Law Firm Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Explained
Would you like your law firm website to produce a steady, consistent and then growing volume of your ideal clients month after month? The right law firm SEO strategy will achieve this for you.
Many solicitors spend thousands of pounds preparing a perfectly adequate functional website, and then miss the most important part – marketing their firm’s legal website to ensure that they receive as many website leads as they can handle by appearing closer to the top of the search engines.
I am Nick Jervis, a former solicitor, now full time adviser to the owners of law firms, showing them how to grow their law firm quickly and sustainably.
SEO works so well for solicitors because it brings new clients to their law firm website at the precise moment in time that they are looking for their services. It is a very effective form of law firm marketing.
For many of my clients SEO is responsible for as much as 50% of their monthly new client intake.
The purpose of this guide is to show you how to make your website work harder for you.
It is a long page to read on a website, so I recommend downloading the PDF SEO For Solicitors Guide by simply clicking the button below.
You can then refer back to the PDF guide as you work on your law firm SEO.
SEO for solicitors – the basics
In short, law firm SEO is about doing all that you can to let Google which services you provide so that when someone searches for them you appear at the top of the search results (or as close to the top as possible).
How you do this involves some great content on your website, some good imagery and a little bit of behind the scenes jiggery pokery.
It is definitely not rocket science, but there are certainly nuances that you need to be aware of.
Ultimately, if you remember this phrase when adding content to your website, you will not go far wrong:
Is the content I am adding high quality and when read, will clearly demonstrate our expertise in this area of the law?
Is SEO for solicitors incredibly complicated?
Does it take a little bit of knowledge, a fair bit of time and some persistent effort?
It does take you some time, but it is so incredibly worthwhile.
- If you get it right, you receive more visitors to your law firm website not just once, but every month thereafter. If by going through this SEO process for just one page on your website it delivers three new clients each month to you, that could be worth around £3,000 per month in fees, or £36,000 per annum. I believe it is worth the time, but of course, it does require the right SEO skills and consistent application. I always say to my clients that if they want to beat their competition, they simply have to do slightly more than their competition will do to market their legal services. Law firm SEO requires you to be consistent if you want to beat your competition.
- Once you understand the basics of SEO for solicitors, you can outsource a lot of the tasks for the remainder of the pages on your website to an outsourced SEO service provider or to your own support team.
Does SEO for solicitors work?
“When I started working with this firm they were generating next to no leads from their website. Three years later that number has changed to over 100 leads per month. That is 100 new client enquiries a month that they were missing out on before they started taking the action I am sharing with you below.”
Another firm had been spending a considerable sum of money with a specialist legal website marketing company and had achieved incredibly poor results. They asked for a one hour telephone consultation with me and this is what they had to say afterwards:
“Your one hour telephone consultancy was very informative. In a space of an hour, you gave us a very good grasp on search engine optimisation and removed a lot of mystique around the same. We now feel confident that we can implement a lot of the strategies ourselves as a result of your advice. I would not hesitate in recommending you to other solicitors although unfortunately, it will not be to my competitors.”
Denis Stevenson, Managing Director, Rowlinsons Solicitors Cheshire
Your SEO for Solicitors checklist
There is so much hyperbole on the internet surrounding search engine marketing services and SEO. If you want to engage a professional company you will have to spend a minimum of £2,000 a month and quite possibly you will see no results. However, I have achieved great results on a nominal budget, and I am happy to share how I have done this with you; are you interested?
Here is a summary of each of the steps that you need to undertake if you would like to be featured near the top of the Search results for search terms that could be very valuable for you (for example “Conveyancing Solicitors Bristol”).
Beneath the summary, you will find a more detailed explanation of the steps required to rank a solicitors website well in the search engines.
- Ensure that you have the correct website site structure. For example, if you offer conveyancing services you need a main conveyancing landing page, then pages sitting beneath that page covering all aspects of that service. Your landing page might be www.yourwebsite.co.uk/conveyancing-services-bristol with a page about your fees sitting beneath it which might be www.yourwebsite.co.uk/conveyancing-services-bristol/no-sale-no-fee-conveyancing.
- Include your keyword in your title tag – right at the beginning.
