Law Firm SEO That Works in 2018

#CLMWorks

Search engine optimization (SEO) gives law firms the highest quality clients at the lowest cost per lead of any other marketing channel. This should come as no surprise as the majority of legal consumers start their search for a lawyer online.

The market is there, it just has to find you. Lawyers like you are looking to SEO to build their firms because it works. But it takes more than keywords. You have to be found by legal consumers and then convert that traffic. Here is how we are making SEO work for law firms.

1. Your Law Firm's Website and SEO

Your website is serving two entities: search engines and people. Fortunately, Google is focused on serving the best results to their customers (searchers) which means what is good for humans is also good for search engines. Here is how to make your website work for your firm in 2018.

Focus on Clients

Reviewing SEO results and law firm's website

Your website should speak directly to the needs and concerns of your clients. Whether your clients are corporate, getting a divorce, filing bankruptcy, suffering from a personal injury, seeking defense in a criminal case, wanting to secure their future of a loved one through special needs planning, your website should speak to their hopes, fears and expectations.

Custom Legal Marketing organizes focus groups for custom websites. We bring together people that have hired a lawyer in your practice area in your region and let them interact with your website's prototype. This gives us insight on how well your new site is speaking to the expectations of your target clientele. Here are some things we have learned from clients like yours.

Testimonials matter. People want to know that others have had a great experience with your firm.

Accreditation matters but they are not all equal. Believe it or not, people give a lot of authority to the Better Business Bureau. Online review sites also carry as lot of weight. To a lesser extent, people are impressed with legal specifics accolades like Avvo ratings and SuperLawyer badges. Accolades should be displayed on your website but badges that carry more weight should be more prominent.

Nobody wants to guess anything. Everything from your navigation to your intake process should be transparent. People want to know exactly what to expect if they take the next step and contact your firm.

People want to be sold. In every case where we presented a softer sell to our focus groups, they have asked for a more compelling reason to contact our client. Our websites will let you promote your law firm with professionalism while still drawing your visitors' attention to your strong selling points. 

Results matter. While every law firm is focused on results, practice areas like employment law, personal injury and criminal defense are seeking tangible results. Display these results prominently throughout your website. For areas like business law, case studies and white papers will give your audience the insights they need to see that your law firm has an impeccable track record.

Interactive Elements

Give your visitors something to do. Whether it is a slide show explaining the lawsuit process or other clickable elements, if you build it they will use it. We recommend interactive elements that explain a topic, calm a fear or give the visitor an idea of what to expect as they try to resolve their legal situation.

Above, example of the interactive elements explaining the personal injury lawsuit process.

Your Website's Code Matters

Your website's code needs to be clean, lightweight and fine-tuned for performance. It also needs to give Google the content it is looking for. Google looks for markups on your website to generate Cards and Rich Snippets.

What is a Google Card?

Google Cards answer questions without sending people to your website. This may sound like it works against your interest but our studies have shown that websites that have a Google Card see a 30 percent or higher click-through compared to holding the same position without a card.

Plus cards like this example can be used to answer questions on Google Assistant devices like Google Home.

Google Card answering a question about Power of Attorney for married couples

Above, example of a Google Card targeting frequently asked questions regarding legal misconceptions for married couples. 

What is a Rich Snippet?

Rich Snippets give Google information about your physical address, content and can help you improve your click-through rate by displaying client ratings in the search results.

By properly formatting your client testimonials, Google will have the data they need to display as star rating next to your search engine listing.

Personal injury law firm showing 5 star rating in organic search engine results

Above, example of a Rich Snippet for a Chicago law firm.

Mobile is Not Optional
Man searches for a lawyer on his cell phone

Your website must be responsive and provide an optimal experience at any size. With Custom Legal Marketing's custom websites, our team considers the various user behaviors of phone, tablet and desktop visitors and then makes sure your website delivers the best experience.

Last year, we published a report on Forbes about mobile traffic on law firm's websites, titled "Does Mobile Dominate Law Firms' Web Traffic". While mobile activity varies between practice areas, all areas of law are seeing big increases in small screen traffic. Mobile is not optional, it is as important if not more important than your desktop experience.

The site is great, but your continued ability to take care of us is what made a real difference. Great job to the entire team!

-Jim Fausone (Legal Help for Veterans)

Get an Award Winning Team
Awards for law firm websites
Call 1.800.789.6451

2. Search Engine Optimization that Works for Law Firms

Now that you have a great website that delivers an awesome experience to visitors, it is time to get more through search engine optimization. The SEO process consists of content, links, citations and user experience. Nothing makes us happier than seeing our clients dominate highly competitive markets.

Here is how we drive attorneys like you to the top of search engine results.

The Right Keywords

Our SEO strategy consists of focusing on highly competitive keywords while simultaneously casting a wide net of secondary long term key phrases. People are not only using general keywords but they are asking detailed questions, they are looking for specific answers. Meet their demands and you will get leads.

