The financial crisis in 2008, digital technological advances, and a shift in generational demographics in the workforce are all major factors that have transformed the traditional law firm. It has led to creative, new approaches to all areas from law firm business models to marketing strategies. Indeed, to adapt to the times, law firms have turned to new channels, such as social media and websites, to find new business.

Unfortunately, an active social media account or a website in and of itself are not enough to attract and retain clients. Read on to learn more about law firm SEO. 

What is law firm SEO?

Law firm SEO is the process of optimizing your online content to improve your visibility on search engine listings. There are several different techniques involved that range from content writing to improving your website’s technical framework to ensure top performance. The overall objective of SEO is to create a great user experience that provides relevant content, meets your potential client’s needs, and leaves a positive impression.

Although it is rare to see overnight success, SEO for lawyers is a long-term strategy that can yield lasting results. The investment is worth it when you consider that 96% of people seek legal advice using search engines.

It’s best to start building your SEO strategy as soon as possible, as it is becoming increasingly competitive for law firm websites to rank on search engines as more and more law firms realize the benefits of SEO. Here are just a few reasons why you shouldn’t put off SEO. 

Benefits of search engine optimization for law firm websites

Maintaining a strong online presence is more important than ever and search engine optimization offers major benefits.

law firm search optimization

Increase traffic

With SEO, you can increase the incoming traffic to your website. And if you’re targeting the right keywords and publishing relevant content, you attract a more qualified lead, since the people who find your website on search engine listings are more likely to be interested, as opposed to a cold email or advertisement. 

Strengthen brand awareness

Getting discovered on search engine pages also increases your brand awareness. By publishing quality content that exhibits your firm’s values through the style of writing and the visual identity of your brand, for example, you create more opportunities to connect and increase recognition.

Grow your customer base

With increased traffic and a strong brand presence on your website, you are more likely to turn visitors into loyal clients. That is because you establish yourself as an authority by publishing genuinely useful content. 

Attorney SEO as a lead generation engine

SEO for lawyers is essentially SEO for lead generation. To build a successful lead generation engine with SEO, you need to create strategies to catch users at different stages of their user journey, for example, following the AIDA model of attention, interest, desire, and action. You need to ensure your website provides them with the right content, as well as a clear path to conversion to become a lead. Attorney SEO for lead generation also works with the volume of traffic, meaning that the more relevant organic traffic you gain, the more you can convert into leads.

A contact form is a tried-and-true way to convert your traffic, however, consider using different techniques. Other possible options are quizzes, informative legal whitepapers, case studies, and in-depth eBooks, all of which engage visitors with useful information, thereby, increasing the chances of converting your traffic into leads.

How to start your law firm SEO strategy

Now that you know the benefits and the potential that SEO can bring your law firm, let’s dive into how to build your own SEO strategy.

Invest in an SEO tool that can handle your law firm SEO program

The market for SEO software and tools has exploded with options, both free and paid, so it can be difficult to navigate and filter out the quality tools from the fray. Invest in a robust enterprise SEO tool that fits your needs. For example, if you don’t have advanced technical expertise in-house, find an SEO tool that strikes that balance between being powerful and being easy to use, as SEO can get technical and complex at times.

Define your target audience

You can’t write relevant, engaging content without knowing who you’re talking with. Be sure you define your target audience and speak clearly to this audience’s needs. If you find that you are targeting multiple audiences, be sure to define each clearly.

Do your keyword research

It is important to research what keywords your specific target audience is using when searching for legal services to ensure that your content attracts relevant leads. Your targeted keywords should strike the balance between search volume and search intent, meaning that you shouldn’t only target popular keywords, but also take into consideration the reason a user is conducting their online search. Also consider what keywords your audience could be using at different stages of search intent, whether it’s the awareness, interest, desire, or action stage. For example, don’t only go after the obvious keywords such as “hire attorney in Pennsylvania” but also target keywords like “how to choose a criminal attorney”.

Create educational SEO content

Once you have done your keyword research, focus on creating highly informative content that is relevant to the keyword. Always keep the target audience in mind and think of their needs and wants to ensure the content is helpful. While some keywords might be key for your business, such as “Los Angeles criminal lawyer”, to draw in relevant traffic and build yourself as a trusted authority, you should also consider educational content that targets keywords like “DUI trial question”, “how are lawsuit settlements taxed” or “what is the attorney-client privilege”.

Create user journeys from the search intent

Once you know your target audience and have created quality content that caters to their needs, you need to make sure that each piece of content has a clear path to conversion. Make sure that wherever your website visitor lands on your site, they can easily find other relevant content that either converts the traffic into a lead or keeps the visitor engaged on your website. The goal should be to drive visitors down in the funnel, for instance, if a visitor enters the site with a problem-based piece of content that targets the “awareness” user state, then you should lead them to a solution-based piece of content that targets the “interest” stage. Tracking user journeys via a web analytics tool allows you to see if your users exhibit the intended behavior on your attorney website and if there are user experience (UX) roadblocks.

Set SEO KPIs for your attorney website

In order to keep track of your progress and measure what success looks like for your law firm, you should establish SEO KPIs for your website. If your focus is on increasing traffic, for example, you can set KPIs around key rankings, organic traffic, or calls from the Google My Business listing. If your focus is more on conversion, then keep an eye on KPIs like bounce rate, pages per session, time on page, and soft and hard conversions.

