Tuesday, May 21, 2024

A 5-Step Guide to Getting More Leads and Clients


Want to attract prospects and land more cases from search engines? Investing in SEO can keep a steady stream of leads flowing into your firm year-round.

For example, Google, “employment lawyer Seattle.” Here are the results:

HKM Employment Attorneys has the top spot on Google Maps and in Google search.

This one page sends an estimated 2.2K monthly visitors to the firm’s website, which would cost over $7,000 in Google Ads.

Organic Overview – HKM Seattle

Note: This doesn’t include clicks from Google Maps.

These results come from a thoughtful law firm SEO strategy.

In this guide, you’ll cover:

  • What SEO is and why it’s important for lawyers
  • How much SEO costs and the factors affecting its price
  • The steps to help you launch a legal SEO strategy and campaign
  • Whether you should do SEO yourself or outsource

The tactics we cover have helped law firms close some of the largest cases in their history. Ready to create an SEO strategy that increases your organic traffic?

Let’s start with the basics.

What Is Law Firm SEO?

Law Firm SEO is the process of driving traffic to your law firm’s website on search engines like Google and Bing. The goal is to rank your site pages for relevant keywords on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Higher rankings can lead to more organic traffic, leads, and clients.

Is SEO Important for Lawyers?

SEO is vital for lawyers because it can help you attract high-quality leads. This is especially true if your site pages appear at the top of SERPs.

But SEO takes time, so a consistent, long-term strategy will yield the best results. This can lead to continuous visibility. And improved client engagement.

A sustained top ranking on search engines can also significantly increase organic traffic. This can attract more visitors who could potentially become your clients.

But it’s important to remember that various factors influence search engine rankings.

Toxic backlinks and mediocre content can cause you to lose your rankings. SEO is a time-consuming and resource-intensive process. Launching effective campaigns requires knowledge, skill, and experience.

While it’s possible to do SEO on your own and get great results, there’s nothing wrong with getting outside help to flesh out your SEO strategy.

Which brings us to the next question:

How Much Does SEO for Attorneys Cost?

You can go about SEO for your legal practice in a few ways.

The first is by building an in-house SEO team. Full-time SEO specialists receive an average annual base salary of $64,617. If you’d rather hire part-time help, freelance SEO specialists charge an average of $48 per hour.

Building an in-house or freelance SEO team allows you to train team members to better understand your clients. While focusing on your business needs.

But you’ll also need to provide additional resources and tools. Which can incur extra costs.

Another option is to hire an agency that specializes in attorney SEO services. This will cost $3,000 to $15,000 monthly for all your SEO needs. From developing a strategy to monitoring and reporting campaign results.

Agencies specializing in attorney SEO have the experience and knowledge to execute results-driven campaigns for your law practice.

But issues like over-reliance and lack of communication are not uncommon among agencies. Weigh the pros and cons to choose the method that’s right for your business.

Additional factors that can influence the price of SEO include:

  • Practice area and geography: Personal injury and criminal defense are considered the most competitive practice areas. Metro cities are obviously more competitive than smaller cities. Expect to pay more in both of these cases.
  • Site authority: If your existing domain authority is relatively low compared with competing law firms, you’ll have to spend a good budget on link-building
  • In-house talent and resources: If you’re building an A-team from scratch, you need a sizable budget to hire, train, and retain them
  • Expertise and experience of the SEO agency: If you plan on hiring an agency, expect to pay more for agencies with specialized experience in your legal practice area. Newer incumbents don’t offer the same reliability. But may be more affordable.

How to Create a Law Firm SEO Strategy in 5 Steps

1. Start with Local SEO

Getting more leads and clients begins with improving your local search visibility.

Part of ranking on top of search results for your law firm is to show on the Google 3-Pack. This refers to the section of SERPs featuring a map and three businesses most relevant to your query.

If you optimize your law firm for local search, you can get a Knowledge Panel. This is when Google pulls data from various online sources to help inform users about your law firm or legal practice.

So, why is ranking on the Google Map Pack important?

Because 42% of users searching for a local business click on these listings.

To help your law firm appear on the local 3-Pack, there are a few things you can do:

Claim or Update Your Google Business Profile

Your Google Business Profile (GBP) appears on the local 3-Pack.

For example, if a search user clicks on a result below, they’ll see information about the business or organization. Like its website, phone number, services, reviews, and more.

It’s possible your law firm already has a GBP because a previous client left a review.

If so, claim the page to take control of your local SEO rankings. Provide your audience with accurate information about your business. And optimize it to appear on the 3-Pack.

Otherwise, set up your GBP.

The key to GBP optimization is using target keywords in your business description. And choosing the right business category.

Also, include the latest and most accurate business name, address, and phone number (NAP) on your profile.

This plays a very important role in the next step.

Consider Changing Your Business Name

To improve your local search visibility, you might consider adding your target keyword to your business name.

