Did you know that nearly 35% of prospective clients use Internet the when looking for a lawyer?
This means that if you don’t have a strong online presence, then your competitors are stealing your prospective customers every single day! In the competitive world of top law firms, the chart below is one your partners can’t afford to ignore.
What does it take to create a strong online presence?
Unfortunately, having a website is not enough. Optimizing your website for search engines (SEO) is vital to help your law firm to rank higher for key phrases and get noticed by prospects.
Unfortunately, because they rarely play a true conversion play, most law firms ignore basic SEO principles that allow search engine crawlers to find and rank their websites. In the process, they sacrifice a whole host of prospective business they probably can’t afford to ignore.
How do you get ahead in the SEO game? Here are five important tips to improve SEO for your law firm website:
1: Get rid of crawling errors to make your site accessible to search engines
Search engines are like superfast readers. They seek for most relevant pages of your website and then store a copy of those pages in a “search index.” These search indexes serve as a library for search engines, which then displays the result for a relevant search query.
Practically, you want to treat search engines like a normal visitor – who has minimum time to browse a website but is still looking to extract maximum information.
Make sure you are providing the right directions to the search-bots can make their life easier and help them to discover all pages you want indexed. Imagine yourself travelling in a new city or country without a map – you will be lost and may miss some important places which you would have visited if you had a map. Site-map is just like a map for search engines to locate all possible links and pages within the website. Make sure your latest sitemap is created and submitted to search engines and eliminate more crawling errors.
2: Get your architecture right
A user spends less than a minute on the average page. While on each page, they are generally scanning to see if this page has any information relevant to them. If not, they will simply hit the back button and leave without consuming any of the page’s carefully laid out content.
To combat this, we recommend placing your most important links on the home page via a top navigation menu. This menu provides a roadmap both your visitor and the SERPs by providing a strong indication of services you offer.
To really capture both searchers and web crawlers, be specific. Rather than just having “Services” tab in your top menu, clearly defines all your practice areas, and create a silo based architecture on your site.
For example, perhaps your firm wants to highlight both your criminal and personal injury practice areas. For an SEO-optimized navigation structure, create a silo based architecture where you clearly define each and every services in both your criminal and personal injury practices, using what’s called a physical category structure (explained here by Distilled).
Search engines prefer this silo structure, plus specifically enumerating your various practice areas means that your site will have more pages – and more pages means more traffic to the SEO world.
A silo for two different practice areas can look like something below:
Personal Injury Attorneys
Traumatic Brain Injury
3: Get your SEO basics sorted
Don’t forget to follow the basics. By implementing the best on-page SEO practices, you will make improve your overall website ranking on search engines.
Some common technical on-page factors to pay attention to include:
- Title Tags: Preview snippets of page in search engines with character limit of 60-65.
- Meta Description Tags: Short sentence visible in preview snippets in search engines with character limit of 160-165 characters.
- H tags: Header tags from H1 to H6. H1 being the most important one.
- Canonical Issues: Tags used to help search engine prioritize two or more pages which have same content.
- Internal linking: Linking relevant internal pages using anchor text.
Did you notice I didn’t include Meta keyword tag in this list? Several years back, most search engines discounted Meta keyword tags, so they’re really not worth updating.
4: Go responsive for a better user experience
Your website is often the first “touch” your customer will have with your company. In order to make a good first impression, you need to build a website which both looks fantastic and offers great user experience.
With more than 46 percent of the users going mobile, it’s vital to make sure you have included responsive design in your website planning to make sure your site renders perfectly on smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Site algorithms notice traffic patterns, and giving up nearly 50% of your audience because your site can’t be seen on a mobile device is bad for your firm’s long-term SEO.
5: Gain your visitor’s trust
Traditionally, a majority of your best business comes from word of mouth referrals to your law firm. However, your prospects won’t just take their referrer’s word for it.
The first thing users will look to check your firm’s credibility is your website. That’s good news, because you control that page much more than you will ever control what people say about your firm in a personal conversation.
On your website, gain your visitors’ trust using every element of your site design, including the look, feel, layout and content. Use good site design to make your visitor feel comfortable show them what actions to take next, for example filling out a form or downloading a piece of thought leadership material to show your firms’ specific expertise.
You may also want to deploy other online elements such as social media widgets, press coverage, social community, reviews and testimonials can help your visitor gain trust in your services, all of which will boost conversions.
How does this relate to SEO? Search engines like websites that have high time on page statistics and low bounce rates. When you improve your website elements and engage your audience, search engines consider this as a positive signal, as opposed what’s called pogo-sticking, when the audience jumps back and forth looking for information on your site.
Social listening tools can also often boost conversions. SERPs pay attention to social sharing, so good content that gets shared by your readers also serve to amplify your site’s SEO.
How about you?
What are doing to make your law firm website visible on search engines? Are you applying any of the techniques mentioned above or have some of your own tested ones?