November 7, 2020

SEO For Solicitors

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for solicitors helps law firms to attract free website visitors who are actively looking for the legal services that the law firm provides. Search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter. Linkedin and YouTube are all places that people start when they are looking for legal services.

SEO for Solicitors - A Summary

SEO for solicitors is about giving search engines, like Google, everything they need to rank your website near the top of search results pages when a potential client searches for your services.

What is it?

A free way of getting interactions and ideally enquiries from people using search engines to find your services.

Pros

  • It’s a long term strategy that can keep free (organic) traffic coming to your site each month

Cons

  • It can take 3-6 months to start seeing the benefit and it requires a bit of expertise, research, content creation and most importantly… patience.

Google is where over 87% of all search engine searches in the UK happen.  A potential client of yours searches for a service, say “Family law solicitors near me”, from their mobile or desktop and Google shows the most relevant results. 

The more relevant, free traffic you get to your website, the more likely you are to get more enquiries. The more relevant enquiries you get, the more likely you are to get more paying clients. Sound good?

The big question for law firms looking to improve their SEO is how does Google decide on what results to show? You need to:

  • Make sure Google knows what your website is about and why it's relevant to a search.
  • Make sure your website is mapped to your target customers’ wants and needs.

Search engines like Google want to match a users’ search query with the most relevant results so your website needs to help the searcher as much as possible. And if it doesn't your visibility may not increase. 

Many SEO experts have taken feedback from Google and identified the three key areas for successful SEO which are relevance, authority and trust. Quite nicely in this article by the search engine journal entitled The three pillars of SEO.

Authority is measured by quality and relevance of the content as well as how many external links a website has. External links from other websites act as votes of confidence in the eyes of Google, passing on “Pagerank”, a term used to demonstrate the authority of any given page that is indexed in Google.

Relevance is more about the content. If you want your site to rank well for search terms relating to personal injury solicitors, then on a basic level your website needs to be specific personal injury solicitors. Your landing page needs to provide as much value as possible to visitors including;

  • What a personal Injury solicitor does
  • How they can help somebody who's suffering from personal injury
  • The services that they provide for this particular area for example is it no win no fee?
  • Is the content engaging or is it just a load of words for the sake of it or worse, too brief?

Trust comes from how secure, reputable and engaging your site is. 

For example, do visitors “pogo” back to Google after a quick glance at your site, because it is not relevant? Trust is not just about your website either. It’s about your brand. How well do people know you? What are they saying about you on other platforms? What types of reviews do you have and how engaged is your social media community?


How to start your Law Firm SEO strategy

To take it back a step further, a key question to ask any business is how much thought, time and effort you should put into your SEO strategy. 

Of course because we are experienced in the art of SEO for law firms,  we know that people are using search engines to find legal services. Not only that, but for law firms, SEO is a vital part of the marketing mix, connecting potential clients with the right service.

Strategy is vital when to comes to your law firm’s SEO efforts. You want to answer 3 questions:

  1. 1
    What’s the business objective from your SEO strategy?
  2. 2
    What do you need to do to get there? (long term and short term)
  3. 3
    How much do you need to improve your SEO performance? If your website is new, the answer is a lot!

What are the quick wins?

A good place to start is to make sure Google is indexing your web pages.

Go to Google and in the search bar enter site:yourURL.com, replacing “yourURL.com” with the address of your website.

You should see a list of your webpages in the results. If there are no results, then you know Google is having issues crawling your site. If you notice that there are some key pages or sections of your site missing then you know there is also an issue. 

There are a few great tools that you can use for free and should set up from the start to help you measure performance. 

Use Google Search Console

Helps you see any technical issues with the way your site is being crawled and viewed in Google. It will report on any crawl errors and mobile usability issues. It is also really useful for seeing a list of search terms that your site appears in Google for and how often these pages were clicked on in the results. This is great for helping you to make things better each month!

If you already have the search console set up, you can see which search terms your site is ranking for and this will tell you if there are any immediate and long term opportunities in terms of keyword targets. If you don’t have it set up, you should as you’ll be able to start tracking the data ASAP.

Use Google Analytics

Start measuring how much organic traffic your site gets, what that traffic does once on your site and how this compares to other channels. Google analytics allows you to measure daily, weekly and monthly improvements to the free traffic coming to your site from search engines. 

