SEO Agency For Law Firms
Search engine visibility is the No. 1 driver of potential clients to law firm websites AND it provides for the highest return on your marketing investment.
The internet is the most effective way to reach large numbers of people. For better or worse, the days of people searching for a lawyer by flipping through the Yellow Pages are well behind us. Because of this, the most important tool to reach clients is through the various search engines — Google in particular. It does no good, though, to just put a web page out there and hope for the best. The old mantra of build it and they will come is a dangerous strategy. A web page is only as good as the people it reaches. This is where SEO comes in.
SEO, in general, is a system of tactics and methodologies used to make sure your web page comes up at the top of the list when someone does a Web search in your area for a law firm in which you practice. It considers what the search engines are looking for, using that information to make you rank as high as possible and get more site visits, resulting, potentially, in more clients for your firm.
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We Talk About SEO Differently. Here’s Why…
SEO has changed dramatically over the last couple of years. As the search engines have integrated changes in the way they operate, Web marketers who stay ahead of the curve have been honing new strategies to work with the search engines. In today’s world, it is all about quality.
- Gladiator’s founder has…
- 21 Years of Experience
- 16 Years in Legal Marketing
- Our writers are…
- JD and Bar Licensed
- International Journalists
- Published Authors
- We have award-winning designers.
At Gladiator we pride ourselves on being easy to work with; we offer…
- Itemized Invoices / Proposals
- Full Reporting
- Dedicated Project Managers
- Client Empowerment Model
How Does it Work?
The internet is vast, to put it mildly, with billions of pages of information and an estimated 10,000+ gigabytes of information added every second. Search engines navigate and map pathways to make sure customers receive the most accurate results as quickly as possible. SEO looks at how search engines find and present information and applies this to your website so that it comes up quickly and as high on the page as possible. SEOers fall into three categories:
- White Hat – – If you are paying an agency to work on your site, this is the method they should use. This method follows the general guidance given by Google, the goal being to “meet the users’ intent.”
- Black Hat – Black hat SEOers manipulate the metrics Google uses to rank websites. Google can and will penalize websites found to be manipulating their search results.
- Gray Hat – These strategies are marginal, coming close to being black hat.
What do Search Engines Look for?
The most common things search engines look for are relevance and popularity. Relevance is assessed in several ways, but primarily by the words on the page (see “Content” section below) and the tags of that page. Tags use code to define the most important idea on the page. A tag ensures that when you search for “shoes” the pages that show up aren’t about “mice.” The better and more defined the content is, the more visible the page is to search engines.
Popularity is gauged using several different metrics:
- In-Bound Links – The more high-quality websites that link to your website, the better your website will perform.
- Visitors – How many people visit your website? The more, the better, but see the third metric, below.
- User Experience – Google analyzes how visitors are interacting with on your website. Do they leave immediately or do they stay awhile?
Check out MOZ’s survey for a more complete analysis of ranking factors.
Content & Your SEO Strategy
If it isn’t on your site, you aren’t going to rank for it. The more specific and relevant to the user’s search query, the more likely your page is to rank. For example, if a potential client does a voice-activated search for ‘got hurt from a car hitting us in an intersection,’ then your page about car accidents in general might show up. BUT, if you have a page about intersection accidents or T-bone crashes, your site might show up higher.
Search phrases that have five or more words make up 41.7% of all searches. To put this into perspective, only 7% of phrases are searched for more than 20 times per month. This means the vast majority of your clients are not typing in ‘Personal Injury Lawyer’ or ‘Criminal Defense Lawyer’ or ‘Divorce Lawyer.’ While these keywords make up a portion of the phrase, they do not make up the typical complete search query.
Your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy with Gladiator Law Marketing includes a detailed content development plan that strategically identifies and targets your most valuable audience.
Gladiator Law Marketing has made significant investments in research data that identifies the most valuable keywords for your practice with the highest return-on-investment (ROI). This helps ensure that your Web marketing dollars are applied to those SEO strategies most likely to generate new business for your law firm.
Web Page Design & SEO
Website design continues to have an increasingly influential effect on a law firm’s search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. The most recent adjustments made by Google in their Medic Update placed significant focus on the usability of your website’s design. Specifically, how well potential clients engage with your website directly impacts your search rankings.
Lawyers are often surprised to learn that Google has been tracking the behavior of their visitors for many years. Google knows how potential clients find your site, how long search visitors stay on your website, how many pages your visitors are viewing and how many inquiries/engagements search users complete on your website.
Google places a priority on delivering quality search results, and that includes promoting websites that provide visitors with a positive experience — in other words, are easy to navigate and readily provide the information sought.
If you haven’t updated the design of your law firm website in several years, it is time to consider how effective website design not only makes you seem more competitive but actually makes you more competitive. More about how our designs work to deliver new clients.
Does Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Work?
All this planning, work and design are focused solely on fine-tuning your website so that it works to its full potential and you ultimately get more business. But if the results aren’t immediate, how do you know it’s working? SEO marketing has proven itself effective, but it also takes time. Don’t expect to come into your office the morning after a new website launch and be overwhelmed with new clients or an overflowing inbox waiting for your attention. We know SEO works, and it’s not hard to check the progress. Some have tried to condense the many metrics into a single number to gauge the effectiveness of a campaign; but trying to simplify what is a complex and difficult process in this way leaves much to be desired. We need to look at several different metrics to check a campaign’s effectiveness, and these change as the campaign matures. Here are some things to look for:
- Signed Cases – By far the most important metric to pay attention to is the number of signed cases. Your firm needs to be asking ‘Where did you hear about us?’ every time you take a new case, and you should keep track of the responses. It does take time for a campaign to produce, so you will need to track other metrics as well until the data from new cases becomes consistent.
- Organic Users – This is the number of people visiting your website from the search engines. This number should be increasing year over year, or month over month for new campaigns.
- New Users – Many marketers believe that a better metric is new users, as this shows only people who are visiting your website for the first time.
- Bounce Rate – This will give you a general understanding of how users are interacting with your website. If a visitor arrives at your website and then leaves without clicking on anything else, this qualifies as a bounce. Most attorney websites will have bounce rates of 40 to 65 percent. Lower is better.
- Number of Inquiries – This metric can be misleading if the quality of the inquiries is not good, but it can still be a metric to gauge overall effectiveness. This number should improve substantially over the first six months of a campaign.
- Keyword Rankings – At one time this was an excellent tool, but its usefulness has diminished. Now, most searches are longer, and each one produces a different set of results. There are thousands of keywords, too many to monitor. This is a good metric to add to the mix but is of less value than others.
SEO For Law Firms – The Gladiator Way
A tool is only as good as the person using it. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we have some of the best (both people and tools). We take a fully integrative and comprehensive approach to make sure your law firm SEO elevates your visibility and drives results. We personalize your website design, tailor content to your firm and your specific needs, and perform exhaustive research on your market, utilizing the latest technology to keep you at the front of the pack.
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What We Offer
Gladiator Law Marketing has crafted a custom collection of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) packages designed to deliver SEO visibility for your law firm. Reach out and let’s talk about the best ways to make your Web presence work better for your law firm: 1 (888) 683-3212
Search Engine Optimization — SEO for Lawyers
You’ve hired a web developer. You’ve sat each of your partners with a photographer for professional headshots. You’ve enlisted everyone in the firm to write content for the new site. All told, you’ve invested tens of thousands in putting your best digital foot forward.
You’ve built it; all that’s left is for ‘them’ to come. Right?
Wrong. The web is a crowded space. From national firms to local shops, the internet is awash in lawyers like you looking for their own piece of the proverbial pie. Sorry, but there’s no way anyone is going to find your site without a little help.
Prospective clients turn to the world’s favorite search engine to cut through the noise and serve up the nearest and dearest legal team. And those “lucky” few firms who show up at the top of the results end up winning 91.5% of the traffic.
