What is Technical SEO for Lawyers?
Technical SEO is the process of ensuring a website meets the technical requirements of modern search engines with the goal of improved organic rankings. Important elements of technical SEO include crawling, indexing, rendering, and website architecture. For most attorneys using WordPress, most of these things are relatively straightforward and easy to manage.
Is Your Law Firm's Website on Google?
Google Search has three core phases that enable it to find, store, and return results in a ranked priority to give users what they’re looking for when searching the web.
- Serving Results for Search Queries
How to Determine if Your Site is Indexed by Google
You can use what's known as the site search operator to see if your website is in Google’s index. Here's how:
- Visiting google.com
- Typing site: yourdomain.com into the search bar.
- Tap enter on your device.
If you see your law firm's website in the organic search results, then you’re in Google’s index.
Note: The site: search operator won’t always return every URL on your website. You can learn more about the site: search operator here.
Can’t Find Your Website on Google?
There are a few reasons why your site might not appear when using the site: operator:
- Your site isn’t being linked to enough from other websites for Google to discover it naturally.
- Your site is brand new and is still in the crawl queue.
- Google isn’t able to crawl your site due to the design or underlying code.
- Your server or other intermediary sent Google an error when it tried to crawl it.
- You have policies in place that prevent Google from crawling your site.
How to Get Your Law Firm's Website on Google
You can submit your website to Google manually or you can let it discover it organically.
Don’t wait for Google to discover your website organically. Learn how to submit your site to Google manually using Search Console.
If Search Console indicates that Google has crawled your website but hasn’t indexed it, ask yourself the following:
- Are there any technical SEO issues blocking Google from accessing my website? For example, robots.txt directives block Google, server issues returning error codes, and non-indexable content on the page (e.g. content rendered using methods Google can’t replicate).
- Have I violated any of Google’s spam policies like spammy, automatically-generated content?
- Have I created helpful, reliable, people-first content or have I created content solely to rank higher on Google?
Make it Easy for Google to Crawl Your Law Firm’s Content
Create URLs Optimized for Search & Users
Google needs unique URLs to crawl and index your pages. URLs are composed of the following components:
- Protocol: The SSL layer that protects visitors
- Hostname: Your domain
- Path: Often a subdirectory on your website
- Filename: The page
- Query Strings: Common on ecommerce websites
- Text Fragments: Commonly used for jumplinks
Here’s an example:
The protocol is a set of rules that determine how data is transmitted over the internet. It specifies how your computer communicates with the server hosting the website.
The protocol is the starting part of a URL. Examples of protocols include <span class="inline-code">http://</span> and <span class="inline-code">https://</span> .
Google recommends all websites follow the <span class="inline-code">https://</span> protocol as it provides an extra layer of security by encrypting the data transmitted between the user’s browser and the website’s server.
The hostname is the unique name that identifies a specific website or server on the internet. It is usually a combination of words separated by dots (e.g., <span class="inline-code">www.example.com</span>).
The hostname helps your computer find the correct server where the website is hosted.
The path is the specific location or directory on the web server where a particular webpage or resource is located. The path helps identify the file or folder structure on the server.
For example, if you want to access a specific webpage like <span class="inline-code">example.com/products</span>, <span class="inline-code">products</span> would be the path.
The filename is the name of the specific file you are trying to access within the path. It could be an HTML file, an image file, or any other type of file hosted on the server.
For example, if you are accessing an image named <span class="inline-code">picture.jpg</span> within the “images” folder of a website, <span class="inline-code">picture.jpg</span> would be the filename.
The query string is an optional part of a URL that contains additional information or parameters. It follows a question mark symbol (<span class="inline-code">?</span> ) and consists of key-value pairs separated by ampersands (<span class="inline-code">&</span> ).
For example, in this URL:
the query string is:
It is commonly used to pass data to the server for processing or to modify the behavior of a webpage. You can see if you look at the URL next time you’re on a website like Amazon and change the color, size, or any other attribute of a product you’re looking at.
You’ll also see them frequently when clicking on links from social media or affiliate websites. Marketers often use them to pass attribution data to their analytics and CRM platforms.
If you’re already working with an SEO agency, they should have added query parameters to your Google Business Profile so you can distinguish which clicks to your website come from organic results vs your GBP listing.
Query Strings Example of Query Strings in a Google Business Profile URL
The fragment, also known as a URL fragment identifier or anchor, is an optional part of a URL that specifies a specific section within a webpage.
It is preceded by a hash symbol (<span class="inline-code">#</span>). Fragments are commonly used to link to a specific section of a longer webpage.
When you access a URL with a fragment, the browser will automatically scroll to the section identified by the fragment.
For example, in a URL like <span class="inline-code">example.com/page#section1</span>, the fragment is <span class="inline-code">#section1</span>.
How to Create Optimized URLs
Your goal should be to create simple URLs that people could look at and get a good idea what the page is going to be about.
Here’s a simple process to follow:
- Take your target topic
- Replace all spaces with hyphens
- Remove all special characters
- Make it lowercase
For example, if your topic was “car accident insurance claim time limit” then your URL slug would be <span class="inline-code">/car-accident-insurance-claim-time-limit</span>.
Make Your Site Easy to Navigate
Navigation is important for search engines because it helps them understand and organize the content of websites.
When search engines crawl websites, they rely on the navigation structure to discover and index different pages.
