In order to squeeze every last ounce of effectiveness out of your SEO strategy, it’s just not enough to know how to grow your law firm. You also need to know what strategies your competitors are using to rank – so that you can find ways to beat them.
How? By doing an SEO competitor analysis. It’s a necessary step for attorneys and legal marketers who want to stay on top of their game when trying to rank at the top of a Google SERP.
A competitor analysis can give you information about
- How much other firms might invest in their attorney SEO efforts,
- Which keywords they target, and
- How much traffic those pages get.
If done correctly, a competitor analysis can give you insight into what your competition is doing and how they’re beating you in the SERPs (search engine results pages). It also helps you identify the strengths of your website and areas you need to improve on.
Understanding your competitor’s law firm SEO strategy helps you identify where their weaknesses lie, allowing you to capitalize on those shortcomings.
This guide covers:
- Everything you need to know about competitor analysis,
- How to do it, and
- Why it’s crucial for your law firm.
Why SEO Competitor Analysis is Important for Attorneys
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a numbers game. SEO efforts are used to improve your website’s search ranking by employing strategies that make it easier for search engines to crawl, index, and understand your website content.
Competitor analysis gives you essential information about the keywords that have been targeted by your competitors – and what they’ve done to target them effectively – so that you can target them for better visibility in search results.
Done properly, a competitor analysis can help you:
- Identify your competitor’s SEO strengths, including targeted keywords
- Identify and exploit your competitors’ weaknesses
- Identify gaps in your content and other shortcomings in your SEO campaign, and
- Plan and budget for your SEO strategies.
However, when it comes to SEO competitor analysis, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Be sure your website is SEO-friendly and built to convert.
- Understand that SEO is fluid and requires a delicate, nuanced touch – so don’t overdo it.
- Be careful about spamming. SEO should be ethical and transparent to search engines.
Ultimately, an SEO competitor analysis should help to guide your SEO project. The results should be a starting point – not the game plan.
Finding and Identifying the Competition
Before you do an SEO competitor analysis, you’ll need to identify your competitors. Who are your competitors? Generally speaking, they’re the law firms that are ranking for the keywords you’re going to target (or should be targeting).
The competition can be broken down into one of two categories: direct competitors and indirect competitors.
They are usually the easiest to recognize. Direct competitors are other law firms offering the same services as you in your market. You’re both competing for the business of the same potential clients.
For instance, if you are a personal injury law firm in New York City, your direct SEO competitor analysis will include other personal injury lawyers in NYC. When you Google “NYC personal injury lawyer” (or “personal injury lawyer” directly from NYC), your direct competitors will be the firms that show up first in the local and organic results.
Indirect competitors are other service providers who you’re not in direct competition with them as a business – but you are when it comes to ranking on Google’s first page.
Let’s say you’re a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles. Google this phrase: “Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer.” Direct competitors will include other criminal defense attorneys in your market.
Indirect competitors – for the purposes of SEO – will mean other services or companies that show up in the results. Indirect competitors can include other law firms that aren’t geographically or topically relevant, legal directories like Avvo, local directories like Yelp, or even bar associations.
You’re not competing for their business as a service provider, but you are going to be fighting to jump over them and rank higher on Google.
How to Do a Law Firm Competitor Analysis For SEO
SEO competitor analysis for law firms involves looking at what competitors have done recently on their websites, which keywords they are targeting, and how much traffic those pages get.
A keyword analysis is the most critical part of the overall SEO competitor analysis. It gives you access to a whole set of your competitors’ SEO strategies.
There are three components to competitor keyword analysis:
- Analysis difficulty – analyzes the difficulty in ranking for various keywords. You can assess your competitor’s web traffic, domain authority, and similar metrics. You can use Ahrefs Site Explorer to analyze your competitor’s web traffic and domain authority.
- Keyword Gap Analysis – identifies keywords your competitors rank for but you don’t. A keyword gap analysis can help you improve your SEO strategy by identifying important and relevant keywords that you’re missing. SEMrush helps you identify keyword gaps in SEO competitor analysis. Importantly, you can investigate keyword gaps in organic and paid searches.
- Identifying valuable keywords – these are short and long tail keywords that are useful but have been overlooked by you and your competitors. They might be easier to rank, offer excellent visibility and organic traffic, and offer high Return On Investment (ROI).
