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Google is hands down the easiest way to drive clients to a law firm.
The problem is, every law firm know this and invests heavily into their website and SEO.
This has made the legal space one of the more competitive verticals in SEO.
Hopefully, this post will save you time:
Ahem, you can also set a time on my calendar to chat directly.
This should be the last chapter but it’s so important I put it first.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – marketing efforts are lost without great analytics. To get there, you need the help of 2 tools:
If you don’t have them set up, do it now.
NOTE: There are plenty of resources to help you out.
I’m going to show you 3 reports to gauge ROI from your SEO efforts.
To do this, you need to be tracking Goals.
We’re going to set it up for form submissions (i.e. when a visitor submits a contact form on your site). It will be under the assumption that your form redirects users to a “Thank You” page.
More importantly, you have data telling you how SEO impacted your firm.
Let’s use the data from the screenshot above as an example. Assuming I spent $3,500 on SEO for the month:
Input the data into Excel. Then, add leads converted to clients and the total revenue gained (3 clients, $15,000 total).
Simply subtracting Total SEO Revenue Gained – Total SEO Costs = SEO Net Profit.
That’s great, but you already knew that.
Here’s whats really valuable:
These 2 numbers help calculate the potential of SEO.
When you take these numbers and plug them into a simple equation, you get a powerful result:
Simply changing the amount of traffic (in the black cell) you can estimate and gauge the impact on your revenue.
The more traffic, the more revenue.
Your firm’s fate is in your hands. The more you put in, the more you get out.
NOTE: Click HERE to download my spreadsheet with calculations done for you!
Good keyword research puts you in the driver seat to control rankings, traffic and ultimately leads. Without it, you’re operating in the dark.
It’s always easier to illustrate by example. Let’s image I’m doing keyword research for a Miami based DUI attorney.
Come up with an initial list of keywords based on the core business. For example:
Google has a free tool displaying average monthly search volume for given keywords (click here: https://adwords.google.com). Login with your Gmail account, input the list of keywords from step one and click “Get Ideas” button.
On the resulting screen, click the “Keyword Ideas” tab.
What you’ll see is your keywords with associated monthly search volume, competition and suggested bid. There’s not much we can do here – click the “Download” button to get the data in Excel.
Highlight and delete columns A, C, D, F, H and I – right click and delete.
Next, highlight row 1, right click and select “Filter > By Cell Value”.
Click the filter in the Keyword column and type your descriptive keyword into the search bar.
In my case, the descriptive keyword is DUI. If you’re a divorce attorney, type divorce. If you’re a corporate attorney, type corporate.
We’re filtering the data because the Keyword tool returns 500+ results. We want to trim them to those containing the most relevant keywords.
The final step is organizing keywords by intent. Take a look at the first two keywords in my list for Miami DUI attorneys:
While both of these keywords are valuable to my site, one query is informational the other holds purchase intent.
You need to separate the keywords that drive traffic from those that drive leads.
I do this by simply adding another column called “Intent” and tagging each keyword with “Info” or “Purchase”.
Sort your list by monthly searches, high to low. The keyword with the highest volume is your main keyword. I’ll show you how to leverage it later in the guide.
Note: In the screenshot above I tallied up the total number of average monthly searches (2,050) and the cost to drive that traffic with Google pay per click ads. The total monthly cost would be $171,117.90.
Here’s my competitive analysis for Attorney SEO:
It’s competitive as hell.
What you’ve got is the perfect storm for online marketing.
It’s really hard to rank an attorney website because any law firm with half a brain is investing in SEO.
The only way to rank is to be better than the competition.
First we need to get the tools set up. We’ll be using 2 free browser plugins:
After you’ve installed the MozBar, click the settings icon and select “Dislpay SERP Overlay”.
These browser plugins help analyze backlinks of competitors (if you didn’t already know, backlinks are still Google’s largest ranking factor).
