When potential clients need a lawyer, many of them go straight to Google. They type in “car accident lawyer [city],” and they choose among the few that appear on Google’s coveted first page.
Ranking high in Google’s search algorithm connotes major authority for a given search term. Many firms spend tens of thousands of dollars on SEO to get their firm to the first page, and for good reason: when one new client means tens or hundreds of thousands in revenue, the SEO investment pays for itself.
However, many lawyers are unfamiliar with the basics of SEO and don’t what to look for in an SEO services company. This guide will introduce the four most important aspects of improving your Google search rank, and how to go about doing it. Let’s get started:
1. Build a Quality Website
Google cares about the quality of your website and how it looks. You want to have multiple pages of information that look aesthetically pleasing. You can organize these pages in the primary menu on your homepage like so:
Every attorney should have his or her own profile page. Every practice area can have its own page. Every type of lawsuit within a practice area can have its own page. Client testimonials, media appearances, and legal authorship can have their own pages.
This is what you’re shooting for in the end. Start small with the most important pages, and expand from there. More importantly, you want to ensure that each page is quality. Have at least 300 words per page (although the more, the better), include images and videos if you can, and use bullet points, numbering, bold font, and sub-headings to keep the pages visually appealing.
Creating the content for each page will be the most laborious task that you have. You can either write the material yourself, or you can pay a company that specializes in creating content for websites. This brings us to our next point:
2. Consistent Content Creation
You can’t have a website that sits idle. Google favors websites that are frequently updating with new and visually appealing content. Most law firms do this via their blog. Even if it’s not on the front page of your site, your blog will make your website larger and more authoritative in the eyes of Google. It’s also the best way to target keywords.
Keywords are the specific terms that potential clients search for. The keywords “car accident lawyer [city]” and “truck accident lawyer [city]” may produce entirely different websites on the front page.
You’ll want to focus on the keywords that have either the most searches or the greatest search to competition ratio. All SEO companies (and most content creator companies) will have a keyword search tool to quantify the best and most competitive keywords to target. When you’ve found what keywords you want to target, your blog should be churning out posts related to that subject. The more content you have dedicated to a particular keyword, the higher your firm will rank for that keyword.
Very few attorneys will have time to update their blog frequently, so I highly recommend finding a company for content creation to manage your firm’s blog.
3. Social Networking and Link Building
Besides content creation, link building is the most important factor for Google’s search ranking. In fact, even a website with only one simple page can be the first search result if it’s build up enough links.
Link building is when other websites contain a link to your website. The bigger the website that links to you, the more “link juice” your site receives to boost its Google ranking. Getting a single link from The New York Times, CNN, or another heavily trafficked website could skyrocket your firm onto the first page, especially if you are in a smaller local market.
It’s best to build as many links as possible. There are a number of ways to do that:
(1) Give Testimonials for Other Businesses
As an attorney, you have numerous professional relationships with other businesses. These businesses’ websites often include a testimonials section, where you can give positive testimony in exchange for their linking to your firm’s website. Both parties receive something in exchange, and both benefit from it.
Try reaching out to the businesses you’re closest with and see if they have a testimony section of their website. If so, it can’t hurt to reach out.
(2) Write for Newspapers or Bar Associations
Whether you’re commenting on proposed state legislation or giving a presentation at a bar association’s conference, don’t let those extra efforts go to waste. These are excellent opportunities to include your firm’s website in the “about the author” portion of the page.
Local newspapers especially look for attorneys to comment on a nuanced legal subject. Contact an editor to see if they will publish your article on a topical legal issue.
(3) Sign up for All the Free Legal Directories You Can
These are free boosts to your Google ranking (as well as a potential to bring in new clients), so there is no reason not to sign up for these. Avvo and Lawyers.com are among the most popular, but there are many more lesser-known directories.
There are paid legal directories as well (one of which I’ve written about extensively), which vary in price. Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, paid listings can seriously boost your ranking, although it will immediately drop as soon as you discontinue service with them.
(4) Social Media
Everyone looking to improve their SEO has at least Facebook and Twitter accounts. You can automate your website to post to Facebook and Twitter with every new blog post. Google+ (or “Google Plus”) posting, while not very popular, also boosts your Google search ranking. The more places on the internet that are sharing links to your website, the better.
4. Technical SEO Tweaks
Websites need to be tweaked “under the hood” so to speak, to make sure everything is optimized for Google search. This includes having a good spam filter, a sitemap, and optimization for viewing on mobile. Unless you are going to learn the intricacies of SEO (something most lawyers have no time for), I would recommend hiring an SEO consultant to handle this for you as a one-time service.
As soon as things are set up technically, you should be focusing on content and link building to improve your search ranking.
Every lawyer’s SEO journey is one that starts tough, but it gets easier. As soon as you get your blog up and running and updating regularly, your ranking will grow without much work on your end. The worst thing you can do is disregard it entirely or trust that an SEO company will solve everything for you (although it’s possible they might). You have to put in some work to understand the basics SEO if you really want to ensure your progress.
If you think I missed something essential, or you think anything I’ve written here is wrong, please feel free to leave your feedback in the comments to any post, or email me directly. Good luck, and happy ranking!