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.
Attorney Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to strategies used to improve the quality of a law firm’s website so that it ranks higher in search engines. When potential clients search for a law firm’s site, a site with a higher quality will rank better in search results.
Essentially, that’s what SEO for law firms and attorneys is all about.
What does Google look for in a website? As the search engine states, “search engines are designed to help people find what they’re looking for.”
Search engines strive to deliver results that are:
The goal of legal SEO is to produce helpful, high-quality content and to deliver it in an appealing way. Google rewards those who master it. Those are the skills that the best SEO companies for lawyers possess.
Yes, Google is your main focus. Since it receives nearly 93% of all search traffic, Google is what makes digital marketing for law firms.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 2023, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Google Trends shows how voice searches increased between 2008 and 2016 by 35%. Current statistics reveal that 41% of adults use voice search at least once per day.
It is time your law firm took advantage of this trend to drive traffic to your site. To help you, we discuss the importance of voice search, and how it modifies digital marketing, as well as outline five steps you need to take to optimize your site for voice search results.
The most significant difference between traditional SEO for lawyers and voice search SEO is the way voice search has altered keyword usage. For example, with normal Google searches, users tend to focus on short keywords like “winter fashion ideas” or “women’s formal shoes.”
However, voice searches use a more natural language style. For example, “What are this season’s winter fashion trends?” When users use voice input, they speak in natural language, just how they would in everyday life. This almost becomes a conversation between people and search engines.
Using natural language remains key to voice search success. Before voice search technology, users would type one to three specific keywords into Google search. For example, “weather today”.
Now, SEO strategies favor long-tail keywords written in conversational language. For example, “What is the weather like today?”
Additionally, search engine results pages (SERPs) usually display an answer box (featured snippet) from the top position query. However, if you were to ask Alexa the same question, the answer she would provide would be the result from the top-ranking web page.
Key considerations using voice SEO tactics include:
Google’s Keyword Planner can help determine the volume and competition for your industry’s keywords. Finding phrases with a high search volume, but low competition is recommended because you’ll have an easier time rising through the ranks. This means there’s a higher chance your content will pop up when a user completes a voice search query.
Adapting to voice search technology is easier than you think. Here are 5 easy steps you can take.
The first thing you need to do is have an active Google local business listing. You can set up an account through Google My Business. The listing helps prospective clients search for your business on the Google local listing as well as on Google Maps.
Note: For consumers to find you, make sure you use the correct NAP information. NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone number, and you need a consistent NAP between your website, Google My Business page, and other listings to improve your search results.
Therefore, if your firm goes by The Best Attorneys on the Web Ever, PC on Yelp, and Google My Business, do not use Da Best Attorneys on your website. It is natural to use the shorter name, but it could hurt your search rankings.
You need to focus on semantic search, which is all about user intent. Long voice search queries have a specific meaning to the searcher. As we’ve mentioned before, these searches are semantically different from the ones we type, even though they will likely yield the same answers.
For example, when I type personal injury attorney into Google, my query looks like the following:
However, when using voice search for a personal injury attorney, I tend to get a bit wordy in describing what I require in more detail. As you can see below, my query is longer and more specific to my needs. The additional information also helps Google provide me with more targeted results.
The key to long-tail keywords today is to look for keywords that resonate with your target audience. Find out what they are thinking, and then incorporate those keywords into your content.
Additionally, your content should use schema markup language. Also known as structured data, it is used by search engines to read and understand the content on your web pages.
Long-tail law firm keywords today rely on Schema to improve the semantic search capabilities of your website. Schema gives meaning to the content and keywords you use on your website by telling Google what the purpose of your content is. Attorneys even have their own schema format they can use to discuss their services.
How do you create compelling content for voice commands? Simple, think about what your target market needs to know and write content around those questions.
An excellent example of this dynamic content is an FAQ. The FAQ format matches how searchers look for content on Google. You could compare a voice search to asking a friend a question. You provide a relevant, helpful response to their query.
Therefore, you might want to dust off your old FAQs on your website and start writing some Q&As. Better yet, you could create multiple FAQ pages for different services.
You’ve probably heard a million companies tell you how you need a mobile site. Please make this 1,000,001. The vast majority of voice searches happen on android phones. Without a mobile website, you will lose out on the majority of your voice search traffic.
Utilizing responsive web design ensures your website adapts its size and organization of content on the page to fit the specific device a user is viewing it from. This approach leads to a better user experience and search engine optimization.
Voice search is a brand-new digital marketing tactic for law firms. However, for potential clients, it’s simply becoming part of their daily routine. Adopting natural language in marketing content and optimizing for mobile devices and voice recognition will help your law firm stay ahead of the competition.
