John Bowie* One thing we have learned over 20 years of publishing law firm SEO articles is that the ‘best law firm’ SEO is a moveable feast. But getting the search engines to pick up your firm online and rank it for the keywords you need to rank for is simple enough if you know the key SEO steps to rank highly.
The best SEO for lawyers is the key to obtaining top search engine rankings using correct keyword selection with the best on-page and off-page optimization and compliance with Google’s CORE vital requirements.
Remember that your potential clients are not looking on page 2 of Google and perhaps even at number 5 or 6 on page 1. Mostly, they will be looking at the top 3 listings on Page 1 and ideally it is within that group that you need to be with your law firm’s website.
About three-quarters of all searchers will only be on page 1 of Google. You need your law firm SEO to get you there.
And almost all searchers seeking legal advice will use the search engine – around 96 per cent!
All of which means you law firm website needs to be at the top of the search engine for the queries that most relate to your firm’s legal services.
There are steps any law firm can take, no matter what their resources, to help you achieve the very best seo for lawyers that you can – with a little focused effort.
You can read our exclusive law firm SEO report to find out more about lawyer SEO.
Exactly What Is Best Lawyer SEO?
Simply put, the best lawyer SEO requires the optimization of your law firm content to ensure keywords and blog posts have the right keywords, are using link building, have good local SEO and citations.
It is the easiest way you can lift your law profile and generate new clients. Half of marketing experts say that organic search provides the best ROI of any marketing strategy. It is also one that you can achieve with a little knowledge and effort.
There are other factors that we outline here too, but the essence of any law firm seeking top rankings is to get these basics done correctly and you will find your rankings steadily increase over time, producing organic search results and new clients.
There are also technical, on-site SEO factors that are important and that we discuss below to ensure that your lawyer SEO efforts are maximized.
It is far and away the best way to achieve more business and greater online profile than simply using social media, word-of-mouth marketing and other such marketing tactics.
How Your Lawyer SEO Can Drive New Business
By having well written blog posts and a well optimized law firm site you can achieve top results for your firm by following some key guidelines –
>> Using keywords in a natural but effective manner to drive targeted traffic to your target audience
>> Obtaining valuable backlinks to your law firm site to boost its ranking
>> Lift your ability to achieve better local SEO for your law firm (if that is what you are looking for)
>> Build your authority as an opinion leader in the key areas of legal practice
The Law Firm SEO Opportunity
An amazing fact that many may not realize is the opportunity that blogging provides for lawyers to achieve great SEO results for their firm.
The simple fact is that most law firms in a survey by the ABA in the US, and the similar facts occur in other jurisdictions, is that few law firms even have blogs. In the US that is just 27 per cent, with a tiny number of lawyers running personal blogs, which can ‘feed’ their law firm SEO efforts.
Key Google Ranking Factors
The Google algorithm is a changing ‘feast’ of moving parts that is central to Google’s IP and how it operates, but in essence for law firm SEO it will involve a focus on the following factors –
>> Quality content with natural and smart keyword usage (onsite optimization)
>> Good backlinks to authority and other relevant sites
>> Excellent onsite optimization
>> Excellent page experience and usability (Core Web Vitals)
>> Domain authority
There are other factors of course, but a focus on these will ensure good search engine optimization and compliance with them is the best way to achieve top organic results.
Why Lawyer SEO Is Important
We have explained how most searchers seeking legal advice will use the search engines.
And a 2020 report from iLawyer Marketing showed that 86 per cent of those surveyed use Google when searching online for a lawyer.
According to the 2019 Legal Trends Report and Statista, 17 per cent of searchers used online search to find law firms, second only to those who used word-of-mouth (family or friends) to locate a lawyer.
The illustration below shows the numbers who will use search engines to find lawyers
SEO for lawyers requires a keen eye on achieving those organic rankings that will help the accompanying organic traffic, but using these ‘missing links’ will also ensure that the visitors are more targeted and more likely to become clients, rather than casual visitors.
How Lawyer SEO Beats Other Marketing Channels
There are a vast array of marketing opportunities out there, but law firm SEO will beat most hands down in terms of cost and effectiveness.
Social Media Channels
Social media channels are also effective online marketing resources, but they are generally something that can be seen as secondary marketing efforts.
In digital marketing terms, your law firm website will be the initial point of contact for most looking for lawyers. The social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn may well be used for further information and for keeping the site front and center of communications, but it is the website that will do the heavy lifting.
