In this increasingly globalised world, digital channels are now a key platform for law firms. They can drive traffic to their services and acquire clients more than ever before. Digital transformation tools such as Robotic Process Automation also have helped law become a 24/7 industry. However, it’s not enough to just be online. There are a number of measures law firms have to take to ensure they score highly within search engine rankings. To achieve this, law firms must rely on search engine optimisation (SEO). This post explores search engine optimisation in more detail, and provides valuable SEO tips for law firms looking to optimise their website.
What is SEO for Law Firms?
Before we discuss SEO for law firms, it is important to understand the basic fundamentals. Search engine optimisation is split into two categories: on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
On-page SEO details the changes you can make to your content, to make it more relevant to search engine algorithms. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Title Tags
- Meta Tags
- Meta Descriptions
- Page Content
- URL Structure
On the other hand, off-page SEO deals with website credibility. This is obtained by the number of links to, and links from your website pages. Think about each link as an endorsement. If many people are linking to your content, they are regarding it as trustworthy and credible. In the same way, if you link to someone else’s content, you are giving them that authority.
The top-performing law firms in search engines will combine quality content with strong on-page SEO and have a number of highly credible links to their page. Now we have established what SEO means, it’s time to look at more specific SEO Tips for Law Firms.
Quantity with Quality: Content Writing and SEO for Law Firms
There are two big pitfalls that law firms fall into when it comes to content writing:
- They go overboard with technical jargon and complex concepts
- They pitch at the wrong level and end up ‘talking down’ to their audience
The world of law is a complex one. It is not easy to write content that is informative and engaging, whilst being easily digestible. However, there are some useful principles you can apply to make it easier.
Firstly, you should research your keywords thoroughly. For example, if you are a patent attorney from London, you would look at ‘London Attorneys’, ‘London Patent Attorneys’, ‘Patent Attorneys’ for inspiration. Also, think about what someone would ideally search to find your firm. Don’t overcomplicate keywords too. If you write an amazing page geared towards something no one will ever search, it doesn’t matter if you rank 1st! Remember that traffic levels are only half the story. If the term has stronger commercial intent, it’s more likely to drive conversions for your law firm.
Once you’ve selected your keyphrase, start drafting your content. Focus on important details, definitions and have a clear outline. You might want to include a short case study, information about your services, testimonials and other evidence of your credibility. The content should be interspersed with your brand messaging to demonstrate why you are uniquely placed to solve their problem.
SEO Tips for Law Firms: 5 Principles for Content to Follow
As a rule of thumb, your content should follow these principles:
- Clearly add value for your customers
- Provide great user experience (UX)
- Be mobile-friendly and social-media ready
- Target the keywords you want to rank for
- Be marked up with relevant meta-data and rich markup.
These are the same techniques applied by leading content marketing companies across the globe.
It’s not enough to just write one really good piece of content. The more quality content associated with your law firm, the more reputable your law firm will become within search engines. It also increases the likelihood you rank for other terms too.
BOSS Digital’s SEO Tips for Law Firms: 1) Produce a range of quality, informed content advertising your law firm services.
The Metas in the Madness: Assessing Customer Intent
It’s good to have well-written, focused content. However, your law firm will get nowhere in the search engine rankings unless you have good meta content.
To find out the meta-data for a page, you can just hover over your tab details. The meta title will appear first, and if there is space, you’ll also get the meta description.
Picking a Meta Title
In order to write a good meta title, there are a few principles you should adhere to. Firstly, they should be a maximum of 66 characters long. A good meta title is between 40-60 characters. Secondly, they should feature clickable, relevant keywords. For example, if you are writing about Copyright Patent Protection, these words should be near the beginning of your meta-description. You also want to feature your business name and also location details if possible.
You get an automatic SEO bonus for featuring your keywords in your meta-data. However, you also make your page more attractive to users. If they are searching for a topic and your page is titled similarly – you are more likely to get clicks. User intent is always the biggest priority when writing your meta title. Above all, the most important SEO tip for law firms regarding meta-title is to make sure they are clear and coherent! There’s no point stuffing keywords into your title if you end up with a jumbled, confusing title.
This coherence is also important when matching meta titles with page titles. Even if your meta-title is the correct length, if it doesn’t match your on-page content, it’s going to confuse the crawler robots. The majority of your headings should feature your keywords, or synonyms close to them. However, again, law firms need to avoid overstuffing. If your page is about copyright law, you don’t need to force copyright law into every title!
