It’s surprising to hear from local law firms that they’ve never even heard of SEO, or that they’ve barely looked twice at their online presence. Having a presence online in today’s world is pretty much mandatory if you are going to achieve greatness. Many small to mid-size businesses and law firms nowadays do the bare minimum just to make sure their customers can find them online. And ONLY by typing the firm name. There are a ton of understandable reasons to think like that but none that should go any further than a simple discussion because for those of us that want to succeed, we don’t have time to waste. It’s too precious. Just like SEO ranking and SERPs. They are precious in the eyes of the business person.
Maybe your company or firm has never never even heard about SEO. It is very well possible to be so blessed that you don’t have to worry about it because business is so good and you have stellar relationships within your community that you are just fine. You could create a financially successful business without utilizing or optimizing SEO. There are local stores in neighborhoods around the country that are older than the internet and Google’s search engine. Even with all of that said…
I still get extremely nervous and even somewhat horrified for these businesses whenever I hear it. If anyone knows me they know that I am all about planting seeds to harvest when the time comes. And there is nothing better to throw seeds at than your website’s SEO strategy.
What Makes an SEO Strategy so Important?
Yes, you may be successful, incredibly so, but the success you’re leaving on the table by not optimizing your SEO would make you stop if you knew. If you knew how much business your competitors steal from you by utilizing an SEO strategy, you would be horrified.
With a simple strategy, they can appear before you when customers search your name. We live in a world where people just click on the first Google search result that comes up. In fact, over 25% of people do this. This isn’t just 25% of Americans, but the world. When the U.S. is 4% of the world’s population, you’d be crazy to think that your target audience is full of people who go to the first click.
This problem is worse for law firms. The legal field is one of the most competitive industries online. Even in smaller towns, cities, and counties across the country, law firms are utilizing SEO to push out the competition. If you doubt this, Google the name of your law firm, and see how many other local firms are offering the same services.
So, whether it’s to boost your clientele with new quality leads, target new areas, or just defend yourself against your competitors, you need an SEO strategy. In fact, you need several small strategies to start, and as always, we are here to help.
10 SEO Strategies That Every Law Firm Should Implement
To start, every business should have a website, but every law firm needs one. If you have one, perfect! Improving your SEO is all about utilizing the content you have or can add to your website and making it readily available to potential clients by making it available for Google. That’s what our first strategy is all about.
SEO Strategy #1: Using Primary and Secondary Keywords at the Correct Densities
What’s a keyword? That’s easy to answer. A keyword is the main topic of your page, a word or phrase you know your potential clientele will Google to find you. If you’re a personal injury attorney, and you’re making a page about that practice, your keyword would be personal injury lawyer in this instance.
But what’s a primary and a secondary keyword? That’s a bit more complicated. Sticking to the same example, the keyword “personal injury attorney” has the same audience as “personal injury law,” but they’re not the same. You want people who search both terms. So what can you do?
Use them both.
That may sound simple in concept, but it’s not that easy to do so. You don’t want to just stuff the same keywords all in one web page. You want to spread them out, use them where they fit, and use one more than the other. Overthrowing everything into one web page to rank with a specific keyword/phrase is going to get it flagged by Google. The Google algorithm isn’t dumb, it can tell when you’re using keywords to manipulate the process.
What you should do is pick one keyword to be the primary, and use that 1 to 2 times more than your secondary. On another page, you can switch the primary and secondary, or move the previous secondary keyword to primary, and give it a new secondary keyword.
But, maybe you don’t know what your primary keyword should be. We have a strategy for that too.
SEO Strategy #2: Focus on a Few Practice Areas, Then Expand
You know what you’re good at, whether it’s employment law, personal injury law, criminal defense law, real estate law, or something else. Figure out what that is, if you want to practice that for the long run, and then focus on that. Trying to throw everything in at once on a web page without a strategic plan is a bad idea, and the same can be said when deciding your overall keyword strategy on your website.
If you’re having trouble deciding what your practice areas should be, whether that means starting something new or downsizing to gain more control, do some research to give yourself more knowledge. Knowledge is power! See what your competitors are doing and then look at how you’ve been doing. The secret to creating any successful service is to have a target audience in mind.