Set targets

In order to measure improvements here are a few metrics you may want to measure each month:

  • Organic (free search engine traffic)
  • % of overall traffic that is organic
  • Enquiries
  • Pages indexed in Google
  • Impresssions
  • Clicks

It’s also a good idea to do an audit of your “SEO assets”. If your website is a few years old and already has lots of pages, your focus should be on upgrading content and structuring the site for success, however if the site is new then creating content should be the real focus.

Be aware that part of your target setting will include increases in visibility, clicks and enquiries from your target search terms (as well as some you weren’t aware of).


What resources do Law Firms need to do SEO well?

SEO can be a full-time job so you need to be aware of how much time money and resource you can put into the strategy.  it's not the sort of job you can just hand over to to a junior member of the team with a different skill sets for example if you needed a head of finance or an accountants you wouldn't ask a legal executive with no prior experience to sort it out.

For example if I told you that we need 30 pieces well researched contents in order to start ranking well in a particular legal niche,  you might decide that you have the resources to do that in the space of a month, 3-months or 6-months. either way you have to be realistic about the results.

There are three key skill sets required in order to deliver a strategy for law firms.

The strategist: The SEO strategy can be designed by an expert who has a proven record of delivery. Play can identify goals and let you know time scales and Investment required together being realistic about each stage of the process. The strategist can identify which pages should be ranking for which terms and how to get there. 

Content creator can you search or has a well this knowledge of your industry already translate that's too valuable contents for your end users that is likely to those converts them into client enquiries as well as as visible in Google Search results. this doesn't just include the ability to write it includes a knowledge of page layouts on page SEO factors (more of which later)  and conversion optimisation.

The technical SEO knowledge.  understanding how Google works why your site might not be performing as well as it should from a technical point of view including any crawl errors or errors with internal and external links as well as the quality of links coming to and from your site.


Keyword Research

What: Deciding what your ideal clients are looking for using search engines and making sure your website content gives them what they need. 

When to do it: You should review this regularly based on customer feedback and research, but should do it creating any new content for your website. You might also wonder why certain pages on your website are getting no traffic, in which case it’s time to turn to keyword research (amongst other things).

Why: You’ll have a clear focus on what keyword themes you want each page on your site to target and can structure your on page content accordingly. Ideally you’ll then be able to measure any increases in both impressions and clicks for your keyword targets. 

How to do it: There are some great free tools to help you with this including; Google itself, the Google Ads tool, Google Webmaster tools and various paid tools that help you see what your competitors are ranking in Google for.

This is about understanding which words your target clients are going to enter into Google when they are looking for services like yours. You then need to make sure your website helps them to answer the query. Oh and you also need to make sure enough people are searching for this term to make it worthwhile and that there isn’t too much competition from other websites.. 

Keyword research is important because it highlights opportunities. It's not just a simple as deciding what your audience may be searching for and then creating content. Competition the quality of your website and technology or make a big impact on how your site is viewed by Google.

Deciding on which keywords to try and target depends very much on how authoritative your site already is. For example if your site is new or a couple of months old, you want to target keywords and phrases with less competition, but accept that they might have fewer people searching for them. 

If your site is more established, has authority and more links pointing back to it, you may be able to rank sooner for more competitive search terms. 

There are some great tools to help you with your keyword research such as: 

Google webmaster tools -  great if your site is already established as you can use historic data as to how people saw and visited your website, for example which search terms your site appeared in Google for and then which search terms people clicked on. 

It’s also really useful to see the technical issues that may be affecting your site’s performance and also gives you an idea of search terms that you can use to optimise your site and further increase your SEO visibility.

Google Analytics - Legal website should have some form Analytics on them and Google Analytics is free. It gives you data on the number of visitors from search engines as well as connecting to services such as Google search console and Google ads. This is a great way of reporting on how well your SEO strategy is working.

Google ads is another Google service that you can sign up for and connect to your Google Analytics. Even if you aren't going to run ads, it is a great tool to get keyword suggestions as it will give you a rough indication of keyword search volume and competition for pretty much every area of the UK.

Paid for tools - there are a number of paid for tools which can help you see how your competitors are performing. I won’t endorse any here, just Google “SEO software” and take a look.

How can solicitors do keyword research?

