The COVID-19 pandemic forced many people, including lawyers, to work from home. Businesses had to adapt to an online marketplace. Focus shifted quickly to providing positive online experiences for customers and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Many businesses muddled through, trying to figure out this new normal, but did not know how to manage it successfully. Today, businesses are still learning to manage online and making costly (SEO) mistakes. COVID has changed the way every business operates, including law firms. Read on to find out the SEO mistakes you must avoid to grow your law firm online.
Not Having a Plan
One mistake many law firms continue to make is not having an SEO strategy or plan. Hiring an SEO agency that has expertise in the law could be the answer to this problem. Professional website content should be carefully planned. Whether you create this yourself, or hire a digital marketing agency to do it for you, a set plan will provide useful, valuable material for your users and increase your search engine rankings. A solid SEO plan may include keyword research, establishing responsibilities, setting goals, reviewing the competition, regular website updates, and investing in new resources to achieve set goals. Your competitors are absolutely using digital marketing to their advantage, and so should you.
Website visitors do not want to be sold to. They want to understand what you can do and how you can solve their legal problems. While it is important to promote your legal services and how it stands apart from others, helpful, non-promotional content will be most useful to visitors and promote backlinks from others who appreciate your authority on legal issues.
Website visitors want user-friendly, organized, readable subject matter. This generally includes H2, H3, and H4 headings to break up content and bulleted and numbered lists. Headings should not be too long or specific and include keywords to optimize your SEO. These formatting strategies will draw more visitors to your site and help them to better understand the material. Formatting your content correctly also helps with your Google rankings.
Not Including Local Pages
It is a mistake to skip location-specific pages on your website. Local searches have increased significantly over the past 10 years, and three-quarters of people searching on mobile devices visit the local businesses they find within 24 hours.
Optimizing the local aspect of your website by adding location-specific pages is easy and important to include on your law firm’s website.
Not Providing Relevant Content
Your online material must be relevant and easy to understand. When making legal issues clear and concise, your brand or message may get lost. Sometimes legal jargon is too much for the average consumer to understand, and overexplaining may cause them to lose attention. If your website content is confusing, wordy, or seems irrelevant, your bounce rate will increase. Users will bounce if you:
- Fail to clearly explain topics
- Discuss too many topics
- Use too many keywords
- Try optimizing too many unrelated keywords
Providing Outdated Content
As law firms and other businesses begin to operate in the office again, their websites may have old office hours or invalid information about online meetings. Cleaning protocols might still be listed on sites even though the protocols have subsided.
Bounce rates tend to increase, and SEO rankings decrease when providers give obsolete information to users. Avoiding outdated content by regularly updating your website to post current topics and information is important to provide.
Not using Alt Tags
Alternative tags or alt tags describe images on your website. Images will never load properly if the wrong extension is used, a filename is improper, or an incorrect file path is used.
An alt tag will describe images in case they do not appear. These tags provide another opportunity to add keywords that search engines will recognize. Alt tags also help to make websites more accessible.
Some best practices for alt tags include:
- Writing unique alt tags for each picture
- Making alt tags brief and descriptive
- Including keywords in the description
Pages Are Not Indexed
A user can search indexed pages on Google. Not having pages indexed is comparable to not having your pages available or searchable to the public. Unindexed pages are not crawlable.
Lack of indexing can be caused by the following:
- 404 errors
- Duplicate content
- Low authority
- Outdated sitemap
- Problem with source code for meta tags
Submitting a URL inspection in Google Search Console can help correct Google indexing problems. This will help you determine if your webpages are indexed or not.
Not Being Mobile-Friendly
In our post-COVID world, websites must be mobile-friendly. Most people use cell phones to search for services. The pandemic increased our use of mobile devices, and it continues to be how many people continue to conduct business.
Google rankings are determined first by the mobile version of a website. If you have a great desktop experience for your website, but the mobile version is not user-friendly, your Google ranking will suffer.
Your mobile website must be high quality and perform well on all mobile devices. Slow speed, slow loading, non-responsive design, broken links, blocked files, and limited community information are some reasons Google may consider a site not mobile-friendly. Mobile-friendly sites reformat for different devices. Potential clients will move to a more mobile-friendly site if yours does not work.
Here are some best practices to ensure your website is mobile-friendly:
- Use Google’s mobile-friendly test
- Test it yourself
- Use a responsive design
- Align local and mobile plans
- Include mobile-friendly content
- Choose a dependable web host
- Find ways to minimize load time
- Revise pop-ups, so they are mobile-friendly
- Enable faster mobile pages
Not Using Meta Descriptions, Title Tags, or Schema
SEO results often depend on title tags and meta descriptions. Skipping these items will affect your SEO rankings. These descriptors influence search engine performance. Some law firms may not use schema to inform search engines about the content, and this could negatively affect how a search engine like Google ranks your website.
Digital Marketing Next Steps
COVID changed how the entire world operates and looks at things. The legal industry is no exception. Even SEO has changed post-COVID. Make certain that your firm is not making any of the SEO mistakes outlined in today’s post, saving you time and money. Make sure that your law firm continues to grow online and compete with the other law firm’s in your geographic area by developing a comprehensive and strategic marketing strategy in a post-COVID world.
Annette Choti, Esq. graduated from law school 20 years ago, and is the Founder of Law Quill, a legal digital marketing agency focused on small and solo law firms. Annette wrote the bestselling book Click Magnet: The Ultimate Digital Marketing Guide For Law Firms, and hosts the podcast Legal Marketing Lounge. She is a sought-after keynote and CLE speaker throughout the United States and Canada. Annette used to do theatre and professional comedy, which is not so different from the legal field if we are all being honest. Annette can be found on LinkedIn or at at email@example.com.
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