SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION (SEO) FOR LAW FIRMS

At Imageo we specialise in offering search engine optimisation (SEO) for law firms as part of a full suite of online marketing solutions for law firms, lawyers, solicitors and legal professionals from all legal sectors.

If your law firm operates in the personal injury sector, for instance, you will be familiar with our work (perhaps unknowingly). We have taken legal sites to page 1, number 1 in Google.co.uk for some of the most competitive keywords across the whole UK legal sector.

We have performed online marketing work in the legal sector for over 10 years with legal clients ranging from large law clients with daily UK TV advertising campaigns through to smaller regional law firms. None of the work we do is “off the shelf”, our law firm marketing services are specifically tailored towards the unique requirements of each company.

Search engine optimisation has evolved dramatically over many years to the extent that some popular optimisation techniques of yesteryear not only don’t work anymore, but they can actually cause harm to a website ranking so for that reason it is important to work with trusted SEO professionals so your valuable website asset is in the safest possible hands.

We’ve obtained No1 rankings in Google for highly competitive legal sector keywords.

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Modern SEO

Unsurprisingly the core search engine ranking algorithm used by Google to decide which sites should rank in which positions is an incredibly sophisticated, constantly evolving piece of code.

Google have admitted that their ranking algorithm takes into account over 200 “signals” which search engine professionals have been attempting to reverse engineer since Google became the dominant search engine.

Algorithmic (as well as manual) ranking changes are common and frequent. For sites that rank outside the first page of results, results can seem in constant flux due to frequent algorithmic changes (often focused on specific areas such as backlinks or content quality) and the effect of ranking results personalisation. This can make tracking individual keyword rankings outside of the first page of search engine results a fruitless job so although we will provide keyword tracking results the most important aspect of our SEO work is that you obtain an increased in targeted traffic which will result in additional business or brand exposure.

There are numerous SEO techniques which were once considered to be best practice SEO which either no longer work or even fall foul of Google quality guidelines.

Lawyers wanting to rank their law firm above their competitors can be assured that SEO professionals from Imageo have their finger on the pulse of the latest techniques and our experience of successfully ranking legal websites puts us in a very strong position in the UK market for law firm marketing services.

Important core SEO ranking factors

As a starting point SEO can be defined as falling into one of two main areas – on-page and off-page SEO. Sometimes different techniques will span both on-page and off-page but in the main an on-page and off-page categorisation is helpful.

There are countless different ranking techniques that fall within each categorisation with sub-categories of each so for the sake of brevity (and my sanity) only the most important areas will be noted on this page. For a more detailed discussion please contact us, we would love to discuss some of the finer points with you.

Aspects of on-page SEO

Content

In recent years Google’s ranking algorithm has been increasingly heavily skewed towards favouring well written, relevant content. Poorly written (or machine written), keyword stuffed articles will not only fail to rank, they could even contribute towards a search engine ranking penalty thus decreasing the chances of ranking successfully.

Written content for law firm websites need to be authoritative, comprehensive, unique, well written and tightly cover the area of law or legal topic. The content needs to be written in a way that is optimised for search engines as well as being informative and useful for prospective legal clients as well as being easily sharable via selected social media outlets such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

We offer a comprehensive content marketing solution for law firms, lawyers, solicitors and legal professionals which works perfectly in tandem with our SEO services.

Code

There are many technical SEO factors that are based upon ensuring that the correct code mark-up is used on a website and that it is well optimised.

Page titles need to be unique, descriptive, optimised for both SEO and end users, the correct length, entice the user to click and above all relevant. Studies have shown that click through metrics in a search results page can help to determine whether a site will rise or fall in rankings. For example, if a search result in position 9 gains more clicks than a search result in position 6, Google may consider the website in position 9 to be of a higher quality/interest to the user for the specific search term used so may improve the ranking.

As titles are often the most prominent part of a search snippet it is imperative that they are carefully crafted. The same can be said (to a lesser degree) about page descriptions.

Speed

A slow loading website is a poor user experience and can negatively affect user bounce rates (the percentage of visitors who leave the site after viewing only the page on which they land). This can negatively impact search engine visibility. Increasing the speed with which a webpage loads is an important aspect of enhancing user site satisfaction.

It is unforgivable to have a slow loading website, particularly given the prevalence of mobile device usage – more than 50% of searches conducted on Google are now on a mobile device.

Consider the poor user experience of visiting a slow website using a desktop computer on broadband, then consider visiting the same website on a mobile device using a mobile data connection. Using a mobile data connection the site could take five times longer to load than on broadband!

Slow loading websites can be speeded up by a combination of –

  • Decreasing the sheer volume of code
  • Optimising core code and scripts
  • Decreasing the size of images (with no visible impact on image resolution)
  • Utilising faster web hosting

We have been able to speed up the website of every one of our SEO clients using a combination of the above strategies – often resulting in site load speeds of 300% faster or more.

Imageo also have access to fast UK based web hosting using top of the range web servers.

