Are you interested in having your law firm be the top Google search result? Of course, you are. This is the value of law firm SEO(search engine optimization). Getting your firm to be the top Google search result can be a valuable part of your digital marketing initiatives.
Law firm SEO (or lawyer SEO) is the practice of working on a law firm’s website and online footprint to get more visibility and exposure on search engines. It can be a complicated process, but we can help.
The Importance of SEO for Law Firm Websites
SEO for lawyers is one of the most effective ways for law firms and lawyers to get high-quality clients. Here are some reasons why you should focus on your law firm’s SEO
Ninety-six percent of people searching for legal advice use a search engine.
About half of all Google Searches are for local products or services.
Seventy-four percent of people who visit a law firm’s website are looking to take action.
Brands with active blogs get almost 50% more traffic than ones without blogs.
The majority of legal searches are generic (i.e. “Lawyers near me” or “Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer”)
- The first organic search result gets almost 30% more clicks than the next result.
The data shows that being near the top when people search for legal services matters. So a great website and having a strategy for getting found on search engines should be a part of your law firm’s marketing strategy.
The good news is that SEO is rather inexpensive compared to other forms of marketing. At its core, SEO is about having a good website, creating good strategic content, becoming a trusted name in the community, and keeping up with some of Google’s best practices. Unlike advertisements which depend almost entirely on how much money you’re willing to spend, SEO only requires time and consistency. That’s why we call SEO an investment.
If you’re willing to invest some time every week, you can see big changes in your search engine visibility in a few months. And if you’re not interested in investing time yourself, there are always services like ours that are happy to help.
The rest of this post guides you to improve your law firm’s SEO.
Most law firms service local areas to find new clients. To accomplish that goal local search results need to be a priority. Local search is also a great place to start if you’re new to SEO because it doesn’t require much technical SEO knowledge.
There are many local ranking factors when optimizing your web pages for local SEO. Some of them are out of your control, like distance to your office, while some are in your control, like good client reviews.
Local SEO mostly revolves around optimizing your Google Business Profile.
Google Business Profile
A Google Business Profile is what Google lists when it shows local businesses on Google or Google Maps. It’s a free service that Google provides. If you’ve ever used Google to find directions or research a business, you’ve interacted with a Google Business Profile.
Here is an example of the search result for “Law firms near me.” Google provides three results, and each of those results is taken from a Google Business Profile. It’s worth being one of the top three results when someone searches for a law firm near them. And those results are heavily determined by the strength of their Google Business Profile.
So what makes a strong Google Business Profile? Several things!
The first is to create a profile completely. Google prioritizes profiles that give as much information as they can. It’s also important to be truthful in your profile. If Google finds out you’re lying, they will penalize you severely. The next thing to do is add pictures and ensure all of your descriptions follow copywriting best practices. Make sure you provide a lot of compelling information that gets people to click on your profile.
Optimizing Your Profile for Local Law Firm SEO
Once you’ve set up your Google Business Profile and have added pictures and a strong description. You need to update it continually. Google favors active profiles. This means occasionally adding pictures, making posts, and updating holiday hours. Google rewards people who care about their law firm’s Google Business Profile. And after a few months, Google will begin to rank your profile in searches.
As you can see, creating and optimizing a Google Business Profile is very simple. However, it takes work.
Every week you need to be working on and updating your profile. Because being a top search result can be lucrative for a law firm or any small business, Google requires months of steady work to filter out people who aren’t serious.
Another aspect that can make local SEO for lawyers difficult is that you need to be collecting positive reviews. How well you’re reviewed on Google is important in how Google Maps and Google overall choose to rank you. Positive reviews can set your business profile apart. Make sure you always ask for client reviews.
So while you could do it yourself, do you want to spend the time? If you think it would be easier to have this responsibility taken off your plate so you can focus on the area you excel, contact us. Google Business Profile Optimization is one of the services we offer.
