The SEO for law firm in 2023:
Attorney SEO in 2023 is a highly competitive landscape. When we were approached by our first client (a Personal Injury Attorney) back in 2020, we realized that the industry used to be a lot easier, and less saturated. Fast forward to 2023, a quick Google for “Lawyers in Florida” essentially leads users to aggregation sites such as Avvo, which are huge authority sites that are nearly impossible to beat for general keywords. Hence, lawyers in the attorney SEO industry should tread carefully when an SEO strategy is proposed since these huge aggregation sites are difficult to dislodge from their Top Rankings in the Search Engines.
Today, we will be talking about an Attorney SEO Case Study, revolving around our client, a Personal Injury Attorney. From our work, we draw 5 conclusions that would help attorneys out there decide on the best SEO campaign.
There are hence two ways around this difficult situation. The first of which would be based around the attorney’s particular service, and the other being directly getting onto these aggregation websites, and then optimizing the listing there. For our client, we have focused on Local SEO as the primary strategy and then moved on to other special optimization techniques for their listings, not just in Avvo, but throughout Google as well.
Fast forward to 2023, and this law firm is still with us today. With more than 10 Google Algorithm updates trying to kick us in the teeth, we realized that the basics of Offpage (which we applied for our law firm client) were more or less the same, we realized that the focus has shifted from mentions, into Content Legitimacy (what we call E-E-A-T). Hence, we thought that this article was in a real bad need of an update – search engines update themselves, so why not us as well?
Search Engine Optimization for Attorneys: 6 Things to look out for
The principles of search engine optimization have not really changed, but what was important within these ranking factors did. In law firm SEO strategy, the search engine results pages seem to show websites that were
- Seemed local (have a Google business profile)
- The law firm’s website had an enormous amount of pages
- Had references in their articles
This can be both good and bad for the law firm’s website. Search engine rankings are generally determined by the likelihood of the website is as useful, if not more useful, than the other law firm websites that exist in the organic search results.
We’ve written 6 tips for Law Firm SEO strategy in 2023:
1. Keyword Research was not properly done-
We hear many that tell you that the low Keyword Difficulty (KD) for general law terms makes it an easy target. In the analysis of KD, the number (generally, the lower, the less difficult to rank), does not give enough information. While it is good as a general indicator, the selection of keywords must also hinge on the competitors for that keyword, and how difficult it is to take over the rankings from them.
For example, while “Lawyers in Florida” has a relatively low KD, the top pages are again aggregation sites that are difficult to outrank, due to their sheer site size, and several mentions from other pages. Hence, attorneys keen on SEO must pick their battles properly by choosing specific keywords that narrow down the scope of target audiences before thinking about these high-volume keywords. It would be much easier for a firm to rank for “Personal Injury Lawyer in Florida” vs “Lawyers in Florida”, simply because there would be less competition in a niche. It is shortsighted to only pick keywords based on KD. Again, the website’s search engine rankings are mostly due to the keywords that the law firm picks.
What we did: When we looked at our client’s competitor profiles, we ran through each keyword and then checked one by one, the backlink profiles of the top competitors for the selected keywords. Only when we had enough details on the top 5 competitors, did we decide on the final keywords to target? While it is good to pick low-difficulty keywords, resulting in an easier and higher ROI for the law firm website, law firms are encouraged to pick a mix of difficulty of keywords for long and short-term SEO success.
Low KD keyword research dangers:
Not all low KD keywords should be targeted. Some of them do not even have conversion intent. I.e. even if a law firm ranked for these keywords, there would essentially be 0 ROI. “What do personal injury lawyers do” is a low-difficulty keyword, but if I’m looking for a personal injury lawyer, would I google what they do?
Hence, some interesting keywords for attorney search engine optimization could be
✅ Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
✅ Personal injury lawyer near me
✅ Recommended Personal Injury lawyers
2. Law Firm's website troubles: Site Structure was not set up correctly-
If the term “Internal Linking” rings a bell, then the explanation here would be easily understood. After the keywords have been decided, the site must establish its topics in each section of the site. Each section of the site should be targeted at different groups of keywords.
