SEO for Law Firms 101: The key elements every law site needs

SEO for Law Firms 101: The key elements every law site needs

Law firms need to take their search engine optimisation strategy seriously if they want to stand out from the competition. It has become increasingly probable that, in today’s world, whenever someone needs a solicitor, they’re going to go straight to the internet. Even if someone is not searching online with the intent of hiring a solicitor, they will still be turning to the web if they have a legal query that needs answering. Climbing up the search engine results pages (SERPs) is one of the best things you can do to elevate the trustworthiness of your brand and attract more visitors to your site, which in turn will increase the number of clients seeking your services and raise the profile of your firm. Put simply: ignoring SEO could be a costly mistake.

However, improving SEO isn’t a straightforward task. There are plenty of ingredients that go into devising a successful SEO strategy for a law firm. At BORN, we’ve played a key role in vastly improving the online presence of several top law firms, so we know a thing or two about hatching reliable, robust SEO strategies. Let’s take a look at just a few of the multitude of ways we help the major search engines recognise a legal site, and perhaps it may give you a few ideas of how we could potentially help you.

Keyword research

Optimising for keywords (commonly searched for phrases) is integral to any law firm’s SEO campaign – ranking in the top three or four results on the first page for a popular key term is bound to create an influx of traffic. But while that much may seem obvious, knowing which keywords are best to optimise for is the real challenge and will make all the difference to the success of your rankings.

The issue that law firms often run into is that the terms that solicitors think people search for are often different to the actual language they use, which is why it’s useful to have an SEO expert on hand to do the required research. Using keyword analytics tools alongside our deep level of experience in this field, BORN can identify the top business-winning terms that your potential clients are using.

Keyword research involves working out which phrases are best to target by looking at the average number of monthly searches for a set of relevant terms as well as which convert to sales the most. However, there’s a lot more careful planning needed than merely looking at which keywords are the most popular.

It can also be highly effective to target the phrases that are less competitive, such as longer, more specifically worded phrases. These are easier to optimise for, and your website is far more likely to rank highly on SERPs for these pages. Even though they may not be searched for as much by users, getting onto the first SERP will still likely prove very useful for generating new business leads.

To help hone in on what terms are useful to optimise for, it’s also worth considering any niche areas that are relevant to your firm. For instance, it’s wise for a personal injury firm to research any local industrial complexes that could be related to their services, such as mines and steelworks, and target keywords related to these, such as “steelworker asbestos claim”.

What keywords your competitors are optimising for is also invaluable information to acquire, as it will help you understand how you should be going about your own strategy and give you insights into how best you can compete. The SEO experts at BORN know which keyword analytic tools to use and how best to use them to give a clear picture of which phrases to target, how you compare with law firms offering similar services, and how your competitors are implementing the keywords in their content. This allows us to devise the most effective method of competing with them.

And that’s just the beginning. Once you know which keywords to target, there is of course the matter of working them into an engaging piece of content in the correct way (i.e. using informative, natural-sounding language). This is where our team of skilled SEO-focused copywriters come in, who have helped to completely rework legal sites by replacing dry, bare content with comprehensive, engrossing pages.

Giving your site the right structure

The architecture of a website all comes down to crafting something that provides searchers with a pleasurable user experience. The site needs to be easy for users to navigate; constructing a complex website will more often than not leave users with a headache. If the menus are too vaguely worded and the order of menus is confusing, it’s unlikely that a visitor will be able to find the information they want as quickly as possible, and they are therefore bound to click off and find a better site where the page structure flows naturally. No website visitor wants their time wasted as they laboriously try to navigate a poorly designed website to find the page they need, least of all someone in need of legal services.

Site structure should be logical. Items should be where visitors expect to find them, and using strong URL naming conventions and a website hierarchy that makes sense, making use of microsites, will help achieve this. Together with attractive design, good structure is the perfect way to make a site that’s satisfying to use.

Excellent architecture also applies to the mobile version of the site too. Nowadays, more users are visiting sites on mobile than on desktop (causing Google to incorporate the Mobile First Index into their algorithm, which prioritises the performance of the page on mobile over desktop as it determines the rankings), so the design of this becomes imperative. Ideally, your website will be responsive across all platforms, and the design should cater to all possible screen sizes on which a user may be viewing it. The design may have to be a bit different for mobile to ensure that navigation around the pages remains efficient. A major part of this is creating Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which are stripped down versions of the desktop pages, allowing them to load on mobile much faster. Decreasing page load times will encourage mobile visitors to continue looking through your site, so there’s no doubt that AMP pages are a necessity for any law firm.

