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SEO for Legal Professionals: Building Authority and Generating Leads

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SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of improving the ranking of a website in the search engine’s organic listings. The organic results are the central core of what SEO is about: improving your placement in the organic results in order to increase the amount of targeted traffic to your website. This is often compared to sponsored results, which offer results on a pay-per-click basis. In law, especially competitive pay-per-click rates can prove cost-prohibitive when compared to the potential gains. SEO is about targeting the terms that are most important to your potential clients and progressively working to improve your ranking for those terms. This may involve altering your website’s code, content, and structure, as well as acquiring links from relevant high authority sites. As a general rule, an authority website with good relevant content that is regularly maintained will rank well. The tricky part is achieving this in the hope your site one day becomes that high authority site.

What is SEO?

The main bulk of search engine optimization comes from choosing the right keywords which are most relevant to your website. Keywords are the words that a potential client may type into a search engine when looking for a law firm. For example, it could be “divorce lawyer” or “how to avoid a speeding ticket”. It is important to pick keywords which are relevant to your area of law and have a high likelihood of bringing in leads. Picking very general keywords such as “lawyer” is often not the best strategy as they are very competitive and it may take a long time to rank high for such a word. Once you have chosen the keywords to target, ideally you want your website to be ranked on the first page of the search results when these keywords are typed in. It is a known fact that internet users rarely go past the first page of search results, so if your site is ranked low down or not within the first couple of pages, you are unlikely to get many visitors to your site from that keyword.

A search engine is a website which enables users to search the internet for content using keywords. The search engine will return results from all over the internet ranked in order of what the search engine believes is the most relevant information to the user. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your website’s ranking on search engines for certain targeted keywords. This is important to legal professionals as the higher the website ranks, the more people will visit the site, in turn generating more leads for the firm. SEO has sometimes had a bad name because it is associated with spam sites trying to rank high, but actually SEO service is a legitimate and very important way of marketing your site. Although there are many technical and confusing aspects to SEO, it basically involves making your site the best it can be for search engines to read, so your site will be ranked highly for your targeted keywords.

Importance of SEO for Legal Professionals

The practice of search engine optimization (SEO) is essential for law firms today. This is true for businesses in other sectors, but for legal professionals, the importance of an optimized website is the highest. Legal clients are increasingly using the internet as a resource when seeking legal help. In fact, a 2008 survey by comScore Networks showed that 76 percent of Americans who look for an attorney use online resources to do so. This number is higher than people who use the yellow pages, newspapers, or direct mail to find an attorney. It marks a significant shift in the way individuals are seeking legal services. As search results become a more primary source of client leads, law firms ignore SEO at the expense of their own bottom line. This article explains the effects of SEO on client leads for legal professionals and why search marketing is effective for attorney services. A general understanding of search engines. When a potential client goes online to find a lawyer, they are typically using a search engine like Google or Yahoo. There is a common belief that top rankings equal a relevant and quality company. By understanding search engine optimization, a lawyer can become a top legal option for potential clients in their area. Get a FREE search engine ranking report. Static/Dynamic Relation – SEO has the potential to bring new cases and clients to your firm. Statistics show that 70 percent of all click traffic goes to the organic (non-sponsored) results, not the pay per click. The overall goal that a searcher is using is to deliver them to information (as opposed to a general contact). These are the people who are in need of further legal services. SEO provides you the ability to connect with your target market seeking your services. This can be done on a statewide level, regional level, or for a specific law practice. A personal injury lawyer may want to target different transportation methods in different regions. Using SEO, a family law firm can avoid wasting money on marketing to couples seeking divorce in a method no longer relevant, such as yellow page ads, television, and brochures. Step beyond disaster in the recent legal economy, many law firms have laid off staff and closed their doors. Practice areas with poor profit margin and high competition force these firms to take jobs they would not otherwise accept. As an example, a lawyer towards the end of his work life may not necessarily want to take social security. SEO can offer new options for lawyers to increase well-selected employment and practice areas. By eliminating areas of practice with poor return and obtaining new higher revenue cases, lawyers can find both personal and financial fulfillment through a well-balanced legal career. This may involve strategic transitions to different practice areas or convincing a current client to consider a new type of case. SEO provides a viable and cost-effective alternative for publicizing such transitions to the target market.

