Is your law firm’s website struggling to generate relevant traffic or quality leads? It may be time to evaluate your site’s search engine optimization (SEO). SEO for law firms is a powerful way to rise in search results. Let’s examine the principles of SEO, how you can audit your legal SEO, and the best practices when leveraging SEO for lawyers.
If your site is generating leads but you simply need help with client and matter management, book a consultation with either our attorney SEO experts or the Clio software team to learn about their incredible law firm management platform.
SEO Tips for Lawyers and Law Firms
- 1Why Is SEO for Law Firms Important?
- 2What Is SEO for Lawyers?
- 311 Law Firm SEO Tips
- 41. Determine Your Law Firm’s Keywords
- 52. Optimize Your Site With Your Keywords
- 63. Review the Competition
- 74. Customize How Your Law Firm Appears in Search Result Pages
- 85. Verify Your Website is Mobile-Friendly
- 96. Improve Your Law Firm Website Page Load Speeds
- 107. Create Keyword Specific Website Pages
- 118. Track Your Keyword Rankings
- 129. Get High-Quality Backlinks
- 1310. Optimize Your Profiles on Avvo, Justia, and Super Lawyers
- 1411. Improve Your Law Firm’s Local SEO With Your Google My Business Profile
Why Is SEO for Law Firms Important?
According to the Legal Trends Report, 17% of legal consumers looked for a lawyer via online search; tied for the second-most of any method.
Additionally, the average internet user doesn’t go past the first page of the search results. We’ll repeat that and let it sink in: no matter your clever tactics, solid strategies, or known name, if your website isn’t on Page 1 of the search engine results page (SERP), you’re going to lose potential clients to your competitors.
This is why more lawyers are looking to SEO services for law firms as a proven strategy to increase their traffic, leads, and online presence. While you can pay to get on Page 1 using pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, search engine optimization (SEO) is a very powerful marketing strategy that helps you get to the top of the search results organically.
The term “organic” references the way by which users find your site. Organic traffic is not paid traffic, rather, it’s made up of users that find your site through search engines. When a potential client searches for, “best attorneys,” or, “top law firms near me,” you likely want your law firm to surface at the top of those searches.
Before we review our top 10 law firm SEO tips, let’s address the basics of legal SEO.
What Is SEO for Lawyers?
SEO is a digital marketing practice that increases the organic search traffic to your website. SEO for lawyers works in the same way as SEO for any other market: by leveraging strategies that are tuned to both users and search engine algorithms with the goal of surfacing in relevant search results.
By optimizing your on-site and off-site properties, you’re giving search engines and your target audience clear messaging about who you are and the legal services you provide. This clarity leads to higher search engine rankings, more organic web traffic, more leads, and more clients.
Examples of On-Site SEO for Lawyers:
- User experience (website UX)
- Schema markup
Examples of Off-Site SEO for Lawyers:
- Google My Business optimization
- Directory backlinks
- Editorial backlinks
11 Law Firm SEO Tips
Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo have hundreds of ranking factors that determine where your website will land in search results. The more a website, “follows the rules,” the higher it will rank in search results.
So what influences these ranking signals? Factors such as quality user experience, page speed, domain authority, content value, and keyword relevancy contribute to your search engine result page (SERP). Keeping this in mind, you can implement small changes which can lead to big results and higher conversion rates.
1. Determine Your Law Firm’s Keywords
If the content is the ship that powers SEO – then keywords are its sails. You likely don’t want your law firm’s website links to show up in searches for the best Thai restaurants nearby… unless you happen to own a neighboring Thai restaurant. Determining the proper keywords is the first step in optimizing your law firm’s website.
For example, “lawyer in Raleigh” is a very broad search term and the likelihood of any law firm handling every type of litigation is slim to none. Consider refining your topics to align more closely with your areas of practice, such as “Raleigh Divorce Attorney,” “Personal Injury Law Firm,” or “Raleigh Business Lawyer.”
The more specific and targeted your keywords, the more likely you’ll attract qualified website traffic and leads for your practice. So how do you choose which keywords to start with?
How to Choose Your Keywords
Step 1: Think like your ideal customer.
Think about exactly what kind of searches you want your law firm to rank for. Consider your main areas of practice as a starting point. For each practice area, write down possible keywords to associate with them.
Step 2: Research the searches.
Do a bit of research related to your search terms. Go to Google and look at the Page 1 results when you enter in your keywords. Do you consider the results to be aligned with your practice? How can you stand out from these results? Also, consider the “searches related to” section at the bottom of the page for additional relevant keywords. Google Trends is a useful tool when looking at high-level keyword trends over time.
Step 3: Analyze the competition.
