How should law firms do SEO?
The legal vertical is one of the most competitive in search, and for good reason. Paid advertisements and aggregator sites including Avvo, Justia, and Super Lawyers fill the first half of the SERPs for a majority of the industry’s top keywords including specialty terms like “attorney for dui” and “attorney for divorce.” Because of this, it is important for law firms to differentiate themselves from the competition through their organic strategy.
Big law firms can combine PPC and SEO together in order to maximize visibility in the SERPs. This is something we’ll get to a little later.
For smaller local firms, leveraging local SEO is critical. Outranking the aggregators, news sites, and big law firms for industry keywords is difficult. Optimizing pages for local search opportunities, is key to ensuring small firms can compete in organic SERPs.
What are the benefits of law firm SEO?
A whopping 96% of people seeking legal advice use a search engine and 74% of consumers visit a law firm’s website to take action. Because of this, the competition to gain organic ranking for law-related terms is high. Regular optimization, site audits, and technical SEO efforts will result in increased traffic to your site and boost your visibility within the SERPs.
Gaining the top organic rankings while practicing law firm SEO can result in more leads, opportunities, customers and overall growth. It is important and valuable for law sites to be seen as trusted by consumers and search engines. Google has increased its focus on trusted websites. Being recognized by search engines as a trusted site will increase visibility. As organic traffic increases so should potential leads. This is where conversion optimization becomes the primary focus. Optimize your site with a form fill or a consultation request on a home page, at the end of a blog, or near an attorney’s bio in order to get the potential clients’ information.
Producing regular content that appeals to your audience, will drive repeated visitors to your site. This will develop a reputation as a thought leader. One way to ensure your content is targeting the best keywords for your firm is by using Instant and Data Cube to conduct your keyword research. You can also leverage Data Cube to research your competition for law keywords to see where they may be outranking your site. Below are examples of law-based keywords with high search volumes found via Instant.
Law firm SEO strategy
Since it’s nearly impossible to outrank the aggregator sites, it’s vital for law firms to rank on the aggregator sites. Use the keywords you choose to rank for as headers and in any images you attach on the aggregator site. Write unique content for the aggregator site that isn’t already on your site.
For small law firms with only one location, focus SEO efforts on local search. Optimize location pages and be sure to have a Google My Business page. Choose specific, long-tail keywords to optimize for that include “near me” or the city where the firm is located. For example, “attorney for dui near me” or “attorney for dui in Miami.”
All law firms should separate services pages, whether you have one or multiple. For each service you offer, detail what your legal teams offer clients and link to other pages on your site that include more information. For example, if you specialize in legal counsel for company-wide benefits for employees, create a landing page for that information and link to another page that offers information on how clients can get started with employee benefits themselves. Separating services pages allows you to expand the layers of your site. You will drive more traffic to your site with multiple pages you have the opportunity to rank for rather than one page with all of your services information.
Law firm SEO also includes client reviews. Offering potential clients a look into how you interact with current or past clients will better help both your SEO and your reputation. Reviews signal to Google that your site has authority and is trustworthy for visitors which can influence your ranking. Additionally, it’s good for users who are considering your services.
Combining PPC and SEO
Leveraging PPC and SEO will drive more visibility to your site and increase your traffic. Utilizing paid ads while also optimizing for the organic SERPs can help you gain visibility right away and later. PPC is a great way for you to gain visibility right away and SEO is a method to gain traffic overtime. Not only does running ads on search engines work well, but also, running them on aggregator sites will benefit you as well. When an aggregator site ranks, your site ranks, too. You can specify ads based on your geographic area and the categories in which you practice law.
Paying for advertisements on aggregator sites can help you to avoid the high prices seen in the law vertical on Google Ads. Avvo offers monthly ad subscriptions that can be more affordable than Google Ads. Specifically, for keywords relevant to law SEO, the CPC of a Google Ad can be costly. However, Google Ads have the benefit of being extremely focused – down to the zip code and modified for focused terms – and can benefit your site more so than an Avvo ad would.
Utilizing Google Ads for visibility on high-ranking, impactful keywords is a marketing tactic big law firms should leverage. If a small law firm has the budget, spending on PPC in order to stay competitive for specific keywords may be a wise approach. Used correctly, Google Ads can help small law firms target specific keywords, in specific areas.
Avvo receives over 1.3 million organic visits each month. While there is huge visibility here, Avvo might not be ranking for the keywords that are important to you. Avvo’s monthly subscription is less costly than Google Ads but leveraging Avvo is likely to show you less of a conversion rate than Google Ads. Google Ads has a 3.75% conversion rate while Avvo only has a reported .0083% conversion rate.
Overall, Google Ads will provide your firm with more visibility, more leads, and more ROI if you have the funds to spend on paid ads. If you don’t have as much to spend, aggregator ad sites, like Avvo, are a good source of lead generation. However, the best source for high conversion rates is still SEO - leading with a 14.6% close rate. If you decide to invest in paid advertisements, optimizing for organic results with SEO efforts is still very important to your overall strategy. Strive to leverage PPC and SEO together in order to gain as much visibility as possible.
What else can I do to rank for lawyer SEO terms?
Another SEO tactic to utilize is building link authority. Find out where your competitors are linked to and work to gain links on those same sites. Also, work to gain link building opportunities where your competitors don’t have any.
While guest blogging isn’t as strong of a link building tactic as it was in the past, it is possible to gain audience trust and credibility as a thought leader by writing guest posts on sites that are trusted and respected. Relevant sites may include law school websites, blogs with extensive information on law topics (Attorney at Work), or well-rounded and respected publications like The Wall Street Journal.
Lastly, building citations will be important for any local firm. In order to do so, make sure your NAP (name, address, phone number) is correct and in proper format. Make sure you’re not already listed on the sites before submitting your citation. If you already have a citation listing on a site, double check to make sure it’s accurate and updated otherwise the point of the citation is lost.
SEO strategy for law firms is unique as the competition is high, there are massive aggregators in the space and there is more to consider than the typical product or services site. Ranking for law-related terms is beneficial and worth the hard work to get there. Be sure to regularly create new content and optimize keywords that have strong growth and resonate with your audience.