Among the SEO community, there is a debate about whether or not regional pages - that is, content that is created to focus on the different cities or states where your law firm practices - is an effective SEO strategy. Regional pages can actually be incredibly powerful lead-generating pages. They can also destroy your website's authority if not done properly.
What is a regional practice area page?
Regional pages for law firms are basically practice area pages that are optimized around a city that is different from your primary office location. They can be helpful because someone in a suburb is more likely to be served content relevant to their location than the closest metro area.
They can also help your law firm expand into new markets.
An Example of a Regional Practice Area Page Opening New Doors
The Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield’s main office is in Springdale, Arkansas. However, shortly after working with Custom Legal Marketing, the firm brought on a new attorney and opened a second office 70 miles south in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
The mission was clear. Our job was to drive workers' compensation leads to the new location.
If we had just added “Now serving Fort Smith” on Hatfield’s primary workers’ compensation page that not only wouldn’t move the SEO needle at all, but it's also not relevant to the users landing on that page. Why would they need to know that there is another office 70 miles away?
The best way to serve the end user and the law firm’s goals was to create dedicated content.
Today, the law firm enjoys top page 1 rankings in Forth Smith for workers' compensation keywords which were achieved without jeopardizing their other locations' rankings. We’ve also been able to build on that success for other regional practice area pages like their Forth Smith car accident page.
What is the right way to build a regional practice area page?
Start from scratch. When building out your page, give it the same attention to detail as you would your primary practice area page or even your homepage.
Think about what topics people are going to be interested in. What questions do your prospective clients ask? What areas of your original page are being read and what new data can you bring to the table with this new piece of content? Think about different questions you can answer on this page than you have on your other similar pages.
Make it detailed and if possible have it written by a different writer than whoever wrote the original page which will give it a unique voice (but still maintain brand consistency.) We often diversify our regional page assignments to different writers on our team for this reason.
The layout of the page should look as beautiful as your homepage and not like an afterthought. Remember, this page is going to be the first impression someone has of your firm. Make it a good one.
What is the wrong way to build a regional practice area page?
Don’t use “Find and Replace.” If you think you can grab your other content and simply find and replace the city with your new regional target, you’re wasting your time and risking your website’s authority.
Google will see that as “thin content” or “unhelpful content” which will likely never see the top of the search results page and possibly may not even get indexed.
Don’t forget about the links.
You are just getting started after your beautifully designed and expertly written regional practice area page is published. Now you have to earn authority.
You can start by looking for text on your website and blog to link to your new page. Internal linking should really be part of your process for publishing any new content whether it's a page or a blog entry. Orphan pages (pages that are on your website but not linked to from any other page) will struggle to gain traction in Google.
Now you need inbound links from external sources. Our law firm SEO guide has some helpful strategies for link building. Each page worth writing is worth the hard work of link building. A diverse portfolio of links to the new page will help it climb to the top of Google and, ultimately, deliver those leads.
If done incorrectly, regional pages are useless or worse, harmful. But if you write them with your end user in mind, focus on building an impactful user experience, and earn some high-value links from other publishers, regional practice area pages can drastically increase your SEO footprint and deliver more leads to your firm.