What is SEO?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of increasing your visibility, traffic, and conversions through organic means and channels.

Put simply, getting your site higher up in Google’s search results – the #1 channel SEO experts spend most of their time in.

How Does Law Firm SEO Differ From Other Industries?

For the most part, SEO is SEO so most of the same rules apply across all industries. However, there are a few notable differences.

  1. The legal industry is more competitive than most. SEO experts with experience in multiple industries will agree that the legal industry ranks in the top 5 for most competitive.
  2. Lawyers are bound by a code of ethics that doesn’t apply to other industries.
  3. Law firms tend to spend more on marketing than most other small, local, independent businesses such as a groomer.

Local SEO

Arguably one of the most essential tools for lawyers, local SEO can be the difference between becoming wildly successful and struggling to find new clients.

What is Local SEO and how is it different?

Local SEO is the practice of increasing visibility, traffic, and conversions to potential clients in your geographic area.

For the most part, the same general SEO rules apply however there are few additional steps you’ll need to take to help boost your local rankings.

These include:

  • Google My Business (GMB) setup, optimization, reviews, and tracking
  • Citations and data consistency
  • Important law firm directories and citations
  • How to optimize your website for local SEO

attorney search

GMB Best Practices for Law Firms (Setup, Optimization, Reviews, and Result Tracking)

Google My Business (GMB) is the single best (and free) tool a law firm can use. In fact, it’s common for law firms to get more potential client contacts through GMB than any other channel.

Why? Because GMB is the tool behind Google’s 3-pack – the box near the top of Google’s search results that displays business and contact information for three local businesses.

The 3-pack is often the first thing most users see and is therefore one of the most important aspects of local SEO for law firms and other local businesses.

 

Setting Up Your Google My Business Account
  1. Go to Google My Business
  2. Sign in to a Google account (preferably one associated with your law firm)
  3. Type in your law firms name to see if it’s already on GMB
  4. If it’s not, click “Add your business to Google”
  5. Add your law firms business name
  6. Choose your law firm’s primary category (you can add additional categories later). This step is extremely important. Google puts a lot of importance on the chosen category. Make sure the category you choose is as specific as possible.If your law firm focuses on personal injury, for example, make sure you choose “Personal injury attorney” as your primary category instead of a more general category such as “Law firm.”

  1. When asked “Do you want to add a location customers can visit?” choose “Yes.”
  2. Add your law firm’s address. Note: P.O. boxes, virtual offices, and other addresses that aren’t solely owned/rented by your law firm are not allowed and your business is likely to be suspended.
  3. Add your law firm’s phone number and website URL. Later, I’ll suggest adding a tracking phone number and UTM tracking code to accurately see results.
  4. Next, Google will ask you to verify your business. Most of the time you will need to verify via postcard where Google will send a postcard to your business with a verification code. In some instances, you may have the ability to verify via other methods such as phone call verification. However, if you only see the option to verify via postcard, then that’s your only option.
  5. After your postcard arrives log back into GMB then enter the PIN to verify and publish your business.

 

Optimizing Your GMB Listing to Rank Higher

GMB isn’t a “set it and forget it” tool. The 3-pack only displays three business listings (hence the name), so you’ll need to put in the effort and keep it current if you want your office to make the cut.
How?

1. Provide as much detail in your profile as possible

Data makes Google happy, and the more data you can give them, the better.

Make sure to add:

  • Additional relevant legal categories
  • Business hours
  • A short name to send to clients when asking for reviews
  • Any accessibility, amenities, highlights, and planning features your law firm offers
  • A business description that explains which types of cases and practice areas your firm handles
  • Photos of your firm (inside and out), logo, your team, etc.

2. Ask for client reviews

Attorneys not asking clients to review their law firm on GMB is the biggest missed opportunity I see in the industry.

Client reviews help potential clients learn more about your law firm and what they can expect when working with you.

BrightLocal reports that 82% of people read online reviews for local businesses before choosing a business, and the average consumer reads ten before trusting them.

Additionally, reviews are a direct GMB ranking signal. Just keep in mind that the context of the review matters the most – not the number of reviews.