Every search engine optimization strategy is different. Generally, companies can expect SEO results to yield an improvement in organic traffic after roughly six months, while the full results become present around 12-24 months.
Your website, content quality, and overall niche competitiveness influence how quickly you see results from SEO. It’s important to remember that SEO efforts have a compound effect, and they are a long-term goal, not a quick fix.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the factors that affect SEO results, and what you can expect if you hire an SEO agency to help you rank higher on search engine results pages.
SEO is competitive in two ways: There are competitive geo markets, and competitive industries.
Let’s use the example of a lawyer. When a prospect searches for information online related to a legal issue, Google considers where they are located at the time of the search and prioritizes local results (local SEO).
If you practice in a small town, where there are fewer lawyers, your website will reach a higher ranking faster with less effort. However, if you are in New York or Chicago, it will take longer to see results from even the best SEO for law firms efforts because the competition is greater.
You’d get results much faster if you focus on a narrow practice area that’s not highly competitive. If we stick with the lawyer example, for instance, we know that some websites have been around for more than a decade ranking for popular keywords like “personal injury.”
It is unlikely a new website with this keyword will be able to jostle established ones from their top position on search engine results. This is why it is imperative to conduct an SEO competitive analysis to determine high competition keywords.
Generally, when it comes to SEO success, you have to consider three types of competition:
Often, these categories overlap, as industry competitors are likely creating content and targeting a similar audience to yours.
Think about it like this: If you start going to the gym to attain a certain body weight, and look, the first thing your trainer will consider when designing a fitness program is your starting point.
If you trained for a while before, eat healthily, and are in good shape, you’ll achieve your goal fairly soon. However, if you are unfit and unhealthy, your trainer will take a different approach and may need more time to help you achieve your goal.
It’s the same with SEO results. What is the current state of your website’s domain authority? Is it new, or has it been around for 10 years? Has it been optimized with SEO basics? Does it feature relevant content that people search for? Does it have newly published pages?
Your answers to these questions will determine how long SEO experts need to get your website to rank on page one of search engine results pages (SERPs).
Spiral Analytics provides a good case study to temper expectations. Websites that make it to the top 10 ranking page are, on average, are 2+ years old. Those that gain a top 1 ranking are almost 3+ years old.
Roughly 95% of newly published pages don’t get to the top 10 within a year. And those that do manage to get there in about two-to-six months.
The amount of effort that goes into your SEO process is crucial to the speed of achieving results.
How much effort and money are you willing to allocate to SEO? If you’re thinking of setting aside $500 per month, it’s probably not enough to develop a strategy, as well as create and publish high-quality content.
If you invest more in an SEO strategy— anywhere between $2500-$5000 per month — your website could earn one of those coveted top 5 Google positions much faster. You’ll get a lot of well-researched, relevant, keyword-rich, high-quality content created and distributed to other relevant websites, and more of your prospects will read or watch it.
Read this to understand more about how SEO works, so you can make an educated decision about your marketing investment.
Content creation is a critical part of any SEO campaign. It’s not as simple as creating a couple of long-form articles and distributing them online. Marketers have to satisfy search intent, i.e., the purpose of a user’s search.
For example, if a user searches for a “personal injury lawyer,” is the search to find one near them? Or learn about what a personal injury lawyer does?
Before, marketers simply created content stuffed with keywords (keyword stuffing), which is frowned upon now because Google’s algorithm has become smarter. To improve SEO performance, your content has to satisfy user intent, and not just use utilize high-ranking keywords.
While content marketing takes commitment, prioritizing the creation and publication of new, informative pieces allows you to use more target keywords beyond those on your website. That’s why most SEO experts recommend having a website with an integrated blog.
Blogs are beneficial because they are easy to share on social media and provide a constant stream of new information, which is what Google’s search engine algorithms favor. Creating unique content will help you occupy additional places in SERPs, rank for more keywords, and reach a larger audience.
Inbound links, known as backlinks, occur when another website links back to your site. A website with many backlinks signals to Google it is of high quality; therefore acquiring links is an important element of SEO.
Essentially, Google realized the only way to know if a site is worthwhile is to find out how many people are talking about it and what they’re saying. A website’s backlink profile with high-quality backlinks for lawyers improves search engine ranking, increases referral traffic, and promotes brand awareness.
Like SEO, link building takes time because you only really want high-quality links from authoritative, trustworthy, and relevant websites. If your website is new, backlinks will be the only links to your website’s pages and are crucial to Google’s understanding of your website content.
