SEO for Lawyers
This is a comprehensive SEO for lawyers guide. In this guide, you’ll learn:
- The fundamentals of law firm search engine optimization
- How to do keyword research…the right way
- How to write legal content for your actual prospective clients
- How to optimize a law firm website without a degree in web development
- How to set up and optimize your Google Business Profile
- How to stand out in local search
- How to build links without getting your site penalized
- How to measure SEO success without a background in statistics
What is Attorney SEO?
Attorney Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the traffic of a law firm’s website by obtaining first-page ranking positions on search engines like Google and Bing.
When people need a lawyer or legal services, they typically use one of the following ways to find one to hire:
- Search engines
- Word of mouth
- Social media
Of these, search engines are not only the most popular but also the easiest to measure return on investment (ROI).
The ability to reach a lot of people organically (i.e. without advertising) on social media has dropped significantly over the past several years—especially on platforms like Facebook.
This has caused many businesses to resort to paid advertising on them instead (which is what Facebook wanted all along).
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.
If we analyze the digital marketing channels Morgan and Morgan leverage to get their website traffic, we see that organic search far outperforms social media and paid advertising.
Of all the channels your law firm can invest in, search engine optimization is the only one with the ability to return compounding returns over time.
Content, for example, presents three opportunities:
- The potential to rank for more keywords and drive more traffic
- The ability for high-quality content to create natural link-building opportunities, improving your ability to rank higher on Google even more.
- The ability to convert website visitors into potential clients by convincing them to trust you and contact you.
How Should I Use This Guide?
One brief pause before we dive into the basics of lawyer SEO: while this guide is intended to be accessible to a wide range of skill levels, it is fair to say that a certain minimum comfort level with technical/computer issues is expected.
If this is within your wheelhouse, by all means, continue on to the next heading (“Why is Law Firm SEO Important?”).
However, if you are somewhat tech-averse, or if you would simply prefer to have an SEO agency that only works with personal injury lawyers handle things for you, we would be happy to discuss the law firm SEO services that we offer.
Visit our contact page and schedule an appointment with one of our senior SEO experts.
Why is Law Firm SEO Important?
The way consumers find, research, and choose a law firm skews heavily toward search engines.
- Search is 53 percent of all website traffic, while paid search only drives 27%.
- When Google was founded in 1998, it served about 10,000 search queries per day. 3.5 billion.
- Nearly 93% of all global traffic originates from Google search, Google Images, and Google Maps.
- Almost a third of consumers use search engines on a daily basis.
- 49% of marketers believe organic search is the most profitable channel they use.
- Organic search generates up to 66% in the legal sector
The legal marketing industry is hypercompetitive. If you run a law firm and want to generate new clients as part of your marketing strategy, much of your success hinges on whether or not your website can be found in Google search.
Why Does My Law Firm Need a Website Optimized for Search Engines and Conversions?
Attorneys need a website optimized for search engines because search engines are the primary way people find businesses to hire.
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 the best resource to answer searchers’ queries and intent and showcase the business’s expertise.
A website, no matter what business you’re in, is the central hub for your search engine optimization 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.
Your website design is also important. A well-ranking website with a poor design won’t convert visitors to leads as well. It should be designed to build trust, increase your awareness, and encourage people to take action.
- 70% of law firms land new cases through their website
- The first position in Google search results carries a 31.7% click-through rate.
- In fact, only 0.78% of Google searchers click on results from the 2nd page.
How SEO Stacks up Against Other Law Firm Marketing Channels
Legal SEO vs PPC and Google Ads
Pay-per-click and sponsored ads essentially lease your marketing visibility: that visibility disappears as soon as you stop paying for it. Law firm SEO is an investment. The content and backlinks that you acquire have a long-lasting and evergreen impact; in effect, their rankings pay dividends long into the future. Ultimately, SEO creates an asset your firm owns, not rents.
Further, PPC in the legal vertical can be incredibly expensive. For example, it may cost you $300+ per click on average if you’re bidding for a high intent keyword such as “car accident lawyer.”
SEO vs Social Media Marketing
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.
The Most Competitive Firms Care about SEO
The graph below showcases how the top 20 law firms in the US get their website traffic. The overwhelming emphasis on search engines as a primary marketing channel showcases just how important law firm SEO really is.
