hiring-a-lawyer" the slug is “10-tips-for-hiring-a-lawyer”. This is the part of the law firm website URL that you can optimize for search engine optimization.
To optimize your URL slug, use keywords. Make it short and memorable, and avoid using slugs that are generated dynamically. Avoid repeating slugs in different URLs. Finally, use hyphens to separate words.
SEO Title and Meta Description for Lawyers
Titles and meta descriptions do play some role in SEO for law firms. While meta descriptions aren’t a direct ranking factor, they do impact your click-through rates. Title tags are used by search engines to understand and index page content.
The URL, title, and description combined together are a snippet. It’s good practice to have these written by an SEO professional. Not only does this guarantee that this information will be compelling to people and increase traffic to your site, but it may contribute to better search rankings.
There are a few conventions to follow when composing an SEO-friendly title:
- Include an important keyword in the title.
- Use 60 characters maximum.
- Use a state or city in the title if you want to optimize for a specific location.
- Always add your law firm’s name after a pipe (i.e. Criminal Law | Grow Law Firm).
There are also a few best practices for meta descriptions that can help you rank higher on search engines:
- The optimal meta is 130 to 150 characters in length.
- Pay attention to the number of pixels the meta takes. Even keeping to optimal length, search engines can sometimes hide parts of the meta, so 990 pixels is the ceiling. Tools like Serpsim can be used to check the number of pixels.
- Include the specific keyword you are targeting on the page.
- Use action words to draw the prospective client’s attention
- Include your state or city to improve local rankings
Here’s an example of an optimal SEO title and meta description from a SERP:
Main H1 Heading
Your H1 heading is the face of your article. Users see it as soon as they open the page and Google puts heavy emphasis on it when indexing the page. Putting your main keyword there is a no-brainer, as it helps immensely with search engine rankings. It should be interesting and attention-drawing, just like your title tag.
Overall Heading Structure
Your H2s, H3s, and even small H4s present a number of SEO opportunities, but for many companies, they’re an afterthought. If you optimize yours, add keywords, and make them attractive for Google, it will be significantly easier to get ahead of the competition. Overall, any type of page can benefit from heading optimization, including your service, practice, landing, and other non-blog pages. They should all have optimized headings!
SEO is largely associated with written content, but your videos and images also impact how search engines view and rank your law firm's website. Google invests in visual search technology, so it’s worth it for law firms to think about visuals when creating SEO strategies. Use original images where possible instead of stock images. The image file name is also important — use file names that are meaningful and reflect what is in the picture. For example, replace “Img_001” with “Deposition_infograph”.
Finally, add alt tags that explain what is in the image. These will be displayed on the viewer’s screen if the image can’t render for some reason. These tags also increase accessibility, and screen readers use them to describe images to users who may not be able to see or interpret them.
EAT stands for Experience, Authority, and Trust. This is not surprising, because the user experience is Google’s top priority. They want to provide users with the most accurate, up-to-date information possible. One way they do this is by prioritizing content that is created by subject manager experts. The EAT acronym is an indicator of this focus.
You can create the credibility that Google is looking for by taking these steps:
- Link to independent, high-authority websites to back up any claims you make
- Have other attorneys create well-researched content on law-related topics
- Create lawyer bios on your site to build trust and credibility
- This will help your content get filtered to the top of search engine results.
Keywords can be tricky; you can’t just overwhelm Google with keywords anymore, but they are an important indicator of a blog’s relevance. It’s crucial to have a balance. One of the best practices for optimizing a page for a particular keyword is to use one keyword every 100 words. There are tools, like SurferSEO, that can help you check a page for proper keyword usage and even compare it to the competition!
Don’t forget, there are many places you can add keywords. Image ALTs and headings are also taken into account during indexing. Make sure to use relevant keywords there!
Table of Contents
A TOC can help both Google and the user make sense of an article. It leads to a better overall user experience, while Google can better understand and index the content of the page, provide extra backlinks, and show some of the topics in search results. Adding a table of contents to the top of a blog post is a universal practice among all industries, not just lawyers.
How Do You Check and Fix On-Page SEO Factors?
You can verify these factors on your law firm's website with an audit. Start with your target keyword list. Search for them using a Google account that isn’t associated with your law firm. How are you ranking?
