Today’s post comes from Chris Dreyer, founder and CEO of law firm SEO company Rankings.io. See what he says you need to do to gain traction for your new attorney website. Thanks, Chris!
It can be especially challenging to get new attorney websites traction in search. Pages need to be indexed and a web presence needs to be built in order for a site to rank well.
Although it takes time to get a site to rank on the first page of results for any given keyword phrase, there are some best practices attorneys should follow for new websites to get off on the right foot.
Submit site to Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools
Google and other search engines will index your site regardless of whether you tell them about it or not.
There are still some good reasons to submit to these leading search engines. There is no hard evidence of this but it seems logical that by submitting your site to Google’s search console will expedite the indexing process.
Initiating a manual crawl from Google and Bing alerts them to your pages a little sooner than they would see them otherwise.
Another reason is that these free services can also help you promote your site down the road. In as little as 15-20 days, you can have some good information on how people are finding your site, improvements that could be made and any problems that could be causing errors in search.
Search Console from Google is great for learning about what keywords are driving people to your site as well as any harmful software or hacking attempts made on your site. You’ll also be able to see average position for given pages and keyword phrases in search.
Citations can help a new domain get a good web presence quickly. Lawyers should use a citation service like Moz Local or Yext to get a new domain out on the web. This can also be a good way to get multiple local links to a site in a short amount of time.
The basic idea here is that you can get mention of a website and the firm’s name in multiple places online. When people search for the firm name, there are more results that will pop up on authoritative sites.
For example Yelp and Yellowpages.com are examples of citations that are extremely authoritative.
Even if you have content laid out on your pages already, it does not mean you cannot go back and target specific keyword phrases (one per page).
Figure out your core keyword phrases and which pages would be most relevant to those pages. If you do not have relevant pages for some terms, you can always make them up (hint: this is part of why a blog comes in handy).
Use a tool like Google’s keyword planner to figure out search volume for specific phrases. You can also use it as a seed tool to find phrases you may not have known people were using. See if people are searching using location-based terms (which is important for attorneys who often serve local markets).
Make sure you have all the usual onsite suspects squared away. This builds a solid foundation for a site to perform well in search. Here is a short list of onsite elements that should be optimized:
- Write a unique and compelling title tag and meta description for all pages with important content (especially practice area specific pages)
- Make sure your target keyword phrases are included in page copy and other key areas on the page
- Check that each page has an h1 tag (just one) and if necessary, subsequent header tags (h2, h3, h4, etc)
- Add alt attributes to images and try to work your keyword phrase in there
- Make sure you have a properly configured Robots file
- URLs on pages should be short and easy to read
- Here is a more comprehensive onsite checklist
Find Easy Links
Lawyers should look for high-quality (and tougher to earn) links as well but in the beginning, go for some low-hanging fruit. Lawyer-specific directories are a good place to start as well as local business directories. Social media accounts are another place that easy links can be acquired (such as in profiles of social accounts).
If you work with other attorneys or local businesses, try and get links from them as well. Attorneys should reach out to anyone they have a relationship with to try and get a link back to their website.
There will not be an immediate bump but this lays the ground work for future link building activity. You do not want a spike in link building activity when a more aggressive campaign is started so starting off slow by getting easily acquired links looks better down the road.
Claim Your Google and Bing Business Listings
These are powerful business listings for local businesses. Google in particular has a strong interest in delivering relevant local results to users.
When people look for law firms, Google tends to serve results that are close by a searcher’s location based on their IP address. Lawyers who do not have a robust Google Business listing are not going to show up in those results.
Bing has a good listing service as well and being present there helps for a lawyer’s presence on that platform (which has surpassed 20% market share in search). For both of these services, it is important to fill out profiles as completely as possible which includes:
- Adding Name, Address, phone number to the profile
- Adding website URL
- Add as many images and videos as allowed
- Add accurate categories including practice area categories
- Add a keyword-rich description of the business
- Verify the listing
- Add a local phone number and not a toll free
Adding as much content as possible to a listing makes it more useful for users. More useful content is more likely to be served.
Many of these tactics are pretty basic but they are necessary for a strong SEO foundation for your website. Once you have the basics down, you have a license to go after some more aggressive SEO strategies.
About the author: Chris Dreyer is the founder and CEO of Rankings.io. With over 12 years of experience in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Chris has helped hundreds of law firms, physicians, and small businesses get first page positions in search engines. He is dedicated to helping lawyers get more leads and win more clients.