Nearly 90% of people admit using a search engine to find a business.
But when it comes to legal advice, over 96% of people use a search engine to specifically find a law firm or to seek answers to legal questions, according to The National Law Review.
Therefore, it’s paramount in today’s online landscape that every law firm or independent counsel utilizes best Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices in order to get noticed and attract new clients.
Additional digital marketing tips can also aid in the competitive pursuit for fresh leads.
In tandem with a strong SEO strategy is the need to create an informative and engaging website that generates interaction and ultimately a new client for your firm.
In this post, we’ll help educate you on the best ways for a law firm to first attract visitors to their website and then how best to turn those visitors into clients.
Let’s start with SEO.
What is Attorney SEO?
Organic SEO is simply the use of specific keywords to get your website listed as high as possible in search engine results.
The goal is to be on Page One of Google’s results – and hopefully at the very top of that page.
But how do you do that?
It starts with figuring out the keywords that matter most for your firm.
Why Is Law Firm SEO Important?
There is something of an arms race when it comes to law firm-related keywords. It is a highly competitive industry.
But those firms that prevail with a sound keyword strategy can see their business grow ten-fold just by visibility at being near the top of search rankings.
The top spots on Google tend to be highly populated by the large aggregator law sites, which shows you that there is an even greater need for specialization and finding keywords that the big guys aren’t gunning for as aggressively.
Selecting the Right SEO Keywords for Attorneys
You should also avoid the most common or generic keywords for your industry as those will be the most competitive searches and thus far more difficult to achieve penetration to the top search results pages.
There is still a great deal of demand for local law services, so it makes sense that you focus on keywords that are specific to your law firm’s practice areas. In addition, you should take into account the cities where you’d expect or already know your clients come from.
For example, if your firm specializes in Family Law in Marin County, California, you would likely target a keyword string such as “divorce mediation Marin County” as opposed to a broader term like “family law San Francisco”.
Using “divorce mediation” in this example showcases one of your firm’s areas of expertise that is more highly specific as opposed to the all-encompassing phrase “family law”.
And including the exact locale of your practice – in this case “Marin County” – rather than the broader geographical area “San Francisco” will serve you better.
It’s easier to compete in your smaller community rather than one that’s 26 miles away with searchers who probably wouldn’t retain your firm when learned its distance from their home.
There are many online keyword-finding tools for lawyers that can help determine what keywords have the best chance of working at getting your firm ranking high.
Now you’re probably saying to yourself, “I don’t have the time to focus on SEO and my caseloads.”
That’s where a marketing intern or digital marketing agency with attorney SEO experience makes the most sense to help grow your business while you focus on clients both existing and new.
How to Get Google to Notice Your Law Firm’s Website – Or Worse, Ignore It
Google and the other major search engines have a secretive set of policies and an ever-changing set of algorithms.
That can make SEO work that much more challenging as marketers try to use best assumption practices as to how Google sees and ranks your site.
Search engines tend to reward content that is high-quality and updated frequently. We’ll discuss more about your website’s presence and perception in a minute.
The key is writing relevant copy that tells your law firm’s story honestly and informatively.
At the same time, using those keywords that you’re targeting naturally within the text of your pages will cue Google into the words and phrases that should make your website pop to the top of the results.
But Google can be a fussy beast and certain practices will tell Google to ignore your website altogether.
Keyword manipulation refers to “stuffing” the same keyword over and over in a non-natural way within an article and will often result in lower rankings.
You’ll also get punished for creating a live link within an article that goes to a website that is not relevant to the topic being discussed.
Plagiarism is also a major faux pas. If Google sees that you’ve simply cut and paste copy from another website, you will probably never rank high.
Again, if you are not able to keep up with the regular changes that are issued from the big search engines, you either need to hire someone who can or use an external digital marketing agency that has expertise in this particular area.
What Other Ways Can I Generate Web Traffic to My Law Practice Beyond SEO?
Two words: Business listings.
Many of the major search engines allow you to make a specific business listing where you can include all of your firm’s key information. Google being the largest search engine in the world is the place you want to begin.
The Google My Business listing is the most popular, most visited and simplest for you to claim.
It’s easy to sign your law firm up and costs nothing.
Once signed up, you’ll have your own Google My Business (GMB) page created for your firm that can include photos of your offices, your legal partners and staff and even include maps.
That’s an excellent presence to have and now, when people search specifically for your law firm by name, your GMB page should appear at the top.
This shows your practice is legitimate, professional and well-established. This is also a good place to have satisfied clients write reviews, which we’ll also get to in a second.
Other business and legal-specific directories that your firm should be aligned with include:
And don’t forget about social platforms.
Having a strong social presence with updated content and links back to your firm’s primary website will increase your presence to potential clients.
Here are just a handful of many:
- Legal Directories
- Super Lawyers
The Importance of Managing Your Law Firm’s Online Reviews
Keep in mind that when people find your firm through search results, 90% will seek out reviews of your practice before contacting you.
Reviews are maybe the most important free digital marketing tool, especially for the legal industry where trust and expertise are the calling cards for someone in need of legal help.
You should encourage satisfied former and current clients to post five-star reviews on your Google My Business and Yelp pages as well as the legal review sites mentioned above.
In doing so, someone in your staff – an intern or your digital marketing team – needs to monitor these reviews.
Your online reputation management is a key component to whether a potential client contacts you or not.
