SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a jigsaw puzzle with so many pieces that factor in to getting to those coveted first pages of Google. This episode will teach you what those puzzle pieces are, and which ones are the BEST for getting amazing organic traffic to your law firm’s website. Learn what is great (and terrible) for SEO and how to make sure your law firm’s website gets ranked high by Google!
Hello, welcome back. And if you just listened to the last podcast, it was all about a digital marketing strategy. But my guess is that you still feel a little overwhelmed regarding all of the details. And that is understandable, because every one of those little pieces that I talked about, is actually going to be its own episode.
Now, before we get into all of the deep dives, on your digital marketing strategy, I want to take this episode to really demystify what SEO is and why it is a critical component of your overall online visibility, your digital marketing strategy, your digital footprint, it is basically what is going to create your online presence. That said, SEO does not count for any paid advertising. So when I am talking about SEO, it is only going to be about organic natural traffic to your website.
So let’s get into it. Now we all know as a business owner, which you are as a law firm owner, you need to have an online presence in order to grow your law firm and gain more clients unless you are a law firm that has been around for decades that has gargantuan amounts of referral traffic. And my guess is, if that were the case, you may not be listening to this show, let’s be honest. But if you are trying to cultivate your online presence, part of this has to involve a holistic strategy to create a digital footprint that eventually results in reaching the first page of Google.
That’s when the Google bots have ceremoniously decided that your law firm decides to be in the top of the rankings when people are looking for your particular legal services.
What is SEO?
So let’s talk first about what SEO is. SEO stands for search engine optimization. And at its very core, a search engine has the objective the goal to provide information to searchers that is accurate, trustworthy, authoritative and relevant. So for example, here’s an example that has nothing to do with the law. If you’re searching organic, vegan chocolate chip cookies in Google, you want search results that are going to give you recipes for vegan organic chocolate chip cookies. If it comes up with an oatmeal raisin cookie that isn’t vegan and isn’t organic. That is not what you’re searching for. So as a law firm, you want to make sure that Google is looking at your website and serving it up before your competitors websites to any potential new clients that are attempting to find, again, the types of legal services that you offer.
This competition is fierce, I am certain I do not need to explain to you, right, in fact, it’s so fierce, because it is so important to get on that first page. Why? Why is it important? Well, as a user of Google, you probably already know this answer. But statistically speaking, almost 70% of all users never get past that first page in their search. And therefore you are going to be competing with some really large law firms. They’ll pay $20,000 a month people to large digital marketing agencies just to get their law firms name strategically placed in front of potential clients. on that first page of Google I know I used to work for large digital marketing agencies.
So I know this to be true, but do not lose heart. Remember Aslan’s words from Narnia, “Courage, dear heart!” Never assume that because you are a small or solo law firm, that you cannot get to the top of Google, you can, with the right tools, and the right understanding of SEO, it is absolutely possible to get your law firms website on the first page of Google without paid advertising.
But you know what they say: it either takes time or money to get a lot of what you want in life. And there is no difference with SEO, if you do not have $20,000 a month. And again, my guess is you might not be listening to this show. If you did, then you are going to have to invest some time. And frankly, maybe a little bit of money, maybe not $20,000, but maybe a little bit. So let’s now talk about your law firms, holistic SEO strategy. So this is going to be an overview, but it’s going to be really important to understand what is going to harm your SEO, and what is going to help your SEO.
So your law firms website, and that will include everything on that website, the content, the About Me page, the fact page, your practice areas, everything about your law firms website, any content, you put on that website, that then you disseminate through social media, your online reviews, your Google My Business Page, all of these things work together, in order to paint a portrait for Google, regarding your law firm.
It’s a lot like a jigsaw puzzle. When you were little, and you’re putting a jigsaw puzzle together, you already saw what the jigsaw puzzle was supposed to be on the front of the box, right? Well, as you started putting pieces together, you could then start to see, oh, hey, this does look like a train or a boat or whatever you’re putting together. Google doesn’t have the top of the puzzle box. So they are starting to take your little pieces of your jigsaw puzzle, which is your SEO strategy, to try to figure out who you are, and to try to figure out what your expertise and authority is with regard to your business.
So there are all of these puzzle pieces, right? There’s your law firms website, along with your Google reviews, and your Google My Business Page. So all of these things work together to create this jigsaw puzzle that Google is trying hard to understand. So you want to make this as easy as possible for them. And it’s true that some of the SEO jigsaw puzzle pieces are just simply bigger than others, and they are more important. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
What you need to understand is that the Google bots are crawling the entire internet. Now, they are not our robot overlords quite yet. But this algorithm that Google has created works really hard to synthesize all of the information that they find in order to determine exactly where to serve up your law firms website in Google searches.
What Harms Your SEO?
So now let’s talk about what harms your SEO, and what will help your SEO. Let’s start with the bad news. First, this is what harms your SEO. And these are certain indicators that will, frankly, preclude your law firms website from getting to the top of Google. So these are the things you should not be doing.
The first is to not have an SSL certificate. This is a security certificate. And you can make sure that your website has it. If you look at the URL of your website, if it says HTTPS, colon forward slash forward slash instead of just HTTP, then you’ve got it. If you don’t have it, it’s very easy to get you just talk to your IT person. I think it may cost around $50. It’s not very expensive. But it signals that you have a secure website. So Google will simply not put you at the top of their rankings if you don’t have this SSL certificate. So that’s the first thing.
The second thing is you want to check how fast your law firm website loads. This means that when someone actually goes to your website, how fast do they actually begin to see information? How fast does your website actually load? The research shows that your website should load in less than two seconds because you know, everyone has the attention span apparently have a nap. So if it takes longer than two seconds for your website to load, people will bounce away. And that increases your bounce rate. What does all of that mean? Well, that means that if you’ve got a lot of people go into your website and immediately or very quickly leaving, it tells Google, well, there really isn’t that good of information there, or someone didn’t find what they were actually searching for. And it reduces your placement in the Google algorithm. So what you want to do is have not only a fast loading time of your law firm website, you want to have really great content on there as well. So people stay and and look around, that’s important for the Google algorithm. In order to get a faster loading speed, you will probably have to visit with your IT person. But in order to find out how fast your website actually loads, you can go online, and look for free calculators regarding the loading speed time of your website.
So again, have an SSL certificate, make sure your law firm website is loading quickly.
The next thing that harms SEO is poor online reviews. Now, everyone wants to get five star reviews and get a lot of them. But if you have a lot of poor online reviews on Google, that will factor in to the algorithm, I will be doing a podcast soon, about how to get more five star reviews and what to do if you get a negative review. But just very briefly here, I will tell you, the best thing you can do if you get a poor online review anywhere in Google or Yelp or anywhere, is to immediately contact Google or the organization and let them know what happened. The next thing you can do is respond to that poor online review very kindly, and say, We are very sorry that you had this experience, would you like to visit with us offline and give your phone number. So those are ways that you can try to correct poor online reviews. But overall, if you have a substantial number of poor online reviews that will harm your SEO, if you do not have a Google My Business Page claimed for your law firm that will absolutely harm your SEO.
Again, not a deep dive on Google My Business. But what I want to say is that Google My Business is free real estate on the internet that you can use to your advantage. And frankly, if we’re talking about an SEO, jigsaw puzzle, Google My Business Page is a big piece of that puzzle. So you want to take the time not only to claim your Google My Business Page, but you want to take the time to really fill that out accurately, and provide a lot of information.
As a little tip right here. A lot of people don’t know that you can actually put blog posts now, on your Google My Business Page, we’re not really sure how that factors into the whole Google algorithm. But I know it can’t hurt you. So you might as well use again, that free real estate that you know, the Google bots are crawling and searching.
The next thing that harms SEO, is a failure to provide fresh and valuable content on your law firms website. Your law firm blog is truly one of the largest pieces of the SEO jigsaw puzzle. Here’s why. Because the more content you put on your website, the more things that Google bots have to crawl, the more ability you have to put this content out on social media in your email list, wherever you’re putting it to get people back to your law firm website, which then shows Google that your numbers are going up regarding visitors to your website, the best. And frankly, really, the only way to do this is to provide current, relevant, fresh, valuable content on your website.
The failure to do that really does harm you with the Google algorithm because Google really sees law firm websites or frankly, any business website as either growing or dying. So you want to be growing. Now, that’s all the bad news.
What Helps Your SEO?
