SEO FOR LAW FIRMS​

The truth about why most strategies on SEO for Law Firms are wrong and how these 5 simple revealed secrets will explode your leads.

Are you interested in getting your law firm to the #1 position in Google’s search results?

Mistake.

SEO doesn’t work like that anymore.

Targeting keywords such as “SEO for law firms”, “family law solicitors”, “No win, no fee solicitors” is the conventional approach to SEO, but I’m here to reveal why this if this is your only strategy then it completely misses the mark. There’s a much simpler way to get more traffic and leads from your website and I’m about to reveal it all to you.

Firstly, let’s try to define what the #1 position in Google actually is.

Most potential clients of a law firm will be searching from their phones. This is just the nature of B2C on the internet.

seo for law firms
Source: one of my law firm clients

That means they are mobile and may be in any location at any given time.

It also means they use different browsers, such as Safari, Chrome or Samsung Internet.

Search engine marketing for law firms
Source: one of my law firm clients

Their search results will also be determined by their previous search history (unless they switch this off which most people don’t).

All of this contributes to the fact there is no true number one position in Google anymore, search results are personalised to the user.

The pyramid below shows the behaviour percentage of people when they use the internet.

the sales pyramid for law firm marketing

Let’s look at the keywords that you may believe are effective to attract quality clients such as the ones I mentioned earlier.

I’ll make up an example based around a London-based medical negligence law firm but the strategy is the same if you are targeting other areas of law firm marketing too.

If your law firm deals with medical negligence and is based in London then the chances are you want to rank high in Google for the keyword “medical negligence solicitors London”.

This generates 939,000 Google search results, has a monthly average search volume of 480 and has a Google Ads cost per click of £15.39

example showing SEO for a medical negligence lawyer

So that means that 938,999 websites other than your own have the potential to appear for this keyword, and that excludes the Google Ads, local results, People Also Ask and all of the other distractions you’ll find on page 1 of Google.

Let’s be realistic if you’re on page 2+ you’re never going to be found by your potential customers.

One of my favourite SEO tools is Ahrefs and I’ll be referring to this a few times during this article, in fact, if you want to follow along you’ll probably need it too but we’ll get to that.

At the time of performing this Google search, osborneslaw.com/medical-negligence-solicitors/ is the number one organic Google position when I search from my laptop just outside of Chester in the UK (where I am based).

According to Ahrefs, this page appears for 179 keywords and only 7 of these appear on page 1 of Google.

The #2 result for me is leighday.co.uk/our-services/medical-negligence/ this actually has 19 keywords on page 1.

Here is an Ahrefs image showing the search results for “medical negligence solicitors London”, pay attention to the “Traffic” column:

medical negligence solicitor search engine optimization

Ahrefs is wrong about the traffic, only Google really has this information, but the given figures are somewhat useful as a rough guide. I could bore you to death with examples of case studies on why this is the case, but for now, just trust me on this one.

This means that https://www.kingsleynapley.co.uk/services/department/medical-negligence-and-personal-injury in position #6 is actually getting more traffic than the result at #1.

I can tell you from experience that this rings true when looking at Google Analytics too.

How can this be?

It’s because Google understands that “medical negligence solicitors” can mean the same thing as these other keywords:

solicitor keywords

and more.

Google is smart enough to understand the semantics of a search and the context so it can deliver the best page for that query.

Let me tell you a few marketing secrets that will change your game forever.

Secret #1 – The real money is in the 37% of people who may not yet be ready to buy but have a problem they need fixing.

Why?

It’s just a matter of some simple maths and critical thinking.

It could be further argued that if you target the other 60% and educate them, it could lead to sales too. This might apply to certain business types such as E-Commerce but for law firms, this isn’t ideal, there is, however, a way to leverage this to naturally acquire backlinks using a tactic I call “bridging posts” (I’ll cover this in another guide).

So for the sake of argument, let’s look deeper into this 37% and I’ll show you how to open the doors to floods of qualified website visitors that fit nicely into the type category of people you want as a client.

Let’s cover a few basics first.

Click Through Rate (CTR)

CTR, or click-through rate, is the proportion of searches that end in a user clicking on your website.