Responding quickly to all reviews – positive, and especially negative – says a lot about your professionalism and attention to detail.
Similar to celebrity reputation management, reviews will often speak to your firm’s character and reliability, and negative attacks can do much harm as people consider their legal representation options.
There are different schools of thought about how to deal with negative reviews effectively, so make sure that you do your research or hire an online reputation management agency to explore all the different strategies that are available to you.
SEO and Directories Are Generating Leads to Your Legal Practice – Now What?
Congratulations! You’ve won the jury over with high Google rankings, professional directory listings and positive reviews.
Potential clients are landing on your website, looking to retain you for legal services.
Now the real work begins. There are three areas of creating a website experience that turn visitors into active clients:
1 – Content
2 – User Experience
3 – Your Website’s Structure
Hiring a quality outsourced design team that understands even basic SEO for dummies and can manage content accordingly should be a priority.
There are three types of marketing fulfillment models when it comes to how a law firm works to build their website:
- DIY – Do It Yourself
- DIWM – Do it With Me
- DIFM – Do It For Me
The latter two require the help of an outside digital marketing firm.
That firm can either assist an in-house designer you may already work with (DIWM). Or the agency will manage the job completely from website creation to optimization to ongoing management (DIFM).
In each scenario, there are foundational plans of action.
Let’s take a look at each.
1 – Have a Clear Content Strategy
There is no more important factor for driving traffic from search than the content on your website.
Google ranks websites based on the written and visual content with three things in mind:
- Relevancy & Currency
- Quality & Engagement
- Authority of Topics
You should have a professional writer or a digital marketing agency craft website copy and ongoing blog articles that include your targeted keywords in order to gain traction in Google.
Not only do you need to have a plan for when you are going to post your content and what you are going to write about, but you also need to think about refreshing what is already on your website.
When content becomes old and outdated, Google thinks your site is not being adequately maintained and refreshed. This works against good search rankings.
Making a Great First Impression With Your Content
For the new visitor, here’s your chance to tell the clear and detailed story about your firm.
Remember, this is most likely the first impression you’re making to a potential client. Important things to feature on the site include:
- Photos & Bios
- Awards & Certifications
- Areas of Expertise
- Success Stories
Since it’s a fact that a lot of web users don’t want to read a lot of copy, video clips are an excellent way to sell yourself and your firm in a concise and engaging way.
Also, Google loves video content. Even a brief introductory clip by a Senior Partner on the home page would greatly help your visibility in the engines.
2 – Focus on the User’s Experience
Beyond content, the user experience focuses on how your website drives visitors to call or contact your offices.
After all, retaining new clients is the goal.
Consider these two aspects of the website experience:
- Site Architecture
- Calls to Action & Conversion
The site should be organized in a way that’s easy and intuitive to navigate.
If you were a real estate agent touring a house, you wouldn’t initially walk your clients through the garage to get to the living room. (Unless that was one spectacular garage!)
No, you’d start with the living room, into the kitchen and then to the master bedroom and so on.
A website should be constructed the same way.
Start with an engaging and handsomely designed Home Page that speaks about who you are, what your firm specialties are, your experience, your awards and so on.
From there, set up the site’s navigation to show your areas of expertise, pages about you and your partners, followed by testimonials and blogs.
Throughout the experience “Calls to Action” should feature prominently and repeatedly.
Calls to Action & Conversion
The goal is to coax visitors to get in contact with a member of your team.
Your firm’s main office phone number should always be in the viewer’s eye.
In fact, it’s optimal to have the phone number and a “Contact Us” button in a stationary area on the page – usually beside the top navigation bar – that is locked in place and never disappears even as the reader scrolls down the page.
If you’re a legal organization that sells goods – like legal manuals or books – then utilizing the skills of an Ecommerce SEO agency can prove to be useful to help hooking up a “shopping cart” and back end “check out” management system.
3 – Plan Your Website Structure
The structure of your website can also play a central role in the experience that people have.
By structure, we mean the following considerations:
- Mobile Friendliness
- Load Time
Nearly 56% of all Internet traffic comes via mobile phones. And that number is quickly growing.
All web design must take into account the mobile experience and make sure the site looks right, reads well and navigates smoothly on a hand-held device.
Every time you update the site, you want your web team to make sure they first view on both mobile and desktop before it goes live.
The site also needs to load quickly. Search engines tend to mark down sites that take more than a split second to load.
Avoid overly large graphics or images. Never automatically force a self-playing video on the user either.
In our highly impatient world, people are unlikely to hang around for a slow-loading page. They will gladly click their back button to return to the previous search results and explore the next law firm listed on that Google page.
There are many moving parts when it comes to crafting effective digital marketing strategies for your legal practice.
Often, in the world of SEO and other lead generating ideas, you’ll see slow gains over time rather than an explosion of upward ranking movement right away. Patience will be rewarded if you and your marketing team continue to optimize and update your plans of action.
This is especially true for legal firms where competition is fierce in the ever-changing keyword landscape.
The strategies may change, but the goals remain the same: Getting new, potential customers to your website and making them active clients once they’re there.
ABOUT AVITA GROUP
Avita Group is a digital marketing firm based in Calabasas, California. We specialize in organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign management, Online Reputation Management (ORM), website creation and conversion optimization. The Avita Group team boasts a collective experience of over 25 years in the industry and has worked with a variety of multi-million dollar companies to help them improve their ROI, build better brand awareness, and mitigate negative online reviews and results.