A five-star or one-star review with little or no text doesn’t tell Google or potential clients much.

However, a review with in-depth details about a client’s experience with your firm provides a ton of context for Google and potential clients to analyze.

For example, if your law firm focuses on personal injury cases, and more specifically car accidents, the most valuable reviews will talk about how the accident happened, injuries that occurred, where the car accident took place, the experience they had with your law firm, and information about the settlement or trial outcome.

Dan

Dan's Pro Tip

Make it easy for clients to review your firm
Google recently introduced the ability to add a short name to your law firm’s listing, which creates a cleaner URL to send clients.For example, instead of sending a client a URL like this: https://www.google.com/maps/place/
Postali+LLC/@39.96762,-83.004869,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x147c8daac7480251!8m2!3d39.96762!4d-83.004869
You’re now able to send clients a link like this: https://g.page/Postali?share

However, the one caveat is that each of the above links takes clients to your law firm’s GMB/Google Maps listing lacks a clear call to action.

One of the techniques we use at Postali is to create a 301 redirect from our clients’ domains directly to Google’s review prompt.

For example, when you visit https://g.page/Postali?share you see this:
However, when you visit https://www.postali.com/review you see this:

 

You can see how the second example offers a far better call to action, therefore, increasing the chances your clients leave a review for your law firm.

3. Highlight your law firm with Google Posts in GMB

Google My Business allows businesses to create a free post on your GMB listing to highlight your law firm, lawyers, awards, reviews, offers, upcoming events, etc.

While the ranking benefit is minimal it’s still a great tool to differentiate yourself from other law firms.

To learn more about the benefit of Google posts, I highly suggest reading this article from Ben Fisher and BrightLocal.

Spam, fake listings, and lead gen services are a huge problem in Google’s local listings and the legal industry is surprisingly one of the worst offenders.

I asked Sterling Sky founder and local SEO expert Joy Hawkins to share her tips on the best ways to improve rankings and combat spam.

Here’s what she said:

Outside Expert Tip:
How to Improve Your Local Ranking on Google

We have found that one of the most effective ways to move up rankings in the local results is to find and report listings that outrank you that aren’t supposed to be there.  The most common types of violations we see are:

1. Lead Generating listings: These are listings created by marketing companies that do not ring to actual law firms.  When you call the phone numbers on them, they ring to a phone tree at a call center and that company will sell the lead to a lawyer.  Chances are, a lot of you reading this are buying these without realizing that it’s competing with you in the search results.

2.  Listings for firms at addresses where they don’t have a physical office:  Things like virtual offices, co-working spaces, or employees’ houses are all things we’ve seen in the legal industry.  Setting up a listing at these addresses helps firms rank better, but it is against Google’s guidelines.

3.  Adding extra keywords to the business name:  If you have a law firm called Smith & Smith, for example, we often see businesses list themselves as “Smith & Smith Best Personal Injury Lawyer Chicago” to gain a ranking advantage.  This is also against Google’s guidelines.

By reporting violations like those, it helps even the playing field and allows firms that are not breaking guidelines to have a better chance of competing.  We have seen the results speak for themselves.

Accurately Track GMB Conversions

Many people don’t realize that Google can only track a portion of calls and clicks to your website. Therefore the numbers GMB insights report is almost always lower than the actual number.

The biggest reason being that Google can only track click-to-call actions. Put simply, only the users who click your phone number to make a call from their cell phones will be tracked.

Use a tracking number

Since Google can’t track someone who just types your law firm’s number into their phone, I highly suggest using a tracking number that is specific to your GMB listing. We use CallRail for our clients’ call tracking. However, there are plenty of other services that will do just fine.

Let’s compare call tracking vs. Google:

Below you’ll see that the number of calls GMB insights report is 210 for one of our clients over a 30-day stretch.

With CallRail, which captures every single call no matter the method, reports that the same client actually received 342 calls from GMB in the last 30 days – a 48% difference.

Using a tracking number is essential to know the true value of GMB, and ranking in the 3-pack.

Note: When adding your tracking number in GMB make sure to add it as your primary number and your local regular phone number as a secondary phone number to make the relationship clear to Google.