For example, if we are looking at a law firm named lawfirm.com and they wanted to rank for personal injury attorney and Driving Under the Influence cases, then they should place these contents under separate folders
The purpose of each page on the site must be made clear, both to users and to the search engines. It would not make sense to put personal injury and DUI services under one page as Google cannot differentiate the purpose of that page. Hence, a good site structure involves the division of the subpages into different topics, and a further division if there are different subtopics. This helps your organic search results because Google search prefers websites that demarcate intents and topics clearly.
What we did: Our client firm did not have separate locations for his offices, and also had his services and attorney lineups together on one page. We did not like that. As our client firm did not only have his location in Florida but also in Los Angeles, we split up the home page by location to get a structure like
In 2022, he actually expanded into New York as well, and in order for him to show in the local search results, we’ve added yet another location page to the law firm’s site.
Also, we split up their attorneys and the services into separate pages, and then further split services pages into each particular service. As an example, the search engines would really prefer this
Hence, our client had pages that had their topics separated which is a good practice for Search Engine Optimization. SEO for law firms has not really changed since 2020, has it?
3. Site Functionality and Smoothness-
Anything that takes more than 10 seconds to load is a definite SEO blunder, and the idea is usually about 7 seconds since Attorney websites usually do not require much more functionality than providing the medium for direct access to clients.
What we did: In our case, the website was built on WordPress and only functioned as an informational page, with a direct email contact form straight to the client. However, the site loaded in 14.4 s, which was terrible for a static website. Upon further checking, we found that the site had plenty of unused plugins installed, and we had to use site speed optimization to find these extraneous plugins and remove them. Then, we realized that there were images that were above 2MB, so we simply compressed each oversized image and re-uploaded them.
Web Page Speed Results:
This brought the site’s loading time from 14.4s down to 6.2s. Pretty sweet for an initial kickoff. Technical SEO like this is a small win, but it does help convert prospective clients not exit the site. Website traffic is rather helpful, but we would also rather set up the web pages for success. People seeking legal advice will return to the Google Search results if they realize a site doesn’t load within 10 seconds, with a 50% probability.
4. Local SEO Optimization-
Local SEO management is done for firms that would like to attract clients from their vicinity. Because most attorneys have a physical location, this is a very powerful tool to leverage for Google rankings.
Essences for Local SEO success:
One thing that most attorneys can win against big roundup sites is via their local presence. Law firms can focus on SEO to gain a spot in the coveted map pack, also known as “Position 0”. However, this can only be started when the previous points mentioned are completed properly and according to best practices. Locations, Local Citations, Maps – all these are details that must be present on the website to be competent in Google’s eyes. Besides, it would help if the attorney has favourable reviews on Google from previous clients.
As this may get technical, terms such as Schema and Local Citations may get confusing to some. Schema is a set of structured data placed in websites to tell Google details about the attorney – the industry the company belongs to and where it mainly serves. Local Citations are business directory submissions that list the attorney on the internet. It helps signal that the business is active and is currently serving within its stated business address. As long as the data can help pinpoint where the attorney concentrates services, it is helpful to have.
Legal directories are aplenty, and it becomes more effective to scrape the directories directly off Google’s search engine results.
This information takes quite some time to gather and hence is often missed out in local SEO campaigns. Local SEO properties need to be consistent throughout the internet to be effective, and utmost care should be exercised when dealing with citations.
What we did: We first set up Google My Business, a high authority business listing, for each of our client’s locations in Florida, Los Angeles and New York in 2023. We then applied a Local Schema to the website, explaining that this is a law firm operating in the above business locations. Then, we went on to condense the list of legitimate business registries and then listed the attorney on them. This makes for a strong lawyer SEO strategy. An SEO company should always ensure that their clients appear on Google Maps, as it appears even higher in the organic search results. Local clients usually look for legal services in their area and convert more easily, making it easy for a law firm to increase their ROI from their web pages.