Your CTR will increase as your ranking for specific keywords increases.

The closer to the number one position you rank in these searches, the more visitors will be driven to your site.

According to a study by Brian Dean, the #1 position in Google has an average Click Through Rate (CTR) of 27.6%

#2 has 15.8%

#3 is 11%

and so on

A keyword in the #5 position has an average CTR of 6.3%.

Click Through Rate Image courtsey of Brian Dean showing law firm SEO
Image source: Backlinko.com

Of course, these figures are simply an average and with the right message, you can improve your CTR by enticing people to click even when your page is lower down in the search engine result.

3% vs 37% and SEO Return On Investment

What does the 3% look like?

Just to recap, the 3%ers are the search terms such as “medical negligence solicitors”, “family law solicitors”, “conveyancing lawyers”, “no win no fee law firms” etc.

Don’t misunderstand what I am saying, there is nothing wrong with having pages on your website you definitely should have them.

The problem is how competitive they are.

They have great commercial intent and stand a very good chance of converting.

The issue is how long it will take for these keywords to actually produce results.

So it makes sense to target these AND the 37% at the same time, knowing that you will get an ROI much sooner than if you neglected the 37% of other funnel searches.

What does the 37% look like?

Think back to the pyramid.

These people are experiencing some kind of problem and are looking for a solution that may require the services of a law firm:

“Tooth pain after botched dental work”

“Complaints about GP surgery”

“Can I sue my doctor”

“Suing the NHS for emotional distress”

etc

It’s a pyramid shape for a reason – there are more people as the shape becomes wider. It also meant there are a larger number of search queries being typed into Google and as you can see from my examples they actually do fit into the type of customer avatar that may need your services as a solicitor or law firm.

So, for now, please bear these two points in mind before I move on to the next reveal:

1) Click Through Rate (CTR)

2) The 37% of your target audience are not in buying mode but represent a whole load more people.

Secret #2 – Target topics, not keywords

Your current website structure may look something like this:

typical image for a law firm website

You will have other categories and other various things such as your about us page but you get a general idea.

Using the examples above, including them as new pages on your website and then using internal linking, it may then look like this:

an image showing a law firm website structure with supporting content

So why is structuring your website based around supporting content for the main category in this way a good idea?

Here are 5 simple reasons:

  1. Google’s E.A.T. – look it up if you’ve never heard of it but establishing yourself as a trusted source of information can work wonders for your marketing.
  2. It allows you to break down your SEO and work on one section of your website at a time.
  3. It creates internal links that support your main keywords.
  4. They’re easier to rank for than the 3%ers.
  5. These “supporting content” pieces often appear for many hundreds of semantically related keywords, whereas at the most your 3% keywords are usually likely to have less than 100.

This last point is critical so I’ll repeat the message.

It is the number of secondary keywords that generate the volume of traffic to your website, NOT the main or primary keyword you target, think topically.

Secret #3 – Stop trying to rank for the #1 position in Google

It would be great if you had all of your target keywords ranking at #1 in Google, no doubt about it.

But let’s keep the end goal in sight.

As the person doing the SEO for a law firm your goals should be:

  1. To generate more qualified leads for the business.
  2. To grow the overall visibility of the business brand in a positive way.

Most people have heard of the Pareto principle (otherwise known as the 80/20 rule).

This means that in reality, 20% of your efforts will generate 80% of the outcome.

20% of input creates 80% of output.

20% of workers produce 80% of the result.

20% of customers generate 80% of revenue.

and so on.

If you target the keywords that your competitors are targeting, you’ll have to find a way to compete with them.

If their website is more powerful than yours; if their content is better and if they’re doing generally more marketing than you then you’ll have a hard time competing.

In fact, if you try to compete and get your main target to #1 in Google things actually become exponentially more difficult and if you’ve read this article so far, hopefully, you’ll start to realise that it’s also fools gold.

You’ll spend 80% of your time for a 20% result.

Furthermore, you should factor in the CTR and how many people you’re actually likely to get from these search terms. Remember, unless you have a Unique Selling Point for your business your offer is likely to be no different to that of your competitors.

So let’s not do that.

Instead, let’s target the 37% in the first instance and achieve our goals.

