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6 SEO Tactics Attorneys Need to Be Using

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6 SEO Tactics Attorneys Need to Be Using

Chris Dreyer
6 SEO Tactics Attorneys Need to Be Using

The internet has upped the level of competition for businesses of every kind, and that includes law firms. Thanks to search engines like Google and the surge of online review sites, it is easier than ever for potential clients to research and review dozens of your competitors in the blink of an eye - even if they have been referred to you by a friend.

Search results are paramount for attracting qualified clients, and if you are not able to rank well and connect with the right audience in the search engine results pages (SERPs), a lot of valuable clients might walk through your competitors’ doors instead of yours.

That is the last thing you want to happen, and with an informed SEO strategy in place, you can ensure that it does not.

In this post, I will discuss six organic SEO strategies that will help you rank well in searches related to your firm's specialty.

1. Target Specialized Keywords

Targeting specialized keywords is a crucial strategy for helping you surface in search results for specific queries by potential clients. And when I say “specialized", I am referring to a few different keyword strategies, including:

  • Target location-specific keywords:Those “near me” and other location-based searches can be a powerful force in driving web traffic, especially with so many prospects using mobile devices and wanting to work with someone geographically close to them. Consider targeting location-specific keywords, like “Seattle business attorney".

  • Target keywords related to your practice area:Most people will not search Google for simply “lawyers". They are far more likely to specify a personal injury lawyer, a divorce lawyer, or an estate lawyer. Make sure you are targeting keywords that are focused on your specialization.

  • Target purchase-intent keywords:Purchase- or high-intent keywords are those that users type in the search box when they are furthest along in the buying cycle and actively looking to reach out to someone soon. High-intent keywords might look like “best worker compensation attorney in Denver", while low-intent keywords might be “what does a worker compensation attorney do?”. By targeting (and ranking for) high-intent keywords, you are more likely to convert potential clients who are ready to immediately contact an attorney.

If you are unsure about the keywords to target, you can use SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Toolfor a spectrum of insights. It will show you a large number of keyword suggestions related to your search term, including search volumes, competition, and CPC (cost per click) paid search values. Combining the tips above with the insights gained from the SEMrush keyword tool, particularly those keywords that have high search volumes and relatively low competition, should give you some viable candidates to target. 

SEMrush Keyword Magic ToolSource: SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool

2. Use Content to Boost SEO

Quality content can bolster your credibility and build relationships with readers, as well as give you an SEO boost. Optimized content that demonstrates your expertise in your given legal specialty can translate into more of your site's pages and keywords ranking well in search results, helping you to connect with more potential clients.

Blog content and FAQ pages (especially with Google now supporting structured data for Q&A pages) are great opportunities not only for incorporating general question-based keywords, but high-intent keywords for those who are further along in the buying stage and trying to get some answers. (I'll be discussing structured data in more detail in strategy number five.) 

A general query such as “what is a family lawyer?” may not be a high-intent search, but if your content provides a direct answer to the question, it could possibly give your site an SEO advantage via a featured snippet at the very top of the search results page. When combined with content discussing “what makes for a good family lawyer” - which is more high-intent - you can create a strong, diverse content portfolio to help you connect with people at all stages of the buying/sales funnel.

Content that addresses such common questions also presents an opportunity to rank for those long-tail keywords that you might not want to necessarily include on your main site pages. If you unsure of where to start, SEMrush’s keyword tool has a “question” filter that shows you the questions that people are asking about your area of specialty.

SEMrush question filterSEMrush Keyword Magic Tool Question Filter

3. Choose a Niche Category On Google My Business

Setting up a Google My Business (GMB) page allows you to list your firm as a local business so that it surfaces in more local search results. Snippets of information, such as reviews, also appear there.

When it comes to GMB listings, most law firms make one big mistake: the category they choose.

Example attorney categories in Google My BusinessScreenshot::Google My Business

A lot of individuals will categorize themselves generically as a “lawyer” or an “attorney". But it makes far more sense to categorize your practice based on your niche, meaning your specific area of expertise (e.g., personal injury, family law, estate law, etc). By qualifying your firm based on your specialty, it is more likely to surface in local search results, giving you a better chance to attract potential clients. You will also be more likely to be visible in broader search results by qualified prospective clients, which is a big win too.

4. Prioritize Link Building 

Acquiring links from heavily trafficked, top-domain sites can do wonders for boosting your search ranking. 