Scraping Legal Directories:
One of our law firm SEO marketing initiatives is to check the search engine for directories, and also check directory listings from our competitors. We can simply see where our competitors are listed using a simple search trick
- “lawfirms.com” -> directly enclosing a competitor site in a quote shows us where the naked URL exists
We then used this information as a link-building exercise. No real difference in the strategy for SEO for lawyers here.
This then scrapes the whole Google search results for web pages that hold the competitor’s website as a listing.
Google business profile activity:
In 2023, it is also important to keep the Google Business Profile (previously known as Google My Business) active. Potential clients now see the firm’s Google Business Profile before going to the web page itself. So, we either gathered positive reviews with help from the client, or we repurposed existing blog content in the client’s blog and used it as a Google My Business post, with links to the practice area pages.
5. Aggregator and Local Listing optimization-
Aggregator sites are not usually enemies. While they may stand in most attorneys’ way of ranking for typical terms, each of these aggregator sites has its ranking algorithm within the site itself. Hence, think of it as another Google, just within the legal community. Hence, lots of attorneys make the mistake of turning their backs on aggregator websites, not knowing that firstly, it makes for a great local business listing, and secondly, ranking tops for the number 1 website in the country for legal experts may not be a bad SEO marketing strategy.
However, it is the same process again to battle with other legal experts for the top rankings on the aggregator sites. As explained earlier, the listed keywords are optimized for the listings to establish relevancy. While the algorithm could change from site to site, the basics are always the most important to keep in mind. Even when away from Google, the techniques for doing effective legal SEO is never different.
What we did: We first did some research on Avvo itself on the top personal injury listings. We analyzed the links going onto their pages, and also the keyword density of the write-ups/reviews placed on the site. We then based our strategy on the research results and mimicked what we thought was the most suitable density for maximum ranking. Hence, it certainly felt like working on legal SEO twice; once on the Google property and another on the Avvo property.
Link building Exercises:
All law firm websites should aim to get themselves listed on aggregators. It helps search engine rankings as it adds a backlink to their website, and can be considered as part of link-building practices. Google’s organic search results usually feature websites that have put in significant SEO efforts in their backlinking.
6. Search Engines and what they look for in High-quality content-
Is anyone going to start rolling their eyes at me now?
High-quality content is one of the prerequisites for SEO success, but I would be lying if quality is the only SEO ranking factor. This is the portion of SEO for law firms that keep changing, and we’ve always found ourselves having to keep up in our SEO efforts.
What Google construes as quality content has changed over the 3 years we’ve been working for this client. Old marketing strategy dictates that as long as there are keywords put inside a blog article, that is enough. Sadly, we don’t live in the 1980s anymore.
What we did: In law firm SEO, content is king, but it is also what you do with the content that is important. For example, in the search engine results pages, how many of the top 10 content is doing what you do? Conversely, what is lacking between you and the top 10?
It’s not an issue of title tags, meta descriptions and technical SEO for law firms anymore. It becomes a battle of who knows what Google is looking for, and how to stick to those requirements. There have been patterns that we’ve found.
We noted that there have always been external links to government sources in high-ranking blogs. Sure enough, this is one of the updates that Google conducted to their algorithm for a website’s search engine rankings.
Hence, once this update hit, the first thing we did was add reputable citations to our client blogs. We saw a minimal uptick in local search results, but there was a small improvement in the primary keyword.
Our Lawyer's SEO Performance Review-
Look at that Jump!
Our clients’ performance has seen a gradual uptick at about the 6-9 month mark, due to the nature of the personal injury law industry. However, this should also apply to all other services in the legal industry, as the techniques of applying topical relevancy to sections of the website, consistency in local citations, etc. are common throughout all SEO campaigns for attorneys. We track the performances via Ahrefs, and we also have trackers in Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
If you are looking for someone to talk about how best to help your legal practice gain more visibility in the online space, feel free to schedule a short 30-minute meeting with us here.
We at 97 Marketing, the leading SEO company in India, understand how valuable your time is – so tap on our knowledge in that short 15-minute window and come out feeling more confident in your SEO campaign. This has been our short case study for our law firm SEO services.