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Law Firm SEO: Expert Tips, Companies, & Strategies

October 22, 2019
October 22, 2019 Brett Farmiloe

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Law Firm SEO: Expert Tips, Best Companies, & Marketing Strategies

Everything to know about law firm SEO. Get website marketing tips, research the best law firm SEO companies, and leave feeling like a law firm SEO expert.

You want your law firm website to attract potential clients to your practice areas through internet marketing tactics like SEO (search engine optimization).

What can you or a law firm SEO company do to get on the first page of Google and get phone calls from new clients?

In this post, we’ll dive into all the important elements around law firm SEO. Read on, or click a link above in the Table of Contents to jump to the section that interests you most.


What makes a Law Firm SEO Expert?

There’s not an exam that you pass to become a law firm SEO expert.

So what makes up a law firm SEO expert?

Quite simply, a lawyer SEO expert knows how search engine optimization works and how to apply SEO best practices to increase the visibility of a law firm online.

A few things an expert should know and include in their marketing services: 

Local SEO knowledge. Clients of law firms are primarily on the local level. A law firm SEO expert needs to know Google My Business, and how to get your law firm in both the local listings and organic search results of Google.

Quality Content. Blogging about personal injury isn’t easy. An expert needs a process to create high-quality articles for your target audience. Low-quality content won’t rank in organic search results, and may drive potential clients away.

Backlinks. Link building is a critical part of a law firm’s marketing strategy. The legal industry is highly competitive. An expert should be able to build a link profile on both the local level, and within the legal industry, to help a law firm’s website rank for competitive keywords.

Legal Directories. Avvo, Yelp, and more sites with directory listing features help build online visibility for your law firm.

Technical SEO. Title tags, meta descriptions, search engine snippets, page speed, and other on site SEO elements pertaining to web design should all be within an expert’s skill set.

Demonstrated knowledge. Just like lawyers write articles for publications, SEO experts often share their best digital marketing practices on outlets like Forbes.

PPC. Legal keywords can cost up to $150 per click and more. An expert will know how to use search engine optimization to avoid paying those high costs.

Social Media. SEO and Social Media can work together. An expert should know how to increase social shares organically through content marketing.

That’s quite a bit of expertise. Let’s dive in further into each area. If you’d like to skip to your section, click a link below.

Local SEO for Law Firms
Content Marketing for Law Firms
Backlinks For Law Firms
Legal Directories For Law Firms
Technical SEO for Law Firms


local seo

Local SEO for Law Firms

Local SEO markets the services of your law firm at the exact moment when a potential client needs an attorney.

There are three ranking factors for Local SEO: Relevance, Distance, and Prominence.

Relevance

Let’s take a look at the Google My Business results for personal injury attorneys in Phoenix:

personal injury google my business

You can see a map of law firms nearby the local search, along with a sponsored ad and the top 3 organic listings.

Let’s take a closer look at these results. What do you notice?

The first thing that stands out is the “Category” of each result: “Personal Injury Attorney.” Each business owner has self-identified that their firm is about “personal injury.” This is significant because “Relevance” is a local ranking factor.

Just look at a few of the options lawyers have at their disposal with Google My Business categories:

attorney categories google my business

Selecting the right practice area on a Google My Business listing significantly impacts how your firm appears in a Google search.

Another thing that stands out? Business hours! This search was conducted after traditional business hours (6:04pm) and the local results show three firms that are either open 24 hours or until 10pm.

Again, Google cares about the user experience and the relevance of search results. If a business isn’t open, how valuable is that result to a searcher? Perhaps that’s why Google allows a searcher to filter by “Hours” (only one of two filters available for searchers):

google my business attorneys

Distance

Now, what about distance – another significant ranking factor for local search?

The top 3 results for our search were Goldberg & Osborne, Lamber Goodnow, and Kelly Law Team. In looking closer at the map, these certainly aren’t the closest law firms to our local search. But, they are relatively close.

local seo law firm

Prominence

Prominence, according to Google, is how well-known a business is. We’ll cover Prominence more in the Backlinks for Law Firms section of this article, as well as the Technical SEO section. But, items like links, articles, local citations, online reviews, local keywords, and even schema markup factor into this umbrella category. Basically, anything online marketing related that falls outside of “Relevance” and “Distance.”

