Attorneys today are constantly battling it out against stiff competition. Wherever you are, there’s always a steady stream of new lawyers coming in every year. So apart from enhancing their skills and knowledge, today’s attorneys also need to focus on their marketing campaigns, in particular, digital marketing. However,competition in the digital space is extremely tough. Luckily, one of the more reliable ways to meet this challenge is in understanding the art of SEO (or search engine optimization).
If you don’t live and breathe SEO, you might still generally understand that search engine optimization is the act of getting specific pages from your law firm’s website to appear at the top of search engine results pages (or SERPs) whenever a user searches for a particular related term. Lawyers can benefit greatly from SEO: after all, search engines (most notably Google) are one of the best ways to drive clients to a law firm.
To better understand why SEO is so important for law firms and the techniques they can utilize, we sat down with Chris Dreyer, CEO & Founder of Rankings.io, a highly specialized SEO service provider that helps personal injury law firms dominate first page rankings.
In today’s world, the majority of people go online to find information and research their options. If it’s difficult for people to find you online, you’re probably losing out on a significant quantity of potential clients. Commenting on why law firms often fail to achieve consistently high rankings Chris says, “You have to remember that law firm SEO is an art as much as it is a science and expert practitioners must have creative skills as well as technical. While you can follow tried and tested techniques, they are not always enough in the extremely competitive legal vertical. People choose their lawyers very carefully, and if you don’t present yourself or your law firm in the right fashion, you stand to lose prospective clients.”
Search engines provide ratings for businesses and organizations that clients and customers review using their platform. Today, consumers and clients perform a large volume of searches that yield local results on smartphones and other mobile devices. Reviews are strongly aligned with ratings for local searches, making them increasingly important to all businesses, including law firms. Commenting on the importance of local search, Chris emphasizes, “Appearing at or near the top of search engine results or “local pack” for specific searches can increase website visits and provide more contacts with potential clients. It’s a numbers game.”
Optimizing for other search engines is also important. Overall, making optimizations to follow Google’s guidelines can have an effect on your performance in other search engines, as they tend to follow Google’s lead. Elaborates Chris, “Bing, for example, is the second largest search engine on the web. A lot of its user base is of the older demographic group, which also means they have more purchasing power. That’s something a law firm has to keep in mind when running a SEO campaign.”
Rankings are not just about the searches though. One of the challenges that law firms’ websites face today is the readability of their content. Law firms talk about very technical matters, so on their websites, the content will naturally be law-related. Having said that, the simple truth is that most people searching for legal representation don’t have a background in the law, so what they see on a law firm’s site may not always be easily digestible to them. Many who browse through the sites of lawyers might even feel intimidated that they don’t understand any of the terms that are being used.
“Good SEO helps in this regard,” elaborates Chris. “With the right practices in place, no matter how complex the discussions might be, your website can still have content that’s easy to comprehend. The main goal of readability in SEO is to increase the dwell time of internet users on your website. What I mean by this is that the longer your prospective clients stay on your website, the greater the chances that they will make that call and hire your firm. A readable website that focuses on end users first can greatly improve your chances of success.”
The process of improving readability starts by improving the website of your law firm. A well-designed website can help you form a good impression on your prospective clients. It provides a good user experience and helps your website visitors access and navigate your website with ease. “Most importantly, it helps you nurture your leads and get more conversions. So, if you are looking for designers to create your website, vet them well and ensure that they are capable of designing user-friendly and accessible websites. If you already have a website, you can always conduct a site audit with a firm like Rankings.io and optimize it to not only provide a better user experience but also improve accessibility,” Chris emphasizes.
Keywords, Keywords, Keywords
However, before optimizing a website, one of the very first steps to go through is conducting research for the right keywords. The critical point to remember is that law firms must focus on keywords that they know their clients (i.e., those looking for legal services) will use. These words should be those that are commonly used, so that when inserted in their firm’s content, they’re able to drive traffic to their site strategically. Chris describes a step-by-step process which a law firm can use to enhance its SEO performance: “The first thing to remember is to use a focused approach to keyword usage. Many SEO providers make the mistake of using keywords which are too general in their nature and use and this results in poor SEO metrics. The trick of discovering advanced keywords is to know what your target audience wants (for example, the specific branch or field of law that you’re specializing in). Once you are done with that study, analyze the results of your keywords to understand the searches that are driving website traffic. Lastly, use variations of the keywords you’re using to improve your chances of a hit.”
A marathon, not a sprint
Most law firms know by now that digital marketing is, in fact, getting more competitive every day. Hence the need to practice proper SEO techniques, so that their firms get noticed. This isn’t to say that law firms know the ins and outs of SEO, which is why hiring a quality law firm SEO provider can greatly help, particularly one that specializes in law firm SEO. One reason to hire an SEO agency is because they’ll be able to leverage the best tools, resources, and strategies to keep up with the changing landscape of SEO. By outsourcing your efforts to a top-notch agency, you’ll be able to focus on other areas of your firm.
After all, SEO is about results. When your site moves up in the rankings, more visitors arrive, waiting to be converted into customers. While many firms understand SEO can get them there, there is no guarantee it will work, especially not if you’re hoping to just go into your site, tweak a few things, and immediately see results rolling in; some short-term SEO efforts might give you a boost, but it’s not enough for long-term success. As Chris explains, quality SEO takes time, “SEO for lawyers is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t expect to see your law firm’s search engine rankings improve right away. Be patient. Keep focusing on writing great new content that’s relevant to potential clients, building backlinks, and generating positive client reviews. If you’re able to execute better in quality and quantity versus competitors, you’ll rise up the rankings. SEO is an ongoing process, not a one-time event, because the market, the competition, and the companies that set the rules are constantly changing and evolving. So should you.”
*Chris Dreyer is the CEO & Founder of Rankings.io, an SEO agency which focuses on helping elite personal injury law firms dominate first page rankings. Rankings.io has been the premium SEO provider of law firms for over 10 years. To learn more about their work and their methodology, visit Rankings.io