There are a lot of acronyms in legal marketing these days. Some are more important than others. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a pillar of marketing speak these days and is extremely important to your business. In a world where users start their search with Google, it is important to optimize your site so that they can find you.
At a high-level SEO is a branch of legal marketing that includes many tactics to help you optimize your website for search engines, meaning to help you appear on the first page of Google results. There are many search engines today, but Google still dominates, holding a 92% market share. For that reason, the tips covered in this guide will focus on optimizing your site for Google.
SEO has so many facets, it can be overwhelming. At the most basic level, it is important to understand the following:
- Search Engines – Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo. These are all search engines.
- Rankings – when users search something in a search engine, the results they are presented are shown in order of rank.
- Search Query – what users input into search engines. For example, “best legal marketing firm” is a query. Legal marketing firm are the keywords that you would optimize a site for in this case.
- Keywords – Keywords are words or phrases that you include in your website content in hopes of matching a user’s search query.
- Optimization – tactics and strategies employed on a website that improve the odds that the site ranks high with search engines.
With those basics in mind, here are five tips to get your law firm started with SEO.
1. CONSIDER THE USER
Before we get to any strategies or tactics, we believe search engine optimization starts with a mindset shift. SEO is not for you, the law firm: you already know where to look. Consider how users speak about your firm, and how search engines currently view your site and competitors. Often how we see ourselves internally doesn’t match up with how the end user thinks of us. This is an important step because it will allow you to optimize for the right things (keywords, information architecture, etc..). Like any good project, it is important to do your research before getting started.
To research how users think of you, here are some tactics you can employ:
- Interview some of your best clients to discover how they became a client: what did they search for, what on the website sold them to contact you.
- Benchmarking – search for your competitors, try a few search queries to get a sense of the keywords they seem to be optimizing for. See where they are ranking.
2. GET CONNECTED
Much like other legal marketing strategies, optimizing your law firm’s website will prove a wasted effort if you can’t measure the results. There are plenty of tools out there that you can use to aid your SEO efforts, some paid, some free. At a minimum, you need to make sure your website is connected to the following tools (all free):
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Bing Webmaster Tools
Contact us to help you through this process.
3. SUBMIT YOUR SITEMAP
A sitemap is a map of your website, specifically created for search engines. It helps the engines navigate your site more easily, which in turn allows them to index your site faster. Depending on the content management system your website is built on, submitting your website can be a relatively easy task. You may not even need to contact your IT department.
At LISI we love the Yoast SEO plugin. You can find your xml sitemap under the features tab of Yoast.
Once you have a sitemap, make sure you submit it to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster tools.
4. CLAIM YOUR LAW FIRM LISTING
Have you ever searched for “pizza near me” for family dinner on a friday night? We all have. Modifiers like “near me” or “[query] rittenhouse square” are known as local modifiers. Local search is more important than ever. According to Nectafy, 88% of consumer local business searches on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours.
If you want your firm to be found when local users are searching for say “car accident lawyer near me” it is important that you claim your firm on Google and other directories. Claiming your law firm on Google begins with setting up a Google My Business account, from there you fill in the pertinent information and you are set.
5. PRODUCE VALUABLE CONTENT
Content is the centerpiece around which SEO revolves. Law firms need to be seen as thought leaders. Look to produce quality content showcasing the firm’s knowledge. If your firm is known for a particular practice, make sure you have a bevy of thought leadership pieces around that practice. These pieces can take many forms:
- Legal Alerts or News Updates
- Downloadable Assets – whitepapers, guides, etc.
Search engine optimization is a long game. Typically it will take 6 months to make moves in the search engine results pages. With these basics in place, you will have a good foundation to begin utilizing other optimization tactics.