Any lawyer can tell you that the world of law is a fiercely competitive one, full of firms that are all vying for the same potential clients in their area. What’s one way to stand above the din of it all?
Law firm SEO.
Law firms are the ideal businesses to get SEO done on their sites. Many of the core components of SEO apply perfectly to law firms and what they do.
Think about it.
Most law firms are localized to certain regions. Local SEO is effective for getting brick-and-mortars found.
Most law firms need to explain their practice areas and legal philosophy to the public. SEO includes content marketing that’s built exactly for that.
And many law firms work in a number of practice areas. The right SEO keywords can get a firm found for all of those in the right geographic region.
If you run a firm and don’t have an SEO strategy, you’re missing out on a huge portion of your perfect audience. Billboards and print ads go only so far anymore. The rest must be done digitally.
In this guide to law firm SEO, we’ll break down how SEO can help your law firm to extend its reach and allow more of the leads you care about to find you.
What Is Law Firm SEO, and Why Do You Need It?
Just like it sounds, law firm SEO consists of all the tactics law firms can use to get their websites to rank highly in Google for the terms that are most relevant to them.
For instance, say you’re a truck accident law firm located in Sacramento, but you’ve been struggling to capture any leads online.
Meanwhile, when you search on Google for “truck accident lawyer sacramento,” you see all your competitors there in the top 10. Maybe their homepages are ranking well, or maybe it’s their specific truck accident practice area pages that show up.
Those rankings aren’t by accident. Those websites got there by practicing law firm SEO on their websites, or by paying someone else to do it for them.
Law firm SEO, then, is the optimizing of a firm’s website to get found on Google by the people who are looking for it.
What kinds of things does that optimizing entail? Everything that’s part of a normal on-page SEO strategy, including:
- Keyword-rich meta tags
- Useful, authoritative content
- Logical heading structures
- Internal linking
- Imagery and other visuals
- Quick load times
Of course, when you’re a local business, creating and maintaining a clear Google My Business profile is also vital to your success, since it allows the public to know where you are, what you do, and during what hours they can contact you.
Now, with all that said, why do you need law firm SEO? What’s the point of all these things that seem to have nothing to do with getting leads?
Well, everything I just mentioned actually has a lot to do with getting leads.
It’s a process to get yourself found on Google, but this is a guarantee: any of your competitors out there who are showing up in the first few positions for “law firms in sacramento” have put the time and effort into thinking about keywords, content, headings, and meta tags.
All of those things come together to show Google that you want to help your users, that you’re showing them content that’s relevant to them, content they can use to make better decisions about their legal needs.
In short, law firm SEO is the tool you need to draw users into your website and turn them into converting clients.
It all starts with SEO, and if you’re not doing it, you’re going to lose those people to your competitors.
YMYL: Why SEO for Lawyers Is Different
Before we get into the specifics of the SEO plans that you should be implementing on your law firm website, there are two important things we have to discuss first.
Those two things are your money and your life, taken together in the digital marketing world as the letters “YMYL.”
“Hey, wait a minute,” you say, aghast. “Those things are none of your business!”
Well, they are and they aren’t.
Money and health are perhaps the two most important overarching concerns of just about every reasonable person.
But why are we talking about them here?
Since law firms have an absolute duty to do right by their clients by providing them with sound legal advice and information, Google is going to be much more selective about the web pages it shows for legal search terms.
That’s because any wrong or misleading legal information could potentially affect the public’s health or finances.
We’re not talking about some low-stakes content like a blog post about the best summer furniture. We mean the really heavy, impactful stuff.
Take the example of a law firm writing about lawsuits for medical malpractice.
If some information is wrong, and that content brings in a client who follows the lawyer’s bad advice and loses a malpractice case, then that content negatively affected the person’s health and finances.
This is why Google places more emphasis on the quality of medical, financial, and legal content by labeling it as “YMYL.”
How E-A-T Can Help You Meet Google’s Standards
Google’s YMYL challenge means that only the most correct, authoritative content will rise to the top of the rankings for terms related to health, finances, or the law.
If you run a law firm and want to start getting your content ranked higher, you have to focus on improving what is called your E-A-T score.
“E-A-T” stands for “expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness.”
A website’s E-A-T score comes from its adherence to Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines.
Real, human reviewers study all websites based on those guidelines and assign a score to them that goes along with Google’s own algorithmic ranking of a site’s pages.
What does it all mean for legal websites?
It means you have to craft truly expert content that is free of factual errors and update it all regularly to perform well for legal search terms.
Getting fully into E-A-T scores for content quality lies outside the scope of this post, but just know that if you’re writing legal content, make it comprehensive, accurate, and useful for the people who might really need your firm’s help.
High E-A-T scores lead to you passing Google’s YMYL content test, which is exactly what you need as a law firm.
5 Parts of an Effective Legal SEO Strategy
SEO for a law firm is obviously going to have a legal slant to it, but ultimately, if you want to take your firm to new heights using your website, you’re going to need all the tried-and-true SEO factors that every website should have.
Here are the five parts of a truly effective legal SEO strategy.
1.) Keyword Strategy
So much of SEO starts with the right keyword approach, meaning the keywords that are important for your firm to rank for and what the intent of those keywords is.
Now, more than ever before, Google prioritizes meeting the search intent of queries. The intent of a keyword is simply what users mean when they search for something.
If you’re a law firm, your target keyword list is going to reflect your niche or specialty.
Maybe you handle truck accident claims, medical malpractice, and contract disputes.
