Mastering Lawyer SEO
This article is about how attorneys can get good rankings for the keywords they want, in the cities they target, without having to spend a million dollars, or have to do too much work themselves.
Used to be that Lawyer advertising was pretty much all about the Yellow Pages. I know many lawyers who regularly spent five figure annual budgets on Yellow Pages ads, and didn’t even think much about it, because there was really no other way to get yourself in front of a big enough grouping of potential clients otherwise. Over the years, the Yellow Pages have descended into a terminal death spiral, where even the few that are still published are never actually referred to for business information lookup. Google has risen to take their place, and it’s now the universal place where people look to find the goods and services they need. As much as the Yellow Pages were the dominant source for relevant local commercial information, all that action goes to Google now, if not more.
The first key is developing a site that “qualifies” to rank for the keywords you’re targeting. You should have detail pages about each specific subset of the law (divorce, criminal, personal injury, etc) that you cover, and then sub-detail pages under those fully explaining each subcategory of the topics. For instance, if you were a criminal lawyer you might have pages about getting arrested for assault, drunk driving, theft, white collar crimes, whatever kinds of clients you target. Similarly, if you were a personal injury lawyer, then you’d want pages about the different kinds of things that people would call you about, like Slip and Fall, Brain Injury, Nursing Home Malpractice, Wrongful Death, etc.
These pages should contain essays that are at least 1,500, preferably 2,000 words each. Fulsome text is a big bonus when you’re trying to rank for highly competitive keywords. Each article should be accompanied by at least two or three relevant photos, with proper photo filenames and Alt Tags. If you have the resources and ambition, then creating an explanatory video that gets embedded on each page is even better than just having photos. This also gets the video posted on your branded YouTube page, which gets it extra exposure via that channel.
In order to determine which keywords you should pursue with the above content build-out, first make a list of all the generic (non-localized) keywords that you’d like to rank for. Then make a list of all the communities that you draw clients from. Using these two lists, make combination keyword lists of keywords like “personal injury lawyer phoenix az” using a tool like PPCKeywordGenerator.com or similar. Once you’ve got this super big list of all the town/subject combinations, run these through the Adwords Keyword Planner Tool to see which ones actually get any traffic. Once you’ve whittled down the list to those that are actually viable, review the remaining keywords for both frequency and specific buying relevance to come up with your final distilled list of targeted keywords.
Speaking of the site, you need to make sure that your site is mobile friendly (you can use a special Tool that Google provides to check this at google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly). Google is penalizing sites that are not mobilized because they don’t want to be sending search clients to non-mobile-friendly sites when they do searches on their phones, and over 50% of all searches now are done that way. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you have two options. First, you can upgrade your site to a responsive WordPress template, and that will make it work on all manner of tablets, phones and other mobile devices. If that choice is either too expensive or inconvenient in some way, there are Cloud-based mobilization options where you sign up for an account and then slip some code into your site’s header and it will automatically detect if the site is being accessed from a mobile device, and if it is, call on a Cloud-based version of the page which has been mobilized automatically. This can be less than perfect sometimes, but if you’ve got a huge old legacy site with hundreds or thousands of pages, and you just don’t have the budget for a complete re-do, then this is an excellent and very cost-effective choice.
You should also make sure that your site is utilizing one of the new HTTP2 secure hosting platforms. HTTP2 provides much faster site download times via a multiplex download mechanism, and Google is giving search preference now to securely hosted websites as part of their ongoing War on Hacking. It also makes your site look more professional to the casual observer as well.
In addition to having a wealth of topical written content, you should have a page called “Local Service Area”, where you have a pithy essay about your practice in the context of the local communities you serve. This should include an embedded map of the described region. If you are located in a big city or named region, then you can have a bit of text on the sidebar or footer that says something like “Best Personal Injury Lawyers in Western Massachusetts” present on every page.
Facebook is now very important for both exposure in general and SEO in particular. Google pays attention to Facebook because companies that are fully engaged with their client base are now all doing this at least partially on Facebook. It’s not very hard to set up a page and you can assign coworkers as co-administrators so you can have multiple people manage it. If you have a good base of existing Facebook friends then this is the first place to start to get people to Like your Business Page. You can systematically go through your friends and invite each one to Like your page and join your discussion. There are various mechanisms where you can spend modest amounts of money to either promote your page (get it more Likes) or promote individual posts to people in your specific geographic area and targeted demographic.