This is the easiest place to start with lawyer SEO as it doesn’t require web development or SEO tools. You can begin ranking just by taking care of your Google Business Profile. However, there is a ceiling on how high you can rank only using this method. To ensure you’re at the top of more competitive search results, you’ll need to focus on more advanced areas of SEO.
What are Google Ranking Factors?
Google uses hundreds of factors to decide which websites rank well in their search engine results. And while we don’t know all of them, we do know some. Generally speaking, the factors we know about are grouped into three categories: On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO, and Technical SEO. Each plays an important role in getting your website traffic.
Good SEO for lawyers aims to optimize for all three as best you can. There’s no such thing as perfect SEO. There are too many factors, and those factors are constantly changing. But there is almost always room for improvement.
On Page SEO for lawyers
On-page SEO is about creating content on your law firm’s website that people search for on search engines. Usually, law firms create this content by creating blog posts. However, blogs can come off as overly casual or informal. So you’ll often see them called something else, like articles or valuable information. However, no matter what they name it, still just a blog.
At this point, it’s worth discussing what Google is looking for in content. Google is a business, and they want to provide their customers with the best experience possible. So Google tries to recommend websites that are informative and user-friendly.
So the goal of good on-page SEO is to create helpful content that answers the questions searchers are looking for, and that is structured in such a way that it is easy to digest.
But how do we know what kind of content to make and what questions to answer? That’s where keyword research comes in.
Keyword research is the process of discovering what people are searching for. The two main tools used are Semrush and Ahrefs. There is generally no consensus on which one is best. It usually comes down to personal preference. At AttorneyClicks, we use both, but we’re full-time SEOs. For the average law firm SEO endeavor, either one would do.
Both tools have massive databases of search queries, to the point where they have a good understanding of what is being searched across the whole internet.
They’re great for understanding Google’s search engine results pages(SERPs). SERPs refer to the parts that appear at the top of a Google search. Often it’s things like Google Maps, but it can also be frequently asked questions, Search Ads, and featured snippets. These tools track what shows up and if you can appear in Google Searches.
Those search queries or search terms are what SEOs call keywords. Keyword is a confusing term because a keyword can be several words. It’s best to think of a keyword as what someone types into Google.
Long Tail Keywords
The goal of keyword research is to find Google searches that are easy to rank for. Often you’ll hear them referred to as long-tail keywords. So, for example, say you want to know how many people are searching for a “Grand Rapids criminal defense lawyer.” You would search for that in one of the tools and get the results below.
In the picture above, you can see that the keyword “Grand Rapids criminal defense lawyer” has a monthly search volume of 90 and a KD%(Keyword Difficulty – A measure of how hard it is to rank for that keyword) of 20%. This keyword is relatively easy to rank.
Many factors determine how easy it is for any firm to rank for a keyword. Generally speaking, older websites have an easier time than brand-new ones. An established website could rank for that keyword fairly easily by creating some content around the keyword.
You might be thinking that a search volume of 90 isn’t very high, and you’re right. It’s not. But at this point in the internet, keywords that get a lot of traffic are highly competitive and would require significant investment to rank for them. For example, here is the data for the keyword “criminal defense lawyer.”
As you can see, the search volume is around 33,000 searches per month. However, it also has a KD% of 70. It would be very hard for a small or new firm to rank well for that keyword nationally.
Law Firm SEO Keyword Strategy
So the strategy of SEO today is to find a lot of keywords that are easy to rank, likely because they have lower volume, and create a lot of high-quality content around those words.
SEO is incredibly strategic in this regard. And this is just a brief overview of keyword research—things like search intent, user intent, and location-based keywords complicate things. But searching for relevant keywords that are easy to rank for is a great place to start.
Now that we know how to find what to write about, how do we optimize it for Google? This is where content structure matters.
You want to structure your content so that it’s easy for users and for Google’s army of search engine crawlers to read your site. The best way to do this is to have clear headers and headings in your articles.
