When people search for a lawyer, they’re more likely to use Google than anything else, according to a recent survey by Martindale-Avvo. If you want your law firm to experience a far reach and be easy to find online, you’ll need to push yourself as high on Google search results as possible. Fortunately, there’s an entire practice dedicated to doing just that.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, lets you boost your search engine rankings, making it easier for people to find your law firm and make use of your services. To enjoy the benefits of SEO, though, you’ll need to learn exactly how Google ranks its results and how you can influence the positioning of your web pages among other sites. In the modern world, a small network of referrals simply isn’t enough to match the impact of an online presence.
To put your firm in the best position for success, learning and mastering SEO is an essential part of your digital marketing strategy. We’ll help you learn what SEO is all about and how it’s important for your business. At Array Digital, our law firm digital marketing experts are happy to offer a free consultation. Plus, our other blog posts present even more resources for you to use whether you already have some experience with SEO or are just getting started.
How is your Google experience? When you search for something, whether it’s a product or a piece of information, what is the next step? In most cases, you clicked the first or second result. What almost never happens is navigating to the second page of results.
On the first page of Google results, there are only 10 results. To see anything past the first 10, you’ll need to navigate to the next page. This means any site that ranks lower than 10th place won’t likely be seen much at all. That’s why you want to make sure that your site is at least the 10th-ranked result on Google. It’s important not to stop there, however. To push your ranking as high as possible, you’ll need to aim for the top spot.
When your site ranks high on search engine results pages, or SERPs, by offering useful answers to your potential customers’ questions, you’re going to see far more business than you would by relying on a small network of referrals like law firms often do. If another law firm ranks higher than yours, you might not get the potential client you desire.
To get the most out of SEO practices, you need to know exactly how SEO works. You may be wondering whether it takes a qualitative or quantitative approach to ranking results, but the reality is that Google algorithms do both simultaneously. Google utilizes five essential ranking factors when it comes to results: meaning, relevance, quality, usability, and context.
The meaning factor in a search is Google’s attempt to understand exactly what it is someone is searching for in the first place. You’ll often hear this referred to as “intent.” Google utilizes language models to decipher search queries to offer the most useful content possible. Spelling and grammar mistakes by searchers are automatically corrected, as are certain language differences.
When it comes to relevance, Google orders information based on keywords. Keyword stuffing isn’t optimal, however, to achieve relevance, as results also have to be relevant in regard to similar or associated topics. For example, if you search for the term “cats,” a page that offers pictures of cats or cat breeds will likely rank higher than a page with the word “cat” on it hundreds of times.
Quality is determined by establishing expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. One major factor in how this is determined is how many backlinks there are to a certain page. If other sites are linking to your site, your site will appear more authoritative with quality content.
Usability is an important factor to Google because it figures that if all other factors are equal, the user experience should determine which is the better-performing result. A page being mobile-friendly, for example, can help it rank higher in terms of usability. Quick-loading content also helps.
Context is Google’s idea of trying to narrow down what people are searching for based on previous searches, search settings, and even geographic location. For example, someone searching for “football” with an IP address in England is going to get results about soccer, while someone searching for the same term in Atlanta will get results for the Falcons NFL team.
In addition to the five primary factors that Google uses to rank search results, there are other important factors regarding SEO in general that you’ll need to apply if you want to rank highly among search results.
Keywords used to be the only thing that mattered when it came to SEO, but those days have long since passed. Still, they are essential for today’s SEO, so they’re not something you’ll want to forget. The primary piece of information to keep in mind is that keywords are based on research, relevance, and quality rather than just stuffing an enormous amount of them into a piece. You’ll need to do keyword research to find the most useful keywords to implement.
Off-page SEO is a type of SEO that happens completely off of your site, unlike the majority of work, which is on-page SEO. The main method for this is building backlinks. Because you don’t control other websites, you’ll have to take a unique approach to link building. This can include creating content that will be widely shared, like infographics and guest blog posts on other websites. Influencer marketing can also help build backlinks. The more backlinks you have, the more authoritative Google will think you are.
