The Comprehensive Guide to Law Firm SEO
12th May 2021
The way in which users research services is becoming increasingly digital. In July 2020 alone.
81% of online users were using Google search to research products or services that they wanted to buy. As such, it is more important than ever that law firms ensure their legal services are ranked on the top page of Google, with 75% of users never looking beyond the first page of search results.
Having offered marketing for law firms for a number of years, our team thoroughly understands the legal services industry, including niche areas of law and the relevant keywords needed to ensure a successful SEO strategy for law firms.
We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to law firm SEO, including why law firms need SEO, common SEO mistakes and even some downloadable keywords you should consider using on your law firm’s website.
What is SEO marketing?
SEO – search engine optimisation – is the process of getting organic traffic to a website from a search engine. It involves optimising your website content and using additional strategies to increase your site’s online visibility for relevant searches. The higher you rank in search engine queries, the more likely you are to attract potential clients to your site.
How SEO benefits law firms
Multiple marketing benefits
A successful SEO strategy covers many aspects of marketing for law firms. Whilst the goal is to increase the amount of traffic directed towards your website, the process of SEO also involves digital PR, social media and content marketing – all of which inevitably boost your brand awareness and help to position your firm as market leaders within your niche area of law.
Increases leads & client acquisition
The legal industry is very competitive. Even in the most niche areas, a strong SEO strategy is crucial if you want to maximise leads and get ahead of your competition. At Social Chameleon we know that a large proportion of business for law firms is generated through word-of-mouth recommendations. However, the data online shows that hundreds of thousands of Google searches are made each month by UK users looking to procure legal services. The interest is there for those firms that put strategies in place to harness it.
Consider the below examples using keyword planning tool, Ubersuggest. Gaining a top ranking for the below five keywords could gain your firm an additional 14,960 hits per month. Further to this, the final column “SD” (search difficulty) shows that the current competition for these keyword is low – allowing firms who implement them to gain rankings quickly.
Four out of five individuals use the internet to find information about local businesses. Local SEO can help law firms increase their online visibility and be found by prospective clients in a specific location – usually within a close proximity to their premise. The Google map listing is the prime place for law firms to be featured if they want to reach more people in their local area. Using local SEO can reduce the amount of ranking competition compared to targeting on a national level.
Google Map listings can be managed through setting up a Google My Business (GMB) account and claiming your business listing. Managing and updating your GMB is as important as upkeeping your website. Be sure to share regular blog and news updates and always respond to reviews through your GMB account – even the negative ones! Reviews have the biggest influence over your ranking in Google map listings, so acquisition of reviews through client outreach should be a pivotal part of your post-service operations.
How your Law Firm can get started with SEO Marketing
SEO is not a recipe for overnight success. It is a marketing tool that exhibits long-term benefits – often taking 3-6 months to translate into visible results. Further to this, SEO is an all-encompassing aspect of digital marketing, with many factors needed to create a strong organic presence.
Below are some initial SEO pointers that may help with marketing your law firm.
Create compelling and valuable content
The first (and most important) step to building a strong SEO strategy is to create compelling content that offers value to your readers. Valuable content answers the questions that your target audience is searching for.
For example, if you want to rank your law firm’s website for “real estate lawyer in Manchester”, you need to make sure that your website answers the questions that potential customers will be wondering.
Using the example, think about general questions users might ask such as:
- Does this law firm work in Manchester?
- Can this firm provide the service I need?
- Is this law firm trustworthy?
- Will I be able to afford this law firm?
Some of the most successful SEO strategists are simply those able to get inside the mindset of their target client.
How does strong content improve search ranking?
It’s really important to remember that Google is a business. And as with every other business, their ongoing success relies on their ability to make their audience happy. Keeping online users happy means providing them with content that they find useful. If Google believes your website will answer the questions that your prospective audience has, and provides quality information, it is more likely to feature you amongst the top results. It’s that simple.
Optimise content with keywords
How does Google know your website is providing relevant and valuable content? Through keywords. To boost your chances of SEO success, you need to ensure you are optimising your content for specific keywords.
Google and other major search engines use automated bots to scan the content on each page of your site to understand what it’s about and what keywords it should rank for. This is known in SEO lingo as ‘crawling’.
If you’re new to SEO marketing, you may be wondering where to find the best keywords.
Luckily, there are many tools such as Uber Suggest and Keyword Planner that help businesses find the relevant keywords that are most searched for in their industry. Alternatively, sign up to our email list here to get sent 100 top keywords that your law firm should be using to attract new clients.
In order to maximise your keyword visibility, make sure to include them in the:
- Title tag
- Headings and subheadings
- Throughout the page content
- The URL
Backlinks and off-page citations
With over 1 billion websites worldwide, how does Google choose which site is best to display on the first page of search results?
Another important component of SEO is having quality backlinks to your website. ‘Backlinks’ refers to links put on other websites that send traffic to yours. As an example, see a backlink to one of our favourite SEO tracking softwares, SEM Rush, here.
Put simply, if your website has a large amount of backlinks from other websites, this flags to Google that your website must be a really good source of information. This contributes to something called your ‘Domain Authority’ – a score attached to your website that denotes it’s reliability and overall quality. A high domain authority helps to build your credibility and popularity within your niche, and this works in your favour when it comes to organic rankings.