You can learn more about how Google determines local ranking here, or read on as we examine these top results in greater detail.


content marketing

Content Marketing for Law Firms

Great content appears in search rankings. Simple as that.

Your firm needs an SEO agency that can produce great content around client faqs and keywords pertaining to your practice areas.

For example, let’s say you are a criminal defense lawyer in Phoenix looking to build up your personal injury practice. If you are considering PPC vs SEO, you’ll quickly find out that the keyword “personal injury lawyer phoenix” commands a cost of $150 per click.

personal injury lawyer cost per click

And not only that, but only an estimated 11% of all clicks go towards paid advertisements. The other 89% of clicks go towards organic search results.

Here’s an example of PPC advertisements:

personal injury lawyer paid ad

And, skipping over the Google My Business results we covered in the previous section, here are the organic search results on Google for “personal injury lawyer Phoenix”)

personal injury lawyer organic search results

So, the $108,000 question (1,200 monthly searches for “phoenix personal injury lawyer” x 5% click through rate on a paid ad x $150 cost per click x 12 months of running PPC ads = $108,000) is how can a law firm use a SEO campaign to rank organically for this keyword?

To answer that question, let’s look at the top results for this search query.

The top result is the home page of a personal injury lawyer in Phoenix (which, interestingly enough, also markets their Chicago based practice).

top result personal injury

The #3 result is a personal injury practice area page of a law firm.

serp personal injury lawyer

6 out of the top 10 search results (and 3 out of the top 5) are directory style listings of the “Best” personal injury attorneys in Phoenix (Superlawyers.com, Yelp, Expertise.com, Justia.com, Avvo, FindLaw.com).

best personal injury lawyers

The bottom two results are also the home pages of personal injury attorneys.

bottom serp results

What do these search engine results pages (SERPs) tell us about Content Marketing for Law Firms?

  • Searcher intent is around finding the best personal injury attorney in Phoenix
  • 60% of content in the top search engine rankings are about the “BEST” and are directory style listings
  • To compete on personal injury, a law firm should have a primary focus on personal injury

There’s also a variety of insights from these SERPs that can help inform and guide a marketing strategy.

  • Law firms should focus on long-tail keywords (like car accident lawyers in phoenix, slip and fall lawyers, etc) to establish authority on the personal injury category
  • Law firms should create directory style “BEST” content listing out other personal injury lawyers in Phoenix, as well as their own law firm, in order to satisfy searcher intent
  • Getting visibility in Local SEO listings, based on distance, may be a way to connect with nearby potential clients

Search terms are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to content marketing. Above all, producing high quality content that focuses on the user experience is the best way to appear in a local search. Doing the keyword research, identifying content type, and then producing great content is the complete package to getting SEO results.


backlinks header

Search engine algorithms make heavy use of backlinks. Google was founded on the premise of hypertextual web search. Links have been at the core of search engine optimization for the last twenty years, and they’re not going away any time soon.

That’s why you’ll find that many of the top search results for competitive legal keywords will be populated by companies with strong backlink profiles.

Let’s take a look at our personal injury lawyer example to show how backlinks can factor into rankings. We’ll analyze the first three company results (Lamber Goodnow, Phillips Law, and Gary Phillips) to see how their backlink profiles stack up.

Here’s the analysis:

legal seo audit

The chart above may be hard to read (click on the image to open in a new tab). It also has some SEO terminology that may need definitions.

SEO term definitions

  • Domain Rating: The relative “backlink popularity” of the website (higher = stronger). DR is based on the number of websites linking to the domain’s URLs and their backlink profile strength.
  • Backlinks: How many links point to the website in total.
  • Referring Domains: How many unique referring domains link to the website in total.
  • Organic Keywords: Total number of keywords that the website ranks for in the top 100 organic search results.
  • Organic Traffic: Estimated total monthly search traffic from the top 100 organic search results.
  • Traffic Value: The equivalent value of the organic search traffic, should that traffic have been acquired via PPC.
  • PPC Spend: Estimated amount of monthly spending through Google Ads.
  • Ahrefs Rank: The website’s position among all other websites in the Ahrefs database rated by the “strength” of the backlink profiles (lower = stronger).

