Have you ever thought about how improbable gardening can be as an activity? (Bear with us.)
Think about it: you take a bunch of seeds and bury them in the ground. You hope that you get enough sun and water—but not too much of either. You also have to hope that birds, squirrels, and other pesky pests don’t interfere with your fledgling sprouts.
It can take weeks to see results, and even if you do, who knows if your efforts will yield something edible (or at least aesthetically pleasing). And while a hobbyist might not mind if their tomato crop doesn’t flourish, you better have a strategy in mind if you’re counting on gardening to fill your pantry.
Getting potential clients to visit your website is a lot like gardening. You’re essentially planting a bunch of seeds and waiting for them to grow. And unless you plant and nurture the right crops for the climate, you may end up without much to show for it.
That’s where SEO—the key to online visibility—comes in.
What is SEO, and why does it matter?
Ask yourself: when was the last time you dove beyond the first page of Google search results?
Chances are, it’s rarely (if ever).
And that’s exactly why your search engine rankings are important. With a low click-through rate for anything beyond the first page, you’ll miss out on potential leads if your website is essentially invisible.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, offers you a strategy for improving the visibility of your content. It relies on a combination of techniques to ensure that, when potential clients search for legal services or answers to legal questions, your website ranks highly in non-paid sections of search engines.
Those techniques include:
- Creating high-quality content
- Using specific keywords
- Building backlinks
- Improving your site speed and overall functionality
- And more
Why does SEO matter for your law firm?
The legal field is highly competitive. In fact, 76% of consumers look at three or more law firm websites before deciding to reach out as a potential client. And to be one of those law firms (and, ideally, the one they move forward with), you need to stand out from the crowd.
It’s not as simple as just deciding to invest in SEO, though. According to a 2022 study, 79% of law firms consider SEO to be the most effective marketing channel—which means there are a lot of law firms out there that are already working to come out ahead.
In short: strategy alone isn’t enough. You also need to be sure you’re executing it well.
Key factors evaluated by search engines for SEO
The key to implementing a high-performing SEO strategy? Understanding the factors that search engines evaluate when determining which websites are most valuable to users. (And, of course, keeping up with the ever-shifting digital marketing trends!)
Key elements in your SEO strategy should include:
On-page optimization focuses on what’s on your website pages—such as the content, title tags, meta descriptions, headers, URLs, images, internal linking, and schema markup—so that search engines can ascertain whether it’s relevant to user queries.
Off-page optimization is how you build your website’s authority. It involves establishing backlinks to your website from other reputable sources, to build your brand’s credibility.
Technical SEO focuses more on performance than content, but is equally important. It involves making sure your website’s code is crisp and clean, keeping your site user-friendly, fast, and accessible to all visitors.
Three ways to jump-start your law firm’s SEO
SEO involves a lot of moving parts, but you can differentiate your website from your competitors (and edge them out in search rankings) with a few key activities.
- Create compelling content
When a potential client is in need of a lawyer, there’s a good chance they first turn to Google for assistance. Whether they’re wondering about child custody laws in their state or trying to determine whether they really need an estate plan, you want to position your law firm as a reliable, trustworthy source that will provide the answers they’re looking for.
Your content—whether it’s a blog, service page, or otherwise—should:
Focus on quality
Keywords are important, no doubt about it. But without empathic and engaging content, potential clients are going to hop right off your page—and over to a competitor’s.
So before you dive into the actual content creation process, spend some time really understanding your clients and their needs. What are their pain points, and how can your law firm help them? What are their common inquiries or search terms?
The more tailored your content is to your potential clients, the longer those potential clients will stay on your page—and the more Google will interpret your site as relevant to searches.
Target the right keywords within your content
Your potential clients are seeking answers to their legal questions. And your website should answer those questions.
Specificity is vital, though. Specific keywords, also known as long-tail keywords, help speak directly to where you practice, your services and practice areas, and how you work with clients.
