Search engine optimization, SEO, is the way that lawyers like you are found by prospective clients. The bottom line: it’s where you fall in the search engines without spending money on an ad or through PPC (pay per click) advertising. Don’t misunderstand what we’re saying to you. There’s nothing wrong with pay-per-click advertising if you know what you’re doing. But…you do need to know what you’re doing because there is no guarantee that those clicks are well-qualified visitors for your site. If someone clicks on your ad, you’ll get charged for it. Period. That may not seem like a huge deal if you have a giant marketing budget, but for most law firms as well as for law firms who are serious about their KPIs, whether those clicks result in time spent on the site, contact made through a form, or contact made through a phone call matters. By and large, Black Moth Media does not generally recommend PPC unless you really understand your audience. And by that we mean that you really understand which piece of your audience you’re truly looking to reach. The truth of the matter when it comes to PPC is that you could end up with more than one campaign to ensure that you’re reaching your audience. Yet, that’s not really the point of this page. You came here to read about SEO for lawyers and why it matters.
We felt it was important to first differentiate between PPC advertising and SEO so that you understand that PPC is not SEO although PPC may certainly be part of a law office’s overall online marketing strategy.
What Is Search Engine Optimization?
As we mentioned above, search engine optimization is where your law office is found in the search results outside of the placement of an ad. It is an organic process that relies on keywords and good content. Of course, there are other factors involved. You’ll read a bit about those soon because there are some unique considerations in the legal industry when it comes to SEO that you should keep in mind whether you’re doing it on your own or hiring an agency or an individual.
There is absolutely zero guarantee for search engine optimization. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you. The process can take weeks or months depending on how much works must be performed to get your law firm’s website optimized. Your site must also be crawled by search engines. You do not need to pay anyone a fee to ensure that your page is crawled. It will be crawled. Whomever you hired to build your site or even if you used a DIY builder used code to tell the search engines to crawl it. If it would make you feel better, you can submit your website manually to each search engine to be crawled. You can do this for free. Just look up “How to submit my website to [name of search engine] to be crawled.” Please don’t give your hard earned money to scammers. These people, as well as “SEO gurus” give the rest of us a bad name.
How Can I Improve My SEO as a Law Firm?
Do your research and choose the right keywords. It’s that easy and also that difficult. Depending on where you practice law, you could have a lot of competition. It will be important for you to consider blog topics as well as other key strategies. Curious about strategies? Black Moth Media provides both DIY and done-for-you affordable SEO strategies. Schedule your appointment to learn more!
Keyword saturation, that is, how many times you use your keyword or keyword phrase, should generally be no more than 3%. Your use of your keyword should be natural. In other words, no keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing isn’t just bad. It can get you penalized by the Google Gods. Another old trick (we don’t see it as much, but we don’t put it past the naughty folks) is taking the keyword and changing the font color (in the HTML code) to match the background color (in the HTML code) and typing the keyword (and related words and phrases) at the end of the page. Don’t do that. That is so two decades ago. Also, your keyword doesn’t have to be exact every time you use it. For example, if your keyword is “divorce lawyer Dallas,” you can write “Dallas divorce lawyer” and “good divorce lawyer in Dallas” and still rank.
It’s also important to make sure that if you’re going to create a blog, provide timely summaries of news related to your practice areas, or release articles, that you do so on a regular basis. There are best practices for search engine optimization. While many best practices may change over time, the one that never changes is fresh content. This doesn’t mean posting something every day. It doesn’t need to be weekly. It could be bi-weekly or even monthly. Just pick a schedule and stick to it. Create an editorial calendar and follow it. Using WordPress (our personal favorite), you can write your own posts or articles and schedule them to publish on a certain date. You can even hook your social media accounts up to it and have the post automatically share out.
