SEO for Lawyers Guide

This SEO for Lawyers Guide gives you over 70 actionable steps that you can take to improve your SEO.

You can implement most of these changes yourself, while some may require the assistance of a developer. You can also use this guide to audit your current SEO campaign.

Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or you have a marketing company, this guide will give you amazing insight into your project.

Table of Contents

What is SEO For Lawyers?

Search engine optimization for lawyers refers to the strategies and tactics that an attorney or law firm uses to improve their positions on search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. This typically includes the following categories:

  • On-site SEO: This refers to actions you take on your site to improve your search engine rankings. This includes content, internal linking, and technical SEO.
  • Off-site SEO: This refers to the strategies you use offline to improve your rankings and visibility. This includes link-building, outreach, and paid placements in legal directories.

Do both well and you’ll set yourself up for great results.

Why Does Law Firm SEO Matter?

  • 96% of people seeking legal services use a search engine in their process
  • 74% of consumers visit a law firm’s website to take action
  • 62% of legal searches are non-branded
  • 31% of all law firm related website traffic comes through mobile search (FindLaw Aggregated Hosted Site Data 2014)
  • 71% of people looking for lawyers think it is important to have a local attorney (FindLaw U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey 2014)

What are the Three Most Critical Components of Attorney SEO?

In our opinion, it’s:

  • Onsite SEO (Technical SEO, User Experience)
    • Is your site fast? Does it have errors that negatively impact the user experience? Is your navigation intuitive for your users? We cover technical SEO below and the steps you can take to make sure your site is running at an optimal level.
  • Content
    • Content is the cornerstone of SEO. Without content, there’s nothing for which you can do SEO. Great content is critical for the long-term success of your project. But what is great content? Find out below.
  • Links
    • You can go a long way with great content. But to dominate in your market, you will need a link-building strategy. We cover several proven strategies below.

Ready? Let’s get started!

1. Onsite SEO for Lawyers (Technical SEO, User Experience – UX)

Onsite SEO refers to the actions you take on your site to improve the overall quality for better search engine rankings. Many of these factors don’t directly impact your lawyer SEO but rather improve the user experience, which in turn helps your rankings.


Get WordPress

WordPress

The first thing you’ll want to do is get set-up on WordPress. WordPress is a free CMS (content management system) platform that you can use to build your website.

Why do we recommend WordPress? Simple. You need a platform that will allow you to easily add content.

To rank competitively for your target keywords, you’ll need to produce high-quality content that satisfies the user’s intent. WordPress makes it easier to produce content.

Better yet, you can also install plugin-ins (more on that later) that will allow you to create a better user experience.

The best way to get WordPress is by using a managed WordPress host like WPEngine.com.

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Install Yoast SEO – WordPress Plugin

Yoast SEO

This WordPress plugin provides the following features that are important for SEO:

  • Set title tags
  • Set meta description
  • Gives you an SEO score based on your onpage optimization
  • Gives you a readability score
  • Creates an XML Sitemap (see below)
  • Add breadcrumbs
  • and more

While there are other plugins that do similar things, we like how easy Yoast makes it to get up and running.

Check out the Yoast guides on Installing Yoast and Configuring Yoast.

Further Reading:

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Submit Your XML Sitemap to Google Search Console

Further Reading:

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Use Schema Markup – (Structured Data)

You want to make sure that your site has schema markup. It helps Google better understand your site. Where this really comes into play is for local SEO.

While there is schema markup for other components of your site, that should be handled by a developer.

Where can you get legal schema for your site?

Merkle created a Schema Markup Generator.

Once you have this code, insert it in your <head> tags on your site.

Here’s a link to the Install Headers and Footers WordPress plugin.

Test your schema:

Make sure you test your schema after uploading it. Google provides a tool so that you can confirm that you have valid schema markup on your site: https://search.google.com/test/rich-results

When you test your Schema, don’t worry about the “priceRange” category unless you want to enter a price.

Google Rich Results

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Improve Your Title Tags

Title tags are critical for rankings.

With Yoast (see above), you can set each title tag for maximum SEO benefit.

As an attorney, you typically want to make the title the same as what you’re trying to rank for. For example, let’s say you’re trying to rank for “Los Angeles restraining order lawyer.”

In Yoast, you might enter something like this: “Los Angeles Restraining Order Attorney | [BRAND].”

You can also flip the order “Restraining Order Attorney Los Angeles,” as putting “restraining order” near the front puts the keywords at the beginning of the title (which could provide a slight SEO benefit).

IMPORTANT: You usually want to include the CITY and/or STATE in the title tag.

Check with your State Bar rules before applying superlatives to your title tags. You might be able to say, “Top-Rated Los Angeles restraining order attorney.” But you may be prohibited from saying, “Best Los Angeles restraining order attorney.”

title tags for legal seo

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Improve Your Meta Descriptions

Your meta description gives users a preview in the search engine results of what your page is about. According to Google, a meta description tag should “generally inform and interest users with a short, relevant summary of what a particular page is about.”

While meta tags aren’t a direct ranking factor, a great meta tag makes it more likely that a user will click on your result. And click-thru-rate is a ranking factor. So take the time to write solid meta descriptions.

Make sure you include your keyword, as Google highlights it in search results. If you offer a free consultation, try to work that into the meta description as well, in a natural way.

Remember, keep this short and appealing. Yoast will tell you if you’ve written more than Google will display.

meta description for lawyer SEO

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Improve Your Site Speed

Site speed has long been considered a ranking factor. Whether it actually is or not, slow site speed has a tremendous negative impact on users. This in itself is a great reason to make sure your site loads fast.

Further, Google has announced that it will begin to consider site speed as a ranking factor through what they call the Core Web Vitals.

Core Web Vitals

If you’re familiar with site speed and want to skip to testing your site, we recommend the following tools (with a brief explanation on each below):

Core Web Vitals

What are the Core Web Vitals? According to Google:

Web Vitals is an initiative by Google to provide unified guidance for quality signals that are essential to delivering a great user experience on the web.

The Core Web Vitals consists of the following:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – Speed
  • First Input Delay (FID) – Responsiveness
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – Visual Stability
Google Search Experience

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This measures loading performance. In other words, this measures when the largest visual element in the viewport becomes visible. It should download in under 2.5 seconds. For most attorney sites, this will be the large hero image (picture of you) under the top-level menu.

Largest Contentful Paint

First Input Delay (FID): “FID measures the time from when a user first interacts with a page (i.e. when they click a link, tap on a button, or use a custom JavaScript-powered control) to the time when the browser is actually able to begin processing event handlers in response to that interaction.”

FID can easily be confused with Time to Interactive (TTI). Here’s the difference. TTI measures how long it takes for a page to become interactive, while FID measures how long a page takes to respond to a user interaction. FID applies more to pages like contact forms, where user interaction is key.

As you can see, a good score is under 100 ms.