You would want to rank for keywords around all three of those main practice areas, but three seed terms probably won’t be sufficient. You’d have to expand into variations on those keywords, too.
Before you settle on a keyword list, though, you have to bring things back around to search intent.
This is an area that we commonly see our clients getting wrong before they come to LSEO.
It’s easy to think that all keywords centered around “truck accident lawyers in X city” are equal and mean the same thing, but there are different semantic meanings to different terms.
Google will show different results for “truck accident lawyer” as opposed to “do I need a truck accident lawyer?”
If you struggle to understand keywords and search intent, and your firm’s pages aren’t ranking well as a result, LSEO can audit your keywords and content to reorganize and set things right.
2.) Content Strategy
Keyword strategy leads right into content, which every law firm needs on its website.
We already discussed the importance of YMYL content and how Google assigns E-A-T scores to content contained within this category.
But E-A-T is about the quality of the content. What about your overall content strategy as a law firm?
As with any other site that produces content, you should take the spoke-and-wheel approach with content, also called the topic cluster approach.
In a topic cluster, you have a main pillar page that is meant to be the most authoritative page on your site on that particular subject matter.
As part of that cluster, you would also have blog posts that act as supporting pages for the pillar page.
The pillar page is meant to be a general resource on, say, truck accidents, while the blog posts get into specific issues around truck accidents.
Each page in a topic cluster will target a different keyword, and the keywords will match the intent of the page.
A pillar page will have more commercial intent, for example, targeting people who are shopping around for the right lawyer for them.
Blog posts typically have informational intent and target specific, long-tail keywords that people use when they want to know things.
Content with high E-A-T scores and that also effectively targets meaningful keywords forms a huge part of a strong law firm SEO strategy.
3.) On-Page SEO
SEO is about so much more than content, though.
A huge part of a law firm’s online strategy has to be about technical SEO, and a lot of that shows up right on a site’s pages.
On-page SEO encompasses many things, including:
- Meta titles
- Meta descriptions
- Hierarchical heading structures
- Internal linking
- Image alt text
- Schema markup for rich results on Google
With on-page SEO, all of these things come together to form a larger whole.
We said at the outset that the legal industry is highly competitive, and you know that if you run a firm.
So, when it’s between your firm and two or three others for the top position on Google, the search engine is going to select the website that has the most.
Every law firm can produce content, but can they all structure their headings the right way? Do they all add schema markup to their blog posts? Do they all know how to add the right keywords to their meta titles?
The best law firms will have their legal SEO in a good place from top to bottom, including on-page SEO.
We earlier talked about Google’s level of trust in legal content with YMYL and E-A-T.
Now let’s talk about another SEO trust factor: backlinks.
No matter what else you do as part of your law firm SEO strategy, you have to make sure that you’re securing backlinks from relevant sources in your industry.
Link building is vital to SEO efforts regardless of the market you’re in, but like we just said, since you really have to prove yourself with YMYL content, backlinks are especially important for law firms.
Backlinks are hyperlinks from other websites to specific pages on your site. You earn them by reaching out to webmasters in your niche to see if they would like to link to your resource as a way to help their own audiences.
Aside from the extra traffic you could get through a backlink, those links are also signals to Google that you have noteworthy content. The search engine could rank you higher as a result.
When we work on SEO for lawyers here at LSEO, we always give attention to the link-building aspect of the strategy because we know that’s one way to help our clients earn better rankings and visibility.
5.) Local SEO
The final part of the strategy we want to talk about here is local SEO, which you’ll need if you have an office that you want people to visit.
Just like it sounds, local SEO is the part of an SEO plan that shows the public that you’re located in this specific geographic region and that you serve clients from this, this, and that area.
Wherever you are, there are probably a bunch of competitors around you, so having your information out there is pretty important.
A local SEO strategy includes a few things that we’ll mention here.
First, you would need to optimize your site’s main pages for keywords just like we discussed above, but with a local intent.
If we stay with the “truck accident lawyer” example, the way to localize that keyword would be to attach it to the location where you are and then to use that whole phrase on the appropriate page (provided there is enough search volume for that term in that location).
So, if you have a single office in Sacramento, California, you would target “truck accident lawyer in Sacramento” on your main truck accident pillar page.
However, even if you have only one office, you may still want to capture traffic from other locations around you.
In that case, you could create a series of location pages whose purpose is to rank for your main keywords but in different cities. Those keywords would just be localized to their respective cities.
Finally, your local legal SEO strategy should include setting up and maintaining your Google My Business profile.
Any local business that wants to get found in its area needs a Google My Business. It’s from there that people will be able to find you on Google Maps, learn your address and hours, and confirm that you do what they need.
With so many other law firms likely vying for attention in your same region, an optimized Google My Business can help you to capture the attention you want from the public.
Here’s a table quickly summarizing all the legal SEO elements you should focus on:
|Element||How It Helps You|
|Keyword Strategy||Allows your law firm to target the correct terms and search intent|
|Content Strategy||Educates and informs users in how your firm does business|
|On-Page SEO||Creates a strong user experience to keep visitors engaged|
|Backlinks||Act as trust signals for Google and can help you rank higher|
|Local SEO||Optimizes your website for your firm’s locations so your target audience can find you|
Let’s Strategize on Your Law Firm SEO Together
At LSEO, we love devising legal SEO strategies for our law firm clients. No two approaches are the same, and what has worked for one firm may not work for another.
If you want to step up your law firm SEO game with a team of experts who have been doing it for years, let us know. We’re happy to design your whole strategy or augment your existing in-house marketing team.
Let LSEO help take your firm to truly new heights.