With those definitions out of the way, here are some of the major takeaways of the first page search results:

  • The #1 result has the highest domain rating (55). The #2 result has the second highest domain rating (40). The #9 result has a Domain Rating of (29).
  • Backlinks and Referring Domains also follow this trend, where the top ranked domain has the highest number of Backlinks & Referring Domains, followed by the #2 result, and then by the #9 result.
  • The gap between the #1 and #9 result is quite large; their #1 result is about 7x larger than the #9; meaning it will be hard to overtake that result in organic search
  • This traffic is valuable. The #9 result, despite driving just a couple hundred organic search visits per month, is estimated to be driving the equivalent of $24,000 / month in PPC replacement costs. That’s because personal injury keywords can cost up to $150 per click.
  • The only law firm not spending on PPC is the #1 result (probably because they don’t have to).

Those are some solid takeaways, and the numbers speak for themselves. But to truly understand backlinks, and how each law firm website arrived in their respective search rankings, it would be beneficial to take a look at each site. Let’s go even deeper into backlinks and analyze the backlink profile of each search result. Just click on the accordion below, or, you can skip to the next section on Best Legal Directories.

Lamber Goodnow

Let's start by analyzing the #1 search result (Lamber Goodnow's law firm website).

  • Domain Rating: 55
  • Backlinks: 14,700
  • Referring Domains: 740

This produces 8,900 organic keywords, that drive about 4,000 visits from organic search, which carries a traffic value of $209,000 / month if you were to pay for that traffic through PPC.

No wonder why they're the number one ranking. Their backlink profile is almost 7 times larger than the #9 search result.

seo audit lamberseo audit organic traffic

backlink analysis

Super interesting. The best backlinks are a combination of scholarships (Girl Scouts & NDSCS), directories, and blogs (Digital Guardian).

Now, let's analyze whether their link profile is "trusted" by checking in on the Majestic SEO tool.

majestic topical trustflow

TrustFlow score is high (above 10), TrustFlow / Citation Flow ratio isn't great (below 0.75), and the Topical Trust Flow doesn't align with services (Computers).

To double check why this link profile isn't scoring as well in Majestic, we can use SEMRush to check on "toxic" backlinks. This tool can detect backlinks that may be negatively impacting your search rankings.

toxic backlinks semrush

While there isn't a high number of potentially toxic backlinks (1%), there are 17 referring domains that could be considered toxic. This may be throwing off the Majestic tool a bit, and these toxic links could be considered for removal.

To recap, by analyzing backlinks from Lamber Goodnow, we learned:

  • Link profile is "large" and "authoritative" according to the top performing backlinks from Ahrefs
  • Link profile is "not focused" according to the Topical TrustFlow from Majestic
  • Link profile is "semi-trusted" (with 1% toxic links) according to SEMRush

In all likelihood, the sheer size of the link profile for Lamber Goodnow is likely helping them achieve a number one ranking for "personal injury" in Phoenix.

Phillips Law

On to the #2 search result (Phillips Law firm website).

  • Domain Rating: 40
  • Backlinks: 5,360
  • Referring Domains: 363

This produces 20,300 organic keywords (likely because Phillips Law has more content on their website), which produces an estimated 11,100 visits from organic search each month. The traffic value is an astronomical $303,000 / month - if the law firm were to pay for each click through PPC.

law firm seo analysislegal seo analysis

Using SEMRush this time, what high-quality backlinks point to this website?

law firm backlinks semrush

The backlinks include a combination of directories, blogs, and even a Wikipedia page.

Now, let's use Majestic to analyze the "trust" and "relevance" of their website based on links.

law firm search engine optimization

TrustFlow score is high (42), TrustFlow / Citation Flow ratio is excellent (well above 0.75), and the Topical Trust Flow aligns with services (Society / Law). These are all positive metrics.

Let's use SEMRush to check on "toxic" backlinks.

law firm link building

These results are concerning, and it's the reason why multiple SEO tools should be used in a backlink analysis. SEMRush is reporting a "high" number of toxic backlinks (6% or 33 referring domains) with an even higher number of "potentially toxic" backlinks (17% or 92 referring domains). This backlink profile looks dangerous, and the SEO company should consider getting rid of toxic backlinks by removing or disavowing them.

To recap, by analyzing backlinks from Phillips Law, we learned:

  • Link profile is "large" and "authoritative" according to the top performing backlinks from Ahrefs
  • Link profile is "focused" according to the Topical TrustFlow from Majestic
  • Link profile is "highly toxic" (with 23% toxic or potentially toxic links) according to SEMRush

There's good news and bad news in this backlink analysis for Phillips Law. Regardless, they're at the #2 result and generating some valuable organic search traffic for their firm.

Gary Phillips

Now, let's take a look at how the #9 search result (Gary Phillips law firm website) stacks up.

  • Domain Rating: 29
  • Backlinks: 1,500
  • Referring Domains: 128

This produces 289 organic keywords, that drive about 255 visits from organic search, which carry a traffic value of $24,000 / month if you were to pay for that traffic through PPC.

law firm seo campaignlaw firm seo strategy

Now, what are the high-quality backlinks this site has secured?

high quality backlinks

It looks like a combination of these links are local directories, blogs, and the law firm's SEO company.

Then, we can take a look at the Majestic tool to see if their link profile is "trusted."

majestic seo tool

Looks like a trusted site because TrustFlow score is high (above 10), TrustFlow / Citation Flow ratio is good (above 0.75), and the Topical Trust Flow aligns with services (Society / Law).

One more check on "toxic" backlinks from SEMRush.

toxic backlinks for law firm

No toxic backlinks!

So, by analyzing backlinks from Gary Phillips, we learned:

  • Link profile is "local" according to the top performing backlinks from Ahrefs
  • Link profile is "relevant" according to the Topical TrustFlow from Majestic
  • Link profile is "trusted" (with 100% non-toxic links) according to SEMRush

All of these insights help explain why Gary Phillips is on the first page of search results for "personal injury" in Phoenix.

What’s the takeaway from all this analysis? 

  • Backlinks matter to search ranking
  • More authority can lead to higher rankings
  • Building authority with high-qualitylink building can be done in a variety of ways (scholarships, blogs, legal directories)

Best Legal Directories For Law Firms

Here are the best legal directories for law firms:

  • Avvo
  • Superlawyers
  • Yelp
  • Expertise
  • FindLaw
  • Justia
  • Lawyers.com
  • Thumbtack

Have your marketing company get you listed on these legal directories as part of your marketing strategy. Then check Google Analytics to see what type of referral traffic (and leads) you’re receiving from each source.

Here’s more information about each directory.