- Include your keyword in your description tag. Also consider using leading capitals and words that encourage your prospects to click through to your website such as “Free Quotation” or “Free Enquiry”.
- Include your keyword as frequently as it is sensible to do so without making your page appear and read as ‘spammy’. I am for three to five times. This is your keyword density.
- Add an image to the page and add ‘alt tags’ and ‘title tags’ including your keyword.
- Name your image after your keyword, eg conveyancing-solicitors-bristol.jpg.
- Include links to your new page from other pages on your website where it is sensible to do so.
- The most important part, which isn’t an SEO bit per se, but without which your new page will be worthless to you, is to ensure you add a call to action at the end of your page. Without this, even if people find your page, it will not make your telephone ring.
- Finally, tell the world about it! Announce your new page or article on LinkedIn, including links back to the article or page in question.
How Your Website Is Structured Is A Core Part Of The SEO For Solicitors Process
Google likes things to be easy and structured. I suppose this makes complete sense when it crawls billions of pages every day. Therefore, the easier you make it for Google’s spider bots to crawl their way around your website, the greater the chance you have of Google rewarding you with some extra free visitors.
So, what does a well structured website look like? How do you present it?
First, let me start by showing you a bad structure that wastes huge opportunities and one that I see time and time again on solicitors’ websites.
Here is an example:
What is wrong with these pages as an example of bad website structure?
A couple of things:
- What you name your page matters. Google expects to see keywords related to your services in your website URL’s which then makes it easier for Google to work out the keywords you are targeting and send more visitors to your website. Therefore, “Our Services” is a complete waste of high quality SEO retail space, as is Conveyancing, which would be better as shown below.
- Each legal service should be in its own folder to provide it with the best chance of piquing Google’s interests. They should not be in one big, lumped together folder as they are here.
This is how Smithers Jones might restructure their website:
Each main area of law would have it’s own page on the main website URL, but then all sub pages of that service would be listed beneath that main page.
Getting your website structure right from the start is an important part of the SEO process for solicitors.
Once you have your site structure right for SEO purposes, it is now time to look at your Meta Tags, which are direct indicators to Google about the content on the page.
Include your keyword in your title tag – right at the beginning.
The next few items deal with meta tags.
These are special messages direct to Google explaining exactly what your page is all about.
They are a vital part of the SEO for solicitors process.
If you don’t get these right, you might as well not bother with anything else.
This is why it always amazes me when I am reviewing a solicitor’s website and I discover that all of the title tags and description tags are the same on every single page of the website.
This is akin to having a shop and only displaying one item in the shop, despite stocking thousands of them.
To quickly check whether you are making this mistake, go to one of the pages on your website, right click on your mouse over any of the words on the page (not images) then select “view source” and you will see the code behind that page.
Press ‘Ctl F’ to bring up the search function, then enter the word ‘Title’ and click until you see title tag which looks like this image below when you do this search on my website:
Why is the Title Tag so important? Two reasons:
- It tells Google what the page is all about. This is where you MUST put the keyword that you are targeting. Failure to do so will dramatically reduce the impact of your page. For example, you can see that the primary keyword/phrase that I am targeting on this page is SEO For Solicitors Explained. The explained is extra. The primary keyword is SEO For Solicitors because I know that this is a good search term. If you found this page through searching for that search term then it looks like what I am suggesting that you do on this page for your own website is working, doesn’t it?
- It is what people searching on Google will see in the search results when your SEO marketing starts to work. Take a look at the image below and you will see what my title tag for this page looks like when it is presented in the Google search results for “SEO for Solicitors”.
You can see how this dual importance of your title tag, appearing on your page to tell Google what that page is all about and also appearing in the search results makes it so very important that you give it some thought.
Having the same title tag on every page of your website is a dreadful waste of SEO space.
One more thing on the title tag, bearing in mind my comment about it often being the same on each page. The same title tag is usually always the law firm’s name. The only place that the title tag should be your law firm name is on the home page and the contact page. Those are ultimately the only two pages that you want your clients and prospects to find when they go in search of your law firm. To put them on any other pages is a waste of your prime SEO real estate.
You must give careful consideration to your SEO title tag. Have you been doing so until now?
If not, one of the best things that you can do is to go and look at and then rewrite your title tag and the description tags on your website.
