But how does SEO work, and how can you get the best results without investing a huge amount of precious time?
Read on for our top 20 tips on boosting SEO for law firms.
Start with the basics
1. Step one is picking good keywords – words and phrases people might use when they’re searching for a firm like yours. For example, if you offer conveyancing services you could think about terms around that topic – such as “house move”, “home buying” or “exchange contracts”.
2. Use a tool like Wordtracker to work out how popular those terms are and how much competition there is. Popular terms with low competition will give you the best return.
3. Link-building is really important for boosting your SEO. Links to your website from quality, trusted websites count towards your search engine rankings. To get more links, contribute to online forums (using a link in your signature), ask complementary sites to link to you, and do some good old-fashioned marketing to encourage people to write about (and link to) your firm.
4. Make sure your firm’s website structure is easy for search engines to understand. As a general rule, if it’s easy for a visitor to find their way around, with logical navigation, it’ll also be clear to the search engines.
5. The way the content on your site is organised should also be intuitive. Put all the key information (such as your key people and contact information) no more than a click or two from the home page – don’t bury it away in complex menus or downloadable pdfs.
6. Keep measuring how your SEO is doing – a web analytics tool like Google Analytics (which is free) can help you work out what’s working and what isn’t, so you can focus your efforts better.
What to avoid
7. Be careful with images and animations. While a site with slick graphics might look impressive, search engines find them difficult to understand. Make sure you put all your key information on the site in text, not embedded in images, and provide text alternatives in the site HTML for your pictures.
8. Make sure you avoid what’s known as “black hat” SEO – underhanded ways of trying to ‘trick’ search engines, such as using hidden pages or invisible text. They can get you blacklisted by the search engines and come across as unethical – not the type of reputation you want.
Avoid keyword stuffing – trying to cram in as many keywords and phrases as possible into the text, even when it makes it read badly. Try to keep the text sounding natural – a specialist web writer may be able to help.
10. Be careful about which other sites you link to – if they’re using dodgy SEO techniques, it could reflect badly on your firm.
11. When you’re trying to build links, don’t be spammy – make thoughtful and helpful contributions to forums that add value to the discussion.
12. Don’t expect instant results – SEO can take time to bed in properly. You can try other marketing methods to drive people to your website in the meantime, like paid search ads or promotions.
Ask the experts
13. Consider outsourcing your SEO to a reputable web marketing expert, especially if you don’t have the skills in-house. This might be the firm who built your website or a separate specialist.
14. Even if you do have someone in-house who takes care of your website and marketing, it’s still well worth using consultants to check your SEO at regular intervals, and make recommendations – search engine algorithms and best practice are updated all the time.
15. Beware of any SEO expert who promises super-fast results – they’re likely to be using less-than-ethical techniques. SEO takes time to work.
16. The same goes for “too-good-to-be-true” claims. Anyone promising they can get your website to the top of the search rankings straight away – especially for a popular search term like “law firm” or “divorce lawyers” – shouldn’t be trusted. A reputable firm will know it takes work and time to climb the rankings slowly.
17. It’s tempting to see SEO as a technical issue, to be put aside when fee-earning demands your time, but it should really be at the heart of your firm’s marketing efforts – after all, your competitors will be using it. Finding a bit of time to invest in SEO properly could mean a long-term boost to your business.
18. Google and other search engines like sites to be fresh and regularly updated. Add new content as often as you can – that could be blog entries, company, market or local news, new case studies, testimonials, photos, videos, podcasts, and so on. The only limit is your imagination!
19. Get social – search engines these days also look at social media when they rank your site. Include links to your new content in Twitter messages and Facebook posts – when they’re retweeted or shared, your SEO will get a boost.
20. Finally, never forget that the customer is king. If you build your website around the types of content that visitors and potential clients would find interesting and useful then you’re already halfway there.