If you are looking to rank for local SEO, citations may be your best friend. This refers to backlinks from places that display businesses’ contact information online. It could be very lucrative for law firms looking to increase leads from their local area.
Easy places to gain backlinks to your website include:
- Google My Business
- Social media accounts
- Review websites, e.g. Trustpilot
Technical SEO could be the most important factor when it comes to marketing for your law firm. However, it is probably the hardest to get right.
Technical SEO refers to how “Google-friendly” your website is. The first step is to ensure that your law firm’s website is in accordance with Google’s guidelines.
You also need to make sure that your website’s load time is 2.5 seconds or under; anything more and visitors will swiftly exit and visit a competitor’s site. Quick exits from your website contribute to a metric known as ‘bounce rate’ – which literally means the percentage of users who ‘bounced’ off your website as soon as they arrived. A high bounce rate signals to Google that something is wrong with your website such as irrelevant content or slow loading time.
Further to this, with over 54.8 percent of global website traffic coming from a mobile device it is crucial that your website is mobile friendly. Make sure all features of your website work on a mobile and that all elements fit the smaller screen size.
It can also be very tempting to cram everything into your website and include as many pages as possible, but ensuring that your website is easy to navigate around can prove beneficial to your SEO ranking chances.
The first thing to check is that your law firm’s website has a very easy to use menu and that there are clear links to important pages.
Common SEO mistakes that law firms make
Not Using Long-Tail Keywords
As we have already mentioned, marketing for law firms starts off by identifying relevant keywords that your target audience are searching for. But in order to cut out some competition and increase your chances of being found, long-tail keywords can benefit your SEO strategy.
But what are long-tail keywords? Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific phrases than regular keywords (see our example below). Whilst the search volume for long-tail keywords is usually lower than short-tail keywords, they are particularly important because they’re typically used by users who are closer to a point-of-purchase.
Long & Short-Tail Keyword Example:
Short-tail: ‘Law firms’
Long-tail: ‘Real estate law firms in Manchester’
Producing Low-Quality Content
Previously, businesses could post a blog post with a popular or trending title and see organic traffic from search engines almost instantly. However, as more and more businesses harness the power of online marketing, the competition for first-page ranking proves to be fierce. Additionally, advances in Google’s algorithm – named PageRank – allows the search engine to assess user behaviour and metrics to assess the value and relevance of all website content. As such, low-quality content will now quickly find itself lost in Google’s mass of search results.
Though full of skilled writers, law firms often lack the capacity to produce frequent, optimised content to drive their SEO results. Outsourcing your firm’s content marketing may be a good idea if you want to increase your website visits.
Not having dedicated landing pages
SEO landing pages are what your visitors will land on after they click your link. They should be designed with features that make it stand out to Google’s algorithms when they decide if your website is valuable or not.
With a dedicated landing page tailored to maximise conversions, visitors should be able to find all of the information they need and follow through with any call-to-actions (CTAs) that you offer. This might be a free quote, an appointment booking form or a phone number.
Utilising dedicated landing pages will increase your quality ranking score and can even offer further benefits (beyond SEO) such as cheaper Google Ads campaigns.
Black-hat link building
We previously talked about how important it is to have quality backlinks towards your site. Unfortunately, there are many services out there that promise quick and cheap link building that often results in black-hat link building techniques. These service providers use unethical methods of gaining mass backlinks such as through website loopholes and private link networks.
Google’s algorithm are becoming increasingly savvy with black-hat SEO techniques and sites found to be using such methods will be strongly penalised in Google’s search results.
Frequently Asked Questions about marketing for Law Firms
How much should I spend on SEO?
Unfortunately, there is no set answer for this. Your SEO spend will be a unique combination of your goals, your target market, your niche area of law and of course, your marketing budget!
From experience, we know that most firms have an annual marketing budget which is usually around 10% of your overall revenue. You should have a plan on how to distribute this across all of your digital marketing channels and dedicate a percentage to gaining more organic traffic through SEO.
It’s also important to note that the more competitive your industry is, the more you will have to spend in order to rank amongst your biggest competitors.
How should I measure the success of my SEO marketing strategy?
SEO can be difficult to measure, as there is so much data that needs to be analysed to inform a just opinion.
The data you pay close attention to needs to align with your business goals.
Keyword rankings are the most obvious KPI when it comes to SEO marketing. Tracking keyword rankings help you adapt your SEO strategy to focus on keywords that are proving the most successful at bringing in new traffic.
It’s also very important to measure the traffic that you are receiving from search engine rankings. There is no point spending most of your advertising budget on getting to the first page of Google for set keywords if they do not garner a high search volume.
The easiest way to measure the traffic volume is simply the number of visits that come from organic search. With a successful SEO strategy, you should start to see your organic traffic increase from three to six months of implementation.
In this instance, conversions should be tailored to your business advertising goal.
For example, if your law firm’s aim is to increase the number of leads, conversion tracking could include contact form requests, appointment bookings and telephone enquiries.
Useful tools like Google Analytics will allow you to monitor how many conversions can be attributed to organic traffic (as opposed to paid ad campaigns).