SEO For Lawyers: What You Need to Know

How do you find clients? That’s the question every new and growing law firm keeps asking. The truth is, you should be asking how do you get clients to find you.

This blog is provided for general information only. Always talk to a laywer or other appropriate professional before making decisions.

Most people looking for a lawyer do it on Google or some other search engine. They type in what they’re looking for and then call the first lawyer that comes up. In some cases, they might also talk to the next couple of people. But few people keep scrolling down the search results or look to other sources. If the first lawyer they find can help, that’s the end of their search for a lawyer.

So how do you get to the top of those search results? It’s not a ranking of how good you are or how good other people think you are. It all comes down to lawyer SEO. If your search optimization is the best, you’ll get the best rankings and the most leads.

That’s where our law firm SEO company comes in. While you’re busy practicing law, we’re continually optimizing your website. We’ll get you the top rankings for the most important keywords so you don’t have to worry about finding more clients when your case is done.

What are the Goals of SEO for Lawyers?

SEO for lawyers isn’t an expense you have to pay. It’s a business investment. To figure out if it’s a worthwhile investment, you need to understand what you’re trying to achieve.

  • Top rankings. Remember, most people will call whoever is listed first. They know nothing about lawyers or what lawyers have what reputations. To the average consumer, whoever is at the top must be good.
  • The right clients. You don’t want clients from different practice areas or who can’t pay constantly blowing up your phone. A general SEO approach might cost you time and money dealing with people who will never become clients. We take a tailored approach to optimize for what your ideal clients are searching for.
  • More clients. The whole point is to get more clients. More clients equal more case fees. Once you’re at the top of the search rankings and getting hundreds or thousands of clicks per month, you’ll have more people calling than you can handle on your own.
  • Long-term gains. Traditional marketing like radio ads or even online marketing like paid advertisements is a one-time investment. When the ad runs, you get whatever leads you get and that’s the end of both that ad and the money you spent on it. You may get a positive return, but you have to keep doing the same thing to keep leads coming in. SEO is about constant improvement. Once you have a new page or post, it’s up forever to keep getting you clients while you improve or add to other parts of your website.

What Goes Into Lawyer SEO?

There are several steps that go into SEO for lawyers. Some SEO services only offer one or a few, but each one is an important part of the process and should be completed together.

Website Audit

A website audit is a detailed analysis of your existing website. It tells you how you’re currently ranking in searches, how many new clients you’re getting, if there are any technical problems with your website that hurt its rankings or usability, and how it compares against your competitors.

The whole point of the website audit is to tailor your SEO plans for your needs. SEO is highly individualized and what’s right for one law firm’s website might not be right for another’s. If someone is selling you a cookie cutter plan without analyzing your website, you probably won’t get the results you need.

Strategy Session

What are your real-world goals for your law firm? What kind of clients do you have? What kind of clients do you want? Are you going to expand or niche your practice areas? Who are your competitors and how do you differentiate against them?

SEO is part of your overall marketing strategy, so it needs to be aligned with your firm’s big picture strategies.

Website Creation or Upgrades

The first piece of work product is getting a solid website in place. This will include a home page, your practice areas, and a contact page. Depending on what you already have, this might mean starting from scratch or improving your existing site.

In addition to basic content, we’ll also work on the technical side. This includes making your website run faster (this helps in search results) and adding tracking tools so you can see how your SEO is doing and we know what to improve next.

On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization is all about improving your current website. This might include updating your content to better tailor for targeted keywords. It can also include things like making your website easier to navigate so potential clients can find what they’re looking for. This is an ongoing process as there will always be something that can be made better based on the new data that comes in.

Off-Page Optimization

Off-page optimization is about what goes on off of your website. This mainly includes things like getting links from other websites and directories. It also often includes creating a blog targeting highly-tailored, long-tail keywords that point back to your main site.