Next, go into Google Search Console to review your messages. You want to make sure you aren’t being penalized. Verify that your pages load quickly enough. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool will help with this.
You can audit the images on your web page for optimization by starting with a general performance audit. This can be done manually or with one of the performance monitoring tools listed below. If there are issues, you can make optimization changes to your images to ensure better rendering and page load times.
Additionally, image optimization may also include replacing low-quality images with better alternatives, as well as choosing better file formats. Web developers can also make coding changes to improve image performance.
Finally, use Google Analytics or other tools to see which pages are performing well and which aren’t. For the lowest-performing pages, you can conduct a manual audit. Verify that you have effectively dealt with the on-page ranking factors listed above. Then, make changes where needed.
Some helpful tools for improving on-site SEO include:
- Surfer SEO: Verifies the use of keywords and LSI terms, as well as the use of headers
- Screaming Frog: Crawls your website and returns SEO analytics info
- Google Search Console: Reports on search traffic and performance
The content management software you use will also likely have native tools for tracking performance and conducting website SEO audits.
These tools will also provide you with helpful baseline information about your website. This includes the site architecture, URL structure, navigation, and lists of image assets. Use this data to optimize your URLs, tags, meta descriptions, and other on-page ranking factors.
The Power of Internal Linking
Internal linking makes sense when it comes to law firm SEO. It helps search engines understand your website content and how different pages relate to one another. Internal links can also make your website structure clear.
The first type of internal link is contextual. This is an internal link that you use because the content is relevant. For example, if you talk about child support in a family law blog, you might also include an internal link to a post you wrote about new child support laws in your state.
The second type of internal link is a hierarchical link. This connects parent and child pages. It’s these links that connect pillar cluster pages.
Here are some tips that can help you get the most out of internal links for law firm SEO:
- Add several links to a page with a related posts section
- Use taxonomies to add links
- Include navigation links
- Add a recent post section to your law firm website
- Avoid adding internal links just to have them
- Optimize anchor text with relevant exact matches keywords
There’s another reason that internal links help law firm SEO. They keep visitors on your website, reducing bounce rates and improving other ranking metrics.
The Most Important Technical SEO Factors for a Law Firm’s Website
Technical SEO is a key component in law firm SEO. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to incorporate technical SEO into your strategy because most law firms don’t have staff on hand who are familiar with it.
Website security can greatly impact your search engine rankings. Google wants to send people to secured pages whenever possible and will give priority to pages using the HTTPS protocol.
Responsiveness is an important element of technical SEO for law firms. This is simply the ability of your law firm website to function on any screen size. To verify this, test your website on multiple devices to see how it performs. Google Search Console offers a mobile test that you can conduct by simply entering an URL.
Speed is another important factor. Slow pages reduce user experience, and Google will penalize it. They have set minimum performance thresholds in Google Core Vitals. You can test page speed in Google’s Page Tools Speed tool.
There are a few reasons that site security and law firm SEO are connected. In extreme cases, your page could be targeted for SEO hacking and infiltrated with spammy links and keywords. These could redirect visitors to spoofed pages or spam. This could cause your site to be delisted from various search engines. Poor site security also reduces trust.
Learn the best site security protocols as recommended by your CMS. These will vary from one product to another, but they’ll generally include using secure passwords, limiting administrative access, and keeping your site updated.
Fortunately, good website design and administration can help with technical SEO. Using performance tools in addition to Google Analytics can also be helpful.
Other Site-Wide SEO Factors to Check and Fix
Pay Attention to the Schema for Attorneys
Schema markup is code added to your website from the Schema.org website. The purpose of this is to convert unstructured data to structured data. This is what is used to showcase web pages in rich snippets that appear at the top of organic search results.
There are 4 main types of Schemas:
Location Schema. Though this schema doesn’t show up in SERPs, it’s very important because it indicates your location to search engines. Which will, in turn, help you with getting to the top of local search results.
Attorney Schema. This schema is used to identify law firms. This format is also only viewed by search engines and is used to help them properly categorize your website. This schema tells Google that you’re a law firm so you’ll be treated as one.
FAQ Schema. This schema is used to markup, as the name suggests, frequently asked questions and answers. This schema does show up in search results and will help you get more clicks.
