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December 19, 2013

SEO for Lawyers: 4 Tips to Get New Clients through Your Website

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When prospective clients are looking for a lawyer, 21.9 percent start with a search engine, according to Lawyernomics. If you want to capture that traffic, optimizing your online presence is essential. SEO is critical to converting online searchers into prospective legal clients.

In part one of this Legal Marketing Series, discover four top tips when it comes to SEO for lawyers offered by Senior SEO Analyst Robert Ramirez. Prior to working for Bruce Clay, Inc., Ramirez specialized in legal Internet marketing, working exclusively with top attorneys across the country.

Ramirez recommends that law firms focus on these areas of SEO:

  1. Target Local Keywords
  2. Secure Inclusion in Google Places and Other Local Directories
  3. Silo by Practice Areas
  4. Optimize the User Experience

1. Target Local Keywords

Supreme Court

The verdict is in: SEO for lawyers leads to conversions.

Legal Internet marketing is exceedingly competitive, so if you’re just starting out it’s important to establish your firm as a brand and market to your immediate location.

“If you’re starting from scratch, it’s important to set your expectations accordingly,” said Ramirez. “You’re not going to come in and start ranking for ‘Los Angeles personal injury attorney’ right away. Start thinking in terms of years if you’re trying to rank for such a highly competitive term.”

In the meantime, set your sights on local traffic. Let’s say you’re a personal injury attorney serving clients throughout Southern California. You’re based in Thousand Oaks, a city in Ventura County (neighbor to Los Angeles County). Though you’ll eventually target “Ventura County personal injury attorney” and later, “Los Angeles personal injury attorney,” when you begin optimizing, target keyword phrases like:

  • Thousand Oaks accident lawyer
  • Thousand Oaks law firm
  • Personal injury attorney Thousand Oaks

“Your best shot at early success is to capture the traffic in your city,” Ramirez said. “Targeting more competitive regions should be part of your long-term plan, but it should be done after you’ve secured branded traffic and start to rank prominently for searches in and around your physical location.”

2. Inclusion in Google Places and Other Directories

The next step when it comes to thinking locally is securing inclusion in Google Places and other local directories. Establishing a local listing in Google Places allows your law firm to appear prominently on the SERP, within Google Maps and in the Local Carousel.

“You want to rank in those maps for your immediate area. Getting into maps is going to be a major source of traffic,” said Ramirez. “Optimize your local listings and invest the time and money to find and gain inclusion in all of the major attorney directories on the Internet. The citations you build will help your listing rank more prominently and the most popular attorney directories online can be a valuable source of traffic.”

Screenshot of lawyers listed via Google Places.

Win this prime SERP real estate with an optimized Google Places local listing. Securing inclusion in Google Places is a best bet when it comes to SEO for lawyers.

Follow this step-by-step guide to create and optimize your own Google Places local listing.

3. Silo by Practice Areas

It’s imperative that law firms silo their sites according to practice areas.

“Devote a lot of content to your practice areas. People that are looking for attorneys are doing research, so the more information and insight you can offer about your practice and experience, the better your chances of ranking for varied terms are,” Ramirez explained.

Siloing will differ for each law firm, but in general, Ramirez recommends building silos based on practice areas, for example:

Criminal Attorneys

  • DUI/DWI
  • Grand Theft
  • Petty Theft
  • Burglary
  • Homicide

Family Law Attorneys

  • Divorce
  • Child Support
  • Child Custody
  • Emancipation

Personal Injury Attorneys

  • Bicycle Accidents
  • Car Accidents
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

Read more about siloing and why it matters here.

4. Improve the User Experience

Directing traffic to your site is great, but it’s not the end goal – the end goal is converting visitors into clients, and that won’t happen unless your site is impressive, professional and informative.

“A law firm’s website should be focused on capturing the people who are vetting you,” said Ramirez.

Who is vetting you? In addition to the 21.9 percent of people who started their hunt for a law firm with a search engine, Lawyernomics reports there is also the 55.7 percent of people who were referred to your firm by word of mouth — after the referral, they’re going to visit a law firm’s site. If your site is less than high-quality, you risk losing that potential client.

“A good online marketing campaign can do wonders for your practice, but the focus of your website should be on conveying trust and expertise. You want to make sure that your site speaks to visitors and compels them to contact you,” said Ramirez.

What should a high-quality law firm website include?

  • Case studies
  • Case results
  • Testimonials
  • Lawyer bios
  • An informative blog
  • Engagement objects
  • Press coverage

In part two of the Legal Marketing Series, discover how to leverage these elements so that your visitors convert to clients.

Does your law firm practice SEO? For lawyers, what tips do you have to share?

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4 responses to “SEO for Lawyers: 4 Tips to Get New Clients through Your Website”

  1. Kevin writes:

    Google appears to be getting much better at providing local results for non local searches. A few years ago if you searched dui attorney the results in Daytona Beach would be predominatly from California and other large markets. Now most of the results in natural search are local and not necessarily strong sites. Historically I’ve targeted terms like “Daytona Beach dui attorney” and was able to out perform my competitors. Suddenly they are doing better on searches such as “DUI attorney” and my traffic is down slightly this year. In the future do you think adding a location in the search will be less common as google gets better at providing accurate results for general searches without a location?

  2. Robert Ramirez writes:

    Thanks for the comment Kevin. Google has definitely been turning the dial up on localized results and have started including Google Map listings for most legal queries that don’t contain a geographic region. There will still be a portion of the searching public that will attach geographic regions to their queries, though. Especially if they were injured or arrested in a particular area and are looking for an attorney familiar with that region to assist them. The best you can do is make sure you always appear in maps for geographic regions where your practice has a physical address, invest in optimizing your regional listings on strong directories (like Yelp & Findlaw) and devote pages on your website to other geographic regions that are important to your practice. If you specialize in one area of law, try and establish yourself as an authority in the field by writing and publishing useful content that acquires you backlinks. Authorship and Link Equity can help you rank in regions where you don’t have offices.

  3. Charles Terrence Harper writes:

    Hi Robert, in your last reply you told Kevin to devote “pages” on his website to other geographical regions. But how does that geography fit into the silo structure mentioned by Kristi in the article. Would you have a silo of one page articles for different geographical regions outside of your own?

  4. Gyi Tsakalakis writes:

    “A good online marketing campaign can do wonders for your practice, but the focus of your website should be on conveying trust and expertise. You want to make sure that your site speaks to visitors and compels them to contact you,”

    Exactly right.

    Most lawyers I talk to fall into the “just enough information to be dangerous category.”

    They read SEO posts, get pitched by “experts,” and begin to form some general ideas about search engine optimization. Usually, they become hyper-focused on rankings.

    They forget that “who” they drive to their site, and “what” their visitors think of what they find matters.



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