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Updated: April 27, 2022

SEO for Lawyers in 2022. Complete guide

When people search for your legal services online, it’s hard to overestimate the importance of search engine optimization, which is the practice of getting your website to appear higher in search engines such as Google or 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 the very least, on the first page.

<span style=Attract more leads to your law firm“>
Attract more leads to your law firm

Talk to legal marketing experts

The good news? By the end of this post, you’ll have a pretty good grasp of what SEO for lawyers is, how you should do it in 2022, what mistakes to avoid, and how to be absolutely certain that it hasn’t been done right.

Online Marketing for Law Firms in 2022: What is Search Engine Optimization?

If you distill everything into simple principles, then SEO is actually pretty simple: you maximize your online visibility by utilizing different techniques that help you rank high on search engines. These techniques can include posting blog content that shows your expertise in the field, working on your social media presence, optimizing different technical sides of your websites, and much more.

Any and all type of work that enhances your website’s visibility on any and all search engines, excluding paid advertising, is called Search Engine Optimization. Since Google gets nearly 93% of all search traffic, Comrade, like most digital marketing agencies in the US that offer online marketing for law firms, focuses on optimizing your website for Google.

attorney SEO

Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines tend to use very similar algorithms, so what works for Google usually works for them too.

Why SEO still provides the highest ROI and How SEO is changing in 2022

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 law firm marketing strategy, but this is now doubly true due to these new challenges. The year 2022 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 search 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 search results that come up on any search query get 65% of all clicks.

Why you need SEO

Notice we say the top 5 organic results. The paid ads during online search 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:

  1. 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 seo, 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. Learn more about the pillar-cluster type of SEO copywriting here.
  2. Try to get more clicks for your site. 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. It would be best if you made sure that your website is visible and gets clicks.
  3. Try to make user’s time on your site worth it. 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.
  4. Optimize your site pages for good loading speed. A low bounce rate is one of the best things for SEO. If people leave your page immediately after landing on it, your authority level plummets.Analytics Attorney website
  5. Spend some time link building. Backlinks = 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.
  6. 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…

SEO for Lawyers: 6 things to know

To get the get on the top of the search engine results page, 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 law firm 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 law firm SEO and can dedicate their full-time efforts to it.

No matter what type of law firm you are: a criminal defence, personal injury, bankruptcy or any other, SEO is very important tool for your online growth. 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
  • Content audit
  • Overall website conversion rate audit (how good your website can sell your services)
  • Deliver custom, high-level legal SEO strategy

Technical SEO for a Law Firms

Technical SEO is a process that ensures your law firm’s website conforms to the technical requirements of online search engines. Its goal is to improve organic search engine rankings. When a search engine crawls, indexes, and renders your website, it retrieves your pages, runs your code, and assesses your content to understand your website’s layout or structure. If your SEO is correctly optimized, search engines can crawl, index, and render your website’s architecture and rank it accordingly.

Why is Technical SEO so Important for Lawyers?

Technical SEO for attorneys is important because it makes it easier for Google to access and rank your website’s content. You can publish compelling and valuable content, but it won’t drive the kind of organic traffic you desire to your website if it isn’t technically sound. On the other hand, when your SEO is properly optimized, your lawyer’s website will rank higher on Google search engine pages (SERPs), and more prospective clients will click on your website.

The only way for Google bots to determine your ranking is to access your site’s technical aspects. For example, besides SEO keywords, a crucial factor is the quantity and quality of your backlinks. Backlinks are referral links from other websites to yours. A website with a few backlinks signals to Google that your credibility is low. However, if you have many backlinks, the search engine will regard you as a popular and reliable source.

How Can You Improve Your Attorney Technical SEO?

In a nutshell, technical SEO is about structuring your website data to boost your search engine ranking, and there are many ways to do so. A technically optimized website produces a better experience for both users and search engines. Below are some elements to consider:

Improve Loading Speed of Your Law Firm Website

Your attorney’s website needs to load fast. According to Dotcom-Tools, the average website loading benchmark is 1.3 seconds, and that was in 2018. A slow website frustrates users, and they are likely to move to another site. Search engines like Google automatically rank slow websites lower because they know they offer a poor user experience.

bounce rate by page speed

One way to speed up your site’s loading time is to minify CSS, JavaScript, and HTML (optimize code by removing spaces, commas, and other superfluous characters) and compress images.  For this technical process, it’s probably best to hire an SEO agency to assist, as a simple line of incorrect code can stop your law firm website from working properly.