Paid cost per click ads like Google ads are effective, but also costly and lawyer-related keywords are also expensive.
The legal services market is one of the most competitive markets online and cost per click for those highly sought-after keywords is obviously expensive.
PPC cost image ……………
How Are Lawyer Website Ranked on Google?
The rankings for lawyers depend upon the different ranking factors or type of listings for the law site.
These include the following –
Local Service Ads (LSA), which are ads that appear above the organic or other paid listings on the search results.
Search Ads appear below the LSAs and are also on a pay-per-click basis.
Local Search Results appear next and are the local law firms based on Google Maps. You can read about lawyer SEO and local search here.
Organic Search is next, providing the listings of those lawyers who have achieved the highest SEO
People Also Ask is the query section provided by Google providing summarized answers to other questions asked for the same search term.
Featured Snippets are the ‘structured data’
What Are The Key Lawyer SEO Ranking Factors?
Your Law Firm Content
valuable content is one of the very best ways for any lawyer to achieve good rankings on Google.
Writing content that is optimized, relevant to the search terms and easy to read will help Google rank it well.
The content can include a variety of content matters including not just written blog posts but also infographics, video, frequently asked questions, images and podcasts.
They are all content and all will be recognized as such by Google and the other search engines.
Not to be forgotten are your ‘about us’ page(s) and bio pages for your lawyers, which should also focus on the key areas (geographic and professional) affecting your lawyers.
How To Refine Your Content For Search
Google are increasingly able to discern what AI-generated content may be and you need to be able to write relevant, natural content that meets the expectation of the searcher. You need to provide value-driven content that meets the requirements and hits the target accurately.
Using the ‘Quora method’ of writing is useful where you ask yourself the sort of question the search may be asking. When the search term is entered into Google you want your answer to come up in a manner that directly answers the query.
This is a focus on user intent, adopting the mindset of the searcher when using the particular search term.
The Local Citation SEO
If you are looking for high ranking in your locality, as many lawyers will be with their lawyer SEO efforts, then you need to make sure that you also
local citations to help improve your content focus, by also focusing on the locality.
We have written about local search here, but the number of local citations will have a significant effect upon rankings, which include the references to your law firm’s name, address, phone number and website (the NAP+W data).
Heading Tags and Placement
When using your headings, it is important to use them properly with headings, title, images, anchor text and so forth. These need to use your keywords and keyword variations.
Obtaining Good Backlinks
Using quality authority links is also important, relevant to your content.
Links help establish your page rank, which is Google’s algorithm to establish your page’s authority. They are a digital vote of confidence in your website and help both with overall ranking and local rankings
These links will not only need to be outward bound links but importantly you also need to cross link to your own, internal content. Internal links are high value too and often overlooked, but will reinforce your content and overall authority in the areas you are writing about.
Finding Quality Backlinks
There are numerous ways you can obtain good, authority backlinks. We will provide more information about writing guest posts and obtaining top links from quality sites, but in the meantime there are some key sites that are worth focusing upon, including:
- Law directories
- Social media channels
- Related websites
- Local directories and newspaper sites
Assessing Value of Backlinks
There are tools to assess what the domain authority is of backlinks from different websites. For instance, MOZ.com provides backlink references with its free tool.
For instance, a link from the American Bar Association has a very high domain score –
In terms of garnering authority you need to also use the links in a proper manner and in context of the articles, such as this from LawFuel where we provide a link relating ………………………..
LawFuel sponsored post article.
Proper Use of Anchor Text
Using links with appropriate anchor text is important. This is a matter that Google are coy to say much about and even deny it is significant, but in our view using anchor text to link to the relevant subject matter is important.
Search engines need to know what terms relate to what specific topics. If the topic is hyperlinked to an authority link it is going to have greater value than if it is on its own.
Hence, if you have a simple ‘personal injury attorney’ link with those words
Technical On-Page SEO
Google is focused on user experience with its ranking, or ‘core ranking’ factors. That term means a number of things but central to it is speed.
There are other factors of course, the website’s security, coding, url structure and so forth. But in the speed of loading is perhaps the most crucial in terms of making the site one that is going to rank properly.
Today, any law firm SEO expert will tell you that to get to the first page you must have a website that meets Google core ranking requirements.
It is important that you are thinking about what the ‘user intent’ of your visitors is and what they are looking for, what questions they want answered and how effectively your site is providing those answers.
