Law firms, without proper advertising, find themselves not getting the phone calls they should be getting. As a matter of fact, a law firm cannot strive or even survive without advertising. That goes for any business.
So, how do you create better advertisements that reach the public? Before, it was as simple as taking out a yellow pages ad, slapping a picture on a billboard, or make a commercial. Now, however, it is a bit more complicated. You need to be more strategic with your ads, using the right terms and images. You have to reach out to a whole new demographic in unique ways that bring in phone calls and clients. The solution? SEO.
The new normal is consumers spending almost 8 hours taking in digital content each day. Nowadays, when someone is in need of legal services, people don’t refer to the yellow pages. They instead turn to Google. They take their results and study the law firm based on articles more than ads. On top of that, most of this research is done on mobile devices.
The most reliable way of gaining leads, referrals, has changed as well. Now, people use review platforms such as Nextdoor, Facebook, and Google.
It should be noted, it is a well-known fact that this industry takes a long time to adapt to technology. Add to that the fact that falling behind the times is a costly mistake. That is why this guide was created. In this guide, we implement 10 simple steps that help produce leads and conversions. These methods are several times more effective than printed ads, and it is all thanks to SEO.
Why is SEO One of the Best Strategies for Gaining Clients?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is the process of forming your online presence. Put simply, it increases the ranking of your website on search results when certain keywords are used. SEO is a very valuable factor in law firms gaining more clients. The reason being is that you can put your law firm above your competition on the rankings of results. You are literally giving traffic the chance to see your law firm first.
How Does SEO Work?
Basically, search engines like Google and Bing use things called web crawlers to categorize and index websites. When someone does a search for something, they are referring to that index. The keywords used to search for information will trigger the keywords on relevant websites to answer the search inquiry.
However, it isn’t just that simple. The crawlers that search engines use speak a whole other language. It is almost as if you are in a grocery store trying to find your favorite brand of cereal. You ask for help from an employee, but they speak an entirely different language. So, you improvise so they can help you find what you are looking for. Well, crawlers are the employee, and the internet is the store. The language that the crawlers speak is HTML.
To put it simply, you need to optimize your website for search engines. You are using a specific tactic, adding in extra code, and having a specific structure to your website. The coding and structure will make speak to the crawlers, helping them understand what the searcher is looking for.
10 SEO Steps to Gain More Clients
Because SEO can seem confusing, and sometimes, you may feel like you don’t know what to do, we have compiled a list of the 10 best steps you can take to increase your online presence in search results. For the record, SEO is very fickle. It can be strong enough to lift you up, but if you don’t know what you are doing, it can fall apart on you fairly quickly. Sometimes it is better to invest in an SEO expert to help increase your search result rankings.
The Right Keywords
We mentioned keywords briefly. However, we haven’t stressed how important they are yet. SEO is structured around keywords. Sometimes, when you are picking keywords, it can feel like picking lottery numbers. If you get them right, you are in the money. However, pick wrong, and you are going to gain nothing. Only with SEO, if you pick the wrong keywords, you are hurting yourself.
With that being said, you will find more competition for better keywords. That is why you need to pick your keywords wisely. Put simply, your keywords should be based on:
- Targeted Audience- What is the audience you are trying to reach searching for? What is their jargon?
- Volume- There are tools available that can help you determine the volume of a keyword.
- Search Intent- Basically, what are they looking for exactly? Do they need a lawyer, or are they just looking for reviews for a lawyer? Maybe they are trying to determine if they need a lawyer at all.
- Competition- The more people using a keyword, the harder it will be for you to rank using it. Again, you can find helpful tools to inform you of the competition you will find with specific keywords/phrases.
Compare to Competitors
Now that you have selected your keywords, you need to compare your ranking in search engines to those of your competitors. There are over 200 factors that impact a web page’s ranking in the search results; here is a list of the important ones:
- HTTPS vs. HTTP
- Mobile-Friendly Sites
- The Speed of Your Website
- Website Code
- Content Quality
- Length of Content
- Social Signals
- Optimized Images
Take these factors, and make a document with columns for your competitors and yourself. Then you compare them. You might find, in some categories, you are performing better. However, on the other end of things, you could realize that you are performing much worse. This will give you an idea of what you are up against, allowing you to optimize your site accordingly.
