Law firm marketing is changing and for those on the Internet (who isn’t, after all?) it is largely about search engine optimization.
But in 2022 even that is changing.
The legal industry has taken to online activity with a vengeance since the pandemic, not just with remote working but also to increase the marketing firepower of their websites.
And the best legal marketing efforts that can be made to promote your legal services is using your website and your social media marketing as well as you can.
Any digital marketing agency will explain how important your SEO and content marketing is, but for many law firms they are not always ready to take the step to retain an agency. For many smaller firms they don’t need to, either.
Here are some key steps that you can do right now to build your legal marketing to a point where you are creating new business, whether you are a personal injury attorney, a real estate lawyer or a family law firm.
Take note and deploy these 8 legal marketing steps and you will be on the way to generating great organic search traffic for your firm and achieving the very best results and the online presence you need to succeed.
These are techniques that we have learnt over the past five years as Google has changed its ‘rules’ about what works online and what does not. These are the things that good marketing professionals might – or should – tell you to ensure you are getting the very most out of your law firm’s website.
1.Provide a Great User Experience
First, provide a top user experience for your visitors.
Remember that you need to be thinking about what the ‘user intent’ of your visitors is and what they are looking for, what questions they want answered and how effectively your site is providing those answers.
By fixing those issues and providing a top experience you cannot but help to build both your website (and law firm’s) trust, as well as your organic traffic to the site.
And with greater, relevant, authoritative content provided in a fast-loading, well designed site you will also be raising Google’s awareness of your content and giving your SEO a solid lift.
Part of the experience is also being fast and mobile friendly. Ensure you’re site performs on both those levels and achieve a great Google reception.
Searching via mobile devices now accounts for 63 per cent of searches in the US. That is huge. And that means you MUST be working well on mobile.
For many lawyers the ‘tech aspects’ of web work for the smaller law firm website is too much to take in. For those seeking top local law firm SEO results you can check our report here.
Make the changes in bite-sized chunks by working first on your content and then on the tech aspects delivering the content via a well designed site, quickly and in a mobile-friendly way.
2.On Page SEO
Lets consider some of the key elements towards on page SEO and what you need to do to achieve top results.
One of the on page SEO tips that is helpful (although Google says it is not a key ranking factor, but it certainly helps your legal marketing) is using snippets. This is somewhat technical and we have looked at it under the ‘technical’ section below.
Don’t worry. You can get others to do it, but we’ll get to it later.
Use Rich Snippets
This is what you can do on your own pages on your website to grab the attention of prospective clients effectively and even beat the larger firms at their own game.
They are details appearing on Google search that display information like ratings or reviews
and is data pulled by Google from special code (“structured data markup”) you can add to your webpage’s HTML.
One great thing to do with on page SEO is to use rich snippets. There are different formats with snippets.
When you go to an article about something you can see the actual specific answer that the article ranks for.
The ‘snippets’ can show for different queries. A single article can rank for different search queries.
So consider allied or ancillary questions relating to your principal query in the article.
On page SEO is writing content that answers questions being used and helping the search engines to understand what the answer is.
The rest of the content is in the structure of the article.
You have your standard introduction, then your answer paragraph that will specifically answer the principal search query.
Then you go into the main content and then use 3 – 5 sub-heads that are closely related to one another, but is helpful content and answers the query.
3.Use Heading Tags
Headings are vital for effective on page SEO. Apart from breaking up your text and making your great content more readable they provide another vital lead for Google to follow in terms of indexing and ranking.
Use of the H1s, H2s, H3s and so forth are key ranking signals for Google and having keywords within the headings is an important way to rank for the keywords you’re seeking to rank for.
Your longer content will also have more sub-headings and thus provide you with a better opportunity to use them for ranking for those key law firm SEO or small business SEO terms.
Use your H1 tag for the principal article heading only and the H2 headings for the sub-headings every few hundred words or so.
Google will pick up the nature and meaning of your content more easily for ranking the relevant information around your content.
4.Use Keywords Effectively
The placement of your keywords in any article is important to ensure you are sending the right signals to Google. Mastering the proper use of keywords is one of the keys to successful internet marketing using great content.
You can check our report on using keywords effectively in your legal marketing here.
In your article meta description (as per the plugins like Yoast or …..), you can enter your keywords. Don’t overdo it – never use keyword-stuffing (one, no more than two uses of your keywords in the meta description. You may even get a second keyword into the description.
