If potential law firm clients don’t already have a solicitor the starting point for most people to get legal advice is the web. From the most minor legal issue to full-blown litigation you can find a law firm online.
If you’re what I would call a regional law firm, and excuse me if that’s the wrong term, and don’t want to compete with the marketing budgets of the big players or the online specific services that a lot of firms now offer, you’re going to have to take a more subtle approach.
This is where SEO (search engine optimisation) can be really cost-effective for law firms.
There are three key areas to getting listed effectively in SERPs (search engine results pages) and we really only concentrate on Google here because they command over 90% of desktop search and over 97% of mobile search.
Firstly, the fundamentals:
The three key elements of Google’s search functionality are Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking, and I’ll touch on them briefly below:
According to Moz:
Search engines have three primary functions:
1. Crawl: Scour the Internet for content, looking over the code/content for each URL they find.
2. Index: Store and organize the content found during the crawling process. Once a page is in the index, it’s in the running to be displayed as a result for relevant queries.
3. Rank: Provide the pieces of content that will best answer a searcher’s query, which means that results are ordered by most relevant to least relevant.
Your site is going to be crawled whatever it’s like.
The fundamental difference is will it be crawled effectively and allow Google to follow all the correct signs for proper indexation?
The first step in getting your website ready for Google to crawl is a technical audit. This covers things like title tags, alt tags, duplicate content and image sizing to name a very few of the issues an audit will look at, and it’s best to get an experienced SEO company to do this.
Besides the three fundamental processes Google undertake the work to get ranked falls into two key areas:
Quantitive – this encompasses all the technical stuff, and Qualitative – which is all the non-technical stuff like content, backlinks, and CRO (conversion rate optimisation, or how to make people interact with you).
Let’s start with the quantitive:
Imagine you’re searching for some papers for a client meeting and you go to the filing cabinet and open the draw marked A-C; the first thing you notice is a file tab with ‘Green’ written on it, then you look in the file marked ‘Green’ and it’s only got correspondence and papers regarding a ‘Mrs Stevenson’. Exasperating, right? Just think how it must be for the Google bot when it’s trying to index your pages, is it Green or Stevenson or even A-C? It’s no wonder the majority of websites don’t get crawled effectively and don’t appear in relevant searches.
Fixing the above is not complex when you know what you’re doing, particularly with the widespread use of Content Management Systems like WordPress, and Joomla, but it’s very time-consuming. A simple technical audit should pull up all the relevant action points that need fixing. The only issue that an audit may not highlight is your navigation, and we’re back to the filing cabinet analogy here and the simple notion that ‘clarity’ is what Google and your users are looking for. Your navigation needs to be logical and be interconnected internally as well. For example, if I’m reading something and you mention another topic you’ve written about, link to it using the natural language of the sentence, Google loves it and your readers will also love it.
Enough about the technical, let’s talk about the qualitative now.
My view is that the legal profession has a couple of furlongs head start over all other professions when it comes to opportunities to share really useful information with visitors, all of whom are potential clients.
The depth of knowledge that the legal profession has means the ability to create content to answer searcher queries is second to none.
And you don’t have to give away the keys to the kingdom either. Potential clients search for answers to every conceivable legal issue and there is a kind of ‘overview’ article that you can write about each of these, for example:
For example, someone searches for “I need a divorce lawyer” and they find hundreds of listings for ‘Divorce lawyers’ offering their services, that’s great, but not what people really want. What they really want is some reassurance that divorce doesn’t have to be the end of the world, or maybe some alternatives, so let’s write some articles like:
‘All you need to know about divorce in the UK’, or, more specifically, ‘What is the divorce process in the UK’, or maybe ‘divorce and children in the UK’, or even ‘can divorce be a new beginning for families’ (not implying that divorce is the latest hip self-help strategy). And if we optimise these articles to appear in those same searches, you will be found and you’ll likely be a haven of reassurance for the people facing what is always a daunting process.
And this strategy can be applied to virtually any legal issue you can think of.
So yes, Law firms (I hope that’s the correct term) can certainly win more business using SEO.
And the return on investment for a good SEO strategy can pay real dividends. SEO is transparent in that you can see gains as they happen, its long term, you can keep optimising new articles as the legal landscape changes, and you can revitalise old articles to reflect changes. In fact, for a relatively low marketing cost, your ROI can be spectacular.