Keywords have had good and bad press when it comes to their usefulness for law firm marketing . . but the jury is back and we have the result here
Law firm marketing involves a vast array of moving parts, but so far as online efforts are concerned, we always maintain that blogging good content is one of the best ways to achieve great rankings. The question is: how important are keywords in this effort?
The placement of keywords in text has long been an equally key part of achieving great Google rankings and in terms of law firm marketing it has served to help attorneys reach their target audience. However what worked 10 – or even 5 years ago – does not necessarily work now and the use of keywords is only part of the overall SEO matrix that will give your law firm the prominence it seeks online.
However, having said that, keyword prominence remains as a very important part of the SEO work you need to do to achieve great online results.
In particular, this applies to placement of your keywords towards the beginning of your headline and your text.
Prominent placement of your keywords is a strong signal to the search engines as to what your law firm content is actually about. It is by no means the be all and end all of search engine optimization, but it is a key signal-maker for Google and the search engines to understand what your content is about.
What Google Says About Keywords
The fact that keywords play a prominent role as a ranking factor has been with us for a long time.
Matt Cutts, the former top Google operative and ranking authority talked about the ranking factor right back in 2011 in this video.
Cutts confirmed that when crawling the web, Google picked up on the first use of keywords when determining the nature of the content being used in an article.
While keyword prominence remains an important ranking factor, the need to avoid keyword stuffing, something that was all too common at the time Cutts made his video comments and before, is even more important.
“The way that modern search engines, or at least Google, are built is that the first time you mention a word — [Google thinks] “Hey that’s pretty interesting, it’s about that word.”
The next time you mention that word, [Google thinks] “Oh OK, it’s still about that word.” And once you start to mention it a whole lot, it really doesn’t help that much more. There are diminishing returns. It’s just an incremental benefit, but it’s really not that large.
… So the first one or two times you mention a word than that might help with your ranking, absolutely. But just because you can say it seven or eight times that doesn’t mean that it will necessarily help your ranking.”Matt Cutts
Using tools like Semrush’s keyword intent tool can make it considerably easier to actually ensure that the keywords you are targeting for your attorney marketing will align with the audience you’re seeking to attract.
The guidance provided by Google on prominence may have changed, but the manner in which keywords are used for legal marketing online (or any marketing or target intent) is something that has a changed as has been pointed out most recently by people like Google’s John Mueller.
What About Keywords TODAY In Legal Marketing?
Mueller said that in order to make it clear what your content is about you need to put the keyword(s) into your title, in your headings, sub-headings and in captions from images so that Google knows.
He says you need to make sure that the information on the page makes it “as obvious as possible” so that users understand what the page is about.
In other words you need to regard the keyword prominence in terms of what the user is seeing, rather than what you want to achieve yourself. By using the keywords as early as you can you are providing a fast lead for users (who know what you are writing about) and also for Google (who know what your content is about).
So, by way of example, if your law firm marketing efforts are focused on (say) business law in Dayton Ohio, you may write an article with the heading:
Business Law Changes: What Is Happening To Company Law in Dayton?
You have ‘business law’ at the beginning, but ‘Dayton’ is at the end, providing low prominence. Your keyword-optimized title would be better served as something like –
Dayton Business Law Changes That Affect Your Business
You have begun your content with the exact match keyword phrase, which immediately alerts the search engines to the content of your article.
There is a further element to using keywords in this way in your law firm marketing online, which helps further lift your smart use of keywords in the the content.
Meta Description in Law Firm Keyword Usage
The additional element that is contained within the search engine results pages (SERPs) where keyword prominence can impact your law firm’s click through rate is the description that Google pulls for each of the results, which is typically the ‘meta description’.
The meta description is a hidden HTML attribute which sits at the top of your law firm content on the web page and, although some may think this is outdated, Google still likes to see them.
Google actually ask for them to be used in their starter guide information and although they cannot be seen directly on the page, their existence on the page will provide a firm hint to Google about your content – thus further helping you to target the law firm content you’re seeking to rank for.
A meta description can have your keyword phrase bolded in the description Google provide about the content. It is a key ingredient to great law firm SEO. For instance, look at the listing below with the bolded phrase, which begs to be clicked for those searching for a bankruptcy attorney in Dallas.
So give serious thought to using good meta descriptions for your posts. For those law firms using tools like WordPress, there are plugins that can help you add the descriptions properly and easily, without technical know-how or difficulty. The benefits in terms of law firm marketing ranking on the search engines is important.
What About Attracting Enquiries To Your Law Firm?
Having users click through to your law firm site is what you’re seeking with your law marketing efforts and this means placing your keywords in the appropriate places – ie titles, headings, sub-headings and in the main content itself.
After all, the intent of your law firm marketing efforts is to have people actually click through and having well-placed keywords in the content will ensure that occurs – or at least you have the best opportunity of doing so.
When visitors come to your website they will skim the content and having keywords prominently displayed via the beginning of the content and in titles will provide them with the necessary information regarding the legal content you are writing about.