Technical SEO Improvements
Once the SEO analysis and comparison is made, you are able to move on to the technical SEO improvements. Make sure your website is clean. How do you do that? Make a checklist of the following factors and adjust accordingly:
- Speed- Your website needs to be quick; many people expect pages to load almost immediately when they click a link. Make sure you are testing your web page’s speed.
- Security- Cyber attacks are quite real, so you need to make sure your site is secure for the safety of your law firm and the safety of your traffic.
- Schema- Schema markup is universally understood by almost all search engines. It is a kind of HTML markup. It removes the guessing game, allowing you the ability to inform Google what your website content is all about. This will increase your rank and lessen the possibility of Google confusing what your website is for.
- Mobile-Friendly- Nowadays, most people are using mobile devices to perform searches that include searches for lawyers. Make sure your site is set up to be mobile-friendly.
It isn’t uncommon for a law firm to dump thousands of dollars into a web design that is pretty but impractical. In the end, they hurt themselves because it isn’t as functional as it should be. The design is very important. However, it must operate the way the user intends. Otherwise, you are just throwing money into a fire.
Optimize Web Pages for Search Engines
Now that your website is clean, your keywords are picked, and your web pages are functional and fast, it is time to optimize your standing web pages. Here is how:
- First, you want to make sure that each web page has a meta description and title tag that has your chosen keywords in them.
- Make sure that the page subject is thoroughly addressed through the content. If the reader is left with questions, you need to optimize it again.
- Heading tags are important too. They give Google and other search engines a better idea of the topic and structure of your web page. Make sure you only have one H1 tag, a few H2, and, if needed, H3 tags.
Make sure that you are using your keywords and key phrases, as well as variations of both, are used across your web pages. However, you want to be careful not to stuff your pages with keywords. As a general tip, make search your key phrase in the incognito mode of Google. Then refer to the ‘People also ask’ section. Answer those questions in your web pages, adding information related to your key phrase and keywords.
Optimize Local SEO Properties: Google My Business and Social Media Included
Local SEO increases the rank for your law firm on search results for searches of local services. It is a bit different than the average SEO, primarily because it focuses on local results. Local SEO emphasizes Google’s local pack in their search results. What is a local pack? It is the box of map results from Google Maps. It is usually located under paid ads and above the search results that are organic.
The information in your Google My Business account is pulled out, which is the main reason why you need to make sure you claim and optimize your account for local SEO.
Optimizing Your Google My Business Account
GMB (Google My Business) is the quickest way to get your firm listed on Google Maps. This can lead to exposure to the local pack. This is dependent on your location and competition on Google. Then the data on your GMB account is used to display the following information about your firm:
- Phone Number
- Average Reviews
- and Business Hours
In order to optimize your GMB, the following steps should be taken:
- Pick the right Business Category on Google My Business
- Write a Keyword-Rich Description of your Business, About 200-300 words
- Include the Correct Name, Address, and Phone Number
- Link Your Website to your GMB
- Have your Social Media and Online Profiles Connected
- Add Tons of Photos
Reviews are important. They are a major part of not only your local presence but your online presence as a whole. Consumers put faith in reviews as if they are personal recommendations. If you have negative reviews, it can cause clients to use your services. Do your best to obtain positive reviews on Google and other online business review directories. This will increase the page one exposure on Google.
Additionally, listing your name, address, and phone number on GMB will generate local SEO citations on major online directories. This will also cause you to be on legal directories, which increases off-site SEO factors.
You must claim your business on these top Legal Citation Sources:
- FindLaw Websites
- Lawyers US Legal
- Best Lawyers
- Law Guru
- and Law Info
Specific Website Pages for Services
Now that the most important factors of SEO have been addressed, it is time to make the SEO efforts of your law firm greater. Browse your own website pages. Make sure that each page is dedicated to a relevant service or information. If you feel like you have covered all your bases, it is best to double-check. However, you want to check out the websites of competitors to see if they have a page that you should have as well.
FAQs are vital, as are Media, News, and About pages. These are authority-building pages, and since you are an attorney, these pages will be valuable, the FAQ section especially. Clients are trying to wrap their heads around the same law concepts that you have spent years familiarizing yourself with. Because of that, they have questions. The best thing for you to do is address those questions.