Start with a full SEO audit

Before you can start optimizing your website, you need to know what to fix. A full SEO audit will uncover any problem areas to help you prioritize what pages or web elements to tackle first.

Focus on the critical technical SEO issues

Your potential clients are not the only ones reading the contents of your website. Search engine crawlers also “read” the content of your website. To be sure that these crawlers scan the full extent of your website, make sure the technical framework is structured and clear. Any technical issues that slow the page loading time, for example, should be uncovered and fixed as soon as possible, as slow loading time is a major obstacle for your website visitors and search engine crawlers alike.

Build the authority of your law firm website

Backlinks are links on other websites that lead back to your website. Essentially, this backlink is a referral to your website that helps establish your authority, much in the same way that a word-of-mouth referral would. Placing backlinks on established, high performing websites is a great way to increase your page rankings (by establishing your authority) and your web traffic. Just be sure to place backlinks on relevant websites, so the traffic you get from those sources remains relevant and easier to convert.

Improve your UX and web accessibility

Did you know that 88% of people are likely to leave a website and not return if they’ve had a bad first experience? First impressions matter as much online, as they do in person. And with Google’s latest addition of the Core Web Vitals, your website can actually be penalized for providing a poor page experience.

Making sure your website is accessible to all users, even those with disabilities, is the safest way to ensure a simple and clear user experience. Website accessibility is important not only for the ethical cause of creating inclusive website experiences, but it is also a requirement in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Improve your loading speed

Improving your page’s loading speed is an absolute must when you consider that your audience could be experiencing your website from a mobile device or from a location with poor internet connection. You want to be sure there are no barriers to information that would cause your audience to have a bad experience and lose you a potential lead. On a technical level, better loading speed also improves your ranking by making it faster and easier for search engine crawlers to scan your website.

Conduct an SEO competitor analysis

An SEO competitor analysis consists of a comparison of you and your direct competitors, as well as search competitors for each individual key search terms since your competitors might vary depending on the keyword. The parameters to benchmark against include website structure, page structure, content quality, the keywords targeted, loading speed, UX, and backlinks.

Improve your law firm website’s E-A-T factors

The Expertise, Authority, and Trust (E-A-T) factors are the guidelines used by search engines to determine if a page is high quality and trustworthy. These factors take into account the expertise of the content creators and the authoritativeness and trustworthiness of the content creators, of the content itself, and the website as a whole. The E-A-T factors are of special importance to law firms, as high E-A-T legal advice should come from reputable sources and be maintained and updated regularly.

To ensure you have high E-A-T, you should focus on including relevant and accurate information on your About pages and author pages that speaks to your experience and expertise. Also be sure to link to your professional social media profiles and ensure they’re active. When possible, include authentic reviews and backlinks from authorities within the law industry to further strengthen your E-A-T factors.

Local SEO for lawyers

According to aggregated research released by Google, 85% of people use online maps to find legal service locations in their area. This just goes to show how important local SEO is. Local SEO is the process of using SEO to specifically target local search results on search engines. Let’s dig in a little deeper into why local SEO is so important for lawyers.

search engine optimization

Why investing in local SEO for your attorney website?

Establishing yourself in your local online community has many benefits. It is quite common that search queries for lawyers also include a location, such as “criminal attorneys in New Jersey” or “tax lawyer near me”. By targeting these keywords, you can more easily target local traffic from relevant users in your area.

By building your local SEO, you also increase brand awareness and local brand visibility, so your firm becomes top-of-mind when locals need legal services. Other reasons why you should build your local SEO is that it is an opportunity to put your address and phone number directly in Google search and Google maps, making it easier for locals to get in contact with you. Investing in local SEO also allows you to advertise your business profile directly in Google, as well as get Google reviews.

Claim your attorney Google My Business listing

Ensure that you appear in local searches and on Google maps by claiming your law firm’s Google my Business listing. To do so, fill in the right information, such as your business address, phone, your services, opening hours, your website URL, and pictures of your establishment and your team. To boost interaction with your profile, post a description of your law firm, include videos as well as pictures, add an appointment form URL, and link to relevant blog posts or articles.

Create localized content

To boost your local SEO rankings, create localized content that will draw in your specific local audience. For example, you could create content around living will law requirements in your area, which would cater to the needs of those seeking legal services near you. You could also target keywords such as “car accident lawyer in Houston” with informative content that gives them tips on the specific steps they should take after a car accident in Houston.

Manage your reviews

You should make sure to regularly read your Google reviews and reply to all comments, especially if you happen to get any negative reviews. By replying to reviews, both good and bad, it shows your audience that you are active and engaged, which builds trust.

Add schema markup

Schema markup, or structured data, are sets of code that you can add to your website’s HTML, which hand-feeds the right information to search engines. Using Schema on your website not only helps search engines understand your content better, it also strengthens your E-A-T factors and creates better search engine listings. For instance, employing an FAQ schema markup will display an interactive FAQ search result that will help your audience more easily find the information they are looking for and thereby boosts the click-through rate.

Reach out to local listings and claim local unlinked mentions

Backlinks, as mentioned earlier, build your website’s authority thereby improving your ranking. You can use backlinks more targeted on local listings, such as online business directories, to strengthen your local authority and increase referral traffic. If you discover local mentions of your law firm online that do not link back to your website, for example, on a recognized local blog, get in touch with the site’s author and request they link to your site. As always, make sure the sources are reputable.