Having a dedicated YouTube channel is another thing you can do for no monetary cost that is a powerful promotion mechanism for your firm. YouTube has lowered the required standards for video production down to the point where as long as it looks “decent”, and the sound is good, and the content is interesting, then it’s perfectly fine to publish online. You should include extensive annotation with your posted videos to help improve their searchability for the keywords you want them to come up for. Talking head videos that you can shoot just by sitting in front of your laptop are a great way to present three to five minute explanations of various fine points of the law, and strategies your clients should pursue for the best results. Once you get these videos posted to your YouTube channel you can then embed them either in your site or in a blog post, and then Tweet out that link and post in on Facebook. You should also make an article about the video and embed the video in it and post that on your LinkedIn profile.
You can even name your YouTube video channel. Ours is YouTube.com/PositronicDesign. You can also dedicate a regular URL to the channel and have it just redirect to the YouTube address. We do this with Positronic.TV. In addition to SEO lectures, we’ve published dozens of videos of bands playing at our promotional parties. This has generated quite a bit of traffic all on its own. You can have fun with a YouTube channel as long as it’s somehow connected to your overall business posture and goals.
Given the fact that Lawyer keywords are usually extremely competitive, and cost a lot of money to pay for on Adwords, usually you have to do “something extra” to make your site really stand out amongst the crowd. The best way to do that nowadays, by far, is with Content Marketing and AP Press Releases.
Content Marketing is where you publish a substantial number of articles in your blog of a certain size, topical orientation, and frequency. HubSpot did a study of over 13,000 customers and came up with some remarkable statistics relative to these numbers. HubSpot is a Boston-based inbound marketing company that has enjoyed huge success in the last few years and have grown considerably. They have published a lot of high quality analytical content with regards to online sales and marketing and as such are a great resource for anyone seeking to learn more details about how the whole system works.
First off, 2,000 word articles are the absolute Gold Standard when it comes to Content Marketing. 500 words is really the minimum, but it gets better as you increase the size and at 2,000 words you got the best number for the maximum SEO effect. There were a number of examples cite in their research and this was a consistent result found.
Secondly, as far at topical orientation goes, refer back to the big list of targeted keywords that I discussed in the beginning of this article. Use that list for headlines and first paragraph subjects as you plan your articles. Blog articles can be excellent landing pages for specific keyword queries.
Finally, as far as frequency goes, 16 posts a month is the ultimate target for anyone who’s looking for the maximum payback from their online marketing investments. Four times a month is the minimum to get anywhere, and will get you double the leads you’d otherwise get, but 16x per month gets you over four times as many leads as you’d get without those efforts. Because generating good 2,000 word articles takes either valuable time or valuable money, then you have to think long and hard about what ROI model you’d like to generate, and what you can afford to invest in consistently. Not being consistent kills the whole benefit, so only do what you can really sustain.
AP Press Releases are the new Gold Standard of inbound link generation for SEO. The direct connection into the AP News Feed makes it so that both major and minor newspapers and magazines all over the world can pick up and republish your article, with a link to your original site. This is interpreted as an extreme positive ranking signal by the Google search algorithm, so much so that we recommend to our clients who can afford it to publish a new Press Release at least once a month. Even if you can only do it less frequently, do it as often as you can. PRWeb.com is the granddaddy of this process, but they do have competitors. PRWeb recently reduced the price of the “direct to AP News Feed” service form $795 to $369, so there is no time like the present to take advantage of this and milk this little mechanism for all it’s worth.
Business directories are also a good idea, and ones that focus on lawyers are even better. There are lots of directories that you can submit to for free, and lots more where you can get preferred listing status for a small fee. If you have a few dollars to sink into this, it can be a good way to get a very good baseline of high authority links to your site. We set up a site like this, A1PersonalInjuryLawyers.com, and for a small fee you can get a high quality inbound link, plus enhanced visibility on the site itself. This gives the dual benefit of direct traffic from the site and also a high page authority link from a topically relevant site.
In addition to the on-site blog activity of 4 to 16 posts a month, setting up satellite blogs on blogspot or WordPress is another good way to create positive inbound link profiles for only time as a cost. These are good vehicles to make about one specific part of the law, say drunk driving or motorcycle accidents, and have articles build up over time, at least once a month, with links from these articles to relevant pages within your main site. Don’t use the same platform for all the blogs. Try to use a new one for each topic. A few of the easy ones to use are Weebly, WordPress, Blogger, Webs, Tumblr, and more. You can circle back once you run out of new platforms, but a distributed base of Class-C IP addresses for your blog platforms make their organic SEO scores go up.
After you’ve done all that, try to find an SEO company partner who can do solid work for an affordable price. You’ll be ideally set up to benefit from any soundly executed SEO work once your site and social media profile are burnished by the quality content and frequent interactions I’ve described here.