SEO Secrets for Solos and Small Firms

Here are 10 easy tips for improving your website's search rankings.

SEO, SEO, SEO. You’ve been told over and over that this is the key to getting your website noticed in the vast ocean that is the Internet.

But how can a small law firm – with no in-house marketing director and limited funds for advertising – do Search Engine Optimization? And does it really matter anyway?

The answer to the second question is a resounding yes. For any given Google search, the top five results that appear on the first page will get 67.6 percent of all clicks. The top result can expect a click-through rate of 30 percent. The rate plunges as you descend the page, with the fifth result getting click-throughs of only five percent.

And if your law firm doesn’t show up until page two or three, forget about it.

“One marketing joke goes like this,” writes digital manager Connal McNamara in this article in the National Law Review. “Where should you bury something that you don’t want people to find?’ Answer: On the second page of Google.”

One way to rank high is to purchase pay-per-click advertising like Google AdWords. But that will cost you. Keywords related to “attorney” and “lawyer” are expensive – costing $50 or more per click. The price goes up if you add other descriptors like “accident” or “injury.”

But there are ways to boost your firm’s Google ranking without breaking the bank – and this is where SEO comes in.

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10 Nuggets of SEO GOLD
“SEO is a bit of an art, a bit of a science,” writes McNamara. “The art involves writing well, understanding your audience, and intuiting strategy over the long-term. The science requires an understanding of code, site architecture, changing search engine ranking factors, and measurement.”

Here are 10 tips from McNamara and other experts:

  1. Create original, compelling content. Fill your site with in-depth and interesting content that is useful to potential clients. A good way to do this is through a blog. Another tip: write guest articles for other sites. “SEO without compelling content is like having a spotless kitchen but no food to offer your guests,” says McNamara. “Content without SEO is like cooking a nice meal for your guests but forgetting to give them your street address. You need both to improve your ranking.”
  2. Make sure your site is indexed. If it isn’t, it won’t be picked up by Google’s crawling and indexing bots. This article on Real Legal Marketing offers a simple, how-to guide for site indexing.
  3. Use winning keywords throughout your site. Need help coming up with keywords? Go to Google Ads Keyword Planner. Warning: avoid keyword stuffing. Your content should be coherent and easy to read.
  4. Use long-tail keywords. These are phrases (rather than single words) that people use to search for information on the web. Example: “lawyer” is a keyword; “lawyer in Detroit, Michigan” is a long-tail keyword. Want ideas for long-tail keywords? Simply do a single-word search in Google and scroll down to the related search phrases at the bottom of the page.
  5. Add links. “Links from other players in your space—whether this is other firms, law society websites, legal publications, or business magazines—can also boost your site’s visibility in its space,” says McNamara.
  6. Post video content. In case you haven’t noticed, we live in a visual age. Videos bring higher audience engagement than text alone.
  7. Cover trending topics. “Pairing your expertise with a hot topic creates a touch point to the web community,” says Real Legal Marketing. Go to Google Trends to see what’s trending.
  8. Register with search directories. Google My Business, Avvo, Bing Directory, Yelp and Foursquare are good places to start.
  9. Ask clients and peers for online reviews. “Digital reviews are an excellent way to boost your ranking for local searches and build brand trust amongst website visitors,” writes Real Legal Marketing. “Even if a prospective client has heard glowing verbal reviews from friends and family, there’s a good chance that they’ll hop online to check out your digital presence. If the first thing they see is more 5-star reviews, you can expect a call shortly.”
  10. Make sure your site is responsive. More than half of all Internet searches are done on mobile devices.

A final word: Search engine optimization is a process. It usually takes time before you’ll see a significant improvement in your page rankings. Be patient. Start by posting one fresh piece of content on your site – or a guest post on another site – each week, then go from there.

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