SEO for Lawyers
What is Attorney SEO?
Attorney Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of getting traffic from the free organic search results on search engines. It involves strategies and tactics to increase the rankings of a law firm’s website on search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Yandex, and DuckDuckGo.
There are a few primary ways people pick a lawyer to contact when they have a legal issue:
- Search engines
- Word of mouth
- Social media
Of these, search is not only the most popular but also the easiest to measure return on investment (ROI). Organic reach on social has dropped significantly over the past couple of years — it also wasn’t that easy to measure the impact of effort on social platforms.
Why is SEO so Effective for Law Firms and Lawyers?
People have come to trust the results Google gives them whenever they search for something (excluding ads). Showing up in the top results on Google whenever someone searches for something related to your business is an immediate win because it builds trust with the potential client from the very beginning.
Unlike paid advertising, the benefits of SEO are compounding and long-lasting. With PPC advertising you’re able to get quick results but they’re not sustainable. The moment you stop spending money on advertising the tap gets turned off and things begin to dry up.
The same isn’t true with SEO. A single piece of well-written and authoritative content can rank for thousands of keywords and will continue to rank well at a far lower cost than an equivalent advertising campaign would take.
Great content can also help you build additional authority to your site by obtaining links over time. Links are still super important to the ranking algorithms, especially Google’s. By creating high quality content you can effectively kill two birds with one stone:
- Ranking for hundreds (if not thousands) of keywords with a single piece of content.
- Generating natural backlinks by being an authoritative source on a particular topic.
Why SEO Important for Law Firms?
Search is Where People Are
Over 2 trillion searches happen on Google each year. That’s over 5.4 billion searches per day. Let me put that into perspective real fast because people have become a little too cavalier these days when talking about big numbers like billions.
If you were to start counting the day you were born it would take approximately 244 days to count to 1 billion. Think about that the next time you toss around big numbers.
Now that’s just one search engine. While Google may control roughly 90.46% of the search market there are a few others as well.
Needless to say, a lot of people use search. If you aren’t optimizing your business to rank highly where people are looking you’re missing out on additional leads and business revenue.
[Insert dynamic graphs here]
You Can Pinpoint Your Target Customers
Let’s use a few scenarios to compare marketing channels to each other.
- Billboards – You pay an annual fee to a local salesman to keep your billboard up in prominent areas around the city. You have no idea how many people actually pay attention to your billboard or how many cases it actually brings in but you sure do like the way your photo looks up there…meanwhile you can’t fathom why Gallup polls don’t place lawyers higher on the trustworthy scale.
- Television – You run an ad in four positions a day to people in your local town. You pay a decent amount of money for this but have no idea whether or not people are actually paying attention when your ad is on. You also don’t know how many people watching your ad are actually people who can benefit from your counsel.You’re convinced television is a good channel though so you keep spending money on it. You also happen to notice that every time a commercial comes on in your house that everyone is looking at their phone…hmm, isn’t that interesting?
- Social Media – You’ve been running ads all over social media promoting your firm. You learned that boosting posts wasn’t quite as effective as using the real ads dashboard so you get points for that. However, your ads aren’t performing as well as you wish they would. You get a lot of impressions but few calls. You’re not sure why…it may have something to do with your targeting…you did set up proper targeting with your pixel, right?
- Search Engines – You haven’t been focusing a lot on SEO. Your competition has though. You decide to invest in a basic SEO campaign that generates new content on your site and backlinks. When someone searches for car accident attorney from somewhere in the city your website shows up in the top 3.You also seem to be getting a lot more calls for car accident lawsuit claims. Looking at your Google Analytics you’re able to see that a significant percentage of people that land on your blog post from Google searches about car accident lawsuits subsequently click your phone number/call buttons and become leads.
This is a common occurrence. When people search for something on Google they have an intent of some sort.
By targeting and ranking highly for the right search terms via in-depth keyword research for your practice area (e.g. personal injury) you’ll be right there in front of potential leads when they’re at the ideal point to become a lead or a full-blown client.
It’s no surprise that this would result in higher conversion rates than blanket-targeting wide audiences via other, less efficient, marketing channels.
Just like Google Ads, you can easily tie cases and phone call leads to Google searches if your tracking systems are set up properly. Unlike Google Ads, the money you spend on SEO and local SEO are far more sustainable and net you a far greater ROI in the long term.
Why Attorneys & Law Firms Need a Website & SEO
Websites and SEO go hand in hand. Your Google My Business listing just isn’t enough by itself. You need your own website so that you can control the messaging, the format, and the data.
Having your own website makes you look professional. Think about how many businesses you’ve written off because their website wasn’t professionally designed, developed and functional.
The very same thing can happen to you too. You know this already though.
The primary benefit of a website is the ability to create and publish industry related content that will rank for the types of terms your target clients will be searching for on search engines.
Are Websites Built by Findlaw or Justia any Good?
They could be. In our experience, most of them are not though. They’re often built on outdated and messy frameworks like Divi builder. Divi has improved a lot over the years but it’s still a bloated mess of code that obfuscates and complicates things more than it needs to.
We recommend clients use Elementor to build their sites. It offers extremely flexibility and extensibility, clean code, and is pretty easy to use for non-technical folks who want a simple way to make web design changes.
It’s the best of both worlds for us and our clients. It provides enough flexibility to permit professionals like ourselves to customize it and create our own custom code within its framework while also being easy and intuitive enough to use to allow bootstrapped law firms to make common updates to their sites like adding images, paragraphs, publishing blog posts and more.
In many cases FindLaw owns your website design as well (despite what you may think). Whenever you leave them they will export all of your content into a file for you but you’ll be left to your own devices to get it deployed and designed somewhere else.
This is ridiculous and unethical in our opinion. If we had our druthers we would put every SEO company that engages in practices like this out of business.
Any marketing strategy you invest in should include SEO as a core pillar. It is one of the most effective means of digital marketing you can do for your law firm. A well thought out law firm SEO strategy can have you ranking on the first page for some of the most lucrative search terms in your practice area in both the organic results as well as the map pack for local search.
There’s a lot more to this than keywords on a page as well. For law firms the SEO services you’ll need should include both traditional SEO (so you can rank in the regular organic results) as well as more public relation type services such as online reputation management (ORM) to help you get better online reviews and testimonials as well (this applies to platforms like Google My Business as well as other platforms like Avvo and Yelp).
We’ll cover all of this in more detail as we dive deeper. In the next chapter we’ll discuss the primary ranking factors lawyers need to take into account when it comes to SEO.
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An avid advocate for small business owners and victims of personal injury. Committed to helping the best attorneys help others.
Founder of Ardent Growth. CMO of RunDoyen. Author of the #1 Guide to Google My Business.
B.S. in Computer Science & B.S. in Philosophy from MSU (with honors).