At the end of the year, you should be evaluating every aspect of your law firm’s marketing plan to identify your biggest opportunities. While the SEO landscape is constantly changing, it’s not impossible to keep up.
It takes careful planning, and you need to have the right resources in place.
However, for attorneys, SEO is always worth the effort. It remains one of the most effective ways to bring new business to your practice. As you evaluate your law firm’s rankings and performance, here are 8 trends you will need to consider as part of your SEO strategy for 2019.
The truth is – if you have not taken measures to ensure your law firm website is mobile-friendly, you are already behind. In 2018, Google began rolling out its “mobile first index.” Translation:
Google’s web crawlers are using the mobile version of your website to determine rankings.
The mobile version of your website will become increasingly important. In 2019 Web users, including your firm’s potential clients, want fast, easy access to information. Your website needs to provide a great experience for users who are using mobile devices.
As a starting point, evaluate your law firm’s website on various mobile devices. Ensure you are presenting informative content in an easy-to-read format. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to find opportunities to improve your mobile experience.
You cannot have a conversation about marketing trends without discussing voice search. Many experts predict that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.
The rise of voice search technology like Amazon Echo and Google Home presents both new opportunities and new challenges. How can you ensure your law firm is capitalizing on voice search?
To optimize your firm’s website for voice search, you have to think differently. People use virtual assistants to help answer questions or solve problems, and they often use a question format. Your website content strategy needs to adapt. Voice search optimization should play a critical role in your 2019 SEO strategy.
Traditionally, Google search results consisted of paid ads and 10 regular organic search listings. However, search results are constantly changing and your SEO strategy needs to keep up.
When you perform a Google search for a question, it’s likely that you’ll see a block of text at the top providing an answer, known as a “quick answer.” Google search results may also contain videos, news stories or Twitter results. If your SEO strategy is focused on ranking in traditional organic results, you’re missing opportunities to maximize your law firm’s real estate in search results.
In 2019, make it a priority to understand the types of results Google typically returns for keywords that are important to your law firm.
Use your content strategy to optimize for the “quick answer” results that are relevant to your law firm.
Structured data will become increasingly important in 2019. This is HTML code that helps maximize your law firm’s SERP visibility by providing search engines with more information about your business. For example, you can add structured data for customer ratings, your business hours or data around an event.
One of the most important factors for your firm’s mobile website experience is page load time. If your website takes too long to load, users will quickly exit and look for another law firm to meet their needs.
Google recognizes the importance of page speed so much that it has become an important ranking factor. We see many law firm websites that focus on visual design and neglect the technical aspects of a website. The best attorney websites know how to balance both aspects.
You can use Google Analytics or Pagespeed Insights to check your website speed. Evaluate your opportunities and work with a skilled website developer who knows how to ensure your legal website delivers both a visually-compelling design with a fast load speed.
The lines between SEO and user experience will continue to blur in 2019. It’s extremely important to ensure both user experience and SEO are considered as you make updates to your law firm’s website. Google wants to display the best websites in search results, so in order to gain valuable SEO rankings for your firm, you need to make user experience a priority.
This means going above and beyond creating content for your website. It means evaluating every detail to make sure your website provides a seamless experience. Can visitors easily find the information they’re looking for? Are you presenting informative content in a way that’s easy to digest and understand? Are you leveraging elements like video to help users learn more about your attorneys?
For 2019, plan to evaluate your overall website experience and consistently make improvements. One way to find opportunities is to engage in usability testing. Present your firm’s website to people who have not seen it before. Watch how they interact with the website. Look for places where they get stuck or cannot find what they’re looking for, and use the feedback to create a list of improvements for your website developers and designers to make.
Appearing within Google’s local “map pack” is extremely important for law firms. In 2019, we can expect that Google will continue to refine its algorithm for how these coveted spots are determined. The truth is – we’ve seen that local listings for law firms can be very volatile, often changing frequently as Google tests its algorithm.
It’s important to do everything you can to optimize your law firm website for local results. This includes claiming and active management of your Google My Business page, as well as creating localized content on your website.
Most importantly, quality reviews of your business will boost your visibility and help your business development efforts. If you do not have authentic reviews from your clients, make this a priority in 2019, but make sure to adhere to Google’s guidelines on reviews.
With the growing importance of the mobile experience, law firms will need to adapt their content strategy. Attorneys who win at SEO in 2019 will be those that strike a balance between unique, informative content and a seamless mobile experience.
Google will continue to reward websites that offer truly valuable content. Showcase your law firm’s subject matter expertise and utilize a legal blog to comment on relevant topics. Boring, outdated or uninformative content on your law firm’s website will not lead to strong SEO rankings.
The quality and format of your content will also need to evolve in 2019. We see that Google continues to favor long-form content in the legal industry. The key is to ensure your website content is thorough but engaging. Content formats like video will also grow in importance. If your firm does not leverage videos, you will want to add that to your 2019 content plan.
It will become more difficult to game the system. In the legal industry, we often see law firms engaging in spammy, or “black hat” SEO tactics in order to manipulate rankings. This includes things like garnering fake reviews or violating Google’s guidelines regarding paid links.
It’s important to ensure your SEO strategy is white hat. Law firms who engage in black hat tactics will continue to see Google penalties and declines in ranking.
So, is your 2019 law firm SEO strategy ready? If not, we’d love to help.
Not sure where to begin?
Get started with a marketing audit.