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Updated: August 11, 2022

A Complete Guide to SEO for Lawyers in 2022

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 if you want your law firm to be competitive and consistently draw high-quality leads with minimal investment, your website must be at the top of search engine results pages—or at the very least on the first page.

By the end of this post, you’ll have a good grasp of what SEO for lawyers is, as well as how to implement it and avoid costly rookie mistakes.

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

If you distill everything, SEO for lawyers is pretty simple: You maximize your law firm’s online visibility by utilizing different techniques to help its website rank high on search engine results pages (SERPs).

This includes creating and publishing high-quality content, engaging with your target audience on social media platforms, optimizing technical aspects of your law firm’s website, and more.

Any type of digital marketing work that enhances your law firm’s website visibility, excluding paid advertising, is called search engine optimization.

Since Google receives 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

SEO for lawyers has always been an integral part of a successful law firm’s marketing strategy.

When your potential clients search for a law firm, they look online. How? They type a question in Google and go through the first five organic search results. Why the first five and not the first three or the first six? No one can say, but the reality is this: The top five organic search results that come up on any search query get 65% of all clicks.

top 5 attorneys in Google

Notice we say the top five organic results. The paid ads during online search typically get about 5-10% of the clicks that organic results get. So, if 100 people click on the first five organic Google results, only five to ten will click on the ads.

The ultimate aim of an SEO campaign is to get new clients. It does this by improving your law firm’s website in SERPs. To this end, SEO for lawyers serves as the framework for structuring your website and generating content that achieves your business objectives.

Even the domain you choose and how your website looks is related to SEO.

SEO changes as Google’s algorithms become smarter, devices upgrade and consumer behaviour adapts. This year there are a few SEO trends to be aware of:

Increased Voice Search

More than 41% of adults use voice search at least once per day, which is altering keyword usage. Improving SEO in this specific area entails using longer, conversational phrases. When people type, they tend to abbreviate, which is different from how they naturally speak.

The EAT Principle

Google likes content that adheres to the EAT principle. It uses expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness to determine whether content should rank in SERPs. EAT is not an algorithm; it’s a concept in Google’s Search Quality Guidelines that’s become increasingly dominant in recent years.

More Structured Data and Rich Snippets

Schema markup is a coding vocabulary that helps Google better understand and extract content from your law firm’s web pages, to showcase as rich snippets. These are Google Search results enhanced with additional data like images or reviews, for example.

Rich snippets can place your website above the first organic result, even if it doesn’t rank on the first page of SERPs. Because people prefer to click on results that provide them information, rich snippets have a higher click-through rate, they increase website traffic.

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SEO for Lawyers: 6 Facts to Know

So, you’d love to get those clicks from prospective clients? No problem, all you have to do is increase your website’s authority on a certain subject. Here’s how:

  1. You increase authority when your website has more (or as much) and better-quality content on a particular subject. For example: For family law firm SEO, having a larger number of pages, each addressing a specific question related to custody issues that are more in-depth than other firms, will lead to gaining authority on the matter.
  2. Try to get more clicks for your site. If your website comes up on a search results page, 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 this happens, the lower your authority (deemed by Google) on the subject. You will likely have to make your content more compelling or use keyword phrases better aligned to their queries.
  3. Try to make a 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. Internal linking is often used to improve dwell time.
  4. Optimize your site pages for good loading speed. A low bounce rate is one of the best things for search engine optimization.  If people leave your page immediately after landing on it, your authority level plummets.Analytics Attorney website
  5. Spend some time link building. Backlinks for lawyers = 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 SEO for lawyers is finding relevant online directories and continuously optimizing those listings. Important attorney directories are avvo.com, findlaw.com, attorneys.com, and Justia.Then there are non-attorney directories and social platforms that matter like Yelp, Google, Facebook, and Instagram. Very often, a law firm’s name, address, and phone number across all those websites are inconsistent, which leads to poor search engine optimization.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 gigantic role here!
  6. Your law firm website’s authority drops when Google penalizes you. You could be penalized 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 reach the top of search engine rankings, we recommend hiring a digital marketing agency that provides search engine optimization services for lawyers. An agency will commit 8-12 people to see to your firm’s SEO needs.