Don’t Forget about Robots.txt Files

Robots.txt files are created by text file webmasters and instruct engine robots to crawl your lawyer’s website.  To avoid overloading your website with requests, they direct robots on which pages to crawl and not to crawl.

They prevent search engines from accessing certain parts of your website, prevent duplicate content, and offer helpful tips on how engine robots can most effectively crawl your attorney’s website. Crawling too many pages negatively affects your SERP ranking. When you optimize your lawyer technical SEO, you instruct Google to only crawl the most valuable pages.

Optimize Your Attorney Website for Mobile

Effective technical SEO for law firms should include mobile optimization that ensures users find it easy to navigate your website if they’re using a smartphone. As of 2021, 63% of Google’s US organic traffic originated from mobiles. Therefore, no law firm can afford to neglect or underestimate the role of mobiles in SERPs.

technical SEO lawyers mobile

The same attorney technical SEO principles apply here. Mobiles have smaller displays and are mainly used in vertical mode, so your website layout and architecture should be considered. We recommend avoiding pop-ups as they don’t translate effectively and following general SEO best practices.

Check your Lawyer’s Website for Dead Links

A dead or broken link takes users to an empty or nonexistent external webpage when they click on it. 404 error pages create a bad user experience and devalue SEO efforts because they restrict the flow of link equity throughout your attorney website.

There are several free tools available online to check for dead links, with Google Analytics ranking best. Dead links can be external or internal and can be fixed by updating or removing them entirely.

Make Sure You Don’t Duplicate Content

Duplicate content adversely affects technical SEO attorneys because it confuses Google and forces search engines to choose which of the identical pages should rank in its results. More often than not, the original page will not be the one chosen for top search results.  To eradicate duplicate content, you need to specify the “correct” version and redirect the content back to the original page.

Organize your Law Firm Website

Websites that rank higher on Google have flat, organized structures. In other words: their pages are only a few links away from one another. Flat structures have consistent URL structures and make it easy for search engines to crawl a 100% of a website’s pages.

A straightforward way to visualize your website’s architecture is to imagine a clear, hierarchy tree structure. Experienced back and front-end developers can help you optimize and organize your lawyer website to attain this type of structure.

Law Firm SEO Red Flags

While SEO is a significant investment it can bring great results. It’s an essential part of today’s market, so you will need to keep your law firm’s website competitive. There are challenges in attorney search engine optimization though. If you hire an outside company you may encounter a lack of communication and transparency, and that’s without mentioning failure to deliver actual results. Good law firm SEO companies are hard to find. If you do your SEO in-house you may encounter a lack of professionals to hire who are experienced in SEO, Local SEO, link building, and other aspects that are crucial for SEO success.

To us, as marketers, it’s obvious which marketing companies’ law firm SEO services are not up to snuff. 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 latter kind:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. The quote you get for their service is much lower than that of a marketing agency with proven SEO expertise.
  4. You don’t get a definitive, easy-to-understand answer to your question, “What do your SEO services include?” Here’s where you can go through all the questions you should ask an agency that offers marketing for law firms before you hire them.

And then there’s…

The #1 Sign Your SEO Agency Sucks

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 loading speed and issues with the mobile version, which was only 15% of all problems.

Google mobile test SEO

    • Another 30% 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 (40%) were coming from the fact that our client’s SEO content strategy was ineffective. Instead of setting up a SMART goal and pursuing something narrow and specific (ex: pillar-cluster type SEO content strategy), our client (with a limited seo budget) went for costly and very “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 which resulted in very low ROI.

    Our Solution

    During the following 4 months performed the following work:

    • Enhanced the website load speed to meet Google’s “green” standard (1 week)

    Test-Your-Mobile-Website-Speed-and-Performance-Google

    • 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

    Website on Google maps

      • 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

      The Result

      After 4 months, the following results were achieved:

      • Targeted website SEO traffic boosted from 150 to 672 visits a month.

      Increase in traffic for a law firm website

      • 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
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      Comrade is a Chicago-based digital marketing company specializing in marketing and website design for attorneys. Our 10+ years of SEO experience 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.

      I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

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      About the Author
      Stan Bogdashin
      Stan co-founded Comrade Digital Marketing and serves as its marketing strategist and IT expert recruiter.
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