However, Google may suspend your GBP if your target keyword isn’t legitimately a part of your law firm’s name.

To be clear, you can include keywords on other elements of your GBP. Just not your business name.

So a move here is to update your business name.

But changing your business name is a significant undertaking. First, you’ll have to see if it’s available. Then, update your firm’s branding and contact information.

Is it worth it?

Before you consider filing for a new name, check the firms on your local 3-Pack. See if they all include your target keyword in their names.

For “best workers’ comp lawyer in Georgia,” two out of three businesses have the words “workers compensation attorneys” and “workers compensation lawyers” in their names.

This is a sign you should consider updating your business name to include your keyword.

Opening a “doing business as” (DBA), also referred to as an “assumed name” or “trade name,” is another way to register a name that contains your target keyword. This option allows you to keep your current business name and branding, which makes it more appealing.

But. And a big but.

Using a DBA is considered a “gray hat” SEO tactic, which falls between ethical “white hat” SEO and unethical “black hat” SEO.

It could be seen as manipulative by search engines, which could lead to penalties or suspensions. It can also confuse or mislead customers if the DBA doesn’t accurately represent your business.

It’s best to avoid using DBAs and focus on updating your business name or on other areas of local SEO.

Create Location-Specific Pages

By creating unique content for location-specific services, you address the needs of people in their respective areas.

You can create keyword-targeted landing pages for each of your locations or service areas. Feature them in your site’s navigation so users can easily find them. Like in the example below:

There’s also a separate tab on the menu showing a drop-down menu of its available practice areas.

It was one of the factors that helped the site’s organic traffic grow consistently over time.

List Your Services in Relevant Legal Online Directories

Signing up and creating a profile for your law firm on sites like Facebook, Bing, Yelp, and others helps grow your online visibility.

Just as important, they help establish NAP consistency.

If the NAP on the profiles you created matches the one that appears on your GBP, you help search engines identify your contact details. Allowing them to share the correct contact details online.

Semrush’s Listing Management tool helps you find 70+ online directories where you can automatically list your law firm.

It also tells you which information in your listing is incorrect so you can make informed changes.

Convince Past and Current Clients to Leave Reviews

Generate as many client reviews as possible to build a positive online reputation.

Whenever you complete a case, email clients a link to your Google review page and politely ask for feedback. Send follow-up emails to remind clients to review your firm.

Use Semrush’s Review Management tool to manage reviews more efficiently.

Once you sign up, you’ll be notified of any new reviews you receive from review sites. Respond to reviews quickly. And thank reviewers for their kind words.

Leverage all reviews to make your brand look as good as possible. Yes, even the negative ones.

Believe it or not, reviews that question your business are opportunities for positive brand building. Be professional in your replies and attempt to rectify the situation.

Your professionalism will positively impact your law firm. And encourage prospects to inquire about your services.

2. Build a High-Quality Website

Following SEO best practices can help you rank on Google. This includes E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. E-E-A-T are signals Google uses to evaluate website quality.

Here’s how to build and design an SEO-friendly lawyer website that provides visitors with a seamless user experience. And expert information they can trust:

Highlight Your USP on Your Homepage

Stand out from the competition with a unique selling point (USP). This gives visitors a reason to learn more about you. And consider hiring you for their cases.

Prominently feature your USP on your homepage above the fold. So visitors can immediately see it once your site loads.

Write your USP as a sentence-long statement that explains what your business does, who it helps, and how your services are better than the competition. Your USP should immediately identify your target audience and address their pain points.

Law firm Hipskind & McAninch uses “Highly Personalized Service,” “Over 250 5-Star Google Reviews,” and “Top Rated Personal Injury Attorneys” as its USP.

Showcase Social Proof

Highlight social proof to show visitors that others have benefited from your legal services. This includes reviews, testimonials, badges, and recognition from reputable organizations.

Trey Porter Law’s homepage features its latest awards and membership badges from review sites and prestigious legal communities.

Case studies and portfolios are other examples.

Strategic Criminal Defence highlights its successful cases. And how they won each one. It also provides the case number so visitors can get further information.

The law firm created a dedicated page for the case studies. You can do the same. Or feature them on your homepage so more visitors can see them.

Create Attorney Bio Pages

Attorney bio pages can help further establish your industry expertise. But how you present them to visitors can go a long way in establishing E-E-A-T signals.

For example, law firm Wagner Reese features professional, high-resolution photos of its attorneys.

Clicking on each image reveals the attorney’s bio, practice areas, education, awards, and more. This helps inspire credibility and trust. While showcasing expertise and experience.

Optimize Your Website for Mobile Devices

Many websites have responsive designs that adjust to the visitor screen’s layout, providing a seamless user experience.

But part of mobile optimization is making your site load faster and more efficiently on mobile devices.