This accomplishes far more than you can achieve internally, even if you have one staff member at your firm who’s versed in SEO for law firms and can dedicate their full-time efforts to it.

No matter what type of law firm you are, search engine optimization is important for online growth: Be that SEO for DUI attorneys, personal injury lawyers SEO, bankruptcy or any other.

Contact us and ask, and we’ll conduct a complimentary, no-obligation 20-point SEO audit that assesses:

  • Website loading speed;
  • Low-quality backlinks that can potentially lead to serious penalties and risk;
  • Backlink quality;
  • Content quality; and
  • Overall website conversion rate audit (how well your website sells your services.)

Once we’ve determined your website’s performance, we’ll provide a custom, high-level SEO strategy to improve weak areas and capitalize on missed opportunities.

Technical SEO for 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 rankings in organic search engine results.

When a search engine crawls, indexes, and renders your law firm’s 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 lawyers 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 if your website isn’t technically sound.

On the other hand, when your SEO is properly optimized, your law firm’s website will rank higher on SERPs and more prospective clients will click on it.

The only way for Google bots to determine your ranking is to access your site’s technical aspects. For example, besides law firm 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 law firm.

How Can You Improve Technical SEO for Lawyers?

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’s Website

Your law firm’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 law firm website. Search engines like Google automatically rank slow websites lower because 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 a law firm SEO company to assist, as a simple line of incorrect code can stop your site 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 technical SEO, you instruct Google to only crawl the most valuable pages.

Optimize Your Attorney Website for Mobile

Effective technical SEO for lawyers should include mobile optimization that ensures users find it easy to navigate your website when 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 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 follow general search engine optimization best practices.

Check Your Lawyer’s Website for Dead Link

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 law firm’s 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 SEO for lawyers because it confuses Google and forces search engines to choose which of the identical pages should rank in organic search results. More often than not, the original page will not be the one chosen. 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 law firm’s pages.

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

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Attract more leads to your law firm

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Law Firm SEO Red Flags

Search engine optimization is a significant investment that can bring great results. It’s an essential part of any digital marketing strategy; however, it’s not without challenges.

Given the scope of search engine optimization, it’s standard procedure for a law firm to outsource its law firm SEO strategy. Yet, good law firm SEO companies are hard to come by. Many lack transparency and fail to deliver results.

Then, those firms who do their SEO in-house may encounter a lack of professionals to hire who are experienced in search engine optimization, local SEO, link building, and other aspects that are crucial for law firm SEO success.

To us, as marketers, it’s obvious which law firm marketing companies’ law firm SEO services are not up to scratch. 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 debate, and there are times when paid advertising is precisely 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, and 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. In other words, they’ll conduct extensive keyword research and collaborate with you to create a content strategy with specific KPIs.
  3. Their quote is significantly cheaper compared to other SEO agencies with robust track records. Often, it appears too good to be true.
  4. You don’t get a definitive, easy-to-understand answer to your question, “What do your law firm 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 gigantic bump in your revenue.

Yes, it’s that simple.

Now that you have a better understanding of what law firm 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 Four 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, by conducting a complimentary SEO performance audit and discovered an all-too-common situation:

  • The website was very professional but had slow loading speed and issues with the mobile version, which amounts to about 15% of all SEO problems.

Google mobile test SEO

    • Another 30% of issues 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 interpreted it as a sign that nobody on the internet wrote anything about our client.
    • But, by far, the most problems (40%) came from the fact that our client’s SEO content strategy was ineffective. Instead of setting up SMART goals 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 considerable budgets.
    • There were many other problems like poor case studies, absence of video content, mediocre reviews, etc. which resulted in very low marketing ROI for law firms.

    Our Solution

    During the subsequent four months we 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 law firm marketing SEO strategy and a detailed production schedule;
    • Registered the website in the 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; and
      • Improved their PPC strategy.

      The Result

      So, how long does SEO take to show results? About four months. For our client, after four 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 number 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 increased by 65% because we improved the website design, added case studies, and tweaked their PPC campaign;

      How to Find an SEO Agency for Lawyers

      Obviously, you can search for an agency on Google. However, before embarking on a quest to find the perfect digital marketing company, there are a few things you should consider during the process:

      Define Your Goals

      Digital marketing and SEO agencies tend to charge clients hourly, by retainer or project. Most prefer retainers for a specific duration of time as SEO generally takes between three and six months to show results.