Add a UTM Tracking Code

Google insights report how many times users have clicked through to your website from your GMB listing. But it’s difficult to understand how users interact with your website without something that tracks their behavior.

By adding a UTM parameter to the end of your website URL in GMB, you can easily gain insight into how users interact with your website and see how many convert into clients.

Google Analytics offers a free, easy to use tool, called ‘Campaign URL Builder,’ which makes it extremely simple to generate a unique UTM code.

Here’s an example of UTM code we use for one of our clients GMB listings:

https://www.example.com/?=utm_source=
google&utm_medium=maps&utm_campaign=detroit&st-t=detroit

Assuming Google Analytics (GA) is already installed on your site you’ll be able to easily see conversion data and more from users visiting your website via GMB.

Login to GA → Click Acquisition → Click Campaigns → Click All Campaigns

Now you’re able to see more specific data like total conversions (goals), time on site, and more.

General Citations and NAP Consistency

In the local SEO world, citations are references to your business name, address, phone number (NAP) on 3rd party websites such as Yelp, YellowPages, Better Business Bureau, etc.

Consistent citations across authoritative websites help Google and other search engines learn more about your business. And the more they know, the more trust they put into you making it more likely you’ll show up in the results. Google’s goal is to show the most accurate results to its users.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of directories and citation websites out there -most of which aren’t worth your time. Here is a list of the ones you should be after:

  • Google My Business
  • Yelp
  • Yellowpages.com
  • BBB.org
  • Facebook
  • Apple Maps
  • Bing
  • Angieslist.com
  • Citysearch.com
Dan

Dan's Pro Tip

When deciding which citation websites to join ask yourself, “Are people actually likely to visit this website and contact my firm?”. If the answer is ‘no’, skip it.

Additionally, to make life easier there are a few main data aggregators that help push your citations to citation sources around the web including:

  • Infogroup
  • Neustar Localeze
  • Factual

However, some data aggregators such as Factual don’t always accept individual submissions and can be quite expensive when they do.

Fortunately, multiple services submit your business information to the above aggregators (and for a lower price) and other citation sites such as Whitespark, BrightLocal, Moz, etc.

Important Legal Industry Directories

Similar to general citation websites there are countless legal-specific directories where you can add your law firm’s business information and list your attorneys.

I find legal directories to be more valuable than general citations for a few reasons.

  1. They’re industry specific and far more targeted to people needing legal representation. Are people browsing Facebook looking for lawyers? Sure, sometimes but people don’t typically think of Facebook as a way to find a lawyer.
  2. Many legal directories allow for more information about your lawyers and law firm such as case results, awards, client reviews, practice area-specific expertise, etc.
  3. Legal directories are a great way to highlight your law firm and show potential clients why you’re the best fit for them.
Dan

Dan's Pro Tip

Some of the top legal directories rank law firms in their search results by how complete their profile is. Make sure to fill out as much information as possible.

Additionally, some of the top legal directories provide ‘follow’ (AKA dofollow) links back to your website.

A follow link tells search engines to follow the link which allows them to, you guessed it, follow the link and crawl your site. Follow links can also count as a ‘vote’ for your website. Google uses these ‘votes’ as a large ranking signal when determining which websites to show users (more on follow links later.)

The best legal directories for lawyers and law firms

Some of the best legal directories have free signup options and often provide SEO value and visibility to potential clients. However, I’ve found that most of the SEO benefits and visibility come with the paid membership options.

Most tiered memberships offer extra benefits such as the ability to add blog posts, additional backlinks to your website, higher visibility, allow for more information, etc.

Plus, it’s common for paid members to show up higher in the directories results resulting in more potential clients seeing you.

Dan

Dan's Pro Tip

A few directories give you the ability to add your own blog posts. Use this to your advantage by writing useful high-quality content and add a backlink to your website. The directories I’ve listed above are highly authoritative, so Google may give more weight to the backlinks included in your post.

On-page SEO For Law Firms

On-page SEO (AKA “on-site SEO”) is the act of optimizing your website using SEO best practices for greater organic search visibility.  It encompasses nearly every aspect of your website, including your content, user experience, site architecture, and many other aspects like mobile usability, technical SEO, etc.