To do this, you would utilize the various HTML tags: h1, h2, h3, h4, h5. Google views the header tags in decreasing importance, with h1 being the most important and h5 being the least important. Every post you write should have one h1 tag, and it should contain the keyword you’re trying to rank.
When making content for your site, it’s a good idea to make an outline of headers and to have a clear hierarchy of what you’re writing about.
The other thing to consider when structuring your content is using internal links. Internal links are links to other pages on your site. These links tell Google what those other pages are about. They look at the work that’s hyperlinked and associate that word with the content on the page to which it’s linking.
A coherent internal links strategy is vital for informing Google what the content on a law firm website is about.
Google also takes into account readability. They want to make sure the law firm websites they show are easy to read. What this means in practice is that the design of your law firm’s website matters.
To keep it simple, though, Google is looking for high contrast on the page. You almost always want black text on a white background. And you also want to avoid using fonts that are hard to read or too small.
The other thing to remember is how your law firm’s website looks on mobile. Most internet searches are done on mobile phones, so you want to ensure your website is optimized to work on a smaller screen. Website load speed is also important, but we’ll talk more about that further down.
The last thing about readability to keep in mind is “alt tags.” Alt tags are a property of images on your website. They’re a small bit of text that describes the image.
Why do you need them? For two reasons, the first they help people with disabilities understand what’s on the page. But also, they help Google know what about the picture. Google can’t see the picture, so it relies on alt tags to understand what you’re showing. Google will penalize you for not having alt tags.
The last aspect of on-page SEO relevant to law firms is YMYL. TMYL stands for Your Money, Your Life.
Google is strict regarding websites and content that can affect someone’s life. These are things like financial advice, health claims, things that can negatively affect happiness, and claims regarding safety. As a law firm, your web pages can help or hurt all those categories.
An expert in the legal field must oversee content that provides legal advice. Google checks YMYL websites based on expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EAT). You’ll be able to read more about that here.
The point in saying this is not that you personally have to write every article or blog post. What it does mean is that you need to review all content that is being uploaded to the site. And you need to approve of it.
This high bar of expertise can make SEO for law firms difficult. It’s also why we would not recommend hiring cheap or foreign ghostwriters to make content. Bad advice can open you up to legal issues and hurt your organic search results.
Off Page SEO for Lawyers
While on-page SEO is concerned with what happens on your website and with your content, off-page SEO is about what happens on other websites.
One of the ranking factors Google uses is trustworthiness. How does Google determine if a site is trustworthy? Backlinks.
A backlink is the SEO term for when another website links back to your website. A common example of this is in news articles. You’ll often see that within the text, they have links to the things they reference. This article has several backlinks.
Google views backlinks as a sign of authority. Generally speaking, the more people link to your website, the better. This signals to Google that your website is trustworthy and that you are an expert in your field.
The other aspect of backlinks is that they’re not all created equal. A backlink from The New York Times is more valuable than a backlink from a random blog. The goal for backlinking is to get what Google views as trusted sources to link to your site.
This is easier said than done and often leads SEO for lawyers to send out thousands of cold emails asking people to link back to their website. This process is called link building and is the bane of every SEO.
Registering for local directories is one way to get started with link building that can be helpful for local SEO. Places like Yellow Pages or Yelp are easy ways to start to build a backlink profile for your site.
Good Public Relations
The best way to build your backlink profile is to have good public relations. Law firm SEO agencies can only do so much. Partnering with a good local public relations firm can help build relationships and help you get links from authoritative sites.
High-profile cases are great for this. News articles that link to your web page are a great source of backlinks. To take on a high-profile case for the sake of backlinks is ridiculous. But it does get backlinks; in our experience, these are often the only backlinks some law firm websites have.
Technical SEO for lawyers
The last aspect of SEO that can affect your search engine rankings is what’s called technical SEO. Technical SEO is the practice of optimizing the code on your site so that it’s easy for Google to read. This usually involves working with the html but includes things like site speed.
