SEO for Lawyers – An In-Depth Search Engine Optimization Guide for Law Firms
- Chapter 0: Introduction (you are here)
- Chapter 1: SEO Ranking Factors
- Chapter 2: Lawyer Advertising Ethics & Bar Regulations
- Chapter 3: Keyword Research for Lawyers
- Chapter 4: Legal Content Marketing
Introduction – Is Your Law Firm SEO Agency a “Bunny Bread Factory”?
I’ve been in the SEO industry for over fourteen years and the legal SEO vertical for seven. In that time, I’ve seen the digital landscape change dramatically. The days where a few e-zine articles could rank a site, much less the old school link building strategies (compared to today’s complex architecture), are long gone. While there certainly are ebbs and flows to SEO strategy (which is to be expected, in such a dynamic field), there are specific elements that have remained time-tested and reliable.
My company only does SEO for lawyers, which lends us a unique perspective on generating leads in the legal vertical. We know, from our bird’s eye view, what affects search visibility for this very competitive vertical. This is one of the reasons that we elected to focus on personal injury lawyer SEO: by specializing, we can refine and perfect the strategies needed to succeed in such a competitive landscape.
Unlike many other fields, the legal vertical is flooded with digital marketing agencies, so there’s a greater need for expertise. This creates a unique situation, where both customer and agency are under pressure: pressure for an agency to deliver and stand out from the pack (many of whom are fly-by-night) and pressure for a firm to do their due diligence and find the right agency on the first try.
In my day-to-day, I see two types of agencies: what Drew McClellan calls “artisan bread” agencies and “Bunny Bread factories.” Artisan bread agencies hand-craft (for quality) each campaign based on that specific client’s unique needs and situation. The Bunny Bread agencies attempt to apply a “one-size-fits-all” approach to every client, regardless of situation (think “spec home,” to use real estate terminology, or “cookie cutter,” to stay with baking). This is not to say that the Bunny Bread SEOs can’t deliver some results; just that, over the long-term, their potential to make a sustained impact is limited. Simply put, in order to continue to make organic improvements, you have to innovate and iterate on your strategy…or die (i.e., rank on any page other than the first).
Without further ado, here is a collection of my thoughts I’ve compiled into a comprehensive guide based on my personal experiences with marketing law firms on the Internet.
What is Attorney SEO?
It’s already pretty clear that for most people, search is their go-to for finding legal services. Social and word of mouth certainly play a role, but online search almost always dominates the research phase.
Some elements of SEO also have the ability to compound or increase their benefits over time. Content, for example, presents two opportunities: the first is the potential to rank for more keywords and the second is that, through an exceptionally well-crafted piece of content, the potential exists for natural link building to occur.
Why is Law Firm SEO Important?
The way consumers find, research, and choose a law firm has changed dramatically in recent years. Search is a primary channel that people use to find information online and since Google’s founding in 1998, it has grown to dominate the search space.
That means if you run a law firm and want to generate new clients, much of your success hinges on whether or not you can be found in Google search.
Why does my law firm need a website and SEO?
Why Attorneys Need A Website
Attorneys need a website because the way that consumers find businesses has changed. This isn’t a new idea, obviously, as the Yellow Pages are not (and haven’t been for quite some time) the go-to source for research that they once were. Businesses need a one-stop resource that answers searchers’ queries and intent and showcases the business’s expertise.
A website, no matter what business you’re in, is the central hub for your SEO strategies. It’s the foundation of everything you’ll do to put yourself in front of your ideal prospective client, as well as create and promote your brand.
5 Big Reasons Why Attorneys Need SEO
- Pay-per-click and sponsored ads essentially lease your visibility: that visibility disappears as soon as you stop paying for it. SEO is an investment. The content and backlinks that you acquire have a long-lasting and evergreen impact; in effect, they pay dividends long into the future.
- 51 percent of all website traffic comes from organic search, 10 percent from paid search, 5 percent for social, and 34 percent from all other sources.
- Data shows that 87% of smart phone owners use a search engine at least once a day.
- Hubspot states that Google is responsible for 94% of all organic search traffic; the first position in Google search results carries a 34% click-through rate on desktop and 35% on mobile.
- Studies have shown that the percentage of traffic from searchers drops to around 2-3% on the second page of results and fades out from there.
Organic search is increasingly important
The most recent data on search engine usage from the Pew Research Center states that 91% of online adults use search engines to find information on the web.
Granted, this data is from 2012 (six years on the internet might as well be a hundred), but it’s worth pointing out.
Search engines (especially Google) have only gotten better at understanding the meaning behind the phrases we type into them and are therefore used even more on the internet to cut through all the noise.
With so many people using search, it makes sense that lawyers marketing themselves online should ensure their websites are built and configured to be found easily using these tools.
Why should attorneys care?
It’s already pretty clear that for most people, search is their go-to for finding legal services. According to the National Law Review, 96% of people seeking legal advice use a search engine in their research process and 74% of consumers visit a law firm’s website to take action.
Simply put, prospective clients use organic search to find and hire law firms.
Chapter ROI by Chris Dreyer, CEO of Rankings.io
While SEO’s growth potential is typically more gradual, its value compounds. PPC and sponsored directories can drive more immediate traffic, but their value added is somewhat temporary and subject to continued payment. SEO is an investment and PPC is a cost, the same way that a healthy diet is an investment vs. the cost of plastic surgery.