Building backlinks from authoritative sites is a time-tested SEO strategy that serves to not only drive qualified referral traffic to your site, but also informs Google that it is credible and trusted which can help with your site's ranking.

Content marketing can be a strong way to get more links to your site, especially if you are able to create valuable, original content that people find helpful. Guest posting opens some doors, as you are often able to reach your target audience on someone else’s high-traffic site and then add a link back to yours.

You can also be an expert source for people to quote in other articles; depending on the type of article, this could earn you a link back to your site.

Another link-building option is to submit your site to legal directories. There are more than 100 reputable online directories for law firms. In addition to potentially finding more clients through them, you will bolster your backlink profile.

5. Use Schema Markup to Stand Out

Schema markup (the structured data referred to in SEO strategy number two) allows you to provide Google with rich snippets of information that will be more readily displayed on its SERPs. Such visibility is a good way to stand out, as well as give potential clients more information about who you are and what you do.

Some options of schema markup for law firms include:

  • Legal Services markup: This type of schema identifies law firms as providing legal services.

  • Review markup: This allows attorneys to showcase reviews in the form of a star rating accompanied by an author.

  • Name, Address, and Phone Number markup: This can help your contact information be more visible, as search engines can more easily identify it.

As an example, here is how an attorney's review appears in search results using schema markup: 

An example of review markup showing in a search results page

Schema markup can be difficult to implement, but there are schema generators like this one that can make the process a lot easier. Attorneys using Wordpress can also leverage one of the many plugins available that will generate schema markup for them. 

6. Get More Reviews

Reviews carry a lot of weight in search results. Not only will they influence users who are seeing the search results, but they can actually help you rank higher in local SERPs. According to Moz’s 2018 local search survey, review signals were consistently in the top ten factors that affected Google My Business search rankings.

Disclaimer: when you’re trying to get more reviews, you should first consult your state bar guidelines. Different states will have different regulations, and not all bar associations allow for it.

Here are some tips for a successful review campaign:

  • Give your clients options: Don't ask everyone to leave a review on Google (via GMB). Instead, consider giving them options among top platforms as well as legal-specific platforms like Avvo. Ideally, you want to bolster reviews in all of these places; realistically, giving clients choices helps to ensure they will leave a review on at least one site.
  • Provide a template: Not everyone is an avid reviewer nor is everyone familiar with how to leave a review on leading platforms. Create a template that is easy for them to follow and discloses a time frame for how long it will take them to do so. 
  • Post reviews on your site: If someone leaves you a great review online, ask their permission to post it on your website. Testimonials are great social proof and if visitors make it to your site, a good review may be what they need to finally pick up the phone, call, and hire you. 
  • Ask for reviews at key moments: Including links all over the place with calls to action for leaving reviews is a tactic people use - however, you may get better results by strategically asking your clients for reviews. (For example, you do not want someone who has had a bad experience to notice a review solicitation in an email signature). In other words, choose the times you ask for reviews wisely, such as right after you have won a case.

Conclusion

Whether you are trying to build your law firm or maintain its success, search engine optimization should be an essential part of your marketing strategy. If you are able to optimize your site properly, you should be able to connect with prospective clients in all stages of the buying cycle to engage them and establish relationships. And remember, If you don’t, your competitor will.

Chris Dreyer
Expert

Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

Chris Dreyer is the CEO and Founder of Rankings.io, an SEO agency for lawyers. Chris has been featured in numerous legal and search marketing publications such as Legal Ink Magazine, Law Marketing, Attorney At Work, Moz, and more. With over 12 years of experience in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Chris has helped hundreds of law firms get first page positions in search engines using innovative campaigns that are difficult for competitors to recreate. He is dedicated to helping lawyers get more leads and win more clients.
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Saravanan Subramani
Helper

An experienced member who is always happy to help.

This is hands-down the best post & guide about 6 SEO Tactics Attorneys out there. Invaluable insights and actionable tips, amazing work! I was surprised by an article like this one that speaks so clearly of the latest changes and their consequences. Keep it up, Chris!
Chris Dreyer
Expert

Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

Saravanan Subramani
Saravanan,

Thanks for the kind words. Glad you found the article helpful.
Newcomer

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These are great strategies and ideas! I *did* have one question though - I’ve noticed several SEOs talking about scheme being available now for FAQ type pages but all the Google support documention I was able to find made it seem like the Schema is meant more for forums and we’re specificsllt designed around one question being answered per page. I’m curious - how have you implemented this type of schema on your sites and has it been successful?
Chris Dreyer
Expert

Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

Fable McDonald
Fable,

Sorry for the late reply. As of right now we haven't moved toward wide-spread implementation of any of these schema types on client sites. We did see a lot of excitement when these announcements were first made about applying FAQ and similar types of structured data to pages where that type of content existed however it's important to proceed with caution. Even though the markup is available on schema.org, it appears Google's role with this schema is still being ironed out. They also maintain some pretty strict guidelines on which pages should utilize these types of schema. It may be wise to hold off on implementation for a little while until the bugs are worked out.
ishitamehta
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superb ideas.
Newcomer

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Awesome content
Neha Jain
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definitely correct things, I will be use this strategy for my blog
Paul Paquin
Pro

Asks great questions and provides brilliant answers.

Here’s a little tip that improved the bounce rate at GoldenFs.org from 80% down to 20%. We’re a debt relief company but we have different offices in every state, so once you land on our homepage; the first thing you see is “Select your state to learn debt relief options”. By making this clear path (a single call to action) on where to go next, based on our knowledge of what our audience is looking for, drastically improved our bounce rate. Of course, once users arrive, they select the state they live in — then being taken to that state’s location page. If they select Arizona debt settlemt law firm, they are taken to Arizona debt settlement options. You’re making it easy for Google to see the keywords that your site should rank for. It’s called a clean navigation system, an essential step required for local SEO.
Chris Dreyer
Expert

Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

Paul Paquin
Hey Paul,

Very interesting strategy. We suspect that bounce rate on pages found in Google organic search is an important metric they look at so it makes sense to try and improve that on your site. Nice work!
Scott Rumsey
Helper

An experienced member who is always happy to help.

Great article Chris. When it come to targeting specialised keywords, do you think that those which have a local focus are a quick win. Is the best way forward for a business serious about their SEO to secure their immediate 'local' market and should they then widen the parameters from there?

Also within your field do you find that this is a viable solution with competition in the legal sector being so high?
Chris Dreyer
Expert

Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

Scott Rumsey
Hey Scott,

Sorry for the late reply.

To your first question, for the most part, location-based terms can be just as competitive as a phrase used by searchers on a national level. The difficulty in ranking for any term is largely based on the industry it's related to and how competitive that industry is.

Phrases that tend to be "quick wins" are usually longer tail keyword phrases that are very specific in terms of searcher intent. They also tend to be less likely to convert on a site.

Businesses should target phrases based on where their customers are searching. For instance many lawyers serve local geographic audiences (i.e. a county or a state). Conversely if a business is taking customers from all over the country, they would focus on a national strategy. Basically it all depends on where your customers are and how they interact with you.

In my industry specifically, many of our clients are going after location-based phrases because that's how a lot of attorneys work. Most attorneys are only licensed to practice law in their respective states. On top of that, many of our clients probably wouldn't expect their own clients to drive more than a few hours to meet with them meaning they will be competing for business in their cities or counties but maybe not much further out.

Generally we target location-based terms at the city and state level (i.e. car accident lawyer Florida, or truck accident lawyer Tampa)
Dave Brown
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

Great post Chris. Are there any third party review sites for lawyers that you recommend they get their clients to share reviews on? Kind of like UpCity for SEO?
Chris Dreyer
Expert

Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

Dave Brown
Hey Dave,

Generally we recommend review campaigns on leading sites like GMB, Facebook, and Yelp. Then we also recommend actively getting reviews on legal-specific directories that lawyers can join (i.e. Avvo, Justia, FindLaw, etc)
Newcomer

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Thanks for the great article, Chris. Creating a template for reviews is a fantastic idea. I expect that lowering the threshold of difficulty for reviews will really pay off. I'm eager to share this information with our team at D4 Advanced Media.
Neha Jain
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This comment was deleted.
Chris Dreyer
Expert

Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

Neha Jain
Thanks Neha. Hopefully these strategies will help you accomplish your search marketing goals. Thanks for commenting.
Expert

Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

That's a unique topic with valuable insights and information that can come in handy for numerous law firms both small scale and large scale alike.
Chris Dreyer
Expert

Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

Sahil Kakkar
You're totally right Sahil. Even smaller firms with the right amount of focused resources can outrank their competition in search.
Newcomer

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So nice ideas..
I'll try for my website: hitechanimation
Chris Dreyer
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Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

Sunrata Roy
Thanks for commenting Sunrata. Good luck with your site!

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