Here are the types of keywords we target through our SEO plans:

GENERAL KEYWORDS (HIGH COMPETITION):

A general keyword is a common word used to identify your practice area. Here are some examples of general keyword:

Personal injury lawyer

Car accident attorney

DUI lawyer

Employment lawyer

Business lawyer

Elder law attorney

Keywords being targeted for a law firm's SEO campaign
Converational keywords being targeted for a law firm's SEO campaign

CONVERSATIONAL KEYWORDS (MODERATE COMPETITION):

A conversational keyword is a statement or question presented by the searcher. Conversational keywords could be general as follows:

These keywords present a unique opportunity to becoming a trusted source of information for your potential clients. You should provide answers that are in depth, easy to understand and on topic.

STRATEGIC KEYWORDS (LOW COMPETITION):

Strategic terms are a great way to rank high on the search results for a lot of low volume keywords. This is a beneficial strategy for getting unique cases. Your strategy should never exclusively target low competition keywords; this should only be one part of your total keyword strategy.

Examples of strategic keywords include:

Together, this strategy helps your firm get ranked quickly for strategic and long tail keywords while we pave the way for high positions on competitive general keywords. Custom Legal Marketing also looks for new keyword opportunities to take advantage of so that your search campaign is always evolving.

Strategic keywords for law firm's SEO campaign

SEO Elements

Meta tags, Headers and Alt tags are still important SEO elements that should be properly setup on every page of your law firm's website. Here is a description of what each of these elements do and how to properly use them.

Meta tags are located in your source code towards the top of the page. Only the Title field is visible to visitors while search engine bots read the other information.

Below is an example using our homepage meta tags:

<title>No Competition™

 - Exclusive Law Firm Marketing & SEO Company.</title>

<meta name="description" content="Get an exclusive law firm marketing partner, award winning web design team, expert law firm SEO. If your SEO company is helping working for your competitors, you need our No Competition™ Guarantee."/>

<meta name="keywords" content="law firm marketing, legal marketing, lawyer SEO, law firm SEO"/>
Meta Tags Explained
Title

The title tag is generally what will appear in Google as the title of your search engine listing. You should include your primary key phrases in the title but also give visitors a reason to click on your site. You may be tempted to have a title like "Phoenix Personal Injury Lawyer, Car Accident Attorney, Slip and Fall Law Firm" but your click-through-rate will be substantially higher if you go with something more concise like "Phoenix Personal Injury Lawyer: Start Your Free Consultation Now".

Gears
Website Description
Description

This is another opportunity to convince visitors to click on your site. You have approximately 30 words to convince a searcher that you have the answers they are looking for. A description should include your targeted keywords but like your title, it needs to give people a reason to visit your site. Think about ways to use your keyword in a compelling call to action. Also keep in mind, Google may not always show your description. Sometimes they will pull content from the page and use an excerpt in place of the description you are giving them.

Keywords

The keyword tag is where you tell search engines which key phrases you want to rank for. If you were building your website 15 years ago, your keyword tag would be a strong part of your onsite SEO. But this is 2018 and search engines are a lot smarter. Keyword tags have been mostly ignored by Google and other search engines and it is Custom Legal Marketing's policy to simply omit this meta tag from our websites. In fact, the keyword tag above was created as an example as our homepage does not actually have a keyword meta tag.

Keywords
Alt Tags

Alt tags are incredibly important but often overlooked. While image recognition technology has come a long way, search engines still rely on text to determine what content is on a page. If you have images on a page and have not assigned an alt tag, you are missing out on an opportunity to reinforce your keywords. 

For example, let's say we have a graphic of an award that we have won for a law firm's website. The alt tag might look something like this:

Small code divider
<img src="new-award.png" alt="2018 Best Award for Law Firm Website Smith & Smith LLP">
Small code divider

Without the alt tag, Google would just see the "new-award.png", the image filename. But with the alt tag, we can reinforce one of our targeted keywords, "Law Firm Website."

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when using alt tags:

No spam: You want to accurately describe the object(s) in the image. However, do not just list keywords, you have to include your keywords in an accurate description of the picture.

Keywords are not always appropriate: All graphics and images should have an alt tag even though many will not require a keyword. An example of that would be your social icons. You may have an icon on the bottom of your page for Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. The alt tag for those graphics should just be "Facebook", "Twitter", "Google+" and "LinkedIn". Going overboard and putting in unnecessary keywords may result in Google determining that your website is spammy thus working against your law firm's SEO goals.

Content Marketing
Law firm SEO idea board

If you want to get ranked for a keyword, you have to have content that speaks to the search. That does not mean doorway pages and low quality content that exists just for the sake of having a lot of pages, you need to have high quality content.

Of course, you have heard of that before but what does that mean? 

Blogs: You should still post blogs to your website in 2018. This is helpful for reporting on local events, legislative changes and other timely topics. Do not flood your blog with a lot of content, blog about things that are topical, timely and provide value to your visitors.

Questions and Answers: Building on the keyword strategy above , you should publish answers to frequently asked questions on a regular basis. This content is helpful for existing website visitors and people finding your firm through search results.