There are two goals in this process. One is to give people more ways to find you. The second is to convince search engines that all your links mean you have a solid reputation and should be ranked higher.

Does SEO Really Work?

Think about how you, your friends, and your family buy things. You either go with the store you already know or you search online. You check the reviews for the top few results, and then you make your decision. Consumers shop the same way when they’re shopping for lawyers.

Give it a try right now. Call someone up and ask them to find a lawyer that does [insert your practice area] that isn’t you. Ask them how they found that lawyer. If you want strangers to hire you, you need to be easier to find than that other lawyer.

How Does SEO Compare Against Other Marketing Strategies?

When you’re developing a marketing plan, you have choices to make. Depending on your practice area and strategy, some advertising methods won’t work, others won’t be a smart investment, while some will work well together with your SEO.

  • Traditional networking. Traditional networking can work great in practice areas like business law where you hope to build long-term relationships with clients. Networking with other professionals can also help get you clients who need legal services in those areas. On the other hand, you don’t want to network in a way that makes you come across as an ambulance chaser. But even if you do choose networking, referrals are still going to want to see your website.
  • Pay-per-click advertising. Some attorneys do great with pay-per-click advertising. The problem is that it’s expensive and a lot can go wrong. That $100 ad click can be spent on an unrelated search or another attorney who is just scoping out the competition. Plus, think about where paid ads are — right above the top search results. Why pay for one page view when you can optimize for thousands?
  • Traditional advertising. You still see news, radio, and billboard ads because they still work. With the right strategy, you can get a high return on your investment. But what do people do when they see them? The number that pick up the phone and call is going down. Instead, they’ll head to the website for more information.
  • Email marketing. Email marketing can be a great way to keep in touch with existing clients, provide them with useful legal information that might lead to them coming back for more services, and reminding them you exist to refer you to other people. But again, people will be checking out your website nine times out of 10.

So what does all of this mean? You can use other marketing channels, but you can’t avoid having a website. If you’re going to invest in a website, you might as well go ahead and make sure it’s optimized.

Do You Need a Blog?

Why do you need a blog if most people call up the first lawyer they see in the search results? Even if that’s what a lot of people do, that’s not what all people do.

Some people will spend time reading through your website. Your blog is your way of showing that you know what you’re talking about and that you have the answers to their specific problems. Even if you’re fully capable of handling a case, people want to see that you know that specific area.

In addition, your blog can help make sure you’re at the top of the search results. Your main website will show up for broad searches like “personal injury lawyer.”That helps you get people who are ready to buy, but it means possibly missing out on some searches. You might not have a practice area page for “motorcycle accident red light runner,” but that could be a good blog post.

In addition, some people might have a question like “how long does my insurance have to pay after a car accident” and not know that they need a lawyer yet. This gives you a chance to convince them or have your name in their head when they decide to hire a lawyer.

Does Local Search Replace SEO?

Local search is using things like Google Business to get in the top of search results for people near you. This is a necessary part of SEO not a complete replacement.

First, many practice areas cover much broader geographic areas, while local search often focuses within specific neighborhoods. If you’re a niche firm targeting the next city over, local search won’t get you there.

Second, who do you think gets the top spots? Many law offices are concentrated around courthouses or in specific office parks. You’re all equally close to the searcher, so how does the search engine pick the winner? It goes back to your SEO.

Can You Do Your Own SEO?

You can try, but you probably won’t like the results. Anyone can throw up a WordPress website, but there’s only so many spots in the top rankings. It’s just like the law school exam curve when only so many people could get an A no matter how good their answers were.

SEO is more than just putting up more content. It takes technical knowledge, and what works is constantly evolving. When you have a busy caseload, you don’t have time to keep track of Google’s latest updates. Plus when you get behind on your blogging, it can make your website look less active and send your search rankings down.

Remember, the lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. The same thing applies to any other professional service. Focus on practicing law and increasing your billable time, and let a professional law firm SEO company do what they do best.

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