First Input Delay

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): “CLS measures the sum total of all individual layout shift scores for every unexpected layout shift that occurs during the entire lifespan of the page.”

Have you ever downloaded a webpage and it seems to jump around while downloading? You commonly see this in the top level menu or large hero image. This is the CLS.

In this category, a good score is under 0.1 seconds.

cumulative layout shift

When Will Core Web Vitals Become a Ranking Factor?

May 2021 (click here for more information).

How Can I Check My Core Web Vitals?

Here are four ways to check it.

1. Using Google Page Speed Insights to Check Your Core Web Vitals

First, you’ll want to go to Google Page Speed Insights.

Once you’re there, simply enter the URL you want to test. For an attorney site, the most important page will usually be the homepage.

Remember, the test results are page specific, so it’s a good idea to test different pages to get a sense of how you’re doing: Home, About Us, Practice Area Page, Contact Us.

2. Using Google Search Console to Check Your Core Web Vitals

First, go to Google Search Console for your site and click on “Core Web Vitals” on the lefthand side.

GSC - core - web - vitals

Next, you’ll see two sections on the right-side. It will show you a report for Mobile and Desktop.

GSC-CWV-REPORTS

To get more information per section, click on “Open Report” and you can see which pages are receiving poor scores.

Click on the area under details to get more information per page.

GSC-Details

After you fix the low scoring pages, click on “Validate Fix” to have Google re-crawl those pages.

gsc-validate-fix

3. Using Lighthouse in Chrome to Check Core Web Vitals

To do this, you’ll need to open up Google Chrome Incognito.

Then, go to your website. Once you’re there, click on View (top bar) –> Developer –> Developer Tools

gsc-cwv-chrome

Next, you’ll see a developer screen below. Once you see it, click “lighthouse,” then mobile or desktop (depending which score you want), and then “Generate Report.”

GSC-lighthouse-generate-report

4. Use Pingdom to Check Your Site Speed

Pingdom is another great tool to check your site speed. Just add your URL and pick the city closest to you.

Ideally, you want to shoot for a download speed of under 2 seconds.

speed test for lawyer website

5. Using Webpage Test to Check Your Site Speed

Webpage Test (WT) will give you a great overview of various important metrics. When using WT, make sure you look at your Time To First Byte (TTFB). That’s how long it takes for the user to get the first byte of data when downloading your site.

While it’s debatable whether site speed is a direct ranking factor, TTFB is widely considered a ranking factor.

Webpage Speed Test

Tips to Speed Up Your Site

  • Get better hosting. Your site speed will depend largely on the quality of your hosting. We recommend using WPEngine.
  • Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN). A CDN duplicates your site on servers all over the world. When a user goes to your site, they will receive the files from the server nearest them.
  • Avoid large images. If you do use large images, make sure you use an image compression plugin to minimize the file size.
  • Avoid embedding maps in the footer. Instead, save the embedded maps for the Contact Us page.
  • Scripts. Minimize scripts and/or async or defer them.

WordPress plugins to speed up your site

  • WP Rocket: Great all-around plugin to help you speed up your site. It handles just about every critical aspect like lazy-loading images, deferring JS, and minimizing html files.
  • Asset Cleanup – Page Speed Booster: This plugin helps you remove unnecessary scripts from individual pages.
    • Using this plugin is more complicated than WP Rocket, but worth checking out if you have any stubborn pages for which you can’t improve the site speed.
  • Autoptimize: A great plugin to help you improve your Google Page Speed scores. They also offer optimization services.
    • One feature worth mentioning is the criticalcss.com add-on. With Critical CSS, you can remove render blocking CSS.
  • Imagify: Large, unoptimized images will kill your site speed. Imagify does all the work for you. It will compress all your images. That alone can significantly increase your site speed.

Further Reading:

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Secure Your Site Using an SSL Certificate

An SSL (secured socket layer) Certificate encrypts any data sent to you by your user. This assures that they can send confidential information to you via your website. When a site has an SSL cert, you will see the “https” instead of “http.”

How do you get an SSL Certificate? Most hosting providers offer this service for an extra fee.

Once you order it, your hosting provider typically handles setting this up for you.

SSL Certificate for attorney SEO

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Fix Site Errors

Site errors can negatively impact the user experience. You’ll want to run a site audit using Ahrefs. The Ahrefs’s site audit will give you a comprehensive list of any errors. You can also use Screaming Frog to look for errors.

Pay special attention to the following errors:

  • 301 redirects
    • A 301 redirect occurs when a user clicks on a link but is sent to a different page. While this creates slight latency, the real problem occurs when an user is sent to a page that isn’t a great match for the link they clicked. Fix your 301 redirects by either removing the link or changing it to another page on your site.
  • 404 errors
    • A 404 error occurs when a user clicks on a link on your site and is taken to a page that doesn’t exist. That results in an awful user experience. Prioritize fixing any 404 errors.
  • Broken links
    • Your site probably has outbound links to authority sites. Sites delete pages all the time. If they don’t do a redirect, your user will get a 404 error on that external site. That hurts the user experience, as your user didn’t get the resource they expected to see.
  • Pages buried deep in the site (low crawl depth)
    • Avoid having pages buried deep in your site for two reasons. First, your users can’t find them. Second, Google has a limited crawl budget to crawl your site. By having pages buried that require a lot of clicking to get to, you risk Google not crawling your site. Ideally, you don’t want any page to be further than 4 clicks away from the homepage.

Tools

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A broken inbound link refers to a link to your site from another, but that link goes to a page on your site that no longer exists.

Why does this matter? Because if a link goes to a non-existent page, you don’t get credit for that inbound link.

You also create an awful user experience. The user clicked on a link from another site, but now ends up on a 404 error page on your site.

To check your broken inbound links, you’ll need an Ahrefs account.

Once you’re logged in, enter your URL, then click “Broken” under Backlink profile.

ahrefs broken links

Next, you’ll see a report like the one below. Go through each link and determine if you want to set up a redirect to a relevant page. If you get Yoast Premium, they have a redirect tool. If not, you can use another WordPress plugin for creating redirects.

Remember, when setting up a redirect, make sure you send the user to a page that makes sense.

broken link report

Tool: Ahrefs

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Improve Your Site Structure

When setting up your site, you’ll want to consider if you want to set it up using a flat site structure.

Flat architecture means that users and search engines can get to any page in 4 clicks or less.

As an attorney, you’ll typically want to set up your site using a flat architecture as it’s considered better for SEO and the user experience.

Example of a flat structure:

  • site.com
  • site.com/baltimore-car-accident-lawyer/
  • site.com/blog/
  • site.com/steps-to-take-after-car-crash/ (blog post)

Another consideration is whether you have one target location or multiple offices.