Analyze your website on Google PageSpeed Insights to see how it performs on mobile devices.

If your score is lower than 90, scroll down to the Diagnostics section. This explains why your site performed a certain way. And suggests ways to address the issues.

3. Perform Local Keyword Research

Once your site is up and running, it’s time to optimize your pages for local keywords.

These are search terms that include specific geographic locators relevant to target users searching for legal services law firms and practitioners provide.

Below are a few examples:

  • Practice area + city: “slip and fall lawyers in Seattle”
  • City + practice area: “San Diego family law attorney”
  • Practice area + near me: “DUI law firm near me”
  • Practice area + zip code: “will and trust attorney 90210”

By optimizing your site pages for appropriate local keywords, you increase its likelihood of ranking on SERPs. And attracting more site traffic.

For example, the KrasnoLaw.com website increased its keyword rankings over time. With almost 11,000 organic visitors every month for 10,000 keywords:

More importantly, you attract leads in your area looking for legal services. And potentially get more customers through organic search.

To achieve similar results on your law firm site, you’ll need to conduct keyword research.

Below are two ways that will help you get started.

Identify Seed Keyword Ideas Relevant to Your Practice Area

For new law firm site owners, start by brainstorming keyword ideas first. And filter for the ones that best suit your website.

Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool is handy for this purpose. Enter your target keyword in the search bar. This can be your practice specialty. For example, “divorce lawyer.”

The next page shows you keyword ideas.

Filter the keywords using the provided metrics. Like Keyword Difficulty (KD) and Volume. This will help you determine the best keywords to target on your lawyer website.

KD is a metric that tells you how hard it will be to rank for a keyword. The higher the KD (on a scale of zero to 100, with 100 being the highest), the more authoritative the pages on top of SERPs are. And the harder it’ll be to rank for that keyword.

Optimizing for queries with relatively high search volume and low difficulty can help you rank higher and faster on Google.

Use the tool’s filtering options to show keywords matching your desired search volume and KD.

In the example below, we set the filters to show keywords with 100 to 1,000 searches and low competition (easy to rank for).

Perform Competitive Research with Semrush

Established websites may already be ranking for keywords relevant to their practice area. If this is the case for you, start with competitive keyword research.

This is where you research keywords your competitors are ranking for, but your site isn’t.

Navigate to Semrush. Go to “Competitive Research” > “Keyword Gap” and enter your domain URL in the first search bar.

Then, enter your competitors (a maximum of four) in the following bars.

If you’re not familiar with your competitors, Semrush shows suggestions based on the keywords your site and theirs are ranking for.

On the results page, the “Top Opportunities” section shows you keywords to consider prioritizing in your upcoming SEO campaign.

The “Missing” tab shows you terms you’re not ranking for, but your competitors are. The “Weak” tab provides a list of keywords you’re ranking lower for than your competitors.

4. Perform On-Page SEO

The keywords you’ve researched pave the way for on-page optimization. On-page SEO involves optimizing webpages and content for higher rankings. And more organic traffic.

Doing so clearly communicates to search engine bots what your page is all about. And helps it rank higher on Google and Bing.

Below are tactics you can implement in your on-page SEO campaign:

Publish High-Quality Content Consistently

Since the legal industry is competitive, you’ll need high-quality web copy and blog posts to stand out.

Vague or generic content about industry topics prevents users from getting value from your site. And can also hurt your keyword rankings.

So, get a writer with legal experience to write your content. Their knowledge of your practice area will help position your law firm as an expert in your field.

This boosts brand awareness. And helps convert first-time visitors into leads and customers.

Develop a brand tone of voice and a process to ensure consistent quality.

After the writer produces the article or copy, have an editor review the content for misinformation and grammar errors.

Follow On-Page SEO Recommendations

Include your primary keyword in each website page’s title tag, meta description, URL, and H1 (the page’s title or headline). Also, feature words and phrases related to the keyword’s topic to help you cover the subject comprehensively.

Doing this allows your content to achieve better topical relevance and helps search engines understand what your pages are about. And rank them on SERPs for their appropriate queries.

Use Semrush’s SEO Content Template to get on-page recommendations for your content. Including ideal length, keyword suggestions, and a readability score.

To get started, type your target keyword into the field. Select your desired country and click “Create content template.”

The template lists key SEO recommendations based on your top 10 competitors on Google for the query.

It’ll also show you semantically related words that you must include in your content.

For “can you get a divorce without a lawyer,” Semrush suggests phrases to discuss in your content to help you cover points related to the topic. Like “DIY divorces.” And “divorce process.”

Including these phrases helps you strengthen the content’s semantic relevance with the keyword. And potentially increase its search rankings.

If you already have unoptimized, published content on your site, use Semrush’s On-Page SEO Checker to identify SEO improvements.

Enter your domain URL and click “Get ideas.”

