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 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.
⚠️ IMPORTANT ⚠️
If you’re an attorney, I know how busy you are – you won’t have time to read this entire article. I’ve summarized each of the 7 tips with a TL;DR at the top. Read those and you’ll have everything you need.
Google’s search results are changing. There’s currently 19 result types that dominate Google’s top spots.
This applies to the legal space as well. When searching for “Miami DUI attorney“, there’s a lot of noise:
Think about that – of the 10 organic results, half of them are aggregator sites (Avvo, Yelp, etc) – only 25% of organic results are really available.
The competition for those spots is tough – you need to be realistic about your campaign and adjust strategy accordingly.
Aside from just ranking your website, there’s other tactics that will increase your overall organic exposure.
My best piece of advice is instead of fighting aggregator sites, leverage them. Avvo, Justia, Super Lawyers – they’ve done the hard work, they rank for everything.
The beauty of these sites is they have their own internal algorithms to rank profiles.
If you optimize your profile to rank in Avvo, you’re essentially ranking for your “money” keywords right off the bat.
On top of that, you can pay for ads within Avvo. These are a great way to bypass the ridiculous CPCs for legal keywords in Google, and capture that traffic through Avvo.
The point is, in competitive spaces, you have to realistic about your goals. The competition is only getting stronger, keep your mind open when it comes to capturing “organic traffic” – it doesn’t have to come from Google.
I’m not going to cover how to find keywords – others have already done that (see Brian Dean’s guide).
Instead, I’m going to cover keyword mapping.
Keyword mapping is the process of optimizing pages and based on keyword intent.
We like to visualize using the “funnel” model.
The main goal is to rank your “money” keywords. But … we want to dominate and rank for everything.
This strategy allows you to triple your organic exposure and get traffic in the door much faster.
To do so, you need to clearly understand how your keyword list maps to intent.
It’s a tedious process, but it helps you clearly understand how your website should be setup and the type of content to populate it with.
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), structure your site as follows:
Use exact match domain (EMD) for your website URL.
Add services pages that drill down into your main niche.
If your firm offers multiple services (i.e. criminal law, corporate law, business law and more), this is how to structure your site:
Use branded domain – NOT exact match domain (EMD).
Add service pages for each offering.
Add sub-service pages to capture additional traffic.
If your firm has multiple office locations (i.e. Miami, NYC and LA), this is how to structure your site:
Add city into URL for each office location.
Include a menu navigation to switch between cities.
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.
GMB plays a HUGE role in local SEO. In fact, GMB listing titles get displayed in localized results, not websites:
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?
Every business’ website claims to be an expert. A great blog proves it.
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.
That’s the easy part. The hard part is creating content people actually care about.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Organic traffic is not free – there’s a considerable investment of time, resources and capital to get results.
To justify the cost, we need to understand the outputs of SEO.
The following sub sections will outline everything you need.
See how we build custom SEO reports for our clients.
It takes a while for your site to reach the top of Google and start getting traffic (6 to 12 months).
In the meantime, we can measure “SERP visibility”.
SERP visibility = the total number of keywords your website is indexed for.
To check overall visibility:
After a few months, your traffic from Google should be picking up. We can easily verify this using Google Analytics:
While overall organic traffic is good, we want to make sure it’s meaningful traffic. We can dig into that by segmenting organic traffic reports to look at where traffic is going.
Most importantly, we want to know how SEO is impacting your top line. It’s tricky, but we can use analytics to track your firm’s leads and phone calls from organic search.
SEO in the legal space is competitive and there’s so sign of this changing anytime soon. If you want to rank, you’ve got to do things the right way.
If you have any questions, you can reach me here.