Technical SEO is a practice that focuses on increasing the usability and coding of your website. This means your site should load pages quickly and work well on both desktop and mobile devices. Essentially, any aspect of the technical functioning of your website can be optimized for SEO, which means optimizing it for usability.
Local SEO helps you take advantage of Google’s tendency to take geographic location into account when ranking results. For example, when someone is looking for legal help, they’re going to want results for law offices that are in their area. That’s why you need to utilize keywords that work for a local search, including the name of your area or any nearby major cities if your firm is located in a smaller, lesser-known town.
Content is essential for search result rankings, as it’s the primary medium for engagement with your target audience. Plus, the legal field is something that’s often misunderstood by the average person, so your firm could gain authority and reach by publishing content that makes certain legal concepts easy to understand. This can take the form of blogs, infographics, e-books, how-to guides, and more.
While SEO and advertising are both forms of digital marketing, they function very differently and accomplish their tasks in various ways, even if they both ultimately seek to drive traffic to your law firm. Put simply, search engine optimization is specifically a way to drive organic traffic, while pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a way to pay to increase your ranking in search results.
SEO is free to do yourself, and it is more cost-effective long-term with an agency. Advertising continuously costs money, but you can see results immediately. That is the primary difference to keep in mind when determining the best approach to driving website traffic. You may also see the term organic search being applied to SEO and paid search being applied to PPC advertising. Both can be useful for your firm, but it’s important to understand the difference to allocate your resources appropriately. SEO costs time while PPC costs money.
PPC advertising is the same as Google Ads, and they will automatically appear at the top of search results. The catch is that they’re marked as ads, distinguishing themselves from organic search results. Many people conducting searches with Google will instinctively scroll past the ads and head straight for the organic results, even if the ads are still relevant to their search.
SEO can be the better and more affordable option, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to be easy. If your firm is located in a big city, for example, with several other firms offering the same kind of services as you, you’re going to have a lot more trouble ranking among the competition even when you adapt your efforts for local SEO. Legal marketing is one of the most competitive SEO verticals out there, so patience is critical to see a return on your investment.
You won’t want your law firm to go without an SEO strategy in 2023. Here are five reasons why strong SEO is essential if you want to reach as many clients as possible.
Most people who need legal services will use Google to find a firm they can trust. While there are technically other search engines available, like Bing, the vast majority of people will default to Google. This much should be obvious enough given that the word “Google” has evolved to the point where it’s interchangeable with the verb “search.” When you maximize your visibility on Google, you’re going to have boosted brand awareness in general.
Lead generation is a multifaceted and complex process, but SEO can certainly help. When you use SEO, specifically local SEO, you get a lot more eyes on your firm from potential clients, whether you cater to the state, the county, or just a single city. Narrowing down the target geographic area also reduces your own competition online.
SEO is just one aspect of your larger marketing efforts, and it’s best used in conjunction with other marketing campaigns that are all designed to support one another. Having content to engage with your audience is essential, of course, but SEO can help drive more people to that content. Using keywords, images, videos, social media like LinkedIn, and a variety of other tools can help improve the quality of your site. Just make sure you update your content regularly. Additionally, SEO can support your PPC campaigns. It’s easy enough to buy your way to the top of the results page in the ad spot, but when people see your firm in the ad spot and among the top organic results, it’s going to increase your legitimacy.
People have come to trust Google given how much the company has put into making its search results as useful as possible. People don’t expect to find spam or shady businesses on the front page of Google, so being located there will automatically give a boost to your firm’s credibility and, subsequently, your click-through rate. This makes it much easier to build trust not only for your advertising efforts but for your practice in general.
One of the key factors of SEO that often gets overlooked is the user experience. Optimizing your user experience will naturally lead to a better overall experience for your clients, and you’ll remove any unnecessary barriers for potential leads to become new customers. A good UI (user interface) helps both your clients and your search engine result rankings.