Check out what your competition is doing…and do it better. Choose a few competing law firms in your area to see what types of content they’re producing. Also look at larger law firms’ websites and use their frequency of production, keyword clusters, and length of each article as a mentor or template. More on this topic in the “How to Find the Keyword of a URL” section below.
Step 4: Create a keyword hierarchy.
Build out clusters of topics that support your main practice area. Once you’ve looked at Page 1 search results for your practice area, blog posts, and other types of content your competitors are offering, you’ll likely see a theme arise. Start building a cluster of related topics and create a structure or map. This will help you link, or connect, blog posts and pages to the main parent page – which is ideal for navigation and search engine hierarchy.
How to Find a Keyword of a URL
Ready to take your SEO spy skills to the next level? If you want to find the keyword of a competitor’s blog post or service page, look for the page’s keyword density. There are tools like the SEOQuake Chrome extension that, when toggled on, enable you to easily view how often a page mentions specific words.
You can then take that keyword, plug that into search engines and see all of the top-ranking blogs for that term. If the competition is too steep, it might be wise to look for longer tail keywords – or more nuanced search terms.
The goal of all of this is to build rich, valuable content for users that ultimately leads to a conversion.
2. Optimize Your Website with your Keywords
Make sure that all of the primary elements of your website, like your headline, sub-headers that break up topics (H2s and H3s), your call to action, and the content itself use that page’s keywords.
Common SEO Mistake #1: keyword cannibalization! You should only appoint one keyword per page.
Your headline should include the keywords you want to rank the highest for, such as your main area of practice, like “Raleigh Divorce Attorney” and sub-headers should be optimized with your keyword and additional keywords you want to rank for. Take a look at this example to see what we mean…
Your images, title tag, and meta description, also play a significant role in your SEO and can be optimized with your keywords – more on this as you keep reading.
Common SEO Mistake #2: keyword stuffing! Search engines will penalize you if you try to “keyword stuff.” So use your keywords naturally, with a keyword density of about 1-2%.
3. Review the Competition
Once you’ve determined your target keywords, search for each term in a search engine to see where you rank compared to your competition. This will give you a better idea of who you’re truly competing against in the organic search results and more importantly: how you rank over time.
Consider what you have in common or what sets you apart from competing law firms. Visit those websites and do a deep dive into how they are leveraging keywords, using content, and structuring their website to achieve those high ranks.
For example, look for these factors that can impact search engine results:
- Does the top result have a blog that is updated regularly with articles related to their practice area?
- Is their website using keywords throughout their pages, in headlines, and in sub-headers?
- Does the site load quickly? (Be sure to check this on a mobile device, too!)
Looking more at how your competitors’ websites achieve rankings can give you a better idea as to what you can do to improve your visibility, whether that means highlighting additional services you may offer or how you can adjust keywords to be more relevant or less specific, depending on what you find out.
4. Customize How Your Law Firm Appears in Search Result Pages
For each page of your website, you should include metadata, that is the information about your website that shows up on search engine result pages and tells users and search engine algorithms what your page is about. There are two main components to this:
Meta Title Tags
This tells the user and search engine algorithm exactly what your page is about, which is why it’s important to use your keywords and locations here. Meta titles should not exceed 60 characters, as most search engines truncate the text.
This is a synopsis of what is included in the page and gives you an additional opportunity to include your keywords and location. Similar to your title tag, your meta description also has character limits. We recommend keeping your meta descriptions between 120 – 155 characters. Always include your keyword and a call to action.
Using a content management system, such as WordPress, you can easily optimize your title tags and meta descriptions for each page of your website.
Alright, let’s take a breather. We know: this is a lot of information. But we’re halfway through the SEO for lawyers crash course! Go grab a cup of coffee and come on back. Or, if you never want to think about SEO again…just hire a law firm SEO agency! Our SEO services for lawyers can help your legal website rise to the top of relevant results.
5. Verify Your Website is Mobile-Friendly
With more people using their mobile devices to search for lawyers, having a user-friendly mobile site is essential for conversions. However, a mobile-friendly website is also a factor in the search engine optimization of the site. Google, Bing, and other search engines use responsive web design as a major factor in how they score websites and determine rankings.
Reports show that the average percentage of users that used a mobile browser in 2022 was 58.37%.
How do you know if your website is responsive or mobile-friendly? Easy: access your website on different devices and check each page to see if your website elements resize to fit onto the device’s screen properly. If text bleeds off the page or is out of view, your website is not responsive.
Don’t have access to different devices? No problem. Access your website on your laptop or desktop, then resize your browser window. The website should have designated “breakpoints” that will automatically force elements to shift into the browser view. If you can still access buttons, forms, and text without manually zooming in or out, then your site is mobile-friendly!
