A lot of small and medium-sized law firms handle their own marketing in-house. This can be a tall order. Whether it’s creating content, updating websites, or pursuing digital marketing efforts, it takes a lot of time and effort. When you do it yourself, getting the word out about your firm’s services often takes a backseat to handle cases. Marketing tends to be an after-thought that’s tagged on to the end of someone’s to-do list. While this may save a few dollars, at some point you realize your marketing efforts are not keeping you at the top of Google search rankings and the phone isn’t ringing as often as you’d like.
So what do you do? How do you know when it’s time to hire an SEO agency for your law firm? No matter how professional and well-designed your website is, if it’s not search engine optimized (SEO), it’s not going to show up near the top of page one of Google search results. If your site isn’t being viewed, you are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to generating actionable leads.
Here are some signs that your SEO efforts need a boost:
- Your website is getting little traffic.
- You’re unable to convert website visitors into clients.
- Competing law firms outrank you in search results.
- Your content is poorly written and not user-friendly.
- Keywords stop performing.
- Your digital marketing efforts aren’t creating revenue growth for the firm.
It’s frustrating when your competitors consistently outrank you on Google search results. So, let’s take a closer look at some of your marketing options and see how they stack up against hiring an SEO agency to optimize your site.
The High Cost of Google Ads
Legal is one of the most competitive categories online. If you want to buy ads at the top of the page on Google, it can get expensive fast. It can cost as much as $66 per click as of January 2022 for “personal injury,” for example, and that’s just one search term you might need. It doesn’t include terms like “find a lawyer,” “hire a lawyer,” “car accident lawyers,” “big rig accidents,” and dozens of other keywords you might need to buy to stay competitive.
Other areas of law have similar results. Keywords such as “divorce attorney,” “family law,” “corporate law,” “criminal law,” or “employment law” all have price tags ranging from $10 to $50 for every click. Due to competition, these estimates may be significantly higher when you start to add in geography and modifiers. You’d have to have an awfully big marketing budget to buy enough ads to keep you at the top of Google’s page one.
Another thing many law firms struggle with is the growing costs of paid online ads on search engines. The costs keep going up and up and yet the results don’t seem to change. Search engines make their money based on these paid ads and they’ve set up an ecosystem that puts you in direct competition with other lawyers to force higher and higher bids.
While your search engine marketing (SEM) strategy will likely include some paid ads, there’s a fundamental problem with relying on them solely for your marketing. They only work when you continue to fund them. The very second you stop paying for these ads, they stop working for you. And, unfortunately, there’s no residual impact.
Web Design Doesn’t Go Far Enough
Many law firms will hire a web developer to build a beautiful website or use a company that creates boilerplate legal sites. That may be a good place to start, but most web designers don’t write or edit content and continually update law firm sites to stay current. They typically build sites and move on to the next project and maybe provide some backend maintenance from time to time.
Designers and web developers are often not content marketers or SEO professionals. They can make your site look pretty, but they can’t always provide ongoing support and insight to drive search engine rankings and site conversions. It takes a separate set of skills to do this — SEO is a highly specialized craft.
SEO isn’t a one-and-done. It takes consistency over time to improve SEO in a constantly changing environment. Google, for example, has more than 200 known factors that impact rankings, and the company makes algorithm changes frequently — as many as 500-600 times annually. While some are minor changes, others are considered core updates. Two such major core updates in 2021 required substantial changes to many legal websites and content pages to stay ahead of the curve. A skilled SEO professional can do this for you. A web designer probably can’t.
Firms that didn’t adjust their online strategy amid all of these recent algorithm changes stand to continuously lose ground every time there’s a tweak at Google.
Help with Law Firm SEO
Improving your SEO takes a site-wide holistic approach to make your firm more algorithm-friendly. This can include changes to your website’s design, content, programming, and promotion to take advantage of the way Google and other search engines assess, index, and rank your content. The best SEO agencies specializing in law firms will:
- Consistently monitor changes to search engine guidelines
- Propose updates and changes to online assets to improve performance
- Monitor law firm competitors for opportunities
- Stay on top of emerging industry trends
- Conduct A/B testing of online elements to optimize performance
Based on the above factors, a new SEO strategy might include:
- Writing new website content using SEO techniques
- Re-writing or updating existing content based on SEO updates
- Adjusting website programming to increase loading speed
- Adding or updating metadata and information to improve the click-through rate
- Adding keywords to increase visibility
- Improving website architecture and navigation for better UX
- Creating strategies for backlinks
SEO Agency for Lawyers: Grabbing the Snippet
One of the most coveted spaces on Google is what’s called the snippet. Google displays what it believes are the most relevant answers to questions people ask above all other organic search results. We’ve all seen these – the bold or highlighted answer at the top of a SERP page that Google has chosen as the perfect answer to a query. When you’re trying to establish yourself as an expert in a particular category of law, being featured in a snippet is important. It’s a great way to put your law firm’s expertise on display.
In SEO, grabbing the snippet is a big deal. So, how do you do it? Your content has to be written and formatted in a specific way using the right keywords, metadata, headers, and hierarchal structure. Snippets can grab as much as 10% of all clicks on Google search results and push other organic results farther down the page. Snippets are a clear winner.
For Best Results, Hire an SEO Agency
Lawyers simply don’t have the time and expertise to do all of this SEO work themselves. And it’s not realistic to ask the office staff to try to take it on. Law firms need professional guidance to maximize their opportunities in search. That’s where an SEO agency shines.
Effective SEO requires a customized approach for each law firm. Every firm is at a different starting point and faces different — and often fierce — competition. When you work with an SEO agency that specializes in the legal category, you get best practices based on years of experience in managing the intricacies and nuances of marketing in the legal industry.
Strong SEO is worth a great deal — 88% of all clicks on Google go to the first 10 organic listings. If you’re not in the top 10 on a search results page, you’re not competitive. To be really effective, you need to be in the top three, which account for more than half of all clicks by users.
To learn more about how to improve your local SEO visibility, contact Gladiator Law Marketing. We’d welcome a conversation about how to optimize your firm’s website to power up search results.