If you are an attorney trying to weigh the importance of law firm SEO for business development, you need to know one key fact: 96% of consumers use a search engine when looking for legal advice, according to a Google Consumer Survey.
Most lawyers actively engaged in digital marketing know how critical law firm SEO is for generating and converting leads. Most hire SEO companies; some have in-house staff. As critical as SEO is to business development, a vast majority of attorneys do not know the basic concepts of law firm SEO.
In this post, we are going to explore these at a macro level, so you will at least be able to understand what your SEO provider is doing (or not doing) to enhance your online marketing efforts.
What is SEO?
“The best place to hide a dead body is Page 2 of Google search results.” – Unknown
SEO (search engine optimization) refers to the techniques used to help a website achieve better rankings in organic search results. The goal of law firm SEO is to make it more likely that people who are using search engines to look for the legal services you provide will find your website instead of a competitor’s site.
Your goal for law firm SEO is to be on the first page of Google for any search related to your services in your area. Otherwise, you’re dead (digitally speaking — see above quote).
What are organic search results?
Organic search results are those that are nonpaid — i.e., not advertising. It used to be easy to discern organic results from paid results (ads). However, since search engines make their money from advertising, it is not as easy as it once was to tell the difference.
Today, search engine results pages (SERPs) feature both paid ads and organic search results in more dynamic formats such as answer boxes, People Also Ask boxes, image carousels, Local Packs, and more:
In addition to organic search results, SEO can also influence answer boxes, Local Packs, and People Also Ask boxes, which are more prominently displayed on the SERPs.
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The importance of Local SEO for law firmsSince attorneys typically draw a majority of their clients from a targeted geographical area, the ability to show up in local search is key to attracting prospects searching the Internet for legal services. Your Google My Business listing is foundational to good local SEO. You can only have one listing, so be sure the listing you claim is yours and there are not any others. To optimize your listing, you need to include a description of your law firm, name, address, phone, business hours, etc.; pick your category; add photos or videos; and include your 5-star reviews. It is VERY important that your NAP (name, address, phone) is EXACTLY the same wherever it appears online. Other factors that influence local SEO include local directory listings, online reviews, local backlinks, and optimizing your website for local search.
How Search Engines WorkThis Google video explains in low-tech terms how search engines work: Search engines fulfill three primary functions:
- Crawling. As the video above shows, search engines deploy bots called spiders that “crawl” the Internet to find content. They do this by following links. The content is then added to a massive database of web pages called an in