By Peter Boyd, a Florida attorney and founder of PaperStreet
If you own a small- to midsize law firm or serve as a solo practitioner, you want your website to rate high in Google so you can attract people in your area who are looking for the legal services you provide. However, it takes more than just attractive web design to make your page rate well, which is why search engine optimization (SEO) is not optional but mandatory in today's competitive legal market.
If you feel overwhelmed by the technical details and requirements for SEO, you are not alone. Focusing on building your practice is just as essential as representing your clients. If you are like many law firm owners, you struggle to find enough time in the day to complete your growing to-do list. That is why I want to make this easy and straightforward by providing you with the top ten SEO techniques to immediately implement on your firm's site.
1. Write long-form content.
In my work with over 1,500 law firms, I have seen that content pages that are a minimum of 500 words, but do not exceed 1,000 words, rank higher in search results, making them well worth the extra effort and time to write. Google prioritizes pages that are long, authoritative and offer readers detailed information. Consider incorporating long-form content on these types of site pages:
- Company news
- Firm history
- Legal updates
2. Optimize site speed.
Having a website that loads quickly is important. First impressions are everything, and if it takes your site several seconds to load, potential leads will abandon your page to search for another local law firm. To ensure that your site loads quickly, follow these standards:
- Minimize: Optimize your site's code and delete any extra spaces, commas or unnecessary characters.
- Content Distribution Network (CDN): This allows copies of your website to store in several geographic data centers, which means that users can quickly access your site.
- Mobile-Friendly: Page speed is crucial for mobile users as well, so make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
3. Pay attention to your bounce rate.
A bounce rate between 26 to 40 percent is excellent. If you experience a higher than average bounce rate (over 70 percent), consider changing your site's design, headlines, photos and content. Bounce rates can dramatically decrease if a site has a solid design and loads quickly. It is vital that title tags and headings are optimized using primary keywords to help increase your online search presence.
4. Get published.
Never underestimate the value of reaching out to publications and getting published. When your firm can get backlinks from prominent trade publications, this helps boost search ratings. Offer to do guest blog appearances on other sites, or ask your attorneys to contribute, which helps to establish your firm as an authority in the field. Additionally, don't underestimate the power of social media to promote your online presence further.
5. Master link-building basics.
Always ensure that your firm's information is accurate on Google My Business, Express Update, My Business Listing Manager and Neustar Localeze. By keeping your digital presence consistent online and eliminating duplicate listings, you can establish your firm as an authoritative site.
6. Sponsor local events.
Whether your individual attorneys or the firm sponsors local events, these types of community gatherings are a great way to generate local backlinks and get your name out in your community.
7. Be mobile-friendly.
Never underestimate the importance of having a mobile-friendly site, as Google now indexes mobile sites first. Additionally, most search results now originate on mobile devices, so try to place relevant information and calls to action early on a page to ensure someone scrolling on their phone will see it.
8. Install SSL certificates.
When websites install SSL (secure sockets layer) certificates, it establishes trust with visitors because it signals that the connection is secure and sensitive data is safeguarded. Most anti-spam software will not show sites that do not have SSL protection. Having this extra protective layer also gives sites a slight boost in Google rankings.
9. Check data.
Check your website's data for errors yearly. Make sure there are no broken links, errors, warnings or notices. Confirm that your name, address and phone number are up to date, as Google relies on this information to geo-target search results. Target new online directories and submit your firm's information on an annual basis.
BONUS: Become ADA compliant.
While ADA compliance does not help boost your firm's SEO, it does help people who need screen readers find your website.
With the above SEO techniques optimized on your site, you'll soon see an increase in your firm's traffic and SEO ratings.
Peter Boyd is a Florida attorney who founded PaperStreet. He has helped over 1,500 law firms with their websites, content and marketing.