Crafting an effective SEO strategy for your law firm can dramatically improve search engines’ visibility, resulting in more leads and an increased potential to earn. However, it isn’t always easy to find a good SEO agency to partner with.
As technology advances and more people use the internet for everything from shopping to working to socializing, businesses are understanding more about the importance of SEO. As businesses realize how important it is to develop a sound SEO strategy, SEO “experts” are popping up all over the place to earn money using their knowledge and expertise on the subject. However, many of these so-called experts aren’t really experts at all.
What is SEO? Why are SEO services important for a law firm? How can you tell a true SEO expert from a phony? How much should lawyers pay for SEO? Having a basic understanding of what SEO is and how it works will help you find the best strategist to work with and determine how much you should pay for the services. This guide will answer all of those questions and more.
What is Law Firm SEO?
Consider these facts: 96 percent of people who need legal advice use a search engine to begin their search query. 87 percent of potential clients who decide to contact an attorney will go on to hire one, and 72 percent of those people will only contact one attorney. These statistics show how important it is to get your firm, company, or lawyer profile ranked within the first half of the first page of Google search results. And the only way to do that is through Search Engine Optimization.
Law firm SEO defines the process of optimizing a firm’s website for relevant keywords to improve its visibility on search engines and increase the traffic that flows from the search engines to the website. However, SEO isn’t just about keywords anymore.
Google Analytics for Website Ranking
When Google Analytics first came up with SEO for website ranking, the algorithm it used was young and didn’t account for even half of the factors it considers for high-ranking sites today – it was all about the keywords. Today, however, Google’s algorithm updates are consistently improving and the Google algorithm has become incredibly advanced, to the point where low-quality content with no authority will never get a site ranked on the first dozen pages, let alone the first. Today, Search Engine Optimization is both an art and a science.
When determining how to rank a website, there are more than 200 factors that Google takes into consideration. Some factors are heavily weighted while others have a minor impact, but the more you can get right, the better your chances are of making it onto that first page.
The Three Main Pillars of SEO
SEO is comprised of three main pillars. These include content optimization, technical SEO, and link building.
- Content optimization involves the process of developing new blog content and other site content or improving existing types of content to attract and convert visitors to your website. Your website couldn’t exist without content, so optimizing it is a vital piece of the SEO equation. We’ll get into more detail about this in the content marketing section below.
- Technical SEO refers to the process of optimizing the infrastructure of your website to allow Google to crawl through and index the site. This process includes factors such as site hierarchy planning, speed, and coding refinements.
- Link building helps improve the credibility and authority of your website. It involves the process of getting linked mentions from third-party websites, which Google Analytics viewsGoogle Analytics views as a metaphorical vote of confidence. We’ll get into more detail about link acquisition strategies later on in this guide.
In a nutshell, law firm SEO is an essential piece of your overall marketing strategy. An effective SEO plan is powerful enough to put your business in a position where you’ll be able to connect with people who are actively searching for your services – the most valuable type of prospect.
How SEO Works for Content Marketing
When people require a product or service, they generally follow a buying cycle before making a final decision. This cycle is commonly referred to as the “buyer’s journey.” It consists of a few phases that begin as the person is realizing they have an issue that needs to be solved and end when they make a purchase decision. Content serves to guide buyers through their journey, educating them, offering solutions, and steering them in the right direction to choose the best solution for them.
Buyer’s Journey for Law Firms
In a lawyer’s case, suppose that one day a person gets into a car accident and finds themselves in a position where they know it wasn’t their fault, but are being blamed and will need to pay for the damage to the other vehicle. As they realize that they’ll need help arguing their case, they’ll go online and do a Google search to learn more about car accidents and their defense.
Now, suppose your firm specializes in motor vehicle accidents and you have some high-quality content on your site to educate them about the process of defending themselves in their unique position. You’ve provided them with enough information for them to decide that they do need a lawyer and they’ll begin comparing law firms that can help them. This is where high-quality content from blog posts, online reviews, testimonials, and verdict pages will display your expertise and ability to solve their problem.
Finally, the potential client will reach the decision stage of the buyer’s journey, during which the high-quality content on the service pages of your law firm websites can gain their last bit of trust and nudge them into the direction of purchasing your services.
Creating a Buyer Persona
Before you even begin creating and executing all of this content, you need to get a clear picture of who your ideal client is. This is called a buyer persona, and all of your content should be directed at this ideal buyer. Working with an SEO expert can help you work out your ideal buyer persona, craft high-quality, SEO-relevant content, and place the posts in the most effective areas of your law firm websites. The process can be overwhelming for someone who isn’t a content expert, especially when you’ve got a law office to focus on.