6. Improve Your Law Firm Website Page Load Speeds
According to Google, 53% of website visits are abandoned if the site takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
How fast your site pages load is equally important as keyword usage and mobile-friendliness in keyword usage. You can check the page speed of any site with Google’s Page Speed Insights tool. If your site gets a low page speed score, here are a few simple ways to boost it:
- Reducing the size of your images. Ideally, images should be around 100KB.
- Save images as JPGs when possible. They load faster than PNGs.
- Minimize HTTP requests that are required to download aspects of a page like images, graphics, and scripts.
- If you use a content management system, make sure your plugins are up-to-date and remove any that you no longer use.
7. Create Keyword Specific Website Pages
Search engines award higher rankings to websites that offer a variety of valuable content and a user-friendly experience to visitors. The more relevant content your site has about a topic the higher you’ll rank for two reasons:
- Site structure is an essential part of SEO.
- A well-ordered, easy-to-navigate site boosts a user’s experience.
Having additional information sets your website as more of an authority to Google, Bing, and other search engines. Creating specific pages related to a keyword will only benefit your visibility while providing your website visitors with more in-depth information.
For example, if you are trying to rank for family law in your area, consider having individual pages for each of the legal services you offer, such as divorce, child custody, and child support. Just like with your home page, as you create these individual pages, use an SEO-friendly URL and optimize your title tag, meta description, and headlines.
Most importantly: quality and quantity impact how algorithms rank your pages. Keep this in mind you create new content and make sure your pages actually inform your visitors. Search engines and users don’t want “filler” content with no true value.
8. Track Your Keyword Rankings
You can’t improve what you can’t measure. Keyword ranking refers to where your site is ranked by search engines for a specific keyword. Tracking your keyword ranking helps you determine where and how to rise in search engine results.
You can opt for the manual method of searching your keywords and recording where your website is in the search engine results display. Keep a simple Google spreadsheet to track your rankings every few weeks. However, this can become wildly time-consuming, especially if you’re producing new articles, growing your local SEO, and building out location-based service pages – which are industry standard practices when it comes to SEO for lawyers and SEO for law firms.
You can also utilize a free keyword ranking tool that allows you to enter your domain and keyword and see your rankings over time. SEMRush and SEG Google Position Checker are two popular options. If your rankings do not improve right away, be patient. Sometimes it can take search engines a few weeks to catch on to your search engine optimization efforts.
9. Get High-Quality Backlinks
Backlinks are the paved roads of the web. They are links that point back to your website. Backlinks lead users and search engine crawlers to your website.
Not only do they direct people to your content, but the hyperlink text (or, “anchor text”) on the external website acts as yet another ranking factor for how search engines perceive your website.
For example, if you want to be known as a personal injury attorney in Raleigh, you might want to make your anchor text, “Raleigh personal injury attorney,” and link users to a Raleigh-focused personal injury law landing page.
Another example, TheeDigital attorney SEO agency is known as a go-to source of SEO for lawyers and SEO for law firms. That said, we’d likely want a backlink on a relevant, high-authority site like Clio that notes us as trusted law firm SEO experts.
10. Optimize Your Profiles on Avvo, Justia, and Super Lawyers
Off-site SEO, or off-page SEO, is the practice of optimizing your online presence on websites other than your own (this includes “backlinks”). For example, as a lawyer, you should have profiles on your local state Bar Association website, Avvo, Justia, and Super Lawyers.
These profiles can be optimized for your legal specialty and the state/city you practice law. This will help your own website rank higher in the search results because the content on these sites is consistent with the content on your own website. Search engines like consistency so keeping your Avvo, Justia, Super Lawyers, and other legal-specific profiles updated and in line with your website is really important.
11. Improve Your Law Firm’s Local SEO With Your Google My Business Profile
Google My Business is a tool that can go a long way in driving traffic to your website and improving your online presence. It gives you an opportunity to improve how your law firm shows up in Google Search and Google Maps, providing users with comprehensive information, including your phone number, address, and client reviews.
You can either set up the Google My Business listing yourself or recruit an experienced attorney SEO company to help you set up an account for your law firm – and maybe each of your attorneys.
Once your listing is verified, you will finish adding your information. This includes using your keywords to optimize your law firm’s description and attributes so people searching for your services will see your profile.
In addition to your information, you can add images that improve your reputation and inspire more clicks to your website. Your office, team photos, and law firm logo are all excellent additions to your profile. Setting up a Google My Business (GMB) profile is quick, and when properly optimized, it can attract more visitors.
A GMB profile also allows clients to leave reviews. Online reviews are extremely important because they make potential clients feel more confident choosing you as their attorney. Once your profile is set up, keeping it updated with accurate information and asking clients to add Google reviews will ensure it stays relevant and visible.