Long Form Content: When you need to cover a lot of information and want to dominate the search engine results, long form pages deliver.

A long form page is a multimedia page that generally has more than 1,500 words and may include graphics, charts, video and audio content. the massive amount of content is broken up into horizontal sections that are easy for the visitor to read. They pack a powerful punch in the search results.

Sometimes, a long form format is used for standard practice area pages like this:

Briskman Briskman & Greenberg - Car Accident Lawyer

Littman Krooks LLP -Elder Law

Brill Legal Group - Field Sobriety Test

McCormack & Erlich - Sexual Harrassment Lawywers

The writing and content team at Custom Legal Marketing consists of journalists, lawyers and marketing professionals that know how to dig deep into topics and present information in a way that connects with your audience.

Jason at CLM is the real deal when it comes to SEO. I don't think that you could make a better choice.

-Paul Greenberg (Briskman Briskman & Greenberg)

Press Outreach: A great way to build awareness and help your search engine performance is through press outreach. Anytime you add a new lawyer, win a big case, or take on a case that has local or national appeal, the team at Custom Legal Marketing can distribute your news to readers as well as editors and journalists in mainstream media.

While online press releases are not an effective link building strategy, they do help your firm build credibility and get referenced in an authoritative media outlet, which can improve of your website. Sounds farfetched? Talk to Custom Legal Marketing about other secrets SEO professionals are afraid to publish

A page from the Strong Advocate press kit.
A page from the Strong Advocate press kit.
A page from the Strong Advocate press kit.

Above, example of a Press Kit for Strong Advocates.

3. Local Seo

Google knows where you are physically located when doing a search. This data is especially accurate when searching from a mobile device. When someone searches for a service with nearby providers, Google will often show a map with 3 law firms (the 3-Pack). Getting to on this map involves several elements: 

Accuracy: Make sure your Google My Business listing is reporting the same name, address, phone number and business hours as your website.

Categorization: Get specific. Do not go into a general category like "Law Firm" if a specific category like "Personal Injury Lawyer" is an option

CitationsA local citation is the mentioning of your law firm name, address and phone number on other websites. We will cover this in more detail below.

Clients Reviews: Having a steady stream of recent positive reviews can help boost your local SEO performance.

Proximity to User: Your proximity to the searcher also plays a role in how you rank. This is unfortunately difficult to control as Google may decide to serve a listing of a lower quality competitor because they are physically closer to the person seeking an attorney.

What Are Local Citations?

A local citation is simply the mentioning of your law firm's name, address and phone number on other sites. A citation may also include other information like your website address. The reason citations are important is because they give Google third party verifications of the information you have provided on Google My Business. If you are telling the same thing to 100 other directories and business networks, the information is likely accurate. 

Custom Legal Marketing has developed a process of getting quality citations that includes: 

Manually claiming all business directory and legal directory listings to ensure that the information being reported is the same across all networks.

Using aggregates to automatically sync and monitor local citations.

Using videos, podcasts, ebooks and other media to share local citations on other websites.

Submitting press releases to distribute local citations across multiple websites.

Monitoring competitors and using their citations to discover new opportunities.

Where to Get a Local Citation?

If you are looking for a way to establish a solid foundation for your law firm's website and do some DIY citation building, here are some places to get started:

Business Directories: Directories like Yelp, Mapquest, Yellow Pages and others are great places to start your local citation building. Since most of your competitors will have listings on these websites, this is where you need to begin just to get in the game.

Legal Directories: While business and local directories are available to all industries, legal directories are great places to get relevant local citations. Free legal directories for attorneys are less common than general local directories so you should plan on paying for a handful of legal directory listings as part of your online marketing budget.

Here are some great legal directories to get you started:

Paid

DA:90

Quote

DA:79

Quote

DA:80

$1,125/Year

DA:70

Quote

DA:66

Quote

DA:56

$99/Month

DA:48

$39/Month

Free

DA:87

Free

DA:49

Free

DA:84

Free

DA:35

Free

DA:73

Free | Nomination

DA:41

Free

DA:57

Free

DA:45

Free

DA:46

Free

DA:60

Free

DA:43

Free

DA:48

Free

DA:45

Free

DA:48

Free

Once you have a strong foundation using local listings and legal directories, you can then move on to other types of citations using videos, ebooks, podcasts and other forms of media. We will discuss this strategy in our link building section.

4. Links

Google's search algorithms use hundreds of factors to determine which website should rank on the first page. 

Google has confirmed that their top three factors in determining website ranks are:

1. Content

2. Links

3. RankBrain

What is RankBrain?
Google Rank Brain

RankBrain is a machine-learning system used by Google to presume what is the best result a person may be looking for. This is generally used for new search queries Google is not familiar with.

Links are one of the most important factors for ranking well in Google's search engine. Google places a great deal of weight to links, because they can show a website has merit and trustworthiness through the democracy of inbound links.