And if you have no idea where to start in terms of a target audience, see who your competitors are targeting. You can do this through numerous online tools and by simply talking to your peers for more personal information. Before you know it, you figure out what kind of law practice you want to focus your SEO strategy around.
Now About those Keywords…
Once you’ve picked the practice areas you want to focus on, you have what you need to pick the primary and secondary keywords. It’s always good to directly target what your competitors are targeting, but it’s also good to have wide breadth in an area.
Having a wide breadth of the law and having a wide breadth of criminal defense law are two different things. You can’t get a wide breadth of the law without trying to go after everything. You can cast a net around personal injury with what is called a long-tail keyword.
Before, when I was talking about “personal injury attorney” vs. “personal injury law” as a primary keyword, you might have thought, “why not just personal injury?” There’s logic to that line of thinking, but that actually won’t help you.
When you focus on “personal injury” as a keyword, Google actually won’t rank your page all that high for “personal injury lawyer,” “personal injury law,” or anything similar. Google’s algorithm actually works the opposite, where if you have a longer keyword, or a long-tail keyword, like “personal injury lawyer,” you’ll rank higher for “personal injury.”
Basically, it’s better to get specific with keywords that have other keywords hidden in them. Don’t completely avoid keywords like “personal injury” for a page. It serves as a good secondary or even tertiary keyword for a page or two, but long-tail keywords are best for reaching as wide an audience in your niche as you can.
SEO Strategy #3: Having Optimal Meta Titles and Descriptions
If you’ve been thoroughly going through your website, you’ve likely noticed several chances to configure something called a meta title and another called a meta description. If you don’t, there are plugins like Yoast so you can install in the backend of your website to help auto place them until you can do your due diligence in the research and honing in on each practice area page.
Meta titles and descriptions are what people see when they google search something. For example, see what it looks like when you Google search, “ENX2 Marketing.”
“ENX2 Marketing: Law Firm Marketing Agency for Lawyers” is the meta title. This is your first impression, where you state who you are and what you do in less than a sentence. The description directly underneath that goes into more detail and is known as the meta description.
There are several reasons to have a detailed meta title and description. For starters, more often than not, it looks terrible to have a default title with no description. Many times you can tell right away that a website has no seo on it when you do a search and the listing comes up as “Home” in the title description.
Secondly, they’re absolutely necessary for any SEO strategy. These are some of the first things the Google algorithm sees when it’s searching for results. It’ll flag your web page as an option when they see the right keyword in the meta title, and then keep it as a possibility when it sees the right keyword in the meta description as well.
By not having optimized meta titles and descriptions, you leave yourself vulnerable to falling in Google’s search results for the keywords you’re targeting. It’s difficult to get the attention of Google’s search engine if you only have your keyword in your content.
SEO Strategy #4: Regularly Update the Lowest and Highest Ranking Pages
SEO isn’t something you do once and forget about. All good SEO strategies are ongoing, and your competitors are going to have one too. Check your best and worst-performing pages and posts regularly. Are they ranking any higher, lower, or staying in place? Most importantly…
… are they doing better than your competitors?
Sometimes a page is doing fine as it is, but after time you want to update it. This can be adding a new tidbit of information. A new law or court ruling has added a new wrinkle to criminal defense or employment law. New quality content can only boost SEO! So don’t be stingy. Think of it like this: you have to constantly update your phone or your wireless and so does Google and your website. Everything needs to update in order to stay current! Even people and the way we view the world. Many of us are waaaaay overdo for a good personal update too!
When you can’t quite add enough or revamp enough content to make a difference, you can also help your page’s SEO by changing the outbound links. I’ve talked about outbound links before, they’re links to other sites. These validate what you’re saying to the Google algorithm, but as time goes on, they appear less and less valid. If you’re linking to a page that’s over a year old, see if you can find a valid link that’s more recent or from a more popular source. Again, there are many different online platforms that can help you with all of these findings and scenarios. Most likely you don’t have time to do all of this, but remember that’s why we are here!
