The right law firm SEO strategy can dramatically improve your visibility, resulting in more leads and increased earnings potential for your firm. However, finding the right SEO agency to partner with isn’t an easy task.
SEO “experts” are running rampant, but it doesn’t take long to figure out which ones are full of s… (false confidence!?).
Whether you are planning to run your own SEO campaign or looking for an SEO company to partner with, this guide will help you. While we cover a lot of information within, you will need at least a basic understanding of SEO to put this information to work for your law firm.
C-Level Executives and Managing Partners:
This guide will help you understand how a comprehensive law firm SEO strategy can enable considerable growth through increased visibility on Google.
Marketing Directors and Management:
This guide will help you understand the essential elements of an effective SEO campaign for your law firm. This information can help you set up guidelines for running your own campaign or help you know what to consider when looking for an agency to partner with.
Those Vetting Law Firm SEO Companies to Partner With:
There are a lot of people that claim to be experts throughout the SEO space. This guide will give you an in-depth look at our thought process, expertise, and style of SEO. By the time you finish, you should have a pretty good idea of why “Stellar” is in our name. Enjoy the guide, then get in touch.
Law firm SEO services help your firm show up more prominently for important search terms related to your business.
75.1% of clicks go to the top 3 results. If you are not one of them, you are missing out on a lot of great leads.
As a matter of fact, one study found that 96% of people looking for law firms go to Google and conduct a search before hiring an attorney. 87% of people searching go on to hire an attorney and 72% of them only contact one attorney. (source)
If you are doing the math, that means that if 100 people went to Google to search for an attorney, 75 of them would click one of the top 3 results. 65 would end up hiring an attorney, of which 46 would hire the first (and only) attorney they contacted. If you aren’t in a position to benefit from those searches, you are losing a lot of potential cases.
In total, there are over 200 factors that Google considers when determining how to rank your website. Some of these are believed to have minor impact, while other factors are heavily weighted.
Speaking more technically, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing a website in order to improve it’s visibility for relevant keywords and increase the website traffic coming from search engines.
There are three main pillars of SEO: Technical SEO, Content Optimization, and Link Building.
The process of optimizing your website infrastructure to ensure Google can crawl and index your site. This includes site speed, coding refinements, and site hierarchy planning.
The process of improving existing content or developing new content to attract and convert website visitors. This includes page level on-page optimization as well. Content is the reason your website exists, so this is a vital piece of the puzzle. You can get an in-depth look at content marketing in our beginners guide to content marketing.
The process of getting linked mentions from third party websites. These are seen by Google as a “vote of confidence” and help to improve the authority and credibility of your website. For an in-depth look at link acquisition strategies, check out our link building guide.
As part of your overall marketing strategy, search engine optimization is a powerful channel to leverage because it connects you with people actively searching for what you offer.
Since this traffic is so valuable, capturing it comes with fierce competition in many markets, especially in practice areas like personal injury law.
However, if you know what matters to Google, you can spring ahead of competing law firms and capture those coveted inbound leads, so let’s take a look at Google’s ranking factors.
Google is notoriously tight lipped with information about exactly how websites are ranked, and for good reason. It helps to keep undeserving websites from ranking, while helping real businesses benefit from a sound, holistic marketing strategy.
By analyzing mountains of Data, SEOs have been able to determine a number of factors that positively and negatively impact your SEO rankings.
Below, we are going to touch on the most important ranking factors for:
If you are interested in reading about all 200+ ranking factors, you can do so here. If you would rather learn about the most impactful of those factors, we’ve got you covered below.
But first let’s start with an overview of local, organic, and GMB SEO, starting with a quick look at where these show up in the search results.
Google My Business SEO is the process of optimizing your GMB profile along with your landing pages and off-site SEO to improve the likelihood of showing up in the “map pack”. This section displays prominently for many searches related to a service + location. You should have a verified listing for each actual office location, assuming it meets that staffing requirements for your state.
Localized organic SEO is the process of targeting location based keywords in areas that you might not have an office or for searches that do not return a “map pack” listing. You can also further increase your visibility by showing up in both the map pack and localized organic results, when both are an option. Remember though, not every search will return map pack results.
Organic SEO is very much like localized organic, the difference being that organic keywords are not geo-modified. If you are targeting keywords on the national level, organic SEO is how you would do that. For example, ranking for “personal injury attorneys” vs. “personal injury attorneys in Atlanta”. Organic SEO is especially well-suited for ranking educational content.
Now that you know what they are, let’s look at how you can become more visible in the search results, starting with a look at GMB vs. localized organic ranking factors.
A recent study by Brightlocal Identified the following factors as the most influential for local, organic, and GMB SEO.
As you can see, there is some overlap, such as quality content and inbound links. There are also factors like GMB optimization or topical relevance which appear only on one list above.
Once you add in organic SEO, you have a lot of ground to cover, but our overview below will increase your likelihood of SEO success.
Organic SEO is where it all started, back when Google’s search engine results page was just 10 blue links. Over the years, Google has stacked on numerous enhancements such as featured snippets, knowledge boxes, and interesting finds to name just a few.
Even though organic SEO has evolved to be considerably more complex, there are a few major factors that really stand out.
If you focus your resources on exceptional performance in those key areas, you can gain visibility and with it, capture your fair share of organic traffic. This is a high level overview of course, but we will discuss this in more detail throughout this guide. For now, let’s look at what factors are most important for localized organic SEO.
Much like organic SEO, inbound links and content are two of the main factors. However, when it comes to local SEO, the method and qualifications for “good links” or “relevant content” are judged by a different set of standards.
Here are the key areas to cover for better localized organic SEO.
Notice any similarities so far? As you can see, for both organic and localized organic SEO, content, links, and credibility are big factors. The main difference for these is in execution. Link building is an important component of both, but the types of links that can make an impact differ between the two, as do the criteria for screening potential links.
When it comes to ranking in the map pack, some of the most important ranking factors are those exclusive to GMB SEO. Localized organic and organic SEO are both centered around your website, GMB SEO gives more weight to your profile.