Single-location Practices

For a single location firm, your homepage will usually be the main page that you’re trying to rank for a given keyword. For example, if you’re a personal injury lawyer in Baltimore and you only have one office in Baltimore, your site might be structured like this:

Example:

  • site.com (homepage targeting: Baltimore personal injury lawyer)
  • site.com/baltimore-car-accident-lawyer/

Multi-location Practices

If you practice in several locations, we recommend using location pages with the location-specific practice areas siloed underneath each location.

This lets your users know exactly where they are on the site and how to get back to the “main” page, which is usually the location page for the city they reside in.

Let’s use an example where the homepage is focused on Maryland. Each city (location) page might look like this:

  • site.com/baltimore/ (targeting: Baltimore personal injury lawyer)
    • site.com/baltimore/car-accident-lawyer/
  • site.com/annapolis/ (targeting: Annapolis personal injury lawyer)
    • site.com/annapolis/car-accident-lawyer/

PRO-TIP: We recommend that you create separation between the blog posts and the homepage. The pages closest to your homepage in terms of structure should be your practice area pages or city pages (for multi-city sites).

Having your practice area pages closer to your homepage signals to Google that your practice area pages are more important. You also create a better user experience because all of the blog posts will be clearly siloed under “/blog/.”

Example:

site.com/blog/latest-blog-post/ vs. site.com/latest-blog-post/

Tool: Screaming Frog

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Sample Site Architecture

Below you will find a sample site structure for a multi-location project. The homepage can be for whatever city you want.

site architecture for an attorney website to maximize SEO

Here’s a sample site architecture you can use (family law site):

  • Homepage
  • About Us
    • About the firm
    • Attorneys
      • Attorney Bio 1
      • Attorney Bio 2
    • Testimonials
    • Client Reviews
  • Practice Areas
    • Divorce
    • Child Custody
    • Child Support
  • Blog
  • Contact Us

You should also research your competitors. How did they layout their site structure? If you look at most attorney sites ranking on the first page, they will have a structure similar to what you see above.

Remember, the exact structure you use doesn’t matter. What matters is that your site is easy to navigate for your users.

Have you ever been lost on a site? Have you ever found yourself wondering, “how do I get back to that page I was on?” Make sure that doesn’t happen to your users.

Red Flag:

If you get lost on your own site, your site visitors are probably lost as well.

Don’t accept excuses from your marketing company. If you can find your way around Amazon, which has millions of pages, you should be able to find your way around your own site.

Further Reading:


Make Sure Your Site is Mobile Friendly

Almost 50% of searches are now conducted on mobile. As such, you want to make sure that your site is mobile friendly. You should consider this a non-negotiable.

Fortunately, Google makes it easy to test whether your site is mobile-friendly.

Just head over to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

Google Mobile Friendly Test

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Remove Zombie Pages

By this, we mean you should remove pages that get little to no traffic. The only exception is when these pages are well-written articles on low-traffic topics.

In other words, you may have written an in-depth scholarly article on the felony-murder rule. Assuming it’s well-written for your target audience, you may want to keep that page.

You can either delete or de-index (see below) low-quality pages.

For an advanced content audit that you can do yourself, check out this Content Audit from Ryan Stewart.

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De-Index Thin Pages

Does your site contain thin pages that provide little to no value to your users? If so, you might want to consider de-indexing. If you installed Yoast, all you have to do is scroll down to the Yoast settings and change “YES” to “NO” under “Allow search engines to show this Post (or page) in search results?”

Yoast DeIndex Page

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Does Your Site Pass The 5-Second Test?

Can your users tell what your site is about in 5-seconds? If not, you could be losing out on potential leads. Recent studies show that we have an 8-second attention span.

By sticking to the 5-second rule, you ensure that you don’t lose potential business because they couldn’t figure out what you do.

Want to try the 5-second test? Here’s what you do.

  • Find someone (friend, neighbor, whatever) who has never seen your site,
  • Pull up your site on your laptop,
  • Let them look at it for 5-seconds and then close your laptop.

They should be able to tell you the name of the business, what you do (personal injury, family law, etc.), and have a sense of where you’re located.

If not, you’ll want to work with a designer to make sure that these three items are instantly apparent.

Attorney 5 second test

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Compress Your Images for Better Load Time

The easiest way to make your images faster is install a plugin that compresses images. We recommend Imagify, but you can also try:

Tools: Imagify

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Improve Your Navigation

Your site should have 3 main navigation areas so that your users can move around easily.

  • Top-Level Menu
  • Breadcrumbs, and
  • Sidebar Navigation

Top-Level Menu

attorney top level menu

Your top-level menu should consist of the most important pages on your site.

For most attorney sites, the top-level menu should consist of:

  • Home
  • About Us
  • Practice Areas
    • This could be a drop-down menu choice that shows the user the practice area pages most important to you.
  • Contact Us
  • Blog
  • Spanish (or other language)

Another option is to populate the top-level menu with your main practice areas.

For a personal injury lawyer, that might look like this:

  • Home
  • Car Accidents
    • Pages dealing with car accidents
  • Motorcycle Accidents
    • Pages dealing with motorcycle accidents
  • Truck Accidents
    • Pages on different types of truck accidents
  • Personal Injury
    • This could list various injuries
  • Contact Us
  • Blog
  • Language (Spanish, Russian, etc.)

Regardless of the approach you take, we recommend keeping the top-level menu succinct.

Why? Two reasons.

First reason: You don’t want to overwhelm the user with too many choices. Instead, lead with the pages that matter to your firm. If you mainly do medical malpractice, lead with those pages in the Practice Areas drop-down.

For the remaining practice areas, create a page where you list all your practice areas in alphabetical order.

Second reason: The pages you include in your top-level menus signals to Google that those are your most important pages. Therefore, make sure that your top-level menu actually contains your most important pages.

Breadcrumbs

breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are a great way to let your users know where they are on your website. Breadcrumbs usually reside at the top of the page and show the user the path from the homepage to the page that they are currently viewing.

If you use the Yoast plugin WordPress, it gives you an option to add breadcrumbs.

SideBar Navigation

Another great place to include navigation is in your sidebar. A common example would be to include a “Practice Areas” sidebar in all the practice area pages. That way, your users can easily maneuver around your site.

practice areas sidebar

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Have you even been on Wikipedia reading about one topic, and next thing you know its two hours later and you’re on a completely different topic?

If yes, it’s because of their amazing internal linking. They take the time to link to an internal page for every relevant concept mentioned in the article.

For example, look at the first few paragraphs on Tort Law.

You see how every legal concept is a link that takes the user to a relevant page? (links in blue)

tort law

You want to spend time internal linking for several reasons.

First, solid internal linking creates an amazing user experience. Your users will inevitably have questions regarding terms like “damages,” “loss of consortium,” and “plea bargain.”

Instead of sending the user elsewhere to find the meaning, why not create a page like “What is a Plea Bargain” and link to it every time you mention “plea bargain”?

Second, solid internal linking forces you to make a better website. You can’t link to your page explaining what a plea bargain is unless you have it.

