SEO For Lawyers & Law Firms
As a lawyer or member of a law firm, you know how important it is that your website be easily found by people who are seeking legal assistance. You may have researched SEO services for lawyers before, but aren’t sure where to start, or what SEO means for your law firm’s website. Why is SEO important for lawyers?
To help you make sense of SEO for lawyers and improve your firm’s website, we’ve created this short guide to SEO. This "SEO 101 for Lawyers and Law Firms" guide will give you some background information on what SEO is, why it’s important, and how you can improve your law firm’s website with search engine optimization. We’ll also review some of the specific tactics used with SEO, specifically those that should be used to improve a legal firm’s web presence.
Read on to learn more about SEO services for lawyers and law firms, and how they can help your legal firm establish its online presence.
What is SEO?
If you aren’t familiar with SEO, here’s some crucial background information. In years past, it wasn’t difficult to rank on search engines for legal keywords or phrases. Competition was lower, since not every law firm had a website, preferring traditional advertising methods like phone book listings, newspaper ads, or billboards. Search engine algorithms were also fairly primitive at the time, meaning that the firm using as many relevant keywords as possible with the most density on their homepage would probably take the #1 result.
As search engines evolved, complex algorithms were established, implemented, and improved to better rank websites, including law firms. Additional factors became more important when it came to determining who deserved the top spot, or a presence on the first page of search results. In the present time, a website’s ranking doesn’t depend on keyword density. Instead, it relies on many factors, including website load time, the number of high quality links pointing to the site, keyword presence in specific locations, and so on. There are also important factors for local SEO, too, including the presence of an address on the website and specific local keywords or phrases.
The process of optimizing a website to include these crucial elements, with the end goal of ranking a website higher in search results, is called search engine optimization, or SEO.
Why Do Law Firms Need SEO In 2015?
You may wonder why you need SEO in the first place. Well, SEO is hugely important to law firms that want to rank higher in search. Without it, it could take months or even years to naturally rank – and perhaps only for one or two keywords.
SEO services for lawyers usually comprise a number of the activities mentioned above in our explanation of SEO. If you work with an internet marketing firm to improve your law firm's website, they will probably establish a SEO package that consists of both initial optimization and ongoing monthly optimization. Unlike some other internet marketing activities, SEO is not a one-time, "set it and forget it" type activity; ongoing optimization is required to ensure that your website not only improves its rankings, but maintains them.
For lawyers, SEO is crucial because it is one of the only ways to be certain that you are targeting the right keywords and reaching the right local audience. If you are serious about your law firm’s website, you should consult a company that offers SEO advice or services, and has experience with lawyers.
Who Offers SEO Services For Lawyers?
Many companies offer SEO services, but not as many have experience with law firms. When you’re looking for a SEO company to help optimize and improve your website for better rankings, look for one that has a portfolio of work for legal firms, or at the very least has information on their website about their approach to SEO for those in the legal field.
WebpageFX has a history of offering SEO services for lawyers and law firms. Our experience and knowledge can help you optimize your website in the right way so that you are found by people searching in your area for legal aid.
How Can I Learn More About SEO For Law Firms?
Now that you’ve learned about why SEO is necessary for law firm websites, and what you should look for in a SEO company, it’s time to learn a little bit about some of the specific methods used for improving SEO on law firm websites. Don’t worry, we won’t go too in depth – we know you’re busy!
Although this will be a brief overview, and is not at all inclusive of every SEO tactic out there, it’s important to have a general understanding of these methods. You should have a good grasp on the concept of SEO before you, or a SEO company, start working on your site. This will allow you to better understand why each task is necessary and how it will help improve your ranking.
Keyword research is a crucial first step for anyone trying to improve their ranking. It involves identifying which keywords you think you should rank highly for, researching additional keywords that may be relevant, and finally deciding on the importance of these keywords and which has top priority.
For law firms, it makes much more sense to identify multi-word keyphrases, also called long-tail keywords, to rank for, rather than very basic one to two word search terms. There are two reasons for this. First of all, the competition for basic phrases like "lawyer" and "law firm" is through the roof. With so many lawyers out there that have websites, it would be nearly impossible to rank #1. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there’s no real reason to rank #1 for broad terms like this if you are a local company. Instead, you will want to be #1 for local terms, and in areas where you actually stand a chance at getting some business.
To kick off your keyword research, write down all the phrases you think are relevant to your law firm, or that you would anticipate potential clients typing in to search engines to find you online. So if you are a lawyer in Chicago, you would probably write down "Chicago lawyer," "law firm in Chicago," "Illinois law firm," and so on. You might even opt for long phrases like "where can I find a lawyer in downtown Chicago" or "motorcycle accident lawyer Chicago IL."
Once you’ve brainstormed these phrases, it’s time to do a little analysis.
Before you start populating every inch of your website with random keywords in an attempt to improve your rankings, you should know that each of your specified keywords and phrases is going to take a different amount of work. Some very long-tail or specific phrases, like “motorcycle accident lawyer Chicago,” might have less competition than shorter ones like “Chicago lawyer.” So while the longer keyword may only require a little bit of optimization and SEO work to get you to #1, the broad one may take months or even years of hard, dedicated link building and content marketing.