Google wants your website to be fast. People have small attention spans on the internet, and for every second your law firm’s website takes to load, fewer people will see your site. There are several ways to make a website faster. Many of them have to do with design(i.e., avoiding large image files) but also utilizing a CDN.
You want to get your website to be as fast as possible. The nice thing is Google gives you a tool to test your site’s speed and gives you recommendations on how to improve it. The tool is called Google PageSpeed Insights. It’s what we use, and it’s what we recommend you use.
Core Web Vitals
The other aspect to remember is what Google calls Core Web Vitals. Google breaks Core Web vitals into three measurements: Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), and First Input Delay (FID).
Cumulative Layout Shift – measure the visual stability of your site. Have you ever been on a site and accidentally clicked on something because the site moved? Cumulative Layout Shift measures that. You want as little movement as possible.
First Contentful Paint – measures how long it takes to load the largest element on your web page
First Input Delay – measures how long your law firm’s website takes to respond to a user interaction.
There are many ways your law firm’s website can affect these three measurements. And often, fixing one can hurt one of the others. The goal is to optimize your site as best you can.
Google’s PageSpeed Insights is great for telling you what areas on your website need improving.
Structured data, sometimes called schema markup, helps search engines understand important aspects of your website. They are little pieces of code that you add to your site’s theme that help search engines pull out important information.
Schema.org, the gold standard for all things structured data, has several options that can be very helpful to your search results if you’re brave enough to dig into your code.
Good and Clean HTML
We touched on this earlier when discussing headers. But having a clean and logical structure to your page does help with SEO for law firms. HTML is what the search engine crawlers read, and making it easy for them is paramount for SEO success.
This means you want good headers with a clear hierarchy. Use paragraph tags for the bulk of your content.
Utilize descriptions(sometimes called meta descriptions). Meta descriptions are the preview text shown in a Google’s organic search results. Use your best copywriting skills to write a great meta description so people will want to click. You also want to add keywords like “personal injury lawyer” or “law firm SEO company” to meta descriptions, as this can help Google know what you do.
And then, use links, images, title tags, and bullets to make the reading experience easy and enjoyable for the user.
These are just some of the things you can do to improve your search results rankings. But how do you know if your SEO campaign is working? That’s where measurement comes in.
Measuring your SEO results
So you’ve gone through and made your site blazing fast. You did keyword research and produced high-quality content that your users will love. You even did some link building and are becoming an authority. How do you know if this is all working?
This is where measurement comes into play. Tracking your results helps you understand how your SEO strategy is doing. You need tracking to know if your SEO investment has paid off or if you’re wasting money trying to reach potential clients.
Luckily there are several free tools to track your organic search results and organic search traffic, so you can see if you’re reaching more potential clients.
The first tool is Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is the main tool websites use to track and analyze their traffic. It’s a free tool developed by Google.
Google Analytics is at its best when it shows which campaigns are working best for you. And while the main application is for something like Google Ads, Google Analytics is great for showing you which pages drive the most organic search traffic.
To get more specific SEO data, there’s Google Search Console.
Google Search Console (GSC)
Google Search Console is another free tool offered by Google. It can help you optimize your website’s search engine rankings and show you if your site has any errors. GSC or Google Search Console is also where you request Google to index your law firm’s site.
Along with having great diagnostic tools, Google Search Console also gives you data on your organic search performance.
It provides metrics like clicks, impressions, click-through rate, and your average ranking. These are all beneficial for analyzing the success of an SEO campaign.
Something to keep in mind is that Google doesn’t give you the actual data. It gives you an accurate representation or sampling of the data. So you’ll often see Google Search Console data not match up with Google Analytics data. Google does this because if they gave out accurate GSC data, competitors would be able to figure out their algorithm.
Still, they give you enough data to work with, and it can provide invaluable information on your site and your Google rankings.