By looking for all the terms that require further explanation and creating that content, you are making a more complete site.

Third, internal linking lowers bounce rate. What is bounce rate? Bounce rate refers to when a user goes to a page on your site and leaves without interacting with your site further. In other words, bounce rate is a single page session on your site.

Depending on the nature of your page, a high bounce rate could be considered a negative SEO factor. On other pages, it might not be a negative factor.

For example, a page on “how to tie a tie” will probably have a high bounce rate. And that’s ok. It’s meant to be a page that the user lands on, gets what he needs, and moves on.

But if the topic is “motorcycle accidents” or the “consequences of a domestic violence conviction,” it makes more sense that the user clicked elsewhere on your site (about us page, legal term that links internally to an explanation page, etc.).

Tool:

Link Whisperer: Check out Link Whisperer. They do a great job analyzing your content and giving internal linking ideas. Yoast also offers an internal link suggestion tool, but we find Link Whisperer to be much better.

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Have a Call to Action Button that Stands Out

When users go to your site, you want them to do one thing – contact you. To encourage them to contact you, you want your site to have a call-to-action button that starts them down the conversion process.

By having a call to action (CTA) button that stands out from the rest of the site, we activate that part of the brain that notices differences. This is referred to as our “lizard brain.” According to this article, “part of our survival instinct is to notice differences in our environment.”

If your CTA stands out, your users are more likely to focus on it and make a decision based on interacting with it.

While it’s common to see a CTA that says something like “Free Consultation”, you also want to make sure that the CTA “pops” out from the images and text around it.

call-to-action button on attorney website

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Add a Call Button to Your Mobile Site

Your mobile site should have a prominent call button that remains visible as the user scrolls.

This allows your users to call you at any point.

call now mobile attorney site

Hollander Law Firm

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Create Videos of Your Law Firm

Videos are a great way to connect with your users. They also help your SEO by increasing your onsite dwell time (how long a user stays on your site).

Once you have videos, make sure you create a YouTube channel and upload your videos there. Also, add your contact info and a link to your site in the video description.

YouTube Video Description

Lastly, embed your YT videos on your site (don’t embed your videos directly on your site).

Pro Tip: Invest in high-quality videos. Don’t record videos on your cell. That’s not going to cut it. If you want amazing videos, check out Crisp Video.

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Upload Media Clips – If You Have Them

If you’ve been in the news or on TV, add those appearances to YouTube and embed them on your site.

There’s no better way to get instant credibility with your site visitors than to let them see you on TV as an expert.

attorney media appearances

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Add Trust Logos

Adding trust logos is a great way to give your site visitors visual cues that build trust. When choosing trust logos, include logos from your State Bar and the BBB if you’re an accredited member. Also include logos from any other local attorney bars that you’re a member of.

Attorney trust logos

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Improve your URLs by Adding Keywords

Make sure you add keywords to your URL for your practice area pages.

As an example, consider your page for car accidents.

If your URL is www.smithfirm.com/car-accidents, that’s ok.

But a better approach is to include the geographic area you’re targeting.

So if you’re in Phoenix, AZ, you may want to change your URL to: www.smithfirm.com/phoenix-car-accident-lawyer.

This approach incorporates every keyword into the URL. This is a powerful signal for both users and search engines.

URL SEO for Lawyers

With that said, shorter URLs are typically better. Try to keep your URLs to no longer than five words.

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Does your blog posts have dates in the URL structure? If yes, we recommend you remove the dates.

Why? Because you don’t want your content to be dated unless it’s date-specific. A news article about a current event might be date specific. But a blog post titled “What is Negligence?” is not.

Evergreen content like the example above becomes less relevant overtime if dated.

To update your blog links, click on “Settings” in your WordPress Admin menu and then “Permalinks.”

permalinks settings on attorney website

You’ll then see the screen below. Once you’re there, click on “Custom Structure.” After that, add “/blog” before “/%postname%/” (without the quotes).

IMPORTANT: Once you do this, you’ll need to create redirects from the old posts with dates to the new posts.

permalink-page

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2. Content for Lawyers

Make the Content About The User

At all times, your content should be focused on the user. Remember, the user wants the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?).

Your content should focus on:

  • Shedding light on their situation,
  • Your experience, and
  • How your experience will benefit them

As an example, see the car accident page we did for Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum in NYC. We lead with information about the attorney and how their experience can help you.

We then move on to answering questions people might have after a car accident.

attorney car accident page in NYC

Keep the content focused on the user at all times and you’ll do great.

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Answer Questions – Make Users Happy

When people search online, they are usually searching for answers. When you develop your content, think about the questions a user has and answer them.

Example 1: Car Accident Page

Potential Questions

  • Should I Hire a Lawyer?
  • How Much Money Can I Get?
  • What If I’m Partially At-Fault?
  • How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?

Example 2: Divorce Lawyer Page

Potential Questions

  • How Long Does a Divorce Take?
  • What are Grounds for Divorce in [STATE]?
  • What are the Residency Requirements for Divorce?

PRO TIP: When you answer the question, get to the point quickly. Don’t write a three paragraph intro to each answer. Users want the answer quickly. If you don’t answer the question quickly, someone else will.

Tools: Ahrefs to find questions.

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How to Find Questions Users Are Asking Using Ahrefs

When we search on Google we often start by asking a question.

To find what questions people are asking that relate to your practice type, we recommend using AHREFs. You can get a trial account for only $7.

After creating an account, login and click “keyword explorer” in the top menu.

Then enter a keyword (we used “car accident lawyer”), and then click the orange button (see below).

AHREFs-keyword-explorer

The next screen will show you relevant keywords and questions. In the example below, you have several questions you can start with today if you’re a personal injury lawyer:

  • How to get money from a car accident without a lawyer (yes, it’s a good topic for a lawyer to answer)
  • When to get a lawyer for a car accident
    • When to call a lawyer after a car accident (try to use this phrase in the article when answering the questions above).

Remember, use the question as your (1) title tag, (2) <h1> tag, and (3) URL (/when-to-get-a-lawyer-for-car-accident/).

Questions-Title-Tags-SEO-For-Lawyers

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SEO Keyword Research To Improve Your Content

When you’re developing content, you want to include variations of your keyword to capture as much traffic possible for your target search term.

To do this, we recommend several tools below. Once you find additional keywords, work them naturally into your content.

SEMRush

An amazing paid tool for doing keyword research. We use SEMRush for keyword ideas for all the content we produce. This tool is to legal SEO what Lexis/Nexis or Westlaw is to attorneys – indispensable.

Once you enter your main keyword, you’ll get a ton of ideas and insight like you see below.

Click on “View full report” to see more keyword options that you can incorporate into your content.

SEMRush Lawyer Keywords

AHREFS

Another great tool for keyword research is Ahrefs. To use Ahrefs, you’ll need to login and click on “Keywords Explorer.”

Then enter your target keyword and scroll below for useful info like “Keyword ideas by search volume” and “Questions.”

