Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Lawyers: A Complete Guide

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important marketing strategy for law firms that boosts visibility and brings your brand front and center when prospects search online. Especially for established law firms with an emerging online presence and positive community reputation, leveraging in-house or outsourced SEO helps reach more clients. As a law firm owner, perhaps you've invested in other customer acquisition channels like word-of-mouth referrals or paid search, but you're wondering if SEO is worth the investment.

In this article, we'll discuss why SEO for law is important, how to create an SEO strategy, and how to analyze metrics to measure the success of your SEO campaigns.

What is SEO for lawyers?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of boosting your visibility on search rankings on Google, Bing, or other search engines. Ranking higher on search results increases website traffic and allows potential customers to quickly find your business as a solution. SEO for lawyers is a similar process; optimizing website content, infrastructure, and backlinks for keyword-specific phrases to improve SEO is an important part of increasing your visibility.

Without SEO for law firms, your business risks losing customers to competitors simply because they stumble upon another law firm first when searching for a specific type of help. For established law firms, a strong SEO strategy improves your online credibility, drives high-quality targeted traffic to your website, increases brand awareness, and overall generates more leads. For local law firms, local SEO plays another critical role in the overall marketing strategy, specifically targeting potential customers looking for legal help in a geographic area.

Why is SEO for lawyers important?

SEO for law firms is important for several reasons. From increasing your local reach to driving high-quality, targeted traffic, SEO is a cost-effective and often long-term strategy that yields significant results for years.

Local SEO for law firms

First, if your business operates within a local market, local SEO is incredibly important for staying top of mind within a specific community. "Near me" searches are on the rise, and as consumers become more invested in their local communities, they will continue to search for physically close small businesses.

For example, an Atlanta personal injury law firm might invest in an SEO strategy around keyword phrases such as "Atlanta law firms," "best personal injury attorney in Atlanta," or "top law firms near Atlanta." All of these keyword-specific phrases help locate targeted customers and drive them directly to your website and content.

Increased visibility and trust

When people search for legal help, they're usually in the midst of a difficult situation, whether it's a car accident, workplace injury, or divorce. Ranking high on Google establishes credibility and trust, which is critically important for law firms.

Increased leads

Without people discovering your law firm, it's difficult to increase the amount of leads coming into your business. SEO for attorneys increases the amount of targeted traffic and leads coming into your business through keyword research, optimized website content, quality backlinks, and consistent content updates.

How to create an SEO strategy for your law firm

Whether you're considering hiring an in-house SEO expert or outsourcing to an agency, most SEO strategies involve a specific process of step-by-step action items. Take a look at how to create an SEO strategy for your law firm below.

Graphic explaining steps to create an SEO strategy for your law firm

1. Perform a website audit

Start by performing a comprehensive website audit. An SEO audit is a very comprehensive analytical and technical look at the infrastructure and content of your website. There are free online tools that will get you started with an SEO audit, but this is also one of the first steps if you partner with an SEO agency.

An SEO audit will analyze your website speed, mobile friendliness, site architecture, and indexing to detect any technical issues. It will also analyze on-page SEO, looking for keyword-specific descriptions, tags, and any keyword optimization. An SEO audit will conclude with how well your website ranks for specific keywords and any opportunities for improvement.

2. Select target keywords

Once you have an established baseline of website performance, select the target keywords you'd like to rank for. This can often be 100s of different short-tail and long-tail keyword phrases, but it helps focus your efforts on optimizing your website and content for specific terms your customers are searching for. Start by performing keyword research; free online tools can help generate hundreds of potential keywords for your business.

3. Create a content strategy

Once you have your target keyword, start optimizing existing content to rank well for those keywords, and create a content plan to build new website pages, blog posts, landing pages, and any other type of content that will help you. For established law firms, you probably rank well for some keywords already, so simply optimizing and improving those website pages can create quick wins when it comes to increasing your rankings.

