Gaining ground with search is a tough climb for any firm. It’s a downright slog for small law firms. These boutique, solo and general practitioners rely on skill and savvy to compete with bigger firms in court. But they also know they need to invest in SEO to grow, all while keeping a close eye on their bottom line. So let’s take a look at some practical SEO advice lawyers can put in place today without costing a fortune.
No. 1: Setup & Optimize a Google My Business (GMB) Listing
A Google My Business (GMB) page is great because it’s free. It also works, but free is free. GMB can be as if not more effective for clients reaching out than anything else you’re doing. This listing and what goes into it drive the Google 3-Pack. That’s the box near the top of Google’s results that displays the name and contact info for three local businesses. It’s one of the first things users see and accounts for a lot of potential cases.
Setting up your GMB account is as easy as any profile you’ve created online, with the added step of usually having to wait a few days for a mailed postcard. You’ll need this to enter a pin and verify your firm. Once live, the most crucial part of your GMB listing is keeping it current and specific. Add your hours, location, office photos, and most importantly, your classification. The more detail, the better, so if you’re a personal injury lawyer, make sure that’s displayed.
No. 2: Make It Easy for Client’s to Leave a Review
Everyone checks online reviews nowadays. Client reviews help potential clients learn more about your firm and what they can expect when working with you. It also says a lot about a business when previous customers say nice or not-so-nice things about their experience. When you consider how life-altering some legal matters are, the need for stellar reviews gets even more apparent.
The key to getting positive reviews from former clients is making it simple and encouraging a lot of detail. Regardless of what people say about reading websites, this is one area where people read a lot. Research shows the average user reads 10 reviews before making a decision. That means a 5-star rating with no context doesn’t do all that much. The best way to do this is to keep calls to action simple, easy to navigate, and appreciated.
No. 3: Accurately Track Call & Click Conversions
Google can only track users who click your phone number from their cell phones while on site. The real number is usually significantly higher, but you’re not getting the whole picture without some tracking tools. Using a tracking number and an embedded tracking code lets you better understand user behavior on your website.
One popular call tracking system is CallRail, but there are several others. Essentially, this is what lets you also track someone when they type your firm’s number into their phone. If you want insight into how users interact with your website, you’ll also want to add a UTM parameter to your website URL in GMB. But assuming Google Analytics (GA) is already installed, you’ll be able to easily see conversion data and other useful info from visitors coming from GMB.
No. 4: Join Relevant Online Directories
When it comes to SEO, references and links back to your site are critical. The caveat is making sure they are appropriate. Countless directories exist, but they do not all make sense for lawyers. Some examples of the ones you should sign up for are Google My Business, Yelp, Yellopages.com, and legal-specific directories like AVVO or Lawyers.com.
Generally, when deciding which web directories to join, ask yourself, “Are people likely to visit this website and contact my firm?” If the answer is “no,” skip it.
No. 5: Complete your Directory Profiles
Some of the legal-specific directories are very valuable. First, these directories explicitly target people looking for legal services, so that part is done for you. These sites also provide a platform to highlight your awards, case results, and other features that differentiate you from your competitors.
But just like search in general, the top positions are the most coveted. Many top directories rank firms based on their profile, so make sure yours is complete and includes as much detail as possible.
No. 6: Utilize the Directories’ Blog Post Feature
Most of the well-known legal directories are free to sign up and provide SEO value and visibility on their own. When you upgrade to the paid version, it allows for some additional features, most notably can include your blog articles. If you’re already writing great content, this positions you as a thought leader in your field increases visibility, and Google may give more weight to the backlinks included in your post.
No. 7: Use Keywords that Relate to Your Market
Keyword research and content creation can be tricky for smaller firms. But as a local business, try to focus on geo-specific keywords and talk like your market searches. This means answering the common questions you get from clients in your area. For instance, if you’re a DUI lawyer and local checkpoints lead to a lot of charges, be the lawyer that explains the process and why you’re the lawyer to call.
One helpful SEO tool for lawyers is Google Ads’ Keyword Planner. This can show bid estimates for pay-per-click campaigns and lets you find gaps and new content opportunities by refining your location in the “Discover New Keywords” feature.
No. 8: Keep URLs Short, Concise and Descriptive
Don’t let the term site architecture intimidate you. This usually refers to your URL structure and how you name and organize your website. Ideally, you want yours to have a logical hierarchy that quickly helps users find what they’re looking for and tells Google which pages are the most important.
If you have a main category page that discusses your services as Car Accident Lawyer, the URL should be something like “examplelawfirm.com/car-accidents/.” If there are supporting (interior) pages that expand on that topic, such as fatal car accidents, it should be indexed under the category page, “examplelawfirm.com/car-accidents/fatal-accidents.”
This tells users where and how they should interpret the information presented. It’s also a better overall experience, which Google appreciates.
No. 9: Create High-Quality Legal Content
Attorneys have known how important their work is for their clients for some time. Fortunately, Google has caught on too, even defining legal service and similar webpages as “Your Money or Your Life” pages, or YMYL.” This means topics discussed could impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety. As a result, legal content is put under more scrutiny than other, less serious websites.
Your firm’s content needs to be relevant, clear, in-depth, and authoritative to rise above mediocrity. There are various ways to go about this, but you should stop stuffing target keywords all over the page. Instead, write pages and blogs in a language your users understand and establish yourself as an expert in the field.
No. 10: Make Sure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly & Loads Quickly
Look, most searches happen on a mobile device, so it makes sense for Google to use the mobile version of your site as a ranking factor. Many firms have already adopted the mindset to make their sites mobile-friendly, but you can make sure with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool. If your website scores poorly, putting the time into an update is worth it.
When it comes to page speed, it’s pretty obvious that users will simply leave if your site takes too long to load. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools to gauge your page speed and even suggestions on how to speed things up. PageSpeed Insights is a free tool for website owners to get an idea of how fast their page loads.
One More Thing
SEO strategy and execution is a big undertaking for small law firms, and it’s not a weekend DIY project. It takes time to get things in place, not to mention a fair amount of tinkering to get things right. That being said, these tools are a great way to get started, and the payoff in organic cases coming your way could be huge.