You might be able to work the questions into your article or create a separate article addressing that question.

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SEO Keyword Research for Lawyers: An Alternative Method

A lot has been written on the topic of “SEO keyword research for lawyers.” Here’s the problem.

Often times, you have no idea where to start. An SEO expert tells you “do keyword research!” And you’re thinking, “which keywords do I research?”

Don’t Start with Keyword Research – Start With Finding Topics to Write About

Start with competitor research to find out what topics your competitors are writing about.

For example, using the method below, (Steal Your Competitors’ Traffic), you’ll be able to find the topics your competitors wrote about and how much traffic they are getting from those topics.

When using SEMRush for competitor, you’ll see which keywords result in a particular page or post getting traffic.

Make sure to include those keywords in your headers or in the content paragraphs.

Don’t stop by just looking at your local competitors. Using the method shown below, look at the top ranking sites in all major markets in your state.

Should I Ever Do Keyword Research?

Yes, but not the way most online guides recommend it.

Instead, find a topic you want to write about based on competitor research.

Before you publish it, do an SEO content audit with SEMRush (see: Use SEMRush to Improve Your Content), or use a tool like SurferSEO to find out which keywords you should include to capture more traffic and increase your rankings.

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Steal Your Competitors’ Traffic (in an ethical way)

You’re not going to actually steal anything. Instead, you’re going to find out what content drives traffic to your competitors and do it better.

To do this, we will use a method we learned from Ryan Stewart.

You will need a SEMRush account. We guarantee that this strategy is worth every penny of SEMRush’s monthly subscription fee.

See the video below for more information.

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Use SEMRush to Improve Your Content

SEMRush has an awesome tool that you should consider using when developing your content.

Once you’re in SEMRush, click on “Content Marketing” and “SEO Content Template.”

After that, insert your target keyword. If you’re a Boston car accident lawyer, you would enter that into the “Enter your target keywords” box.

SEMRush Content Tool

After you enter your password, you’ll get the following screen (see below). The “SEO Recommendations” tab gives you a list of competitors and keywords you should use.

The real magic happens in the “Real-time Content Check” tab. Enter your content there to see how it stacks up against the competition.

SEMRush content editor

Tools: SEMRush

Further Reading:

https://www.semrush.com/kb/812-content-toolkit

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According to one study, the average American reads at the 7th to 8th grade reading level.

When you create content, you’ll want to make sure it’s accessible to all users. To do this, use the Hemingway Editor to make sure you’re content is at about the 8th to 9th grade level.

Hemingway editor for attorney content

Tool: Hemingway App

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One of the biggest mistakes we see attorneys make is not link out to authority sites in their content. Whenever you list a statistic or fact, it’s a good idea to cite your source via a link.

This increases user trust because you allow the user to independently verify the information you presented.

Linking out to authority sites helps Google build a relationship between your site and the sites you’re linking out to.

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Add Images and ALT Tags

Pictures help bring your article to life. Make sure you add images whenever relevant. That includes pictures of you.

Do not use images you find online without the proper permission. You will inevitably get a letter one day from a company asking for money for infringing on someone’s copyright.

Here’s a great place to find images: https://www.istockphoto.com.

Don’t forget to add ALT tags to images. While we don’t recommend spamming the ALT tag with exact match phrases like “Boston personal injury lawyer,” we do recommend trying to use keywords in the ALT tag.

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Content-Length

Studies show that longer content tends to rank better. With that said, we don’t recommend trying to hit any particular word count.

Instead, start with an outline of the sub-topics you plan on discussing (See “Proper Use of H Tags” below for how to create an outline).

Then, make sure you cover each sub-topic with a sufficient amount of detail.

For example, a “car accident lawyer” page might include a discussion on “What Types of Damages Can I Recover After a Car Accident?”

We recommend you provide an overview of damages (economic, non-economic) and create a new page just on damages that’s more in-depth.

That way, your visitors get a general overview on your car accident page and can get more in-depth info if needed.

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Proper Use of H Tags

An H tag is an html tag that indicates a heading on a page. Think of H tags like your outline.

H tags are numbered 1 – 6, with 1 being the most important.

<h1>This is heading 1</h1>
<h2>This is heading 2</h2>
<h3>This is heading 3</h3>
<h4>This is heading 4</h4>
<h5>This is heading 5</h5>
<h6>This is heading 6</h6>

You can (and will) have multiple instances of H2 – H6, but you should only use the H1 tag once (at the beginning of the article).

IMPORTANT: Your H1 should contain your main keyword. If you’re trying to rank for “New York City Car Accident Lawyer,” that should be your H1 (or a variation of that).

Before writing a long article, we recommend that you first create an outline. That outline will become your H tags.

If you’re not sure what to write about, we recommend you do the following:

  • Google the term you’re trying to rank for (let’s use NYC car accident lawyer)
  • Next, take the URL of the first result and put it in https://www.browseo.net. This will give your H tag outline on the right.
h tag outline
  • The Headings outline you see in Browseo will give you a good idea of what sub-topics you should focus on.
  • Pay attention to the keywords used in the H tags. In the example above, do you notice how almost every H tag has a GEO modifier?
  • We recommend you look at the top 5 ranking pages so that you can make a comprehensive outline.
  • Remember – the goal is to make a better page than the ones already ranking (if you don’t, you’ll never outrank them).

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Improve Your About Us Page

Typically, the 2nd most visited page on your website will be your ABOUT US page.

Put time into this page. Don’t make it 800 words about where you went to college and law school.

Instead, make it about how your experience will help your prospective client.

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Use Google Search Console To Get More Traffic to Existing Articles [Video]

One overlooked tool to get more traffic to your site is Google Search Console (GSC). In the performance report, you can see what keywords are driving traffic to your pages.

What you want to do is find the low-hanging fruit and work those keywords into your content. By low-hanging fruit, we mean keywords for which you’re ranking on the second page.

See this video for a brief explanation.

[VIDEO]

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Blog the Right Way

If you did the competitor research above, then you should have plenty of ideas for new content. When you’re adding blog posts to your site, keep the following in mind:

Add value:

  • What is the purpose of your blog post?
  • Does your blog post answer a question you get often from clients?
  • Is the information in your post useful to your readers?

Geographic relevance: Does the post add geographical relevance to your site? If you’re a personal injury lawyer in Houston, then you should have blog posts that are customized to fit your audience. Try to regionalize the topic as much as possible.

Informational intent – no selling: Blog posts are a great place to give your site visitors useful information. Don’t try to sell them on your services in a blog post. It’s annoying.

Instead, wow them with great info. If you do that, they’ll want to learn more about you and your services. If you don’t wow them with your blog posts, your competitors will.

Create Linkable Assets: Blog posts are a great way to create linkable assets. By that, we mean pages that you can link to when guest-posting or that users will link to as a resource.