As such, the following factors are very important:
In addition, factors such as on-page optimization of the landing page and inbound links also impact your law firms GMB rankings.
If you are looking to improve rankings in all three areas, you must build a plan that will hit the key factors from each. The best way to do this is by understanding how and where the ranking factors overlap.
When it comes to optimizing your law firm’s presence for the three areas, you must first realize that not all of the most important factors for GMB, local, and organic SEO overlap.
In addition to the ones that do, you need to make sure you are covering the factors unique to each as well, which we will discuss in more detail throughout this guide.
Now, when it comes to overlapping factors, here is what will have the most impact across the board:
Quality appears at the beginning of each because the execution is as important as knowing what to do.
In fact, the issue for many people isn’t knowing what they should do, it is actually a matter of putting forth the time, resources, and expertise to do it well.
If you create great content, provide users with a great experience, and earn links from reputable, trusted sites, you will build a solid foundation for long term growth.
Couple that with specific, advanced tactics for each area of law firm SEO and you can become a dominant force in your market.
Whether you decide to do it in-house or partner with a search engine optimization company, quality should be your guiding principle.
This applies to broad areas like your overall content and to specifics like keyword research, which we are going to cover next. Both of which are vital to your SEO success.
When people go to Google or any other search engine, they type in one or more words in an attempt to find what they are looking for. The words that they use to search are called “keywords”.
Understanding what people are searching for, how often words are searched, and the intent behind those searches is a critical component of a good SEO strategy.
Keyword research is the process of finding out that information. In order to understand how to properly do keyword research, you (or your marketing agency) must first understand the types and intent (s) of keywords.
While you can get deep into the details of keyword types, the most common classifications are:
Here is an overview of each.
This refers to keywords that contain more than 3 words. The increased length of these searches helps provide additional clues as to the intent behind the search, making them a popular group to target. As voice search becomes more prevalent, more and more long tail searches are being completed, so knowing how to find these is important.
Here is an example of a long tail keyword: personal injury lawyer SEO services
Keywords consisting of 2-3 words are often referred to as short-tail keywords. This group of keywords usually has higher search volume than long tail keywords, but the trade-off is that they are less specific. This makes it a little harder to figure out the intent behind the search.
Here is an example of a short tail keyword: law firm SEO
Head keywords are one word search phrases. These typically have the highest search volume of the three. That makes these some of the most difficult to rank for and in many cases, the conversion rates from head keywords are going to be much lower than short & long tail keywords.
Here is an example of a head keyword: SEO
As the name implies, a branded keyword is any search phrase that includes some variation of your brand name. Branded keywords often fall into the navigational keyword category as well, meaning people use them to visit a site or page on a site. In other cases, branded keywords are part of the research process.
Here is an example of a branded navigational keyword: go to Stellar SEO
Here is an example of a branded research phase keyword: Stellar SEO reviews
Non-branded keywords simply refer to any keywords that do not contain a brand or product name within them. Non-branded keywords are where the majority of search traffic comes from for most websites, even those with well-known brands.
Now that you know the basic keyword groups, let’s look at the types of keyword intent.
Being able to identify the intent behind keywords will allow you to pair them with content and CTA (calls to action) that align with the stage of the buying cycle that the searcher is in.
Keyword intent is broken into four primary groupings:
If you fail to identify the intent behind a keyword, you will find it harder to rank, if not impossible, so do not skip this section!
Navigational Keywords are keyword search terms that refer to a specific website, product or service. The user knows the destination they want to reach. Navigational Keywords include all types of keywords such as branded keywords and long tail keywords. Users utilizing navigational keywords could be potential clients researching your law firm or looking for a specific page on your site.
Here is an example of a Navigational keyword: contact Morgan and Morgan
Informational Keywords are keywords where the users are seeking information. Informational keywords are not specific to any brand, service, or neccesarily looking to proceed with a service.
Some common informational searches include question-related terms such as:
While dated, a prior study conducted by Penn State found that 80% of all queries are informational, with the remaining 20% being split evenly between navigational and transactional.
Here is an example of an Informational Keyword: How to hire a personal injury lawyer
Transactional Keywords are terms with the intent of purchasing services or a product. The user has already completed their research, knows what they want, and is ready to take action. These keywords most often have the highest conversion rates.
Here is an example of a Transactional Keyword: book consultation with Morgan & Morgan
This keyword audience specifically is searching for reviews, ratings, and comparisons.
Keywords with the search intent of commercial investigation could include:
Here is an example of a Commercial Investigation Keyword: Best Personal Injury Lawyer in Chicago
Now that you know keyword type and intents, let’s get into how you can find keyword opportunities for your law firm.
There are countless tools and training programs aimed at helping your master keyword research. So, instead of re-inventing the wheel, we are going to focus on a few of our favorite methods for uncovering valuable keywords.
In most cases, you will be able to build a 6-36 month plan with keywords found using just these steps, so save your money and start here first.
Important Note: The following steps are completed using Ahrefs. We are not affiliated with or compensated by them, we just like their tool. You can complete similar steps using other tools as well.
Alright, let’s jump into it!
Unless you have a new website (or some major issues) you should have some keywords in the top 100 positions already.
This is the best place to start because even marginal improvements in rankings can positively impact your traffic and number of incoming leads.
This can easily be found by inserting your website into Ahrefs and clicking on “keywords”.
Depending upon the age and health of your site, you will likely find keywords spread across positions 1-100. Not all of them will be relevant, so ignore any that are not.
Keywords ranking in the top 10 usually indicate that you have all the basics right for those terms. You can usually improve these by making adjustments to your on-page optimization or by acquiring new links to those landing pages.
Positions 4-10 have a lower click-through rate than positions 1-3, so don’t jump straight to page two keywords. Instead make a list of the terms in positions 4-10 and the associated landing page so that you can refer back to them during competitor research. In many cases, these should be the first ones you try to improve.
Positions 11-30 are usually pages that are also relevant to the keyword, but require on-page SEO or more inbound links to improve. Record (or export) these terms as well.