Navigation menus and links guide search engine bots through the site, allowing them to access and analyze the information on each page. This process helps search engines determine the relevance and value of the content, making it easier for them to deliver accurate and helpful search results to users.
Essentially, navigation acts as a roadmap for search engines, enabling them to effectively navigate and make sense of the vast amount of information available on the web.
<div class="callout callout-info"><p>Why Does Google Care?</p><p>Google’s job is to help people get answers to their questions quickly. If your website is easy to navigate then it’ll be easy for users to find what they’re looking for.</p><p>If it’s difficult to navigate, you’ll frustrate users. If Google ranks your site and it frustrates users, they’ll get frustrated with Google as well.</p></div>
How to Plan Your Site Navigation
Start with your home page (called the root), when planning how you’ll organize your website. Consider who your target audience is and how they would traverse your website if they started from the home page.
In general, your home page will cover the broadest topic and as you organize folders and files (pages) under it, things will get more specific. Use a logical hierarchy by categorizing and grouping related content together.
Your primary goal should be making it easier for users to get from general pages to more specific pages.
Website navigation refers to the system or structure of links and menus that enable users to browse and explore different sections and content of a website, enhancing their ability to locate information and interact with the site efficiently.
There are a variety of navigation elements, including:
- Global navigation (navigation elements present on every page).
- Local navigation
- Utility navigation
- Related links
- Fat footers
Learn more about website architecture and navigation best practices for law firms.
Using Structured Data Like Legal Service Schema
Structured data markup is a way of organizing information on a website in a format that search engines and other systems can easily understand. It uses special code or tags to label specific details like names, dates, and locations, helping search engines display more relevant and helpful results to users.
For attorneys, legal service schema is the most important structured data to add to a website. Adding legal services schema to your site explicitly tells Google that the content is related to a law firm.
Legal service schema markups can make your page more relevant to users searching for legal information, which typically results in an increase in your click-through rate.
Having schema markup gives you an additional opportunity to rank over those sites that do not.
<div class="callout callout-info"><p class="p_margin-small"><strong>Tip:</strong> You can insert “free consultation” into the <span class="inline-code">priceRange</span> field rather than fees. See below.</p></div>
Example Structured Data Used by Morgan & Morgan
Page Speed & Load Times
53% of all mobile users leave a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
With search increasingly being driven by mobile use, that’s a percentage of your prospective client base that you simply cannot afford to ignore or underserve.
How to Check Your Website Speed
First, head to PageSpeed Insights and run a diagnostic scan. Here’s an example of how the results might look:
<div class="callout callout-warning"><p><strong>Note:</strong> This isn’t our client. 🐢</p></div>
Most of the time, the largest obstacle to a better website speed is the use of uncompressed, high-definition images. If you upload uncompressed images frequently, this tends to drag down the overall performance of your site.
Remedy this by installing the Smush Image Compression and Optimization plugin.
This tool removes extraneous and hidden information from your images, reducing their file sizes (compressing them) so they’ll transfer across the web faster when a web page is trying to load.
It also scans new images as you upload them, repeating the process of stripping away unnecessary data.
Avoiding Duplicate Content with Canonical Tags
Duplicate content on your site is another common problem that can harm your search rankings.
When Google sees two pages that are nearly identical, it can have trouble deciding which one to rank for a given query. Setting up a canonical tag on one page is a solution that tells Google to prefer one page over another.
Ahrefs Site Audit can help you find duplicate content as well as potential issues with existing canonical tags. Here’s how:
Check for Issues Involving Broken Links and Broken Pages
Broken pages can be a huge frustration for visitors to your site. When users encounter pages that don’t work, they leave. Google could interpret a high bounce rate as a sign that your content does not match search intent.
The result: your site begins to see a decline in organic traffic.
Finding broken pages is one of the easiest things in a technical audit. They’re also easy to fix once you’ve found them. The walkthrough below will show you how you can use your site crawl to find pages with these errors.
On the same token, broken links to pages on your site can be a user experience nightmare that’s simple to resolve. Here’s how you can use Site Audit to find issues with links on your site:
This report reveals intriguing findings, extending beyond the realm of internal linking challenges. For instance, with Ahrefs, you can identify orphan pages on your website. These pages exist in isolation, devoid of internal links connecting them to other content on your site. By introducing a link to these neglected pages, what once was unseen becomes a valuable, readily available resource.
Ahrefs also offers insights into pages lacking outgoing links and provides assistance with canonical page issues. Employing the Site Audit feature is merely one strategy for discovering and mending broken links. While it serves as a robust tool for a technical audit, those seeking a comprehensive analysis may refer to our detailed guide on locating broken links. This resource is instrumental in rectifying common internal linking mishaps, evaluating your external links, and scrutinizing your backlink profile.
Addressing the issues of broken links and inaccessible pages significantly enhances your website's user experience. However, before concluding your technical audit, there remains an additional element warranting your attention.
Technical SEO is fundamental to success. And while it can be a bit complicated, most WordPress websites these days handle most of the heavy lifting for you. Keep an eye on things and do regular checks to resolve issues early instead of letting them pile up. The issues you uncover and fix can have a major impact on your site.
If you don’t have the time to run your own technical SEO audit or don’t feel that you have the skills to resolve the issues, consider working with an SEO expert. Feel free to reach out to our team at Rankings.io if you want a third-party to assess your website's health.