Let’s talk about what’s going to help your SEO. There are also obviously many factors that will exponentially boost your chances of getting to the top of Google. So let’s talk about some of these.
The first one is to have a lot of five star reviews on Google. We kind of just talked about the bad reviews, but in opposition to that if you’ve got a lot of five star reviews, that is telling Google that people ended dependently are saying that they support and believe that you are an authority and an expert in these areas of law.
The next thing you can do for SEO is to have quality backlinks from authoritative websites. A backlink is when another website links to some part of your law firms website content. So if you write a really great article, and let’s say the Bar Association in your state, or some sort of very highly valuable online real estate, such as above the law, or another organization, links to that area of your law firms website content, that article that is considered a backlink.
Every website on the internet has a DA score, that’s a domain authority score. If you’re just starting out your DA score is probably low. For example, Amazon is 99. Okay, so the very large, large companies on the internet have very high domain authority scores, you want to get a website that has a higher da score to link back to you. There are a lot of ways to do that. And I actually plan on having a podcast in the future regarding how to get quality backlinks. But I just want to give this as an overview to let you know that this is a really important part of your SEO strategy to gain a higher authority in the eyes of Google.
The next thing that helps SEO is to keep your different practice areas separate on your website, don’t interlink them, it just confuses Google. What that means is that if you practice bankruptcy law and Family Law, it is very good to link from one article to another article or another practice area or some other place on your website. internal linking is really important. It’s important because it keeps people interested and clicking through your website, which keeps them on your website longer, which is great for the Google algorithm. But internal linking is also great for the Google bots, because they are going from one website to another that you’re linking to, and it helps them understand that Oh, you’re a family lawyer or you are an estate planning attorney. It is very important. However, to keep these different practice areas separate, kind of like silos, where you have one silo of Family Law content, one silo of estate planning content and to not interlink them. So that will help your SEO as well.
Another thing that helps SEO is to include metadata and meta descriptions for your content. When you go to Google and search something, you will find the title of the article. But you will also find about a one sentence snippet underneath that. If you do not tell Google what to put right there, which is the meta description, they’ll just pull the first sentence from your article, you want to keyword, your meta description to help the Google bots understand your articles and your website content. So that’s very important for any pictures you have on your website. For any content, you have articles, you always want to include metadata and meta descriptions.
The next thing you want to also do is include alt tags on all of your pictures and video throughout your website. Alt tags are a description of what is going on in that picture. That is also excellent for your SEO.
Another thing that can help your SEO is to develop a deep understanding of how to use keywords to your advantage. Let me take a moment right now to talk about keywords. A keyword is not just a word, it’s usually a series of words. So that’s why they call it a long tail keyword. Let’s be honest, it’s just a phrase. It’s the phrase that people put into Google when they’re searching for something. So whenever I use the word keyword, it really just means the phrase people are putting into Google to search something. These keywords are pivotal and critical to you ranking high on Google, because the Google bots are reading the content that you have on your website and trying to understand it. So there are a lot of ways to develop an understanding of how to use keywords.
And I am actually going to be having a podcast on that as well. However, I will just insert this right now. If you are interested in any of the deep dives regarding keywords or reviews or internal linking, you can always go to my website, which is www.LawQuill.com/blog. And a lot of these topics are already discussed in detail there.
Another thing that helps SEO is to develop external linking outbound links. A lot of people say why in the world would I want to put an external link on my website? Why would I want to highlight text and include an outbound link in my articles? The reason is, because first of all, most people are not going to click on that and go to that other article or other area on the internet. But what it does for the Google bot is it shows them that you are linking to an authoritative website. So when you do external linking, you should always do it to an actual authoritative source, that means something that has .org at the end or .gov at the end, or a statute, etc. something that is truly considered an expert in that area. You don’t want to link to a news source, or even some other type of content that is more subjective, you really want to link only to authoritative sources.
The next thing that is fantastic for SEO is the use of infographics and video. Now, infographics are just pieces of visual content that are describing maybe statistics, maybe an analysis, if you’re a divorce attorney, it could talk about perhaps child support or child custody matters. These infographics are fantastic, because Google likes the fact that you are providing information to readers not only through words, but through a visual medium, which is why video is also great for SEO.
