Updated: Apr 11
In this guide, we’ve outlined the basic fundamentals of SEO for lawyers, with the specific guideline, you can easily apply them to your website and start showing up in search engine results. We’ll walk you through the ins and outs of Law Firm SEO, and 10 ranking factors that boost your law firm website.
What is SEO for Lawyers?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice that helps drive more visitors to your law firm’s website by increasing your domain organic rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs) - pages your target audience sees after entering queries (related to your core services) into Google, Bing, Yahoo or any other search engine.
In other words, if your law firm appears near the top of search engine results pages, the chances are visitors see your domain and click through it to learn about your legal services. If SEO is done correctly, you can gain traffic and qualified leads from organic results without paying for advertising, eventually enhancing the chance to convert them into paying customers.
The challenge is that in addition to organic search results, SERPs usually include paid search and pay-per-click (CPC) ads. Ranking high positions on SERPs can be highly competitive. It requires persistence in doing SEO for law firms, a full understanding of crucial ranking factors, and a comprehensive SEO and content strategy.
It’s crucial to note that there are no foolproof plans that fit all businesses or guarantees that you’ll be able to rank in the number one position in the organic search results. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to improve the chances of ranking on the first page you can start to implement to boost your rankings and catch the eyes of prospects in the long term.
Why does SEO Matters For Law Firms?
When people look for legal services, they are likely to use search engines (mainly Google and Bing) to find law firms in their area. They will use queries (known as keywords) to search for information for their legal questions, specific law services, and more. You can reach these users by optimizing your websites for these keywords to fit the search users’ intent, resolve the questions, then incentivize search engines to rank your domain higher.
Beyond increasing your law firm’s rankings in the search results, some benefits of SEO for lawyers and law firms include:
Drawing in more traffic that’s likely to convert into qualified leads.
Outranking your local competition, improve click-through to your website
Drive more phone calls through Google My Business and other local listings
Generate new traffic through high-quality localized content
Collect more positive client reviews to improve your online reputation
Create high-volume traffic and lead generation
Solidifying your law firm as a reputable authority in your niche
That’s why local SEO is especially important for attorneys and law firms. If you’re interested in hiring an external expert specializing in law firm SEO, OC SEO can help you get your domain visible within the moment your potential customers searching for your legal services in your area.
Is your law firm website optimized locally to rank on Google? Get an instant SEO audit with OC SEO here.
SEO Ranking Factors
When talking about SEO ranking factors, we refer to crucial decisive factors that can be optimized so that your website can rank as high as possible in organic search engine results (and yes, you can aim for the first page without paying for ads).
Since Google is the most popular - holding over 80% of the market share -we’ll focus on its features and algorithms. Of course, Google will never tell us all of their ranking factors, but we do know many of them through experimentation and empirical practice. Though ranking factors and algorithms have been ever-changing, Google is trying to parse out through them are quality, trustworthiness, and performance.
It’s believed that there are hundreds of SEO factors or metrics, but in this guide, we’ve rounded up the top 8 google ranking factors (which are considered the most crucial).
Types of Google Ranking factors
Before we dive into the top 8 Google ranking factors around which you can do SEO for your law firm website, let’s first go over the different types. SEO factors typically fall into 3 categories, including:
On-page ranking factors: This mainly focuses on high-quality content fulfilling user intent, keywords optimized, and other related factors.
Off-page ranking factors: The impression, credibility, and authority that your law firm has online compared with other sites in your niche. This is influenced by the number of high-quality backlinks - external website domains and page referring traffic to your website.
Technical ranking factors: It’s measured on your website, taking into consideration page speed, title tags, and site structure.
Now that we have the foundational knowledge set in place, let’s get into the top 10 Google ranking factors, broken down into 3 groups, including:
Technical Ranking Factors
SEO Ranking Factor #1: Page Speed
Users expect a pain-free browsing experience, which is why page speed is one of the most important basic technical SEO factors. The more your pages take time to load, the higher your bounce rate will increase. When auditing your site for SEO improvements, you can check Google PageSpeed Insights and ensure your law firm’s website loads fast (aim for under 2.5 seconds).
SEO Ranking Factor #2: Usability on Mobile
As of 2021, all websites are now subject to mobile-first indexing when crawling websites. This means the search engine predominantly uses the mobile version of a website when evaluating a page. Always preview your web pages to ensure that they render well across a variety of screen sizes, not just desktops. You can use free mobile usability testing tools such as Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test which will provide you with similar insights.
SEO Ranking Factor #3: Core Web Vitals
Core web vitals qualify a person’s experience on your page. They include
FID (First Input Delay): How long it takes for your page to register with the first click or tap on the page.
LCP (Largest Contentful Paint): how long it takes for the visible elements on a page to load.
CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift): whether there are unexpected movements or disruptive popups
SEO Ranking Factor #4: Internal Links
They refer to any hyperlink that points to an internal page within your website. The more organized and tightly-knit your internal linking structure is, it is for search engines and users to find what they’re looking for.
SEO practices have evolved to a new model being leveraged by many content-focused website - topic clusters. The idea of a topic cluster model is simple: there’s a single “pillar” page that acts as the main hub of content for an overreaching topic and then you create multiple content pages around that pillar topic and keep your internal linking within this cluster. The internal links signal to search engines that the pillar page is an authority on your niche, and over time, the page may rank higher.
On-Page Google Ranking Factors
SEO Ranking Factor #5: Relevancy
Relevance refers to how perfectly your content matches the user queries related to the law sector. If you want to rank higher on google, your content needs to answer the inquiry or search term used by the user.
For example, if you want your law firm’s website to show up for the keyword “personal injury attorneys in CA”, you need to have specific content on your website that tells your potential clients about your practice area.
First, you need to do your keyword research to find out what your ideal audience is searching online, and then provide quality content that provides preliminary answers to search queries.
Second, your content should be keyword optimized to make it easier for bots to read and understand your site’s content. You have to make it clear which keyword is targeted for each page on your law firm’s website.
SEO Ranking Factor #6: Title and header tags
To fully optimize your content for keywords, it’s important to insert them into specific places on your page, like the title and header tags. Search engines use these tags to understand what your page is about and index it appropriately.
SEO Ranking Factor #7: Meta Description
The meta description is an HTML element that gives the user a brief glance at what a page is about and how it relates to their search query. Although the meta description is not a major ranking factor, you still take advantage of it to increase click rate, which eventually boosts your law firm’s website Google rankings.
SEO Ranking Factor #8: Image Alt Text
Every image on your website comes with alt-text which serves several purposes to optimize for keywords:
This text helps search engines to understand the image and index it properly.
When your image fails to load, the alt-text will appear in its place
SEO Ranking Factor #9: URL Structure
The way you structure your page URLs has some impact on your search engine ranking. A URL that is jumbled with many mixed characters doesn’t do a good job of helping search engines learn about the page. An SEO-friendly URL should follow a simple structure, be concise, and incorporates the target keyword.
SEO Ranking Factor #10: Backlinks
A backlink is a hyperlink that comes from a page outside of your website. The high number and quality of links to a page would be a strong indicator of the quality of a web page. Basically, there are 3 backlinks strategies you can start: