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Search engine optimization (SEO) has become increasingly important in recent years as it relates to law firm marketing. As more and more law firms implement SEO practices into their marketing strategies, the need to set yourself apart from the competition is clear. A simple, localized search of “lawyer near me,” for example, turns up millions of results depending on your area. Only well-ranked law firm websites will appear at the top of Google’s search engine results pages. In this guide, we will discuss why your law firm isn’t on page 1 of Google and steps you can take to optimize your law firm website ranking.
Why Your Law Firm Website Ranking Is Suffering: 5 Reasons and Solutions to Fix the Problem
When a law firm website is not ranked highly on Google and other search engines, there are a variety of factors that can be the root of the issue. Fortunately, once the issue is identified, it is possible to adjust your strategy and overcome the problem. After spending years helping law firms rank highly on Google, we have come to understand the top reasons why rankings suffer.
Ineffective Keyword Strategies
Some experts indicate that the legal industry is the most competitive in terms of SEO. Even keyword searches that appear specific often produce hundreds of thousands of results. With so many law firms competing to rank highly using the same keywords, it is very difficult to set your practice apart. Furthermore, if your keyword strategy is not optimized, your Google rankings will suffer. Given the high amount of clutter on search engines like Google, it can be impossible to break through and rank your business above the rest.
How to Improve Your Keyword Strategy
To overcome issues associated with keyword strategy, a few different solutions are available. First, it can be helpful to conduct keyword research to gain insight into industry trends. There are keyword tools available online or you can seek professional assistance through a legal marketing firm. Check the difficulty/competition score of each keyword that you wish to use in your content. Scores above 60 are considered very difficult and it may be beneficial to use less competitive keywords.
Another potential solution for keyword issues is to focus on long-tail keywords rather than short-tail. Short-tail keywords tend to be quite broad in scope and generate a large amount of website traffic, whereas long-tail keywords are more specific and attract a smaller, targeted audience. While long-tail keywords are less competitive, they make up roughly 70% of all search volume. For this reason, long-tail keywords offer a valuable opportunity to break through the competition and attract clients who are looking for specific information or a particular service.
Breaking the Rules of Google’s Algorithm
Google regularly updates the algorithm it uses to rank websites, with the goal of demoting web pages that do not meet Google’s quality standards. This is primarily due to an increase in “black hat tactics,” which refer to techniques used to evade the basic rules of SEO.
Unless you are closely familiar with Google’s algorithm and fully understand how SEO rules work to rank web pages, it is possible that you are unknowingly breaking these rules. Consequently, your law firm website ranking may suffer.
How to Avoid Breaking SEO Rules
While Google’s algorithm is quite complex, if you are able to avoid breaking the most fundamental SEO rules, it is possible to avoid undue consequences. To ensure that you are not breaking SEO rules, consider the following:
- Do not post duplicate content. Google places a premium on originality and reposting the same content in a new location will not help your ranking.
- Avoid using too many keywords in your web page, otherwise known as keyword stuffing. This practice is relatively common and it is very possible that you are overusing keywords unknowingly. Check your website’s content with a keyword density tool to ensure that you are not keyword stuffing.
- Check your backlinks. A backlink is a link from one website to another. If low ranked, low credibility web pages are linking back to your law firm website, be sure to disavow them to protect your site authority.
- Do not use hidden text. This includes text that is essentially invisible to your audience, often hidden in the background of a web page or behind graphics.
Not Leveraging & Optimizing Your Google Business Profile
Google Business Profile is a free resource that helps businesses manage their online presence across a suite of utilities such as Google Maps. In recent years, the importance of a law firm’s Google Business Profile has become obvious. Legal marketing, by nature, is a localized practice. This means that as an attorney, you are typically searching for clients in your specific city, state, or region.
Google Business Profiles appear at the top of search engine results pages and are often the first point of contact for potential clients. When a business utilizes a fully optimized Google Business Profile, this indicates to Google that they care about rankings and are willing to fully leverage Google’s resources to provide information for users.
How to Optimize Your Google Business Profile
Optimizing your Google Business Profile is an extensive process, but the payoff is substantial. To fully utilize your Google Business Profile and increase your law firm website rankings, consider the following:
- Claim your profile
- Complete all sections of your Google Business Profile
- Be thorough with contact information
- Answer questions
- Collect and respond to reviews
- Utilize the messaging feature
- Regularly update and maintain your Google Business Profile
Poor Website Design
While the content of your law firm website is the primary driver of Google rankings, the technical aspects of your website design also have a great impact. Website design undoubtedly impacts a website’s ranking on Google, but is often neglected due to a lack of awareness of the problem. Many businesses take for granted that their website’s design has a significant effect on their ranking factor. There are three primary design elements that are common issues for law firm websites. These elements include:
- Speed. The speed of your website is a major factor in user experience. If your site speed and page load time are not optimized, Google may rank your website lower than others.
- Mobile website design. Google prioritizes mobile first, especially in recent years. The algorithm is inclined to rank websites that are mobile-friendly and responsive higher than websites that are not.
- Security. 82% of visitors leave a web page if they feel that it is not secure. This number may be even higher in the legal industry, wherein law firms regularly handle sensitive information. Google has taken note of this and does not rank web pages highly if it feels that it poses data risks.
How to Improve Website Design
Fortunately, it is possible to reverse the negative effects of poor website design by implementing small changes in your law firm website. To improve speed, consider running a page speed test with an online tool such as Google PageSpeed Insights and implement the recommendations provided on the results page of this tool. To address security concerns, try installing the proper form of SSL certificate. More extensive security issues may require a professional’s assistance, however.
Finally, to ensure that your website is optimized for mobile devices, utilize Google Mobile-Friendly Test and follow the recommendations on the results page. In many cases, it may be easy to fix the issues that arise, which may include fonts that are too small or images that fail to adjust to mobile devices.
Your Website Is Not Indexed
This may seem straightforward and obvious, but Google cannot rank your website if it does not recognize its existence. Google rankings are based solely on web pages that are indexed on a regular basis. Your website may not be ranked for a variety of reasons, including the following:
- Your website is new and has not been indexed yet
- You are blocking Google from properly indexing your entire website
- Your website does not allow Google to crawl the web pages
If your website is not indexed, it simply will not appear on Google at all. When it comes to law firm website rankings, this is obviously the worst case scenario. Once the problem is addressed, however, your website will begin appearing on search engine results pages.
How to Ensure That Your Website Is Indexed
To ensure that your website is indexed, first check to see if your website appears on Google. To do this, type “site:website name.com” into the search field. If no results appear, then your website is not indexed. Next, you can test your robots.txt.file by entering “website name.com/robots.txt in the URL field of your browser. If a 404 error appears, then your website may not be crawled by Google bots.
Ranking On Page 1 of Google with LawQuill
Low Google rankings is a common issue that we see on a daily basis and, as a result, many attorneys are actively working to implement strategies to rank on page 1 of Google. Legal SEO is becoming more widely practiced and, as a result, it is becoming even more challenging to secure the coveted top results on Google.
We are here to help and would welcome the opportunity to visit with you for free regarding your law firm website’s content, and how we can take these tasks off your plate! Schedule a free visit with us by scheduling a quick phone or zoom call at your convenience on our calendar today. You can also email us at email@example.com.