Lawyers have it rough.
The legal industry is highly competitive, and law firms are constantly vying for the top spot in Google search results. Even if you manage to grab the number one position for your keyword, there’s always a risk that someone else could take it away from you.
That’s why we wrote this post. Whether you’re in-house managing your law firm’s SEO or an agency handling SEO for attorney clients we know that it’s an exceptionally tough niche to operate in.
In this post, you will learn what attorney SEO is, why it matters, and the ranking factors Google uses to position your pages in search results. We will also cover increasing your visibility and reaching people interested in your services.
What Is Attorney SEO?
Law firms use attorney SEO to optimize their websites and boost their online presence in search engines like Google and Bing. Proper optimization makes it easy for customers to find you without scrolling through dozens of pages.
Attorney SEO is similar to regular SEO. The primary differences are in keyword and location targeting.
For example, a personal injury law firm operating in New York might target the keyword “accident lawyer Brooklyn.” This phrase is specific to its target market: people looking for legal services in the city.
Quality attorney SEO also complies with the ethical and regulatory standards of the legal profession. You should avoid making misleading claims or undermining client confidentiality. Remaining in good standing with regulatory bodies, industry groups, and the law is essential.
Why is SEO for Law Firms Important?
SEO is critical for law firms for several reasons.
The first reason SEO is essential is the competitiveness of the legal sector, as mentioned above.
Thomson Reuters’ US Law Firm Brand Index found that the US legal sector is one of the most cut-throat in the world. Top lawyers are constantly sharpening their skill sets and developing new ways to attract high-paying clients through better services and more effective online outreach.
In any part of the U.S., dozens of companies can vie for the attention of a limited number of clients. As such, firms that don’t implement SEO often struggle to get much organic traffic.
Clients Look For Legal Advice Online
SEO is also important for law firms because of clients’ desire to find legal advice on the web.
Over 70% of people surveyed said they would look for an attorney online first, compared to only 23% who would call.
As such, legal firms must target this sales funnel. Relying on old-fashioned phone calls simply won’t be enough.
Clearly Answer Users’ Queries
Finally, SEO enables law firms to answer users’ queries clearly. Blogs, articles, and web pages can quickly respond to important questions, and channel leads to relevant services.
Legal matters can be a touchy subject. Like healthcare, they fall into search engines’ YMYL (“Your Money or Your Life)” category. As such, Google and others want to ensure users only use the most reputable sites. (Getting it wrong could put users at risk).
Fortunately, proper SEO helps you build this authority. Over time, search engines gain trust in your site and expertise, helping you rank higher.
Understanding Google’s Ranking Factors
Attorneys can struggle to understand Google’s ranking factors. Many law firms believe they are doing all the right things, but still fail to make progress.
Usually, that’s because they only partially understand SEO. They get some aspects right but not others.
Your Money Or Your Life is particularly important to legal firms because they operate in an industry that affects users’ health, happiness, safety, and financial stability. Google has higher standards for YMYL content and expects firms in the sector to display more E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness), which we discuss below.
Additionally, attorneys should consider other ranking factors that Google uses to evaluate web pages. These include:-
- Backlinks. Google users the number and quality of links pointing to your web pages as a proxy for their value and trustworthiness. The more relevant and authoritative the linking sites, the more SEO juice backlinks provide.
- Mobile-friendliness. Google also considers the degree to which your pages adapt to different screen sizes and devices. Mobile-friendly pages should read easily on smartphones and tablets, even if your legal practice has a lot of information to convey.
- Site speed. Attorneys should focus on site speed, too. Slow-loading pages could put off potential clients or harm the brand.
- Keywords. Finally, law firm pages should contain keywords relevant to services and the business’s location. Most legal services operate locally and should therefore focus specifically on local keywords.
Like businesses in other industries, your law firm should focus on these key SEO factors. Proper SEO is critical in the legal sector because of the intensity of competition. Many lawyers frequently operate in the same area, trying to attract a limited pool of clients.
E-E-A-T And Credibility
E-E-A-T and credibility are essential for lawyers and relates to YMYL. E-E-A-T is a part of Google’s Search Query Rating Guidelines, used by human evaluators to assess search result quality.
The acronym stands for Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. Here’s a breakdown.
- Experience refers to your law firm’s professional or life experience in legal matters.
- Expertise is the extent to which your law firm has the necessary skill or knowledge for the topic.
- Authoritativeness is the extent to which users know your law firm as the go-to source for a specific topic.
- Trustworthiness is how honest, accurate, and reliable your site is.