SEO doesn’t cost any money directly to implement (if you do it yourself). All it takes is time and your own dedicated labor. While time can be valuable, you won’t have to allocate anything from your budget directly to put it into practice. Of course, you can always hire a service to take care of search engine optimization for you, which could still potentially be cheaper than pay-per-click advertising while yielding more results. Regardless, it’s typically best to implement as many marketing strategies as possible that all work together.
The importance of SEO is clear enough, but you’ll need some way to measure the results to determine whether or not your SEO efforts are making a difference. Keep in mind that SEO is typically a long process that requires various moving parts to work optimally. Once it’s ready, however, business typically increases significantly.
Because the ultimate goal is to increase business, you may look to measure things like calls from potential clients, contact form submissions, or general conversion rates. However, this can be misleading, especially when your site is new to the SEO game.
To properly measure SEO performance, you should instead look at the various keywords for which your site ranks. Additionally, you’ll need to keep track of how keyword positions change over time and adjust your SEO efforts accordingly. Google Search Console can provide this detailed information regarding keyword positioning while Google Analytics can help you see overall traffic trends for your site.
SEO can be a daunting undertaking for the inexperienced, but you don’t have to tackle it alone. In fact, you can opt for a partner to help maximize your SEO efforts and start seeing real differences over time. You’ll just need to find the right partner. Here’s what to look out for.
A good SEO partner is one that has a history of success. While nothing is ever guaranteed, a general trend of success should be apparent based on their previous work. These are the kind of results you want your own firm to see, so it’s only natural to look for a partner that has accomplished the same for others.
Several SEO agencies claim to be a jack of all trades, but you typically want to stay away from those that don’t have specific experience in the legal industry. While it doesn’t need to be your SEO partner’s primary focus, the legal industry should still be something with which they have extensive experience.
While it may be tempting to simply opt for the cheapest option, you get what you pay for. A substandard SEO service could end up not improving your search rankings by any significant degree, preventing you from seeing a decent return on your investment. A high-quality SEO service may cost more upfront, but you’ll get more money back in the long run.
Any good SEO service will be transparent about the services they offer. If they promise overnight results, they are being dishonest. You’ll want someone who is open about how long it will take for results to be achieved, especially if you work in a particularly competitive area of law like personal injury or family law. Additionally, you’ll want an SEO service that’s collaborative and lets you know what to expect from them with a dedicated team willing to put forward the effort your firm requires.
Finally, as an attorney, it’s not your job to understand the intricate details of SEO. That’s too much to ask. When choosing an SEO agency, you should be able to speak directly to the lead strategists that work on your account daily. If an agency only allows you to speak to customer service agents, you’ll be left in the dark.
For all of our clients, we schedule recurring quarterly strategy meetings with monthly status calls in between. You always have access to our team, our research, and updates to your strategy.
The legal industry is one of the most competitive verticals for SEO, but with the help of our experts, your goals can be accomplished. You need someone who knows how to advance your small business and can win you results. Contact Array Digital online or call 757-333-3021 for a free consultation to get started on your digital marketing journey.
“Erik and the Array Digital team are top notch in the digital marketing spaces, particularly for SEO. Their understanding of Google, the algorithms, and the work involved to get websites ranking on the first page is unparalleled. Thank you Erik!!”
“I had a chance to consult with Kevin Daisey for my law firm’s marketing needs. He is knowledgeable, kind, and helpful. He provided me with a great marketing analysis. He also invited me to their podcast as a guest speaker. Thank you Array Digital!”
“Since starting with Array Digital in November 2020, I have more than tripled my intake. I added two attorneys and have added administrative staff to handle all the new business being generated. And, we are in the process of moving into a larger office suite to accommodate the growth.”
“The legal profession needs more architects and designers…folks who are thinking about the future of the profession and who are assembling a tribe of like minded lawyer leaders. Erik and his team are certainly ‘that’.”