Take The New York Times, they are leaders in their industry and most people consider them the apex news publication. If The Times links to a site in one of their articles, this shows Google and users alike that particular site must be legitimate and useful. This action in the digital marketing world is known as passing on "link juice". This is the basis for why links are so important for the success of your website. It is almost like the website is being peer-reviewed, and acquiring a link shows that it has passed the requirement of being useful to viewers.

Google will generally reward any links that are acquired organically, or on their own. Some domains may hold more weight than others, due to their exclusivity and trustworthiness. Domains like .edu and .gov are examples that may hold more value than the typical .com or .net. However, a website with an .edu does not necessarily carry more weight, .edu websites of universities and colleges just typically have a lot of authority.

Google will frown upon certain practices to acquire links and may subsequently cause penalties and drop in rankings. These practices are known as "black hat" and include:

Paid Links

Comment section link spam

Private blog networks (PBN)

Guest blog

Paid links are acquired by opening your wallet. You did not deserve or earn this link for your merits, rather you spent money to have it artificially placed for you.

Some websites, after their article, will open up the comment sections for readers to remark on the topic. Instead of writing a comment, however, people would instead input their website URL a comment, thus gaining the link juice from that page. Google has since remedied this situation by implementing the "no-follow" tag, which will tell the search engine to disregard this link, and no link juice will be acquired. You will still get the visibility, but the link itself will hold no weight in determining ranking.

Lawyer blogging on laptop

Private blog networks (PBN) are probably the most sinister of the black-hat link strategy. Black-hat marketers will create a host of blog websites with the sole intention of hyperlinking their websites with their desired keywords. Often the content on these blogs is incoherent, and obviously not written for human consumption. Black-hat marketers will sprinkle keywords they want to see rank well sporadically throughout the post. Google dislikes this strategy and if caught, will give you a manual action penalty. Often it is hard to come back from a PBN penalty.

Guest blogging used to be okay, but has been deemed spam by Google. You pay an authoritative website to post your blog content on their website, including a hyperlink to your respective website.

Low-Hanging Fruit
Low hanging fruit - easy links

The "low-hanging fruit" strategy is something every marketer can, and should do. It entails finding easy opportunities to acquire links and increase visibility for your website.

Two low-hanging fruit link opportunities you should take advantage of are directories and social media.

There are many different types of directories on the internet. General or industry-specific like legal, regional and local directories are the sort you should include when link-building. If your law firm only operates within a certain state or county, try finding directories that help people find businesses for that particular place. State and local associations often have directories you can be a part of, assuming you reside or operate within area.

visitor on law firm's website
5 Star Lawyer Review

Having a social media presence is really important in the success of your law firm. Word-of-mouth and reviews can flow through your channels, giving you publicity. As a law firm, there are four social media companies that you should be using: Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. The great thing about social media is that in your profile you can include a link of your website. Most social media companies have a no-follow tag from links, but you can still get visibility that will benefit the overall health of your firm.

Links Worth Earning
People forming a link

As mentioned earlier about low-hanging fruit link opportunities, there are other ways of acquiring links that require an experienced law firm SEO team.

Unsolicited links by offering valuable content.

Quoted links by being an expert source for the press.

Editorial links often earned by offering valuable content.

Award links for legal accolades or the design of your site.

Unsolicited links are acquired purely on the value of your content. For example, you have a topic where you undoubtedly have the best material, and because of that, other sites link to your content for reference or extra information. Authoritative sites will often accrue unsolicited links. To get these links, you must put in the effort to publish the best possible content.

Quoted links are when a news publication asks you for your opinion regarding the topic at hand. While your firm may not always be hyperlinked, link-less mentions can also play a role in giving your firm a ranking boost. In order to be quoted often, you must show that you are an expert and have a law firm marketing company is constantly in touch with the press to learn about opportunities.

Editorial links where you provide content for a writer's point can be mutually beneficial. Also, they can pave the way for future collaboration. Journalists often need experts to talk to when digging into legal matters or reporting on high profile cases. Maintaining a positive dialog with the press is mutually beneficial.

Links from award websites can also be helpful. These awards can yield links from websites like Super Lawyers, US News, and Million Dollar Advocates.

Onsite Links

Most of the links mentioned in the previous section have been related to getting others to link your content or linking through other sites. Onsite linking is also important for establishing credibility. Its also very helpful to your visitors.

Search engine field

There are two kinds of links you can implement on your website:

Internal linking is when you link your own content to another part of your website. You must be aware to not over-link; internal linking can make that respective page look like spam. However, you should look for opportunities to link to blog posts, articles, or other practice area pages that may be of interest to a person on any given page.

External linking is where you link your content to someone else's page. You would do this when you need to help your reader expand on the idea you have or show that your content is well researched.

5. Client Reviews

In nearly every study, consumers say they depend on reviews to make purchasing decisions. In Custom Legal Marketing's Focus Groups, on a scale of 0 to 5, participants on average rate the importance of reviews as 4.5. In short, client reviews matter.

However, not all reviews are created equal. They can be used as a conversion tool and for local search engine optimization. Here are the types of client reviews your law firm should be collecting and what to do with them.