Positions 30+ tend to indicate that you have content somewhat relevant to those keywords, but it might not properly match the intent of a particular phrase.
This isn’t always the case though, so when reviewing these, you need to check your page against the ranking pages for the term.
For example: if you search “law firm SEO”, you will notice most of the first page results are guides, not service pages. If you had a service page ranking position 40 for this term, this would be an indication that you should create a new page to target that keyword instead – in this case a guide like the one you are reading now.
You might find your page is much newer or simply lacking links. In either case, make note of relevant terms that are found here for further review.
By simply completing that step, you might have hundreds or thousands of keywords to review already. If so, stop your keyword discovery and move ahead to competitor analysis.
If not, here is how you can expand your list further
Most law firms know who their top competitors are, and who is dominating in their market. Using that list of competitors will allow you to find keywords that they are ranking for and your law firm’s website isn’t.
In Ahrefs, using a tool called “content gap” you are able to easily see what keywords are missing between you and your competitors.
While this method can be used to generate a long list of potential terms, there is another tool within Ahrefs that will allow you to pinpoint the most highly trafficked pages of your competitors website. It is called “top pages”.
Simply enter the URL of the top law firm in your area and you can view a list of which pages on their site draw in the most organic traffic, along with the keywords associated with those pages.
If you repeat this for 3-5 competing firms, it will give you a pretty good idea of whether the majority of traffic is coming from a handful of pages for your top competitors. This will help in prioritizing which pages to create or improve first.
We go in depth on this topic in our Definitive Link Building Guide.
This approach can help you find existing keywords from your earlier steps to focus on first or it can be used to uncover new keywords.
If you have a newer website, you will need to find keywords to target. The content gap and top pages tools are two ways you can uncover them, but here is one more that works well – keyword explorer.
To get started, simply enter 3-5 keywords related to the practice area you are trying to promote.
In this case, we went with variations of “construction injury lawyer”.
Entering a cluster of keywords will return more relevant results than entering just one. Once you hit the search button, it will bring back the results page.
In the sidebar, you will see the following options.
Under keyword ideas, selecting any of those options will help you discover related keywords. Phrase match, Having same terms, Also rank for, and Questions are where we like to start.
Here are some examples using our seed keyword: construction accident attorney
Finding basic keywords is pretty straightforward so long as you have some clear steps outlined.
As mentioned above, once you get past the basics, there are plenty of keyword research guides that will dive deeper into this process, should you need to find even more keywords for your site.
Here are a few worth checking out:
Alright, now you know the types of keywords, the intent behind keywords, and how to compile a list of potential terms to target.
Knowing the information is only the beginning, now let’s look at how to use the keywords you found.
The first step in successfully implementing your keyword research is planning.
You need to segment your keywords into groups and determine what type of content is needed for each group. This is commonly referred to as keyword mapping.
In the content marketing chapter, we will dive into the research and planning process in more detail, so for now let’s focus on how to “group” keywords.
As with keyword research, Ahrefs can help in expediting this process as well. Here is a quick way to create keyword groupings.
You now have a cluster of keywords that you know can be ranked for a single page, with the right type of content. Simply repeat this process for your other primary terms.
It is also a good idea to take note of the specific URL(s) that you analyzed to create each keyword grouping as this info will come in handy when you get to the content planning portion.
Before we dive into that, let’s first look at how to ensure your website has a solid foundation to build upon.
As we touched on above, having a technically sound website will ensure Google can view and understand the content on your site.
It also ensures that visitors to your website will have a decent user experience, by correcting broken links, 404 pages, slow loading times, and mobile usability issues.
Below, we are going to take a look at some of these key areas. For a more detailed look at the SEO audit process, check out our definitive guide to SEO audits or contact us to learn more about our comprehensive SEO audit service for law firms.
When it comes to your website’s technical health – Google cannot begin to rank your website in search results without the ability to crawl and index your site.
The ease in which Google can crawl the content on your website, all discoverable site links and their designated landing page without running into site errors.
Indexability refers to how Google catalogs your website content and its relevance to keywords searched by prospective site visitors.
Good crawlability and indexability occur when technical seo strategies are implemented and regularly monitored for quality control.
There are some simple steps you can take to ensure that your website has the greatest likelihood of being properly crawled and indexed.
Think of a sitemap as a list of the most important pages on your law firm’s website. These are ones that you want to make sure Google knows about.
A sitemap also helps Google understand the flow of your website structure and improve your website’s crawlability & indexability.
There are four main types of sitemaps that could apply to your law firm: Normal XML sitemap; video sitemap; image sitemap, and news sitemaps.
The most popular is a normal XML sitemap, and it’s a must-have when it comes to being found by Google.
Not as commonly used, are image and video sitemaps. If your website is rich in images that you want Google to specifically find, consider adding these as well.
Images and Videos inside your sitemap if properly optimized, can appear in the Google Images or Google Videos search results.
Websites that produce a high volume of blog posts or news articles may consider a news sitemap as well. News content must meet certain guidelines such as publishing dates, genre etc, so in most cases your law firm wouldn’t need to include this one.
When setting up your site, don’t forget about your robots.txt file. Consider it your list of instructions to Google on what content you want the Googlebot to crawl.
Your website’s robots.txt file tells Google web robots how to navigate the sitemap (or roadmap) you’ve laid out for Google.
The robots.txt file also dictates whether other robots have access to all your content or only certain pages.
For example – blocking your dev site and back-end pages to protect valuable crawl budgets and avoid duplicate content issues.
Optimizing your robots.txt file is fairly straightforward, but if set up incorrectly it can cause a lot of issues.
Here is a great guide on setting up your robots.txt file: https://yoast.com/ultimate-guide-robots-txt/
As part of your initial checks, you should verify that your htaccess file is properly set up and not preventing your web pages from being blocked as an unauthorized user.
Optimizing your htaccess file is critical to your website’s server health and security.
Here are a couple examples of how it can be used to your benefit:
As with the robots.txt file, it is important to have a clear understanding of the directions you are providing here. If you are unfamiliar with either, consulting a web developer is a good idea.