On-page SEO is also one of the most critical aspects of any SEO campaign and likely where you’ll spend a lot of time perfecting.

How is On-page SEO for Law Firms Different From Other Industries?

On-page SEO for other types of local businesses is pretty similar for the most part. However, there can be a large learning curve for people who aren’t familiar with the legal field.

Additionally, there are many strategies and tactic differences in other industries such as e-commerce, B2B, etc.

Keyword Research & Content Optimization For Law Firms

Being a local business means you have to use geo-specific keywords and talk like your market searches.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is the act of finding the most valuable keywords that your potential clients use to find a local law firm. It is one of the first and most important steps when creating a content strategy, and there are multiple ways and tools to help you get started.

One of the most well-known is Keyword Planner by Google Ads.

Keyword Planner’s primary purpose is to show bid estimates for PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns for advertisers researching keyword options. But it’s also a great tool for SEO’s to find new opportunities.

To start:

  1. Log in to Google Keyword Planner
  2. Next, choose “Discover new keywords”
  3. Add a few general keywords related to your practice areas
  4. Update the location to a more refined geographic area like a city or state

For this example, I will search for “DUI lawyer near me” and “OVI lawyer near me,” and I set my location to Ohio.

Once you click “Get Results” you’ll be shown the average monthly search for your terms, related terms to consider, competition, and bid range.

I always look at average monthly search terms as one of the first steps. It can help gauge what people in your area are actually searching for.

In Ohio the legal term for drunk driving is OVI. However, it turns out that when most people search for a defense attorney they more often than not use DUI-based terms over OVI-based terms.

I also take competition into consideration. The competition levels (low, medium, high) are specific to the level of other law firms competing for that keyword.

However, I find that competition levels are often correlated with how hard it is to rank that keyword in organic search.

The same usually holds true for bid estimates. The higher the bid estimate the more difficult it is to rank in organic SERPs.

Competitor and Intent Analysis

While using tools to help find valuable keywords you should also be looking at what your competitors are doing and what types of keywords they’re using.

If all of the top-ranking websites use the same or similar keywords, you should emphasize using those too.

For example, let’s say you’re in Columbus, Ohio and you’re considering targeting “injury lawyer” on your homepage.

Search “injury lawyer” to see if there are common themes among the top-ranking law firms.

You’ll notice that every website ranking on the first page for “injury lawyer” uses a variation of “Columbus personal injury lawyer,” while none of them use only “injury lawyer.”

After you’ve found target keywords for each of your practice areas you will need to create your site structure (if you have an existing website and don’t want to start from scratch you can skip this step.)

 

Website Structure and Architecture Setup

The main thing to consider is how usable your site structure is for both humans and search engines.

Websites should be set up with a logical hierarchy that easily helps users find what they’re looking for and tells Google which pages are the most important.

Rank your keywords by importance to your law firm to help guide your site structure.

Most law firm websites have (at least) these types of pages:

  • Homepage
  • Category Pages
  • Interior pages related to the category page
  • Information about the firm
  • Contact page
  • Blog Archive
  • Blog posts

Your homepage will usually target your overarching practice area (e.g., Personal Injury Lawyer.)

Each category page should target specific areas of practice (e.g., Car Accident Lawyer.)

Interior pages are what I like to call “support pages.” The interior pages should support the category page. For example, an interior page for car accidents could talk about how different types of car insurance impacts your client’s compensation.

Ideally, pages based around your law firm should highlight your attorneys, awards, case results, client reviews, experience, etc.

Here’s an example URL structure for your website using the above page types:

example.com (homepage)
example.com/car-accident/ (category page)
example.com/car-accident/car-insurance/ (interior page)
example.com/truck-accident/ (category page)
example.com/truck-accident/fatal-truck-accident/ (interior page)
example.com/about/ (firm information)
example.com/about/attorney-name-bio/
example.com/about/our-awards/
example.com/contact/
example.com/blog/
example.com/blog/blog-title-here/

Dan

Dan's Pro Tip

Keep your URL's short, concise, and descriptive.