Real humans inspect your content and rate it according to Google’s internal criteria. If you do well, the search giant will boost your ranking and improve your visibility. If you don’t, SEO could suffer.
E-E-A-T is not a direct part of Google’s ranking algorithm because it relies on human evaluators. Even so, it can impact SEO profoundly when implemented effectively.
The E-E-A-T guidelines make it clear what Google considers to be a good site, and good content, so naturally, sites demonstrating excellent E-E-A-T will be rewarded accordingly.
Link Building For Lawyers
Links are valuable for law firms because they help you stand out against competitors and demonstrate E-E-A-T. Companies with more links signal to search engines and potential clients that their websites are authoritative, credible, and relevant. Backlinks drive traffic, referrals, and leads, increasing your visibility and reputation.
With that said, not all links offer the same value. Their worth depends on the relevance and authoritativeness of the source site. For example, a link from the legal column in Forbes magazine is worth more than one from a random bathroom installation company.
We believe link-building is non-negotiable for law firms. It forms the backbone of all your SEO, boosting the effectiveness of on-page optimization, keyword implementation, and content creation. Hundreds of law firms already build links using our blogger outreach services, safely and effectively. Clients receive backlinks in magazine-quality, non-promotional articles on high-domain authority third-party sites.
It’s a simple formula that works.
SEO Strategies For Lawyers
So, what SEO strategies are available for your law firm, and how should you implement them? Let’s take a look.
Keyword research is the backbone of your law firm’s SEO strategy. It lets you identify the most relevant and popular terms your potential clients look for online.
Targeting these keywords optimizes your website, content, and link building, helping you rank higher on Google. That, in turn, attracts higher-value, more qualified leads.
Figuring out which keywords to target is pretty straightforward. One option is to type a pillar keyword, such as “personal injury lawyer New York,” into Google and see what other suggestions come up.
This keyword displays commercial intent. Users who type it are looking to buy legal services.
As such, Google recommends other keywords with intent, such as “best personal injury lawyer New York City.” Using these additional keywords in your website content can help target users typing this specific search query.
You can also use keyword research tools. Here is the identical keyword entered into Google Keyword Planner:-
Keyword Planner is a little more helpful than suggested searches because it shows you the search volume (avg. monthly searches) and the level of competition for keywords. You can use this information to work out if you should target these keywords or not.
Our other favorite keyword planning tools include:-
All of these revolve around entering a pillar keyword and finding additional keywords associated with it to include on your website.
If this is too much hassle for you, why not check out our done-for-you Keyword Research service? Simply provide us with your domain URL and seed topics and we’ll produce a fully actionable keyword research report for you or your client.
Nailing your content is also essential for establishing authority and credibility. Articles, web pages, and blogs should provide informative answers that genuinely help users.
They should also be empathetic. You should use content to demonstrate compassion to prospective clients who might be distressed. Language should be reassuring, clear, and helpful.
Check out how the following text excerpt from a personal injury lawyer based in Perth meets these criteria:
“Have you been injured in a car or workplace accident? Our personal injury lawyers understand the devastating effect an accident can have on victims and their families: One moment can change your life.”
Showing empathy requires stepping into your clients’ shoes and feeling what they feel. Expressing it on your website immediately builds rapport and connection, building trust – part of Google’s E-E-A-T framework.
Securing backlinks is also an essential strategy for your law firm because it indicates other users trust your site and your services. The more links you have from high-quality and relevant sources, the higher your ranking on Google.
Even so, lawyers need to be careful. Links from sponsored posts and advertisements must follow strict guidelines and sectoral regulations. Your company could fall into disrepute if it fails to abide by ethical standards set out by the government and industry bodies.
Fortunately, these regulations do not apply to naturally-acquired links or those you build through guest posting or FATJOE’s blogger outreach. You are not responsible for links in cases where you do not retain creative control over the content or link placement.
Here’s an example of how your links will appear on third-party sites using our services:
You can see how the writer non-promotionally and naturally incorporates the keyword into the text. Website users can then follow the link to discover more about your services, and Google can crawl it, boosting your site’s SEO.
Citations are another excellent way to boost your legal firm’s SEO. Online mentions of your business name, address, and phone number help Google verify your location and authority and enable clients to find you.
Secure as many citations as possible on reputable directories, such as Google My Business, Yelp, Avvo, and FindLaw. Be industry-specific with your choices, providing consistent contact information across all platforms. Google may down-rank you if you don’t.
Remember, people want local attorneys and law offices with knowledge of local laws. Clients need professionals who understand regional statutes and who are available in person. Directories are often their first port of call to learn more about practising professionals in their area.