Complete a routine indexability checklist to make sure that the correct pages are being indexed.
Monitoring your indexed pages, or pages not indexed, is critical to maintaining your website health.
If your business has a big spike in indexed pages, it is an indicator of a possible attack; duplicate content issues, or perhaps just that you’ve made big changes to your overall website structure.
The important thing to take away here is that you should stay on top of what pages are and are not being indexed, to avoid missing potential issues before they snowball out of control.
Everyone has seen that “Page Does Not Exist” error, also known as 404.
404 errors are not always a bad thing. If you have a page without any incoming links or rankings, and it is no longer relevant to your business, get rid of it.
If on the other hand you discontinue a service, but the page has valuable incoming links, your best bet is to 301 redirect it to the most relevant page on your site to preserve link equity.
So long as you are actively monitoring your site for these issues, you can assess them on a case by case basis and take the corrective action that best applies to each particular instance.
It’s natural that your law firm’s website will change as your firm grows and evolves.
The need for redirects (pointing one url to another url location) can occur for many reasons such as: a broken url, building new content, deleting old pages, or restructuring your URLs.
As long as redirects are handled with best practices, it will not affect your overall search rankings.
Some best practices for redirects include:
As Google puts more emphasis on the overall customer user experience, Core Web Vitals is quickly becoming a key performance grader.
Core Web Vitals is the set of factors that google considers important to a customer’s overall user experience.
They are grouped into 3 segments:
Loading Performance – In basic terms is Google’s term for page speed and how well the website loads on the user’s device, whether it be desktop, mobile, or tablet.
The target performance speed is under 3 seconds. If your website exceeds 3 seconds, you should look at the causes of those issues and put a plan in place to get them corrected.
Is it Visually Stable? – CLS addresses issues such as if your images are properly sized and optimized, use of JSS/CSS, and how assets such as animations load on your page.
It can also uncover other issues such as improper use of font sizes and optimization of interactive assets on your law firm’s website.
Grading Interactivity – Google factors the customer’s overall user experience in this signal. Google addresses your website responsiveness, and tools embedded within your website that need network connections.
How well these assets perform and your server infrastructure will affect this score. Your web developer can optimize these assets to improve your overall score as part of your search engine optimization plan.
Website accessibility ensures that all of your potential clients, including people with disabilities, have a decent user experience and are able to easily access your information.
Website accessibility features such as: video and audio transcripts, color contrast options, keyboard accessibility, are a few areas that you should review for possible improvement.
High quality content increases the likelihood of your website ranking in Google. It can also dramatically impact engagement and conversion rates.
As such, content should be a major part of your law firm marketing strategy. If your website has a lot of low quality pages, “thin” content, or other common but damaging issues, you need to identify and improve those pages.
This is every bit as important as the more technical checks when it comes to putting together your attorney SEO strategy.
Getting started with content marketing can feel a bit overwhelming. In the following chapter we are going to help you understand the process though.
If you would like an even more in depth look, be sure to check out our Beginners Guide to Engaging Content Marketing.
In either case, your law firm marketing plan must include a solid content strategy to maximize your likelihood of SEO success.
Content is a connector.
When a potential client is looking to learn during the research phase of the buying cycle, long form informational content on your site will educate them and demonstrate your unique expertise.
When a potential client is ready to compare a few law firms, the content from your testimonials, reviews, and verdict pages will allow them to determine if you have experience with problems like theirs.
When a potential client is ready to buy, the content of your service pages can guide them to your desired action as it confirms that your law firm is worth considering.
In order to create content that entices potential clients to read, engage, and eventually become leads, you must first have a clear picture of who your audience is.
Once you do, it will be much easier to create content at any phase that is well-received.
When it comes to defining your audience, you could spend a great deal of time and money conducting research to build out buyer personas.
Thanks to the nature of law firm SEO, some of the process can be simplified. When you create content around specific topics and keywords, it will guide your overall layout and the information covered.
For example, if you are creating a service page for “truck accident attorney Dallas TX”, you already have a pretty good idea of who will be contacting you. The victim or their close family.
What you don’t get from SEO is the unique traits of your clients.
If you look at your current and recent cases, do you notice anything that stands out among your best clients? If you look at your current leads and scheduled consultations, do you notice any trends?
Sometimes the best way to develop your buyer persona is by looking at first hand information that you already have and identifying trends across that audience.
Here are some general questions you should be asking yourself:
Here are some more specific questions you also should consider:
Considering these types of questions will help you create a more accurate picture of who your ideal clients are, which will allow you to better tailor your content marketing to reach them.
Once you define one or a few buyer personas, the next step is to see if your current content is targeting the right audience.
In order for content to perform well, it should have an audience and a purpose.
The audience is the persona for whom it was created. The purpose of your content is the desired outcome, such as:
As you go through the following steps, be sure to ask yourself who the audience is and what purpose each page on your site serves.
By conducting an audit of your existing website content, your firm gains an insightful perspective on the effectiveness of your current content efforts.
These insights can lead to tangible action items such as discovering new ideas for engaging content and removing unnecessary content.
The best way to validate improvements is through data. Benchmarking your current content performance will give you something concrete to measure progress against.
Sometimes, small changes that you would assume are going to be helpful can actually end up having a profound negative impact. Benchmarking will let you uncover those missteps quickly.
Here are some basic content benchmarks you should record at the start of your campaign and periodically throughout.
You can add any internal KPIs here as well, but the shortlist above will give you a pretty good snapshot of how a campaign is progressing.
Once you know where you are starting from, the next step is to identify pages that are holding you back.
A quality page is one that serves its purpose, is tailored to the right audience, and meets the intent of the keywords associated with the page.
Not all quality pages have the purpose of ranking, so a lack of rankings for a page doesn’t mean it is low value.
Just think of your contact page for example. It doesn’t usually rank for much, but it is a very important page on your site.
Generally speaking pages fall into a couple of categories:
These pages make up the bulk of most websites. These include service pages, location pages, and educational content on your site.
