What is Legal SEO and why should attorneys care about it?
In today’s competitive legal market, firms need to seize every possible advantage to get ahead.
Most likely, that starts online. If your firm has a website, one of the most important things you can do is to optimize your content for search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing in order to attract the right prospects. But search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex undertaking. And if you want to get good at it, you need to understand it first.
A Brief Definition of SEO
Here’s how MOZ, an industry leader among SEO software development companies, defines search engine optimization:
The practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.
To start, we’ll focus in on two important words:
That combination lies at the very heart of why firms start SEO initiatives. The reason you launched your website was to let prospects know about the legal issues you handle and how you can help them. However, you want to attract the right audience.
For example, let’s say you are an estate planning attorney practicing in Los Angeles. It wouldn’t do you any good if the volume of traffic to your website was through the roof, but the people landing on it were looking for an L.A. real estate attorney, not help with wills and trusts.
Developing and executing a sound SEO plan means attracting targeted traffic through strategic keywords, informative content, savvy linking tactics and other proven techniques. With SEO, your site has a better chance of rising to the top at the perfect time, for the appropriate audience.
The other part of the definition above that deserves additional discussion is “organic.” There are two types of search traffic that can come to your site:
Paid traffic typically involves bidding on a keyword and attaching your online ad to it. Depending on the popularity of a particular keyword and how much your competitors are willing to pay for its top spot, paid traffic can get expensive quickly. And, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee higher quality prospects.
Organic traffic refers to traffic that comes to your website via unpaid search results. It occurs when a prospective client clicks on a link that has not been paid for by the website’s owner. The organic search results appear below the paid spots and local business listings at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Organic traffic is certainly a more cost-effective way to get leads, but an effective SEO strategy is absolutely essential. If you don’t have a plan, your site will be left to compete based solely on the page content. While your firm’s website will likely be included in results for targeted searches associated with your practice areas and location, without any type of optimization, it will be buried so far down on the SERP that nobody will dig far enough to see it.
A Savvy Approach to Earning Organic Traffic
One way to overcome the fight for the most competitive keywords is to find niche terms that target the same type of prospect. For example, instead of optimizing a page for the extremely competitive term “DWI attorney,” optimize the page for “DWI first offense” instead. There is a lot less competition for the more niche term, and data indicates that people who perform niche searches are typically closer to hiring a lawyer. Not only that, by optimizing your pages for more specialty terms, you can position yourself as someone who handles more specialized types of cases.
If you’re not sure which terms to use, you can run a few small pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns to see which ones perform the best. This approach allows you to test the waters for certain terms before you commit your entire online marketing budget to a particular strategy. In addition, the traffic you drive to your site during these “experiments” can help to increase site quality and attract the right audience, which ultimately leads to stronger credibility with the search engines.
Whether you are just starting to consider launching your firm’s first website or you have a site that has been live for years, it is critical that you start thinking about a comprehensive SEO strategy.