This SEO strategy keeps high-ranking pages where they are and uplift ones that are struggling. Another way to boost your SEO aside from adding new outbound links would be to gain backlinks.
SEO Strategy #5: Get Those Backlinks
You’ve heard of internal and outbound links, but now you get to learn about backlinks! The good thing about them is that they’re easy to understand. It’s when people link to your web pages on their website.
Now, getting them is another matter. To be honest, backlinks are some of the hardest things to achieve. Even when it comes to short-term goals, this is a long-term SEO strategy. You can reach out and talk to other sites about linking back to your site, but there are better ways to capture attention.
First, you want quality, informational content. Think about why you link back to the pages that you do. They’re informational and support what you say. Make a page that would support what someone else is saying. If that doesn’t get you any backlinks in the long run, it’s time to start getting yourself out there so people see what you’re publishing.
You can get your name out there by:
- Writing guest blogs on other sites. There are several publications in the industry of law that would publish what an experienced lawyer has to say about the current affairs of law firms in their area. Most of them would link back to your site on that blog post itself. LawBlogs, Martindale, AVVO, Chambers, Justia, Best Lawyers, SuperLawyers, local directories, and so many more!
- Answering questions on sites like Quora. You’ve most likely Googled something and gone to sites like Quora or Super Lawyers questions and answers or some type of platform or group that has discussion boards. Go and answer legal questions with links back to web pages you want to boost in your answers and on your profile. These are more artificial than most backlinks and don’t do as much as an online publication’s, but it’s far better than no backlinks at all.
- Create shareable content like videos and infographics. Videos and graphics have always been, and likely always will be, more attractive than text. In fact, they’re so good that people want to link to them on their own sites rather than make their own.
- Sharing your web pages on social media, especially LinkedIn. Posting links to your pages not only gives minor backlinks to your web pages, but it also shows them to other people who may link back to your page on their own site. Depending on your audience will depend on the best platform to do this.
With this SEO strategy, you want to start as soon as possible to see results in the future, but other SEO strategies have a more immediate impact, like improving your sitemap.
SEO Strategy #6: Have an Easy to Understand Sitemap
A sitemap is a term to describe how your website is interconnected and how someone could get from page to page from any point on the website. Good sitemaps treat the homepage as the center that connects to nearly every major web page.
If you have a page for a practice area, testimonials, resources, contact information, a blog, etc., it should be available from the home page more precisely the top navigation. If there are blogs or subpages for minor topics, they should never be more than two clicks away from the home page. Google will flag any pages that take 3 or more clicks to get your destination.
This isn’t to say that there can’t be longer paths. You can have several different ways to get to a page, but if someone were looking for a topic, they should be able to easily get to it from the home page.
The best way to imagine it is like a small web, where the home page is the center, each major page stems from it, and they connect to each other as a circle.
Don’t confuse the sitemap with a header or footer that lists the most important pages. All sites should have them, but there should be links and buttons in the content, as well, to form a sitemap.
SEO Strategy #7: Design Your Site For Mobile First
The split between people who surf the internet most on a mobile device versus a computer is pretty even. About 51% use their phones and 49% use their desktop. That number is on the rise. The reason we suggest prioritizing mobile among your SEO strategies is that mobile is harder to design for.
More than the alternative, sites designed for mobile translate well to desktop. Layouts, image sizes, and site maps designed for a mobile phone are harder to account for because they have less viewing space and don’t fall apart when given more screen space.
When you prioritize desktop, you can find that your site is not mobile-friendly at all, and you’ll end up having to redesign portions of your website. You’ve basically wasted time to design or redesign your site twice, assuming you don’t leave your mobile site in ruins.
What does this have to do with SEO? Well, Google can tell how many people bounce from your site as soon as they see it and how mobile-friendly it is. This is less to boost your SEO, but more so to keep it from falling in the ranks. While the algorithm can tell when you prioritize desktop over mobile, it doesn’t send your site to desktop users instead of mobile users. Google will avoid your site altogether.
