SEO for law firms

A simple guide to using SEO to generate enquiries for law firms

Search engine optimisation (SEO) isn’t a new thing.  The world’s most popular search engine, Google, is actually 20 years old this year.  However, despite being the most common tool used by consumers to find products and services, search engines still aren’t at the top of the marketing agenda for many law firms.

Why some law firms don’t invest in modern marketing techniques

It is our experience that law firms rely on a variety of marketing methods for enquiries, each of which are dependent on the following factors:

  • Where a law firm is located (i.e. town or city)
  • What services a law firm offers
  • What a law firm’s budget is
  • What demographic of clients a law firm is looking to attract
  • How much time law firm staff have to dedicate to marketing

However, when it comes to modern marketing such as SEO, in the vast majority of cases, law firms will rely on methods of marketing that have worked in the past, giving little time or investment to new techniques. Much of the time, this is because those working in law firms don’t have the time or expertise to try out new methods in ways that will make them effective. However, some of the time it’s simply because some forms of modern marketing are dismissed as irrelevant.

Marketing Strategy

…for law firms.

PR

…for law firms

Websites

…for law firms

SEO

…for law firms

Social media

…for law firms

The right marketing message for your law firm

Once you know the marketing channels that work best for your law firm and its service areas, you will need to review which marketing messages are most effective when it comes to resonating with potential new clients.

Is SEO irrelevant for law firms?

Let’s take Birmingham as an example of a city with lots of law firms.  Are people looking for legal services there?  And if so, what kind of legal services?
How do you answer that question?  Conjecture?  Experience?  Or could you use SEO tools to find out what people are physically typing into search engines (if they are, of course)?

How SEO helps law firms in Birmingham to be found online

Using Google’s Keyword Planner tool, it’s possible to see that on average, every month, people based in Birmingham are making online searches for very specific areas of law. Using personal injury as an example, do you think it would be better for your law firm to be found for the search term ‘accident injury solicitors’ or ‘whiplash claims’?  It might seem the obvious choice to go for a broader term, but in fact a more specific term like ‘whiplash claims’ has 9 times as many people using it to search online, than ‘accident injury solicitors’ does at an average 90 searches to 10 per month. Similarly, people within Birmingham are most definitely using Google to find a law firm near them.  Again, using data from searches made in Birmingham, the following terms are used hundreds of times each month, to find legal services online*:

  • Solicitors in Birmingham: an average of 880 searches per month
  • Law firms in Birmingham: an average of 480 searches per month
  • Solicitors near me: an average of 390 searches per month

*All of this data is accurate as of 21/03/18.

How to see which Birmingham law firms are already using SEO to generate enquiries

When you take into account that an average of close to a thousand people are searching for solicitors in Birmingham each month, what happens when your firm’s website is actually found for that search term? The chances are, if you type this term into Google, it will come up with your own website.  This is because Google will most likely know the location of your computer’s IP address and if you’ve visited your firm’s website even once before, it will think it useful to show you your own website.
To find a true depiction of who is ranking at the top of Google search results, open a Google Chrome browser and click on the three dots at the top right hand of the screen.  From here, you will be able to click on ‘New incognito window’ which will enable you to see search results without Google taking your previous browsing history into account:

Top SEO ranking Birmingham law firms

Without taking ‘places’ results into consideration (displayed below) the first organic links to be displayed under the search term ‘Solicitors in Birmingham’ are:

  • Irwinmitchell.com
  • Yell.com
  • Slatergordan.co.uk
  • Charlesandco.org

Irwin Mitchell’s and Slater Gordon’s websites deliver a particularly useful user experience, as the links on Google take a user directly to the contact details of each respective firms’ Birmingham offices:

This is helpful for users who want to confirm that the law firm that Google is showing them is indeed based in Birmingham.  It’s also useful in that a user can decide to go straight ahead to contact that firm and make an enquiry based on their location, or decide to review more of the website first.

Charles & Co’s website is different, as it takes users to its Homepage.  This is because Charles & Co is solely based in Birmingham and doesn’t have other offices across the UK: http://www.charlesandco.org/ Thanks to the large banner at the top of the screen, it’s clear to see that Charles & Co is  based in Birmingham.  This is reiterated with another heading further down and the firm’s address displayed at the bottom of the page.

Online searches for specific legal services in Birmingham

When moving further into the specific types of legal services-based searches that people in Birmingham are making, each of these firms delivers family law.  However, when we do an incognito Google search for ‘family law solicitors Birmingham’ – which receives an average of 210 Google searches from people within Birmingham each month, the results are not the same.  In fact, Slater Gordon is the only firm to rank on the first page of Google and it’s in position 7. The top 3 are:

Why do these law firms rank for specific searches?

The way to answer this is to see what these law firms have in common. Firstly, they’re based in Birmingham, which is a big tick. Secondly, their websites are easy to navigate and use.  This is another big tick from a user’s point of view as well as from Google’s.  The happier Google’s users are with your website (ascertained using metrics such as how long users spend perusing your site), the happier Google is to put your site in the best position. Thirdly, other relevant websites link to these websites, which show Google that the sites are a credible and authoritative source of legal information.  Again, focusing on its own user experience, a credible website is one it will want to put at the top of its search results.

Technical aspects which make these law firms show up in Google results

In addition to the factors mentioned above, other factors which will contribute towards how well Google ranks law firms in its search results include:

Page titles and headings

The best performing websites make it easy for both Google and its users to see what each and every page is about.  If someone is looking for information about how to make a lasting power of attorney (LPA) but is presented with a page called ‘Private Client’ it’s not going to be specific enough for them to know they can find information about LPAs here.

404 errors

These usually relate to pages or online resources such as images that exist enough for someone to land on them, but which do not load because there’s an error.  This makes an extremely poor user experience and Google is quick to take notice, as it doesn’t want to recommend a website where people can’t actually find what you have said is there.

Meta descriptions

This is the information that is displayed in relation to your website.  You can have different descriptions for every page. This ensures that if that page is displayed in a user’s search results, it adequately depicts the page’s content to make a user believe that it will be useful enough to click on.

For example, when looking for how much it costs to make a will, this is what is displayed under the meta description for Irwin Mitchell:
These are just some of the indicators that will make a law firm’s website perform at its best.  There are many more, which we would be happy to share with you.

Free SEO audits for law firms

Would you like to know how well your law firm is ranking online for relevant services and office locations? Would you like to know which law firms are doing better than you and what it is that they are doing to make them perform so well? Would you like to know how to improve the performance of your website and in turn receive more relevant and valuable website enquiries? We can help you with all of the above and the first place to start is with an SEO audit.  There’s no catch and no obligation – we really enjoy carrying out audits and our specialist experience in law firm marketing means that we can turn an in-depth audit around very quickly.
To register for your free SEO audit, contact Hannah via email at [email protected] or call 01858 445543.
Imagine being able to employ a team of marketing professionals – each with their own specialist skills. Well now you can. With legal sector experience and enthusiasm to help you tackle your marketing challenges, we have the team to support you.

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