Important: Do NOT do short blog posts regurgitating news stories about local car accidents. Unless you’re providing legal analysis regarding a particular event, you’re better off not having those posts on your site.

Here’s why. Those posts are usually short, low-quality, and provide no further insight than the original article from which it was essentially copied. They age poorly, and someone searching for a car accident lawyer is not likely to find you because of that post. Instead, focus on answering questions that a motor vehicle accident victim is searching for.

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Incorporate LSI Keywords

LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) Keywords are conceptually related words that search engines use to better understand your content.

LSI keywords are not variations of your keywords. An example would be an article about Apple. For Google to understand that that article is about Apple the computer company rather than the food, it would look for conceptually related terms like “Mac,” “computer,” “iPhone,” and so on.

Incorporating LSI keywords is a great way to immediately improve the relevance of your content for a given term.

To get started, we recommend:

LSI Graph

LSI keyword graph

After you enter your keyword, you’ll get LSI keyword recommendations.

PRO TIP: If you don’t get results for the long-tail version of your keyword (Miami car accident lawyer), try it for “car accident lawyer” and “car accident.”

Below is a screenshot of “car accident.”

LSI car accidents

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Create Content Topic Clusters

If done correctly, a content cluster helps you increase the authority of a page that you’re trying to rank for a given keyword.

For example, let’s say that you’re trying to rank for “Austin Car Accident Lawyer.”

You want to start by doing a great page on that topic.

Next, you want to think about all the related topics that you may have briefly addressed but can now expand on.

If the hub is “Austin car accident lawyer,” then supporting pages could be:

  • Car Accidents FAQ
  • Head-on Crashes
  • Highway Crashes
  • Hit-and-Run Crashes

Pro Tip 1: Link from the the supporting pages back to the hub page.

Pro Tip 2: Now that you have supporting pages, build links to those pages. The link equity will flow to those pages and then to the car accident page (which is what you’re trying to rank).

topic cluster SEO

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When talking about internal linking, we’re discussing two different things.

Internal Linking for Users

First, there’s the normal internal linking you do to improve the user experience. Think Wikipedia. They link every time there’s a word and/or concept that expands or is related to the topic you’re reading about.

That’s the right way to link internally. I’ve found myself on Wikipedia for hours just by following the links.

The benefit of this approach is that it tends to increase dwell time on your site (meaning how long users stay on your site). A dwell time longer than your competitors is a positive SEO signal for Google.

Wikipedia-internal-linking

Internal Linking for Rankings

Whether it’s wise to link internally to let’s say the homepage with exact match anchor is debatable.

Say you’re a Phoenix personal injury lawyer. The internal links would be from internal pages on your site back to the homepage using variations of the terms you’re trying to rank for.

For example, “Phoenix personal injury lawyer,” “personal injury lawyer in Phoenix,” etc.

Should you do it? While we have found this tactic to be effective, we encourage you to use it lightly.

For example, create a list of every keyword permutation of your main keyword (personal injury lawyer in Phoenix, accident attorneys in Phoenix, Phoenix personal injury attorney, etc.) and use each one no more than 2 – 3 times each.

From our experience, websites get diminishing returns when they overuse the same exact match anchors over and over.

Another approach is to use an 80/20 ratio of exact match keywords to branded/misc anchors.

PRO-TIP: When you link internally from a page to your homepage (or whatever page you’re trying to rank), try to surround the link with relevant content. For example, let’s say you’re a Tucson personal injury lawyer and you’re trying to rank the homepage for that term. From the slip and fall page, you could have a paragraph about why someone should call your personal injury firm after an accident. And the H2 for that paragraph could be something like, “Why Call a Personal Injury Lawyer at BRAND firm After a Slip and Fall Accident”. The H2 and surrounding text around “Tucson personal injury lawyer” creates a wall or relevancy around that link, thereby making the link more powerful.

Further Reading on Internal Linking

Matt Diggity on internal link-building

Neil Patel on internal link-building

Ryan Stewart on internal link-building

Tools to Improve Internal Linking:

Link Whisperer

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Improve Your Content – Make it better for users

The average American reads at about a 7th to 8th grade level. Further, people don’t read online, they scan.

Therefore, you’ll need to create content that is both accessible and easy to scan.

Here a some best practices to improving readability.

  • Use the Hemingway App (covered in more detail above)
    • Focus on getting the reading level between Grade 9 – 10th.
  • Use Bucket Brigades
    • Bucket Brigades are: “phrases or words that add conversational value to your content and attract more and more people to your content.”
  • Sentence length
    • The optimal length is between 50 – 60 words per line. If you go over that, you risk tiring out the reader.
    • Remember, you want to make it as easy as possible for your site visitors to stay on your site.
  • Internal Links (covered above)

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Add a Table of Contents

Adding a table of contents (TOC) results in several benefits to you and your users. First, it gives your users a clear roadmap of your article. It allows them to jump right to the section they’re interested in reading about.

How does a TOC benefit you? It allows you to scan your headers quickly and make sure that they flow in a logical way.

Attorney Table of Contents

Tool: Easy Table of Contents plugin

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3. Offsite SEO for Lawyers

Offsite SEO refers to strategies and tactics to improve your SEO that do not involve making changes to your website.

This includes link-building, citation building, social media engagement, and more.

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When building links to your homepage, you want to make sure you don’t over optimize your anchor text.

Here’s a good distribution to keep your backlink profile looking natural:

  • BRAND: 80% – 95% range
    • Brand anchors refers to anchors that contain your brand name. In this category we also include miscellaneous (MISC) anchors and URL anchors (naked).
  • Partial: 10% max
    • Partial refers to anchors that include part of a keyword term in them. For example, if your target keyword is “Clearwater personal injury lawyer,” a partial match would be: “personal injury lawyer,” “Clearwater law office,” “BRAND + personal injury lawyers.”
  • Exact: 5% max
    • You want to be careful with exact match anchors. An exact match anchor refers to the specific term you’re trying to rank for like, “Clearwater personal injury lawyer,” or a permutation of that.

The safe play is build your anchors around your brand, and sparingly add partial and exact match anchors.

IMPORTANT: The ratios above apply to a homepage. For internal pages, you’re usually safe going much higher on exact and partial match.

Link to spreadsheet

Further Reading:

Tools:

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You can use several tools like Ahrefs, Majestic, and SEMRush to determine the quality of a link. But before using those tools, consider if the link is either topically relevant or geographically relevant (discussed in more detail below).

Also, natural media mentions (like the New York Times, CNN, Fox, etc) are always a good thing. In case you’re wondering, this does not include press releases.

Topical Relevance

If the link is topically relevant to your site, then it’s usually a “good” link. For example, a legal directory link will usually help or at least not hurt your rankings. With that said, some directories are better than others (the ones that rank and actually get traffic vs those that don’t).

Geographical Relevance

You’re a small business. Small business get links from local sites. As a law firm, you should be getting local links like sponsorships or from your local chamber of commerce.

