You’ve put in the effort to keywords and SEO, yet you still seem to fall short. Maybe the problem is not lack of effort, but rather making mistakes in that effort, but do not worry. These mistakes are common and have solutions. Array Digital can help you pinpoint your SEO mistakes and resolve them, shooting you to the top of the SERPs. Give us a call at 757.333.3021 or use our contact page today to learn more about our SEO services.
If you want your law firm website to perform well, you must learn to avoid these 10 common SEO mistakes.
Why Search Engine Optimization Is Critical to Online Marketing Success?
When a potential client searches online for a law firm that does what you do, it is through a properly optimized website that they can find you. Statistics show that the top page listed on a website has a click-through rate of 32%, which is quite high. Not only that, but 75% of people will never scroll past the first page of the results. If you are not on the first page, you are going to lose a huge amount of potential traffic. Search engine optimization is the key to preventing the loss of this traffic and ensuring your site is able to reach your potential clients effectively.
Thankfully, there are strategies you can use to push your website to the top of the search results for the keywords that matter most to you. SEO allows the search engines, and therefore your potential clients, to find your firm.
Most law firms are well aware of the need for SEO. Yet many law firms are practicing SEO without the right knowledge, leaving their owners frustrated with the lack of results. These sites may have web pages with keywords, but a poor user experience, or they may have tons of backlinks, but no internal linking.
Making these common SEO mistakes will make it hard for your law firm to get the right traffic. Without the right traffic from Google searches, you will struggle to grow your client base. While digital marketing involves more than just SEO, an optimized website is really the starting point of your online marketing efforts. If you fail here, the rest of your online marketing efforts will also fall short.
Mistake 1: Not Having a Plan
Digital marketing for your law firm website is not going to happen by accident. You can put out a website with a beautiful design, but without a strategic plan for optimizing that site, it will remain practically invisible. The Internet simply has too many sites, many of which offer the same services you do, to rank sites well when they are not using SEO effectively.
One of the reasons so many law firms fall short with their SEO efforts is because they lack the time to make a good plan, and sometimes they also lack the knowledge. While the knowledge is available on the web, lawyers are busy serving their clients, and few have the time to really delve into the resources available to them. So, they simply put out a site, add some keywords, and hope for the best.
SEO planning takes effort and sometimes monetary investment, so this is one of the most common mistakes law firms make when trying to reach their target audience using SEO.
You need a plan for your SEO strategy, but in 2020, 70% of small businesses did not have an SEO plan. That is a huge majority and includes many law firms.
Mistake 2: Not Defining Your Audience
Before you create your SEO plan, you need to know who you are trying to reach with your online marketing efforts. Your target audience is going to drive your SEO plan, so spend some time defining them.
Knowing who you are trying to reach will help you with your keyword research. When you know your potential searchers, you can better determine search intent when choosing your long-tail keywords. What questions are they trying to answer about your practice area? Use relevant keywords to answer those questions. By focusing on search intent, you can refine your SEO strategy to make it even more effective at reaching your potential customers.
Knowing your ideal client helps you dictate the right tone for your website. This affects everything from the style of content you write to the web design template you choose. For this reason, failure to define your target audience will derail all of your online marketing efforts from the start, including your SEO work.
Defining your target audience is also going to help you create a user experience that reaches them well. You need to know how your target audience is likely to search so you can customize a website that appeals to them. For example, if your audience is going to primarily use mobile devices when searching for law firm services, you need to optimize for mobile, making it user-friendly for the majority of your potential audience.
Mistake 3: Not Understanding Keywords
Once you know who your audience is, you can start outlining your target keywords, but this is a place where you can make another mistake. Here are some ways you can hurt your keyword research
Using the Wrong Keywords
Many law firms use the wrong keywords. For example, you can optimize for global keywords, yet your law firm likely only markets to local customers. You could choose general practice-area keywords, but this might draw in visitors who do not need your services. Some keywords draw in people looking for free legal advice, while keywords that are too broad have too much competition.
Not Doing Keyword Research
To avoid using the wrong keywords, you need to spend some time researching. Use a keyword research tool to find details about particular keywords, and choose some that have low competition and a high focus on what you do.
If every other word on your website is a keyword, you are guilty of a mistake called keyword stuffing. The Google algorithm is highly intelligent, and it can pick up on sites that do not use keywords naturally. Use keywords, but avoid the temptation to overdo it.