Google Reviews
Google Social Icon

It is critical that you maintain a steady stream of new client reviews on your Google My Business profile. Not only is it important as a ranking factor, having a 5 star rating makes it more likely that searchers will click on your listing when your law firm appears high in the map.

How to get Google Reviews:

Our review generation system makes it easy for your firm to collect client reviews and keep your review count growing.

You simply input your clients' information and then our system sends a review request via email or text.

Reminders are sent out over time and they stop automatically when a user reviews your firm.

Using a rating filter, we are able to take potential negative feedback and route it back to your office while people that are likely to give you a 5 star rating are routed to Google to write a review.

Yelp Reviews
Yelp

While not a direct ranking factor, reviews on Yelp are important as the website has high consumer trust. However, there are some common challenges when getting Yelp reviews.

Yelp's filtering system often filters reviews of new Yelp users. To ensure the best results, you should ask for Yelp reviews in your law firm's office.

Request a Yelp sticker to display in your office.

Encourage clients to review your firm on the Yelp app while standing in your office. This helps Yelp verify the reviewer is an actual client.

We encourage our law firm SEO clients to also prioritize getting Yelp reviews only after there is a significant number of Google reviews. For people that are referred to your law firm and search for you by name, they will often be presented with search results including your Yelp profile, Facebook profile and other directories along with your law firm's website.

Every website that lists your firm often lists a rating which is why it is important to generate reviews on multiple websites.

Facebook Reviews
Facebook

It is likely that a prospective client that has been referred to you will land on your Facebook page. To reinforce your good reputation, you should have a healthy number of five star reviews on you law firm's Facebook page.

To get clients to write positive feedback on your Facebook page, Custom Legal Marketing can connect the same system used to get Google Reviews to Facebook.

How to get Facebook Reviews:

Plug your client's information into the Custom Legal Marketing review generation system.

Our system will filter out potentially negative reviewers and direct their feedback to your office.

Clients will see Facebook as an option along with Google and legal directories, to encourage them to publicly review your firm.

Our system sends review reminders via email and text messages.

Better Business Bureau

If you think the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has lost ground to social media, you are in for a surprise. According to our focus groups for projects in every area of practice, the BBB is one of the most highly trusted consumer ratings platform. When asked to weigh the importance of the BBB rating, many in our focus group give it a 5 out of 5.

Better Business Bureau

Why is the BBB so highly trusted?

The Better Business Bureau has been around for over 100 years. With over a century of name recognition, they have built their reputation on delivering unbiased reviews and mediating conflicts between consumers and businesses. Because of their high standards, reviews on BBB profiles cannot be easily manipulated or forged. If a business has an A+ rating, they probably earned it.

In most areas of law, you can expect to pay a membership fee of $250-$500 per year. Since consumers want to see the A+ rating when deciding whether or not trust your firm, it is well worth the investment to get the BBB A+ badge to display on your site.

Avvo Logo

Avvo Ratings

Websites like Avvo also carry a lot of authority with people searching for a lawyer. Unlike Google, Yelp and Facebook, Avvo also displays ratings from your peers and has an algorithm that automatically assess a score if you do not have a rating. This score can relate to records with your state's Bar Association and other factors.

Because of the high value of client reviews on other websites like Google, Yelp and Facebook, you should encourage your colleagues and associates to review you on Avvo while directing your clients to other sources. Unlike other websites listed above, Avvo rates individual lawyers and not entire law firms. This means that every attorney in your firm should pay close attention to their individual rating.

Reviews on Your Websites

Posting reviews directly on your website could lead to higher click-through rates from your organic search listing. If your reviews are properly formatted with Schema markups, the ratings given by your clients can also be displayed in Google.

Personal injury lawyer shows client reviews on website

Above, example of a client testimonial slider.

6. Video Content and Other Media

Your Action Plan for Videos

You can use different types of videos for different campaigns. Before you write a script or film a video, your legal marketing company should have a plan for getting viewers to the video.

Here are the best video styles for law firms:

Explainer Videos

A brief explainer video depicting on of your attorneys talking about one of your practice areas can help visitors get to know your firm. These videos should be brief (under 2 minutes) and get straight to the point.

Above, an attorney with Steinberg Law Firm answers the question "Can I Be Compensated for Pain and Suffering?".

How to use explainer videos:

Place the video on the practice area page that relates to the area of law you are explaining.

Post the video on YouTube, Vimeo and other video networks, and link back to the pages on your website that relate to the topic.

Use explainer videos on your PPC landing pages.

Client Testimonials

Getting clients to site in front of a camera can be challenging but once you have a willing candidate, you should definitely create a testimonial video.

Above, video of a client testimonial for the firm, MyPhillyLawyer. Video Production by Ivy Creative.

How to use testimonial videos:

Place on your home page, contact page on results page on your website.

Post on YouTube, Vimeo and other video networks linking back to your homepage.

Place on your PPC landing page.

Firm Story Videos

A story video is a promotional film that gives your firm meaning. Why are you helping your clients? Why did you choose this area of law over something else? What gets you in the office each day ready to fight for your clients? A firm story video can share your passion with your visitors and turn them into clients.