You can use several tools like Google Keyword Planner, Moz’s Keyword Difficulty Tool, or Ubersuggest to identify related keywords and niche topics that neither you nor your competitors have used exhaustively.
Analyzing Referring Domains & Backlinks
Analyzing referring domains and backlinks is essential in competitive analysis. Websites with an impressive backlink profile achieve a high SERP ranking. It can be challenging to beat a competitor law firm with a better backlink profile unless you also build a strong backlink profile.
The SEO competitor analysis tools mentioned above can be used to analyze the backlink profile of your competitors. Moz’s Link Explorer is a fantastic SEO competitor analysis tool that provides valuable data like referring domains, anchor text distribution, page authority, and backlinks through their SEO toolbar.
You can compare the link profile of another law firm’s domain with yours to see how your competitor is performing in their backlinks referring domains and backlinks strategy.
However, you need to be wary about adding low-quality backlinks. With Google’s Penguin update, adding too many low-quality backlinks will only harm your SEO strategy.
We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it a thousand times: Content is king. You need to analyze your competitors’ pages and their content to explore their on-page factors, including content quality, relevancy, and how well the content meets user intent.
There are three core metrics to assess content quality:
- What keywords and how many keywords did the article rank for?
- How much visibility and traffic did the content bring to the site?
- How much value did the content generate for the site?
You can also see:
- Which keywords they are targeting on each page,
- What topics they cover,
- The type of content (videos, blogs, podcasts), and
- The frequency of that topic in their content, among other things.
There are a lot of different ways to do a content analysis. You can run an organic competitor search with a tool like SEMRush, extract keyword data, and set up a spreadsheet to review and analyze this type of information.
For more information on this process, check out our step-by-step keyword research guide.
There are also paid options- like Ahrefs’ content gap analysis tool.
These tools analyze your content alongside your competitors’. You can find out what content is working well for the competitor’s website, identify their target keywords, and get insight into where the firms’ content does and doesn’t overlap.
You can then incorporate the different pieces of content – complete with necessary keywords – to help you rank better.
User Experience Analysis
User experience is another essential part of your competitor analysis. Google rewards high-quality content and sites with the best user experience by ranking them higher on SERPs.
Easy-to-navigate and mobile-friendly sites are accessible to as many users as possible. For your law firm website to rank higher, it needs to have a great UX design. Your SEO content also needs to be optimized for mobile users.
This enables them to access your services from their phone, tablets, and computers. Since 2015, Google has made it paramount for all websites to be user-friendly, failure of which will lead to penalization.
A competitor analysis will identify how highly-ranked rivals perform on their user experience and what you need to do to outperform them.
Open your competitor’s law firm websites and visually inspect them and ask yourself:
- How many visible calls to action are there when you open the page?
- Do they have a chat option?
- What kind of HERO do they have – a still photo or a video?
- What does the text over the HERO say? What kind of message does it convey?
- What color scheme does the firm use?
- Is it easy to understand what service(s) the firm offers right away?
- What’s their message: results-driven, experience-driven, or emotionally-driven?
- How fast does it load?
It’s not as important as content but becomes absolutely critical when two pages that provide similar information are in competition.
In addition to a visual inspection, you can also run a report to uncover your competitors’ Core Web Vitals. These are metrics indicate how quickly content loads, how responsive a browser is when a user engages, and how stable the site is when loading. Compare the results to an analysis of your own law firm website’s Core Web Vitals and see how they stack up.
Trust Our Law Firm SEO Experts to Analyze the Competition For You
With a competitor analysis, you can identify what your top-ranking competitors are doing right – and where their weaknesses lie.
You can take what you learn and use it to your advantage by capitalizing on critical keywords, creating important pieces of content, and making improvements to your site’s overall user experience.
Ultimately, you can develop or adjust your law firm’s SEO strategy to not only compete with other firms in your market – but beat them and get potential clients to choose you.
Competitor analysis isn’t just something you do once. SEO is always evolving – because Google is always adjusting and fine-tuning its algorithms and processes. So, it’s important to stay on top of what’s working and what’s not. An easy way to do this is by conducting regular competitor analyses.
LawRank helps law firms just like yours rank when and where it matters most. We get our clients to the top of SERPs and fight to keep them there. Thorough and regular competitor analysis plays an important role in this process. Trust that we’ll find out what your competitors are doing and then do it better for you.