With that in mind, let’s look at the description tag and discuss why that has such an important part to play in your SEO marketing too.
To download this guide as a PDF with a checklist and details of the vital (and free) SEO resources you must use to instantly assess your title and description tags plus check your positions in the Google search results, simply click the button below now:
Your Description Meta Tag
If your title tag is as important as a leading line of an advertisement, which it is because that is what it is, your Description tag in SEO terms is your call to action.
Why is it a call to action?
Because if you do your job well and get into the top 10 of the Google search results, it is your description tag that is displayed in the search results and that will make people decide whether to click through to your website or not.
I have highlighted in yellow my description title tag so that you can see it easily.
After the title tag, which just confirms the main keywords you are targeting, it is the description tag that really determines whether anyone will click through to your website or not.
Notice some important things about my description tag:
- I use leading capitals. I do this because I have tested this extensively inside Google Ads. I have split tested advertisements with the same words but one with leading capitals and one without and the leading capitals, in 99% of these tests, leads to more people clicking on them. Read more about Google Ads For Solicitors:>>
- I ask a question. Questions increase click throughs.
- I include the keywords that I am targeting again here (this is vital). They must be in the Title SEO tag AND the Description SEO tag.
For your title tags, you might include some or all of these items to encourage people to click through to your website:
- Free Enquiry
- Free Quotation
- Your Town/City Location
- Free Guide
The Content On The Page
There are several important factors to consider when talking about the content on your page:
- There must be enough words for Google to be able to understand what topic you are targeting so that it can consider putting your website in the top of the search results.
- There must be enough words for your potential clients to believe that you are actually specialists in this area of legal service so that they take the next, important step of calling you or providing their contact details so that you can call them.
- You must include the keywords that you are targeting in the content enough times so that Google understands what topic you are targeting with your content.
Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail. Ultimately, it is the content that gets you to the top of Google, so it is worth spending time on it and getting it right.
Volume Of Words On The Page To Please Google For SEO Purposes
I recently checked my best performing website pages for the purposes of this article and then counted up the words on each page (well I actually used Microsoft to help me) and they were each between 1,200 to 4,000 words.
None of my pages with lower levels of content was generating many visitors. Whilst it used to be the case that 400 words on a page was enough to please Google and let it send floods of traffic to you, this is clearly no longer the case.
Now, I appreciate you might think that that is a substantial volume of content, which it is, but don’t let it stop you.
As a solicitor, partner of law firm owner, you should not be writing these words. Your hourly rate will be anything from £150 to £500, so why would you write the content when you can pay a copywriter anything from £20 to £50 per hour to write it for you?
Quite simply, you shouldn’t.
Please also remember that if you get this right and get to the top of Google (or close to it), potential clients will find your website every month from that moment forwards. If the content on your website does its job, some of those potential clients will call you or ask you to call them, and if you do your job well on the telephone and have my essential “Meaningful Conversation” with them, they will instruct you. Even if you only obtained one client a month that would be worth anything from a few hundred pounds to many thousands of pounds to you.
That is worth a small investment on a legal copywriter is it not?
Volume Of Words On The Page To Convince Your Potential Clients Of Your Expertise
If you had any of these thoughts when reading that your best website pages need between 1,200 too 4,000 words on them:
- if I put too much information down, clients won’t need my help to do the legal work; or
- it is impossible to write that many words about a legal topic,
I can assure you from many years’ experience that this is most certainly not the case.
The first one always brings a rye smile to my face when I hear a solicitor say this when I explain that they need more content on their website. They have always held the view that there should only be one or two paragraphs and then the prospect should call them for more information.
Think about the process your potential client is going through; choosing a solicitor for a legal matter.
This is something that they only have to do a few times in their life, often costs a lot and deals with a matter that is important to them.
It is an informed decision, so they are going to give it a lot of thought to ensure that they make the right choice.
One or two paragraphs will never be enough content to make them believe that you are the best solicitor for the job and to hand over their contact details to you.
Enough words please Google and encourage it to list you in the top 10 of the search results, but equally as important when Google does list you and your prospects click through to your website, they then believe that you really are an expert in this field and are much more inclined to give you their contact details.
