SEO Strategy, SEO for Lawyers: 5 Practical Tips for Improving Your Legal WebsiteOctober 15, 2015Kate ProykovaReading time: Lawyers bid the highest in Google Adwords, with cost-per-click (CPC) going above $500 in some cases. That is because optimizing your Legal office website for appearing in free search results can mean a lot for your business, both in terms of cost-saving and new clients. Below we’ve listed 5 major features you need to make sure your website has, even if you’re not a lawyer or SEO expert#1: Mobile-FriendlyThe share of mobile internet usage is rapidly growing especially for “near me” (e.g. personal injury lawyer near me) and locally-targeted (e.g. immigration lawyer London) searches. You definitely don’t want to lose out on this traffic, which is why you need to make sure your site is mobile-friendly.Check if Your Site is Mobile Friendly: Use Google Mobile Friendly Test tool to see whether your legal website is optimized for best user experience on smartphones and tablets.See in Google Analytics > Audience > Mobile what portion of your traffic comes from non-desktop devices.Solution: Invest in a responsive (and UX) redesign if audience finds you through their mobile devices.#2: Site SpeedMake sure your site is fast. Users will often lose interest if a page takes more than a few seconds to appear. And since Google doesn’t want to frustrate their users, slow sites don’t show up high in the results.Check Site Speed: Use GTMetrix to see how quickly your website loads.Solution:If the Site Speed check is not satisfactory, choose a better hosting solution — e.g., upgrade your shared hosting account to a cloud solution or dedicated server.Lower the size of the files that load on your site. Do you have lots of huge image files? They are one of the most common reasons for slow site speed.#3: Google Map Results OptimizationWhen someone is looking for a lawyer, they usually indicate the location they need, e.g. “lawyer San Antonio,” or even more specifically, “motorcycle accident attorney near me.” For location specific searches, Google offers special map listings which point users directly to the nearest legal services on the map.Check the list below in order to improve your ranking in Google Map Results:#3.1. Choose which keywords to rank forYou should begin with a little bit of SEO (search engine optimization) and decide which keywords you want to rank for. Usually this is a combination of legal terminology and location, which go together to match how your customers find you online:“family solicitor Leeds” “law office Chicago downtown” “lawyer Los Angeles immigration”In order to choose the right long tail keyword, you need to do some research with the help of a keyword tool to discover keywords which (a) have a high search volume, (b) have a low competition rate and (c) match your area of service. You need all of these factors together and in the right balance to successfully rank for the search term. If you choose a keyword with a very high search volume, the competition might be too fierce; but if you choose a keyword with very low competition, it might not be searched-for frequently enough to bring you much traffic.We usually advise clients to go with the most localized keyword, since that’s where competition is lowest, chances to rank are highest, and users are most willing to convert, i.e. make an appointment right away.On-page SEO for location keywordsOnce you choose a local keyword which you want to rank for (say “family lawyer Missouri City”) you can begin to integrate it within your website content. That means adding it to your title tags and meta descriptions on major pages, and adding it to your address line in the contacts page and in your website footer. Since legal advice is a physically-grounded service, your location is a major reason why clients end up choosing your services over those of others: make sure your location is an obvious keyword on your legal site and try to rank as high for it as you can.#3.2. Create listings in top local directories with consistent Category, Description, and Name, Address, Phone (NAP)The top local directories to go after are:Google My BusinessBing Places for BusinessYahoo! Local ListingsYelp for Business OwnersFor best results in local listings, Google recommends that you:Represent your business as it’s consistently represented and recognized in the real world across signage, stationery, and other branding.Make sure your address is accurate and precise.Choose the fewest number of categories it takes to describe your overall core business.Here’s a very handy tool which will help youScan Your Business in Local DirectoriesUpdate existing listings to have consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone)If you already have your law office listed in major local directories, you need to check that your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) is consistent. If you find any differences, choose the best version and modify all NAP to be identical. This helps Google’s robots recognize that the listings all point to one and the same business, an important factor boosting your local listings rank.Claim your listingsIf you find that there is a listing of your business which you are not managing yourself, you need to claim it. The process takes some time, but after the listing is in your hands, you’ll be able to update it with your official NAP and use it to boost your local results position.#3.3. Continue adding listings to other local directoriesOnce you’ve added/updated your law firm listings with consistent NAP to all the major directories, you should continue adding it to other local directories on a regular basis, e.g. 5 to 10 new listings per month. Don’t forget to keep your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) consistent, so the bots identify your business and aggregate results from all directories.#3.4. Add images of your law officeAdding images and videos to your listings increases the click-through rate, since users are more likely to choose a listing with images than those without. Click-through rate is an important ranking factor for Google Map results ranking and if yours is high, it will eventually increase your position in the local listings results.#3.5. Ask customers to write reviews about your servicesYou no doubt already have many happy customers. Use this to your advantage and ask them to recommend your services to others on Google or Yelp. Positive reviews will drive amazing waves of clients straight to your door. Plus, having many positive reviews will increase your rankings.#4. Page Titles and Meta DescriptionsMany legal websites use the same Page Title and Meta Description for a whole set of pages. This is a big rookie mistake.Since these two pieces of metadata tell search engine bots what a given page is about, it’s crucial that the title and description are unique for each page. If you have the same metadata on your homepage and all your service pages, you decrease your chances of ranking well in search results for any of them.Check your legal site’s page titles and meta info:Use Screaming Frog to crawl your website pages and see which titles/meta descriptions are duplicated.Solution: Make sure you have a clear website structure. Best practice is to have the services you provide as main menu items so that they are available for your users and the search engines to review and index. These services are usually the keywords people would use to find you online, so you want to have them high in your website structure and with clear descriptive titles and meta descriptions.Once you have the main structure right, make sure your keywords are integrated into your page titles, meta descriptions, and in the headings of your content.For example:<title>Immigration Law Office Canada</title> <meta name="description" content="Services and information for people interested in immigrating to Canada. Offices in Toronto, Ontario. Includes FAQ and company profile."><h2>Visas and Entry Services</h2> <h2>Travel Cards</h2> <h2>Passports</h2>#5. ContentContent is your most vital asset when trying to rank in free search engine results because this is what (1) users are ultimately searching for on the web, and (2) search engines base their rankings on. Let’s take a look at two big ways your website could be using content the wrong way, and how you can be using it to its full potential.Thin ContentA common mistake is having just a few lines of text or just a list of the legal services you provide without further detail. If the content on the page is short, Google can’t figure out what your page is about, and it’s very unlikely that it will rank high in SERPs.Solution: Crawling your site with Screaming Frog (link above) lets you know which pages have thin content. Write well, give valuable information, and share your knowledge — this will boost your rank and will drive traffic to your site.SEO and ContentIt is very common that website content gets either too industry-specific or too generic, and, at the end, doesn’t provide answers/solutions to user questions/pain points. To get ranked and show up in search results for a particular search query, you need to integrate that query into your site content.Solution: Come up with a list of keywords that describe your legal services. Expand this list with synonyms and related terms. Create a clear structure that designates which pages will target which major keyword (plus related keywords) and incorporate these into your content.Expert Legal SEO HelpIf you’d like a professional audit of your website, simply get in touch with us. We’ll help you figure out what’s working and what’s not, and we’ll provide you with a full list of recommended actions which will regain or boost your traffic.