While Google says there isn’t any SEO benefit for shorter URLs it’s a better user experience, especially since Google shows URLs in its search results.

High-Quality Legal Content and SEO Optimization

We’ve all heard the phrase “content is king” more than we can remember, but it might be even truer now than ever before.

Since Google’s “Medic Update” in August 2018, Google seems to have placed more emphasis on high-quality content than it has in the past.

Interestingly enough, it was named the “Medic Update” because initial signs of the algorithm update pointed to websites in the medical field seeing the biggest impact. However, it wasn’t just medical websites that saw big impacts; it seemed to be particularly aimed at YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) websites.

YMYL For Lawyers

Google’s Quality Evaluator Guidelines define YMYL websites as, “Some types of pages or topics could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety. We call such pages “Your Money or Your Life” pages, or YMYL.”

Google even specifically categorizes website in the legal field as YMYL websites: “Civics, government, and law: information important to maintaining an informed citizenry, such as information about voting, government agencies, public institutions, social services, and legal issues (e.g., divorce, child custody, adoption, creating a will, etc.)”

Since law firm websites fall under the YMYL category, Google will scrutinize the content more than a website about less serious categories. Like jokes, for example.

When evaluating YMYL content, Google may try to interpret signals related to your expertise, authority, and trust.

E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trust) for Legal Content

E-A-T is a set of guidelines mentioned in Google’s ‘Quality Evaluator Guidelines’ which helps evaluators (and ultimately its algorithm) analyze the quality of a given website or company.

How does an algorithm define the expertise, authority, or trust of your firm?

I asked Senior SEO Analyst at Marie Haynes Consulting Callum Scott to weigh in on the concept of E-A-T and how Google might use it for law firms.

Callum and the entire Marie Haynes team are the foremost experts when it comes to E-A-T and often writes about the subject.

Here’s what Callum had to say on the subject of E-A-T in the legal field:

Outside Expert Tip:
What is E-A-T and Why is it Important?

E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust. It is a prominent concept throughout Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines.

In our option, E-A-T is best understood as the lens through which Google conceptualizes the quality of a website and it’s content in a way that humans can understand. It encompasses a general framework for what, to human eyes, the content it’s algorithms will be serving for queries if the algorithm is doing its job properly.

Google is clear that for YMYL content, like in the legal industry, their goal is to provide content to users that appear to have high E-A-T.

We don’t know exactly how Google measures E-A-T (or if they even can), but there are a few best practices that may satisfy Google and your users.

  • Authorship Expertise – Write high-quality, in-depth content not only for your own website but other high authority sites. Google can associate your name or law firm via backlinks or mentions from high authority websites. If you consistently write relevant, high-quality content, Google may be more likely to consider you an expert.
  • Client Reviews – Clients reviews help show potential clients and search engines what someone can expect when contacting you.
  • Add On-Page signals – Add relevant case results, client reviews, accolades, etc.

What makes legal content high-quality?

  • Relevance – Your law firm’s content needs to be relevant to your target audience. You’re likely targeting the general population so your content needs to address their needs.
  • Be Clear – The general population doesn’t want to read hard to understand legal jargon. Break it down so potential clients can understand what you’re saying. If you use legal terms define them so the layperson can understand.
  • In-depth Answers – Answer all of your potential clients’ questions in a simple to understand concepts.
  • Show your E-A-T – When potential clients are looking for a lawyer they want to know that you are an expert in your field, authoritative, and trustworthy.

Further, I asked SEO expert and Zyppy founder Cyrus Shepard to share an undervalued aspect of SEO in relation to E-A-T and this was his response:

Outside Expert Tip:
What is E-A-T and Why is it Important?

An underappreciated component of E-A-T is Google’s huge interest in your online reputation, e.g. what other people online say about you. In local SEO, this can take the form of review sites, citations, links and even unlinked mentions using entities. Basically, you want a situation where 1) important people/sites are talking about you and 2) they say generally positive things.

Keyword Usage in Legal Content

The days of stuffing exact match keywords a specific amount of times (A.K.A keyword density) throughout your page are long gone.