Another example would be for a personal injury lawyer to reach out to local auto repair shops. They might accept a guest post from you regarding car accidents.

[VIDEO]

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To improve your rankings, you’ll want to figure out what links your competition has that you don’t. In the video below we explain how you can use Ahrefs’ link intersect tool to find the links helping your competitors.

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Legal directories provide powerful links for attorneys because they are the most relevant type of links you can acquire.

Think about it. What link could be more relevant for an attorney than a directory of attorneys?

Here are some of top site you wanted to get listed on:

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Sponsorships

A great way to get local links to is to find organizations in your area looking for sponsors. To find them, you can use operators like:

  • Houston intitle:sponsor
  • Houston intitle:sponsorship

Just replace Houston with your city.

Also check out ZipSprout – they’ll find local opportunities for you.

Non-Legal Directories

Non-legal directories are a great way to get more exposure to your site. You will usually find these opportunities by researching your competitors. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

HARO

HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out. In a nutshell, HARO is a portal through which you can receive requests from journalists looking for information and/or a quote regarding a particular topic.

To sign up, go to https://www.helpareporter.com and click on “I’m a source.”

help a reporter out for attorney SEO

When signing up for HARO, you’ll want to create custom alerts for words like “lawyer” or “attorney.”

Further Reading:

Chamber of Commerce

Your local chambers are a great way to not only get local links, but to get involved in your community. To find chambers in your area, search for “CITY chamber of commerce.”

Most cities also have many other chambers: LGBTQ, Black, Asian, etc.

In large cities like Los Angeles, you’ll find chambers for the surrounding cities like Santa Monica, Hollywood, etc.

Pro Tip: Before signing up with a chamber, make sure their directory gets indexed by Google. Find a lawyer listed in their directory. When you’re on that page, type “site:” (without the quotes) before the URL. Is it indexed? If not, skip that chamber.

Press Releases

We don’t recommend using this as a link-building tactic. However, it’s a good idea to use them when you have something newsworthy like launching a new office. A few pointers regarding press releases:

  • Don’t include exact match keywords (don’t link to your home page with “CITY personal injury lawyer” – where CITY is your location).
  • Do link to your site only using your homepage URL
  • Do include your Name, Address, and Phone (NAP) info
  • Don’t abuse press releases. It won’t help your rankings.

Infographics

Infographics (IG) are a great way to display complex information. You can find hundreds of infographic designers on UpWork.

Once you have your IG, embed it on a page and look for link-building opportunities. Try something like: “submit” “infographic.”

Attorney SEO Infographic

Source: Kent McGuire Law Firm

Further Reading:

Guest Posting

As an attorney, you want to find relevant guest post opps to showcase your expertise. Here’s a list of legal blogs accepting guest posts.

If you want to invest considerably more time into this, check out this guide that covers outreach.

You can also use these search operators to find opportunities:

  • Legal + “write for us”
  • Legal + “become a contributor”
  • Legal + “blog for us”
  • Legal + “guest post”

Additionally, you can search for terms like “guest post provider” and “best guest post provider” to find done-for-you options.

Further Reading:

Scholarships

Whether scholarships are still a good idea is debatable. We can tell you that many schools no longer accept them and will refer you to a third-party scholarship clearing house. Here is one opinion on why you should avoid scholarships from Search Engine Journal.

For more information on launching a scholarship, check out How to Create and Run an Effective Scholarship Outreach Campaign from Moz.

Linkable Asset

Create an asset that other sites want to link to. This usually involves creating some form of data visualization.

For example, a criminal defense attorney could create an interactive map of the most dangerous cities in his/her state.

For more information, check this out on Ahrefs: https://ahrefs.com/blog/the-trust-formula/.

Please note that this is an advanced technique that will most likely require a significant amount of your time.

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We see this mistake often. An attorney ranks great organically but is nowhere else to be found on the first page.

Ranking on Google’s first page is hard. Once you get there, maximize the opportunity by showing elsewhere on the page.

Here’s a breakdown of where you can appear on the first page as an attorney:

  • Local Service Ads (LSA)
  • Google Ads
  • Local SEO
  • Organic SEO
  • Legal Directories: FindLaw, Justia, SuperLawyers
  • Non-Legal Directories: Yelp

It’s powerful to be on Google’s first page. But it’s a lot more powerful to appear seven times on Google’s first page.

If you are going to get directory listings, we recommend you get a top placement in that directory. Being at the bottom of FindLaw’s first page won’t help much.

The biggest benefit you’ll receive from being listed several times on Google’s first page is the repetition factor when people are searching for an attorney.

Does it help?

We’ll put it this way. Have you ever been to a professional sports game and seen the same Coca-Cola poster 200 times. Next thing you know, you’re drinking a Coke.

Prospective clients who see you multiple times when searching for an attorney are more likely to call you than if they only see you once.

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Check Your Lawyer SEO Rankings – Organic and Local

How are you doing in rankings?

Instead of depending on your marketing company for monthly reports, you can get your own search engine rankings.

To track your rankings, we recommend ProRankTracker (PRT). With this tool, you’ll be able to track both your Organic and Local SEO rankings. Best part, you’re getting the information directly from Google.

Prorank Tracker for Attorney SEO

If you want more insight into how you’re doing on Local SEO, we recommend Local Falcon. After you sign up for an account, all you do is enter your business name, set the search radius, and enter your keyword.

Local SEO for Lawyers

So, if you’re an NYC personal injury lawyer, you’ll want to enter your firm name (as it appears on your GMB), enter a key term like “NYC personal injury lawyer,” and set a .5 mile radius or 1 mile radius (the denser your city, the lower your radius should be).

Don’t forget to also search for terms like “personal injury lawyer” and “personal injury lawyer near me.”

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Improve Your Complete Online Presence – 3rd Party Sites

Make sure that your online presence reflects on your properly. As an attorney, you may have profiles on 3rd party sites without your knowledge.

We recommend that you Google your law firm name to see what comes up.

Update any old profiles with your current contact info and consider updating your pictures.

When you update your BIO on prominent 3rd party sites like Avvo, FindLaw, etc., make sure you include compelling reasons to call you, like experience and results.

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Get Listed on Attorney Award Sites – National Trial Lawyers, etc.

This is an easy one. When you receive notification that you’ve been selected, ask them how much it costs to get listed.

PRO TIP: When you submit your bio, try to include links to different pages to get the most benefit from your listing.

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Improve Your Local SEO

If you’re interested in local SEO, check out our Local SEO for Lawyers Guide.

If you want to check your local rankings, check out Local Falcon.

Local SEO for lawyers results

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Bonus Resources – Learn SEO

Check out some of the top influencers in SEO. If you’re serious about learning SEO, check out the following:

Ryan Stewart

What we love about Ryan is that he tells it like it is and holds nothing back. If you want to learn advanced strategies, reading his blog is a must.