Building Authority

Building authority is a fairly nebulous concept and can be interpreted in many ways. There are many methods which can achieve authority building and often account for common sense. A good example is getting backlinks to your website. Backlinks are, in essence, ‘referrals’ from another website, acting as a signal that your website is reputable to those reading the link. Getting backlinks on spammy, disreputable websites actually act as a negative factor, so be sure to check the quality of the site. Generally, the best method to getting backlinks is to simply let the quality of your content do the talking; high-quality, unique content will be referred to without any solicitation on your part, so it’s important to ensure you have content worth linking to.

The practice of search engine optimization is often talked about in technical jargon and can seem difficult to execute even in the abstract. Nevertheless, the principles of general SEO success are achieved by applying effort in very basic areas that do not require extensive knowledge to understand. The most basic of these is in signaling to search engines through building authority. The authority of a website, combined with technical quality, often leads to success.

Creating High-Quality Content

– Multimedia: Videos, webinars, and podcasts can be more engaging to users when compared to written content and often have viral potential. This form of content also has the advantage of being distributable at a wide range of third-party sites, potentially increasing backlinks.

– FAQs: Creating a thorough FAQ page shows site users that a legal professional has a deep understanding of their practice area and is willing to take the time to address common client concerns. This can lead to an increased likelihood of contact by potential clients and is generally a good conversion tool.

– Blog posts: Whether off-site or integrated with a professional’s website, blogs allow for the creation of topical and timely content geared towards increasing keyword relevance for a wide range of practice areas. Off-site blogs are great for obtaining backlinks, while on-site blogs are effective at keeping clients on the site for longer periods of time.

Really, really good content marketing: Content that is engaging and valuable to site users is a critical part of building and maintaining authority. In order to attract and retain potential clients, legal professionals must produce various forms of content that is relevant to their practice areas and helpful to the public. This can include, but is not limited to:

Optimizing Website Structure

When it comes to optimizing your website structure, it’s useful to categorize your firm’s work into different practice areas. For example, if you are a criminal defense lawyer, you would have a practice area for drug offenses, drink driving offenses, sexual assault, etc. This is important to do because Google likes to funnel searchers into the most relevant search result. If someone searches for ‘drink driving lawyer’ and you have a webpage specifically for your drink driving offenses and that page is linked to your home page, there is a higher chance that your page will rank well for that search. This is because the link from your home page to the drink driving page tells Google that your drink driving page is an important part of your website. It is also important to make sure that your URLs are reflective of your page titles without being too lengthy. For example, using the earlier practice area, the URL for your drink driving page could be ‘www.criminaldefencelawyer.com.au/drink-driving’. This too is a factor in search engine ranking. It will help Google establish what the content of the page is and it will also help users understand what the page is about before they visit it.

Obtaining Backlinks from reputable sources

Link purchasing is out of the question, as one would never want to associate their practice with a site that may be deemed as not reputable due to the fact that you reviewed it in having to purchase links. Link exchanges are hard to come by, as no legal professional will want to increase the amount of outbound links on their site. This would only take away the link juice from the site in question, and punishment is often given. The only effective way for legal professionals to obtain backlinks is to write the content and simply market it to the right audience. We’ve all heard that “Content is King,” and this is very true when it comes to obtaining backlinks for the legal industry. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Writing content and marketing it to the right audience is hard work. So what can we do in order to make obtaining backlinks easier for us, and is there anything that can be done to significantly increase the chance that other sites will want to link to our content?

Obtaining backlinks is an integral aspect of building authority for your website. Backlinks are incoming links to your site and are widely recognized as a sign of the popularity and importance of your website. The quantity and, more importantly, the quality of the backlinks you currently have will greatly impact how your website ranks in competitive searches. Unfortunately, this is an aspect of SEO that legal professionals often struggle with due to the fact that the legal industry is a professional environment and not typically suitable for the strategies traditionally used for obtaining backlinks.

Generating Leads

Optimizing keywords involves having a page focused on a specific keyword. It should be included in the URL, page title, headers, and meta tags. It is important not to overdo this, as it can lead to a page being optimized for spam rather than user benefit. Alt image attributes and interlinking between pages with keyword anchor texts are also important. Any more link building strategies might be methods of including keyword links in articles placed on other sites and using social bookmarking tags on pages.

For certain areas of law, you might want to target a local region. An example would be a niche firm specializing in sports law wanting to attract local athletes needing representation. Local SEO has a lesser competition and is a lot more cost-effective. A London-based company providing ‘UK entry clearance’ services will find it easier to target ‘London UK entry clearance solicitor’ than ‘UK entry clearance solicitor’ due to London having a lower level of competition. Specific keywords are usually made by adding a modifier to a general keyword, e.g. ‘solicitor’ becomes ‘London solicitor’. The aim is to define a set of geographically specific keywords with good traffic.