By both focusing on those issues and providing a site that delivers on the answers for the searchers as quickly and efficiently as possible you will be helping to get maximum benefits from Google and its algorithm tool RankBrain.
And with greater, relevant, authoritative content provided in a fast-loading, well designed site you will also be raising Google’s awareness of your content and giving your SEO the right look.
See what Google’s SEO starter guide to see what the requirements are and how to best meet them.
What is RankBrain?
RankBrain is Google’s tool to assess the user intent of the searcher. It takes the difficult-to-understand queries and checks them against other similar queries made to determine what the intent of the user is. It will discern the patterns from previous users to work out the intent.
The tool developed initially as part of Google’s machine learning tool to help with the more complex searches, but it now applies across the board to Google’s searching enquiries. It points to the need for content writers to produce not only high-quality content, but also to meet Google’s algorithm requirements by providing high quality answers.
By providing the ‘correct’ answer to the query your content will get more readership and retain the searcher on-site. That will help with your ranking.
Additionally, if you have a low bounce rate where the searcher clicks away from your page then you will also get a ‘tick’ from Google.
The length of time the user is on your page or site will also tell Google you are providing relevant content and lifting your relevance and authority.
The Page Experience Factor: Core Vitals
The page experience is Google’s key factors, announced in 2021, that are their vital factors for ranking. The key factor is speed, but Google’s descriptives are more complex and even baffling.
These are issues that a digital SEO expert will need to fix for most lawyers seeking the best SEO results from their website. But there is no reason why they should be overly expensive or complex as a good digital consultant or agency can quickly identify those factors that are rendering a law website one that is in default of the core vitals.
In essence, it’s about being fast and functional to provide the very best experience for your website user.
As mentioned above, speed is the key factor in the Core Web Vitals. This relates to loading. Known as largest content paint, it measures the actual time taken for pages to load and represents the fundamental need to have fast-loading pages.
Other than loading, the other two factors are interactivity (first input delay) which is the time between when there is interaction with a page element like a link or tab and the time taken for the browser to process the event. Once again, this is a speed factor that needs to ensure that the functionality on your site is one that will provide greater usability and user experience.
Finally there is visual stability or cumulative layout shift that looks at how page elements that move detract from the experience of the users. These are things like popups and the like.
On Page SEO
When writing your compelling blog content there are some key ingredients to include to ensure you are getting the most attention from the search engines.
Ensure the following –
The URL Title – make sure the keywords you want are in the title – eg. lawyer.seo/miami-business-lawyer.com
The Title Tag – ensure the keywords are included in the title – eg – Tips To Protect Your Business From a top Miami Business Lawyer
Reference your keywords – include your keyword term within the body of your compelling content – Miami business lawyer
Use <2> Subheads – Use subheads in your content using h2 tags (h1 for main heading) and connect to your keyword term using secondary keyword terms – eg Florida business law; Miami business threats etc
Use Alt Words in Image – Include images using your keywords in both the image file and the alt tags for your image
Use video, infographics – Including other content elements like video and infrographics can greatly increase the attractiveness for the search engines and users alike.
Use Schema –
>> Video Marketing for Lawyers – See Our Article Here
Pick the Right Keywords
There has been a mountain of content around how to pick the right keywords and depending upon the sort of law firm you are and how much you have to spend, let’s consider the smaller law firm and what they are looking for.
Generally you will want to have a focus on your geographic locality (‘best criminal lawyer in Orange County’, etc) together with your area(s) of practice.
You do not need to focus on the super-high competition keywords. Instead you need to keep the ‘user intent’ concept in mind and work on building up long-tail keywords that reflect what your user is likely to be putting into the search bar.
In our experience, those content pieces for any blogger – lawyer or not – who rank high on Google is to provide content that focuses on less competitive long-tail keywords.
The user intent may be focused on the need for information: ‘how do I defend a bankruptcy action?’
It may be focused on a brand: ‘how do I contact ABC Law?’
Or it may be focused on hiring a lawyer: ‘where do I hire a top DUI lawyer in Tulsa?’
You need to identify those areas that focus on the intent of your user. And write accordingly using the appropriate long-tail keyword.
Match your keywords to the ‘user intent’ issues outlined so you can ensure your blog posts will identify precisely what market you are looking at based on the above categories.
Once you have the selection of keywords you can then match them to the blog post content and target the user intent for qualified traffic to your site.
