The Lawyer’s Guide to SEO in 2021 ** Terms and Conditions May Apply. Always Read The Fine Print.
When people search for your services online, it's hard to overestimate the importance of legal SEO, which is the practice of getting your website to appear higher in search engines such as Google and Bing. Nowadays, most people browse on their smartphones, and many of them will click the first search result that emerges. In fact, according to a recent study, 22% do exactly that. This means that if you want your law firm to be competitive and consistently draw high-quality leads with minimal investment, the best way to do so is to make sure your website is at the top of search engine rankings — or at the very least, on the first page.
The good news? By the end of this post, you’ll have a pretty good grasp of what SEO is, how it should be done in 2021, how it should NOT be done, and how to be absolutely certain that it hasn’t been done right.
Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines tend to use very similar algorithms, so what works for Google usually works for them too.
Why You Need SEO and How SEO will Change in 2021
The COVID pandemic has changed the online landscape tremendously, and with more businesses than ever moving online, the competition is more robust than ever before. SEO has always been an integral part of a successful marketing strategy, but due to these new challenges, this is now doubly true. The year 2021 will not be the time to slack on your SEO budget, but rather, increase your efforts.
Most of your potential clients’ search for a law firm begins online. What do they do? They type a question in Google and go through the first 5 organic results. Why the first 5 and not the first 3 or the first 6? No one can say, but the reality is this: the top 5 organic results that come up on any search query get 65% of all clicks.
Notice we say the top 5 organic results. The paid ads usually get about 5-10% of the clicks that the organic results get. So if 100 people click on the first 5 organic Google results, only 5-10 will click on the ads.
SEO for Lawyers: 6 Facts to Know
So, you’d love to get those clicks? No problem, all you have to do is increase your website’s authority on a certain subject. Here’s how that happens:
You increase authority when your website has more (or as much) and better-quality content on a particular subject. For example: for a family law firm, having a larger number of pages, each addressing specific question related to custody-related issues more in-depth than others do, will lead to gaining authority on the matter.
You increase authority when you get clicks. If your website comes up on a query, but people don’t click on it, this means they don’t feel like they’ll find the answer to their question on your page: the more times that happens, the lower your authority (deemed by Google) on the subject. You need to make sure not only that your website is visible but that it gets clicks.
You increase authority when people spend a lot of time on your website. If they read your article, open multiple pages on your website, and seem to “dwell” on it (that’s why it’s also called “dwell time”), your authority goes up.
Bounce rate. If people leave your page immediately after landing on it, your authority level plummets.
The authority you have with others. How many websites link to your website as a source of information? Do these websites have authority? One part of attorney local SEO is finding relevant online directories, and continuously optimize those listings. Important attorney’s directories are avvo.com, findlaw.com, attorneys.com, and Justia, and then there are non-attorney directories and social platforms that also matter: Yelp, Google, Facebook, Instagram. Very often law firm’s name, address, and phone number across all those websites are inconsistent, which leads to poor SEO results. If your competitor’s website is featured on 20 directories, specialty legal directories, and other platforms, and yours is featured on 100, your website is more likely to get higher Google rankings. Positive reviews also play a huge role here.
Your website’s authority drops when Google penalizes you. You could get penalties for various reasons: how quickly your website loads, whether your website is secure, whether the pages are optimized for mobile devices, and more. Overall, there are hundreds of factors in Google’s algorithms that can boost or destroy authority. It sounds like a difficult thing to do on your own, doesn’t it? Well, it is…
To get the results you need to achieve with SEO, we highly recommend hiring an expert agency that provides SEO services for lawyers. At an agency, you usually get 8-12 people working on various SEO areas: technical optimization of your website, creating listings, researching and creating relevant content for law firms, and more. This accomplishes far more than you can achieve internally, even if you have one staff member at your firm who’s versed in SEO and can dedicate his or her full-time efforts to it.
Contact us and ask us to do a complimentary, no-obligation “Attorney SEO performance audit.” We will deliver on the following subjects:
Website load speed check
Audit of low-quality backlinks that can potentially lead to serious penalties and risk
Onsite SEO 20-point performance check
Review of backlinks
Overall website conversion rate audit (how good your website can sell your services)
Deliver custom, high-level SEO strategy
To us, as marketers, it’s obvious which marketing companies offer high-quality SEO for attorneys. It’s also obvious which ones are trying to win clients over with low prices and usually generate a minuscule (if any) return on investment.
Here are a few signs that you’re dealing with the second kind:
Six months in, you still get most of your leads from PPC (Pay Per Click) traffic. There’s a lot to be said in the SEO vs PPC discussion, and there are times when paid advertising is exactly what you need, but it should not be your main source of leads in the long run.
Your agency creates content on demand. You have an interesting case study; you call them, they write it up. That’s not going to work. A good agency actively seeks frequently asked questions related to your industry and creates pages specifically designed to answer those questions.
The quote you get for their service is much lower than that of a marketing agency with proven SEO expertise.
If you’ve been wondering whether to change marketing agencies, here’s the one and the only sign that you should:
You’ve given them 6 months, and you don’t see a huge bump in your revenue.
Yes, it’s that simple.
Now that you have a better understanding of what SEO is and how it works to get you clients, we hope you use this knowledge to find and invest in the right SEO service and finally see the results you want.
Case Study: How We Increased the Number of SEO Leads for an Attorney in Chicago by 75% in 4 months
Finding the Bottleneck
We often see that 80% of what attorneys do for SEO is great, but 20% is so bad that it’s preventing them from getting leads.
In our particular example, we started as always from a complimentary “Attorney SEO performance audit” and discovered a very popular situation:
The website was very professional but had slow load speed and issues with the mobile version, which was 15% of the problems.
Another 20% of the problems were coming from the fact that nobody ever worked on SEO backlinks. There were very few submissions to legal directories, no lawyer-specific guest blog posts, etc. So Google saw it as a sign that nobody on the internet wrote anything about our client.
But the most problems were coming from the fact that our client’s SEO content strategy was ineffective. Instead of setting up a SMART goal and pursue something narrow and specific, our client (with a limited budget) went for costly and general keywords trying and failing to compete with law firms with huge budgets.
There were many other problems like poor case studies, absence of video content, mediocre reviews, etc.
During the following 4 months performed the following work:
Enhanced the website load speed to meet Google’s “green” standard (1 week)
Created a long-term SEO strategy and a detailed production schedule
Registered the website in most popular legal directories
Collected a total of 45 quality backlinks on legal blogs and forums
Improved Google Maps profile
Boosted our client’ SEO reputation by posting and boosting 12 detailed case studies of clients (hiding clients’ names, of course)
Improved overall website design to make it more user friendly
Implemented a detailed FAQ section for their potential clients
Improved PPC strategy
After 4 months, the following results were achieved:
Targeted website SEO traffic boosted from 150 to 672 visits/mo.
The total amount of leads generated from SEO improved from 0 / mo to 12 / mo with a roughly 50% lead conversion rate (lifetime value of a client = $15,000).
PPC performance was improved by 65% because we improved the website design, added case studies, and improved PPC the campaign
Comrade is a Chicago-based digital marketing company specializing in marketing and website design for attorneys. Our 10+ years of experience doing SEO have allowed us to perfect our legal-specific SEO approach and have made us extremely detail-oriented. We add relevant markup and keywords in titles, images, and heading tags; we optimize your visual content by using keyword-rich descriptions, adding schema for attorneys (schema is extra website code that helps search engines understand what your web page is about), and continuously working on offsite local SEO and content marketing. Call us for a no-obligation consultation and website audit. That’s where we can start customizing the most effective strategy for your law firm.
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