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. It’s no wonder that the interest in SEO eclipses interest in other marketing channels like social media, content marketing, email marketing, and search engine marketing (advertising). You can bet your competitors are interested in SEO and allocating budget for it.
Simply put, prospective clients use organic search to find and hire law firms.
Arguably the most important aspect of an SEO campaign lies in measuring your return on investment (of not just money, but also time). After all, whether you hire an independent agency or you do the work yourself, you need to be sure that the seeds you’ve sown will bear the proper fruit.
If you find yourself in need of an impartial assessment of your firm’s SEO health, contact our expert SEO strategist today to discuss your options.
Key Components of Law Firm SEO
Google’s algorithm has hundreds of ranking factors that dictate where a website ranks. Understanding and implementing all of them as a part of your SEO strategy take experience and diligence to get the best results.
Imagine going to trial without understanding the facts of the case. The outcome would be catastrophic. The same applies when you publish new pages and articles on your site. Keyword research is the foundation of good SEO after technical SEO.
If you’re creating content without doing keyword research first, you’ll end up wasting time and budget trying to get people to your site for search terms no one looks for.
Our chapter on keyword research for lawyers covers:
- The importance of keyword research.
- How to do keyword research correctly.
- Which tools to use.
- The critical role search intent plays in how SEO works.
One of the most cost-effective ways to drive qualified traffic from your target audience to your website is through content marketing.
Understanding the important differences between practice area pages, blog post articles, and how to properly group them throughout your site’s hierarchy can make the difference in ranking or not.
Our chapter on content marketing for lawyers covers:
- The various page types your law firm needs.
- How to create topic clusters to make ranking on Google easier.
- The value of prioritizing long-form content that is rich with detail.
- Important considerations Google applies to sites publishing information in the legal industry.
The way you organize your law firm’s website architecture can impact your rankings with Google and how you analyze your performance data in tools like Google Analytics.
Properly optimizing your pages for search engines isn’t as easy as just creating pages. A variety of factors help Google understand what your content is about and how well it will satisfy searchers looking for answers.
Our chapter about on-page SEO for lawyers (a.k.a. on-site SEO) will help you understand the numerous SEO tactics you can use to improve your search engine rankings, including:
- How to structure your site.
- How to optimize your title tags, meta descriptions, and page headings.
- How to optimize page speed and user experience.
- Best practices for internal linking and image optimization.
- Ways to use schema markup to get more clicks by having FAQ and review start snippets.
You’ve probably heard how important building backlinks to your site is. And it’s true. But building links to your law firm’s site can be challenging and dangerous if done improperly.
Our chapter on link building for lawyers explains:
- Why links are important
- 16 proven link building strategies for attorneys
- Best practices to get the best results from off-site campaigns.
Google My Business
Your Google My Business listing (now called Google Business Profile) is a critical component of your law firm’s online marketing strategy. Without it, you won’t be able to rank in the map pack when people are searching for an attorney nearby.
Our chapter over Google My Business for lawyers covers everything from:
- How to set it up step-by-step
- How to optimize it to rank higher in the local search results on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Local SEO for lawyers extends beyond your Google My Business listing. The pages on your site can rank below the map listings for keywords in the organic search results as well. There are also several keywords that trigger local search results without a map pack as well that you’ll want to target so you don’t miss out.
In our chapter on local SEO for lawyers, we cover the importance of:
- Positive reviews on third-party websites
- Getting your firm listed across a variety of directory listings with citations (and which ones are better to focus on)
- How to fight back against spam that can easily steal your traffic and leads.
Measuring and Assessing Performance
You can’t improve what you don’t measure. In our last chapter, Measuring SEO Success for Lawyers, we explain how to assess how well your law firm’s investment in SEO is doing.
Everything from on-page optimization, link acquisition campaigns, your keyword rankings, which traffic metrics you should focus on, and how to track conversions and ROI by tying leads to marketing efforts using analytics and call tracking phone numbers.
Understanding how to do this on your own can help you refine your SEO efforts if you’re doing things yourself or gauge how well your SEO company is doing and hold them accountable. If you want someone to help assess things for you, contact our expert SEO strategist today to discuss your options.
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. Search engine optimization is an investment and PPC is a cost, the same way that a healthy diet is an investment vs. the cost of plastic surgery.