Next, you’ll be asked to select your location and add pages to optimize. Semrush automatically identifies URLs you can track. Or you can choose to manually add URLs or connect to Google Search Console.

By default, Semrush uses its own user agent to crawl your site. If you want to see how Google understands your site, run the SEO checker using GoogleBot instead.

Click “Collect ideas.”

On the “Overview” tab, you’ll see suggestions for increasing organic traffic. Like technical SEO ideas. And backlink recommendations.

Click on the blue “Ideas” button for each page to view the suggestions. Like improving readability. And making meta descriptions more compelling and relevant.

5. Use Local Link-Building Techniques for Lawyers

Backlinks are crucial for enhancing your website’s visibility and authority on search results. Because they act as endorsements from one site to another.

Links from reputable websites signal to search engines that your content is valuable and trustworthy. Which can improve your law firm site’s rankings.

Using multiple strategies to build backlinks is helpful. There are two ways you can do this for your law firm:

Launch a Digital PR Campaign

A digital PR campaign can help you build backlinks from authoritative sites. By connecting you with journalists who feature you or your business in industry publications.

Use Prowly’s “Media database” feature to find journalists for your link-building campaign.

Filter journalists by location and topic.

Save preferred journalists. And contact them right from the platform to start building backlinks.

The key to a successful media outreach campaign is to have newsworthy topics to pitch. Like winning a notable case. You might also offer to provide expert quotes.

Make journalists’ jobs easier by writing a press release detailing the case and its implications. Journalists can use it to write their story and link to the press release published on your site.

Also, make one of your attorneys who worked on the case available for interviews and podcasts to build links to your site.

Another tool for your digital PR campaign is Connectively.

You still pitch to journalists using the platform.

But instead of pitching stories, you can answer questions related to your practice area. You’ll receive emails with questions three times a day during weekdays.

If the journalists like your expert insights and commentary, they may feature your quote with a link to your site in the story.

Legally Nanny, an employment law firm, did this to get a backlink from the authoritative publication Los Angeles Times.

Dissect Competitors’ Link Profiles

Reverse-engineer your competitors’ backlinks to identify sites linking to them but not to you.

Use Semrush’s Backlink Gap for this task. Enter your domain URL and your competitors’ (maximum of four).

On the results page, the “Best” tab shows domains with backlinks to your competitors but not to you. Target these domains in your link-building campaign.

Click on the drop-down icon of each competitor to open a window showing which page on the site they got a link from. The number beside the drop-down icon tells you the number of backlinks your competitor has from the website.

Visit the page to see how the site included the link to your competitor. Links will either be in the author bio or content body. Use the information here to copy their approach and secure a link from the same site.

Monitor SEO KPIs

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are metrics organizations use to evaluate success. Use Semrush to monitor your law firm’s KPIs. And evaluate the success of your lawyer SEO strategy.

Domain Overview tracks keyword rankings and organic traffic—two crucial KPIs—and offers a comprehensive summary of your site’s SEO.

It also displays data on organic visibility, session counts, and the distribution between branded and non-branded search traffic to help you understand its performance.

Backlink Analytics helps you determine the quality and volume of referring domains for your lawyer website, which can influence your search rankings.

The tool shows your site’s Authority Score. Which is a compound metric that measures a domain’s or webpage’s quality and SEO performance. Your goal is to increase your Authority Score by building links on authoritative, niche-relevant websites.

From here, you can use this data to help improve your SEO efforts.

If organic traffic increases, consider doubling down on tactics you implemented during the campaign. On the other hand, identify and replace techniques that may have caused a decrease in keyword rankings to recover lost traffic.

Should Attorneys DIY SEO?

A DIY approach to SEO can work for some attorneys. Including those on a budget. And those with the time and resources to do keyword research and competitive analyses.

But technical SEO can get complicated. And launching an effective campaign will take time. Especially if you’re new to SEO.

If you have less time or an allocated marketing budget, hiring an experienced agency can lead to higher rankings, qualified traffic, and more conversions.

Turnkey solutions allow attorneys like you to focus on what you do best. Without having to worry about SEO tasks.

Whether you DIY SEO or outsource, having a basic knowledge of optimization is helpful. If you handle SEO yourself, it will help you be more successful. If you outsource, it’ll allow you to understand your results. And monitor progress.

What matters most is prioritizing SEO as part of your marketing strategy. To reap the benefits it brings to your law firm.

Get More Leads and Clients with Law Firm SEO

To gain a competitive advantage, start by focusing on local SEO, on-page optimization, and link building.

By combining these strategies, you can help improve your website’s rankings. And generate more organic traffic on SERPs.

Your Next Step

Whether you DIY SEO or outsource to an agency, learning SEO fundamentals can help you get more leads for your law firm. Read our Complete SEO Checklist to ensure you’re covering all the basics—and more.


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