This is what makes SEO for lawyers critical. But as soon a firm throws their hat in the search engine marketing ring, they learn how stiff the competition really is.
Can Your Law Firm Relate?
Do you feel like you’re getting squeezed out of the market? Are the heavy hitters in your area throwing around enough cash to relegate your web site to page 3 of Google?
We know what you’re up against. We see it every day. But with more than 50 years of combined experience in marketing law firms, we’ve learned how to strategically position our clients to rise above the competition, increase traffic, and acquire new clients.
The process is straightforward enough: develop an SEO campaign, write great content, and optimize your website to capitalize on Google’s proprietary search algorithm.
But what does all that mean, and how does it play out in execution?
In the following, we’re going to give you the goods on SEO for lawyers. But, if you really want to know how to get your site on the first page of Google, then save yourself the read and give us a call.
Everything You Need to Know About SEO for Lawyers
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a set of practices that website owners use to increase their sites’ rankings in search results (primarily Google). It involves a deft mix of content development, technical know-how, and outside relationship-building.
In a nutshell, SEO is a technical means of anticipating and satisfying the end user’s intentions. Google’s #1 goal is to serve its users with relevant, informative content based on its users’ search activity. The sophisticated technology they use to assess and rank websites is all geared toward that end. The better you serve the user—at least, in theory—the more favorable attention you’ll get from Google.
For lawyers, this means answering the questions that prospective clients “ask” via their search requests. If they’re looking for a “St. Louis divorce attorney,” then sites that identify themselves as St. Louis-based are going to come up first. Of course, there’s more than one divorce attorney in St. Louis, so how’s Google going to prioritize one over the other? To put it simply, Google “knows” which of those sites serves up the most valuable and relevant information about all things related to divorce in the St. Louis area.
How does Google “know” that? It’s complicated. Keyword phrases, internal/external links, site structure—these are just a few of the “signals” Google assesses to determine the value of a site. We’ll get into that further below, but for now what you need to know is that the more valuable you make your site—to both humans and Google’s robots—the better you’ll do in search results.
Colored Hats and Why They Matter
When it comes to SEO methods, you’ll often come across an important distinction:
- White Hat – This method aims to be above board in every respect. Rather than game the system, White Hat SEO focuses on developing high-quality content that meets Google’s guidelines. The emphasis here is on user experience. Again, develop a site worth visiting, and Google will reward you with higher rankings.
- Black Hat – Rather than focusing on user experience, this method attempts to manipulate Google’s algorithms in various ways. Google has grown increasingly impervious to this sort of manipulation. Moreover, they’ve put strict penalties in place for those sites caught intentionally gaming the system.
You’ll sometimes encounter “gray hat” SEO strategies. As the name would suggest, these methods attempt to straddle the line between a white or black hat approach.
If you’re going to pay an agency to handle your SEO, they should have nothing to do with either black hat practices. The risk of penalty from Google is too high to justify any attempts at foul play.
How does SEO work?
As we saw above, search engines like Google pride themselves in serving up the best possible experience for users. To accomplish this, they’ve spent considerable time and money developing AI that ranks websites on more than a hundred specific factors.
Here are some of the most important ones:
- Mobile-Readiness – More people access the internet from their mobile devices than desktop computers. Consequently, Google has chosen to prioritize mobile-ready sites. This makes responsive web design an absolute necessity—regardless of whether a site’s target demographic is likely to access on mobile or at home.
- Page Speed – Starting in July 2018, Google added loading time to its search engine algorithm, meaning only the fastest pages will enjoy top search results.
- Domain Age & Authority – In terms of ranking preference, Google prefers older domains (3+ years) over their younger counterparts.
- URL Accessibility – The bots at Google want to see an easy-to-read URL, an accurate robots.txt file, and a working sitemap. These signals allow Google’s AI to crawl the site and index each page appropriately. If any of these items are missing or broken, the site will not rank well (if at all).
