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Law firms across the country are reporting that they are atypically busy this time of year, and those specializing in divorce law and family law are seeing the most dramatic uptick in their numbers. In Spokane, Washington, for example, family attorney David J. Crouse describes the situation as follows: “We have attorneys coming in here at 4 a.m. every day working, some of us staying until eight at night or later to try to keep on top of this.”
Family lawyers nationwide are seeing the same thing. Thirty-one percent of married couples confess that stay-at-home orders, working from home, and remote schooling have put a significant strain on their relationships. Legal Templates reveals that it is selling 34% more divorce agreements and divorce-related paperwork than it was this time last year.
Plus, fewer families plan to travel this year, and that means fewer couples are waiting until the holidays are over to officially split.
Unemployment, financial hardships, business closures, restrictions on businesses, evictions, and other difficulties related to the pandemic are keeping lawyers from all disciplines extraordinarily busy.
While the demand for lawyers is higher than ever, that does not necessarily mean that all law firms are overwhelmed with cases — or even bringing in as many clients as they would like. If your law practice is struggling to make ends meet, it is time to invest in your online marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
Learn more about SEO marketing for law firms and how it can help you get your numbers where you want them to be.
What Is SEO?
If you are going to invest in and properly execute SEO marketing for law firms, an important first step is understanding what it is. What is search engine optimization (SEO) marketing?
Google defines SEO as small adjustments to web pages that help “search engines understand and present content.” Use SEO marketing to tailor your website to perform well on search engines and reach as many people as possible. SEO encompasses a great deal. To improve your rankings, tweak web pages’ URLs, write accurate titles and snippets, optimize content and images, keep navigation user-friendly, and optimize content for viewing on mobile devices.
SEO is about creating a polished, cohesive whole. All of the elements of search engine marketing (SEM) should come together to improve your search ranking and your customer experience.
It is wise to note that SEM for a traditional website and SEM for mobile devices look very different. Optimizing pages for mobile viewing may entail whittling down text, using more location-specific keywords, targeting voice searches, optimizing mobile applications, and/or prioritizing search rankings differently. If you need help navigating the differences between desktop and mobile SEO, team up with a trusted mobile marketing agency.
SEO marketing for law firms is even more complicated. Many of your clients may be largely unfamiliar with the legal process and everything working with an attorney entails until they are driven by a dire need. As such, most new clients begin their search online. Maintaining a strong online presence is essential if you want to draw attention from new clients.
Doing that requires a lot of work. The American Bar Association (ABA) and local jurisdictions place restrictions on advertisements for law firms. Law is an extremely competitive field, requiring your keywords and other SEO strategies to be on-point. Finally, it is wise for law offices to optimize their content for legal directories and databases as well as the most popular search engines. For the most effective SEO, target the American Bar Association’s official webpage, Justia, Super Lawyers, and Avvo.
SEO marketing for law firms is a complex and multi-faceted undertaking. Start by understanding what it is and how to tailor desktop and mobile SEO specifically to the field of law.
Creating Your Website
After establishing a basic understanding, the next step is to create a website. Be particular. Build a website with SEO marketing for law firms at the front of your mind. Here are some strategies to use and tailor specifically to your law practice.
- Perform keyword research. Keywords for law firms are very competitive. Ranking on them can be prohibitively expensive, especially if you choose the most popular terms. An alternative strategy is to dive deeper into keyword research and choose keywords that are slightly less popular but — with careful execution — can be just as effective.
For example, law firms may want to try ranking on long-tail keywords to stay competitive. Long-tail keywords are made up of at least three or more words. They’re more specific and more likely to convert to clicks. Because they are more specific, it is important to carefully research long-tail keywords and find the strings of words people are most likely to search for.
- Consider user intent. Another way to refine keyword research and, ultimately, your chosen keywords is to consider user intent. Intent can be broken down into three categories: awareness, interest, and action. If you target awareness keywords, you will target people simply trying to find a lawyer in your area or in your area of expertise. Interest keywords may inquire into some specifics, like costs or reviews. Action keywords involve taking a direct action (i.e., hiring a lawyer, filing divorce, applying for a visa).
- Take full advantage of web design. A few web design tweaks can go an incredibly long way when it comes to SEO marketing for law firms. Some of the most useful web design tips include streamlining navigation, branding individual web pages, and regularly updating your website.
A difficult to navigate or slow-loading website will discourage users. If prospective or returning customers enter your website through anything but its home page — your contact page or services page, for example — it is important to fully brand each individual page for consistency and to maximize conversion. Finally, customers pay attention. If your website is outdated or it has not been updated for months (or even years) customers may assume that what you bring to the table is similarly out-of-date. For even more strategies, work closely with a website design agency.