Now, if you’re scared about doing video, I understand a lot of people are a little hesitant to do videos. But a really easy way to do video and increase your SEO is to go ahead and write your blog article. And then just record a short snippet of three to four minutes of you talking about whatever is in that content, you can then host that on YouTube, and embed that at the top of your article. It’s absolutely fantastic for your SEO.
Another thing you can do to increase your SEO presence is to make sure that your law firms website is optimized for all mobile devices. And frankly, for all search engines. That is really important and very easy to go look up and see how your website looks on all devices on all search engines, everything.
Another way to increase your SEO is to provide proof of your legal expertise through accreditations, your successes, your proof of inclusion in authoritative organizations such as top 100, lawyers, bar associations, proof of successful court cases, law firms and lawyers fall into a Google category called YMYL, which means your money or your life. And that means that Google has held certain professions to a higher standard than others. For example, accountants, doctors and lawyers are all required to have this extra hurdle that they jumped through to provide actual proof that they are experts in these fields because frankly, they are dealing with someone’s money like in the finance area, or someone’s life like a medical doctor. So lawyers fall into that category. And the way that you can help increase your SEO is to provide proof of that expertise through accreditations another way to increase your SEO is to have substantial organic traffic coming from social media outlets, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram,
there are a lot of social media outlets out there Tick Tock clubhouse. So when you are getting organic traffic coming in from social media outlets, Google is recognizing that and that is important for the algorithm.
Another way to increase your SEO is to develop unique articles on your legal blog on your law firms website. We already talked about this earlier, but it really does deserve Have a second mention. Because when you’re providing fresh, relevant, informative, valuable content, it’s not only great for potential clients to see you as an expert, which then you know, hopefully has them pick up the phone and call you, right. But it also gives you a platform from which to find content to share with social media sites, your email list to all of these people so that they can come back to home base, which is your law firms website.
That was a lot, right?
What SEO can do for you?
So as you can see, SEO is not just one thing. It really is a juxtaposition of a lot of different pieces, just like a jigsaw puzzle. And again, some of those pieces are, frankly, more important than others, your Google My Business Page, the content that you continually produce on your website. These are big, big pieces.
And you want to make sure that you get them right, because the Google bots and the Google algorithm are working together to try to figure out who you are, and where to serve you up. So help them do that. help them find a way to understand exactly who you are as a law firm, and see your law firm and you as a lawyer as an expert.
So the last thing I’m going to say is that all of this takes a healthy dose of patience. Because you probably feel overwhelmed when you realize you have to do sort of all the things right, and that this SEO strategy is much more holistic and expansive than you may have originally believed. But that’s okay. Because you can really take this step by step.
Most law firms that do not have large marketing firms working on their behalf do feel frustrated and confused. But just remember that SEO is a long game, most of the content that you put on your law firms website will not really gain any kind of traffic or impact for several months, maybe even six or seven months.
So it is important that you realize that patience is critical for your SEO game. And frankly, most of the efforts that you would make today really won’t show results for several months. So we’re gonna keep doing deep dives on all of these different types of digital marketing to help you move closer and closer to that top page of Google moves that SEO needle in your favor and help you get more online visibility and a larger digital footprint.
So let’s talk some action steps. What can you do today, to help you with your SEO, a couple of the really really quick things you can do is just check to see if you have an SSL certificate for your website, check what your website’s speed is, and see how fast it is when people come to look for you. Check to see if you have any online reviews. And if any of them are negative, then go ahead and petition Google to have those removed, and make sure that you’ve claimed your Google My Business Page.
The next thing you can do if you don’t already have a website, consider starting the process of getting one because that is truly going to be your home base and is really the very most important and critical step for you gaining online visibility. And all of these other factors really don’t come into play if you don’t have a website.
So I hope that this particular episode helped demystify SEO just a little bit for you, and helped you feel a little bit like you can get a grasp on your very next steps. Now, don’t worry, there’s many, many more episodes coming. But if you can’t wait and you really want to dive deep on some digital marketing strategies, you can always visit my blog on laquelle.com. And in the meantime, just in case you don’t want to miss out on anything and I know you don’t hit that subscribe button.
Because the next episode is the seven things you never want to say on your law firms website and I know you’re gonna want to hear that. Thank you so much again for joining me in the legal marketing lounge and did you click that subscribe button I thought I saw you do it but I’m not sure. Just click it.