That is a law firm SEO ‘Win, Win’.
Including Your Keywords In The Content
You must include the keywords that you are targeting in your content (and variations of them) as frequently as it is sensible to do so without making your page appear and read as ‘spammy’.
In my case I aim for my main keyword to appear three to five times on the page, but then again in different ways too.
For example, if the main keyword was “marketing for solicitors”, I would also include variations such as:
- solicitors marketing
- marketing for law firms
- legal marketing
- marketing a solicitors practice
Don’t lose sight of the readability of your page of content when optimising it. The primary purpose of any page of content is to persaude a potential client that you are a specialist in this area of law. Always keep site of that.
Add Images To The Page
Once you have optimised the content on the page for the keywords that you are targeting, you can improve the page in two ways by adding some images.
Adding images not only improves the visual appearance of the page but in search engine marketing terms it also allows you to add your keywords as image tags.
It is best to show you the code behind the page so that you can see what I mean here.
Below is an image of the code that makes the image at the head of this article (SEO For Solicitors) appear:
These are the key points:
- In yellow highlights you will notice the same keywords are repeated, one with an ‘alt’ tag and one with a ‘title’ tag. This is because different internet browsers (such as Google Chrome, Safari etc) read image tags differently, so you need to add both to give you the best chance of your law firm SEO work being rewarded; and
- In green I show you the name of the image. This is another chance for you to add your keywords to the page to give you more chances of your SEO working.
Not An SEO Bit, But The Most Important Bit Of Law Firm SEO!
What is the primary purpose of taking all of this action?
It is, ultimately, to win new clients is it not?
Therefore, at the end of the page, do not forget the most important part, which is to spell out what the reader of the page must do next to progress their relationship with you.
Many solicitors make the fatal mistake of missing this part. They simply end their page of content expecting the client to head off to the contact page if they want to get in touch, or to scroll right back up to the top of the page to find the telephone number.
However, your prospects won’t do this. If you don’t make it easy for them, most will hit the back button, rendering all of your brilliant work to this point completely useless.
Finish every page with a call to action explaining exactly what your prospect needs to do next to discover more about how you can help them.
Your call to action MUST include each of the following (not just some of them):
- Your telephone number, hyperlinked so that your visitor can click on it to call you, on their desktop from skype or their mobile straight from the device.
- Your email address, again linked so that they can touch it to email you.
- A link to complete your online enquiry form (which should be on its own dedicated page, not your contact page where there will be too many distractions for your visitor which may lead to them failing to complete your enquiry form).
- Live chat. Live chat can dramatically increase the conversions from your website. The good news is that there are service providers who will run this for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so you don’t need to do a thing. Download my guide below and I explain how you can access this service.
Include Links To Your New Page.
Once your page is completed, include links to it from other relevant pages. These internal links are another way of telling the search engines what your page is all about. For example, I would link to this page through the keywords, “SEO For Solicitors” which tells the search engines that these are the keywords I am targeting.
You should change the keywords linking to the page so as not to appear too spammy, so use some of the other keywords you are targeting rather than the same one every time.
Finally, Tell The World About It!
If you follow all of the steps above, you will have created a very valuable piece of content, not just for your own SEO purposes, but for the world at large.
You cannot fail to have done so. Therefore, now that you have created this very valuable resource, you absolutely must tell the world about it, otherwise, you are missing the opportunity for it to deliver new clients to you, which, after all, is the purpose of it.
Once it is finished, post links back to your new page on all of your social media channels including twitter, LinkedIn and facebook.
These links do two things for you:
- They tell your audience that you have a new page of content for them to view; and
- They let the search engines know that you have a new page (or improved page) to view.
That is it! You have done it!
If you would like all of this in one PDF guide with a Checklist to ensure that you do not miss anything, plus a list of the resources that I recommend you need to really master your Search Engine Marketing, simply download my guide below.
SEO For Solicitors Guide
My free “SEO for Solicitors” guide shares the methods I have used to get to the top of Google myself, and the method I have used for all of my law firm owner. So if you want to get your law firm website to the top of Google, enter your details below and I will immediately send it to you:
To receive my detailed PDF Guide to SEO For Solicitors, simply click the button below, enter your details and it will instantly be emailed to you.