4. Decide on an in-house strategy or external SEO agency

SEO is a full-time job, so most law firms are best off hiring a full-time, in-house expert or outsourcing to a law firm SEO agency. According to Gartner's research, What Must Tech CEOs Consider When Hiring an SEO Agency?, you should measure a prospective agency on customer success, their company background, technical knowledge, and learning process and credentials [1]. If you choose to hire an in-house employee, equip them with the right SEO software and tools to complement their expert knowledge.

How to optimize content for legal websites

From new content to existing content, optimizing on-page SEO is striking a balance between targeting ideal keywords and still providing authoritative, valuable information to potential customers. You don't want to "keyword stuff" content just for the sake of ranking well. Instead, carefully comb through existing content to make small tweaks, and create new blog posts and website pages considering your audience's pain points, challenges, and more while still integrating specific keywords.

Focus on optimizing top-performing pages

If your law firm has been around for several years or even decades, you probably have website content and blog posts that are already ranking well on Google. Optimizing existing content is a quick way to increase the visibility of some of your best-performing content. This might include adding more keywords within the body copy, updating titles and tags, rewriting meta descriptions to fit target SEO keywords, increasing internal linking, or adding alt tags to imagery.

Improve your homepage

Your law firm's website homepage is a highly authoritative website page that probably organically ranks well. Give your homepage a refresh by updating calls to action, integrating keywords, improving local optimization, and making it more mobile-friendly.

Don't forget mobile optimization

Mobile optimization is important for user-friendliness, but it's also a major component of the Google search algorithm for determining what content ranks well. As more consumers use their mobile devices to browse the internet, it's important your website loads faster and is easily readable on a smartphone. Run your website homepage through a free online mobile-friendliness test tool, which will give you starting improvements for building a more positive user experience. This might include improving website speed, reducing imagery sizing, or breaking up large blocks of text.

Analytics and metrics for lawyer SEO

Once you kick off your SEO campaign, you want to measure if it's hitting your goals and performing well. Take a look at a few different metrics to measure.

Website visits

Ideally, traffic to your best website and block content is increasing. This means your content is ranking higher and more potential customers are seeing your content.

Click-through rate (CTR)

Even if your content is ranking high, you want to make sure people are actually clicking on your links. A higher click-through rate means your titles and descriptions are attention-grabbing and persuasive.

Average session duration

You don't want potential customers visiting your website and bouncing quickly, so measuring the average amount of time users spend on your website gives you a good indication of whether they're thoroughly engaging and reading your content.

Conversion rate

Whether that's making a call to your business or filling out a form for more information, track the percentage of website traffic that converts into a lead. If people are visiting your website but not converting, this might mean your content needs to be more targeted, clearly address pain points, or give them a very clear action to take.

SEO tools and technologies for lawyers

Building and executing a comprehensive SEO strategy is a significant amount of work for most law firms. Plus, search engine ranking algorithms are constantly changing, meaning you need to update content and rework your website architecture consistently. This often gets time-consuming and is best done by an SEO expert. However, different SEO tools and technologies can help you DIY an in-house strategy if you're not looking to outsource SEO at this time.

SEO involves a significant amount of research and technical assessments, so begin your software search by browsing Software Advice's SEO and legal software directories for SEO platforms, local SEO tools, and legal software. For example, SEO tools can perform technical website audits in seconds and provide monitoring for changes in search rankings. Local SEO tools for law firm SEO help optimize content to drive an increase in branded search terms, run competitor analysis, and more. Broader legal software offers features like time tracking and billing, case and document management, expense reporting, and more.

Leverage SEO marketing for lawyers

A legal SEO strategy boosts online visibility, helps reach your target customers, and eventually drives more leads and revenue to your business. It's a cost-effective customer acquisition tool that even drives long–term benefits.

Start by assessing your current website baseline and identifying any areas of opportunity to optimize existing content or create new keyword-specific blog posts. Don't forget about mobile optimization, and give your website homepage a refresh.

Whether you run your SEO strategy in-house or outsource to an agency, measuring metrics like website visits, click-through rates, average session duration, and conversion rate will help analyze the success of your SEO campaigns. Explore SEO software and local SEO tools to streamline and automate a lot of the manual and technical work that goes into building a strong SEO strategy.

To learn more about leveraging software for your law firm, check out the below resources: