SEO For Lawyers: Easy Ways To Optimize Your Web Content

by Sep 22, 2016

Small law firms that understand the foundation of law firm SEO are busy publishing content to their law firm websites. They recognize that potential clients often find their attorneys while using search engines to answer legal questions. Law firm website content that matches those questions (and provides informative, useful answers) helps potential clients find law firms and helps transforms website visitors into new clients.

Good content is the first step in a successful online presence that generates revenue for your law firm. There are, of course, some optimization best practices that can:

  • Help search engines find your law firm’s website and understand your content
  • Offer that content when it’s relevant to a search
  • Encourage potential clients to click on results for your law firm website or blog
  • Give potential clients the information they need to help them take action.

Content should always be the first focus of your online legal marketing strategy. But, here are some easy ways to optimize law firm blog posts and law firm website content to help search engines and potential clients find you.

Long tail keywords and phrases for attorneys…

Attorneys can waste money and time if they only focus on getting their law firm’s website to rank well for basic keywords. (Think searches like, “personal injury attorney,” or “criminal defense attorney los angeles.” )

There’s a lot of competition for those basic keywords. Organic competition aside, if your law firm buys pay-per-click (PPC) ads, the combination of competitive keywords and their cost can be expensive without resulting in new clients for your firm.

No matter who clicks on your ad (Potential client? Competitor? Accidental click?) and no matter what action that person takes next, the money’s gone once it’s gone. There are some law firm keywords that cost nearly $700 dollars a click. (Hubspot created a nice infographic on the 100 most expensive keywords on Google. 78% of them relate to the legal industry, and nine of the top 10 belong to the legal profession.)

That said, PPC can act as an acceptable bridge in some cases, but building reliable, cost-effective infrastructure through content is a better choice for attorneys.

Don’t focus too much on highly competitive law firm keywords.

Focusing on keywords alone may not produce the results you’re looking for. Often times, potential clients don’t find attorneys doing basic keyword searches.

Instead, focus on long-tail keywords and phrases as you write your content. Long-tail searches are extremely specific. (The basic keyword search and the long-tail search is the difference between “DUI arrest California” and “ “Do I have to explain a DUI arrest on a California job application?”) The long-tail query is an extended version of the basic keyword search. It contains the basic keywords but in a targeted context.

Notice how “DUI arrest California” doesn’t tell you much about the intent of the search. (Was this person looking for a DUI attorney? Do they want to know the penalties for a California DUI arrest? Do they want statistics on how many people are arrested for DUI in California each year? It’s hard to say.)

It becomes clear in the long-tail query that the intent is to find a solution to the question.

The long-tail method provides attorneys with two benefits:

  1. It can be complicated to rank for basic keywords. The best way to have your law firm’s website show up in search results is to be more specific about that keyword in a long-tail phrase, like the above DUI example.
  2. When you optimize with a long-tail phrase such as “Can I file for divorce in Texas without an attorney?” you also optimize for other words such as “divorce attorney Texas,” or “file for divorce in Texas.”

Search engines grow increasingly intelligent and they’re learning more about user intent. When search engines evaluate that long-tail phrase, they can make some intelligent assumptions about what else a person may want to know.

Traffic for the sake of traffic is a meaningless metric. Each long-tail query may not have the search volume of a basic keyword search. Each long-tail search may only yield a small number of visits to your law firm’s website. However, visits from long-tail searches which closely match the content you provide (and the long-tail phrases you use) are more likely to be qualified potential clients.

High rankings for higher level searches is often a byproduct of providing lots of useful, specific information. At LawLytics, we have many members who rank well organically for high-level searches. These individuals didn’t have to pay thousands of dollars to achieve that. They didn’t spend their time trying to find a way to outsmart Google. They started with the higher probability activity of writing for their potential clients and writing for the way that potential clients search.

Use long-tail keywords in specific places on law firm websites

Your law firm website and blog content shouldn’t be written around keywords. Attorneys who write with that intent may produce content that sounds unnatural to readers. Your content should consider the mindset of your potential client. (Creating law firm client personas can be helpful.) Keywords have a way of appearing organically when you write for your clients.

However, law firms can help search engines understand that content by using long-tail keywords and phrases in specific places.

Add keywords to law firm blog post titles

Do a Google search for “How long should law firm blog posts be?” The first place most people look on a results page is the title. If you didn’t look at the title, you might end up on a page about “The best law firm blogs.” That page may not give you an answer to your question.

Your potential clients scan titles to determine if a page will answer their question. Including your keywords here is important. Search engines often cut off titles after the first 65 characters. If your title is long, try to put your keywords toward the beginning to help readers determine the relevance of your post.

Use keywords in the body content and headers

Include keywords in the body of your content, but don’t spend your time calculating how many times they show up. Write about what matters to your clients and often times, those keywords show up effortlessly and naturally, all on their own.

Some attorneys may think there’s a correlation between search engine ranking and the number of times a keyword appears. Google recognizes this behavior as “keyword stuffing,” which is meant to manipulate search engine rankings. The company’s algorithms are designed to spot (and penalize) websites who do it.

The importance of headers on law firm websites and blogs

Potential clients don’t read web content from start to finish. They scan content for the information they need. For that reason, divide your content into manageable portions with headers.

The title will tell a potential client that your content is relevant to them. But, because readers scan, headers guide potential clients to the answers they’re searching for. They may keep reading once they’re satisfied with an answer, but don’t make them work hard to find their solution. Use your keywords in headers, but don’t force them if they sound unnatural.

Learn more about Law Firm SEO Vocabulary.

Add keywords to the URL of your posts

The URL of your post is a good place to add keywords. Potential clients may not be paying attention to the URL, but search engines examine URLs to understand what your post is about.

Long-tail phrases and your meta description

Meta descriptions help your potential clients understand your content. They act as a teaser to help someone decide if they should read your content. Like titles, meta descriptions have a small character count. Be sure to use your keywords to craft a description that will encourage potential clients to read on.

Use (and optimize) images in law firm blog posts

Potential clients scan text for information. Headers can help them find the answers they’re looking for, but they also serve to break up big blocks of text. Images are useful for this reason, too. You can use stock images for law firm blog posts, but choose images that relate to your content. You may want to create engaging infographics to help your reader understand a concept.

Optimize your images using keywords in your alt text. Readers can see an image and understand its relevance to a law firm blog post. Search engines can’t. By optimizing your images, you help search engines understand what the picture is about and if it’s relevant to a search.

Note: LawLytics members, you don’t need any HTML knowledge to optimize images. When you select an image from your media library, simply add the description in the box marked “Alternate Text.”

Law firm website content should be your first priority.

Content marketing is the best way for small law firms to reach new clients. This form of online legal marketing is effective with both search engines and potential clients. It saves attorneys from spending their time and money on strategies that don’t work and things they don’t need.

Content should always be the foundation of your law firm’s website and blog, because it’s what will drive traffic to your website and transform web visitors into new business for your firm.

Without informative, client-focused content, there’s not much to optimize on your law firm’s website. Write compelling content first, and build your content over time by publishing on a regular basis. Basic optimization techniques are never a substitute for a solid content strategy that gives your potential clients the information they need.

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