- Content – Great websites craft their content in a way that not only addresses searchers’ interests (keyword phrasing) but their intent to act upon that information (keyword intent). Google “knows” whether your material provides the answers searchers are looking for. For more on this, see below.
- Site Structure (a.k.a. Technical SEO) – Not only does a page’s content matter but so does its code. Google wants to see keyword phrases embedded in page titles. It also wants to see the proper use of header tags to display content hierarchy. Additionally, metadata, alt tags, and schema markup all help Google parse your site and rank it appropriately.
- User Experience – Google’s RankBrain algorithm pays particular attention to a user’s perception of your site. If users typically land on your page and leave shortly after, you’ll get dinged in the rankings. If, on the other hand, you give users a reason to stay on your site, Google will reward you.
- Links – Google uses links to judge the quality of your content. Inbound come in to your domain from other sites. Internal links connect to content within your domain. Outbound links point to sites outside your domain. If authoritative external sites like NOLO link to you, Google will perceive your site as truly valuable. If you link out to other quality sites and visitors click through, it’ll also judge your site as a useful resource. If you link your pages together, you’ll not only provide users with a better experience, but you’ll help Google more effectively crawl your site as well.
- Social Links – Google denies a direct link between social sharing and search ranking, but the higher visibility that comes from increased social visibility appears to correlate directly with increased search rankings.
- Geographical Data – Especially for businesses located in physical space, filling out your business listing on Google is crucial to increasing local search results.
Is local SEO different?
The phrase ‘local SEO’ can mean two different things:
- Ranking Organically In Your Local Geography
- Ranking In Google Maps
The two are closely related but also inherently different. The first is ranking in the main organic section within the confines of your target location, which is most commonly the city where your office is located. This is accomplished by optimizing the page on your website for local phrases and building links from other local businesses. Additionally, the work performed to rank organically will also help your law firm rank in the maps, and vice-versa.
Ranking in Google Maps is an important component to lawyer seo. Some of the ranking factors the law firm will have control over, while some of them the law firm will not be able to control.
- Proximity To The Searcher – Law firms that are closer to the person conducting the search will be given a boost. The law firm has no control over this signal.
- Reviews – This aspect of the ranking algorithm is something the firm can contribute to the campaign. Getting reviews from people in the local area, that rate your firm highly, and mention the phrases that you want to rank for will help your maps rankings.
- Consistency of Citations – This refers to the law firm’s Name, Address, and Phone Number. (NAP) The law firm’s information should be consistent across the web, on the Google My Business listing, and on the firm’s website.
- Google My Business Category – Perhaps one of the most overlooked components is making sure the categories are selected appropriately for your practice area. Many law firms will choose the ‘law firm’ category when a more specific option is available, such as Divorce Attorney. Google will allow you to have multiple categories and it is important to put them into the system in priority order.
How do I do SEO?
The technical and analytic aspects of attorney SEO may seem daunting to the uninitiated, but there is enough information on the web for virtually anyone to run their own SEO campaign.
Caveat: Effective SEO takes time, patience, and expertise. It also requires a healthy network of external relationships for link-building. These constraints make it nearly impossible for most law firms to handle their own SEO effectively.
Here are the five stages of a standard SEO campaign:
1. Find Keywords
Every successful campaign begins with a list of keywords and phrases. These elements should make up the conceptual and grammatical center of your site’s content. Ideally, these keywords will be low on competition, high on volume, and relevant to your target.
When picking keywords, don’t limit yourself to the “obvious” keyword phrases like “San Antonio personal injury lawyer.” Take it a step forward by thinking strategically about what potential clients will be searching for and anticipating their needs.
Here are a few examples:
- “personal injury claim in San Antonio”
- “dealing with an insurance company in San Antonio”
- “Am I liable for an injury on my property in San Antonio?”