Above, video of the Hale Law Firm's story.

How to use a firm story video:

Place the video on your homepage, about page or attorney page.

Post on YouTube, Vimeo and other video networks linking back to your homepage.

Share on social media.

Embed video on press press releases and email newsletter.

Text Only Videos

Over 85 percent of Facebook videos are played with the sound off. That means, Facebook users are watching but not listening. To get the most out of your Facebook video campaign, create a text only video.

Above, video about Chicago's dog bite problem.

How to use a text only video:

Share on Facebook and boost the post under a paid promotion.

Share on Twitter, LinkedIn and other social platforms.

Post on YouTube, Vimeo and other video networks linking back to a page on your site that relates to the topic.

7. Podcasting

Podcasting comes with a lot of SEO benefits for your law firm. But podcasting is also a powerful branding tool that can give your firm a lot of additional exposure that you would otherwise not receive from search alone.

Types of Podcasts

There are several ways to structure your podcast episodes.

Blog Based Podcasts

Above, example of a blog based podcast discussing a death caused by a car accident.

With this format, a voice talent reads one of your blogs, articles or news releases to create a 2 to 5 minute episode. Some changes are made to the original content to make it sound more conversational and appropriate for voice. Blog based episodes are easiest for most firms because Custom Legal Marketing can handle the entire production without participation from your firm.

Conversational Episodes

Above, example of a conversational podcast discussing "Trumps Travel Ban and the Courts".

With a conversational episode, a lawyer from your firm engages in a dialog with a host. This can be based on a pre-recorded segment or we can create an episode based on a pre-determined list of questions. These episodes are typically longer (10-15 minutes) and will require a time commitment from an attorney or representative with your firm.

Radio Show Episodes

Above, example of a radio show episode podcast with a local Councilman.

Some lawyers are already participating in spots in local media. In this case, we can take the episode, develop a podcast feed and use these episodes for the firm's podcast.

Creating a Podcast

If you are developing your podcast in-house, you will need the following equipment:

Professional microphone.

Podcasting software such as Garage Band or Audacity.

A podcast feed setup on your website.

To get approved in the most podcasting networks, you should invest in a professional introduction.

Above, example of a podcast intro for Strong Advocates law firm.

You should also have a professionally designed cover which will be used as the cover art displayed on podcast listings and devices while your podcast is being played.

Employee rights album cover

Above, example of a cover art for Employee Rights, a podcast series by Strong Advocates.

The recording of a podcast can take between 1 and 3 hours depending on the length and number of takes required to get it perfect. Editing of the podcast can take another 1-5 hours. Conversational podcasts typically take longer especially when the interviewer and representative form your firm are in different locations.

Once the podcast episode is complete, it gets posted to your website in your podcast feed.

Where Do Podcast Go?

Once the feed is established and you have podcast episodes, Custom Legal Marketing can get your feed listed in iTunes, Google Play and other podcasting networks. As each episode is shared and promoted, we are able to build more links and citations back to your website.

Podcasting is both a promotional tool and link building tool that is part of your law firm SEO plan that works.

8. Ebooks

Ebooks are still a valuable marketing tool that can help you build your email list and drive more links back to your law firm's website. In fact, once you have an ebook, there are multiple ways to get it in the hands of your prospective clients. 

Promote it on Your Website

When visitors read your blog or articles, your can prompt them to download your ebook by collecting their name and email. By using a non-intrusive slide, you can grab their attention but not disrupt their browsing experience. We typically see higher bounce rates and exit rates when websites stop the user's ability to read and place a large pop-up in the middle of the screen. Custom Legal Marketing can help you choose the best placement for your ebook/newsletter prompt.

Steingberg Law Firm ebook pop-up promotion.

Above, example of a pop-up promotion for an eBook.

Social Campaign

By using in-ad subscriptions, you can promote your ebook on Facebook and allow users to subscribe to your email list and download your ebook without ever leaving Facebook. This typically yields higher conversion rates than forcing users to go and the ad to your website to subscribe.

Distributing Ebooks

Aside from using your ebooks as a list building tool, you can also use them as a link building tool. By distributing ebooks to websites like Issuu, Slideshare and other networks, you can link back to your website and include your local citation in the description of the document.

Ebooks Examples
9. Social Marketing for Law Firms
Vector illustration of a bullhorn representing social media marketing.

Where to Post?

Your social activity is more about brand building and name recognition than law firm SEO. Thus far, we have found not correlation between social activity and search engine rankings.

But that does not mean that social media cannot play a powerful role in your SEO and online marketing strategy. In fact, Facebook and other outlets can generate traffic and soft conversations through email signups, seminar announcements, ebooks and more.

Depending on your practice area, you will get different responses from the different social channels. Often, the best responses will come from Facebook. However, business oriented law firms like intellectual property, employer rights, contract law and real estate law firms should put a strong emphasis on LinkedIn. Twitter and Google+ activity can be automated with your website content but we do not typically recommend investing a lot of resources to build your presence in those communities. YouTube is definitely a valuable network as we discussed in the prior video and media section.