  1. Write down a list of all the things that you think your target clients will be entering into Google, for example “ personal injury solicitors near me”  or “no win no fee solicitors”

top tip

Ask people who regularly talk to clients face-to-face or via phone, whether paralegals, receptionists or solicitors themselves and get feedback on any terminology that clients commonly use or even better any questions about a particular service that they commonly asked, for example “how does no win no fee work?” This will give you a real indication as to what people are searching for as well as give you ideas for landing pages and blog content. 


TOP TIP


  1. Enter your list of keywords into a tool like the Google Ads tool or even use Google to get suggestions
  2. Spy on competitors.  If you are unsure as to who your competitors are do a simple Google search. You'll see who crops up in the first couple of spots in Google and you can then enter their website data into software and find out which search terms they use.
  3. Define new keyword ideas and establish which of those are going to get you closer to your SEO goals. 
  4. You should have a list of search terms for each of your pages and one for your home page. Your home page should target generic searches such as “Solicitors in Essex”. 

Your keyword research can help you to finalise your site structure as well as to help you to plan a content calendar.


Creating content

What: Pages and regular blog content that is mapped to your ongoing keyword research and is therefore likely to rank in Google and attract relevant visitors.

When to do it: It’s a good idea to do an audit of your existing content to look for opportunities to increase search engine visibility. Your pages can be updated regularly to reflect any new opportunities that arise and blogging should be an ongoing thing.

Why: you can be uber-specific with your landing page content and increase the chances that someone will enquire. For example instead of just explaining that you provide Wills, you can explain why a Lasting Power of Attorney may suit you more.

How to do it: A key thing is to remember your user. Don’t just stuff your target keywords and phrases all over the page (though doing a bit of that helps). If the search was about family law solicitors, then your landing page should explain how your firm can help them with a problem.

Your research allows you to create a content calendar where by you know the types of blog content that you wish to create.

Each keyword theme that you have identified can be mapped to one of your services. For example no win no fee could be a parent category for content relating to personal injury solicitors, medical negligence,  dental negligence and any other types of injury claim. 

Each page should be structured so that it targets your primary keyword and then links off to content about any sub topics. 

Your researched allows you to create a content calendar where by you know the types of blog content that you wish to create.

top tip

People are often overwhelmed by having to create or write loads of content, however you are sitting on so much expertise as a law firm so you're already in a great position. You could also create one evergreen piece of content that acts as a guide for a particular service for, example a simple guide to medical negligence law. This can be turned into a video or you could use snapshots to create pieces of content for social media over the coming months or weeks.


TOP TIP

When creating content you need to strike the balance between writing for search engines and your visitors (the ones you are trying to persuade to take an additional step and enquire). You should be aware of what you want each page at each stage of your hierarchy to do.  For example:

1

Home page: “Solicitors in Newcastle”

This page is specific to local searches that are general to solicitors and law firms in your area. You should introduce your brand, services and tell people how you can help.

2

Level two page: “conveyancing solicitors in Newcastle”

This page is specific to one of your services. In this instance the searcher knows what they are looking for and wants to know how you can help them with a very specific problem. This page can act as a "hub" or parent page to any future blogging content around this particular service.

3

Level three page: “Why do I need a conveyancing solicitor?”

In this instance the searcher has no awareness of you but has a question about a service you provide. Blogging content can be created that goes into detail by answering this question. This page can sit under the level two page in order to help users find the information and tell Google how your content is categorised. 

The above allows you to create a silo based around the service of conveyancing, whilst keeping the level two page specifically for local searches, where you can really drive home your unique selling points and value proposition to build trust. The level 3 page is for those who are still shopping around and have a limited awareness as to why they need a conveyancing solicitor. This page educates more than sells and starts the awareness of your services. 

Don't agonise over creating a massive content calendar. You can do this on a weekly or monthly basis, it's really up to you based on your resource and based on the opportunities that come up. Once you have content published that starts to work, you might find that publishing 3 or 4 times a month works just fine.

Content appearance

What: Creating engagement through fast-loading pages that help users find what they are looking for and encourage them to enquire.

When to do it: You can do this after you have your content ready, however user experience should be an important consideration from the start of any new web project. 

Why: Get it right and you’ll have repeatable templates you can use across all pages. If your content management system is flexible you’ll be able to use the data you have to make improvements. 

How: Use proven page templates that convert. See below. 