Review Schema. This schema is meant to display reviews and ratings near your links in a SERP. It’s seen by users and, just like the FAQ schema, can help you get more visitors.
While it’s best to keep track of all types of schema markups and have them done by an SEO professional, individual lawyers can focus their efforts on just attorney schema at first.
Some other sitewide SEO factors are:
- Robots.txt files. You can tell search engine crawlers which URLs on your site they can access by using a robots.txt file. This serves to limit the number of requests your site receives and prevent overburdening it.
- Sitemap. A sitemap is the list of pages your website has. Having a structured list can help crawlers index your page properly.
- Crawl errors. Google checks every website with the help of crawler robots. Pay close attention to possible mistakes they can encounter. Fix them ASAP, so your page can be indexed properly. These errors can be:
3.1. site errors, like DNS (search engine can’t communicate with your server) and server errors (bot can’t access your website), or robots failure (bot is unable to reach robots.txt files we talked about above).
3.2. URL errors, like 404 not found error, mobile specific errors (that occur if your site is not optimized for mobile), and malware errors (Google has found a malicious software in your URL).
- Canonical tags. Canonical tags show Google which URL corresponds with which source of content; this will affect what shows up in search results. Ideally, every link should have a canonical tag to avoid the creation of duplicate content.
- Indexing. This may sound obvious, but it’s very important to check if your website, or any particular page, is open for indexing. Without this access, search engines simply can’t see your content.
Law Firm On-Site SEO Checklist
Use this checklist to ensure your law firm website is optimized for search.
- Select the right website structure
- Check for internal and external duplicate content
- Connect content marketing with your law firm's SEO campaign
- Create and implement a keyword strategy
- Test and improve page performance
- Use images that are optimized
- Add internal links for SEO and better navigation
- Performance tune your web pages
- Optimize your URL
- Make your site secure
- Test it on mobile
Local SEO for Lawyers
Relevance. Distance. Prominence
Most people hire attorneys who work locally. Because of this, local SEO for lawyers is an important component of law firm search engine optimization. To help people find local businesses, Google uses relevance, distance, and prominence as ranking factors.
Relevance is how closely your law firm’s web page content aligns with the user’s search query and intent. Distance is simply the proximity of your location to the user, based on data pulled from their browser. Finally, prominence relates to popularity offline. For example, if your law firm is very well known in your city, it will be assigned greater prominence than other local firms.
Google My Business
Google My Business is a tool offered by Google to connect people with local businesses. It includes information about your law firm, location, hours, contact information, and details about your practice.
You must have a Google My Business account for your law firm to appear in search engine local three-pack or map pack results or in Google Maps search. If you have a business with multiple locations, it’s recommended that you create a GMB profile for each one.
In addition to providing you with the opportunity to appear in a prominent position in search results, Google can pull in relevant information from your profile to display to users.
It’s fairly easy to set up a Google My Business profile. You simply sign into your business account using the Google business profile manager. There, you will complete your location and contact information and verify your business. You can then customize your profile with information about your law firm, pictures, and even short articles.
Here are some useful tips for optimizing your Google My Business profile:
- Start by creating or claiming your profile
- Choose the most representative business category
- Choose a service area, storefront, or hybrid
- Update your business hours
- Add contact details and keep them up to date
- Include photos of your law firm and attorneys
- Add a high-quality photo of your law firm’s logo
- Include detailed descriptions of your various practice areas
- Encourage satisfied customers to leave Google reviews
- Respond to both positive and negative reviews
- Answer questions that are posted to your profile
- Enable messaging to allow prospects to contact you directly
- Complete any other profile information, whether it is mandatory or not
It takes time to complete these optimization steps. However, it’s important to do so. The information you provide helps Google to determine where your site should be ranked in local searches. Additionally, it helps prospective clients understand your services and engage with your law firm.
Local SEO Best Practices for Law Firm Sites
There are steps you can take to improve your local law firm's SEO. These include optimizing your website and blog content for location-specific keywords. Also, consider adding location-specific pages in addition to your standard service and policy pages. This step is especially helpful for law firms that have multiple locations and may want to establish city or region pages to optimize for local search.