Understanding Moz: The MozBar overlays 2 important statistics in the SERPs:
Understanding Majestic: The Majestic plugin helps us understand a number of factors:
Have I lost you yet? Here’s a chart that will help illustrate the competitive analysis process:
Got it? Good – let’s move on.
We need to keep track of our analysis – open the spreadsheet with your keywords and create a new tab.
Add columns for KW, Result, PA, DA, TF, CF, Anchor, Total Links and Ref Domains.
Type your main keyword into Google.
Find the first organic result. In your spreadsheet, record:
Click on the first organic result.
Then, click on the Majestic browser extension (located in the upper right hand corner).
In the spreadsheet, record:
Note: Use the URL metrics, not Root Domain.
Click on the link at the top (located next to Majestic Summary for:).
Scroll to the bottom of the screen and you’ll see the Anchor Text chart. This chart tells you how other domains are linking to a site.
For example, let’s say I link to www.google.com from this post:
Notice all the links point to the same domain (www.google.com) but are linked using different text. The word wrapped in the link is known as the anchor text.
2 years ago, you could rank for whatever you wanted by building exact keyword anchor texts.
Google got smart. Building too many links using the same keyword will get your website penalized.
A quality anchor text profile looks as follows:
This domain has a clean anchor text profile. In the Anchor column of my spreadsheet I input “clean”.
Click the “Backlinks” tab on top of the screen. Scroll up and down the page looking at the types of sites linking to your competitors’.
A good link profile will have links from sites within the same niche.
As you can see, my competitor has links from law based websites. These are high quality links – a sign that this site will be tough to outrank.
Click on a few links. Look for:
For example, my competitor’s first link is from www.superlawyers.com. The site has good metrics:
Another sign that my competitor will be tough to outrank.
Don’t throw in the towel yet!
Following the link to the site I see it’s a list of Florida attorneys. They also have a contact page.
I saved the URL in a spreadsheet. I’ll be revisiting it when it’s time to build links.
Repeat this process for every website listed on the first page for your main keyword.
Yes, it’s a lot of work (now you’re understanding why SEOs charge so much for services)!
Here’s how my spreadsheet came out for the keyword “miami dui attorney”:
There’s no calculation to spit out a magic ranking number. As an experienced SEO, I can formulate a good analysis of what it will take to rank:
I’d estimate this would take anywhere from 3 – 5 months with a heavy focus on content, social engagement and quality backlinks to outrank the top spot.
It’s important for rankings and user experience to have an easy to use site.
That means grouping content, navigation and URL structure into organized buckets. Sounds easy, right?
It gets a little more complicated depending on your firm. Speaking strictly from a website perspective, there are 3 types of law firms:
If your firm specializes in 1 type of law (DUI, criminal, etc), this is how to structure your site:
If your firm offers multiple services (i.e. criminal law, corporate law, business law and more), this is how to structure your site:
If your firm has multiple office locations (i.e. Miami, NYC and LA), this is how to structure your site:
Still with me? Let me drive this home by looking at 2 websites:
Let’s take a look at another Miami based attorney’s website (URL blocked for privacy) containing a number of architecture issues.
Their services page is titled “Florida Legal Services”. When clicked, the URL shifts to /practice-areas.html. This isn’t necessarily bad for SEO, but it’s confusing for users.
On this page they list their practice areas. When you click on the first tile “Florida Business Law”, you’re directed to the page seen below:
This is where their structure goes to hell.
This creates orphan pages. Orphan pages rank poorly and are a waste of Googlebot’s precious crawl time.
How to fix:
Our friends ranking #1 for “Miami DUI Attorney” have a great set up.
Their services page is listed in the navigation as “DUI”. When you click on the page, they’ve listed about a dozen sub services of a DUI charge.
When each of the sub services are clicked, they follow a perfect URL structure to rank for each search. This site is killing it in Google – this is a large reason why.
Most of “Local” SEO is covered by the traditional SEO discussed throughout this guide.