In the past, websites could slap their target keyword into subpar content a bunch of times and outrank their competitors.

While I still suggest using your primary keywords in your content a few times, keyword stuffing is no longer a useful tactic.

After choosing your target keyword for each page I suggest using it in your title tag, H1 tag, and once or twice more throughout your page.

Lastly, don’t force it. Your pages should be written in a language your users understand, so when using keywords, work them naturally into the content.

Technical SEO for Law Firms

Technical SEO is a niche of its own in the broad scope of SEO.

Some people in the SEO industry work exclusively on the technical side. But for the purpose of this article and the relatively small websites most law firms have, we’ll stick to the most important and simple aspects.

 

Mobile Friendliness

In April 2015, Google made a big push to make the web more mobile-friendly by introducing an update that favored mobile-friendly websites. Having a mobile-friendly website is a far better user experience for users searching from their cell phones or tablets.

Most law firm websites I look at today are mobile-friendly, and many content management systems (CMS) now automatically make your website responsive to any device type.

In March of 2018, Google made another push by officially launching mobile-first indexing. This update was launched due to most searches being done on a mobile device, so it made sense for Google to use the mobile version of your site to crawl and rank your site.

Google defines mobile-first indexing as “…our crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have typically used the desktop version of a page’s content, which may cause issues for mobile searchers when that version is vastly different from the mobile version. Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.”

Is My Website Mobile-Friendly?

Fortunately, Google has made a free tool to test your website’s mobile-friendliness. To see your results visit Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool here. After the page has loaded enter your website URL at the top of the page.

For example, here’s a screenshot showing the results for our website:

Google clearly tells you if your page is mobile-friendly or not, and gives you additional resources to learn more. The tool also shows you an example of what your page looks like on a mobile device.

If your website isn’t mobile-friendly yet, I highly recommend putting in the time to update your website. Here’s a great resource from Google on how to make your website mobile-friendly.

 

Website Speed

In January 2018, Google announced that page speed would be a ranking factor for mobile searches.

Google wants to send searchers to websites with good user experiences, and slow load times certainly aren’t a good user experience.

Fortunately, there are plenty of tools around the web to help gauge your page speed and even suggestions on how to make your page faster.

Google has its own free page speed testing tool called PageSpeed Insights to better help website owners get an idea of how fast their page loads.

Once you visit the page type in your URL then click “Analyze.” After a few seconds, Google displays your page speed score along with suggestions on how to make it faster.

Here’s an example report for one of our client’s websites OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers:

If your website comes back with a low score I suggest reading through Google’s best practices for improving page speed here.

Structured Data & Schema for Attorneys

Structured data and schema in SEO are data that is organized and tagged in a way that helps search engines better interpret it.

There are many different types of data that can be marked up with schema such as client reviews, events, business information (such as your law firm’s location), etc.

Most types of schema can be used across any industry, but there is schema markup specific to those in the legal field.

LegalService Schema Markup
Schema.org defines LegalService markup as: “a business that provides legally-oriented services, advice, and representation, e.g. law firms.”

It’s likely that Google already knows that your business is a law firm based on the content, but it never hurts to give Google more information.

There are multiple accepted ways to markup content with schema code on your website. You can use Microdata, RDFa, and JSON-LD. Google currently recommends using JSON-LD, but any format will work.

I also prefer JSON-LD due to the ease of use. With Microdata you need to wrap the corresponding code and content in the body of your page. Combining Microdata code with your page code can cause formatting issues if not done correctly.

On the other hand, JSON-LD is code in which you can either put it in the head of your code or the body. You don’t need to wrap JSON-LD with any frontend copy.

If you have Google Tag Manager installed on your website it’s super easy to create a tag where you can place your JSON-LD code. This can save time for your developers as they won’t need to do anything on their part.

Creating schema code
If you’ve never coded anything before, fear not. There are multiple resources around the web to help you get started.

If you don’t have the time or resources to learn how to create schema code, there are multiple generators that do all the heavy lifting for you.

I prefer Microdata Generator’s Local Business Schema Generator. Just fill in the fields and it will generate your code.

