2021 SEO Essentials Guide for Lawyers and Law Firms
Are you struggling to generate leads or traffic from your legal practice website? If so, the most likely culprit is that your website is not reachable by your potential clients.
The average internet user rarely ever goes to the second page of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) if they do not find what they are looking for on the first page. This means if your website comes up on the second, third, or subsequent pages, you are out of reach of many potential clients. You will need to optimize your law firm's website for search engines or SEO to remedy this. Law firm marketing isn't the easiest, but effective marketing strategies combined with a good marketing plan can help maximize your legal marketing efforts and build a successful law firm.
Just like any other business, your law firm must optimize its website as well as off-site properties to make it clear to search engines and target clients who you are and what you have to offer.
Clarity, particularly in using the right keywords, is the key to higher search engine rankings. Higher rankings on SERPs lead to increased organic traffic to your website, more leads, and, ultimately, more clients.
There are many ranking factors to consider when optimizing your law firm or practice website for search engines. Search engine optimization is an excellent investment that demands time and effort to drive long-term results. Here are three essential steps to follow for a proper law firm and lawyer SEO in 2021.
Step 1: Start with Proper Keyword Research
The first and most crucial step in optimizing your legal service's website is to determine the right keywords. Your keywords define the ideas and topics that give the search engine and users an idea of your website content. Note that keywords do not necessarily describe your brand or what you do.
Your keywords must be specific and targeted to attract relevant and qualified website traffic and leads. Your SEO attempts will be dead in the water if you use the wrong keywords. Think about the exact searches for which you want your practice or firm to rank. Put yourself in your clients' shoes and list down the phrases you would search to find your website.
As a rule of thumb, start with your areas of practice. Write down possible keywords associated with each practice area and do a bit of research related to those terms. This should give you an idea of which phrases and words align with your practice and how they stand out from the search engine results.
Be sure to research 'related keywords' to know what users search for when looking for the kinds of information or services you offer. You can use various online tools to help you find the right keywords, including keyword.io, Google Trends, and WMS Everywhere add-on for Chrome.
As a simple example, use Google to search for a term that you believe a client would use to find an attorney. Look at the results to see what types of websites are listed. While typing your search, Google will make suggestions based on what other people have searched.
These are some 'related keywords' that you can find easily. At the bottom of the search results, there will be another list of 'related keywords' in the form of "Related Searches."
Step 2: Technical SEO and Optimizing Your Website for Search Engines
One of the most challenging steps in SEO is optimizing the website for search engines. All content elements, including homepage title, headlines, sub-headers, and subtitles, must be broken up and optimized for indexing algorithms. You must also optimize the page content, calls to action, and even images and illustrations with appropriate keywords. Tags, meta descriptions, and alt texts in images play a significant role in SEO and must be optimized as well.
Each page of your website should include metadata. Metadata is information about the page that tells the user and search engine crawlers what each page is about. The essential components to optimize and customize are the title tags and the meta descriptions. If you get technical SEO right, each page will be individually ranked and displayed to the user in search engine results based on its content.
There are a few other important considerations when optimizing your website to rank higher in SERPs. Google, Bing, and other top search engines rank mobile-friendly websites higher than those that are not.
Responsive web design and fast-loading pages are all the rage today as more users access the web on their mobile devices. Besides, having a mobile-friendly website is a sure way to increase conversion.
Step 3: Link Building and Content Marketing
Links remain one of the most crucial ranking factors used by search engine providers. After all, it is through links that search engine crawlers can discover and index new content. They also judge the quality and relevance of content based on links or backlinks.
Good links are a lot like votes of confidence in the search engine world. They are testimonials on the worth of the content on a site. To have a healthy link profile, you must have high repute websites linking back to your website naturally and consistently. High-quality links to your page must be helpful and related to the content in which the user is interested.
Link building is where good content comes in. Quality and fresh content is king when you are looking to rank high in search engine results pages. Content marketing for law firms and practitioners should not just be about telling the visitors about the service or the provider. It should also drive them to perform a specific action, such as seeking more information or hiring a lawyer.
About Google's May 2021 Core Web Vitals Update
Google has confirmed that its Core Web Vitals will become search result ranking signals in May. The Core Web Vitals are essentially a measure of a user's experience on a web page. It combines mobile-friendliness, safe browsing and HTTPS security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.
Google announced the update in November 2020 to allow websites sufficient time to ensure their websites are designed and developed to offer the user an optimum and safe browsing experience. While the Google update is not expected to cause severe ranking issues for existing websites, you must optimize your law firm's website in readiness for the rollout.
With the May Core Web Vitals update, Google will drive businesses towards developing custom websites rather than use ready-made template sites such as WordPress. You will need to optimize your website to load faster, be highly responsive to devices of all screen sizes, and show visual stability.
Google, and other search engines, want internet users to see them as a trustworthy source of relevant information. To this end, their search algorithm is designed to ensure that only links to the most helpful content on custom-built websites appear on top of their search results.
Law firms and practitioners have to put more effort into demonstrating their content's trustworthiness and relevance to search engines to rank on the first page of search engine results. Excellent blog posts, social media presence, and listing in legal directories work together to help your prospective clients feel more at ease with your law practice.