Check out:

Matt Diggity

Like Ryan, Matt puts it all out there. We’re constantly impressed by his methodical approach to SEO.

Check out:

Rand Fishkin – Moz

If you want to learn SEO, start with anything put out by Moz. This is where a lot of people we know started their SEO journey – with the Moz SEO for beginners guide and Moz’s Whiteboard Fridays.

Check out:

Brian Dean

You could probably learn almost everything you need to know about SEO from Brian Dean. He’s established himself as one of the top SEO gurus out there. You will gain valuable insight from every article he writes.

Check out:

Neil Patel

If you’re serious about SEO and don’t know about Neil Patel, you’re probably not that serious about SEO. Improve your SEO skills immediately by following Neil Patel’s blog. For more “Neil Knowledge” (he calls it that),

Check out:

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Local SEO Resources

Check out these resources if you want to learn more about Local SEO.

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Auditing Your Current SEO Campaign

Phone Calls/Contact Forms

The success of an SEO campaign ultimately depends on:

  • Are you getting more calls than before you started the campaign?
  • Are you making more money than before you started the campaign?

We’ll explain how to measure the first component.

To do so, you’ll need to install call tracking on your website. We recommend using CallRail.

CallRail allows you to track phone calls and forms sent through your site.

With CallRail, you’ll know how many relevant leads you received monthly.

We aren’t considering the “quality” of the lead, as that is a subjective measure. One firm’s trash is another’s treasure.

What you’ll want to know is how many calls are you getting monthly through your SEO campaign that are relevant to your practice area.

You can also implement call recording. Doing so allows you to listen to your intake team. Why? You need to make sure that your team is handling intakes the way you want them handled.

Tool(s): CallRail to track calls and contact forms via your website.

Organic SEO Rankings

How do you rank? It’s important that you keep an eye on your organic rankings. We recommend ProRank Tracker.

When looking at your keywords, make sure that you’re focusing on the ones that actually bring business to your office.

For example, a divorce lawyer in Miami might want to track:

  • Miami divorce lawyer
  • Miami child custody lawyer
  • Miami child support lawyer

Make sure that your SEO agency provides you a list of keywords and search volume per keyword. You don’t want to waste your time ranking for keywords that have no search volume.

Tool(s): ProRank Tracker (or any other organic ranking tool)

There’s a lot of confusion over what counts as a link. When we say a “link,” what we really mean is a referring domain. We’ll explain.

Justia.com is a legal directory. When they link to you, it counts as one referring domain. However, because it’s a directory, Justia could link to you thousands of times. So you could have 1 referring domain and 2,000 links.

Google has publicly stated that they stop giving you credit for links at a certain point (we don’t know what that point is). In other words, the first link from Justia is what really matters. After the first one, you get diminishing returns.

So when you’re inspecting your SEO campaign, you should focus on how many new referring domains you’re getting, not how many links.

Want to know how many referring domains your project has? It’s easy. Head over to Ahrefs and copy and paste your URL in that box and hit the magnifying glass.

You’ll then get a report that looks like the image below. As you can see, this site has 161 referring domain and over 7k backlinks. The important number is the referring domains.

Tool(s): Ahref

Is Your Site Traffic Growing?

There are two ways to look at your site traffic: Google Search Console (GSC) and SEMRush. We’ll show you how to look on GSC because it’s your site and you should have access.

After you login to GSC, click on performance on the left side. On the middle chart, you’ll see your traffic (the default is a 3-month period). Is it going up, down, flat?

Just to be clear, we’re only looking at your organic search traffic. If you want to see your traffic from all channels (paid ads, directories, etc.), you’ll want to use Google Analytics.

The “Total clicks” box is how many times users have clicked on your result in Google. The “Total impressions” refers to how many times your page has appeared in the results (independent of whether the user clicked on your result).

Are You Getting Content Monthly?

Ideally, your marketing team adds content monthly to your site.

While we don’t advocate content for the sake of content, they should have a game plan and you should be aware of what that game plan is.

How is the Quality of the Content?

When doing a content quality assessment, we suggest you start with your practice area pages. A few items to consider:

  • Is the article long enough? Most pages ranking well are in the 1.5k+ word count range.
  • Does the article fully cover the topic?
  • Is the reading level appropriate for my target audience (usually 9th – 10th grade level)?
  • Does the article have header tags (H tags) to break up the content?
  • Is the article easy to scan?
  • Does the article use images?
  • Does the title tag have all the necessary components (CITY + practice area + lawyer)
  • Is my article better than the people outranking me? (remember, you have to read these pages like a lay person, not a lawyer).

How is Your Local SEO?

You need to stay on top of your local SEO visibility. Using a tool like Local Falcon, you’ll want to target a 1/2 mile to 1 mile radius using different permutations of your main keyword.

Let’s say you’re a personal injury lawyer in Boston, MA.

You might want to check:

  • Boston personal injury lawyer
  • Personal injury lawyer
  • Personal injury lawyer near me
  • Best personal injury lawyer near me

Tool(s): Local Falcon

Bonus Tips

Create SILOs for smaller locations near you

If you’re in a competitive city, consider making silos for nearby locations that might not be as competitive.

Example: Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer

You could try making a Burbank silo. How would that look? This is one possible structure:

  • yoursite.com/burbank/ (this would be the “family law” page)
  • yoursite.com/burbank/divorce-lawyer/
  • yoursite.com/burbank/child-custody-lawyer/
  • yoursite.com/burbank/child-support-lawyer/

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SEO For Lawyers FAQ

Can you guarantee rankings?

No. If a company tells you they guarantee rankings, read the fine-print.

What they usually mean is that they will improve your current rankings. Most companies can do that.

What you probably mean when you ask that question is “Can you guarantee first page rankings?” There’s not one single reputable SEO for lawyers agency that will guarantee rankings.

Ask this instead: Can you show me samples of projects that you’ve ranked on the first page for terms like: “CITY divorce lawyer,” “CITY personal injury lawyer,” and “CITY criminal defense attorney.”

Can I call your current clients?

Reputable SEO agencies have no problem with you calling their existing clients.

With that said, you should only take this step if you are serious about signing with that agency.

Why is SEO for lawyers so expensive?

The real question you should consider is whether the return on investment (ROI) is there. Organic SEO may seem pricey in the beginning before your project gains traction. But once the project gains traction and you start receiving leads, then it should ideally pay for itself several times over.

How long does it take to rank?

We have ranked projects for highly competitive keywords in 3 months. However, it can sometimes take up to 18 months to rank. It really depends on:

  • The level of competition in your market
  • Your budget
  • Your starting point

Why is my competitor outranking me?

SEO boils down to 3 things: Content, Links, and User Experience (UX).

When someone is outranking you, they have you beat on one if not all three of those areas.

I heard SEO doesn’t really work, is that true?

That is not true. We had a potential client say that to us. We asked him, “Who told you that SEO doesn’t work.” His answer: “One of my competitors.”