Calculating the ROI when using this type of SEO campaign for law firms

Let’s look at what is needed for this:

Total Monthly Searches (TMS) are the total number of monthly searches for all of the primary and secondary keywords added up together. You can use Ahrefs data to get the TMS but you need to remove the branded search terms and filter for only the keywords on page 1 of Google.

Click Through Rate (CTR) is the number of clicks your page will get from the search engine result page. Some of these keywords will be at the top of page 1 of Google and others nearer to the bottom.

Conversion Rate (CR) is the number of conversions you are likely to get from the people who visit your page. Your Conversion Rate will likely be higher when you are targeting that 3% of “ready to buy” website visitors.

Average Order Value (AOV) is the value of the customer to your business. It could be expressed as either a one-time sale or as a Life Time Value (LTV). Only you will know what this is worth as it will vary from case to case and depending on which area of law you are focusing upon.

Return On Investment (ROI) represents your spending on SEO and the value you received in return with the original investment removed.

The formula for understanding different SEO ROI outcomes is:

TMS * CTR * CR * AOV = ROI

These are the variables we can use to calculate our potential ROI.

Secret #4 – How to improve your bottom line by improving the approach your law firm uses for SEO

There are a number of web pages trying to tell you how to do SEO for law firms. I’m not going to talk to you about those same things for a reason.

Because the truth is most of the information is actually wrong or overcomplicated and I’m about to show you why.

In the formula: TMS * CTR * CR * AOV = ROI the things we can influence are

  • The keywords we choose in order to target a higher TMS.
  • Improve your CTR by improving your message shown by Google
  • Improve CR by focusing on the “WHY” people should use your service as opposed to a competitor.

In order to receive more revenue for your law firm and a higher ROI for your SEO, do these five things:

  1. Fix the broken stuff on your website.
  2. Find your low-hanging fruit content and make it much better.
  3. Publish new content and make it really helpful for the user.
  4. Create a Unique Selling Point or offer that makes you different to your competitors.
  5. You’ll have to read to the end to find out this one.

Fix the broken stuff on your website

To do this break it down into two sections; Technical SEO and On-Page SEO.

I could go into depth about this (and technical SEO is something I really enjoy) but let’s keep it simple right now and say:

Make sure your website:

  • Is mobile-friendly.
  • Loads fast.
  • Has an XML and HTML sitemap.
  • Has a privacy policy, T&C page, about us and contact page.
  • Display your Name, Address and Phone number in a commonplace.
  • Has schema markup.
  • Has a well-configured robots.txt file
  • Is registered in Google Search Console and Google Analytics

and for your On-Page SEO:

  • The content is unique.
  • There are no broken or redirected links on the page.
  • Your content is useful and appropriate for your reader.

When it comes to where to place your keyword, you have limited real estate. To keep it simple, do this:

  • Place your main target keyword at the start of your meta title.
  • Ensure your meta description is good enough to be informative and entice clicks from the search result.
  • Place your target keyword within the first 100 words or close to the top of your content.
  • Use helpful images throughout, don’t use generic image names, call them something related to the topic. Use unique images and ensure their alt text describes them properly.
  • Use multiple header tags (h2,h3 etc) and use them correctly. DO NOT USE THESE SIMPLY TO STYLE YOUR TEXT – they’re a signal for search engines and people to show a hierarchy of importance NOT for styling content.
  • Include your secondary keywords within those subheader tags and use them within the paragraphs, ideally use images too and don’t forget to fill out the alt text that describes the image and has your secondary keyword in it.
  • If it helps your reader you should use rich media, such as video, tables etc to get your point across.
  • Use a single H1 tag and add your main target keyword to it.
  • Your content must be of sufficient length to get your point across and when compared to your competitor’s content but much better and helpful.

Brian Dean did a study and revealed 200 ranking factors regarding technical SEO.

200 ranking factors!

I don’t even think Brian uses all 200, he was likely iterating a point for the study but if you stick to what I’ve said above you’ll be doing fine.

Find your low-hanging fruit content and make it much better

There are two ways I like to do this:

1) Put your website into Ahrefs, click “Organic Keywords” and then use the filter to find pages/keywords that sit between positions 2 and 15 of Google.

image showing the organic keywords as shown by Ahrefs

Exclude any searches that have your brand name in.

