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A Lawyer’s Guide to E-E-A-T: An Introduction

Written by Gary Honold on . Posted in .
Home > Blog > A Lawyer’s Guide to E-E-A-T: An Introduction

Key takeaways

  • E-E-A-T is a critically important component of your website ranking as an attorney.
  • E-E-A-T, along with meeting expectations set by Google for “Your Money, Your Life” content, must be a part of your content strategy.
  • SEO services can help you rank well in local search, but you must also demonstrate through E-E-A-T principles that your website (and your services overall) are truly beneficial to the searcher.
  • Every component of E-E-A-T works to support each other, and all of these components support your overall ability to rank.

Law firms deal with sensitive situations that significantly impact their clients’ lives, which means they want to offer valuable and empathetic resources to every person who comes their way. This includes providing a valuable experience online that meets Google’s quality guidelines. While Google does not release much information on the algorithm, one thing they do tell us about is the acronym E-E-A-T.

In 2022, Google added an additional “E” to E-A-T, making it E-E-A-T. Google also released the September 2023 Helpful Content Update, significantly upgrading its algorithm.

Although it can seem overwhelming, we promise that the Google algorithm is here to help everyone involved, and you can meet those guidelines. Let’s discover what E-E-A-T stands for, how it impacts your law firm’s website, and why Google uses this acronym to let us in on some little secrets behind their process.

An admissible breakdown of E-E-A-T

People putting together a puzzle

Google’s algorithm aims to put the most useful information in front of searchers from their very first search query. To be able to do this, the algorithm tries to identify both who is posting this data and why they are posting it. In doing so, they can analyze the quality of a certain piece of data to see if it makes sense to place it at the top of the search engine page.

For attorneys, your law firm marketing must include quality content that shows you are a licensed professional but also that what you are offering is valuable enough to warrant such a high place in the search engine results page (SERP). You can do this in a number of ways:

  • Showcasing case studies that relate to a topic valuable to your target client
  • Talking about historical legal cases, perhaps explaining how those cases could impact your target client
  • Offering perspectives on various aspects of the law, including changing laws

Additionally, Google wants to see that your clients also appreciate and value the content you provide. Customer testimonials and reviews that help show your content is valuable and directly impact others. Shares and comments are similarly useful. Being known by a larger number of people and building a relationship where clients feel appreciated and valued, so much so that they purchase your services, can also be helpful in establishing your presence online and showcasing the value of the services you offer.

That’s a broad description of what matters. However, a full breakdown of what E-E-A-T means and how each component contributes to the way Google views your firm and offers more hands-on, actionable steps you can take immediately to begin seeing improvement in your rankings.

E-E-A-T represents four principles:

  1. Experience
  2. Expertise
  3. Authoritativeness
  4. Trustworthiness

Experience

Experience, the first “E,” refers to the creator’s knowledge of the subject matter. A personal injury lawyer writing about negligence is valuable content for readers because of the experience that they have with the topic. Content on a law firm’s website should directly be about and showcase that attorney’s specific knowledge, services, and experience to demonstrate clear value.

Expertise

The second “E” relates to expertise, which is not difficult to show as a licensed attorney. Because you went to law school and hold a valid license to practice law in the state, that proves your expertise to prospective clients or website readers.

Authoritativeness

Authoritativeness represents the value that others see in your website content. The website content you create must educate others about your legal practice, legal services, and overall information. Showcasing authoritativeness is done primarily by having backlinks to your site from other websites, which shows others value that content enough to vouch for it to their own readers. The most authoritative backlinks come from respected sites like Forbes or FindLaw, .gov addresses, and .edu addresses.

Trustworthiness

The final component of this strategy is to demonstrate trustworthiness. It is a measurement of all of the other areas — experience, expertise, and authoritativeness. If your content meets those goals, that indicates that it is trustworthy and, therefore, that others can rely on what you present on your blog and site.

E-E-A-T is not something to take lightly. Simply having a website with some content on it isn’t enough. Rather, you must demonstrate, through that content, that your firm is unique from others that provide the same type of service. Unless you operate in a very small community, chances are very good there are other attorneys providing similar services.

In your effort and objectives to rank well in the SERPs, you must consider what your brand is doing differently from the competition. Think deeply about this. Investing in your brand first to build up that competitive edge and then building your digital marketing strategy can enhance E-E-A-T results.

Why is E-E-A-T important for lawyers?

Attorneys have enhanced responsibility when creating website content that extends beyond SEO efforts. Google puts exceptional attention on law firm websites because they fall within the “Your Money, Your Life” (YMYL) sector.