Thus far our tests with Instagram and Pinterest have yielded little results for law firms but we predict that Instagram will become a valuable network in the future.

Vector illustration hands using a phone to connect to people through social media.

What to Post?

The types of content you post on social media depends on the network. Some networks are better for certain types of content that other networks. Here are our recommendations based on each network.

Facebook
Post for Free

Share content from your law firm's blog.

Share press releases about your firm.

Share information on local events that you are sponsoring or that are related to your area(s) of practice.

Share announcements about awards and accolades.

Share news articles that are citing your attorneys and referencing your firm.

Reviews

Encourage happy clients to give you a review on your Facebook page.

Paid Promotions

Promote videos about your firm to your target audience. Remember, your videos should have large text and not rely on sound. Over 75 percent of Facebook videos are viewed without audio.

Use in-ad sign-ups to build your email list by promoting your ebook.

Spend $10 to $20 to "boost" posts that cover relevant topics or put your firm in a positive light (e.g., your law firm donates money or goods to an organization).

Remarketing - show your ad on Facebook to users that have visited your website.

Promote your page to gain more followers.

Twitter
Post for Free

Share content from your law firm's blog.

Share press releases about your firm.

Share information on local events that you are sponsoring or that are related to your area(s) of practice.

Share announcements about awards and accolades.

Share news articles that are citing your attorney and referencing your firm.

Paid Promotions

Promote your Profile to gain more followers.

Google+
Post for Free

Share content from your law firm's blog.

Share press releases about your firm.

Share information on local events that you are sponsoring or that are related to your area(s) of practice.

Share announcements about awards and accolades.

Share news articles that are citing your attorney and referencing your firm.

LinkedIn
Post for Free

Share content from your law firm's blog.

Share press releases about your firm.

Share information on local events that you are sponsoring or that are related to your area(s) of practice.

Share announcements about awards and accolades.

Share news articles that are citing your attorney and referencing your firm.

Encourage each attorney to share their own success stories (accolades, case results, etc.) on their profiles and make sure they link to your LinkedIn Company Page.

Long Form Post

Publish long detailed articles on LinkedIn. This especially valuable to attorneys. Whereas most social media is focused on brevity, LinkedIn allows full length articles to be posted and shared.

Paid Promotions

Promote your LinkedIn articles to the audience most likely to become clients.

Run ads that target your clientele. LinkedIn ads should not be used for consumer based law firms such as personal bankruptcy, family law, personal injury and criminal defense but can be effective for intellectual property, business law and real estate law.

YouTube
Post for Free

Video content developed by your firm.

Informational videos, client testimonials and firm story videos.

Paid Promotions

Promote your commercials to users with targeted interests in your region.

Use YouTube pre-roll videos as part of your re-marketing efforts to show your firm's commercial to past website visitors.

Medium
Post for Free

Write detailed articles on Medium and then share these articles on your other social profiles.

Social activity is valuable for brand awareness and spreading positive news about your firm. You can successfully use it to generate soft conversions like email signups and promote your events.

10. Pay-Per-Click (PPC): Your Partner in SEO

Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing can go a long way in producing leads for your law firm. Google AdWords is an advertising service that displays your ads on Google Search, their display network, YouTube and Apps. To compliment your law firm SEO strategy, we primarily recommend Google Search ads. Google may reserve up to the first four spots on the Google search results page (SERP) for these ads, giving you prime real-estate that results in ample opportunities to connect with potential clients.

Notepad with words PPC pay per click concept and marker.

Once your campaign is created the real challenge is getting it to perform and generate leads. With a well-refined campaign resulting in a high Quality Score, your ads can achieve better position on the SERP while also paying less per click. This is why having a certified Google Partner overseeing your campaigns is fundamental to the cost-saving and success of AdWords.

The three main responsibilities of the Google Partner Certified PPC team at Custom Legal Marketing is to curtail the bidding strategy to best fit your goals, campaign management and conversion optimization.

Bidding Strategies

There are three main bidding strategies you can adopt depending on your objective. If your goal is to drive traffic to your website, then optimizing for clicks is the approach you should take. If brand awareness is what you are looking for, then focussing on impressions will give you the results you want. If you want the user to perform an action on your site, such as contacting your law firm, then conversions is what your Google Partner should be striving for. For law firms, conversions are what you want. You want your prospective client to either call your firm directly or from the ad, use your contact form or start a live chat.

The first four positions on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) are objectively the most optimal positions to have when using AdWords. Almost no one goes past the first page, and having your ad on one of the bottom three positions does not bode well for you, because the searcher will have had already seen other ads or organic listings from your competitors long before they reach your ad.

Bar graph of top five legal keyword terms.

Above, infographic of the top five most expensive "legal terms" for Google Adwords in the U.S. (Source: Search Engine Watch

Bar graph of top five finance keyword terms.

Above, infographic of the top five most expensive "finance terms" for Google Adwords in the U.S. (Source: Search Engine Watch

Gray circle asking questions about ad positions.
Blue circle with the phrase "Not necessarily".