However, there are a couple of additional actions you’ll need to take to make sure your site is optimized for local search as well.
Google+ plays a HUGE role in local SEO. In fact, Google+ page titles get displayed in localized results, not websites:
For that reason, I pay special attention to Google+ pages.
If you haven’t already, set up and verify your Google+ Business page: https://www.google.com/business/.
Google will send you a post card in the mail with a verification code. Until you verify your page, you won’t be eligible to show up in localized / maps searches. Do it as soon as you get it!
After you’ve entered the code, click the big red “Edit” button from your “My Business” screen:
First, edit the title of your page:
This is important for 2 reasons:
Next, we’re going to edit the description of your page:
This creates valuable deep links to your service pages (more on links later).
Reviews not only help your website rank for local searches, but they pull through valuable stars in the SERP listing.
I’m not going to cover how to get reviews in this post because I wrote about it depth in a previous guide.
Local citations and directory listings are business profiles on websites like FourSquare, Yelp, Yellow Pages and Brown Book.
These citations are valuable to local SEO because they’re essentially online phone books that associate your website with a physical location.
There are hundreds (thousands) of potential sites to build your firm’s listings in.
It’s a mind numbing process to manually create these listings and it’s easier to outsource.
I hope you’ve stuck around to this point – your SEO success hinges on the ability to create and distribute content.
You’ve heard it before: “content is king”.
I hate it.
This buzzword has sites launching blogs with content adding no value. In fact, it’s driving potential clients away.
Allow me put it in perspective.
Let’s say you’re in the market for SEO services. You do a Google search for a couple of agencies in your area and you click on the first couple of results.
Let’s be honest, they all say the same thing. How can you tell the difference?
You think I enjoy spending hours on end in front of my computer writing?
I live in Miami. On the beach. Trust me when I say I have better ways to spend my time.
Great content is why I’m able to live in Miami. On the beach. It fuels my business.
Start by heading back to your list of keywords separated by intent.
This is SEO 101 – I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it.
Keywords with purchase intent should be targeted at sales / service pages. Each page should be themed at one main keyword. Include that keyword in:
I’ll use the keywords from my “Miami DUI Attorney” as an example.
Main KW: Miami DUI Attorney:
Repeat this on every page for every “Purchase” keyword you’re targeting.
99% of SEO agencies will stop at “purchase” keywords.
Thing is, you need more than words on a page to get Google’s attention. You need social shares, brand mentions and a lot of high quality links.
Why would someone share your homepage? Why would a website link to your services page about DUIs?
They wouldn’t. I know this. You know this. Google knows this.
If your website has a ton of links pointing to 1 page it looks like spam and your website is going to get bitch slapped by Google.
“Info” type content is what generates real shares and links. That’s why you need a blog.
Let’s go back to the “Info” keywords I generated earlier. Keywords like “DUI trial”, “DUI first offense” and “DUI trial questions” generate a good amount of monthly searches.
These are the keywords to build content around.
People don’t care about “10 Reasons to Hire an Attorney”. Give them something they can’t find anywhere else.
You paid $300,000 for an education – show us what you learned!
Don’t skimp on the details. Prove you’re an expert. Show why you’re worth $300/hour.
This content drives social shares, links and traffic. More importantly, it establishes your firm as a trusted voice and industry leader for legal advice.
Links are still the #1 ranking factor. However, it’s not as easy as it used to be.
14 months ago I could rank a site with click of a button. Literally – it was that easy.
Unfortunately, those days are over. Now, you need more than a handful of links.
In competitive verticals, Google ranks sites with authority and trust. Authoritative and trustworthy sites don’t have 1 type of link pointing to 1 page.
Building trust with Google is a process. Here’s how I do it:
This is a long process – it takes a lot of time, resources and effort. I promise you – if you do what I’m telling you, it will pay off.
It’s not enough to post links to owned accounts. You’ve got to build a buzz around your site.
The best way to do start is get your content in groups and forums.