If you choose to define your audience on your own, it will require a great deal of time and resources as you conduct the necessary research to outline your buyer personas. While law firm SEO helps streamline buyer personas a bit based on specific topics and keywords, you still need to understand the unique traits of your potential clients by considering things like:
- How old are they?
- What gender are they?
- What types of issues would they be facing?
- What is their average education level?
- What impacts their buying decisions (customer service, cost, speed, etc.)
Law firm SEO providers already have the tools, resources, and expertise to determine these factors and help a lawyer craft their buyer personas before creating all the web content they need for the various stages of the buyer’s journey.
Keyword Research and Google Ranking Factors
Although Google’s algorithm for SEO site ranking has been picked apart, analyzed, and studied down to a science, Google itself doesn’t share much information about how it ranks websites. They keep this information hidden to ensure a higher amount of organic search results. This is one reason why hiring an SEO expert can be very beneficial – figuring out how to rank high enough to make it to the first page of a Google search result is nearly impossible for a small business to do on their own. And if you’re a very small practice or are working as a solo lawyer, your odds of making it happen without the help of an expert are slim to none.
Google Ranking Factors Aren’t Easy to Learn
Google keeps details about its process under wraps for a good reason. One of the ways to rank higher with Google Analytics is to build credibility and authority around your law firm websites – Google wants to highlight serious businesses with sound marketing strategies and help them benefit from getting organic search traffic and higher conversion results from potential clients. Google doesn’t want to reveal every detail about how they rank websites so that fraudulent businesses can misuse the search engine to rip people off.
SEO experts analyze mountains of data to determine factors that impact SEO ratings. While they’ve found hundreds of factors, we won’t get into them all here. Instead, we’ll go over a few of the most impactful ranking factors: local SEO, organic SEO, and Google My Business (or GMB) SEO.
Organic and Localized Organic SEO
Organic SEO involves a target keyword and is particularly well-suited for educational content, such as blogs, whitepapers, and informative guides. Localized organic SEO also involves a target keyword, but it would be geo-modified to help rank for location-specific results, such as ‘law office in Atlanta’ as opposed to ‘law office.’
The most important ranking factors for organic and localized SEO concerning law firm websites include:
- Content quality and quantity
- Website authority from inbound links
- Credibility and relevancy in your industry
- Site speed and UX
- Technically sound site
- Geo-targeted content (for localized organic SEO)
- Proximity to the searcher (for localized organic SEO)
- Links from local websites (for localized organic SEO)
Google My Business (GMB) SEO
Your business can and should have a Google My Business profile. GMB SEO involves the process of optimizing the profile along with off-site SEO and your website’s landing pages. Focusing on these areas will help your business show up in what Google refers to as the “map pack.” The map pack section of a Google search is displayed prominently when people search for a service plus a location. If your law firm has more than one office, you should create a Google My Business profile for each, but make sure that there’s a verified listing for each office location and that it meets your state’s staffing requirements. The most important ranking factors for GMB SEO concerning law firm websites include:
- Your business’ average rating and number of reviews
- Proximity to the searcher
- Target keyword in GMB title
- Address in the city of search
- GMB category selection
A law firm’s Google My Business rankings can also be impacted by additional factors, such as inbound links and on-page optimization of the landing page.
Overlapping Ranking Factors
To improve search engine rankings in all the areas above, you have to build a firm SEO strategy that touches on the key factors from each. This is where a lawyer will especially benefit from working with an SEO expert. Someone who specializes in SEO can understand where and how the ranking factors overlap and cover the unique factors as well.
When dealing with overlapping ranking factors, quality is the name of the game. It isn’t enough to simply know what to do – you need to put forth the time and resources to execute an SEO campaign that’s chock full of high-quality content and inbound links on a technically sound website, all balanced out considering the most important overlapping ranking factors and unique ranking factors. Crafting a strategy taking all of these factors into consideration really demonstrates how SEO is both an art and a science.
Local and Technical SEO for Law Firms
Google utilizes highly advanced AI to view and understand the content on law firm websites, which is why it’s so important to develop a technically sound website. Apart from ensuring that Google can view and understand your site’s content, having a technically sound website will ensure that your visitors will have a pleasant and easy user experience. Things like slow loading times, broken links, 404 pages, and mobile usability issues won’t only turn potential clients away, but will prevent you from achieving high rankings on Google and other search engines. Working with a knowledgeable SEO expert will ensure that your site is technically sound. The following are some of the key areas they’ll focus on to build and maintain your law firm websites.
High-Quality Web Content
High-quality blog content and other piece of content don’t only increase the chances of ranking your site higher in Google search results, it can also have a dramatic impact on search volume, organic searches, click-through rate, engagement and conversion rates. Crafting quality content for your legal services is one of the most significant aspects of a law firm marketing strategy.
Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals is a key performance grader that Google uses to consider a customer’s overall user experience. The rate factors that comprise Core Web Vitals are grouped into three segments:
- Largest Contentful Paint – this covers loading performance, page speed, and how well a website loads on various devices, including mobile, desktop, and tablet.
- First Input Delay – this covers grading interactivity, website responsiveness, tools embedded in the site that require network connections, and how well these assets perform.
- Cumulative Layout Shift – this covers visual stability and addresses issues such as properly sized and optimized images, how animations and similar assets load on a page, use of CSS/JSS, improper use of font sizes, and other issues with interactive assets.
Indexing and Crawlability
Google Analytics can’t rank a relevant website unless it has the ability to crawl and index it. Crawlability refers to the ease in which Google is able to discover site links and designated landing pages without encountering errors. Indexing refers to Google’s process of cataloging website content and the relevant keywords or search phrases that are used by prospective visitors to the site.
It’s vital to implement technical strategies in SEO for lawyers and regularly monitor the site for quality control to ensure a smooth indexing and crawlability experience for Google. An SEO expert will cover important steps to increase the likelihood of ensuring a proper crawl and index experience, including:
- Creating and submitting sitemaps
- Setting up a proper robots.txt file
- Performing regular htaccess file health checks
- Regularly monitoring for 404 page errors and indexability
- Properly managing redirects
- Performing regular ADA accessibility checks
While all of these technical areas of focus are simple SEO best practices for experts in the field, it would require massive amounts of a lawyer’s time and resources for them to even begin to understand how create and maintain a technically sound website.
Analytics, Performance, and Link Building
Whether you need analytics reports to get a consolidated view of your law firm website’s goals and objectives, to show someone in upper management, or to train a team on how to get more law firm clients, tracking is a critical component of any SEO strategy. By putting proper key performance indicators in place, a law firm can track and measure the failures and successes of its SEO and overall marketing strategies. Without the proper KPIs in place, it’s much more challenging to determine which areas need more attention and which are doing well. There are three major key performance indicators that an SEO expert will put in place and monitor. These include:
- Technical site tracking – this routine check will ensure that there are no undiagnosed technical SEO issues on your site.
- Content site tracking – this KPI covers content engagement metrics including bounce rates, total number of visitors, and time spent on pages and posts to help you understand how visitors are engaging with your site. It also checks for total keywords in the top three pages and total keywords associated with each page so you can understand how your content is performing from an SEO perspective.
- Overall performance tracking – this metric tracks the performance of every advertising channel your law firm is using to see which ones produce the highest traffic, the most leads, and the highest ROI. It also tracks secondary metrics like total keywords and rankings.
Link Building for Law Firms
One of the most significant ranking factors for Google Analytics is the quality and volume of inbound internal links and additional links to a website. Link building is like a tie-breaker between your site and your competitor’s sites who have similar scores for technical SEO and content quality. Employing a quality link building strategy will be the factor that creates the domain authority and link equity you need to send you soaring above your competitors once your content and technical SEO are optimized properly. Law firm SEO providers will be able to help your law firm websites gain authority through quality inbound and outbound links.
How Much Should Lawyers Pay for SEO?
Now that you have a basic understanding of what it takes to craft an effective strategy for SEO for lawyers, it’s time to answer the all-important question of how much should lawyers pay for SEO? Setting aside monthly budgets for a Search Engine Optimization company can help your law firm reach heights that it wouldn’t be capable of reaching without one.
As with any other product or services for lawyers, the amount you spend on SEO for your law firm will vary depending upon several factors, including:
- The location of your practice
- Your competition in the area
- Your SEO marketing goals
- The size of your firm
Generally speaking, the SEO cost for lawyers and law firm websites ranges between $2,000 and $10,000 per month. Smaller practices that provide legal services in less competitive areas can budget on the lower end, while practices in big cities and competitive areas of law, such as personal injury lawyer, can even surpass $10,000 per month, so they need to budget accordingly.
What Does an SEO Company Include in its Service Packages?
Most solid SEO packages will include the following common components:
- Local SEO
- On-page SEO
- Search keywords
- Authority and link building
- Blogging and evergreen content
Another important factor to consider is that some SEO companies will operate by a Done for You (DFY) model, while others offer a Done with You (DWI) model. These models are pretty self-explanatory, and you can expect to budget a bit higher for DFY models due to the amount of extra work the company would have to put in without your assistance.
There are many people in the SEO space who claim to be experts but know little more than you do now that you’ve finished reading this guide. As you’re vetting SEO companies to work with, contact Triple Digital to find out how our marketing agency can help build your business.
We employ a skilled team of professionals who use advanced advertising and digital marketing techniques that are backed by strong SEO. We keep up with all the latest SEO best practices to form an ongoing SEO strategy that’s constantly adjusting and optimizing. SEO is as much an art as it is science. Talk to our creative and knowledgeable team about guiding your business to success.