You probably recognize that your law firm’s website is an important part of your online marketing strategy. But you may be unsure how to make your site more visible and interesting to potential clients. You may even have tried to improve your website’s rankings with little success.
Here are four quick tips that can help you better optimize your law firm’s website and attract more potential clients without wasting your time or money.
Tip 1: Learn how search engines work
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your website’s visibility in search engine results.
To do effective SEO for your law firm’s website, it helps to understand how search engines work. When a potential client types a query into a search engine, the search engine compares that query against its massive database of indexed websites. Then the search engine returns what it views as the most relevant webpages for that particular query.
Each search engine uses different factors to decide what pages should be returned for a search query. Google, of course, is the most popular search engine, and its search algorithm uses hundreds of components to determine the best results for a query. Most of those factors —and how they’re weighted—are not public information.
Law firm SEO isn’t magic
When attorneys don’t take the time to learn how search engines work, it can make SEO and successful law firm web marketing seem much more complicated than it needs to be.
It also opens the door for attorneys to waste their time on strategies that don’t work, and waste their money on services that may not improve their site’s visibility.
There are still SEO providers who still attempt to use tactics meant to “trick” Google into ranking your website higher. Today, Google is too advanced for these blackhat SEO strategies to work effectively and provide a return on investment over time. When Google encounters a page or site that violates its guidelines, it devalues the site, which often leads to diminished ranking in the search results.
Law firm SEO is not complicated. While Google’s exact algorithm is a closely guarded secret, what’s never been a secret is that Google wants webmasters to create quality educational content. It’s been true from the beginning of Google, and Google simply becomes better at enforcing it each year.
Taking a content-centric approach on your law firm’s website works better than any other form of SEO with both search engines and potential clients. Strategic law firm content marketing is a proven and cost-effective way to improve your law firm website’s visibility and reach more potential clients.
Tip 2: Think like a potential client
As Google has often stated, you should “Make pages for users, not for search engines.”
But what does this really mean in practice? It means your clients and search engines are looking for good content that answers important questions.
Quality content is the basis of Google’s business model. It’s the most popular search engine because of its ability to return the most relevant and useful results to those who use it for searches. Quality content that answers a search engine user’s question is likely to rank higher in search engine results.
Therefore, when you’re creating content for your website, you should:
- Be specific. Potential clients often use Google to ask complex questions about their legal issues. Rather than “Divorce lawyer Arizona,” they may search for “How do I get custody of my children in a divorce in Tucson?” The more specific your content is, the more likely it is to be a relevant match for a potential client’s search.
- Avoid jargon and complicated legalese. Your clients probably aren’t legal experts, so they probably aren’t using complicated legal terms in their online searches. Use layman’s terminology whenever possible.
- Use the words your potential clients use. If there is particular slang or jargon your clients use to describe legal concerns or geographic locations, consider using those words in your content. For example, if you’re a DUI attorney, do locals in your area call the interstate by something other than its official name? Consider using that nickname in your content.
For more on developing client-focused content for your website, see Is Your Law Firm Website Content Client-Friendly?
Tip 3: Follow law firm SEO best practices (and avoid SEO gimmicks)
There is a simple truth that underlies effective SEO strategies: Google tends to reward websites that follow their guidelines with better placement in search results.
To ensure you’re following SEO best practices:
- Familiarize yourself with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to understand what Google expects from law firm websites. These guidelines cover the design, content, and technical aspects of websites.
- Review our Law Firm SEO Guide, which offers law firm-specific SEO recommendations.
In addition to following SEO best practices, is crucial to avoid bad SEO practices. Legal marketing companies may try to sell you services that (they claim) will improve your law firm website SEO overnight. Unfortunately, that kind of SEO magic doesn’t exist.
Far from improving your search ranking, bad SEO practices like keyword stuffing, link schemes, and low-quality content can all demote your website in search rankings. You don’t want to waste time and money on tactics like these that don’t actually work.
Tip 4: Publish high-quality content on your law firm’s website
The most effective way to reach potential clients online is by publishing relevant and valuable content on your law firm’s website.
Good content marketing isn’t a quick fix. But it is one of the most effective ways to improve your law firm website’s search rankings and to attract and engage new clients.
According to Google, valuable content is:
- Useful and informative
- More valuable and useful than content on other sites
- High quality
“Thin content,” in contrast, doesn’t meet those standards. A page that says “Contact us to learn more about our services” doesn’t give a search engine much to work with. Worse, it doesn’t provide your potential clients with information they can actually use to learn more about their case or problem, and it doesn’t inspire them to hire your firm.
To do content marketing effectively, you need a strategy and a plan. You also need to consider things like your geographic area, your practice area(s), and your potential clients’ needs.
To learn more about content strategy for your practice area, watch our Start-Grow-Dominate webinar series. Our Content Planning Clinic will also help you start building a content plan that meets your law firm’s SEO and marketing goals.