The world of law is changing at a rapid pace. The advent of digital transformation is altering the very fundamentals of how the industry operates. Information is freely available online, people have wider choices and options and marking your law firm out as the best option is critical. A good website is therefore essential and that means that effective legal SEO is now paramount.
What is Legal SEO?
Before diving further into the fundamentals, it’s important to define legal SEO. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the measure taken to drive more users to your law firm’s website. This is primarily through ranking higher in a search engine ranking results list. 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine. Furthermore, the top page listed in a Google search has a clickthrough rate of 32%. Most critically, 75% of all search engine users never scroll past the first page of search engines. Consequently, law firms need to be ensuring they place as highly as possible. Effective legal SEO gives law firms the best possible chance of attracting the most valuable, relevant and convertible customers to their website.
Legal SEO incorporates three main factors:
- High-quality website content including copy, imagery, videos and other visual materials.
- Backlinks and page citations help establish how others view your site’s credibility and authority.
- Technical SEO including Search Console, page speed Insights and other key aspects like title tags and site structure.
By optimising these three elements, your law firm has the best possible chance of succeeding within the search engines.
Why is Legal SEO important?
In the past, law firms shunned digital advances to focus on brick-and-mortar locations. Clients were often local and wider development plans were rare. The introduction of digital technology into law began to change this. Law firms that were early adopters placed emphasis on a strong SEO strategy and reaped huge benefits.
On a wider scale, COVID-19 has encouraged the widespread use of digital services in law. As 96% of people seeking legal advice use a search engine, there is a high probability to speak to other people. It’s important to impress early on. 72% of people seeking legal advice will only contact one law firm.
Consequently, SEO is a hugely valuable method of generating leads with a consistent conversion rate. Although legal SEO may seem initially frivolous, it’s an integral aspect of any successful law firm that wants a digital presence.
It’s time now to examine each aspect in greater detail.
Technical SEO is not only the most complex aspect of legal SEO but also the most important. It helps search engines evaluate your site in the clearest possible way by evaluating how user-friendly your services are. It also incorporates checks around site security, site mapping and 404s.
The base rule for technical SEO is be fast and mobile-friendly. Quick loading pages are viewed favourably by search engines because it allows people to find what they want with ease. Aiming for below 3 seconds ensures you meet core web vitals requirements which are increasingly important. Moreover, law firms must ensure their website is user-friendly on all screen sizes. More and more digital experiences are undertaken on tablets and mobile devices, so the website must be fully functional for all eventualities.
Law firms should also ensure they meet the basic technical requirements outlined by search engines. These are:
- Creating clear titles that accurately reflect page characteristics.
- Implementing precise meta descriptions that summarise key page content.
- Providing alt-text for images to correctly identify them for accessibility purposes.
- Use header tags appropriately in descending order: H1, H2, H3, H4 etc. to separate relevant page sections.
- Generating and adding rich structured markup data for certain services.
- Setting up appropriate URLs that correctly show site navigation.
You can find out more about these aspects through Webmaster Guidelines.
The final aspect of technical SEO is creating an easy-to-navigate website. Search engine crawler robots will prioritise websites that make it easy to find content, and easy to understand content. Menus should not be excessively long or hidden. Law firms need a strong internal linking strategy to navigate between important pages. As a final vital point, every single page should have a clear call-to-action to distinguish the next step for a user.
The backbone of your law firm’s website is going to be high-quality content. When creating this, law firms need to obey three golden rules. Firstly, your content must seek to answer questions that a user has. Most often, search engine journeys will begin with a broad enquiry and look to hone down from there. The basic questions that you must answer – or at least provide a satisfactory explanation for include:
- What is your knowledge of the specific legal topic?
- How quickly can you support their enquiry?
- Why should a user pick your law firm?
Keywords and Key phrases
When creating content to answer these questions, you’ll inevitably need to use keywords and key phrases. These are the topics and terms that crawler bots identify as important for your product or service. If your content contains key phrases and words that match up to user enquiries, the search engine is more likely to view your services as credible.
For legal SEO, these phrases might be specific pieces of legislation, acts of law or generic terms like ‘pet custody’ or ‘prenuptial agreements. For best optimisation, try and place keywords in your titles, meta descriptions, headings, URLs, and in the body of your copy. Although one should be your primary keyword, well-written pages will likely meet the needs of multiple enquiries. This leaves you well placed to secure as much traffic as possible.
Backlinks and Credibility
Creating great content with strong technical SEO is a solid foundation for law firms. However, to really stand out, legal SEO involves gaining credibility and respectability by garnering backlinks and citations to your site.
In simple terms, backlinks are endorsements that search engine crawler robots can use to evaluate your website. The more backlinks you have, the better chance you have to be viewed as a credible authority. The more credible your authority is, the higher chance you rank on the first page for key queries. As a result, this plays a massive role in deciding how much traffic your law firm gets from organic search. Search engines want to send users to trusted and respected law firms, so a greater level of credibility is always beneficial.
You can also look at increasing your local presence by garnering off-page SEO from other sources. Link-building is not an easy job but it is highly effective. If your law firm wants to get ahead of competitors, writing unique content and sharing it within your legal network is a good place to start.
Legal SEO: Final Thoughts
In an industry where time is incredibly valuable and equally scarce, legal SEO could be viewed as unnecessary. It is not going to yield instant leads and will be a slow-burning activity.
However, the long term benefits from a brand point of view are undeniable. Law firms that ignore the merits of SEO risk being outclassed by their more agile and effective counterparts.
Progressive monitoring and management of legal SEO, alongside a steady stream of well-written, judiciously researched content that answers user questions will only help to further your law firm’s digital presence.
Alongside this, manage your overall site structure in a clear and cogent way to make it easily accessible, mobile and user-friendly and technically up to date and you will find yourselves rising up the rankings in no time.
For more help and advice regarding legal SEO, or other digital marketing for law firms, get in touch with Boss Digital today.