- Explore your options — old and new. It may be tempting to assume that some tips and tricks are antiquated. Do careful research before dismissing a strategy altogether. For example, computer networking dates back to the 1960s but that does not mean it is obsolete. The definition may have changed somewhat over the years, but it remains just as relevant today. These days, law firms may want to pay special attention to computer networking and how it relates to mobile devices, smart devices, connectivity, and the Internet of Things.
Understanding Domain Ratings And Quality Backlinks
A backlink describes any link from another, separate website back to one of your web pages. Domain ratings look at the quantity and quality of websites linking to your pages. You receive a higher domain rating if you get backlinks from quality websites or resources.
For example, a link from Enterpreneur or The New York Times is much more valuable than a backlink from a random social media comment. To earn quality backlinks for your law firm:
- Join legal directories. Collaborate with legal directories like FindLaw.com, Nolo.com, Justia, Avvo, HG.org, lawyer.com, mediate.com, or the American Bar Association (ABA).
- Be an expert. One of the best ways to earn organic backlinks — and one of the best tips to excel at SEO marketing for law firms — is to be an expert in your field. For example, estate law is complicated. If you are an estate attorney share your expertise with the world. If you can speak authoritatively about estate planning, writing a will, estate taxes, medical power of attorneys, and more, it is more than possible to be genuinely valuable to others and to earn backlinks freely and organically.
- Contribute to trade publications or field publications. Similarly, if you give expert advice and do it in a publication that is well-respected in your field, all the better. This will help you build legitimacy and earn more backlinks.
- Write informative and useful guest posts. Write a quality guest post for a related company. For example, if you are an accident injury attorney, write a guest post for an auto insurance company or for an auto parts supplier. You will bring a new perspective to their website, an authoritative voice to their website, and ultimately drive more traffic back to yours.
One of the most important things when executing SEO marketing for law firms is to establish professionalism, legitimacy, and authority. Do these things, and earn more backlinks as well as a higher domain rating (DR).
Create a Blog
The number of practicing attorneys in the U.S. is staggering. Currently, there are 1.3 million licensed lawyers. Plus, many attorneys practice in clusters. In fact, 25% practice in California and New York alone. To stand out — and particularly to stand out in densely populated areas — lawyers need to put extra work in. What does that look like?
Standing out can be as simple as writing a well-crafted blog and updating and promoting it regularly. Use these pointers to achieve blogging excellence.
- Pick a niche. Avoid being too broad. Rather than appealing to more people, covering a broad spectrum of topics can actually alienate others. If your blog is too general, only one or two posts may interest a particular person. If you hone in on an area of expertise, you will attract more readers. For example, instead of creating a blog about legal advice, focus on what you know best. If you are a bankruptcy attorney, talk about bankruptcy, bankruptcy law, financial hardship, debt, or debt collection.
Stay on topic. Writing several blogs about finances and bankruptcy and then a standalone post about immigration law, for instance, can be disorienting to your audience. Build an audience, and let them know what kind of content they can expect from you.
- Engage with your audience. You will win over more readers by actively engaging with them. “Post content that is cutting-edge, controversial or informative, ask open-ended questions, start a dialogue and encourage readers to comment on specific blog posts,” The Balance suggests. Readers are more likely to return if they know they can take part and know that you genuinely value their opinion.
- Update your blog regularly. SEO marketing for law firms needs to be consistent. Just like you need to update your website regularly, you need to blog regularly, too. If you leave large gaps between blog posts, your readership might fall by the wayside.
If you are going on vacation or you are unable to blog regularly for any reason, consider using a platform, extension, or app that will allow you to time your blog posts. That way, you can write several blog posts at once and post them at timed intervals for your readers.
- Add images and video elements. Some areas of law are heavy. There is no getting around it. Break up chunks of informative, direct text with visual aids or videos. For example, an injury attorney may post a graphic about the steps to take immediately after an accident. That makes the information more digestible and more easily accessible to the average reader.
Hire an Agency
SEO marketing for law firms is not a simple undertaking. To perfect it, it requires years of experience and expertise. Even then, the optimal SEO for a mediation attorney may look very different from the optimal SEO for a workers compensation attorney.
That is where experts come in. If you lack the know-how or time to deep dive into SEO marketing for law firms, hire a trusted agency to take on some of the work — or all of it — for you. The move will save you time and money, and ensure that your SEO is up to the very highest standards.
There is a lot of potential for lawyers right now. Legal counsel is in high demand. Use SEO marketing for law firms to optimize your website, blog, and social media to get your name out there and bring in as much new business as possible.