SEO Strategy #8: Optimize for “People Also Ask”
This is more about the format of your titles and topics, particularly for blog posts. If you’ve ever asked Google a question, you’ve seen what a “People Also Ask” section looks like. It’s this automated Google result that brings up sites that answer questions similar to the one you asked Google. Here’s an example where we asked, “are apples good for you?”:
When you click on the arrow, you get a website that answers the question directly. Google finds these options by looking for web pages whose page/post titles ask the same question or have answers to the aforementioned question.
We don’t recommend that you start formatting every page to answer questions. Many of them should detail your service and what you can do. This is how you should format your blog posts, however. It’s not only best practice to title your posts as questions or answers to appeal to people, but to appeal to Google as well. Think about AI. Artificial intelligence. If looking for a lawyer on desktop your search keyphrase might look like this: personal injury lawyer Jersey City. But when using AI technologies, it would be completely different. It is all speech activated and generally you would ask this: “Alexa, can you find the best personal injury lawyer for me in Jersey City?” See the difference?
As per this SEO strategy, format the titles of your posts so that they are picked up by Google’s algorithm. “People Also Ask” sections are some of the first results in Google search results. Being one of the answers can allow your article to skip past pages that rank better for certain keywords, but are not titled after a direct question.
SEO Strategy #9: Ensure Great Readability
Being legible is one thing, but to be easy to read is another. Nobody wants to stress trying to understand what you are saying. Google search won’t always immediately see that your work isn’t all that readable, but the algorithm will see that people aren’t reading that deeply into your page. They don’t read much when the readability is low.
The first thing you need to do is make sure you have easy-to-understand explanations, a proper flow to your pages’ content, simple similes, and simple comparisons to start.
After you do that, you can apply these 6 things that can make your content easier to follow:
- Talk in an active voice. Talk in the present tense as much as you can. You should talk about laws and rules that are currently in effect. Changing to past tense is a perfect way to confuse someone’s unconscious brain.
- Avoid consecutive sentences. When you start a sentence off with the same word more than three times in a row, you make it easier for someone to lose their place.
- Evenly distribute your content with subheadings. It should be easy to distinguish between the topics of your pages based on subheadings. Sometimes talking points go for a longer time than others, but always try to break it up when you can.
- Keep your paragraphs no more than 200 words and rarely less than 150 words. You can use fewer words for a closing transition or a dramatic point, so there are exceptions to how short a paragraph can be. But a paragraph that’s more than 200 words is almost always really two paragraphs.
- Keep your sentences shorter than 20 words. If your sentences are longer than 20 words, you have a run-on sentence. Run-on sentences are two sentences without proper punctuation.
- Make sure to use transition words and phrases. Transitions tie ideas, paragraphs, sentences, and sometimes even a few words together. You will use transition words naturally in your writing without consciously doing it. At least 20% of your sentences should have a transition word of some kind, and if you need help doing that, reference a good list by Yoast here.
And the most important thing about making a readable page or post is having a lot of content. Fully fleshed-out ideas are readable. Disjointed points are not. Don’t be afraid to overwrite when you can cut out fluff and filler later. It’s far easier to get rid of what you don’t need than to add what you do afterward. Trust me, I have learned the hard way.
SEO Strategy #10: Pay Attention to Google Algorithm Updates
This is the easiest and simplest SEO strategy to do, and I see many marketers even forget to do it, not just law firms. Google is always trying to improve itself, just like any company should. That means they’re making changes to the algorithm to improve it for its users on a regular basis.
This can be anything from changing how much certain aspects that make up SEO are weighed. Google can change how important meta titles are to search results, how many keywords per overall word count is considered keyword stuffing, or it can decide to weigh readability into how good a page’s SEO is overall.
Everyone needs to pay attention to this. This is how you can figure out how your overall marketing SEO strategies need to change and why you have seen a change in your Google search rankings. If you’re looking for a place to start, Moz is great, but always research more than one to cross reference what you are really looking for and needing out of a SaaS.
Let ENX2 Marketing Handle Your SEO Strategies
Any one of these strategies can sound like a full-time job, and you’re not always going to have time to keep up with everything. No worries!! ENX2 Marketing can do it all while you do what you were born to do. We specialize in handling these digital marketing tasks for law firms. Don’t stress and just contact us! We got you.