Once you have your schema code, make sure to test its validity by using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. You can either test the code snippet itself or after it’s added to your website you can plug in your URL.

Here’s an example screenshot using one of our clients’ websites Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C.

You’ll notice there’s a warning if you don’t include a price range. The PriceRange field is optional and since the firm practices personal injury law there is no price range.

Notes:
If you add JSON-LD code via Google Tag Manager you won’t be able to validate your page using this tool. Google will be able to read your code once it crawls the page for ranking purposes so I suggest testing the code itself before adding it to your website.
If you’re still using the ‘Attorney’ schema type you should update to LegalService as ‘Attorney’ has been deprecated and is no longer valid.

A backlink (AKA links) is a clickable link from a website that points to a separate website and is one of the most important factors in both SEO and lead generation.

Google essentially counts backlinks as votes. Due to Google’s PageRank algorithm, the more high-quality, relevant links pointing to your website, the higher likelihood your website will rank higher.

Types of Links

Not all links are created equally. The two types of links you need to know about are Follow links and Nofollow links.

Follow Links

Follow (AKA DoFollow) links are essentially links that pass on value by counting as a vote which influences Google’s search engine rankings.

NoFollow Links

NoFollow links are links that do not pass value and do not influence Google’s search engine rankings.

However, just because NoFollow links don’t pass value for Google’s ranking algorithm it doesn’t mean they’re valueless.

NoFollow links are a part of every natural link profile. And like mentioned before, shouldn’t be ignored. The goal is to generate leads and gain new clients, not just improve search rankings.

In fact, many of the websites your potential clients visit every day will only link to your website using NoFollow links including Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.

At this point in your campaign, I wouldn’t focus too much on Follow vs NoFollow links. It’s extremely common for even the most experienced SEO experts to focus too much on follow links while disregarding NoFollow links that will directly generate leads.

What Are The Best Backlinks for Law Firms?

When creating your link building strategy, make sure to diversify your link profile and focus on authoritative links, local links, and editorial links.

If you ask 10 legal SEO experts what the best backlinks are for law firms you’ll get 10 different answers. Below are the ones that I would recommend targeting.

Local Organizations & Chambers of Commerce

Google puts a lot of value into backlinks from websites specific to your region, particularly when ranking your website in the 3-pack or Google Maps.

Google already knows where your law firm is located by your citations and address. But, backlinks from authoritative local websites like chambers of commerce help solidify your community standing and helps Google confirm that you’re part of the community.

In my experience, joining local chambers of commerce doesn’t directly lead to many new clients. However, they’re great and easy local signals for Google and often a trust signal for potential clients. Plus, many chambers offer deals on business services or products.

I asked longtime backlink expert and founder of ZipSprout Garrett French for a tip on local link building to which he said:

Outside Expert Tip:
Local Linkbuilding

The main takeaway here is that contributing to your community by sponsoring local

organizations are great for business. It helps you to build valuable relationships and get your

name in front of potential clients through brand recognition. At the same time, you can get some

valuable links to help your website rank in search results when clients need you most.

Legal Directories

Backlinks from legal directories are useful for two reasons. The top legal directories are authoritative and often use follow links to point back to your website. Additionally, the top legal directories often directly lead to new clients.

There are a seemingly infinite number of legal directories out there. Here are a few that I suggest looking into:

  • Avvo.com
  • Martindale.com
  • Lawyers.com (Free when signing up for Martindale enhanced profile)
  • Lawyer.com
  • Justia.com
  • FindLaw.com
  • HG.org
  • SuperLawyers.com
  • Lawyers.USnews.com

News articles/Blog articles

Editorialized links from news articles or blog posts are some of the best backlinks for your firm, but often the hardest to get – which is why Google loves these types of links. Unlike buying a local chamber of commerce listing or legal directory listing editorialized backlinks need to be earned.

However, popular blogs and news organizations receive a massive amount of contacts from SEO’s asking (and often spamming them) for links. When reaching out to a news organization or blog you need to provide them value.

Pitch them stories that are valuable to their readers. Maybe an interesting legal case you won, or your law firm’s local charity work.

