The need for law firms to set themselves apart from their competition is clear. Applying Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices in current marketing strategies have become increasingly important for law firms over the past couple of years. Simply searching for a “lawyer near me” brings up a list of thousands of lawyers located close to the user. Law firms that appear at the top of Google’s search engine results are highly ranked due to Search Engine Optimization. If you wonder why your law firm does not appear on the first page of a Google search, there are steps you can take to improve and optimize your law firm’s website ranking.
Ways to Increase Your Law Firms Search Engine Ranking
There are various reasons why a law firm’s website is not ranking high enough to show up on the first page of a Google search, but the good news is that there are ways to increase your law firm’s search engine ranking. The following strategies will help you increase your law firm’s ranking:
Utilize Keyword Strategies
Research has suggested that law firms are extremely competitive in terms of SEO. Sometimes extremely specific keyword searches still produce many results. When many law firms use the same keywords, it is difficult to compete for ranking. If keyword strategies are not optimized, Google rankings will be affected, but this is something that can be improved.
How do you improve keyword strategies? There are a few different ways to enhance and improve keyword strategies.
You may want to conduct keyword research to see what is trending in the legal industry. Keyword tools are available to everyone online. You will want to check the competitive or difficult score of each keyword you want to use. Scores above 60 are considered very competitive or difficult. In these cases, it is beneficial to use less competitive keywords.
Another way to fix your keyword issues is to use long-tail rather than short-tail keywords. What does this mean? Long-tail keywords are more specific and attract targeted traffic. Short-tail words are broad in scope and generate a lot of online traffic, but these short-tail words do not produce targeted traffic. The long-tail keywords are less competitive and create opportunities to attract clients seeking specific information.
Do Not Break Google’s Rules
Google’s quality standards must be met to stay high in the rankings. The algorithm that Google uses to rank websites is regularly updated, so web pages that do not meet Google’s quality standards are demoted. This is usually due to “black hat tactics,” which are techniques to skip or escape the basic SEO rules. Sometimes rules are broken unknowingly, especially if your firm does not fully understand how SEO rules work in web page ranking. Breaking the rules, even without knowing, will cause a decline in your website’s rank.
There are ways to avoid breaking Google’s rules. To prevent breaking Google’s rules, always:
- Avoid posting duplicate content. There is a limit on original content and reposting of the same content.
- Do not use too many keywords in your content; this is also known as keyword stuffing. It is quite common to use the same keywords unknowingly. To avoid keyword stuffing, check your content with a keyword-density tool
- Delete backlinks. Backlinks are links from one website to another. Check your website’s backlinks. Low-ranked, low-credibility pages may be linking back to your firm’s website. This can diminish your site authority. Unlink them to protect your site.
- Hidden text should not be used. This type of text is often hidden in a web page’s background or behind graphics. Remove any hidden text to avoid inadvertently breaking Google’s rules.
Optimize Your Google Business Profile
Businesses can manage their online presence with a Google Business Profile. It is a free resource that allows businesses to manage their sites across utilities like Google Maps. A law firm’s Google Business Profile is significant to its ability to generate leads and new clients. Legal marketing strategies are localized since consumers typically search for clients in a specific area. That is why the Google Business Profile is an important marketing tool for law firms looking to generate leads and future clients in their local city or state.
Google Business Profiles are usually the first point of contact for future clients and appear at the top of search pages. It is beneficial for all businesses, including law firms, to accurately and thoughtfully complete their Google Business Profile. Suppose a law firm uses a fully optimized Google Profile. In that case, it shows Google that the rankings matter and that they will use Google’s resources to provide pertinent information to users. This may help to enhance the ranking.
How To Optimize Your Google Business Profile
Optimizing a Google Business Profile can be an extensive process, but it will provide successful results. Fully utilizing your Google Business Profile will increase your law firm website rankings. Here are some tips on how to optimize your Google Business Profile:
- Claim your Google Business Profile
- Complete all parts of the Google Business Profile
- Provide accurate and complete contact information
- Answer all questions accurately
- Assemble, review, and respond to all reviews
- Use the message feature
- Consistently update and maintain your Google Business Profile
The content on your law firm’s website is one of the main factors contributing to your Google ranking, but the technical features of your web design also have a major influence on ranking. Website design contributes to a website’s position on a Google search but is often disregarded as a problem. Many businesses do not understand the effect that the design and organization of their websites have on their ranking. Three common design elements that may affect ranking include:
- Speed: User experience often depends on speed, and if site speed and page load time are not ideal, your website might be ranked low on Google.
- Mobile-Friendliness: In recent years, Google has prioritized mobile website design. Mobile-friendly websites rank higher than websites that are not accessible on cell phones.
- Security: Security may be an issue for ranking as well. 82% of Google users will leave a page if they feel it is not secure. The percentage may be even higher in the legal industry since law firms often deal with sensitive information. If data risks are feared, Google does not rank web pages highly.
Create an Indexed Website
Google will not rank your website if it is not indexed. This may occur when:
- Your website is brand new and has not been indexed yet.
- You have blocked Google from indexing your website.
- Your website is not allowing Google to crawl pages.
- When a website is not indexed, it will not appear on Google.
Once this problem is fixed, your website will appear on search pages. How do you make sure a website is indexed?
First, check and see if your website appears on Google. Type “site: website name.com” into the search field. If nothing appears in the results, your website is not indexed.
Next, you will want to check your robots.txt.file by typing, “website name.com/robots.txt” in the URL field of your browser. If you see a 404 error, your website may not be crawled. If errors appear, you will want to fix the issues to ensure your website is indexed.
Digital Marketing Next Steps
Securing the coveted top results on Google is a challenge, but law firms must strive to meet this challenge if they want to succeed. Current marketing strategies amplify Search Engine Optimization as integral in growing a law firm. Unfortunately, low Google rankings are a widespread problem for many legal firms and other businesses trying to increase their business.
It is important to proactively employ strategies that ensure a high ranking on Google search results and improve SEO, especially since today’s digital standards and ideals change daily. A law firm’s website must have regular visitors to generate leads and gain new clients, so search result rankings must be high to pull in those visitors. Law firms can increase their search result rankings by employing keyword strategies, following and abiding by Google’s rules, optimizing their Google Business Profile, and utilizing a well-designed and indexed website. Employing these marketing tools will move your law firm up the search results list and help keep you competitive in today’s trendy markets.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.