Location Best Practices
When determining your location for search indexing, Google uses many online sources for verification, and consistency from one to the next is important. For this reason, you should seek out any online resource that mentions your business, verify it’s correct, and check to make sure it matches all other information. This includes your website, lawyer directories, and social media profiles.
Reviews Best Practices
Google reviews impact local search rankings, but not as much as distance does. Still, it is a good idea to reach out to clients to ask for reviews. If possible, provide them with a link to your profile to make the process easier for them. You should also take the opportunity to respond to reviews in a professional, productive manner.
Why is this important? Google will highlight words and phrases in reviews that match the user’s search. This draws attention to the most relevant reviews. You can’t control what reviewers say, but you can show that you are always professional and responsive.
Legal Service Schema Best Practices
Schema.org is a website that provides information on structuring website data to make it easier for search engines to understand and display. LegalService is one of these schema types, and it contains several location-specific data properties, including opening hours and addresses. By using schema data on your website, you are more likely to be ranked in map results. If your site doesn’t rank, this step also makes it more likely that location information will be pulled into your search listing.
One of the benefits of having your website appear in the local portion of the search engine results page is that you can set your profile up to allow people to contact you by phone or email. Local SEO helps you attract leads, even when people don’t go to your website.
Some attorneys choose to maximize the benefits of local SEO by using tools like CallRail for call tracking. For example, you can track which calls are coming from specific keywords.
Reputation Management for Law Firms
Your Google My Business account will be connected to reviews from clients, employees, and others who have done business with your law firm. While a few negative reviews won’t destroy your reputation, it’s important to stay on top of this kind of attorney reputation management for local SEO.
You can do this by monitoring reviews of your law firm on Google. Respond professionally and promptly to both positive and negative reviews. Don’t argue with negative reviews, even if you think they are fake. Simply report them.
Finally, there is a space for people to ask questions about your practice. Pay attention to these, and provide the answers that people are looking for.
How to Solicit Reviews
It can seem daunting to solicit reviews at first. Following these steps can make the process seamless for you and your clients.
- Mention reviews at the beginning and end of providing legal services
- Follow the rules of each review platform
- Consider using a review management tool
- Provide customers with a list of review sites
While reviews are exceptionally helpful, customer testimonial videos are even more valuable. If you have extremely satisfied clients, ask if they would consider offering a brief testimonial on camera.
NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. It is a hyperlink that is included in guest posts and directory entries, and any place with your NAP link counts as a NAP citation. You can get NAP citations from legal directory listings, your local chamber of commerce business listings, and other directories that contain NAP information.
There are four major sources of your NAP links:
- Major Aggregators. Aggregator websites and directories collect information about all types of different companies. Common aggregator websites include Foursquare, Localize, Express update, and Info USA;
- Legal directory listings. Legal directories provide information about law firms and different legal practitioners in a selected area. Some may also rank firms based on different criteria. You should be listed on these directories to improve your chances of being found and get more NAP citations. These attorney listings include Avvo, FindLaw, Martindale-Hubbell, Justia, and many others.
- Local government and other directories. This helps attorneys get citations based on their practice areas. This includes directories like your local chamber of commerce, your local BAR, and other similar sites. Not to mention, because they are locally focused, they can boost your local SEO efforts immensely.
- Yellow-page style directories. These are just general business directories. They may have no specific application, but they’re an easy way to get NAP citations without running the risk of registering for the wrong niche, which is always a plus.
Know where your business NAP information is cited, and make sure it is accurate. This is a local SEO ranking factor, and in many cases, these citations also include a link to your law firm’s website.
Local SEO Can Get You Found Fast
When people view search engine results pages, they pick from the top few results more often than not. That’s why optimizing for local search is so important. If your web pages appear in the local 3-pack, your law firm will earn many more leads.
More than 93% of location-specific searches lead to a mobile-friendly 3-pack at the top of the search results page. For this reason, if you can land in the local 3-pack, you can increase your CTR and leads, and if you can get the number-one spot in the pack, you get the most traffic of all of them. As such, even if your other SEO strategies haven’t gained traction yet, landing in the local 3-pack is a powerful way to start earning leads.
