The Expert Institute has compiled a list of five steps that will increase your online presence, generate increased web traffic, and lead to valuable business opportunities. Though the practice of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), this article on SEO for lawyers illustrates how law firms of all sizes can effectively compete with large firms who have allocated substantial budgets to their marketing departments After all, when it comes to business, all is fair in law and SEO.
As attorneys, we pride ourselves on our reputation and skill. However, word-of-mouth only goes so far in the digital age. A report by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services noted that while 34% of adults utilized print directories such as the Yellow Pages to find lawyers, now only 8% of adults say they would turn to such sources for finding legal help.
LexisNexis reports that “3 out of 4 consumers seeking an attorney over the last year used online resources at some point in the process.” Moreover, the ABA’s 2012 Legal Technology Survey reveals that more than 50% of small law firms and solo practitioners report “retaining clients directly or via referral as a result of their legal-topic blogging.” Yet, less than 13% of firms are actually blogging, demonstrating how SEO for lawyers is greatly underutilized.
Maximizing your law firm’s online presence does not have to be a complicated headache-inducing process. For example, expanding your website from just listing your name and areas of practice to including additional pages and in depth content will greatly augment your digital presence and allow you to begin ranking within the major search engines. Below are five additional steps that will help explain how SEO for lawyers will increase your online exposure and ultimately generate more business.
1. Perform Keyword Research and Create Value Rich Content
Promoting your reputation online translates to creating in-depth and valuable content that is meaningful and relevant to your target audience. Your website’s content may include helpful legal analysis, case studies, white papers, and FAQs. SEO for lawyers is founded on the idea of providing industry-specific knowledge. Such content will substantially increase your online visibility and boost your organic search traffic by allowing search engines to index and rank your website.
Online tools such as Google Keyword Planner, KeywordSpy, and SEM Rush can help you assess which keywords are most relevant to your audience and which will garner a significant volume of searches. For example, a personal injury attorney may be interested in ranking for keywords such as personal injury lawyer, car accident lawyer, and burn injury lawyer.
As you develop material specific to relevant keywords, major search engines will begin ranking your firm’s website, thereby increasing your firm’s visibility in the digital marketplace. You will soon see why the phrase “content is king” rings true as your content directly helps you to reach a greater audience and amass more business opportunities.
2. Optimize Your Content and Website
Writing great content and performing keyword research is only a small piece of the SEO puzzle. Another important facet to SEO for lawyers is on-page optimization because it will allow search engines to easily crawl, digest, and index your material. Consider these five important elements when organizing the layout of your content and developing your website:
- Page Title: Place the relevant keyword within the title, preferably towards the beginning. This indicates relevance to search engines and your target audience.
- Headline: This is commonly implemented under the H1 tag and is typically the most prominent copy on a given page. Place your keyword within the headline (H1 tag) for a better user experience and smoother search engine indexation.
- Body Text: Including your target keyword within the body of your post is highly critical. This indicates that your material is relevant and comprehensive. But don’t overdo it! Search engines are highly intelligent and can spot unnatural and overuse of keywords.
- URL: Place your keyword within your URL to further reaffirm to search engines that your material is specific to your intended topic.
- Images and Image ALT Attributes: Placing images within your content visually conveys the topic to your audience and also tells search engines that your material is more dynamic than simple text. Since search engines can’t actually see images, they rely on ALT attributes, so be sure to include your target keyword.
3. Build a Back Link Profile
A search engine’s algorithm is solely focused on providing the most relevant search results to the end user. A significant indicator of relevance is the number of high quality links pointing to your website. By creating great content, you’ll naturally acquire links from other sites interested in sharing your material. Earning backlinks from other authoritative websites lets the search engines know that you’re a reliable and trustworthy source of relevant content.
4. Engage in Social Media
Promoting your content is just as important as writing it. Social media is becoming an increasingly significant factor in search engine ranking algorithms. Having many shares, likes, and re-tweets can boost an article to a top ranking and demonstrate your authority on a legal issue. Moreover, social media is a great avenue to assert your reputation and showcase your knowledge and expertise. Join groups on LinkedIn and communities on Goolge+, share your articles on Facebook and Twitter, and engage in conversations about legal issues relevant to your industry.
Understanding what works is critical to improving and streamlining your SEO efforts. Analytical tools show how each page ranks on the major search engines, report which keywords search engines see when crawling your website, monitor websites for malware and crawl errors, and troubleshoot poor SEO performance. Moreover, tools such as Moz Analytics and Google Analytics, will provide you with a wealth of data necessary to evaluate and adjust your SEO strategy accordingly. SEO blogs are key resources that will keep you up-to-date with Google’s notorious and frequent changes to their search rank algorithm.