This post was written by our staff SEO writer, Nancy Rapp, who has a law degree and works as a professor of legal studies. Her unique background allows her to view the world of law firm SEO from the eyes of both an attorney and a web consultant.
As we ring in the New Year, we create new goals for the upcoming year. As lawyers, deciding to devote resources to search engine optimization (SEO) is an excellent resolution. Unfortunately, the more intricate concepts of law firm SEO are not part of our knowledge base. As a result, lawyers risk approaching SEO in an inefficient manner that will blow through their budgets without accomplishing much. This post will help clarify how to identify and pursue appropriate SEO goals for your practice.
1. Identify your target client.
Law firm SEO requires more than just identifying your practice area. Saying “I want more DUI cases,” for example, simply isn’t enough. Do you want felony DUI cases? Do you want to represent underage offenders? How about commercial drivers? Even if you want to attract all of the above clients, marketing to Susie the college student’s parents is different than how you would appeal to Stan the repeat offender. Once you determine your target client base, customized content can be written to achieve your goal. Experienced law firm SEO specialists will create personas for your ideal clients and will match your website’s content to the digital behavior of your potential clients.
2. Recognize the difference between direct marketing and branding.
A reputable SEO firm will explain to you that there are (at least!) two different approaches to law firm SEO. In short, direct marketing is specifically designed to acquire business while branding helps draw traffic to your site and helps you gain a positive reputation. Although it may be tempting to focus on the SEO that will seemingly be a quicker return on investment, brand awareness is particularly important for law firms.
Not only do lawyers have a sea of competitors, but many potential clients do research before taking legal action. Consider family law, for example. Robert the stay-at-home dad may do a Google search to see if he qualifies for spousal support before contacting a family law attorney. Rebecca the CEO may want to see if a possible move to a new state will force her to lose custody of her children.
Having informative, keyword driven content will help you rank higher in Google and in turn, you will be Robert or Rebecca’s source of information. Being Robert and Rebecca’s resource will put you on their radar for when they need an attorney in the future.
There is also a caveat to direct marketing in the legal world: We can’t expect all site visitors to turn into clients. Perhaps a potential client realized that she doesn’t have a legitimate claim. Similarly, a potential client may not want to pay the appropriate legal fees or wait for an available appointment or trial date. Thus, SEO goals associated with branding are more attainable and realistic than assuming you will make more money by investing in SEO. Proper law firm SEO will certainly bring you more business, but there is no magic trick to turn all site visitors into clients.
3. Realize that you will need to think outside the box with your SEO tactics.
In a perfect world, SEO for lawyers would simply require strong legal content and a bit of reputation builders such as testimonials and case examples. Unfortunately, the more digital our society becomes, the more our websites have to keep up with the trends. For example, you may cringe at the thought of appearing on camera, but videos are an important feature for your website. Forbes predicts that 82% of all web traffic will be for videos by 2021. Thus, if your digital marketing agency suggests you make a brief video discussing your practice area, it’s prudent to listen.
Content also needs to be written to accommodate new and current SEO trends such as adapting content for voice search and long-tail keyword research. Accordingly, don’t be tempted to change the wording of the content your SEO content writer produces. While you may cringe at more colloquial phrases such “high on drugs” or “wreck my car,” including content with common vernacular will assist in the readability of your site to potential clients as well as help you rank higher on the search engine pages.
4. Avoid the temptation to ignore the importance of SEO if your practice doesn’t immediately see results.
Practically nothing happens quickly in the legal world. As such, we should also keep a “slow and steady” mindset for our SEO goals. SEO authority SERPS.com cautions that “Be Patient” and “Temper Expectations” are 2 important SEO guidelines for any business. Though adding the right content can sometimes give your website an immediate boost in the search rankings, time is the true test for website optimization. You may rank #4 one day and then appear on the second page of the search results a week later. This is why Google Search Console estimates your ranking position based on 28 day cycles. A consistently high performing site with several audits a year will earn more rewards than only conducting a brief SEO overhaul.
5. Remember to evaluate the technical aspects of your site.
SEO for lawyers involves more than the glitz of web design and profound content. Improving user experience is an important goal that requires the use of technical evaluations. Does your site have broken links? How fast is your load time? Are you mobile-friendly? Are your pictures optimized? These are only a brief sample of the technical components of SEO. If you choose to do your own SEO, be sure to only perform the tasks you feel fully comfortable implementing yourself. Technical errors are certain to send your site visitors to other websites, thus losing them as potential clients.
Should you decide to hire an SEO firm for your law practice, be sure to consider one with experience in the legal field. Paramaya Web Consulting has years of experience in SEO for lawyers and has an attorney on staff to best assist with legal content and marketing. Contact us today at 678-824-5560 for a free initial consultation!