Remember to start local optimization with a Google My Business profile. Keep that information up to date, and engage with reviews and questions. Then, optimize your web content for local search. When you conduct keyword research, remember to include location keywords as well. Finally, earn NAP citations to get your information out there and attract more people to your law firm.
Link-Building Outreach and Off-Page SEO for Lawyers
Links are a very strong force behind SEO for lawyers. With a focused link-building campaign, you can get the boost necessary to push your already-optimized website ahead of the competition. Keep in mind that the rules of lawyer link-building are always changing and you need to pay close attention to keep up.
There are also countless ways to do link-building: guest posting, sponsorships, collaborations, getting .gov and .edu links, crossposting, and much, much more. This makes link-building one of the most complicated parts of law firm SEO, but one that achieves incredibly rewarding results.
Link-Building Basics: How Does Link-Building Work?
When other websites link back to your law firm web pages, that’s called a backlink. The practice of earning backlinks is link-building. It’s one of the most important types of off-page SEO.
A link-building campaign helps your site earn links from authority sources. That authority then gets passed to your site. As you can imagine, this is important for earning better rankings and building your own site authority. However, SEO guidelines are changing quickly and constantly, so it’s important to keep up with these changes to ensure your link-building outreach remains effective.
Before you begin working on a link-building strategy, it's important to understand some basic vocabulary. A hyperlink is simply an underlined bit of text that can be clicked to take the visitor to a website that matches the URL in the hyperlink. A hyperlink can be raw, which simply means it appears as a raw link in the text. It can also be embedded behind anchor text, which is a keyword or phrase that is relevant to the link.
It is also important to know about "dofollow" and "nofollow" link attributes. Dofollow passes the linking page’s ranking information and is therefore more valuable to SEO. Nofollow prevents those attributes from being passed.
Backlinks are a reputation factor that impacts how your content is viewed by Google. If you earn backlinks from reputable sites, your law firm will move up in organic search results.
The Most Important Link Factors for Google
After content, Google prioritizes backlinks most when it comes to search engine rankings. However, not every backlink is treated equally. Here is what Google has established as its most important link factors.
- Age of the domain linking your site
- The reputation of the domain
- Number of referring pages and domains
- Links from GOV and EDU domains
- The reputation of the page
- Number of sites from pages connected to your industry
- Excessive reciprocal links
In total, there are well over 40 link factors. However, your SEO success is going to be positively impacted by backlinks that are from reputable websites, are relevant to your content and theirs, and are not part of any sort of reciprocal link scheme.
9 Best Link-Building Strategies for Lawyers
1. Legal Awards and Associations
If your law firm has earned some kind of award or local recognition, there may be an online listing that includes your firm's name, contact information, and a link to your website. That can boost your reputation and be a source of a backlink to your home page.
You may also have the opportunity to join various associations as an individual attorney or on behalf of your entire practice, including local bar associations. There are also associations for different practice specialties, like the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
These associations often have an online presence and list of members. If your law firm name is on a membership role with a link, that is a valuable backlink.
2. .GOV and .EDU Links
These domains offer the biggest boost for backlinks. Even better, you don’t have to appear as a writer in an online legal journal to qualify, although that helps.
Here are some other suggestions:
- Ask your local government to add your law firm to the local business directory
- Participate in a job fair at a public university or employment office
- Send a press release to local university newspapers
- Offer a continuing ed class or lecture at a library or community college
- Fund a minor scholarship
- Create a legal ebook as a resource for a local government or college
These are just a few ways to get a link to your law firm from a GOV or EDU domain.
3. Legal and Topical Directories
Legal and topical directories are another way to earn links back to your law firm. In many cases, you can have your practice listed in these directories for free.
There are directories that are specific to law practice websites, such as Martindale-Hubbell, Avvo, or Justia. There are also topical directories that may relate to your practice but not be limited to law firms. For example, a personal injury practice can be associated with local hospitals.
There are also local business directories and directories for people who own law firms and meet other criteria, such as women business owners.
4. Guest Posting and Legal Article Contribution
Guest posting is a powerful link-building tool. When you write content for other sites, you can include an author bio with your law firm name and a link to your home page or relevant pages on your website.
Legal article contribution is very similar to guest posting. The difference is that here, you will focus on improving search engine rankings by contributing to legal journals, studies, and other academic online writing. As a contributor, you can earn links back from these publications to your professional website.