Having the first position means your ad is the first thing people see when they search, superseding all organic and paid listings. However, having the first ad position may not always be the best strategy.

It is an instinctive mentality to be first, to be the best. This attitude means almost everybody will be bidding for the first page, first position listing. AdWords uses an auction-type system in determining who gets what position for their respective ads, coupled with your ad Quality Score. As you can surmise, this means the first position can be extremely expensive, especially for highly searched keywords such as "personal injury attorney" or "car accident lawyer".

Based on AdWords' own statistics, the suggested bid for "personal injury attorney" across all locations is $126.79 for a single click. If you have a daily budget of $200, and two people click on your ad at that price, your ads will stop running because you have exceeded your daily budget. Now compound that with the legitimate chance those two people do not covert on your ads; ultimately, you lose an entire day of potential clients seeing your ads because you went for the highly priced, top ad position.

Also, the first website often gets a lot of traffic but people generally feel the need to "shop around". Which means even if the most paid-clicks go to your firm, you are probably not going to be the last stop on their search for a lawyer. In some markets, being No.2 is the best way to get high conversion rates with low conversion costs.

Campaign Management

Google AdWords is constantly evolving. It is not a service where you can create a campaign and check in every month or even every week. You need proactive management almost daily.

You PPC management teams need to periodically adjust your bids to check if the estimated first-page bid has increased. But that is just the beginning.

After a campaign runs for a while, you should have enough historical data to determine which keywords have been performing well for you and which keywords are just costing money. For example, if you see a keyword that garners a lot of clicks but does not convert enough or at all to justify it being active, our team would disable that keyword. This gives your other, well-performing keywords more opportunities to flourish.

Using Negative Keywords Has Positive Results

Another important proactive management task you should perform often is an audit of your campaign's search terms.

Search terms often show the actual search query people performing when they see or click your ad. With this, you can filter out the terms you do not want your ads to be eligible to appear on. If you see a search query that does not apply to you law firm, such as "pro bono lawyer" or "estate planning without a lawyer" you can take a phrase like "pro bono" or "without a lawyer" and input it into the "Negative keywords" tab. This will prohibit anyone searching for those particular queries to see your ad, thus reducing your spending and only showing ads to relevant, potential clients.

Conversion Optimization

Campaign optimization is about getting clicks. Conversion optimization is about getting leads.

At Custom Legal Marketing, we are always running tests to improve conversions. Even when a campaign is enjoying between 40 and 50 percent conversion rates, we still look for opportunities to improve.

With Custom Legal Marketing's A/B testing program, we can brainstorm on what we may think can increase conversions, input those changes on the landing page and test the results with real people searching. The two different landing pages will be shown equally, thus accumulating real-time data on what works. After a few weeks of testing, we analyze and conclude whether that experiment actually yielded better results and if so, implement it across all campaigns.

We use dynamic conversion optimization software to allow us to quickly deploy and measure tests.

Always Be Testing

Ad language

Keywords

Keyword placement

Landing pages

Calls to actions

blue checkPlacement of conversion rich elements like testimonials, third party ratings and case results

What You Should Track

Phone calls

Contact forms

Live chat

11. Tracking the Success of Your Law Firm SEO Plan

Your law firm is investing a lot of time and money into your SEO plan. Therefore, it is important that you monitor the progress of your campaign. While some companies give monthly reports, Custom Legal Marketing gives lawyers 24/7 access to the CLM Lounge. This is better than a report, it is an interactive hotbed of data.

Tracking Your Law Firm's Search Engine Rankings

SEO Rank Chart

Above, example of a line graph for a firm's search engine ranking.

With the CLM Lounge, you are able to see which keywords are up, which keywords are done and how your overall growth is trending. Your SEO reports include:

Daily ranking changes

Google Rankings (standard)

Google Local Rankings

Google Mobile Rankings

Since organic results on desktop sometimes vary from mobile, we track these results individually. Remember, Google's Mobile First Indexing starts in 2018.

Tracking Your Backlinks

Backlink Chart

Above, example of various graphs for tracking a firm's backlinks.

The CLM Lounge lets you monitor link growth, link drop off, trust flow, citation flow and lets you dissect your law firm's link portfolio.

No Need for Multiple Logins

The CLM Lounge brings all of your law firm's SEO and PPC data under one roof. The dashboard is designed to easily navigate. Our lounge integrates with:

Google Analytics

Google AdWords

Google Search Console

Google My Business

Facebook Ads

Facebook Pages

Twitter

YouTube

LinkedIn

Instagram

Google+

Callrail Call Tracking

Bing Ads

Bing Webmaster Tool

Mail Chimp, Constant Contact and other mail providers

Plus More

With the CLM Lounge, you can login at any time and know that your campaign is headed in the right direction.

Questions About Law Firm SEO
What Our Clients Are Saying

CLM is the Real Deal

Jason at CLM is the real deal when it comes to SEO. I don’t think that you could make a better choice.

Paul Greenberg Briskman Briskman & Greenberg

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