To get started I suggest subscribing to Help A Reporter Out (HARO) which is an organization where reporters request sources for their stories.

Expert SEO Link Building Tip

There are a thousand ways to earn backlinks, and sometimes even SEO’s overlook the low hanging fruit.

I asked one of the top leaders in the SEO industry Britney Muller if she had any link-building tips. Her tip is one that even the most experienced SEOs often overlook:

Outside Expert Tip:
Forgotten Linkbuilding

Most businesses forget to leverage their already established network (both industry-wise & local) when marketing online. Discovering who is within a client’s network and finding ways of weaving them into a content/marketing strategy will help boomerang links and references back around to your client.

Resources and SEO Tools for Law Firms

There are so many SEO tools and resources to help your law firm get started, that it’s hard to know where to start. To make it easier for you, here are some of my favorite:

Moz: The Beginners Guide to SEO

This in-depth resource is arguably the most universally accepted and best introduction to SEO. It’s not specific to law firms, but most of the information is applicable to most industries.

Alternative: Google’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide

Ahrefs

This is my favorite all-in-one SEO tool. I use it for competitor analysis, backlink analysis, and as my primary rank tracking tool among other things.

However, every all-in-one SEO tool has its shortcomings. For instance, Ahrefs doesn’t track Google Map rankings, its keyword tool isn’t great with local keywords, and its API is very limited.

Alternatives: SEMRush, RankRanger, and Moz

BrightLocal

This is my go-to SEO tool to track local rankings in the 3-pack and Google Maps. They can also track organic rankings, but it’s a bit of an afterthought in my opinion. BrightLocal shines at local rank tracking and their blog is a great local SEO resource.

Alternatives: LocalFalcon and Places Scout

Moz: Check Your Online Presence

This tool allows you to easily check your law firm’s presence and NAP on top citation websites including Google, Bing, Facebook, Foursquare and more.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a must-have tool for your website. It measures the performance of your website and gives you information about your visitors, conversions, traffic sources and so much more. Best of all, it’s free.

Google Search Console

This is Google’s tool that helps show you how your website is performing in its search engine. You’ll be able to see

Choosing A Law Firm SEO Provider

There is seemingly an infinite number of amazing SEO experts and agencies that can help your business but, how do you know which one is the right one for your firm? Especially when on the other hand there are agencies out there that will cause far more harm than good – resulting in a lot of money wasted.

There aren’t any recognized SEO certifications, college degrees, bar exam equivalents, or any other industry standard recognition.

To help you evaluate the SEO expert or agency that can help your law firm thrive I’ve put together a list of items you should consider when choosing an SEO partner.

Do they offer exclusivity?

Many SEO agencies will take any and every client possible. If you’re evaluating SEO’s who specifically work in the legal field I suggest looking at the ones that offer market exclusivity.

Ask your potential partner if they have any conflicts of interest. Are they working with another law firm in your area that offers the same services?

Have they worked with law firms in your primary practice areas?

SEO best practices don’t change between industries however there are many tactic and strategy variances between industries.

SEO strategies and tactics used for a law firm will be far different and will require different skill sets and experience when compared to those of online e-commerce businesses for example.

There’s nothing wrong with going with your local SEO agency that works in many industries, but working with an SEO agency that specializes in law firm SEO will likely give you an upper hand.

You get what you pay for.

Anyone can say they do SEO. Extensive experience, results, and client references should be used to validate your agency of choice.

I can’t even count how many law firms we’ve talked to who worked with a cheap SEO agency, were scammed by one, or used their nephew who ‘does SEO.’

Cheap SEO’s often make promises they can’t keep. In fact, it’s extremely common for the cheap options to create far more harm than good.

Summary

Overall, this comprehensive guide to SEO for law firms should help any law firm or solo attorney get started with SEO. SEO isn’t a one-time project. It’s an ongoing process to increase organic leads continually.

Have questions?

Postali is here to help. If you have any questions after reading this guide feel free to contact us or reach out to me directly on Twitter @DanFoland.

Likewise, if doing your own SEO isn’t in your wheelhouse or you don’t have time, we would love to talk.