Avvo.com - The first legal directory typically mentioned in a legal marketing conversation is Avvo. Avvo has ratings, online reviews, and disciplinary records for lawyers in every state. Users can get free legal advice, find the right lawyer, and make informed legal decisions. Lawyers can get listed on Avvo, and run PPC ads on the platform to drive qualified referral traffic to their web pages.
Superlawyers.com - another legal directory that enables users to find lawyer profiles and business page listings for law firms. Owned by Thomson Reuters, getting your business name and phone number listed on SuperLawyers is a checkbox item for any law firm marketing strategy.
Yelp.com - the most popular online reviews and recommendation platform that exists. Enables users to find the best restaurants, dentists, bars, salons, doctors...and lawyers. Yelp is a necessary component to an online marketing strategy. Even though some firms don't want to expose themselves to negative online reviews, simply being listed on Yelp creates a critical local citation and helps with local SEO.
Expertise.com - hire the best local experts, whether that's a landscaper or a lawyer. Recently Expertise.com has been appearing for high volume keyword searches like personal injury lawyers in CITY NAME. Because Expertise.com has visibility in these local searches, adding your law firm to their directory will only help with your marketing campaigns.
FindLaw.com - Users can find trusted, free legal information through news and do-it-yourself forms. They can also find a legal professional for criminal law, family law, or any legal category. Any Legal SEO campaign should include a listing on FindLaw.com.
Justia.com - Justia provides free databases of US Law, Case Law, Codes, Statutes, and more. Lawyers and students love Justia for the free law and legal information. Your law firm can also be listed in their directory, under categories like Injury Law, Family Law, Estate Planning, Real Estate Law, Intellectual Property, Employment & Labor, Criminal Law, Business Law, Immigration, Foreign & International, and more.
Lawyers.com - Pretty straightforward legal directory. Find the right lawyer for your legal issue. Get free legal information. Ask lawyers for advice. Solve your legal problem. No matter what your area of law - medical malpractice to civil litigation - every law firm has a place on lawyers.com.
Thumbtack.com - not a directory for every law firm. This platform is for people who need to hire someone fast - typically a landscaper or a DJ. But, Thumbtack is appearing in local searches for attorneys. Because of this, it's worth it to register your business and be listed.

technical seo header

Technical SEO Services for Law Firms

Technical SEO helps search engines discover and index content on your law firm website.

Why is Technical SEO important to a law firm? Well, sometimes a website redesign or an innocent error can cause search engine traffic to go like this:

why is technical seo important

Technical SEO ensures that your website stays clear of issues that could derail your SEO campaign.

What makes up Technical SEO? Here are a few areas of focus:

  • Title Tags, ALT Tags, Meta Descriptions
  • User Experience
  • Page Speed
  • Snippets
  • Web Design
  • Mobile Optimization
  • Internal Links
  • Rendering & Structured Data

The process behind Technical SEO starts with an audit to identify issues within your website. This audit gives an SEO company a list of items to address, as well as an overall “health score” for your website.

technical seo audit score

From there, a company will identify and implement solutions to address these issues. Once issues are addressed, a company will work on improving appearance in a search engine through Schema markups that produce snippets in search results. These snippets can help improve user experience and click through rates on search engine results pages.

Bottom line: there’s too many ranking factors within Technical SEO to ignore. Make sure that Tech SEO is within the scope of work for any SEO services.


What are the best law firm SEO companies?

Here’s six of the best law firm SEO companies.

  • Markitors
  • Lawlytics
  • PBJ Marketing
  • Radix Interactive
  • Juris Digital
  • iLawyerMarketing

Click on the accordion below to learn more about each company.

We’re biased. But, you’re here for a reason. We’re good at what we do, which is attracting inbound traffic for target keywords.
LawLytics is the legal marketing system built exclusively for lawyers, by a team of former attorneys. While they focus more on their software than SEO, they do have a content team made up of former legal professionals who can create expert level content.
Full-service digital marketing company who has worked with companies large and small across many different industries.
Legal marketing with services like Search Engine Optimization, Website Design, Social Media Management, PPC Management, and Reputation Management.
Juris Digital builds, optimizes, and promotes useful website that help law firms get more cases. They specialize in SEO, content marketing, and paid search.
Legal marketing solutions like Pay Per Click Management, SEO, and Custom Website Design.

And, here’s our video.


How to vet SEO services for attorneys.

There’s 16,000 digital marketing agencies in the United States. How do you find the right SEO service to support your law firm?

1. Review case studies. Take a look at the SEO company website. What case studies exist that highlight client stories, demonstrating their ability to get results for your law firm?

2. Conduct interviews. Schedule 15-minute introductory calls with each of the companies listed above.

3. Ask for a proposal. SEO service providers are happy to provide you with a proposal. Is the information standard, or customized to your legal practice?

4. Ask other marketing experts. Everyone knows someone who “does” SEO. Ask them for their advice, referrals, and recommendations.

5. Conduct a background check. Not in the literal sense. But there are several ways you can learn about a company online.