5. Trusted Local Citations/Links
This is where backlinks and local SEO intersect. There may be location-specific sources for citations and links that can help you earn more traffic and, eventually, better organic search results.
6. Sponsorship Opportunities
Law firms often sponsor sports teams, community events, tournaments, etc. In addition to building goodwill, sponsorships can lead to backlinks. Often, the name and website information of business sponsors will be listed on event websites along with links.
7. Own Satellites, PBNs, 301 Redirects
301 redirects are a way to route traffic and link juice from a dead web page to one that is still active. It's best practice to use a 301 redirect when you remove a page or change your website address. Additionally, you can buy abandoned domains with similar themes to your website and 301 redirect traffic from there to your main website.
There are also satellite websites. These websites are literally "in the orbit" of your main law firm website. This is also similar to a PBN, which is a private blog network created to share links. An example of a satellite website would be a client forum site that links back to your main website. You can also build a satellite website to take a deep dive into information about a specific legal topic or practice area.
These satellite sites build the authority of the main website because they link to and send traffic back to the primary site.
8. Crossposting via Social Media and Platforms, Web 2.0s
It’s important to share your content across multiple social media platforms and other spaces. Note that this doesn’t count as a backlink, but it can increase audience engagement and draw a wider audience that might share your links on social media or in their own content.
You can also create additional owned properties (such as WordPress websites) that are specifically for sharing content. Other platforms like BlogSpot and Medium offer opportunities for content sharing. You can publish content to these platforms, then link back to your website within those posts.
Social media links are usually nofollow links that don’t inherently boost the authority of your site. However, they can increase overall engagement. Finally, they’re also treated as dofollow links on platforms like LexBlog.
9. Infographics, eBooks, Podcasts, and Other Quality Content Distribution
If you create and distribute quality content, those backlinks will contribute to your law firm's SEO success. For example, if you produce a compelling infographic, other content creators may choose to use it and link back to you to give credit.
Another example would be a personal injury attorney that develops a checklist like “What to Do After a Car Accident”. This could be created as an ebook, PDF, or web page. People could then share this resource in their own circles and help build their authority.
Podcasts are exceptionally popular and a great way to build authority. When you create a podcast, you can direct listeners back to your website. Also, you can sponsor podcasts or take part as a guest. If you do, it’s very reasonable to expect your name and website URL to be listed in the podcast website, description, or marketing materials.
How to Start Building Links in a Loop
Building links is an ongoing endeavor. It’s important to build a solid foundation in the beginning and get listed in relevant directories. However, your first step should be to create your Google My Business profile to establish that link as well.
Next, focus on earning links from the most reputable sources. This includes .edu and .gov domains. Form relationships with other content creators to earn links from their articles and blog pages. Engage in guest posting as well.
Thanks to the research you’ve done, you understand the best backlinks to use, as well as what your competitors are doing. Use this information to create a link-building plan of your own, aiming for at least a couple of links each month. Remember that link diversity is important, so try to reach a balance of 70% branded URLs or generic anchors vs. 30% exact match keyword anchors.
Don’t forget to be vigilant about negative backlinks, which you can track through Google Search Console. You will need to disavow them quickly to avoid a penalty.
Finally, the power of a backlink may expire. That’s why it’s necessary to continue to take steps to earn links to your website. It’s an ongoing process that constantly iterates. Remember: Research, build, measure results, and repeat.
Measuring SEO Performance
Track the Keywords You Actually Care About
You’ve done extensive keyword research. Now, you want to see how well you are performing in searches for your most targeted keywords. Fortunately, tools like Google Search Console, Semrush, AHREFs, AWR Cloud, and Moz can help with this task.
Google Search Console: You can track keywords with Google by navigating to the Performance tab of its Search Console and clicking on “search results”. Tap or click on “average position” and “CTR”. This can help you identify keywords that are not ranking well or those that are ranking high but not earning clicks.
SemRush: Use the Keyword Magic tool to make a list of your target keywords. Later, add these to your keyword manager. Finally, you can use the keyword-tracking tool to monitor ranking and performance.
Ahrefs: Using the Ahrefs platform, you can upload a file of keywords as well as competitor URLs. This will allow you to see how your ranking and optimization are holding up.