The benefits of this are three-fold:
- You tell Google exactly what kind of work you do
- Clients will better know what to expect when they reach out to you
- You can rank more easily for terms
For example, if you practice family law in Richmond, Virginia and offer court-certified mediation services, include those phrases in your practice area page or blog copy. This helps clients assess whether your law firm is relevant to their search intent. And the more relevant you are to their search intent, the more compelling it will be.
Diversify keywords to address search variations
It’s also vital to create content that addresses those keywords’ different aspects.
If your primary keyword is “divorce lawyer in New York City,” you should create blog posts that cover topics like “How to Choose the Right Divorce Lawyer,” “The Benefits of Hiring a Divorce Mediator,” and “What to Expect During Your First Meeting with a Divorce Attorney.”
By creating this diverse range of content, you can address different search queries related to your primary keyword, increasing the chances of potential clients finding your website when searching for information related to divorce lawyers in New York City.
Your content should also empathize with and engage your audience. It’s one thing for your law firm’s blogs to show up on their search engine results page, but it’s another thing to get them to click—and stay—on your page.
2. Build up the backlinks
When other websites link your URLs, it directs traffic to your site. Think of them like endorsements—the more you have, the more popular your website appears to search engines.
Enhance your local SEO through backlinking and off-page citations by:
- Reaching out to reputable websites in your industry for potential collaborations
- Offering guest posts on credible publications or websites
- Ensuring the anchor text (the clickable text of a hyperlink) used in these backlinks uses relevant keywords for your practice area and location
Don’t forget off-page citations, either, which mention your business contact information on other websites like legal directories or online publications.
3. Take care of the technical SEO
When building your website, the technical part of SEO should come into play right from the beginning.
There are several key components to taking care of the technical aspects of SEO, namely:
- Mobile-friendliness. Google prioritizes websites optimized for all screen sizes—desktops, tablets, and smartphones.
- Navigation and usability. When Google sends its robots to investigate your website, it wants to see that all pages are easily accessible and that the content is organized logically. A simple website menu will be most helpful, with clear links to other important and relevant pages.
- Site speed. Slow load times can negatively impact user experience and cause potential clients to leave your site before seeing what you offer, so aim for a load time of under 2.5 seconds on any screen.
Friendly tip: follow Google’s guidelines
Meeting all of Google’s criteria is the key to ranking higher in search result pages. Fortunately, Google offers its help to businesses that want to optimize their websites for technical SEO. The internet giant has its own webmaster guidelines so your law firm can avoid common mistakes that may harm your rankings.
But if you need help from SEO experts, don’t be afraid to delegate.
Law firm SEO: DIY or hire an SEO consultant?
You have two options when building your law firm website’s SEO: do it yourself or hire an SEO consultant. Let’s consider them both.
Let’s be honest: if you’re unfamiliar with SEO, managing it on your own can prove to be a challenge—but there are ways to get started.
Mapping out an SEO strategy for your law firm should include the following steps:
- Read Google’s Webmaster Guidelines
- Learn more about how to DIY your website’s SEO
- Conduct keyword research
- Create content (i.e., blog posts) for your website
- Build your online presence through social media (including establishing a Google Business Profile)
- Establish connections with directories, business listings, publications, or other law firm websites
- Invite your clients to leave online reviews
Keep in mind that SEO isn’t just time-consuming to do—it also takes time to work. Seeing results from SEO can take upwards of six months (unless you can carve out dozens of hours a month to focus on the work).
Hiring it out
Working with SEO specialists will undoubtedly give your law firm website a comprehensive SEO strategy that will increase your chances of ranking higher in the search engines.
An SEO company, or any company specializing in digital marketing, can help build your law firm’s website optimization. They will have a strategy for high-quality content for legal marketing, driving traffic through organic searches, link building, and social media marketing.
While this method may be most costly upfront, the ROI is well worth it.
Collaborate with FocusWorks
At FocusWorks, we specialize in creating a unique and compelling digital experience for law firms and other organizations in compliance-regulated industries.
As your law firm SEO experts, we’ll help you implement creative and effective marketing efforts by combining our SEO and digital marketing expertise. Contact us today to discover how to optimize your law firm’s website to snag a spot in the search engine spotlight.