6. Tour the office. Last but not least, tour the office. There’s no hiding who you are (and, who you aren’t) by making a personal visit to the HQ of a SEO company.


SEO Strategy Tips for a Law Firm

Law Firm SEO Keywords is where an SEO strategy starts. Here are some keyword structures and tips that should help craft the foundation for your online marketing.

1. Practice Area + CITY NAME. Personal Injury Lawyers in Phoenix. As we’ve seen in this article, these keywords have high competition but can drive more potential clients to your firm.

2. Directory Listings. Searchers are simply looking for the best law firms. Creating content that provides a list of law firms around a given practice area or locality has proven to perform well.

3. Settlements. Have a high profile case that ended in a positive result? Create a case study or article illustrating the work that was done to arrive at the result. Many cases have search volume around them.

4. FAQs. The questions clients ask you are the same questions they ask a search engine. Answers these FAQs in an article can help attract potential clients with the same needs as current clients.

5. Local News. Does your firm cover auto accidents? Consider incorporating the coverage of local auto accidents on your law firm website as part of your SEO campaign. That way, when people search “accident on the FREEWAY NAME” – your firm appears for brand awareness and topical content.


Law Firm SEO Tools

Here are the top tools to utilize when performing SEO for law firms:

1. Google – Search Console, Google Analytics, Google Search, Google Page Speed, and Google My Business all provide incredible insights to move digital marketing forward.

2. Lawlytics – LawLytics is an easy and intuitive platform for running law firm websites that work. Attorneys use LawLytics to have a more effective web presence.

3. Ahrefs – Audit your law firm website, explore competitors, research keywords & backlinks – all in one place. Powered by seriously big data & trusted by top SEOs.

4. Moz Local – Check your law firm’s local listings across multiple directories to consistent business name, phone number, address, and more.

5. Clearscope – Content creation powered by natural language processing and IBM Watson machine learning.


What to expect with Law Firm SEO Pricing

We’ve covered a lot in this guide to Law Firm SEO. From Content to Backlinks, Technical SEO to Local SEO – there’s a lot to achieving more visibility online through organic search.

So what should you expect in regards to pricing? In general, expect to spend between $2,500 – $5,000 per month on Law Firm SEO services.

According to one Law Firm SEO company: 

Our ongoing SEO programs begin at $2,000 per month. At this cost we’d be able to produce for a single area of practice in a single market. As the number of practice areas and the competition of the market increases, as do our rates. The majority of our clients are in the $5,000 per month range.

Our company has three SEO packages.

The starter package is $1,500 / month. Our standard package is $2,500 / month. And, our premium package is $5,000 / month. Each package contains Content, Digital PR, and Technical SEO.

Expenses that drive up the cost of Legal SEO include:

  • Expert writers & editors. Creating legal content calls for experts (legal professionals). These hourly rates for writing are not cheap.
  • Directory fees. Getting listed in a high value directory sometimes requires a placement fee.
  • SEO Tools. Whether you’re doing SEO independently or through a company, tools that can help deliver key insights require steep monthly fees.
  • Industry. The legal industry is highly competitive, which requires more hours devoted to strategy, relationship building for Digital PR, and outreach for successful results.

But the real question is, what’s the ROI of SEO?

As we saw in our Backlinks section, the value of organic search can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each month in PPC replacement costs. Factor in the value of clients, and it’s easy to see the potential value of SEO for law firms.


Have Questions?

Now that you have this guide, it’s time to execute on your marketing strategy!

If you need assistance marketing your law firm’s website, contact one of the best law firm SEO companies or Markitors by clicking the Live Chat button, filling out a contact form, or calling us.

Thanks again for reading and stopping by.

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Brett Farmiloe

Brett Farmiloe

Brett Farmiloe is the Founder & CEO of Markitors, a digital marketing company voted a best place to work 3 years in a row. He frequently contributes content about SEO, Careers, and Culture to Forbes, SHRM, Thunderbird, Huffington Post, Mashable, TIME, NextWeb, and more. And, as a dad of 3, he's about that minivan life.