On the topic of meta titles, it’s worth mentioning meta descriptions too. Although they don’t directly impact SEO, they can be helpful for user intent. If your meta description appears to do exactly what someone wants from their enquiry – they are more likely to click your page! Although it’s not a crucial SEO tip for law firms, it’s worth knowing meta descriptions should feature your keywords too.
BOSS Digital’s SEO Tips for Law Firms: 2) Select a judicious, relevant meta-title featuring your most relevant keywords.
Best of the Rest: Additional on-page SEO Tips for Law Firms
Although content quality and meta titles are key, they aren’t the only details for law firms to be aware of. Some of the other key SEO tips for law firms include:
- Keywords: Select one or two critical topics and intersperse them within your text. A good keyword density is around 1-2%. This means they feature once or twice every 100 words. Check your keyword density once you’ve wrote your content! If it’s too high, then chances are that the robots will view it as stuffing.
- Internal Linkage: Every single page on your website should be accessible within four clicks from the home-page. The longer the user journey is, the more likely it is that they will lose interest and click away.
- Images: All pages on your website should have a selection of judiciously selected images that represent the on-page content. Each image should be supported by alt-text that features your keywords and summarises the image content for user accessibility.
- Social Shares: Social shares can add credibility to your article. If your law firm has a LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter page, all of your content should be linked to and promoted on these channels for maximum exposure.
BOSS Digital’s SEO Tips for Law Firms: 3) Social shares, alt-text, internal links and keyword density all can’t be taken for granted!
URLs: Don’t Stuff It!
It’s worth noting that URLs are important too. URL structure can be the difference between a page ranking on page 1, and not ranking at all. In the past, URLs were often subject to bad SEO practice. People used them flagrantly to stuff keywords. For instance, you would get pages like ‘www.yourlawfirm.com/about-us-personal-injury-claims. Although the page had nothing to do with personal injury claims, it would originally have ranked highly because the crawler bots would see the keywords in the URL structure and assume it was relevant.
However, an update in 2012 changed this. Stuffing keywords in URLs resulted in harsh punishments, rather than rewards. Poor URL structures have no keywords and too many levels. In contrast, a good URL structure looks something like this: www.yourlawfirm.com/services/personal-injury-claims. It has a simple, easy to understand the hierarchy and features the keywords.
It’s important to not over-optimise your SEO structure, however. An example of this would be: www.yourlawfirm.com/services/have-I-got-a-personal-injury-claim-personal-injury-claims-can-I-claim-personal-injury-claims. This just amounts to stuffing and Google will penalise you for it.
BOSS Digital’s SEO Tips for Law Firms: 4) Ensure your URL structure is well-managed and easy to decipher.
Backlink For Your Future!
Although we already have 4 SEO tips for law firms, the 5th is perhaps the biggest obstacle to ranking well. It is great being able to control so much on your on-page SEO. However, there is a big off-page issue to consider. Backlinks (or external links). They are one of the most important considerations for any law firm because they add credibility.
For law firms, it’s best to think of backlinks as endorsements or acknowledgements. Each time you collect one, someone else is recommending their web visitors also click on your site because you have quality content. As user experience drives a lot of the modern search engine algorithm, this kind of endorsement goes a long way. However, getting links is only half the battle. You want to ensure you are being endorsed by reputable, relevant websites. For law firms, this might be technology partners, renowned industry magazines like The Lawyer or recognisable communities like The Law Society.
Here are some additional tips on how to get quality links to your site:
- Write informative, detailed content and promote it to as many people as possible. If people like what you are saying, they are more likely to share and endorse you.
- Look for local links to help you rank first. Unless you are a global law firm, a lot of international links can look spammy to the crawler robots.
- Don’t rely on blackhat SEO links to unresponsive or questionable websites. Although they may give you a short term boost, they will result in long-term penalties for your site.
- Submit your website to legal directories and other similar digital catalogues. As well as getting positive SEO, you also might attract some new leads!
BOSS Digital’s SEO Tips for Law Firms: 5) Build up a network of quality, reputable backlinks to endorse your content.
The Final Word: SEO Tips for Law Firms
SEO is not an instant process. Although quick wins will see you rise up the rankings, the real payoff comes long-term. By establishing yourself as a thought leader within your market, you position yourself as an expert in your field. People will always choose to learn and work with experts if they want to solve a problem!
Don’t see this as a definitive list for SEO – there are plenty more small tweaks you can make to add additional value. However, once you’ve completed these five basic SEO tips for law firms, your website will be immeasurably better than before.