Using Keywords That Are Not Properly Optimized
Make sure your keywords fit your particular online marketing goals. This is where an online marketing team, like the team at Array Digital, can help direct your research.
Using Keywords with Too Much Competition
If you have a keyword that seems perfect for your target audience, but it has a high amount of competition, you are going to struggle to move up in the search rankings. Sometimes, tweaking that keyword just a little can help you improve your ran and lower the competition.
Ignoring Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are search phrases made up of three to five words that allow you to hone in on a particular search demographic. This makes your target audience more specific. For example, instead of using “injury lawyer” as your keyword, you could use “Los Angeles personal injury lawyer” as a long-tail keyword.
Mistake 4: Creating a Slow Website
We live in the age of the Internet and one-day Amazon Prime delivery. This means that people are impatient. If your site speed is too slow, they will click away to your competition.
But page load speed also impacts SEO. Google knows when a page loads too slowly, and it penalizes pages with a long load time.
To figure out if your page loads too slowly, use Google PageSpeed Insights. It will show you how quickly your page loads. Strive to have a page load time of fewer than two seconds. If yours is slower than this, work with Array Digital to make it faster.
Mistake 5: Poor Content
The content on your page needs to be high-quality content. Quality content not only helps build trust with your reader, but it is also a ranking factor that determines your rank on the search engine results page. Thus, it has two roles, one for law firm branding and one for SEO.
To make the content as high quality as possible, make sure you have properly written, grammatically correct, relevant content that addresses what your potential clients want to know. Outsourcing your content to a content marketing professional is not a bad idea, but make sure you are not getting low-quality work back.
Avoid the temptation to have duplicate content on your website. Taking content from another law firm website is not only illegal and unethical, but it hurts your SEO efforts. Duplicating your own content is not illegal, but Google does notice this and will penalize your site.
Keyword stuffed content also hurts your SEO efforts. Use keywords, but use them well.
Finally, not having a content marketing plan will hurt your SEO. Google wants to see fresh, relevant content, and you need a plan for that. Working with a content marketing expert, like the team at Array Digital, will help you create a strategy that works.
Mistake 6: Ignoring Mobile-Friendly Design
We live in the age of the mobile smartphone. Smartphones display websites on a tiny screen, and thus they cannot display the same type of website that someone would view on a computer screen. You must have a mobile-friendly design to reach today’s clients.
Yet you may want a fuller site to display on computer screens. So how can you do this? Creating a responsive website that can change based on what type of device the user is using is the answer.
When you have a mobile-friendly website, you give your user a great user experience, no matter their device. Google knows this, and thus the Google bots look for mobile-friendly or responsive web design when awarding top spots in the SERPs.
Mistake 7: Poor Link Building Strategy
Linking, both external links, and internal links is still part of the search engine optimization process. Many webmasters get so focused on content, page load speeds, and keywords that they forget about a link-building strategy.
Today, internal links matter more than external links, though both do matter. When the Google crawlers come to your site, they want to see that it has a web of links connecting one page to the next. Broken links or lack of links will hurt your SEO efforts because they cannot crawl through the site.
Once you have a nice sitemap of internal links for the search engines to crawl, you are ready to focus on external links. External backlinks from high-quality, authoritative websites help show the search engines that your page, and your law firm, are also an authority in your topic. Many marketers make the mistake of focusing on link quantity instead of quality. You can get thousands of low-quality links to your site, but this is going to have less of an impact on your SEO than a few high-quality links.
You can generate high-quality backlinks by guest blogging on appropriate blogs, listing your site in professional directories, and even posting on social media. All of this helps with indexing your site, because the more links that point back to your site, the more impressive it seems to Google.
When building links, both internal and external, focus on anchor text. Using a targeted keyword as the link’s anchor text makes the link more powerful in your SEO. Never simply tell the user to “click here,” as that completely wastes the opportunity to use anchor text for your keyword. Similarly, vary your anchor text, so you get more keywords pointing back to a particular page.
Remember, link building requires a plan, and that is why many law firms ignore it. Working with an SEO professional will help.
Mistake 8: Ignoring Analytics
One of the best things about Google for marketing is the large number of analytics the search engine provides. Using GOogle analytics, you can learn how your SEO strategy is doing and where you could make improvements to boost your ranking.