2) Use Google Search Console and set the filter to only show positions up to 15 (this will generally show you page 1 results due to the way each entry on the SERP is counted by Google, see here for more info https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/7042828#position).

I personally add this data to Datastudio / Looker Studio so I can see the info in one place. This is a tool that I devised personally but would be happy to share how I did it. In fact, the tool is so helpful I intend to write a new post about it soon.

It looks like this:

an image showing the organic keywords using Google Search console

Although Ahrefs is a useful tool, what we’re looking at when we use Google Search Console is real data from Google itself. Sorting it by impressions and filtering by the page you want to analyse will actually give you the correct search volume for each income search phrase (provided it is on page 1 of Google as impressions (according to Google, although I have doubts) are supposedly only counted if a real person actually views your result.

Using a combination of these methods and the quick guide to on-page SEO above should give you enough data to be able to perform a tactic I call “Amplify and Improve”.

Spend time making your content super useful for the user, technically optimised correctly using real Google data and you’ll be good.

Publish new content and make it really helpful for the user

This is where the real fun begins and a stage during my SEO campaigns I call “Growth mode”.

Effectively, what we’re going to do is to find new supporting topics for your main keyword category to talk about.

It’s up to you whether this will be published as a page or a blog post but the idea is to find new topics you can prove using data your target audience will find useful.

Before we dive in, there are a few very important points I’d like to cover.

Search volume and competition

Search Volume

The search volume for your target keyword is derived from data taken from Google Ads and Clickstream.

You have to bid on the keywords with Google Ads and therefore it makes sense that people would target the 3% of people who are typing in short-tail commercial keywords such as “motoring solicitors”.

This means that if you type in a keyword that others don’t try to compete for it will:

a) report zero search volume

b) have zero Cost Per Click

How many people do you think might type in “can you go to jail for running a red light”?

image showing can you go to jail for running a red light Google search

Now, let’s apply some common sense for a minute. Everybody loses concentration whilst driving from time to time, it’s possible that quite a lot of people run a red light, right?

Google tells us it’s zero.

Now, I don’t like to divulge sensitive data about my clients but let’s just say I have a horse in this race and in fact, it appears for 392 variations of this keyword and generates over 7000 visitors per month AND I DON’T EVEN RANK AT #1 FOR THE MAIN KEYWORD.

image taken from Google analytics showing true search volume for a law firm web page

True search volume can be gleaned by applying some common sense or by finding the number of secondary keywords likely to appear when you hit publish.

Now, this is a topic in itself and I’ll write a whole new post on search volume but for now, let’s just say:

1 – Use Ahrefs and identify competitors targeting this topical keyword and have a lot of secondary keywords.

image taken from ahrefs search volume for a law firm web page

2 – Use Google trends, if there is a lot of interest (in other words, variations on what people are typing in, i.e. secondary keywords) you should see all of the boxes filled in. If there is low volume, you’ll see one or two or none at all.

Google trends graph for running a red light example 1

https://trends.google.com/

Exclusivity and search volume distribution

There are many companies that solely offer SEO to law firms and one of the questions you may have right now is, “How is it possible for you to work with both my competitor and my law firm and we target the same keywords?”

The short answer is when you use my method of SEO (and not the tactics employed by other law firm marketing companies) there is enough search volume and clients to go around.

I’d be happy to work with your law firm but if you want exclusivity it’s going to cost you! I can’t think of another marketing channel on the planet that would offer exclusive rights to just one company. But if your pockets are deep enough then let’s talk.

The other argument here is that when we target that 37% of your target customers rather than the 3%, the sheer number of potential Google searches becomes staggeringly big.

Competition

Most law firm SEO guides encourage you to begin by analysing your competitors, but should you do this?

You could spend time analysing your competitors to see what they’ve been doing but the truth is this means you’ll have to compete.

There’s nothing wrong with that except that when we are applying the 80/20 rule there are much easier actions we can take in order to achieve our two goals.

Whether you should prioritise analysing your competition depends on which “phase” your website is at and I’ll get to this shortly.