A successful SEO page should at minimum serve as supporting content for a main page – but in most cases, it should also have associated keywords or inbound links.
Since these pages are indexed in Google, they contribute to the overall “quality” score of your website. If you find pages with low word count, outdated or poorly written content, or excessive broken links, those are all pages you should put on your list to review for updating or removal.
If you are not sure what to look at when judging the page, taking a moment to review Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines is a good way to quickly familiarize yourself with what is most important.
These pages are not meant to be indexed by Google and are instead used to send paid traffic from Google and social media platforms to. The purpose of these pages is to create awareness and leads exclusive from paid traffic.
These pages will not have links, rankings, or organic traffic, nor should they even be indexable. Measuring the value of these pages comes down to are they actively being used and do they produce leads. If you are no longer using them, you can delete them or just leave them as no-index to ensure they are not considered as part of your site wide quality score.
These are pages on which the visitor can take an action such as contacting you or downloading a guide. Some pages, such as your contact page are not going to have a lot of content, rankings, or keywords, but they are important to leave indexable.
Not all pages should be though. For example, if you have a page with a form to download a guide to hiring an attorney and nothing else on the page – in most cases it should be set to no-index.
As you go through the pages on your site, sorting them into one of the three “buckets” will make it easier to determine what steps to take next.
You have probably heard on many occasions that you need great content and that you need to produce it regularly. What you may not have heard is that sometimes the best way to improve your visibility is by getting rid of content on your site!
Since all the indexable pages on your site contribute to your site wide quality score, having a lot of low value pages can diminish or negate the good ones.
In order to keep your site wide score high, low quality content should be improved, merged, or removed.
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.
Example 1 – You have 3 blog posts on your site targeting “what to ask before hiring an attorney”. Each of the posts is about 400 words and none of them are ranking for the intended term. You have checked the search results and see that the top 10 pages ranking are blog posts, but they are long form content.
What should you do in this case?
Merge + Improve Them.
We would suggest merging the three pages into one and then increasing the content length & quality to a range that is similar to the ranking sites.
Example 2 – You find that you have 10 blog posts talking about events from several years in the past. These pages do not have any incoming links, do not rank for any keywords, and they are not receiving internal traffic either.
What should you do in this case?
Remove or No-Index Them.
These pages are not getting any visitors and they are not valuable for SEO, so Google doesn’t need to know about them. Either remove them to keep your site lean or if you want to keep them for sentimental/historical purposes, just set the pages to no-index and Google won’t hold them against you.
Example 3 – You have a blog post on your site that has about 200 keywords associated with the page, but none of them are ranking in the top 10. You have confirmed that other blog posts are ranking on the first page for the same term(s).
What should you do in this case?
This post has shown potential, but it isn’t being seized. Run a comparison between your content and that of the top ranking pages. What is different? Word count, headings, images or video?
Look at what is working and make sure you improve your page to the same level, then go a step further to add unique value.
These are just a few of the common scenarios you will encounter. With practice and patience, taking the time to review every struggling page on your website and assign an action can dramatically increase your traffic and leads.
Once your existing content has been optimized, the next step is to identify new content opportunities.
Before you begin implementing your content strategy, it is essential to also conduct a competitive analysis.
Take some time to analyze your competitor’s websites. Identify what your competitor is doing well in and what they aren’t.
For example – do they update their blog with trending topics more frequently or use a specific media type? Or is their website navigation confusing and lacking clear call-to-actions?
These instances are key examples of where your website content strategy can improve and how to differentiate your legal firm from the others.
Running a content gap analysis of your competitors website can help you evaluate which keywords they are utilizing that you are not – as discussed previously.
Use this data to map out a content plan that will enable you to also target those valuable but missing keywords.
As part of the big picture, this keyword focused (but still informative and high quality) content plan will enable your site to grow considerably.
Here is what happened when we built a content rich SEO strategy for a brand new site:
As you can see, even a new website can grow quickly with the right plan in place. Industries differ, but our process can be applied across the board to achieve strong growth.
Having the right content in place will not only help rankings. When people connect with the content you are producing, they will spend more time on your site, come back more often, and the likelihood of them sharing your content also increases.
While your clients might not love reading about injury law, you must remember that some content on your site is actually there to encourage other people in your industry to share and link to it.
In either case, diversifying the types of content you have on your site can increase engagement.
Creating good content requires a commitment of time and resources, so once you have, be sure to promote it in multiple ways.
If you have made videos, transcribe those and repost them as written content on your blog – the same can be done with podcasts. If you already have a lot of great written content, look at turning it into short videos or visuals.
Here’s a powerful fact: “by 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic…” (cisco)
Multiple studies show that consumers prefer watching videos about a product or service – as much as 4 times more than reading about it.
Not everyone likes to consume information in the same way, so by diversifying the methods in which it is presented, you are increasing the number of people who will be interested in the topics you cover and the format in which it is consumable.
There are many uses for repurposed content, here are some good resources to learn more about making this part of your overall strategy:
Once you have created new content formats, you can distribute those across social media and GMB posts to increase the reach of your original content, while helping to improve your local SEO visibility in the process.
If your law firm has an office in one or more locations, setting up and optimizing your GMB listing (s) is a great way to increase visibility and capture valuable leads.
If your firm does not have a physical location, creating well-optimized location pages can help you increase visibility by ranking in the localized organic search results.
The traffic that can be generated through GMB and localized organic is engaged and valuable.
As we touched on earlier, there is also some level of overlap between GMB and localized organic ranking factors, so improving one can help in building a solid foundation for the other.
Let’s start by looking at how to improve your GMB rankings.
Google My Business is an online business profile that allows your law firm to be seen on Google search and Google Maps.
The most basic step of this process is creating and then verifying your profile – followed by completion of the basic information fields. If you are not familiar with this, take a second to read Google’s GMB setup guidelines , as we will not recap the basics here.
Instead, we are going to talk about some more advanced tactics that can be used to further improve your basic GMB listing.
Proximity (your location relative to the searcher or “city center”) is a major ranking factor. If your business address is located outside of the city in which you are primarily targeting, your ability to rank is going to be greatly diminished.
This is such an important consideration, that when possible, getting a new or secondary location within the target city is worthwhile. This is assuming your target city has enough population to warrant the added expense.
To go a step further, if you can triangulate the location of the top 3 results and find an office within the triangle, you are further increasing your odds. However, simply having an address within the target city is going to give you a huge advantage of having one outside of city limits.
Remember though, before making this type of commitment, you need to consider the size and traffic potential of a GMB ranking for the particular city. In some cases, this will not be worthwhile.
Google lets business owners identify specific services, features, or other qualities about their business to allow their listings to show up in relevant local searches.
The attributes appear on your business listing in search results and on Google Maps. To see Google’s complete list of attributes, check out this link.
Take advantage of this opportunity and give Google some more insight into what sets you apart from others in the map pack.
One big issue we see across many law firms is incorrect category selection. Your primary category should be the one which most accurately describes your business.
If you are a personal injury attorney, personalizing your GMB profile from “attorney” to “personal injury attorney”, increases the likelihood of being matched with the search query and specifics on what the customer is actually looking for. If you aren’t sure which one that is, simply Google your most important keyword and see which category the top ranking sites in the map pack are using.
Beyond your primary category, you can also add a couple of additional categories. Here is a quick hack to help you find out what those are for your competitors.
First, you will need to use a chrome extension that allows you to view your competitors additional categories. GMB Spy is free and works well as of March 2021.
Simply add the extension and then do a search for your primary keyword. In this case, we are using “personal injury attorney Los Angeles”.
Click to open the profile of each competitor, then activate the tool and it will show you a box like this, which includes additional categories:
Simply make note of what you find and repeat this for the top 5-10 ranking GMB listings. That information will help you see if you should add additional categories and if so, which ones to consider.
Another way to improve the quality of your GMB listing is by using the GMB posts option. Google loves Google, so anytime you can use their platform to give them more information about your business, it is usually a good idea.
When it comes to GMB posts, the most popular options are:
You are also able to “provide a Covid-19” update and to create a “product” listing as well. The product listing post actually displays in a different area than the other post types.
If you have a special offer or upcoming event, those post options make sense to share it. If you are looking to share general information, customer testimonials or quick videos, the “what’s new” post type works best.
The important thing here is to set up a regular posting schedule (1-2 times per week is sufficient) and be sure to diversify the types of information, photos, and videos that are being shared.
As an added tip, if you are able to mention an important keyword in each of your posts, we have personally seen that have a positive impact, when done in moderation. Mentioning 1-2 keywords, a single time in each post seems to work best.
One area that many law firms skip when setting up their GMB profile is the questions & answers.
Users can ask questions using the “Ask a question” button, but your firm can also pre-populate this field with your own FAQs and responses.
This gives you the chance to answer questions conveniently for potential clients and allows you to add some additional content to your GMB listing.
Here is an example from the M & Y Firm we looked at during our category section:
Not only can these help with GMB rankings, commonly asked questions also save time, and provide another customer engagement channel to answer.
By answering the most commonly asked questions, you’ll enhance the customer’s experience with accurate, convenient answers, thus making it more likely the customer further engages with your firm.
“Client satisfaction is the highest ranking factor to achieving success among legal professionals, which is also consistent with what clients are looking for. Among consumers, positive reviews or personal recommendations are the most important factors when considering the hireability of a lawyer.” (source)
GMB reviews are both a very important ranking factor and a driver of click-through-rates.
If you have more, better reviews than the sites just above and below you, the likelihood of getting your listing clicked goes up.
Your law firm should have a process setup to collect reviews. This process must be compliant with ethical guidelines as well as platform specific ones, such as not incentivizing people to leave you a Google review for your firm.
If you are not currently using any programs to assist with review collection, looking into a tool such as Podium and Birdeye can help you get a process in place. You can also manually outreach and ask for reviews as well. The specific tool or process is less important than making sure you have one in place.
Through implementing the above steps in addition to having completed your GMB listing, your firm can significantly improve it’s likelihood of ranking.
One of the biggest influencers of GMB rankings outside of your profile and inbound links is on-page optimization.
In this case specifically, how well the landing page linked from your GMB listing is optimized for your desired terms.
If you check the page linked from your GMB, your primary keywords and close variations of those should be found in areas such as:
In addition, if you are able to embed a map on your landing page, that can also be beneficial.
If you are in a location that requires more advanced tactics, the next step is to use an on-page comparison tool such as:
Internally we prefer Surfer SEO, but all three tools can help you get a much deeper look at how your page is optimized relative to the competitors ranking in the top few positions for your most important GMB keyword (s).
In addition, when you are trying to rank in more competitive verticals or locations, supporting content becomes important as well. We will discuss what it is and how to implement this in the localized organic SEO section below.
There are two other areas that we will cover below that are also an important part of the puzzle – link building and citations. Before we get into that, let’s first look at how to improve your localized organic rankings.
Localized organic rankings are simply the pages that appear below the Map Pack when you search for a keyword + location (such as personal injury lawyer Nashville), or a keyword that is deemed to have local intent.
Here is an example, in which you can see the map pack, followed by the localized organic search results.
This section is going to focus on how to increase your likelihood of ranking as one of the top results below the map pack in the localized organic section.
A lot of the factors covered in optimizing your GMB will also help with your localized organic rankings, so we will focus on a couple that we didn’t already cover above.
For the sake of clarity, we will use the following example to explain the next two sections.
You have a personal injury law firm in Nashville, TN and you are looking to rank in the surrounding areas. Your office address is in downtown Nashville.
To rank for a keyword, you need a page targeting it. Some areas around Nashville include:
The first step in this case would be to create a page for each of those locations. In order to determine how best to optimize each of those pages, looking at the top ranking sites for each of those terms can provide some valuable information.
However, at the most basic level, each of the city pages should:
Once you have the primary pages built for your target locations, the next step is to create supporting content.
As a localized site, you can and should do some things that nationwide businesses do not. One of these includes creating blog or informational content about your service area.