Use images. This doesn’t mean that you can just go into Google Images and grab just anything that suits your fancy. Of course, we hope that since you’re a lawyer, you know that. But, hey, we’ve been surprised before. More than once, actually. Come to think of it, we’re surprised at how many times we’ve been surprised over the last six years during the course of business… If you’re looking for royalty free images that you can use for commercial purposes, check out Pixabay. You can use an online program such as Canva to make attractive graphics for your website and your blog. Of course, we recommend that you invest in a web developer to design an attractive website for your law firm, but be very careful about which business you choose (should you choose a business over an individual). There are some companies that will design a website for your law firm that looks very similar to other law firm websites…and they’ll offer to do your SEO. It seems nice, but they do SEO for others in your city…in your practice area. You tell us if they care if you or the other law firm reaches number one. Also, they own your site. And your graphics. And your content. And they may (keyword) try to charge you to collect any leads who want to contact you through your contact form. Yikes.
Your images used within your blog posts (or articles) should have what is known as “alternative text” or “alt-image” text unless the image is just there for decoration. If the image is related to the keyword of your page, use your keyword. For example:
This certainly isn’t our best graphic work. Then again, we don’t really put ourselves out there (currently) as graphic designers. Although we are on the hunt to add a graphic designer to our team. We put that little beauty together in Canva. Since it relates to the theme of the page and our keyword (rather, our keyword phrase), SEO for lawyers, we set the alt-image text in WordPress as SEO for lawyers. That’s it. There was no need to make it difficult or wordy. Now, on our various personal blogs we use some gifs and memes…and we don’t use alt-image text because those are placed for fun and that’s it.
If you’re using WordPress, you can install Yoast. We recommend it to anyone who wants to work on their own SEO and they are uncomfortable with paying attention to their own keyword density. Yoast is fairly easy to learn to use. When you get a green happy face, your page or post is search engine optimized. When it’s orange, it’s alright. When it’s red, it’s not optimized. It has a drop down box to tell you what you can do to improve it. It calls the keyword a “focus phrase.” The free version of Yoast gives you one focus phrase. You can pay to be able to use more than one focus phrase. With Yoast you can also write your metadescription (Yoast description). Yoast will also look for at least one internal link and one external link. As you can see from that, you have a few more things to learn about.
The metadescription is that little bit of text you see in the search results under the link. If you don’t create a description, you’ll see the first few lines of text. So, now the worst thing in the world, but it’s a great opportunity to improve your SEO and get new clicks! As you type in Yoast, you’ll see a little bar move across. When it’s green, you’re done. You don’t get that if you write your metadescriptions manually. If you get Yoast for no other reason, we recommend it for this reason. Use your keyword (focus phrase).
For blog posts, you want to create a linking strategy. You want to create one external link to a well-ranked, non-competing page. Over time, this will help improve your site’s overall placement in the search engines (known as SERP, by the way, search engine ranking placement). This is really simple if you’re talking about recent events or writing something academic since you cite your sources. External pages should always open in a new tab or window to make sure that your reader remains on your page. There are, of course, ways to do it for blogs without linking to competing pages. You do not need to go around commenting on other blogs and hope you get your comments approve, but you can if you want. That technique can work, but you need someone who really knows what they’re doing.
You also need to create internal links. For example, if you scroll up to the very top of this page (which is known as a landing page because of its length), you’ll see we link to one page at the beginning…while we do have one link out, it is a link out to our appointment page. Here’s an example of how it might work for a civil law firm. Let’s say that your a civil law firm that offers divorce, adoption, pre-nups, and estate planning. Your pre-nup page may include text that provides opportunities to link to your divorce page, your adoption page, and your estate planning page. Your estate planning page may be written in a way that prompts readers to remember to have their estate plan reviewed if they plan to marry, divorce, or adopt a child. Your blog posts would like to practice area pages as well as your contact page. Internal pages can open in a new tab or window or in the same window. We tend to open all internal links except for the contact page into a new tab so that readers can finish before navigating away as a courtesy.
Whew! Are you tired yet? We know it’s a lot to take in. If your mind is spinning, don’t worry. This page is here to stay. Bookmark it. Revisit as needed. Better yet, schedule your consultation or shoot us an email. We’re happy to talk with you about your needs to help you develop an affordable SEO plan for your law firm.