The YMYL refers to any type of content or website page that could impact a person’s future health, financial well-being, safety, or happiness in some way. Legal topics fall directly into this area because any misinformation provided could impact a person’s legal decisions, financial decisions, and overall well-being. A legal website that provides inaccurate information could presumably impact a person’s ability to defend themselves, fight for and earn custody of a child, or navigate their recovery after a personal injury.

As a content creator within the legal industry, it is critical that every bit of material placed on your website, blog, and social media be accurate. This impacts not only your search engine rankings but also your ability to meet any rules and expectations set by the American Bar Association.

How does E-E-A-T impact your specific search engine efforts?

Google aims to provide every search query with an accurate answer to their need. If the quality of your website content is excellent and meets E-E-A-T standards, the search engine will rank your site higher in the results. The higher it is in the rankings, the more likely it is that prospective clients will visit your website, and your conversion rate will increase, meaning your law firm will get leads.

Conversely, without E-E-A-T, your website is virtually hidden in the search engine results, below any other attorney who can prove they are more worthy.

With so much competition in the law firm marketing arena online, you simply cannot afford a mistake with E-E-A-T. With a proven content strategy, you can avoid this.

How to incorporate E-E-A-T on your law firm’s website

lawyers discussing a case together

You don’t need to start over completely with law firm SEO to master E-E-A-T. The two work hand-in-hand together to support positive search rankings and user experience. Let’s break down this acronym to explore more of what you can do, as an attorney, to incorporate E-E-A-T into your search engine optimization best practices.

Law firms need to showcase experience

To start enhancing your legal marketing, first start with presenting a website that incorporates your experience. Why should a prospective client invest their time in working with you? Your site should include:

  • Awards: This should include any type of recognition you’ve received to showcase that your work is getting noticed by peers and professional organizations.
  • Years in practice: This simple statement, along with high-quality content, will give the reader a boost of confidence in working with your practice. A company that has more experience presumably knows what they are doing.
  • Cases won: Next, incorporate information about key cases you’ve won and monetary damages you’ve recovered, laws you’ve helped change, or other substantial outcomes you’ve achieved through your legal work.
  • Case studies: Insightful, detailed case studies are convincing material, much like writing a paper for your profession in college. It shows that you know what you are talking about and why it should be trusted.

Expertise on your website is a must

The American Bar Association states attorneys cannot use the term “expert” on their website or similar variations. However, lawyers still must demonstrate their unique, valuable, and accurate knowledge of legal matters without violating those guidelines. To achieve this on your web pages, focus on these on-page strategies:

  • Legal advice topics: Provide high-quality content within your practice areas. This should include content on each topic, key components of each of those practice areas, law reviews, or informative infographics explaining complex topics.
  • Videos explaining legal processes and what the client can expect: Incorporate videos explaining various legal topics, what to expect during consultations, how new clients can get help, and other highly valuable but often complex topics to make them easy to digest and use.
  • News articles showcasing your work: Be sure your target audience can easily see the work you are doing from news articles that demonstrate your effort as well as your presence within the legal community.
  • Educational background: Also valuable to include is an explanation of your education, including when and where you went to school, when you obtained your license, and any additional education or specialized skill you have.

Expertise focuses on knowledge and skill for the topic and how well it’s demonstrated within that content. The type of expertise an attorney has can vary significantly from one practice area to another. If you were facing a corporate espionage charge, do you want a family attorney helping you with your case? Of course not!

Your authority online matters

The next component of the process is creating a way to showcase your authority within the practice area. You can do this in several ways:

  • Domain rating: The higher your law firm’s website domain rating is, the easier it will be to rank for competitive keywords like “Manhattan car accident lawyer.” Your SEO strategy should define which keywords to include, but ultimately, working to build your domain rating is critical to showcasing your authoritativeness.
  • High-quality content: The content on your website should specifically address what your target audience is looking for when they search for your services. Content should answer those questions while also staying aligned with your law firm’s brand.
  • Link building: Building internal links from one page of your website to the next, along with obtaining backlinks on websites like directories and other high-value domains, will also support your authority.
  • Author bios and bio pages: For a more human-centered approach, ensure that beyond anything, a person who lands on your site can clearly see who the attorneys are and why those professionals are the best in the field. Bios break down this information and positively impact your SEO strategy as well.

Is the website a go-to source of valuable, up-to-date information on that topic? The website must contain reliable information. As an attorney, you know the importance of seeking out case reviews and researching court decisions from reliable sources. The same is true for your searchers. They need to know the attorney’s website isn’t simply trying to “sell” their legal service but providing rich, valuable information that’s worth reading.