For instance, FindLaw is a directory specializing in helping clients find relevant lawyers in their local area. Users simply type in their legal issue and city, ZIP, or county to find professionals in their area.
Notice also how the directory uses empathetic language, a point we discussed earlier.
Digital PR is another compelling SEO strategy for your law firm. It is the practice of using online media outlets to promote your brand and expertise.
Digital PR feeds into virtually every aspect of SEO. You can use it to:-
- Generate backlinks
- Establish more authority in your niche
- Reach new audiences
- Showcase your achievements (part of the “Expertise” element in Google’s E-E-A-T), such as winning a case or settling a dispute
Unique and novel cases or big wins where you made clients hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars can make great clickbait. These stories intrigue users, and many will click links in articles to your website to learn more about your services.
Getting started is pretty simple. FATJOE offers a press release writing service, connecting you with dozens of news media outlets to get your message out. Or, you can use platforms like Help A Reporter Out (HARO) and become a resident go-to expert for journalists to consult on specific issues or topics. Usually, they are more than willing to place backlinks to your site in exchange for valuable contributions or quotes.
Lastly, it is critical to invest in the technical fundamentals of SEO. Getting it right enables Google and users to find your content and credit you for the links you receive.
Technical SEO refers to the aspects of your website that affect its performance and functionality. Google wants sites to be:-
- Fast and reliable
Following the search engine’s best practices makes the above strategies more effective.
Secure attorney websites should:-
- Use HTTPS protocol instead of HTTP, which improves data encryption
- Have a valid SSL certificate, which displays as a padlock icon before the URL
- Display secure payment seals from reputable compliance groups, such as PCI-DSS, MasterCard Secure Code, and Verified By Visa
- Provide valid contact information, such as phone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses
- Use an original domain name, not a spoofed one that mimics another popular or well-known website
- Implement additional security features, such as hotlink protection, DDoS protection, two-step verification, SSL protection, and so on
Lawyer websites must also be fast to meet Google’s PageSpeed Insights (PSI) criteria. PSI reports users’ First Contentful Paint (FCP), First Input Delay (FID), Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), and Interaction to Next Paint (INP) experiences over the previous 28-day collection period. Attorneys should aim for a “Good” rating on all of them to maximize the effectiveness of their other SEO strategies.
Google provides a table showing the thresholds for “Good,” “Needs Improvement,” and “Poor” for each category on this page. If you don’t understand how to improve these variables, speak to an SEO professional.
Attorney websites should also be mobile-friendly. Fortunately, most website builders include mobile-friendliness integrations that automatically meet Google’s standards.
If you are unsure if your site is mobile-friendly, you can check it on Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Simply type the URL into the box and view the results.
Finally, your law firm should ensure its website is easy to crawl. Crawling is the process search engines use to scan and index your website’s content, letting you rank in search results.
Start by creating and submitting a sitemap. A sitemap is a file that lists all the pages on your website and how they relate to each other. Search engines require this information to crawl your content efficiently and ensure they index all your pages. You can submit sitemaps manually or use Bing Webmaster Tools or Google Search Console.
Also, use schema markup. It helps search engines understand the type and purpose of your content, such as events, locations, testimonials, and reviews, making it easier for users to find.
Schema markups generate rich snippets – boxes that display additional information in search results, such as prices, ratings, and availability. Here’s an example for the keyword “law firm New York:”
The snippet provides additional information about your firm, plus buttons that provide directions and forward users to your website. These boxes increase visibility significantly, boosting organic traffic arriving at your site.
The final SEO strategy is to improve your site’s user experience (UX). A positive experience makes client acquisition more likely.
You can improve your UX by:-
- Offering clear navigation (such as easy-to-use and intuitive menus)
- Compelling content that clearly explains issues
- Strong calls-to-action (CTA) that make it easy to find your services and book appointments
- Social proof in the form of testimonials, reviews, and customer feedback
For example, your law firm could create content that provides information on how to get compensation for motorcycle accidents. At the end of the post, you could include a CTA, asking clients to schedule a call.
Another strategy is to include externally-linked reviews and testimonials on your sales pages. Customers can click through to read the reviews on independent, third-party sites, helping to build trust and credibility.
Outsource Your Link Building And SEO For Lawyers
As you can see, SEO and link-building for lawyers can be complicated. It requires significant time and work that takes you away from your core operations.
That’s where FATJOE’s backlinking services can help. Our outsourcing reduces the strain on your time, whether you’re an agency specializing in legal SEO services or a law firm, so you can focus on what matters.
Try it for yourself. It’s a hassle-free solution to link-building, website copywriting, blogging, and more!