Semrush and Ahrefs
You can also use Semrush and Ahrefs to analyze your Google rankings. Yes, both tools are helpful for finding keywords. But they’re so much more than just keyword tools. They offer many features to help you in your law firm’s SEO.
They both offer site audit features which are great for finding errors on web pages and for finding areas of improvement.
Semrush offers some local SEO tools that help you automatically get listed in local directories, which will help you rank higher in local search results. If your goal is to increase your local SEO and your visibility, local search Semrush is probably the better tool.
Search Engine Optimization for Law Firms – Getting Started
As you can see, SEO (search engine optimization) for law firms is a big topic. There are countless ways to increase your standing on search engine results pages. We understand that it can all be overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a technical background.
Here is how we at AttorneyClicks would recommend you get started with SEO for law firms.
Focus on local SEO. Local SEO is the least technical aspect of SEO, and it can have major payoffs. If your local SEO is good, many other factors this article discusses become less relevant. Get your website listed in legal directories and local directories. And every week, do something to update your Google Business Profile. And you’ll see your local rankings begin to climb.
Start a Blog. Start writing articles that answer people’s legal questions and then mention your legal services. You can take it further by purchasing a keyword tool like Semrush or Ahrefs. This will help you find a target keyword. But you can just start by writing simple blog posts. You’ll be amazed at how beneficial this can be.
Build Authority. Make connections and potentially work with PR firms to get links. Backlinks are the most difficult part of SEO for lawyers. Gathering enough backlinks to become authoritative in a Google search result takes time.
Keep the design of your website and your posts simple. Technical SEO can get complicated, but something you can do that’s very easy is keeping things on your site simple. Flashy designs can look better, but they often complicate and slow your website.
Work with Google. It’s tempting to try and find a loophole or shortcut. SEO for lawyers is a long game. Google rewards people who have been working honestly with them for months. Being the top result for search engines is big business, so Google only gives those spots to law firms it trusts.
Law Firm SEO is time consuming
If all of this seems like too much work, we completely understand. There’s much to learn about search engine optimization and web development. You probably didn’t go to law school to worry about your law firm’s SEO.
That’s why we’re here to help you with your SEO marketing. We provide top SEO services to law firms across the country. We can help your law firm do everything in this article and more.
Our services are usually covered by getting your firm just one extra case per month. It’s just that simple. If you’re interested in learning more, please fill out the form below, and someone will be in touch soon.
SEO helps lawyers improve their websites so that prospective clients can easily find their services when they’re needed. SEO can be a tool for getting new cases and growing your firm’s caseload
Local Search Engine Optimization for lawyers helps lawyers improve their Google Business Profile which means when people search for lawyers near them, their listing is more likely to be the first result. The first result in any search gets 25% more traffic than the next result. Therefore if you can rank even one spot higher, you can dramatically increase your cases.
Attorney SEO is a specialization of SEO for lawyers. Search engine optimization is the practice of creating excellent website content that’s easy for Google to use in searches. Attorney SEO is using those best practices to improve SEO for lawyers and law firm SEO. Legal SEO has an added difficulty of needing to be very authoritative.
You want to research keywords so you can create content for what people are actually searching for. Generally, someone uses a tool like Ahrefs or Semrush to do the research. From there they pick a primary keyword or a target keyword on which to base their content.
Google has a lot of variables that of into an SEO ranking factor. We don’t know most of them as Google keeps them a secret. But we do know some like: Site speed, core web vitals, proper html tagging, good site structure. Even things like distance can affect where your company shows up in a Google Maps local pack.
There are several different areas in Google’s Search engines results Page (SERP). The SERP is a just a shorthand for a Google search result. Over the years, Google has added many things to the SERP like: Google Maps, Google Ads, Callouts, Local Pack, and much more.
Clients should leave reviews everywhere! But they can be especially helpful on Google Maps because Google’s machine learning algorithm prioritizes law firms who have good reviews and serve their clients well.