Google Analytics shows you invaluable information about your site. While the tool has a wealth of metrics available, some of the most important metrics include:
- Users: See how many new visitors you get to your website.
- Sessions: How many visitors come to the site within 30-minute windows of time, on average.
- Bounce Rate: What percentage of visitors click away after viewing only a single page on your site?
- Average Session Duration: How long do people stay on your site.
- Goal Completions: How many times do visitors complete a particular action, usually a conversion.
- Percentage of New Sessions: How many people who visit your website are first-time visitors?
- Pages Per Session: How many page views does the average visitor have when coming to your site?
- Page Views; This is the total number of pages viewed.
These metrics are not directly SEO-related, but they can give you valuable insight as to what is or is not working on your site. Also, some of them, like bounce rate, will eventually affect your SEO.
The Google Search Console is another highly effective tool to help you monitor your search results for your online presence. This tool provides a plethora of insights, and you will likely need an SEO expert to help you fully dig in and understand what it means, but you cannot ignore this data if you want to have effective SEO.
Remember, SEO is not a “fix it and forget it” strategy. You must delve into your analytics to discover what is and is not working for your site, and then make adjustments to improve your rank. If you ignore analytics, you will eventually lose the ranking to your competitors.
Mistake 9: Ignoring Tags, Descriptions, and Schema
Title tags, meta descriptions, and schema are part of the technical SEO elements that you need to have but are easy to ignore. Here is how each of these impacts your ranking.
Title tags are important for SEO. The title tag is a part of your site’s HTML that tells the title of the web page. It becomes the clickable headline in the SERPs that the user reads. This tells your visitors what the page is about. It also gives you an opportunity to add in your important keywords.
A great formatting option for your keywords according to Moz is this:
- Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name
If possible, add a geographic tag to this title to improve your local SEO efforts. Also, keep the title tag’s most important elements in the first 60 characters, as this is all the user will see.
Make sure every page on your website has a unique title. Doing so will improve your overall SEO efforts.
Meta descriptions are important for your click-through rate, and your click-through rate impacts your SEO.
SEMRush defines a meta description as an HTML tag that describes the content of the web page. This shows up underneath the title and the URL on the search engine results page, and it needs to be between 140 and 160 characters.
This description tells the reader what they will find on your site. If you have keywords in the meta description, it also shows that the page is relevant to that keyword, which helps its SERPs rank. While this is not the most important element of your SEO strategy, ignoring it will not help.
Most website owners know about title tags and meta descriptions, but some do not yet use schema well. This tool can help you stand out from your competition as you build an SEO strategy.
Schema markup is microdata that you add to your site to create enhanced descriptions that can appear in the search result as rich snippets. It is a set of tags that annotate the HTML elements on your site with data that bots can more easily read.
These tags look highly complicated, but Google has several tools that make it easier to add to your site, even without fully understanding it. Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper and Schema.org are two tools you can use. Or, you can work with an SEO expert to tackle this for you, so you can focus on other aspects of your marketing.
Mistake 10: Poor Headings
Finally, make sure you have headings that are working for your SEO strategy, not against it. You need H1 and H2 headings that tell the search engines how to search your site. You can also add H3 and H4 headings to further direct your content. WordPress makes it simple to add these headings, but don’t ignore them.
To make headings work for your SEO efforts, make sure you have enough of them. You should aim to break up long bits of content using headings.
Also, add keywords to headings. Think of headings like a roadmap for search engine bots. The more headings that you can add, the more relevant your site will look.
Finally, use headings to make your site more readable. Internet users are impatient, and they do not want to spend a lot of time reading to find out what your content offers them. Break it up with headings to guide the reader and get your main points across, even if the reader does not read every single word on the page.
Need Help? Schedule a Consultation with Array Digital to Discuss SEO Mistakes and How to Fix Them
SEO mistakes like these can derail your online marketing efforts. Thankfully, help is available. Array Digital is an online marketing team that knows law firms well and understands what it takes to market in today’s world.
We offer comprehensive online marketing services, including optimized web design and search engine optimization help, so you can create a user-friendly site that ranks well and converts site visitors into new clients. Reach out today to schedule a consultation to discuss your online marketing goals with our expert team. 757.333.3021 or contact us online to learn more about our SEO services and how they can help your law firm find success.