Trust is #1 in Google’s book

To build trust, a law firm must ensure the content on their pages meets the needs of potential clients and is accurate. Core factors that contribute to this are accuracy, honesty, transparency, and reliability. To do that, focus on these areas:

  • Legal writers: When choosing to have content developed for your website, the value of human writers for your content creation cannot be overstated. This is exceptionally important since small mistakes on legal topics violate YMYL guidelines. Misconceptions, misstatements, or simply inaccurate information is a costly loss. (Note: AI is notorious for this kind of inaccurate content!)
  • Legal SEO strategists: Attorneys must meet very high standards within their content marketing, balancing legal requirements and limitations on advertising methods and meeting the growing competitiveness in organic traffic rankings in most areas. Strategic planning is critical.
  • Client reviews and ratings: Another core component to build trust is to use the testimonials and reviews of your existing and previous clients to clearly demonstrate the value your firm brings to the table. Positive reviews show your firm’s ability to meet and exceed client expectations.
  • Awards: Having your firm’s name on awards from your community or through associations can also be valuable.

Beyond anything else, from your on-page SEO efforts to the actual functionality of your site, if Google believes the site cannot be trusted, it will not rank. Trustworthiness comes from proof: reviews, word-of-mouth support, informational pages, and genuinely accurate information.

E-E-A-T for law firms is an ecosystem

corporate meeting around a conference table

Your website is the foundation of your online presence. Everything you do online points to clients here. To rank well in local SEO — to attract highly valuable, targeted leads — you must show Google that your website has information that is accurate, written or reviewed by an expert, backed up by facts and citations, and clearly useful to searchers.

As you consider each of the components of E-E-A-T, you can see how each component ties into the other, each working to build Google’s trust in what you are communicating. Each component helps to build your overall presence online.

Building local SEO is a critical component of your ranking success. This means your website is ranking for the local community, and your keyword research showcases this. At the same time, your Google Business Profile, which is one of the first touchpoints searchers have with your content, should clearly demonstrate your authority. It shows up on the first page of the organic search results, putting them right at eye level for your searcher.

Your profile should include every detail the searcher needs, including:

  • Firm name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Website address
  • A breakdown of the practice areas you service
  • Positive customer reviews

This helps to build your SEO ranking, gets people to contact you, and, ultimately, builds your authority with Google. The content on your website supports your profile, and your profile helps support your website performance. This ensures your website ranks for your practice area and target keywords.

That profile is just one component of this process. At every touchpoint, from LinkedIn profiles to your social media content, you should be using a single, clear brand to develop your online presence. Your marketing agency will help you to do this.

How does this impact E-E-A-T?

  • Google can see that you have the necessary credentials to provide accurate legal advice.
  • The search engine can see that people — your clients — value the work you are doing.
  • The high-quality backlinks to your website showcase that others in the industryand beyond value your content.
  • Your website is easily found in Google search results because it incorporates highly valuable content.

By providing all of these positive attributes on your website, in your profiles, and even on third-party sites, Google can recognize the value that your website offers. It sees that value, and it helps support your ranking in organic search.

All of these components work together to support each other. They support authority building, ranking, and, ultimately, delivering on what prospective clients need.

How to develop a website that meets E-E-A-T standards and competes in the search engines

One of the first steps to take is to set up a consultation with SEO services who have experience in law firm marketing. Ensure that your website, social media accounts, and all other touchpoints are on brand (and that means having a well-defined brand). Then, work to pinpoint any areas of your site that may be hurting E-E-A-T, such as:

  • Promising results on your website
  • Sharing that you are the “best” or an “expert” in a specific target area
  • Offering inaccurate information about legal proceedings or laws
  • Providing poor client support that leads to bad reviews (or not addressing poor reviews when they occur)
  • Including out-of-scope or meaningless content on your website
  • Paying for ineffective backlinks to your site
  • Lacking content authorship
  • Failing to establish and fill out your Google My Business profile
  • Lacking proper technical SEO, including simple things like title tags, headings, and meta descriptions

Once you address the mistakes, work to build your law firm’s ranking through strategic, well-defined, and actionable steps, including building out highly valuable content and adding reviews, news articles, and demonstrated experience to your website.

Is your firm ready to become an authority online?

Recognizing the importance of E-E-A-T is critical for every law firm website. Working to develop both off-page and on-page strategies to build your law firm’s reputation, brand, and ranking is necessary if you hope to see an increase in website traffic.

When you work with our SEO experts, you’ll learn what gaps your site has that are costing you. Our team will then put together a step-by-step process to help improve your ranking in the search engines.

Learn how you can master E-E-A-T with the help of our trusted SEO pros. We stay on top of the changes in Google’s algorithm to ensure our law firm marketing clients are always achieving the best ranking possible. Learn how we can drive more traffic to your site by setting up a consultation with us. Fill out our contact form or call 757-333-3021 now.

Written By Gary Honold
I am a digital marketer and SEO manager with 30+ years’ experience driving web traffic, leads, and conversions for clients in highly competitive markets.

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