      If you’re unfamiliar with law firm SEO it’s easy for dodgy agencies to bamboozle you with jargon and charge for services you may not need or want. That’s why having goals is so important.

      Are you looking to improve link building? Do you need to optimize local SEO? Or, is higher search engine rankings what you’re after? Having a short list of KPIs ready to discuss with potential agencies makes it easier to determine who is the best hire.

      Investigate Ability and Industry Experience

      Before meeting any agency, you should use their website as a benchmark for the quality of their services. If their online presence is poor, how can you expect them to improve yours?

      Even if they pass this preliminary test, it’s important to check for precise studies (nothing too vague) that showcase clear law firm SEO success. A website may look good, but past client case studies are where you’ll determine the agency’s true value.

      If they have worked with law firms before that’s a major plus. They’ll already be aware of common industry challenges. A good agency will be open to you speaking with past clients and gladly show you the law firm websites they’ve worked on.

      Assess Communication Style

      No matter how great the agency is, if their style of communication doesn’t align with your own, it’s a no-go. SEO is a process that entails back and forth communication over a few months at the very least.

      Additionally, the agency should be transparent and honest. At Comrade Web, we don’t take on new clients if we feel we can’t attain the results they need. This ensures we always deliver on our promises, and our clients are always happy with our work.

      Look for a Data-Driven Approach

      A thorough data-driven approach is the only way to successfully implement law firm SEO. All digital marketing is driven by Analytics. Using data is important because it’s the only way to understand how your target behaves across the sales funnel.

      Data analytics is essential because it helps agencies to optimize their clients’ online performance. It reduces costs by identifying more effective ways of doing business and optimizes SEO campaigns to provide the best possible results.

      A decent agency is driven by data and takes the time to explain how they analyze data and use it to your law firm’s advantage.

      Get a complimentary marketing audit
      Get a complimentary marketing audit

      Find out how much demand there is in your geographical area.

      Get your site audited.

      Discover how you compare against other law firms in your area.

      request audit

      Request a Law Firm SEO Audit from Comrade Digital Marketing Agency

      Comrade is a digital marketing company specializing in website design and law firm marketing. 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, to name a few, and continuously work on offsite local SEO, and content marketing.

      Our law firm SEO experts can even advise you with voice search for lawyers. Call us for a no-obligation consultation and website audit. That’s when we can start customizing the most effective law firm SEO strategy for your business.

      FAQs

      In what cities do you work?

      Comrade originates in Chicago, but we worked all around the United States. We can help your business grow and increase revenue whenever you are. We have offices across most major cities in the US. For example, we can offer SEO services in Chicago or Miami. You can even find our SEO experts in Austin! If you want to know more about our Milwaukee SEO company or find out how exactly we can help you, contact us via the phone or email.

      How much do law firms spend on SEO?

      Generally, small law firms spend between 5-10% and larger firms between 2-5% of their gross revenue on their SEO efforts. Smaller firms tend to invest in aggressive campaigns to capture their market share. More established firms tend to spend less because they're already known. In major metropolises where competition is fierce, the cost of SEO ranges between $2,500 to $3,000 per month.

      How many people are searching for lawyers on Google?

      Statistically, one in three people seeking legal help will turn to search engines like Google before consulting friends or family. Over 40% of legal clients report using online review sites and directories to vet potential law firms. This number is set to increase as younger, internet-first generations reach their full earning potential.

      What to look for in an SEO agency lawyers?

      When hiring an SEO agency, make sure they:

      • Have an impressive portfolio with case studies to back up results;
      • Communicate honestly and transparently;
      • Follow realistic, data-driven strategies;
      • Clearly outline how they're going to develop your firm's SEO campaign;
      • Provide progress reports that outline how further improvements will be made; and
      • Have positive reviews and encourage you to get feedback from their past clients.

      I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

      If you would like to discuss your project, reach out to our specialists.

      discuss your project
      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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