Perform a competitive analysis on each of the phrases you’ve selected. First, simply search the internet for these keywords. Who’s ranking, and in what spot? These are your competitors – take note of them. You should also look for tools online that can offer you statistics on the number of daily searches for each keyword, or the number of websites competing for it.
Research your keywords as much as you can, and take note of what you are finding. After some research and analysis, you should be able to identify a few keywords with a low barrier of entry, some with slight difficulty, and a few broad terms that can be aspired for over a long period of time, or with Pay-for-Performance SEO.
Once you’ve identified your keywords and have a good idea of what the competition is like for each one, it’s time to start optimizing your website. The keywords that are the most important and most likely to draw in new business for you should be incorporated into several places on your site, most notably on your homepage.
Your homepage should be optimized to include these keywords in a sensible manner in the following locations:
- Page title
- Meta tags and description
- On-page content or body copy
- In links or navigation to the rest of your site
Although your goal is to create keyword-rich copy that search engines can look at to identify how relevant your website is to users, you should also keep in mind that human beings will be reading this text. So you should strive to create a balance between copy that is keyword-rich and copy that is enjoyable and understandable. If you have difficulty with this, you may want to consult an experienced website copywriter.
The rest of the copy on your website should follow these same guidelines. Again, work to create a balance between text that users will want to read, and text that search engines will be able to use to find keywords and determine your relevance.
It’s not just text that is important, though. All of your website content plays a part in determining how well you rank. This includes images, your blog, any interactive content, and so on. Here are some general tips for ensuring that all of your website content lends a hand to boosting your rankings.
- Implement navigational “breadcrumbs” – they’ll both get more keywords on your pages and help users make their way through your website
- Be sure that images have alt text or descriptions – not only does it give you yet another keyword opportunity, but it’s required by Section 508
- Don’t create pages solely in Flash or with just images on them – search engine spiders can only “read” text, so you need some written content to help them determine a page’s importance
- Make sure your navigation is clear, easy to follow, and contains – you guessed it—important keywords
- Blogs are great ways to publish content that is naturally keyword-rich, and also relevant to your website visitors and potential clients
One very important aspect of SEO involves the links that point to your website. As search engine algorithms have evolved, they’ve started to place a lot of value on external links from high-quality, trusted websites. It’s basically a way of determining trust. If a very popular and trusted website links to you, it can be assumed that you are trustworthy, too.
Without links pointing to your law website, it’s going to be difficult for search engines to figure out whether or not they can trust you. And if they can’t trust you, they’re certainly not going to rank you very well, even if you have extremely keyword-rich copy or an awesome blog. So links are more important than ever in the world of SEO.
As a member of a law firm, you may be wondering “how can I possibly get links to my website?” But lawyer link building is easier than you might think. Here are a few ways you can get those super valuable links and build your credibility.
- Get listed on local destination and review websites like Yelp
- Create a business listing on Google Places
- Look for high-quality online directories of legal aid or law resources where you can be linked
- Participate in legal communities or forums – but don’t try to “sneak in” a link, be open and honest, and consider even saying “this is my law firm” when you link yourself
- Find a blog in the legal industry that is willing to accept guest posts, then write one for them – with a link to your firm’s website somewhere in the text
- Ask your clients if they would be willing to link you – but again, in an honest manner, because search engines hate unrelated links in website footers or in a spammy context
Believe it or not, the design of your site can also contribute to its success in search. If your site is well-designed, with an easy-to-follow navigation and sensible menus or links, it will be more likely to rank higher than a site that is confusing or not well laid out.
If you're concerned that your website design is contributing to its inability to rank well, WebpageFX offers website design and redesign services that can help you put a fresh coat of paint on the way it looks and feels. We can also build new sites for law offices who may not even have an online presence yet!
As we mentioned earlier, SEO isn’t a “set it and forget it” activity. You need ongoing optimization efforts to both gain and maintain your rankings. Because search engine algorithms change very frequently, what might be standard practice one day can fall out of favor the next – and you have to be ready to change. Continuous copywriting, link building, and content marketing is necessary to establish, improve, and spread your law firm’s presence in organic search results.
If you don’t have the time or knowledge to optimize your website on an ongoing basis, consider reaching out to an SEO company like WebpageFX for their proven SEO services for lawyers.
Does Your Law Firm Need Help with SEO?
We know lawyers are busy. With all of the legal information and cases that you need to keep up with, it’s extremely difficult to make time to work on your website. It may also not be cost-effective to hire a dedicated employee to do SEO work on your website or implement a content marketing plan. You may not even know how much to spend on SEO. But that’s where we can help.
WebpageFX offers a wide variety of SEO services for legal companies, including initial optimization, link building, and content creation. We can even help with website design or creating a blog for you. No matter what your law firm needs to succeed online, we'll be there for you.
Take the next step in getting your law firm found online! Call 888.449.3239 or contact us today today for our proven SEO services for lawyers and law firms.