Most of our clients ask us to host their website. Ask for details.

Accessibility

Google place special emphasis on websites that are responsive (sometimes referred to as mobile friendly). A responsive site optimally alters the width of the site content to fit the device being used. It is, therefore, important that your law firm has a site that passes the Google responsive test so that your company is not ranked negatively by Google. Notwithstanding the increased usability that having a responsive site offers mobile device users (now the most prevalent type of searchers on search engines).

Architecture

Ensuring that important company pages are prominent on the site, that they are linked to internally in the most effective manner and also grouped semantically is a strategy that all law SEO campaigns should follow. Improving a poor site structure can beneficially help rankings as well as user engagement and can be implemented through permanent server URL redirects (known as 301 redirects) and re-arranging content by taxonomy (if a content management platform is being used such as WordPress or Drupal).

Keywords

We will work with you to evaluate key areas that you would most like your company to rank for. In today’s SEO there is less emphasis on selecting single keywords, and more on selecting groupings of semantically similar keywords within an area of law in which you wish to rank highly for. We have a variety of tools and techniques which can assist with finding profitable keywords and key phrases within the areas of law that you wish to rank.

Aspects of off-page SEO

Backlinks

Links constitute the majority of work undertaken off page and can make or break a site. They can also be one of the trickiest aspects of SEO for law firms because if the backlink acquisition strategy is badly implemented, a poor backlink profile can penalise a site in a search engine.

There are defined best practices as dictated by search engines along with high risk link acquisition methods (often called black hat SEO) which are best avoided because although they can acquire a high rank quickly they will typically cause a site to become penalised shortly afterwards with drops in traffic of 90%.

There are specific Google algorithms (known as “Penguin”) which run periodically that are aimed at sites that Google believe have attempted to game or manipulate rankings using backlinks. Sites that are penalised by penguin updates are known to lose significant amounts of web traffic very quickly. Recoveries are notoriously difficult. If you notice in your web analytics that there is a sudden massive drop off in search engine traffic virtually overnight (30% to 90% traffic drop) then it is likely that you have received an algorithmic or manual search engine penalty (this could be related to backlinks).

Link penalties can be difficult and slow to reverse but it is possible to retrieve lost traffic. Contact us for details.

This is why the building of a backlink profile for any law firms’ website should be a work in progress that takes place carefully over months and years.

We will analyse your website backlink profile, the backlink profile of your competitors and the velocity of link acquisition over time to put together a plan of action. This will also encompass the acquisition of links from various sources such as from social media, press releases and trusted relevant websites.

Local SEO for law firms

An area of SEO that straddles both on-site and off-site SEO is known as “local SEO” and is an extremely important and effective technique to utilise for service professionals like solicitors, law firm partners, fee earners and lawyers.

Whether you are a regional law firm based in the UK, a large national law firm or a multi-national law firm across multiple jurisdictions a high proportion of business will be derived from the immediate geographic area to the office of the law firm. A large number of law firm clients will be based within a radius of the law firm office so it is important to optimise for those local search terms.

Obtaining rankings for local geographic + keyword terms can provide some of the most valuable leads to a solicitor or lawyer. Valuable search terms could take a format such as –

Whiplash claim Manchester

Chester solicitor asbestosis claim

Etc.

An important factor in ranking first page on Google or Bing for “local” keyword searches is that your law firm is represented correctly in the Google My Business entry and the Bing Places for Business equivalent. These are interfaces provided by Google and Bing that allow a company to “claim” their business in each respective search engine and provide an opportunity to submit trading information, website details, trading name, address, telephone numbers and business photographs. It is essential that these entries are set up correctly otherwise high rankings for local search terms will be very difficult to obtain.

You may have noticed local search results in Google in the form of what is known as a “map pack”. These are solely local search results for companies that are based within the areas of intent of the searcher.

An example of a local search map pack.

A Google Local Listing Map Pack

A Google Local Listing Map Pack

As well as optimising the business entry at the search engines there are at least 20 local SEO techniques that we will employ to gain your law firm high local search rankings and provide you with the best opportunity for inclusion into map pack local search results.

A non-exclusive list of areas of work include –

  • Optimising schema mark-up
  • Completeness of business listings
  • Consistent use of company contact data
  • Use of testimonials, citations and reviews
  • Duplicate business listings
  • Social media integration
  • Appropriate geographic targeting

SEO services for law firms

Our SEO services integrate best practice optimisation techniques honed over several years’ worth of highly successful rankings for clients in the legal sector.

Take a look at our law firm marketing services page for an overview of the full range of services that we can offer to ensure your law firm receives the digital presence it deserves.

If you are a solicitor or law firm professional that is interested in giving their firm an increased online presence we would love to hear from you.

Contact us by phone or via our contact form to discuss how we can help your law firm increase levels of targeted traffic to your website and enhance your business.

“If you want to attract new business online then speaking to Imageo is a must”.

Gavin Moat – Partner, Mercury Legal LLP

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