As a matter of fact, when the legal process is just beginning, all people really have is questions to be answered. So, a well thought out FAQ that addresses common and general questions will help build loyalty to your firm and comfort to the client is using your legal services. It is especially helpful if there are visuals like infographics and videos.
Blogs and SEO Friendly Content
As the FAQ page, a blog is just vital. You don’t need it to be super fancy, it just has to be consistent, and it needs to exist on your website.
Blogs do more than increase your search engine rank, but they build trust between those who read your blog and your Law firm. Nowadays, consumers do their own research into businesses like law firms. That is the primary reason that having a blog, especially for lawyers, is so important. Digestible content that is informative and offers answers to questions that people may have will make a major difference in your law firm’s presence.
The better the content, the higher the rank, and the more abundant the leads. Custom content leaves a positive outlook to readers and customers. It makes them feel a little closer to the company they are reading/watching about.
Search engines like Google make sure you reward good content. However, just throwing up a jumbled mess of words and technical terms will not help you. In fact, the best blogs that rank at number one include:
- 2,000 Words or More of Content Per Page
- Covers the Entire Topic
- Images that will illustrate concepts
- Relevant Videos that Accent the Text
- Common speak for the average reader to understand
- And SEO optimization
Backlinks are links that send people to one web page from other pages. They are viewed as reputable references to your content while playing a major role in search engine results. The more links that send traffic back to one of your web pages, the more Google will assume it is authoritative. This SEO strategy isn’t passive; you need to manage it constantly – Building more backlinks and monitoring the existing links.
Great Ways to Develop Backlinks are:
- Claim All Local and Industrial Directory Listings
- Be Interviewed
- Infographics and Videos
- Law Journal Articles
- Internal Links
- ABA or other articles associated with the bar
- Social Media Promoted Content
- Submit written articles to related publications
- Collaborate with Bloggers and Journalists
Analyze, Measure, and Track Data
Without the analysis, tracking, and measuring of data, your efforts of the above steps will mean nothing. You use this data to determine which strategies are working for your law firm and which ones need to be altered or abandoned. That being said, it is important that you avoid the common mistake that other law firms often make. When you are looking at the data, make sure you put your focus on KPI (Key Performance Indicators) and not metrics.
- Social Shares
- Bounce Rate
- Brand Mentions
- Website Traffic
While you need to focus on KPI, the metrics above will give them context. Do not make your marketing decisions based on these metrics. Instead, use these KPIs to drive your digital marketing campaign strategies for your law firm:
- CPL (Cost Per Lead)
- ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment)
- Total New Clients
- Booking Rate
- The conversion rate of Lead-to-sale
Tweak the SEO Campaign With the Gathered Data
Lastly, you need to take the results of the data involving your SEO strategy for your law firm and then tweak the strategies accordingly based on the results. Make sure you are comparing your year-over-year KPIs as well as your competitive analysis. Over time, improvements should be noticeable, and all your categories should have an increased result.
Rinse and repeat with what works, but if something is obviously ineffective, then you need to tweak or switch the strategy. Here are some examples of actions to take when you see a decrease in certain areas:
- Website Traffic- Locate the pages with the decreased traffic, then analyze why there is a decrease. Are links broken, did you alter the pages in any way, are they running slow, or do you have any notifications from Google? Adjust accordingly, and traffic should increase.
- New Clients- If leads are down, are you targeting the right ones? Locate the root cause of the low lead count and fix it.
- Rankings- Find the pages that fell in the ranking, then optimize them appropriately.
- Leads- How are you getting the leads? Do your web forms work? Do outside factors contribute? Just simply analyze where you have been getting leads, find out where there is a lag in leads, and tweak it properly to bring in more leads.
Once the data is gathered, you can start the process again for the next quarter. It is a commitment to focus on these steps. Basically, the optimization of your law firm’s website is a full-time job on its own. It costs money, time, and effort to make sure your SEO is effective. That is why so many law firms invest in an agency to help their efforts. They get professional advice, aid, and SEO optimization for their web pages. They see an increase in rank and traffic, as well as conversions and leads. You can, too, if you follow these steps and work hard.