The mistake most make is pushing content in front of their target audience.
No one with a DUI is going to share an infographic about a DUI. However, if the content is good enough, your peers will.
I’ve generated hundreds of vital +1’s and shares on my links from Google+ Communities.
I’ve also gotten banned from hundreds of Google+ Communities.
Moderators are a pain in the butt and will boot you out if they think you’re spamming links. You’ve got to be careful about how and what you post.
Finding Communities are easy. Head to the drop down menu, select “Communities” and search for your keyword in the search bar.
Join a few that are related to law. Interact with people and get a feel for what they’re posting.
After a couple of days drop an introductory note with a link to your best piece of content (NOT homepage!). Be consistent and active in these Communities and you’ll get valuable social signals you need for your site.
Quora is a high visibility question and answer site. I’ve driven thousands of visits in the last few months alone using it.
The key to Quora is finding threads related to the content on your blog.
Let’s say you took my advice and wrote the guide: “What to do When Arrrested for Your First DUI”.
Start by doing a Google search command: site:quora.com what to do dui
This search brought back 6,350 results. Click through and find questions you can answer with your content.
Write a response (150 – 300 words) of advice and drop a link at the end.
Rinse and repeat.
Link outreach is great because you can score high powerful “white hat” links for free.
Link outreach only works when you’ve got content worth linking to. You can write perfect emails but no one is going to link to your home page.
Linking pages internally passes link equity and ranking signals. You can use them to pass that valuable juice from your blog content to your money pages by interlinking them.
I’ve written extensively about internal linking in another post: How to Set up Internal Links for SEO
These are dedicated pages listing links to useful resources. To find these pages, use Google search operators:
You get the point. I like to add a city into the search as well. Here’s what I found:
Brought up this result:
Bingo! A perfect opportunity.
Reach out with a nice note about your law firm and what you should be included in their list of resources.
Well, not borrowing, stealing. I love this technique because it evens the playing field.
If you land the same links as your competitors you can neutralize their advantage. From there, all you need is a few additional links to easily push past them.
It’s extremely easy to do. In fact, you already did the leg work in your competitive analysis. Remember this?
You’ll now see a list of the website’s linking to your competitor’s. Simply click through on to each site and look for opportunities to drop a link. These usually come in the form of:
The majority of sites will be tough to get links, but the ones you can will give you a huge boost.
I don’t care what Matt Butts says – guest blogging is a great way to build quality links to your site. Use advanced Google search operators to find opportunities:
I strongly suggest you write the content yourself – don’t outsource it. It will be a complete waste of your time. Here’s a snippet from a legal website that accepts guest posts:
Any website worth posting on will have high standards. Read through their articles, get a feel for what they publish and replicate it.
I’ve been using this technique for a while but have yet to share it.
SEO agencies have been taking out “press releases” for clients for years.
These are merely syndicated statements on sites like PR.com that have little effect on SEO and zero effect on traffic/PR because nobody sees them. They claim that they get sent to real news sites, but never do.
I go straight to the source. Newspapers make money from 2 sources:
Since more people turn to the web for their news, revenue models have shifted towards selling ad space.
I’ve landed dozens of links on MiamiHerald.com by reaching out to their advertising team. You can find contact links in the footer:
CALL them, don’t email. Email responses generally get ignored or they tell you they don’t offer that service.
When you call them directly you can negotiate with a sales person. Simply tell them you’re with XYZ law firm looking to drum up online PR and you’re not interested in traditional media buys.
Everyone has a price – it generally ranges in the $400 – $600 range.
It’s expensive, but you get a high quality link, traffic and exposure for your firm.
Link opportunities are everywhere – you just need to know where to look. I have a ton of resources on this site that tell you exactly where to get them.
Still think you can do SEO for your firm? Still want to?
SEO is a bitch and it’s only getting harder. However, it is the most important investment you can make for your law firm, offline or online.
If you’re going to do it, do it right. You know how to reach me.