SEO is an important factor for many industries, and this is also true when it comes to law firms. With recent worldwide events impacting how so many customers find and buy their services, it is crucial for solicitors to pay attention to SEO, now more than ever.
Firstly, what is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in simple terms is a marketing strategy that aims to drive your website to the first page of a search engine results pages (SERPs) for your targeted search queries. Google now has 92%+ market share when it comes to online searches, using a combination of complex algorithms to determine which pages make it to the top of the search results – most changes are minor and go undetected. However, larger updates can have a mammoth effect on your website. The impact of Google’s changes can have a huge impact on your website’s performance, depending on how well (or not so well) optimised it is.
What does Google consider when ranking your website?
It is widely agreed that the algorithm tends to generate results based on several variables. These variables include (but are not limited to):
- User data, such as their age, location, interests, and previous search history
- Keywords and phrases relevant to the product/service being offered
- Meta descriptions which include relevant keywords and are written in an engaging way to draw clicks from the search results
- Page Experience – the latest algorithm update from Google requires a low bounce rate, high site speed and seamless user experience
- The number (and quality) of backlinks your website receives from other sites
- Site health is another big consideration for 2021; it includes factors such as site speed, website security, broken links and various other elements
- Although it will not affect your rankings directly, social media presence can also play a crucial role in your SEO strategy by increasing your brand’s content visibility
Why do solicitors need SEO?
So, we know what SEO is, but how does it apply to law firms? Why is it so crucial for solicitors to pay attention to SEO, now more than ever? The most obvious reason is that it drives more customers to your website. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more users are making purchase decisions based on a Google search than ever before, across all industries. Take divorce law, for example; according to Google Trends, the ‘divorce’ search term hit peak popularity either side of Christmas, in November 2020 and January 2021.
From rising divorce rates, to the constantly changing lockdown limitations and closures of offices – law firms are being forced to utilise the power of SEO whether they are prepared for it or not.
Tapping into a hidden audience
It is a very common occurrence for legal terminology to not match what your audience is typing into Google. That is why conducting keyword research (using tools such as Google Keyword Planner and the ahrefs Keywords Explorer) allows you to gain valuable insights into the specific language used in search terms, meaning you can tailor your keywords to what the audience is actually searching for. Using such an approach ensures you’ll be positioning yourself where users are looking, rather than where you think they are looking.
As a bonus, running keyword research in the law industry also offers the potential to discover related searches, searches that may generate ideas for interesting and engaging content.
SEO for law firms – should you combine it with PPC?
Specifically for law firms, SEO may indeed be more cost-effective than pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, which we predominantly associate with Google Ads. Many of the larger legal firms employ a two-pronged approach, with SEO and PPC working successfully together. However, smaller law firms in certain locations will struggle to make a return on their investment with PPC, especially as certain competitive divorce law keywords can cost upwards of £60 a click! SEO is a longer-term strategy, but it’s certainly worth putting in the extra resources as the long-term results and cost-effectiveness certainly outweigh that of PPC. However, if possible, running an effective SEO and PPC strategy concurrently will help to ensure you capture as much of the market as possible.
The importance of being a knowledge leader
Convincing your target audience that you are an expert is often key to them realising that you are the best solicitor to represent their legal interests. How can you achieve this status? By publishing quality content! It’s time to show off your passion and expertise through articles that will help your SEO and potentially convert readers into clients. This can be related to services which your firm offers, such as divorce, consent orders, child arrangements etc. or it can be a topical news piece.
Better link building for solicitors
We mentioned earlier that the number (and quality) of backlinks to your website is a ranking factor, and quality is certainly key here. Law firms can focus their backlinking strategy in a number of different ways, depending on their situation. The strongest, best quality links will come from industry-relevant websites – if the firm specialises in family law, then parenting blogs will be suitable, or if the firm has an office in Manchester, then the strategy could involve gaining links from local charities, organisations and family-orientated attractions. For example, family law solicitors Stowe Family Law have offices all throughout the UK. Evaluating the backlink profiles of their individual office pages, it’s clear that they place a lot of value on the topic – and location – of the link. And, it seems to be working for them.
The focus for law firm backlinks should be focussed on two things, relevance and location. With backlinks, you will need to be scrupulous when targeting specific websites to obtain a link from – the Ahrefs domain rating metric offers a guideline to the quality of a link, but it’s up to you to keep your backlink prospects relevant to your business.
What are the most important ‘On-Page SEO’ factors for law firms?
Get your basics right and you will give yourself a foundation to blow away the competition. On-page SEO is crucial to acquiring relevant and profitable enquiries. We have touched on it already but providing great content will satisfy a demand and add value, moving you towards the knowledge leader status. Make your content linkable! Hiding content behind slideshows, flash plugins, images or private login screens will render your content non-linkable, in which case it’s highly unlikely to rank well in search. Write a great meta title/description – not only will you receive an automatic SEO boost from adding your targeted keywords, but it will also make your pages much more clickable in search. You can apply this to your URL too, but don’t overdo it, keep a good URL structure or Google will inevitably punish you. And finally, a roundup of other on-page factors include headlines, internal/external links, body text, images and social shares (for law firms think mainly LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook).
The bigger picture – digital marketing for law firms
Remember, SEO usually forms part of a wider marketing strategy for legal firms, which may include local or national press advertising, digital advertising and social media. The SEO strategy must fit into this overall marketing strategy. Legal firms provide services locally or nationally – local and national SEO requires a different approach. The goal for SEO is typically to generate form-fills or phone calls which are then converted by the legal firm.
If you need help regarding your SEO strategy for your law firm, contact our team at Converted for a free audit on how to get more traffic and convert more with SEO.