The way Google ranks law firms on its results pages has changed in the past few years. Learn why your law firm SEO ranking may not be where you expect—and how to save money when it comes to SEO.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Chances are, your law firm has dabbled in search engine optimization (SEO) as a way to attract new clients. Whether you’re doing it organically through content marketing or bolstering it with pay-per-click strategies, there are several different ways to boost your law firm’s ranking on search results pages (SERPs).
It’s a common misconception that SEO is simply the use of important words designed to put your website in spot #1 on the SERPs. In reality, there’s a lot more that contributes to your ranking, including your overall online presence and the HTML and schema markup on your web pages.
It’s important to understand that implementing good SEO practices will not give your website an immediate, noticeable boost on the SERPs. In fact, it will likely take several months at minimum to start seeing results. And even if your SEO is fantastic, the chances that your website will rank first have dropped dramatically over the past few years.
What Has Changed for Businesses?
On Google, the organic (unpaid) ranked search results are almost always listed after paid advertisements and a local map of businesses that are relevant to the search. Plus, directory sites may be shown before your law firm’s website when someone makes a search, so even if you rank the highest for a certain key phrase, searchers are most likely going to have to scroll to find you.
In other words? You may be wasting valuable time and money on outdated keyword bidding strategies that simply don’t ensure you’ll be one of the first few law firms a prospect sees when they perform a search.
Does this mean you should give up on your SEO efforts? Not at all—showing up in spot #10 is still a lot better than not showing up at all!
What it does mean is that you should consider implementing other strategies, such as local SEO and digital advertising, in your efforts to make sure that prospective leads can find you when they need you.
How to Help Boost Your Law Firm’s SEO Ranking
The Organic Method: Content Marketing
Your law firm’s blog and social media pages are the perfect places to start drumming up your authority on the internet—at little to no cost.
“Blogging is a great strategy for improving your organic search rankings. Search engines such as Google place higher value on web content that is actually helpful to searches and relevant to their needs,” says legal content marketer Brandon Williams. “Producing educational blogs on topics you know your potential clients are looking for can help you boost your search engine optimization, which in turn helps your firm get seen higher up in the organic results.”
This method is very cost-effective, but it will take a long time to see results. Depending on your firm’s resources, you could delegate content marketing to someone in-house, or you could hire an agency to do it for you—in which case, you’re in the right place!
Check out our post on blogging for law firms here: 3 Reasons Blogging is Essential for Law Firms
The Efficient Method: Local SEO
If you don’t have the budget for digital advertising, start whipping your law firm’s local SEO into shape to help get your law firm’s name and location in Google’s location-based results, called the local pack.
To show up in the local pack, you have to do a lot more than hope that the searcher is geographically closer to you than to a competitor. Start with your law firm’s Google My Business page: when you fill out this profile with info about your firm, your chances of showing up in a search result go way up. Basically, the more information you provide Google, the more confident it feels about suggesting your law firm to its users.
There are things you can do on your law firm’s website to improve your local SEO, too. For example, put clear references to your location—such as the city you’re in and the courts you serve—on your website. Including a widget that provides a map and/or directions to your office is a good idea, too, especially for searchers using their mobile phones.
Learn more about local SEO for your law firm here: 5 FREE Ways to Boost Your Law Firm’s Local SEO
The Pay-to-Play Method: Digital Advertising
Digital advertising is a way to get your law firm’s name out there for a price. That price depends on your goals, but in general, the ability to target your ideal audience is part of what makes digital advertising so efficient: you don’t waste money advertising to people who will never call your firm. With methods such as geotargeting and remarketing, strategic digital advertising is a great way to put your firm’s name in front of your ideal prospects.
Find out the details about digital advertising for law firms here: How Digital Advertising Helps Law Firms Get More Clients
Other Strategies to Keep in Mind
Even if your website is kitted out with robust SEO for the areas of law you practice, the truth is that someone searching a broad term like “Arkansas divorce” is more likely to end up on a legal information site like FindLaw or Justia than on your website. With such a vague search term, Google isn’t quite sure what this searcher wants to know, so the algorithm pulls up definitions of divorce-related terms or directories of divorce lawyers in your area.
That’s where a searcher’s intent comes in. We can surmise the searcher’s goal from the content of their searches, their location, and in some cases, their past browsing history. This means that for lawyers, strong SEO is less about ranking highly for your general area of law and more about anticipating the longer, more specific search terms that your ideal prospects will use when they’re looking to hire an attorney.
Interested in how your prospects think? Read about a related concept here: Why Customer Context Matters (And How to Make it Work for You)
While voice search doesn’t pull up pages of results like internet browser searches do, it’s still important that your law firm is capable of being found by the thousands of people who use voice search daily to find services and obtain information.
Voice search relies on well-written content that is optimized for answering conversational questions. It’s also greatly benefited by high-quality local SEO practices, HTML tagging, and schema markup.
You can learn how to optimize your law firm’s website for voice search here: Is Your Law Firm Ready for Voice Search?
In the advertising world, it’s pretty much never a good idea to put all your eggs into one basket. But it’s understandable that not every law firm has the budget or the time to purchase and produce ads on television, on the radio, or on billboards. So how can smaller law firms keep up with the ones who can afford to be everywhere?
A cheaper (and often free) solution is listing your law firm on directory sites like Avvo and FindLaw. Keep in mind, though, that the point of being on directory sites is not to rank in the top spot of the SERPs: instead, the goal is to boost awareness of your firm. The more times someone sees your name pop up while they’re conducting research on their legal options, the more legitimate and trustworthy your law firm seems.
“Good SEO practices and a strong search engine rank are about increasing a firm’s overall exposure to a specific community and audience, and using that exposure to cement the authority and expertise of the firm in the eyes of potential clients,” explains internet marketer Linda King.
Find out how advertising in multiple forms of media can benefit your law firm here: The Importance of Omnichannel Marketing for Law Firms
Ready to Rank?
It can be overwhelming to tackle the search engines—especially when they keep changing the rules. Whichever method(s) you’d like to pursue, Kirkpatrick Creative can help. We use data as a tool to develop customized plans for each and every one of our clients according to their needs. It’s what we like to call advertising engineered to work.
Ready to get started? Contact Kirkpatrick Creative today and we’ll set up a consultation to build the best strategy for your law firm.