Competition Is Tough in SEO. Here’s How to Beat It
One of the best marketing strategies for modern law firms is search engine optimization (SEO), the process of tweaking your website and online presence for the purposes of getting your website listed higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). It’s inexpensive, it’s scalable, and most importantly, it improves your visibility in the most popular discovery tools available to your future clients.
However, there’s one major downside for lawyers hoping to utilize SEO: the competition. Lawyers everywhere are competing for the top rankings in Google search results, which makes it hard for newcomers to come out on top. Fortunately, there are some strategies and approaches you can use to trounce the competition and come out on top.
Working With an Agency
First, it’s a good idea to work with an SEO agency, and preferably one with experience in SEO for the legal industry. It’s possible to learn the basics of SEO on your own, and master them over a period of months and years, but an agency will already have that SEO expertise (reducing the learning curve) as well as access to more resources, including specialists in fields like content writing and link building. Agencies tend to be more expensive than freelancers or in-house management, but those extra costs grant extra services, and are generally worth it. This approach can easily give you an edge over your in-house or freelance-dependent competitors.
In the SEO world, you get what you pay for. High-quality content is more expensive than low-quality content, and strong links are more expensive than weak links. In the same tier of quality, you’ll have to pay more money to get more exposure as well. Accordingly, the most straightforward way to beat your competitors in SEO is to outspend them. If you’re writing more content, getting published in more offsite publishers, and are earning stronger links, eventually, they won’t be able to keep up.
The problem with this approach is that not all firms will have the budget for it. Fortunately, there are some alternative methods that are less expensive, but just as effective at getting around your competitors.
Understanding the Competition
Before you get far in your new competition-beating strategy, take the time to study the competition, using a tool like Link Explorer or SEMRush. Keep a close eye on what your competitors are doing, including what kind of content they’re publishing, what links they’re building (and where they’re building them), and how their rankings improve over time for various keywords.
This can help you in two important ways. First, you’ll get inspiration for content to write and publishers to follow, in some ways mimicking your competitors’ most successful strategies. Second, you’ll learn their weak points, so you can take advantage of them; for example, they might have weak content in a pivotal area, or might be completely absent from major publishers.
Choosing a Niche
If you can’t beat a competitor in a broad field, work to make the field narrower. For example, instead of competing on a national level for some big category like “criminal defense,” you could work on a local level and target more specific keyword phrases like, “what do to after getting a DUI.”
The real secret to success in this area is finding the right niche. Obviously, you’ll want to choose something popular enough to earn you new traffic, but under the radar enough that your competitors are neglecting it. You may be in need of some serious brainstorming.
Your local focus can extend beyond just keyword targets. Local optimization in search engines relies on a separate algorithm, which you can take advantage of by focusing on your local listings and local reviews. If your competitors operate on a national level, get the better of them by dominating your local market, getting listed in third-party directories, and earning better local reviews. It’s also helpful to get mentioned in the local press as often as possible.
One of the biggest strengths of SEO is that it works so well with so many other marketing strategies; many strategies that work well independently also have a secondary benefit of boosting your authority, like how social media can popularize your best content and help you earn more links. If you feel stuck behind a top competitor in SEO, consider adding and managing more of these secondary marketing and advertising strategies to balance things out.
SEO is a long-term strategy, so don’t expect immediate results; instead, if you use these strategies consistently over a period of weeks to months, you can eventually find an edge over your top competitors. The strategy can seem intimidatingly complex at first, but the more you learn, and the more you rely on experts in the field, the easier it’s going to get.