Links, links, and more links

Links are a significant part of SEO. Google views the number and quality of backlinks, or links from other sites linking back to yours, as one of the most important ranking signals, behind only high-quality, engaging, and informative content.

Law firms can use PR to get good links from reputable sources, which Google will view in very high regard. When a site links to your website, you can think of it as basically a mark of approval; they are essentially endorsing your content, so the higher the reputation of the site that is linking to you, the better. Through PR, law firms have the opportunity to get links from both local and major news sites, such as BBC News. For instance, a representative from your firm could give an interview regarding a high-profile case, and the quote could be picked up by several news outlets, or some of your member solicitors could write articles for online law journals, which would include a link back to your site. Acquiring a large number of these will mean search engines will view your site very favourably and is likely to significantly improve your rankings. You could also reach out to local charities who operate in areas related to your firm, such as an organisation that provides support to personal injury victims or people going through a divorce.

In addition to external links, you’ll also need a high number of internal links, where your own pages link to elsewhere on your site using relevant linking text. Creating a robust internal linking strategy is imperative to achieving a crawlable site. A “crawlable” site is one that allows the search engine’s “crawlers”, or spiders – which is what search engines use to scan through all of the web’s content to determine which pages are the most relevant to a user’s search – to easily pass through your site’s pages and review them. The spiders will navigate through your site by following the internal links.
When choosing the text on one page to hyperlink to another, you also need to consider the keywords you’re optimising for. It’s best to make the hyperlinked text a keyword phrase for which you wish to rank highly.

Creating a large number of strong external and internal links takes much time, effort, and money, not just to build the links but also to monitor the existing ones. As links are such an essential part of any SEO campaign, BORN is naturally an expert in link building for law firms. We can help ensure that not only do you have numerous quality links directing traffic to your firm’s site, but that you also have a solid internal linking structure.

Get social

To draw more attention to your website, you need to have a strong social media presence. Many law firms often do not realise the importance of social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, and as more and more of the global population continues to use these channels, their value in digital marketing only continues to grow.

The approach to social media needs careful thought, and what works for one firm may not be the right fit for another. You should consider which of the social platforms are the most appropriate for your brand. Everything from the concise wording to the imagery used to the frequency of posting needs to be planned, and a thorough analysis of the user engagement with each post is required to understand what is working and what isn’t.

It would help if you also considered ways to build your social following and gain more exposure. As an idea, you could set up a Q&A on social media, where at a particular time on a specific day of the week you could answer all legal questions for free.

We’ve built successful social media campaigns for many of our legal clients. Of course, every law firm is different, and BORN knows how to tailor an engaging social media campaign so that it matches your firm’s core messaging. Our campaigns can help build trust in your firm, improve your customer service, and form a strong relationship between you and your clients, encouraging other potential clients to enlist your services.

Have the right tracking tools in place

So that your SEO campaign can be refined, it’s worth utilising tracking software, such as Google Analytics, to help you understand which aspects are the most successful and are resulting in the most referrals.

For some clients, we have also successfully implemented call tracking software, which enables them to have a different phone number for each referral source – this could be from an organic Google search, a Google ad, or another search engine such as Bing. Call tracking is incredibly useful for any law firm, as it instantly allows them to see which areas of the SEO campaign are converting into business and where the marketing budget is being spent efficiently, achieving the best return on investment.

At BORN, we’ve tested a lot of call tracking software and will be able to recommend the option that is right for you.

Just scratching the surface…

Keep in mind that the above is just an overview. There’s plenty more to consider that could affect search engine rankings, such as making sure your site is certified secure (check out this blog on the importance of HTTPS for more information).

Improving lead generation for law firms

BORN understands the true value of all the incredibly hard work that law firms undertake to help their clients, and we think their dedication should be reflected in a website that is nothing short of excellent. We strongly believe that it’s worthwhile for all law firms to invest in an SEO agency, and our existing clients are happy that we’ve helped them reach their full SEO potential.

We’re very proud to have innovated many successful campaigns for a wide range of legal clients and are glad to be of service to some of the UK’s leading firms. If you would like to enquire more about our SEO services for law firms and see how we can meet all your requirements and in turn increase your lead generation, contact us today.

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