If you’re like most attorneys, you’re interested in search engine optimization (SEO) as a way to get in front of prospective clients who are searching for the services you offer. Let’s look at local SEO for attorneys and why you can’t afford to neglect it.
Why “SEO” Traffic Is So Valuable
Every day, more consumers and businesses are using the internet to find attorneys. For example, if you’re a New York personal injury lawyer, there are several thousand potential clients searching for your services in Google every month.
Many attorneys consider search engine optimization to be a better option than pay per click (PPC) advertising, such as Google AdWords.
Why? One reason is because PPC is astronomically expensive for attorneys. According to Google’s Keyword Planner, a New York personal injury attorney would pay a whopping $58.66 per click to display an ad on the keyword “New York personal injury attorney.”
SEO also provides better positioning than PPC. Many lawyers prefer not to advertise their services because they don’t want to appear to be soliciting clients.
Plus you’re building a long-term asset. Once you gain rankings, you’ll continue to get free clicks instead of paying for each click.
How do you rise to the top of the search engine results?
Here are the 3 essential ingredients of a successful SEO campaign:
Ingredient #1. Demand (Keyword Research)
First, you need to know what specific keywords your potential clients are searching. Google makes this easy with their Keyword Planner. Simply type in your keywords and Google will tell you how often they’re searched by prospective clients.
Ingredient #2. Relevance (Edits to Your Website)
Once you know what keywords you’re targeting, you need to make your website relevant to those keywords. You do this by integrating your keywords into meta tags (most importantly, your Title Tag which looks like <title> in your HTML code) and your body copy.
This is the step most people think of when they hear the phrase search engine optimization. During this step, you are optimizing your website for search engine queries (making it relevant to the keywords you want to show up in Google for).
Note: Be careful to use these keywords naturally, rather than “stuffing” them awkwardly into your copy. Keyword “stuffing” can backfire and worsen your rankings because the search engines recognize unnatural keyword density. More importantly, you want real people to read your website copy and want to contact you as a result.
Extra Tip: Google is now showcasing local Google My Business profiles (formerly Google+ Local, Google Places, or Google Maps) results in more and more of their search results. So, in addition to editing your website to be relevant to your desired keywords, you should also create and modify local search engine listings too.
OK, now you’ve made your website relevant to the search engine keyword phrases, but that’s still not enough to out-rank other websites in competitive markets.
Ingredient #3. Authority (Inbound Links)
How do you build your website’s authority? The main element is to attract inbound links. Inbound links are links that point from other websites to your website. When Google finds other websites linking to your website, Google sees this as a citation – a vote of confidence in your website and a sign of your authority.
Step 1 and Step 2 get you into the game, but it’s Step 3 (your website’s “authority” or reputation) that will allow you to outrank other law firms’ websites in competitive markets. Most attorneys, and even many website designers and so-called SEO practitioners are unaware of this fact.
BIG Misconception About SEO
One of the biggest misconceptions about local SEO for attorneys (and SEO as a whole) is that it’s largely a one-time event, or an aspect of website design. In fact, it should be an ongoing process. If you’re just starting out, chances are very good that your competitors are far ahead of you in terms of building incoming links, and it’ll take some catching up. Typically we recommend that attorneys prepare to invest a minimum of 6 months into an SEO campaign in order to catch up and start moving up in the search engine results and generating more traffic and leads.
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At Main Street ROI, we specialize in helping law firms get their websites ranking on the first page of Google.