Keyword research is a fundamental process in SEO that involves identifying popular words and phrases people enter into search engines. A number of methods can be applied when choosing the right keywords for your market. First and foremost, you should consider what words potential customers would use to search for your service. It is often the case that legal professionals assume what they term things is the same as what their clients would use – it usually isn’t. Each area of law has its own language, so if you are targeting a certain area of law, you might want to consider using terminology specific to that area. For example, people search for ‘compensation’ using the word ‘damages’, and Immigration is often referred to as ‘UK entry clearance’. The key to getting this right is understanding your market, and it often pays to get feedback from clients. Ultimately, you would want a list of keywords that are most likely to produce sales in regards to traffic and minimum competition.

Keyword Research and Optimization

The final step in being indexed by a search engine is the most important and often the most frustrating step: obtaining a high search engine placement. Most people that use search engines do not go past the first two pages of search results. This means that your website will get little to no traffic if it is ranked poorly. More often than not, webmasters will take the traffic over time approach and avoid spending money to get a better placement. Unfortunately, a better placement is often the best way to get more traffic, and the idea should be to make more money over time due to higher traffic.

The key to achieving a high search engine placement is to build your website’s relevance. Search engines determine relevance by using an algorithm to compare words from a search with the words on your web page and then assigning a relevance score. Although algorithms vary between search engines, a universal rule is that in order to receive a high relevance score, your page must be based on what is being searched.

A law firm’s web marketing team should make sure that their web pages are being indexed by search engines. Search engines are the starting place for most internet users when looking for information, and if you are not in the search result, you are allowing other firms to get your potential clients. With that in mind, search engines were not another form of directory but have since evolved into a marketing tool. The same way you would judge the layout of an ad in the yellow pages, you want your web page to be the highest ranked page when potential clients search for legal services.

Local SEO Strategies

It’s also crucial to have a quality score that is regulated by the ads being to the point and whether or not it leads to higher clicks and traffic. The minimum ad rank to be competitive is summarized by the expected impact of Ad Extensions and ad formats, ad and site relevance, and landing page experience. All of this together will create a successful local SEO campaign that will generate leads and increase sales.

Advertising also plays a role in local SEO, and it can be quite costly depending on the competition in the area. The 10 Pack or map that’s displayed at the top of the search results is an extremely coveted spot in local SEO, and it can be a very cost-effective advertising method that can have higher conversion rates than traditional ads. In higher competition areas, local search ads can be quite costly, but the overall trade-off will be great if you can increase leads and sales. Industries with high conversion rates won’t have an issue spending the money to get the ads done. But these ads must be properly targeted directly to what the consumer is searching. This again goes back to keyword research, as you will need to find the right keywords to target.

With local SEO, you’ll need to target the right keywords and build your internal link strategy. This allows you to signal Google about your site’s relevance for local searches, giving you the best possible chance to achieve higher rankings. You can achieve this by redirecting all building articles and posts to the specific landing page. This will make the post or article more searchable and give it a higher chance to rank on the first page, which will ultimately result in more organic traffic.

Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. If you verify and edit your business information, you can help customers find your business and tell them your story. This is essential to local SEO because it helps local consumers find you, whether they are on the search engine or the maps application. According to Google, businesses with verified business information are twice as likely to be considered reputable by consumers.

Local SEO strategy involves optimizing your website and online advertising to help drive foot traffic and awareness in the localized community. There are very few leads that come from rural areas, but they are still possible. There are several keywords that mention downtown areas and streets, although the firm only mentions that specific city name once. By creating more geo-specific landing pages and blog articles, we can help increase organic traffic and leads in those areas.

Utilizing Social Media for Lead Generation

Whether you are looking for lead generation, general information, brand awareness, or a direct connection with your potential clients, social media is an invaluable tool. It provides an opportunity to show your expertise in a specific area of law, share important information, and develop relationships with clients and other professionals in your field. Because it does not always provide a direct return, the benefits of social media can be difficult to measure. However, in some cases, it can be a direct contributor to new clients and therefore an increase in revenue. This is most often seen in consumer law, where individuals are seeking legal advice. If executed effectively, social media can be an extremely cost-effective way to reinforce a firm’s positioning by communicating its brand and value to a targeted group of consumers. This can enhance the firm’s reputation and make it easier to generate new clients that are a good fit for the firm.

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