AWR Cloud: Start by manually entering or uploading keywords for a specific campaign on the AWR Cloud platform. Later you can use the Keyword Monitoring section to find information.
Moz: Moz offers a traditional keyword ranking and tracking tool. It also has an added functionality to track location-specific keywords.
Monitor Organic Web Traffic
This is the traffic that enters your page from organic online search results. You have a few tools you can use to measure this. Google Analytics is the most well-known and easy to navigate. Google Search Console is another option, and so is AHREFs.
- Ahrefs: This tool uses a formula that includes your ranking for a specific keyword and estimated CTR for that position. It provides data for all ranked positions up to the 100th.
- Google Search Console: GSC monitors organic traffic using multiple data sets. It also provides reports on organic traffic through its built-in reporting system.
- Google Analytics: Organic traffic is included as an unpaid source in Google Analytics. You can also find it under the Acquisition tab in the left-hand menu, and you can find organic traffic tied to specific campaigns by continuing to the Overview tab.
Goal Conversion and Tracking
When you establish your SEO strategy, you may be able to set specific conversion goals. These are deliberate actions that people will take to convert. How many of these do you expect to achieve? Google Analytics has a specific area for tracking these goals. HubSpot and BuzzSumo also track them.
While winning over prospective clients should be a key conversion metric, it shouldn’t be the only one. Your law firm should also track:
- Lead capture form submissions
- Whitepaper downloads
- Email newsletter subscriptions
- Calls and texts
- Consultation appointments made online
CallRail is another tool that can integrate with Google Analytics and is absolutely essential to tracking goals. It tracks phone calls, messages, chats, and lead capture forms, which can then be attributed back to a specific campaign. CallRail can also track the tap-to-call messaging that can be set up in your law firm’s Google Business profile. It’s important to note that without CallRail, NAP citations are not reliable.
Track Increased Traffic and Conversions
The best way to track increased traffic and conversions is through the use of tracking modules known as UTM marks. These are special means for creating temporary URLs that can be used to attribute traffic back to a specific source. It does so by generating a long, dynamic URL and attaching query parameters to it. You can create UTM tracking URLs on Google Analytics.
Site Health and SEO Parameters Monitoring
Issues that impact your website’s SEO success can go undetected for quite a while. That’s why it’s important to provide constant monitoring. Changes in traffic and traffic sources can mean trouble. There are also internal problems that can occur, such as page speed and indexing issues. Try Google Analytics again, along with Google Search Console and KissMetrics.
Law firms have also had success using Semrush, Screaming Frog, Majestic, and AHREFs. Each one of these tools has built-in SEO auditing modules, so choose the product that works best for your firm and use the tool’s automated auditing to monitor your website’s health.
Local SEO Presence Tracking
How is your law firm doing in local search results? In addition to Google My Business, SEMRush is also an option, along with Moz for local SEO tools. You can try Brightlocal and Whitespark as well.
Link-Building Activity and Profile Monitoring
It’s important to stay on top of your efforts to earn links and track your company profile in various directories. For backlink monitoring, try Backlinko and AHREFs.
Measure Your Attorney SEO ROI
You invest money and resources into creating an SEO strategy. If you aren’t attracting potential clients, then the effort isn’t worthwhile. Fortunately, many website analytics software packages allow you to check attorney SEO ROI. Try Google Analytics or the analytics software connected with your website builder or CRM.
How to Do SEO for Lawyers
There are two ways to approach law firm SEO. You can design and implement your own strategy or contract the work out to a professional.
Implement SEO Yourself
There’s a lot involved here. You would have to stay on top of:
Continuing Your Education
This post contains a wealth of information on SEO, but it really is just the beginning, and you will need to expand your knowledge by delving into other sources. You can start by reviewing Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. The Moz SEO guide is also helpful.
It’s crucial to identify the right keywords that will draw traffic to your site. Prioritize those based on competition and relevance. Try these steps to dial in your list of relevant keywords:
- Create a list of your practice areas locations and other specialties
- Make combinations of specialties/locations and practice areas/locations
- Use synonyms to create alternative keyword combinations
- Research the keyword combinations to determine competition and relevance
Creating and Publishing Content
Regularly create high-quality, relevant content that is formatted for readability and optimized for SEO. Then, publish that content regularly. This also includes monitoring legal trends.