If you spent time and money on creating content for your website, then you should go the extra step and make sure it looks nice. Usability is important when it comes to SEO. people talk about the effect of knowing where a user comes from search engine results page doesn't like what they see and hits the back button. this is a signal to Google that your content is not relevant and may just result in you dropping down the rankings. However if your content is not just well written but is laid out in a user-friendly well structured way it's likely that users will want to engage with your content and ideally they want to share it as well this may also include it been linked to which as we discussed is a very important SEO Factor.

You'll also want to think about how your content appears on mobile. text often don't lend themselves to Welton mobile but be aware of who is consuming the content for example is it a business person who is on a long commute and maybe is looking for for more information on specific topics such as commercial conveyancing.

And it's not just about the words how can you break the content up in terms of using more imagery visuals that aid your points this may include statistics or quotes or more information about the film themselves.

Instructions landing page should be written first and foremost for the user but also taking into consideration what is looking for. this would include a benefit driven headline that's is also relevant to the keyword search term. a short snappy introduction that confirms they're in the right place full stop call To Action what do you want me to do next and underneath an awful lot more detail about the service that you provide.


Off-page factors

These include things that the user cannot see on the page but the important signals to Google and the things that the user may see in a search engine results page.

 the meta title is very important a great place to include the primary search term that you're trying to rank for that particular page full stop bear in mind you don't want to just keyword stuff here you want to write something that headline and shows the user that your page is relevant shows Google that the page is relevant and also acts as a bit of an advert itself in the search engine results page.

URL is also important and this is where we talk about structure again. you are should be cured rich but also relevant to the page and not too long.


Driving even more traffic and enquiries

Law firms can drive traffic to their websites and show Google that their sites are authoritative by setting up presences on other online channels.

The one that all all law firms should use is Google my business as this gives all the vital information to local audience including opening times telephone numbers and services full stop it also cases for local searches such as solicitors in  Manchester. your business profile can act like a social media profile as you can post content such as images news updates about the business of your services and they will potentially appear alongside your Google my business entry.

 it also becomes very important place for gathering reviews as potential clients or existing clients who had a good experience in sign into Google profile go to your my business profile and leave a review.

 top tip every my business profile has a link that you can send to clients where they can go and review. after a positive interaction with the clients for example you may need help somebody with a conveyancing service to my house you should send them an email with this link and they may be more inclined to give you you positive feedback. just beware of trying to read this as people are becoming more savvy to those and relentlessly good reviews in their my business profiles.

Reviews help people to make decisions and if your profile has more stars on it and more positive reviews on it than competitors people are more likely to click call all and use you as their law firms.

You can also try and drive traffic using YouTube. once you committed to creating content on a regular basis you could set up your own YouTube channel as a brand for your law firm and you can repurpose your blog content as videos full stop this will not only give you greater visibility of your likely to appear in search results on YouTube. it also gives people and additional way to consume your contents full stop these videos can also be repurposed for social media such as Facebook and Instagram. 

So just stop at YouTube when it comes to creating additional channels. Facebook and Instagram are also great places to generate traffic from. it's up for debate as to whether Google see social signals as important when it comes to boosting your therapy of your website. however one thing can't Be Denied if your content is good enough you're likely to get more free visits at more links and more shares which  is undoubtedly a good thing for SEO.


Building Links 

Links are an important part of your SEO strategy, both internal (linking in between pages on your site) and external (relevant links from other websites). 

Watch the video below for expert advice on getting FREE backlinks. 

Video by SEO link builder Julian Goldie

Links are deemed by Google to be a signal of authority - so in short, the more relevant, authoritative links you have from other websites, the more authority will be passed to your website and the higher you’ll rank in Google.

The only small problem with external links is that it can be time consuming to persuade other sites to link back to you. There needs to be a good reason, for example, great content that’s relevant to their site or audience. 

For new law firm websites it’s a good idea to focus on generating content to start with and then focus on link building a few months in. 

Internal links are a great way of telling Google how your pages are related to one another as well as providing sign posts for users to other relevant content. 


How long does an SEO strategy for law firms take?

The big question. It depends on how much resource you have to invest. If you’ve done the right research, created great content and have a well structured site. You should start to see improvements to your search engine visibility within a few months, but be patient, stick with it… and maybe ask an expert. 

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