These keyword phrases may seem overly specific. But what they capitalize on is the power of the long tail. Long-tail keyword phrases like these target searchers with particular needs and, more importantly, a much higher likelihood of conversion.
Long-tail searchers are people who need your services today and are, thus, much more likely to pick up a phone. Optimize your site to provide relevant information to these searchers, and you’ll have a much easier time turning them into clients.
To illustrate this concept, take a look at the following chart:
As you can see, 5+ word phrases make up 41.7% of searches. What this indicates is that potential clients probably won’t be searching for a “Personal Injury Lawyer” or “Criminal Defense Lawyer.” Instead, they’ll be searching for “a lawyer to help me sue my idiot neighbor for burning down my garage.” Especially as voice search grows in popularity, these are the sorts of searches lawyers will need to anticipate.
2. Write Fantastic Content
As we saw above, Google’s ranking algorithm is primarily driven by user experience and content quality. Short, keyword-laden posts used to be ideal, but Google now favors long, comprehensive articles that are chock full of useful information.
If you want to rank for a specific phrase, your best bet will be to produce a long-form article that covers the topic from as many angles as possible. For example, Google will prefer a 2,500-word guide over a 500-word listicle on a competing site. Additionally, your content will more likely be shared by visitors and linked to by other sites.
The more specific the content, the better. Remember the power of the long-tail: if a potential client does a voice-activated search for “got hurt from a car hitting us in an intersection,” then one of your pages about car accidents might show up. If, however, you have a page dedicated specifically to intersection accidents or “t-bones,” you’ll be much more likely to show up in their search.
3. Optimize Your Site
In addition to crafting quality content, it’s crucial that you optimize your site’s underlying structure to play nicely with Google’s crawlers:
- Use short URLs that feature your keyword phrase.
- Embed keyword phrases early in page titles.
- Use header tags (h1, h2, etc.) to provide a clear structure to your content.
- Use schema markup to signal structure as well.
- Specify metadata for each element and page.
- Use your keyword within the first 150 words on a page (but, don’t overstuff).
These are just a few important elements of “technical SEO.” This entire area is one that makes SEO for lawyers exceedingly difficult to pull off without professional help.
4. Build Links
As we saw above, link-building is crucial to establishing your page’s authority in the eyes of Google. First, that means developing a coherent internal link structure that binds together the content on your site. You’ll need to link out to quality content as well (for example, see the several links on this page). Remember: Google rewards value. Connect your visitors with relevant, informative resources, and it’ll help your rankings.
Note: To keep visitors from leaving your site prematurely, use the [target=”_blank”] anchor tag to ensure the sites you link show up in a new tab in their browser.
Most importantly, building links from authoritative sites in the legal domain will help your page ascend in Google’s rankings. The keyword here is authoritative. Links from low-value sites and/or link farms will hurt—not help—your ranking.
Here are some of the most authoritative directories for lawyers to work with:
- FindLaw websites
- Best Lawyers
- Law Guru
- Law Info
- Lawyers US Legal
5. Track, Adjust, Repeat
If it wasn’t measured, then it didn’t happen. The only way to know if what you’re doing is working is to measure everything meticulously and track all changes carefully. Using Google Analytics, check your organic traffic over time. Additionally, use the Google Search Console to see which of your keywords are generating the most traffic.
Make adjustments, monitor trends, and adjust your content accordingly. Keep in mind, SEO work is not instantaneous. It can often take time for on-site changes to register on Google. Work incrementally, giving yourself plenty of time and space to observe whether your strategy is working as it should. Never stop aiming for improvement.
Common Mistakes in SEO
There are many ways in which an SEO campaign can go off the rails. Here are 7 of the most common mistakes we’ve seen committed by lawyers:
- Keyword Abuse – Keywords are crucial to SEO, but you have to know how to use them. Pick the wrong keywords and you won’t reach your ideal target. Overstuff your content with keywords, and it will read like something written by a machine. Worse, Google will penalize you severely.