Think of an area of law that you want to target.

I started with medical negligence so I’ll go with this for now.

If you listen to advise from a lot of SEO companies they will tell you things like:

  1. You have to consider the DR/DA (meaning authority) of a website before you compete with it.
  2. You will have to build backlinks in order to rank.

Let me tell you now that these things are only half true and with the right 80/20 approach to SEO they actually very rarely apply.

My personal recommendations would be:

  1. Have better overall technical SEO than your competition.
  2. Produce 10x better content than anything currently in the Google results (SERP).
  3. Leverage internal linking.

That’s it.

It’s simple but it gets results like these:

[INSERT GRAPHS]

In these examples, I didn’t take into account the DR/DA of the competition before I published.

I didn’t build a single backlink.

Backlinks

If you are reading this article looking for a guide about how to do marketing for law firms or similar you’ll no doubt be reading articles from my competitors and you’ll notice that they will talk a lot about backlinks.

You don’t need backlinks to get great results.

For the results above I didn’t build a single one.

Now please don’t get me wrong, backlinks have their place in SEO and there’s a right and wrong way to do it.

But what I’m talking about here is an SEO STRATEGY.

If your strategy is to target the 3% of people and reverse engineer the competition and start building backlinks to compete then I’m sorry my friend but your SEO strategy is the equivalent of sending troops out of the trenches into No Mans’s lands to walk to their deaths hoping that enough of them survive in order to win the battle.

It just isn’t necessary to meet the two goals outlined earlier.

You are reading this article so you’re either a marketer or a lawyer, so the chances are you’re a smart cookie.

So let’s be smart about how you’re going to use Search Engine Optimisation to grow your law firm.

Topics that support your target 37% of potential clients

Now, let me be clear I’ve written this article to show you that I know what I’m doing so I’m not going to reveal my full hand to you.

If you want to become a client I’d be happy to have a chat, but I won’t leave you empty-handed here.

There are dozens of ways that you can find things to write about and if you do a Google search for keyword research you’ll find an endless supply of advice.

Here are a few to get you started:

https://answerthepublic.com/

https://keywordchef.com/

https://app.ahrefs.com/keywords-explorer

But there’s one source that you won’t hear mentioned often when it comes to keyword research and it’s this…YOU!

If you are a lawyer or work within a law firm you will know the type of Frequently Asked Question that always seems to come from clients.

If you are a marketer working on behalf of a law firm then have a chat with your client, between you both you’ll come up with plenty of ideas.

As I mentioned earlier, apply common sense when thinking of topics.

Keyword Research is dead, do this instead

You may be used to hearing people talking about keyword research but over time this really has become more of a PPC-related phrase.

SEO these days is more about keyword IDEATION.

According to Investopedia the definition of ideation is:

Ideation is the process of forming ideas from conception to implementation, most often in a business setting. Ideation is expressed via graphical, written, or verbal methods, and arises from past or present knowledge, influences, opinions, experiences, and personal convictions.

One of my law firm clients deals exclusively with HR & employment law and I can tell you that instead of trying to do keyword research for search terms such as “employment law solicitors” or “HR consultancy”, ideation would show:

How to fire an employee

Employment tribunal rules of procedure

Ex employee stole database

Former employee disclosing confidential information

These are ideation ideas based on the topic of employment law and HR.

When I look for supporting data on “How to fire an employee” I’m told this is searched for an average of 70 times per month throughout the UK.

Google search example for how to fire an employee

ARE YOU SERIOUS???

Now think back to the advice I gave you above regarding where this data is derived from and ask yourself

  • How true this would actually be
  • How many times does an outsourced HR department get asked this question
  • How many variations on this keyword there are likely to be

The ideation bit

What if you didn’t just write a guide on this question alone?

What if we tapped into a combination of your own personal experience and also took some guidance from Google?

image showing google ideation for how to fire an employee on behalf of an employment law solicitor

and published our content like this:

image showing how a well optimised law firm website should look

There are many fancy names for doing this and you may hear them called “clustering” or “silo structure” but in essence, they all mean the same thing.

What we’re doing is giving both Google and your target 37% of target audience exactly what they want – helpful advice and a way to demonstrate your expertise.