Here are some examples of topics you could cover:
This content will help to solidify to Google that you are highly relevant to a particular area. It can also serve as content that you promote through link outreach when trying to acquire more localized links, which we will get into more below.
Structured data, also commonly called “schema markup” are code snippets that communicate to Google what your data means and makes it easier for search engines to crawl, organize, and display your content.
The benefit to you is that through the use of structured data, you are more likely to be included in a featured snippet, which is great for visibility and click-through rates.
You can add structured data to your site through plugins (if you are on WordPress) or by hard coding it into your site.
There are multiple types of structured data, each only applying to certain types of businesses.
You can view the full breakdown of those here: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/local-business
Specific to law firms, here is a handy free tool that will allow you to quickly generate basic structured data for your website: https://jurisdigital.com/tools/schema-generator/
Once generated, simply use the structured data testing tool from Google to make sure it is valid.
Generating and adding it is pretty simple, with a base knowledge of coding. If you aren’t comfortable, a web developer can easily set this up.
Inbound links continually top the list of most important ranking factors and for good reason.
If you and all of your competitors had the same technical SEO “score” and the same content “quality”, what would Google use to determine which site should be shown first?
Seen as a vote of confidence for your business, the right link building strategy will catapult you above your competitors, once your technical SEO and content are properly optimized.
The exact tactics you use should vary based upon which area you are looking to improve.
If you are trying to rank in the GMB or localized organic results, lower authority links with high geo-relevancy work great. On the other hand, if you are trying to rank nationwide, topical relevancy and site authority are going to carry more weight.
Here are some practical examples of link building tactics for GMB, localized organic, and organic ranking goals.
GMB is the most unique of the list. Certain types of links that would be deemed low quality for standard link outreach work great when it comes to GMB rankings. Here are some common tactics used for GMBs
Citations – These are directories such as Yelp or Avvo that list your business name, address, and phone number. These are part of the equation for GMB rankings, but aside from law specific directories, have little impact on organic visibility.
Local Websites – When discussing organic link acquisition, the subject matter of the website linking to your website should be relevant.
For example, a health website linking to a personal injury website is relevant. When it comes to GMB SEO, the website linking to you can have irrelevant subject matter, so long as the website is geo-relevant. This could be a local newspaper or even other unrelated local businesses in the same town. Many law firm SEO agencies skip these, but they are extremely powerful for GMB rankings.
Local Sponsorship – Along the same lines as above, one tactic that works great to get geo-relevant links is sponsoring local teams and events. This could be sports teams, music clubs, or local meetup events.
Press Releases – The days of using syndicated PRs to improve organic rankings are behind us. However, when it comes to GMB SEO, this tactic still works well – for two reasons.
The first being that they create a number of unstructured citations, which are mentions of your name, address, and phone number, when not on a directory style site. The second is because it allows you to get embeds of your map, something that also only really helps with GMB.
If you are interested in learning more about this, I wrote a great piece on it here: https://prowly.com/magazine/press-release-seo/
As part of your overall strategy, 2-4 of these per year is a nice addition.
Local Websites – As discussed above, lower powered sites that are focused on your city can be very beneficial for your localized organic pages too.
Topically Relevant Websites – Since these pages are part local and part organic, “regular” link building, from sites that are topically relevant are also beneficial to these types of pages. These links can be acquired through tactics such as guest posting, resource page outreach, or media outreach.
When it comes to building links for organic rankings, there are three factors that impact the value of a link:
We refer to this as the A.R.T of link building, which is covered in more detail here: https://stellarseo.com/makes-good-backlink/
Once you know what you are looking for, there are numerous tactics that can be used to obtain links for your law firm website. We actually created an in depth guide on link outreach that is definitely worth stopping to read if you plan to run your own link outreach campaign.
Directory Link Building – One thing not covered in that guide is directory link building for law firms. For the most part, directory links became ineffective years ago – with law firm directories being the exception.
In most cities when you do a search for various types of law firms, you will run across one or more of the big legal directory sites. Even if they had no impact on rankings, this would be a good reason to get listed.
However, in this case, getting listed on credible legal directories can give your law firm quick visibility when your profile ranks and can improve your website visibility as well.
If your site is not listed in the top legal directories, you should take the time to set those up. Here are some of the top legal directories to consider:
You can also find specific directories by running a competitor link gap analysis in Ahrefs or simply by searching Google for some of your most important keywords and looking to see what directories show up.
Overall, earning quality links can have a major impact on your rankings, so long as you put the right strategy in place.
Even if you decide to do everything else on your own, this is one area that you should at least consult with a link building agency about to ensure you have the right strategy in place.
Whether you’re presenting the reports to upper management or just want to create a consolidated view of your monthly goals, objectives, and their ROI – tracking is critical.
With proper key performance indicators (KPIs) in place, your law firm can easily measure your successes and failures. Without proper tracking it will be harder to determine what areas are doing well and which need the most attention moving forward.
Data also allows you to make better informed decisions and compare the outcome against previous benchmarks. In many cases, you might find that what you thought was a change for the better is actually performing worse than before.
When it comes to setting up tracking, there are three key areas that should be monitored.
Undiagnosed technical SEO issues can wreak havoc on your site. It is important to set up a routine check or even an automated monthly audit using a tool like Agency Analytics to make sure that as new issues arise, you are made aware of them.
Those tools should not be used in place of an in-depth manual audit when you are just getting started, but for the sake of monitoring, they work great.
In addition, within Google Search Console, you should routinely check the site coverage and the core web vitals section, look for any new or unexplained issues that require further review. Both of these checks can be made monthly while reviewing your updated audit report.
Content engagement metrics such as visitors, time on page, and bounce rates can help you in understanding how your content is being engaged with.
Other metrics such as total keywords associated with a page and total keywords in the top 3 will let you determine how your content is performing through an SEO lense. It will also help you uncover the need for new or different content on your site.
Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager are two free but powerful ways to measure how well your site is performing. While most people know the basics of setting up an account and adding the tracking code, there is a wealth of information that can be derived through proper goal and funnel tracking.