- Immobility – Mobile-readiness is incredibly important to Google. Fail to develop a responsive site, and you’ll find yourself at the bottom of the list.
- Plagiarism/Content Duplication – In the early days of SEO, unscrupulous consultants made their bones mass-producing keyword-rich boilerplate content. Google now recognizes duplicate content and demotes it swiftly.
- Missing Technical Details – Especially for do-it-yourself firms, these technical oversights add up to considerable losses in rank preference.
- Link Malpractice – Without inbound links, Google will judge your site irrelevant. Without outbound links, it’ll judge it incompetent. Without internal links and a sitemap, it won’t have the means to piece everything together.
- Ignoring Local Data – 46% of all searches on Google are local, yet 56% of businesses have yet to claim their local listing. Law firms are no exception. If you’d like to be found by locals, you need to claim and complete your listings.
- Analytic Neglect – The key to any marketing campaign is close analysis and incremental adjustment. Without a close eye on the data, there’s no way for lawyers to know whether what they’re doing is working.
Thankfully, each of these mistakes is entirely avoidable with a little technical know-how and a lot of attention to detail. These are the types of oversights we help our clients to avoid so that they can maximize their performance in search rankings.
The Only Question That Really Matters: Does SEO Work?
The purpose of all this complicated research, content production, and fine-tuning is simple: to draw in more traffic so that you can win more clients to your firm.
SEO has reliably proven its worth over and over. As effective as it is, however, SEO is no overnight solution. You can’t walk into the office the morning after a new website launch and expect to find a slew of new clients waiting for you in the lobby.
SEO takes time, and the measure of its effectiveness can’t be reduced to any single metric. We’ve been at this for a long time, and we’ve learned exactly what to look for to ensure an SEO campaign is moving forward as it should.
Here are 6 of the most important metrics:
- Keyword Rankings – At one time, ranking was everything. Now, there are too many factors to rely solely on rankings. For one thing, every person sees a different set of results. On top of that, the proliferation of long-tail searches (see above) makes it difficult to monitor all the relevant keywords effectively. Nevertheless, ranking is a helpful point of reference to keep in sight.
- Organic Users – The number of people who visit your website from search engine results. In general, this number should increase year over year. If you’ve recently launched a new campaign, however, you should see more immediate growth (month over month).
- New Users – The number of users who visit your website for the first time. The ratio between new and organic users is important. If you find that your only users are first-timers, then that could indicate that your site isn’t valuable enough to keep visitors coming back. With that said, law firms will have more new users than repeat users because of the nature of the business.
- Bounce Rate – As mentioned above, bounce rate helps you understand how users interact with your website. If a visitor arrives and then leaves without clicking on anything else, this qualifies as a bounce. Most attorney websites will have bounce rates between 40 and 65 percent. Lower is better.
- Number of Inquiries – This is an important metric to determine whether your SEO campaign is attracting interested leads. That said, not every inquiry will lead to a signed case. Conversion rates depend on an array of offline variables: market dynamics, business development skills, and so on. Still, this is an important metric to ensure your SEO work is doing what it needs to do. Especially in the first six months of a new campaign, this number should rise steadily.
- Signed Cases – The most important metric to track is the number of signed cases. For every new case, a firm needs to track the client’s answer to that all-important question: “Where did you hear about us?” Unfortunately, it takes time for new SEO campaigns to produce this result consistently. Each of the preceding metrics will need to be tracked in the meantime.
SEO For Lawyers – The Gladiator Way
Tools are only as useful as the people who wield them. With over 50 years of experience, our team of experts use the best and latest in marketing technology to help our clients succeed online.
Our fully integrative approach is both personal and professional. Personally, we get to know you, your firm, and your market through exhaustive research. Professionally, we integrate your unique goals with our extensive repertoire of SEO methods and practices.
Are you ready to stop getting buried by your competitors on Google? Do you want to see what happens when a team of experts brings all their strategic and creative resources to bear on your success? Then pick up the phone and give us a call today.