Who do you think these people are more likely to contact when they have a problem? The usual answer is the one who they trust most.

This leads me to my final and critical “secret”.

Secret #5 – give your customers something your competitor do not

This is the number one reason why you will fail to convert your website traffic into paying customers.

Ever hear the saying, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”?

Let’s say a potential customer is looking for a law firm because they have an issue they need help with.

You’ve done everything right up until this point and now you’re sharing the Google result page with a bunch of other similar companies all vying for the same client.

How does the user decide who to pick?

To stop this person from bouncing back to the Google results you have to stop them in their tracks dead.

Offer them something that makes them think, “Wow”.

The concept of no win, no fee is an old one but this is a good example of an offer that worked.

Your Unique Selling Point (USP)

Let’s face it, there are enough people looking for the services of a law firm at any given time and the owner of the business probably knew this before the company started.

It may be that you think you don’t need a USP for this reason and to be fair it may be true.

But having an offer that your competitors do not is a complete game changer.

It is the difference between having 100 people on your website who bounce and 100 who convert into customers.

Some ideas off the top of my head are:

  • A settlement calculator that could show a user the potential of compensation payout coming their way.
  • A chatbot that links to a live solicitor so the user can ask further questions.
  • Interactive content – introduce a filter to your content that allows people to get to their answers quicker.
  • Depending upon the issue, show the user the worst-case scenario they could face (i.e. jail time, hefty fine) if they don’t take immediate action.
  • A series of short videos with Q&A’s from a solicitor on the topic at hand.

You can be creative with this but one way you could reach this point is by listing all of the features and benefits your law firm has compared to others.

For example:

Features

  • More lawyers than any other local law firm
  • Low prices
  • A dedicated lawyer or barrister per case
  • Legal aid accepted
  • Helpful allies and connections within the specific area of law such as therapy and counselling, rehabilitation services
  • Regional offices

You will know your company better than I do.

Now, think of these in turn and turn them into benefits for the potential client:

Benefits

  • Your case will be dealt with quickly due to having more available staff.
  • Lower prices attract more people when trying to cost save.
  • Continuity through a personal one-to-one connection with a single lawyer/barrister during the case.
  • Accepting legal aid opens your doors to a lot more potential people.
  • Having related bridging connections helps to provide a more holistic and gestalt service that becomes much more helpful for a customer.
  • Regional offices allow people to meet their lawyer face-to-face.

How you present these features and benefits whilst your website visitor is still within the 37% information-gathering mode is the difference between an interested reader and a converted customer.

“With more regional offices and over 50 legal staff available, we get to your case quicker than most law firms. Not only will we support the legal side of your issue, but our industry partners can also offer you physical and emotional recovery support too.”

Make it as easy as possible for your visitors to get in touch with you. Remove as many barriers as possible and remember most people will be using their phones when searching for a law firm.

Putting it all together as a strategy for Law Firm SEO

I said earlier:

In the formula: TMS * CTR * CR * AOV = ROI the things we can influence are

  • The keywords we choose in order to target a higher TMS.
  • Improve your CTR by improving your message shown by Google
  • Improve CR by focusing on the “WHY” people should use your service as opposed to a competitor.

So hopefully now you can see how we can influence these different factors in a variety of ways but there is one absolutely critical point I left out on purpose.

In order to receive more revenue for your law firm and a higher ROI for your SEO, do these five things:

  1. Fix the broken stuff on your website.
  2. Find your low-hanging fruit content and make it much better.
  3. Publish new content and make it really helpful for the user.
  4. Create a Unique Selling Point or offer that makes you different to your competitors.
  5. You’ll have to read to the end to find out this one.

It’s the last point. I said you would have to read until the end to find out my 5th point

The secret sauce that actually makes this approach to SEO for a law firm work like crazy

You see, there is actually a secret sauce that makes all of these points not only work but make it work like crazy.

The tactics outlined above do work but without this last final step, you’ll only see good results and not GREAT results.

Do you want to know what it is?

Well sorry, folks but this is one I’m keeping to myself!

But if you want me and my team to handle your SEO you only have to ask.

Get in touch with me here or use one of the boxes below.

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