How to Find Top Lawyer Keywords
There are a number of ways you can assemble your keyword ‘library’ to put together the low competition, high ranking keywords that will deliver your clients.
You can read our earlier article about how lawyers can use keywords in marketing here.
First, do some competitor analysis by checking what keywords are being used by them.
One of our favorite tools is SimilarWeb, which identifies the websites like your own and lets you see their ranking and keyword usage. Its a favorite secret weapon that can be enormously powerful in generating the targeted keywords you need to use to reach your key practice areas and also the intent spelled out above.
Similarly, SEMRush is another great tool to help you identify not only your competitors, but also what content is ranking and the keywords they are using.
For instance, Miami car accident attorneys Levant Law can see their main keyword terms –
And the tool will also show the competitor sites and their relative traffic –
Another less expensive tool (ignoring the free trials etc by SimilarWeb and SEMRush) is Ubersuggest, from Neil Patel the high profile marketer.
This is a valuable and overall top intelligence tool to identify the sort of areas you can be focusing your law firm’s website on for maximum effect and also providing top keyword research assistance and tips.
People Also Ask
Google provide your with another major keyword resource with their ‘People Also Ask’ section in search. This permits you to identify the related search terms that you can then ‘flesh out’ with further research allied to your focused areas of practice and geographic areas.
This is a major opportunity to meet Google where they want you to go in terms of targeted search queries.
These questions are distilled by Google from a vast number of related search terms and so they do the hard work for your in terms of identifying the contenders for further blog posts.
Law forums such as those at Avvo are worth looking at also to see what questions are being asked and how to target them.
Combining some of the most popular questions asked on key forums and doing some keyword research can turn up some keyword phrases and blog post ideas that can place you in a good position to develop high traffic pages targeted to potential clients.
Similarly, using sites like Quora to answer key questions can help build your online authority and your law firm’s website ranking by answering targeted queries in a non self-promotional way, as well as providing additional online authority via Google rankings.
For instance, commentator Justin Schwartz has nearly 8000 followers on the forum and to generate a following and develop authority is something that can use one of the Internet’s largest informational websites.
The Great Lawyer SEO Content Blueprint
If there were to be a blueprint for obtaining top rankings and authority with Google for your law firm, then focusing on quality content is an essential cornerstone, but it must also be non-duplicate and authoritative.
One key ingredient here is to insure your law firm’s boilerplate pages are there, including –
Practice Pages – the pages outlining your firm’s practice area, which lets prospective clients see the areas of practice that should be as specific as possible so you meet their prospective needs.
You should also where possible add geographical details so they become more active as clients if they find you are in their locality. Further, you should add detail about your expertise in the area by writing quality, focused content on the specialty area.
For instance, Hoglund Law provide specialist bankruptcy law advice and provide full details about what they do and how they do it with their ‘areas of practice’ pages.
People Profile Pages
Make sure you provide good profile details of your firm lawyers and other experts with plenty of detail about their expertise and with good photographs.
These are opportunities to not only introduce your lawyers, but to further strengthen content around those keyword, practice area specialties you want to attract organic traffic with, so put plenty of effort into the profiles.
For instance clear photography and good snapshots of the lawyers with expanded information provide an excellent and easy way to identify with the lawyers you might be dealing with as a prospective client, as seen by criminal defense lawyers at Roulston Urqhart in Calgary.
Frequently Asked Questions
there are perennial favorites for service providers and others because they provide high quality opportunities to both target specific queries that prospective clients may have and also generate organic traffic through the content you provide.
Resources & Links
Providing a list or resources is both helpful for clients and also generates further compelling information about your firm’s authority and interest in helping clients.
They also provide the important authority links back to your site, thus further assisting in your lawyer SEO results.
Get The Lawyer SEO Basics Right
Good lawyer and law firm SEO is a key part of any law firm’s marketing strategy and will remain so for the forseeable future. It may have the Google brain (and Rankbrain) doing the ‘marking’ of your SEO efforts, but it is not rocket science to get the best SEO results for your law firm by following some basic tenets.
Keep Your SEO weather eye on the following:
>>Good, well optimized content that provides quality information
>>A fast, attractive and well presented website that is fully mobile responsive
>>Compliance with Google’s Core Web factors and general guidelines
>>Good content addition like video, podcasts, infographics and feedback
We are happy to assist with any advice or content marketing efforts if you require and are also keen to hear of your own experiences in ranking on the search engines with your SEO efforts.
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