You need something that entices and interests the reader, so long as it is answered and dealt with via your quality content.
But the title tags are also important.
You then need to use your keywords in the SEO title tag, which is sometimes called the ‘meta title tag’.
Remember that Meta titles are not the article title, but an SEO title used by the search engines so they need to be short and sweet – Google typically displays the first 50–60 characters of a title tag.
This description is the name of the page that will appear and it is clickable, taking you to the relevant page as per the image below –
As with the meta description you must keep your description brief and to the point, deploying your keywords such as we have with ‘Ultimate Guide to Law Firm SEO’.
Early Keyword Usage
Then you need to use your keywords within the early part of your content – say the first 200-300 words, which Google will be paying particular attention to in terms of ranking success.
Our preference with key, query-related content is to place your bolded extract in the second paragraph which serves to answer the question posed, using your keywords.
Remember the key with all of this is to provide relevant, helpful, authoritative content. You are not gaming Google or trying to be clever. You are being smart by providing valuable content with the correct layout and content.
If you can you should be placing your primary keywords near the commencement of the article and to also include any secondary keywords.
However, once again, do so in a natural manner without trying to create some artificial content that does not read naturally.
You can consider the keyword, on page optimization as being similar to a pyramid with the primary keywords at the top, the secondary keywords beneath and additional keywords under that.
Natural Use of Keywords
While you are using your keywords in your content you are also doing so in the most engaging, enlightening manner possible.
Many SEO experts will tell you about local search terms and how important they are.
For instance, you’re a divorce lawyer in Toronto. The phrases that are most searched will inevitably be the ‘best’, ‘nearest’ etc divorce lawyers in Toronto.
If you are looking optimize for local search and using phrases like ‘Toronto divorce lawyer’, then you will easily come across as another lawyer trying to reach the top of Google by writing bland, spammy and overly-optimized content using keywords inappropriately.
You are better to provide quality content that links back to your services (as per the ‘silo content’ referred to earlier), but you can also use ‘stop’ words to break up your awkward keyword usage.
What are ‘stop’ words?
They are words that are ignored by the search engines. So you can say, ‘divorce lawyer in Toronto’, or use one of the other ‘stop words’ that permits the use of the term without sounding artificial.
You can see a list of stop words at this link.
5.Use your Meta Description
The Meta description shows up below the title and URL of your page or post as it appears in the search engine results and should encapsulate what your page or post is about somewhere between 140-160 characters.
The descriptions provide details that act like an ad in a newspaper and should contain your unique selling point. This is like your law firm’s tagline and essentially pitches your firm with the intention of enticing click throughs.
Google will provide benefits for high click through rates, which means interest and relevance in your content and the uptake your receive from Google.
But obtaining those means optimizing your ‘meta description’ and post title. Make sure you are not duplicating the descriptions for other pages or posts.
Focus on pages that get the most search traffic to check the description. You can use tools like Ahrefs Webmaster Tools that can help with this process and once you have your most popular pages then either insert the description or tidy up those that you think should better describe what you are writing about. O
Make them clear and to the point. You’re not writing click bait, you’re writing something ‘descriptive’ so that it will be clicked by those who are wanting the content you’re delivering.
If you are using WordPress then the Yoast plugin can be used, adding the meta description at the foot of the page.
We generally prefer the RankMath plugin, but – just a word on SEO plugins, which abound – you actually don’t have to have them and you certainly do not to use all the functionality they purport to offer.
First they don’t always deliver on those promises, good though these two plugins in particular are, but they can slow your site and get you resting on SEO laurels that you don’t really deserve.
The better way is to use smart content and post writing to deliver the sort of content that will deliver what Google and the search engines are looking for – quality, relevant content, well written and well presented.
You are able to write a great blog post covering the topic properly and to make it easy for Google to understand.
6.Technical SEO Factors
There are a lot of technical factors to think about when developing or enhancing your law firm website, as per this list:
Even without payments you must have an SSL certificate, which is generally free.
Images should be used to enhance your photographs and preferably your own images or sourced images with attribution. They play an increasingly important role in both online success and overall content attractiveness.
The core web vitals is technical – you must get by on these tests.
Good navigation is important, URLs should be shorter and being mobile friendly, which is key to achieving better online ‘pickup’.