In addition, using third party tools like Ahrefs will allow you to track rankings for sets of keywords and see which keywords are associated with various pages on your site, helping to fill in the gap left by Analytics.
Your law firm may be doing SEO in addition to multiple other types of advertising, such as billboards or email marketing.
In order to see which channels are producing the best traffic, the most leads, and in turn, the greatest ROI, a comprehensive tracking solution is needed.
Specific to just SEO, your overall performance tracking should really come down to a few core questions.
Tracking the secondary metrics like rankings and total keywords are important to identify areas that need to be improved, to help in generating ideas to expand the areas that are working best, and to troubleshoot losses in rankings.
In many cases, we have found that targeting a group of keywords produced more leads, with better lead quality than targeting the “main” keyword alone. This means that tracking keyword groups instead of focusing on a single keyword per page is more practical.
If you have additional goals, such as to increase brand awareness, become the dominant law firm in your area, or to generate referral traffic from link outreach, be sure to let your law firm SEO company know about these goals during your intake call. This will allow them to set up additional goal specific tracking to supplement the big three mentioned above.
Now that we have covered the basics of SEO for your law firm, the only thing left to do is take action on what you have learned.
Using the information from this guide, along with the supplemental resources mentioned should give you a solid foundation for getting started.
Here is a good flow of next steps to get your law firm SEO campaign underway.
The first step is determining what sitewide issues might be present that will prevent your site from benefitting fully from content and link building.
Start by completing an in-depth audit of your existing website. You are looking for sitewide technical issues, issues with your content quality & optimization practices, and anything in your link or anchor text profile that could be harming your current rankings.
Once you have identified the broad issues of your site, taking time to measure your baseline metrics will give you a data set to measure improvements against as you progress throughout your campaign.
If you are not properly tracking goals, this is a good time to make sure that is setup correctly as well.
From there, fixing sitewide issues is the next logical step as a fix in one area could remove hundreds or thousands of instances of a problem.
Sitewide issues would include technical SEO problems, but can also include content and link profile corrections as well.
Having established a solid foundation, the next step is to drill down to page level improvements. This will consist of improving existing pages on the site and creating new ones.
The information about how to improve your existing pages can be derived from analyzing your competitors, as we discussed in earlier in the guide.
The keywords and information for your new content should be based upon the keyword research you completed (or will complete).
Once the content of your site is in good shape, link outreach and the creation of new content become a repeating cycle.
Most typically, the initial link building efforts are aimed at promoting your existing pages that are already ranking in positions 5-20. As you get further into a campaign, and as new content is produced, your link outreach efforts will become more diversified.
In either case, it is important to establish a link outreach plan and act on it. Even if you get everything else right, you are not going to beat your competitors unless you have more trust and authority than them.
As you work through these steps, you will want to check your key metrics against your baseline numbers to validate that your approach is working.
The exact timing and growth rates will vary based upon where your site is starting from and the amount of competition you are facing. However, if in spite of your efforts your numbers are falling you have likely missed something important or need to revise your strategy.
Assuming that steady improvements are happening, you can start to adjust frequencies to see if the rate of improvement increases. For example – does publishing 8 blog posts per month vs. 4 provide a clear growth in traffic or total keywords?
Experimenting and adjusting as you move forward will allow you to find the right cadence for implementing your SEO plan.
Here are a few questions that might come up as you start to build out your law firm marketing strategy or look to hire an agency to assist you.
Yes, depending upon the platform your law firm’s website is built upon, you might find that you are unable to fix certain site speed and technical issues. This doesn’t mean that your law firm won’t be able to rank, it just might make it more difficult. We personally recommend using WordPress to build your law firm’s site since it is fully optimizable.
A lot of companies that offer SEO for lawyers work with competing firms. At Stellar SEO, we offer exclusivity and do not work with direct competitors of our clients. Once we establish your primary keyword and target locations, we are focused on helping only your firm rank for as long as you partner with us.
The cost of SEO for lawyers will vary greatly depending upon your practice area, location, competition, and goals. If you are a new solo practice in a small town, your SEO will typically cost less than a firm in LA or Chicago for example.
Our attorney SEO pricing typically starts at $5,000 per month and is geared towards law firms that are growth-focused. Our typical engagement is $5-20K per month.
Smaller law firm’s can expect to pay between $2500-$5,000 per month for quality SEO services.
A study by the Legal Marketing Association found that law firms allocate an average of 6.7% of gross revenue to marketing, which is a great rule of thumb to start your planning.
The most important thing is that you find an SEO company that can understand and help you achieve your goals. Price is part of the equation, but ROI and the ability to engage more potential clients should also be considered as you work to retain an SEO company.
There are plenty of cheap SEO companies in the market, with prices starting as low as $200 per month. In most cases, these types of SEO services only do a portion of what is needed and take shortcuts along the way.
Search engines like Google are getting smarter by the day. Shortcuts, black hat SEO tactics, and low quality work get less effective with every update. In the best case scenario cheap SEO services won’t work and more commonly, they lead to rankings drops, penalty cleanups, and lost revenue.
If the law firm SEO company you hire isn’t using safe, white hat SEO tactics, you are setting yourself up for issues in the future. It takes time, resources, and expertise to achieve Stellar SEO results. Small budgets do not allow for that.
SEO is a powerful driver of traffic, leads, and growth. However, we are big fans of having a diverse approach to marketing.
PPC advertising, content marketing, T.V. & radio, billboards, and being active in your community can all work together to increase brand awareness and engagement for your firm.
The old saying “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” sums up our philosophy perfectly.
Even though we have covered a lot of information in this guide, search engine optimization isn’t something you can master in a day, week, or even a month. It takes years of testing, learning, measuring, and repeating to develop your skills.
If you need help auditing your website, building out a full law firm SEO strategy, or simply getting high-quality links, we would be happy to speak with you and see if we are fit to work together.
Thank you for taking the time to read through our law firm search engine optimization guide and we truly hope it will help you pave a better path forward for your firm.
Achieving an exceptional digital presence requires experience, careful planning, and creativity.