The legal industry is crowded with new graduates and solo practices vying for your prospective clients’ attention. And the best way to compete is to be where most people search for an attorney — the world wide web.
So what did you do?
You built a website, optimized it with landing pages targeting each location, and published weekly (or even twice weekly) blog posts for years on end.
At first, you saw traffic growth soar. But then this happened: organic traffic loss.
If this sounds like your predicament, you’re not alone. We’ve spoken to multiple law firms dealing with the same problem. So we decided to audit one attorney’s website to see if we could find the underlying issue(s).
Here’s what we learned.
Back in August 2022, Google rolled out an update that significantly impacted the rankings of certain sites. According to Google, this algorithm change focused on:
Rewarding websites that offer a satisfying experience to visitors and demoting sites that don’t meet the visitor’s expectations. This means publishing “people-first content” that isn’t stuffed with keywords and provides lots of value. Google also discourages a “search engine-first approach,” where the primary goal is to get ranked and drive traffic from search engines.
Unfortunately, it appears the new update played a role in the decreased traffic for the lawyer’s website we reviewed. As you can see, the traffic doesn’t start to decline until the August/September 2022 mark:
But we didn’t want to make assumptions. So we dove deeper to see what actually caused the traffic loss. The following are some of the patterns we noticed that may have caused the drop in organic traffic.
It’s easy to get stuck in the building phase where your top priority is publishing more and more content. Because if you’re not publishing, then Google won’t consider your site as up-to-date and you’ll potentially lose traffic (or so you thought).
In reality, you’re drowning your website in blog posts that do the exact opposite of what you intended. For example, the law firm’s website we audited had over 3,600 blog posts.
This is a high number of blog posts for a law firm. Unless you’re a conglomerate legal firm with dozens of locations and practice areas, there’s not really much to talk about in a single practice area.
This means there’s likely a ton of overlap in many of your blog posts.
Why’s this bad?
Because they’re competing for similar keywords and will battle for rankings and traffic in the same SERPs. In other words, you’re cannibalizing your own keywords and traffic.
When you have multiple posts targeting the same keywords and topics, it sends traffic to multiple locations of your site instead of directing them down a clear path. The end result is your website has a poor user experience, so people leave without converting — especially if you didn’t create a path from these pages to a landing page.
Then it also hurts your rankings, since only one post can rank #1 for the same keyword. The one that’s ranking highest may not be the one you intended people to visit first in their journey to convert.
The better option is to combine similar blog posts into one high-value, authoritative post, so there’s only one ranking and driving traffic for that topic. Then you can develop a clear path to a tailored landing page or call for conversion.
We also recommend pruning your content by deleting low-quality, low-performing posts altogether. It’s better to have fewer high-value posts that deliver results than to bog down your blog with unnecessary fluff that does nothing for your SEO or conversions.
Blogs aren’t the only place lawyers are publishing loads of content. We also see law firms creating landing pages for multiple cities.
It’s an outdated tactic to build dozens of city pages (aka doorway pages) with slightly changed content (to pass as unique) to target folks in that locale.
Although doorway pages aren’t technically “duplicates,” Google still frowns upon this practice. It’s seen as trying to manipulate the algorithm to rank, instead of putting people first. This creates a poor visitor experience, since searchers see multiple pages in the search results that take them to a similar page.
So Google de-ranks doorway pages to prevent filling the SERPs with unhelpful content.
Our recommendation is to only have one landing page that lists the cities you service. And only create city landing pages for the locations you have a physical office. An exception is having several city pages targeting highly populated cities to increase your traffic.
Again, pruning is an essential part of improving your organic traffic and potentially improving your conversions.
Another issue with having too many pages or posts is Google may not crawl them all. That’s because the search engine only crawls pages that are new and well-performing content (e.g., gets clicks and has a low bounce rate).
When we analyzed the law firm’s website via the Google Search Console API, we could see tons of pages that weren’t crawled:
Some pages haven’t been crawled in well over a year — the longest was 1,571 days!
So why’s this a bad thing? Because you have a lot of bloat on your site that’s weighing down its performance and hurting its search engine optimization (SEO) potential. If you have a lot of useless content on your site, it tells Google that you’re not a quality source of content.
After all, no one’s visiting the page or linking to it — key indicators to search engines that the page isn’t high quality or worth crawling and ranking.
Another reason to prune your site by either removing or combining posts. To prove our point, we clicked on a page that hadn’t been crawled for over a year.
It’s a blog post targeting Uber passengers that have been injured during a ride. Would’ve been okay, but the page was skimpy, with only a couple of subheadings and a paragraph underneath each:
The last time it was updated was in October 2022, which is great. But it’s too thin to be considered helpful (or valuable) content to people or Google.
So build out your blog posts by covering what other sites write about and more. You want your blog post to be the most comprehensive without being too long. Focus on answering the most pressing questions your clients have.
You can also include case studies from cases you won relating to the topic. This is a bonus because it adds social proof of your ability to help others solve their legal issue.
Not including links to other pages and blog posts on your website is a big mistake. Not only does it prevent people from browsing through your site longer, it also prevents Google from indexing those pages. Your site’s navigation should be structured in a way that allows people and bots to find relevant content.
For example, your home page should have a menu that directs visitors to your service pages, location pages, blog posts, and contact page. Then under your blog post page, there should be categories to quickly find the information a visitor needs.
By including links on your pages and blog posts, you can direct visitors to other relevant posts they may find useful. It also inches them closer to calling your law firm.
An issue we found on law firm websites is that deeper pages aren’t linked to and are difficult to find without directly typing in the URL into your browser.
In the Google Search Console API, some pages that weren’t being crawled were only two clicks away from being found…if they had an internal link. Instead, they were buried in the site with no way to get to them, so they didn’t get crawled and ranked.
So on that note — make sure you’re interlinking relevant service pages, blog posts, and other resources (e.g., guides, eBooks, case studies), in your content.
Speaking of website structure, the last issue on our list of website mistakes law firms make has to do with site architecture. This isn’t just about how you link and set up menus — it also covers how you name your URLs.
Take this page for example, which hadn’t been crawled in 893 days:
It’s a page targeting a specific city — Midland — for the legal service “burn injuries.” This is all good except for one thing — the URL wasn’t structured properly. It’s rather short and doesn’t have a location modifier, which means there are no location-based subfolders.
A location-based subfolder is a technique used in SEO to target a specific geographical location for a website. The idea is to create separate subfolders for each location the business serves, with the location as a modifier in the URL.
For example, if a landscaping company has multiple locations in South Florida, it could create subfolders such as “www.example.com/miami” or “www.example.com/west-palm-beach.” Or you can take it a step further and have a service sub-folder and then different locations for each: www.example.com/burn-injuries/miami.
Then when search engines crawl your website, they’ll understand the location-specific content and return relevant results for users searching for landscaping services in a particular area. Using location-based subfolders can improve your website’s local SEO and visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant local searches.
You’re tired of losing the organic traffic you slowly built diligently. Here are our top tips to fix common issues found on legal websites:
Feeling seen by the issues your law firm’s website is having? Now that you know what the problems are and the fixes, you have two options:
The first option is cheaper, but costlier in the long term. It eats up time you don’t have, comes with risks, and the learning curve is steep. The alternative is to get things done right the second time around without any issues. You can do this by working with a digital marketing agency specializing in law firm websites.
Webris has helped numerous attorneys improve and grow not just their website traffic, but conversions as well. We have proven attorney marketing strategies that attract fewer tire-kickers and more qualified leads.
Ready to talk? Reach out to our agency today.
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