Schema is important. Also called ‘structured data’, it is the use of HTML tags that go into your website code (not as difficult as it might sound to the non-technical).
The two types of schema data used are JSON-LD and microdata, which get noticed by Google when crawling your site and helps ensure that specific data or information is featured on your page results.
For instance, for law firms seeking prominence in their locality (ie local search effectiveness), schema markup will allow information like NAP (name, address and phone number) to be pulled up more easily to provide details about your law firm.
When schema is not used it creates more difficulty in displaying the data or information.
The snippets and use of schema can also help bring up the new Google’s Local Business Cards feature, which can greatly help in local search for law firms and other local businesses. This is the large rectagular card that appears after the search is made.
Google’s Local Business Cards tool is part of the Google Posts feature and is still an ‘in development’ feature, but it will almost certainly grow in importance.
Rankmath is very good for Schema. SEO plugins can be overdone, but most will not make any difference to your SEO ranking, so be careful with them.
JSON-LD quickly makes changes throughout your site via more substantial code, while microdata highlights some aspects of a particular web page. Schema markup not only tells Google about what is on your website but also what the information means.
7.Off Page SEO
This is all the things not only your website, like backlinks, but which affect your online reputation and explain your practice areas to obtain new clients.
The goal here is to meet the ‘EAT’ objective.
You want expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness in your industry – of particular importance to lawyers, who not only need to comply with Bar or Law Society requirements regarding their advertising and content, but also the need to project your authority and knowledge of legal matters.
EAT is achieved by having plenty of content around different topics and the EAT will be there for you.
But for some industries, EAT is particularly important, particularly areas like money, finance, health, wellness etc will ensure the content is authoritative and accurate.
There is a higher EAT scrutiny.
But more industries – like law, for instance – will be importantly considered and it is a key to effective search engine marketing and also one of the best practices you can achieve with your content.
How important is link building?
Frankly, I wouldn’t worry about going about link building and for newer sites there is little purpose.
You are better focused on generating quality content. Once you have truly awesome content then you should quite quickly achieve good backlinks and pickup. Too many website marketers try to build their backlinks rather than focusing on the great content that will drive backlinks to your site.
It’s a time/benefit algorithm you need to meet in your own business and payoff will come from the content rather than backlink generation for its own sake.
Use podcasts in your industry and get great authority (and links) through the authority that you gain through that audience. Think about what they are likely to ask and get them to interact and visit the site. We outlined this in our earlier article on top ad marketing initiatives.
Creating great content around specific areas of authority in your niche will continue to build your authority in that niche, no matter how broad.
HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a great marketing strategy that can, literally, get you front page exposure. It is beyond just a ‘good idea’, but something that can give you a major leg up to achieve higher rankings and overall business development for your firm.
It has been used for many years now by bloggers and others to get high coverage from the media and to boost back links to their sites. It is used by many legal professionals also and is a major resource for law firms to boost their online business and build their legal marketing .
Haro is used by reporters to gain quotes from experts in different fields and so is ideal for lawyers who can talk about recent cases, law changes, local law issues and legislation, much of which is widely reported.
PR professionals and influencers also use it for their own purposes and it can help not only build online traffic to your site from targeted users, but also build your law firm credibility and authority, both of which in turn will build your business.
The straight-forward pitching process allows sources to find topics related to their business without spending too much time sourcing.
It is very easy to sign up for HARO and to complete the profile page and provide details about your expertise. HARO will then forward you emails regarding the subject matter that is relevant to your areas of expertise. When replying you need to be concise and avoid attachments, which will be stripped from your email.
Reporters receive many responses so make sure you focus on what they are looking for and don’t get fancy, wordy or ask them to contact you for more information. Like you, they’re busy and will respond best when the details are provided concisely.
Put in a great subject line to help with the attractiveness of your response, too. You can see some great tips on subject lines at this link.
Sometimes you will not get a response from the media outlet as to whether your comments have been used, so set up a Google Alert with your name so you can then use social media posts and other publicity to talk about your first page news.
It you follow these rules you will get your law firm’s website working as you want and expect. There are any number of marketing strategies that can be deployed using Google ads, social media pages, web design and all the other things that marketing professionals will tell you (and charge you heavily) to do.
Follow the advice, let us know and if you have great content you want us to share about your successes, or even failures, let us know so that we can build more information and share the very best advice on legal marketing advice and tips for lawyers. We’d love to know.