Take these action steps to start and maintain a solid content initiative:
- Using the keywords you have identified, create a list of 20 or so topics for each one that reflects your customers’ questions, concerns, and priorities
- Write a summary of your practice areas and location combinations
- Find opportunities where it is reasonable to use keywords (but avoid stuffing)
- Prioritize adding keywords to headers
- Create a separate web page for each summary
- Add CTAs on each web page to convert potential clients
- Stay current on web design best practices
Prioritizing Law Firm Website Tech Infrastructure
Before you implement SEO changes, you need to address technical issues. This means analyzing your site’s performance and ensuring that it meets Google’s minimum requirements for websites. This can be difficult to do without extensive technical and SEO knowledge, so even if you handle the rest of your firm’s SEO, consider outsourcing this step.
Taking Charge of Your Website Presence
Your online presence is something that must be monitored and nurtured constantly. Here are just a few steps you will need to take:
- Submit your law firm to local directories
- Claim your GMB and other online profiles
- Make a plan to keep website and blog content updated
- Create and implement an aggressive link-building strategy to pursue a minimum of five new links per month
Managing Directory Profiles
You also need to create directory profiles on various websites. Then, update those if anything changes.
SEO also impacts your website’s back end. You have to ensure it performs well, is mobile-friendly, and uses an optimized structure.
Reaching Out for Citations and Backlinks
Link and citation building often involves making contact with other content creators. That’s an important step for earning references to your website that boost your reputation and improve your rankings.
Hire an In-House SEO Specialist
If the task of overhauling and managing your firm’s SEO is too much, you could also hire someone to work for your law firm and manage its SEO. This would involve determining the necessary qualifications, writing a job description, and hiring a candidate. You’ll also have to consider the salary and benefits, as well as the administrative overhead of hiring a new employee.
At this point, you would have to train them, work with them to create a strategy, and set goals. You would also have to monitor and evaluate their success in their role.
Also, keep in mind that law firm SEO may be too much for a single SEO specialist to hire. Often, it takes a team’s worth of experience and capabilities to manage SEO, content creation, on-page optimization, and marketing strategies. Yes, you could hire a generalist, but that often means working with somebody who lacks the required in-depth knowledge.
Hire a Law Firm SEO Agency
SEO is a worthwhile pursuit, but it is also labor intensive and requires a set of skills that is outside of the average attorney’s capabilities. If you're not inclined to add to your skillset, then you may be better off hiring an agency. This is doubly true if you believe hiring an in-house SEO team would be more trouble than it is worth.
If you hire an agency, you will take on less work yourself. Still, you have to set a budget for this. Your team will also have to form a cooperative relationship with the digital agency. This includes setting goals and tracking the outcomes.
Before Hiring an Agency
Before you begin the process of seeking out the right agency, take these things into consideration:
SEO services are not usually cheap, and you will likely pay a minimum of $1,000 per month for them. Some SEO experts have hourly billing rates, and they aren’t too far removed from what you charge your own clients. Make room for this in your budget.
What to Look for When Hiring an SEO Agency for Your Law Firm
When you hire an agency, you’ll want to find one that is reputable. It will ideally have a team that is specifically experienced in working in the legal niche. They should also be able to provide a clear roadmap to SEO success.
Think about this guide and use it as a litmus test. Is the agency you are considering bringing up some of the points and strategies addressed here? If so, that is a good sign. Inquire about content marketing, link-building, and technical SEO. Ask how they will incorporate these things.
Ask for case studies and work samples. Since law firm marketing is uniquely complex (and expensive), consider focusing on firms that only specialize in performance marketing for law firms. You want to be sure they understand your unique concerns and pain points.
Red Flags that Signal a Poor Law Firm SEO Consultant
Here are a few red flags you’ll want to avoid when considering an SEO agency:
- Poor reviews and testimonials
- Inexperience with the legal niche
- Overpromising with too much focus on earning rankings and traffic quickly
- Vague goals
- Unwilling to explain their methods
- Use of paid search methods instead of SEO
You have your choice of digital agencies, so don’t hesitate to be choosy.