Attorney search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the quality and authority of website content to obtain and increase rankings on search engines and organic website traffic to a law firm’s website.
When people need a lawyer or legal services, they typically use one of the following ways to find one:
Of these, search engines are not only the most popular digital marketing channel people use 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 marketing channels your law firm can invest in, search engine optimization is the only one with the ability to return compounding returns over time other than referrals (which aren’t always consistent).
Content, for example, presents three opportunities:
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 the best SEO agency for personal injury lawyers handle things for you, we would be happy to discuss the law firm SEO services that we offer.
Visit our library of law firm SEO case studies or our contact page and schedule an appointment with one of our senior SEO experts.
The way consumers find, research, and choose a law firm skews heavily toward search engines.
The legal marketing industry is hyper-competitive. 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.
Attorneys need a website optimized for search engines like Google (and to a lesser extent, Bing) 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, satisfy user 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.
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 Google 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.”
Search traffic converts 10x better than social media traffic (on desktop)!
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 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.
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.
Google’s algorithm has hundreds of SEO 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.
Google’s main focus with their search engine is to deliver helpful results to people quickly when they search for them.
In the documentation for their helpful content update, they explicitly tell us that we should be focused on people-first content by asking ourselves the following questions:
As we do keyword research, content marketing, on-page optimization, digital PR, and local SEO—we should ask ourselves these questions if we want to create the kind of content Google wants to reward.
Imagine going to trial without understanding the facts of the case. The outcome would be catastrophic. The same applies when you publish new web 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:
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 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:
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:
Your Google My Business listing (also known as GMB but 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:
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
In our chapter on local SEO for lawyers, we cover the importance of:
You can’t improve what you don’t measure. In the 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.
These are the most common SEO services law firms need to rank higher on Google:
If you don’t have someone on staff who’s savvy with SEO and need to hire an agency, ensure they offer these services.
Something to keep in mind is that SEO is not the same thing as web design or web development.
Good design and UX (user experience) are important to the overall success of your website, though.
If you need those services, ensure the firm you’re working with provides them and includes them in a statement of work.
In our last chapter, SEO Experts for Law Firms, we cover what to look for in an expert and how much to budget.
We also provide some examples of what results look like when you work with a company that specializes in attorney SEO, as well as what to look out for so you don’t waste your time, energy, and money.
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.