When someone needs a lawyer, where’s the first place they go to find one? Hint — it’s not the phone book. Today, 96% of people seeking legal advice use a search engine to find an attorney. Of those who visit a law firm website, 74% will call the office. Your website is an excellent tool for both attracting and converting website visitors into clients. Here’s how law firms use SEO to grow a client base.
What’s legal SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. SEO for lawyers encompasses the different strategies and techniques you can use to attract search engine users onto your website.
Most people are using search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo to find legal services. True, word-of-mouth and social media marketing play a role in finding new clients for your law firm. But legal SEO is the dominant tactic you’ll want to use — especially when it comes to attracting prospective clients in the research phase of their journey.
Below are a few common terms used in SEO strategies and their definitions:
- Ranking — The order of the search engine results based on their relevance
- Query — Words an online user types into the search bar
- Crawling — The process search engines use to discover and rank a webpage
- Indexing — When content found during crawling is stored and organized
- SERP — Search engine results page
- Organic — When a piece of content ranks on the SERP on its own merit and not through paid advertising (organic can also refer to website traffic that isn’t paid for)
- Traffic — Website visitors, whether paid or organic
- Keywords — Phrases used in content that make it possible for people to find your website through the search engines
SEO for Law Firms: Compounding Benefits
The cool thing about SEO for law firms is that you don’t have to pay to get high-quality website traffic. And, many of the SEO strategies you’ll deploy will have compounding benefits over time.
For example, content like blogs and articles is something you’ll create once. But this content will allow your firm’s website to rank for different keywords over time. Natural link building can also occur, that’s where other websites will link your web content, driving additional traffic to your attorney website.
Why is SEO for lawyers vital?
The ability to attract and convert new clients for your law firm is critical to your business’s health. And the statistics bear this out.
- Google search dominates the way people try to find and contact an attorney
- 51% of all website traffic for lawyers comes from organic search
- Consistent, SEO informed blogging is the difference between getting a lot of organic traffic, and a mere trickle
Local SEO for Lawyers
Attracting random website visitors to your firm website won’t help you find new clients. For law firms, ranking locally is critical. You probably don’t want to represent someone halfway across the country.
Attorneys that rank for specific legal keywords and in a geographical area, such as custody attorney + Boston, will have a much easier time finding ideal clients and converting them.
Successful Law Firm SEO: The Essential
Several key components will impact your SEO strategies and determine their effectiveness. Let’s dive in.
Arguably, content is the most important component of SEO. It’s the driving force behind your website’s ability to rank and attract new clients. Things like blogs, articles, inner website pages, and the words used on the home page are considered content.
If you have a small or boutique law firm, great content makes it possible to compete with larger firms. Keep in mind, Google primarily relies on the words used on your web pages to index and rank the content. So when it comes to SEO for law firms, the content will drive your SEO results. Without it, your SEO strategies will fall flat.
User experience is critical to ensuring that your website is Google-friendly and will rank. Your website’s ranking will hinge on three essential factors of SEO:
- How long the visitor stays on your website
- If they click around to check out other pages
- If they return to your website
The way your website is designed will impact these SEO factors significantly. If your website uses tiny print that’s difficult to read or is confusing to navigate, you’ll have a tough time attracting and converting visitors. Poor website design makes it harder for visitors to trust your law firm, too.
So, be mindful of your website’s overall design. If it’s designed poorly, people won’t stay there for long, and they won’t consume your content. Investing in great blogs and well-written inner pages will be a waste if your visitors don’t like your website design or can’t find what they’re looking for.
The way your website is structured will also impact its SEO ranking. For example, 87% of people who visit a law firm website will get there via a mobile device. Ensuring that your website is built for the 21st century is critical for SEO success. A well-built website will help to spark and further cement trust in visitors.
- Mobile-friendly — A mobile-friendly website automatically adjusts to fit the screen of the website visitor, whether they’re on a desktop or a smartphone.
- Secure — Your website should have a current and universally-applied security certificate.
- Quick load times — Fast load times prevent visitors from becoming frustrated and leaving your site. Aim for two seconds or less.
A few quick tips:
Avoid animations and videos that can severely impact your page load times. Fancy menu effects can also hurt load times and distract from your content. Videos can be a great marketing tool and perform well on social media.
There’s always someone out there willing to cheat the system. In SEO, this is called black hat SEO. These are unethical techniques that some people will use to cheat the Google algorithm and get their website to rank quickly. These include things like buying links or plagiarizing high-ranking content.
But Google isn’t dumb.
The search engines are sophisticated enough to figure out that a website is employing black hat tactics to rank. Google has guidelines in place that reward high-quality, helpful content with high rankings on the SERP. When a website uses manipulative tactics to rank, Google will punish the site with buried rankings.
The bottom line, law firms that publish high-quality content will see their website rewarded on the SERP.
A website’s authority is another significant SEO ranking factor. Google determines a website’s authority based on how trustworthy it is compared to other websites competing for the same types of queries and keywords.
The following factors impact a website’s authority:
- How useful and relevant the content is
- How easy the content can be consumed
- What types of inbound links the website has
Inbound links are links to other websites throughout your content. They can be good or bad for legal SEO. Inbound links can be a black hat, in that they’re used to cheat the Google algorithm. Or they can be links to useful, helpful content and, therefore, beneficial for SEO.
Authoritative, useful inbound links are:
- Links to quality, helpful, and relevant content
- Links that don’t go to another website your law firm controls
- Link to pages that aren’t soliciting or otherwise asking for payment
What’s the best option for lawyers to improve SEO?
SEO is essential for a law firm’s success in the age of the Google algorithm. It’s a long-term strategy that requires perseverance, knowledge, and vision. For lawyers, there are really only two options for improving SEO and ranking ability. You can do-it-yourself, or use the services of an SEO agency for lawyers.
The DIY option
Many attorneys will consider the DIY option for SEO. It costs fewer dollars up front, but it will cost you in time and trial-and-error. SEO isn’t something you can learn overnight. Plus, it takes a lot of time to craft SEO content that will rank your website on the SERP.
You might think that as an attorney, you would need to write the content for it to be accurate. The legal field is complex and communicating these complexities to website visitors is critical for the trust factor. But you can employ an SEO agency for lawyers to address this valid concern.
An SEO agency for lawyers
An SEO agency for lawyers will have the experience law firms need. They’ll understand the unique needs and concerns facing legal teams regarding SEO and getting their websites to rank locally.
Employing the services of an SEO agency for lawyers may cost more upfront. But it will save you in time and frustration that’s often part and parcel to the DIY method.
Take action now to get your attorney’s website to rank.
How well is your law firm website ranking?
At inThink, we have experience working with law firms, improving their SEO, and attracting new clients to their firm. As a hybrid business consulting and marketing agency, we can analyze and diagnose what’s working for your law firm website and what’s holding it back.
With our free SEO report, you’ll get much-needed insight into how well your website works and what can be done to improve it.
Get your free SEO report today, and learn how to optimize your attorney website for the SERP.