Unfortunately, there are no magic shortcuts, building a backlink profile takes time and work. Page targeting a competitive keyword can take anywhere from two to six months to increase its ranking from backlinks.
SEO results take time to reflect because they rely on multiple ranking factors. SEO keyword difficulty, competition, inbound links, and domain age all impact a site’s ranking. SEO success can take a longer or shorter time depending on how you approach each of these factors.
Changes that SEO companies recommend may be small, like metadata updates and technical SEO upgrades, or big, like a full website overhaul. Either way, actioning them faster brings quicker results.
Having said that, it’s important that each step of the SEO process is given due time to execute. Seeing as though SEO is the foundation of all digital marketing, you want to make sure that your efforts are rock solid.
Сalculating SEO ROI is similar to calculating any other business investment. To measure SEO efforts successfully, you need to have specific goals. For example, an objective cannot simply be “increase conversions” it has to be “increase conversions by 40%”. Let’s take a look at common SEO strategies to measure your web pages’ SEO ROI.
Start by establishing the right benchmarks (preferably before your SEO agency implements SEO). There are many digital marketing goals you can achieve with an SEO strategy, such as receiving higher organic search traffic, improving brand awareness, customer acquisition and actual revenue.
Whether you’re executing your SEO campaign internally, or outsourcing SEO services, the benchmarks below will help you evaluate success.
There are many tools you can use, like Semrush or Google Analytics, to derive metrics that help measure the ROI of SEO. Some offer insight into organic traffic, while others look at search engine rankings or conversion tracking.
The tools you use to measure SEO ROI depends on the key performance indicators of your digital marketing strategy.
A basic SEO ROI formula might look something like this:
(Gain from Investment—Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment
You should calculate the expenses of your Search Engine Optimization for lawyers investment to get your “Cost of Investment,” and then reference whatever platform you use to get your “Gain from Investment”.
When determining SEO cost, you need to include agency outsourcing or in-house management, as well as SEO software tools and platforms used.
Once you have clear benchmarks, you can set clear goals. For example, if you are currently acquiring four new clients from your website per month, and the revenue per client is $5000 on average, then your website brings in approximately $20,000 of business per month.
Say you want to get to $100,000 per month, now you need to get 20 clients. An expert digital marketing company can tell you if that’s a realistic goal, and then create a road map, including an appropriate marketing budget estimate, that will get you from point A to point B.
Working with SEO experts offers a distinct competitive advantage. In the legal industry, in-house resources are often unequipped to deal with the daily demands of paid advertising, SEO campaigns and social media marketing channels. Over 62% of law firms outsource their marketing efforts for this very reason.
There are a lot of fly-by-night marketing agencies who provide no SEO ROI. Any reputable marketing company that offers SEO work should provide detailed performance reports of how your website and marketing content is performing online.
Their report should examine advanced web ranking, website traffic, organic conversions, and any other benchmarks you have deemed necessary to measure. Additionally, these results should be derived from reliable sources, such as Google Analytics data.
You should also report back to your marketing agency, telling them how many new clients you’ve received, and the revenue you’ve generated.
In summary, a good SEO report that delivers marketing ROI should stipulate:
Let’s say you are spending $5,500 per month, $66,000 per year. For the first three to four months, you see no difference in case flow.
For months five to seven, you sign up six clients monthly (and can track the two additional clients per month back to the marketing efforts). Months eight to ten, you sign up nine new clients monthly. And, in months eleven to twelve, you get twelve new clients per month. That’s three new clients per week!
So, for an SEO investment of $66,000, you signed 37 new clients. Considering an average client value of $5,000, you generated 280.3% return on your investment in year one.
Things should considerably pick up in year two. Even if you stay at the twelve clients per month level, your ROI on $66,000 in marketing spend will be 727.3%. Not too shabby.
However, there is a common SEO ROI pitfall that you must be aware of: Many attorneys become disheartened within a few months because they do not see the positive ROI results they want, and are spending money they’d rather keep.
My advice is to keep your cool and be patient – SEO is a marathon. Review monthly SEO reports from your marketing experts and look for positive trends. You should see an increase in organic traffic and the results of conversion optimization start to pay off within three to four months.
After two to three quarters, you’ll have an excellent grasp of the average value you’re getting for your money.
Having an accurate idea of the ROI of SEO is powerful. This data can be used to get further buy-in for additional investment, showcase digital marketing success and, of course, inform SEO campaign’s further development.
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:
And then there’s…
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.
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:
During the subsequent four months we performed the following work:
So, how long does SEO take to show results? About four months. For our client, after four months, the following results were achieved:
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:
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When hiring an SEO agency, make sure they:
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