Want to know a secret?
You can get great clients over the Internet – without spending a ton of money on costly Google AdWords and other online ads. You do this by getting Google to work for you – for free, without buying ads!
In this post, I’ll teach you the most important and actionable techniques that will get your law firm to the first page on the Google search results.
Let’s get to it.
What is law firm SEO?
Before we start with the plan, we need a little background on what SEO is and what we’re trying to achieve.
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.”
This basically means that you’re going to optimize your website content to get the highest placement in Google search results.
Often, law firms will pay for advertising to show up in the Google search results. Those are the 2 or 3 results you see at the top of some searches (sometimes labeled “sponsored”). This is effective, but it’s also ridiculously expensive.
Check out some of these prices – and these are per click. You can see more using Google’s Keyword Planner tool.
Want to show up for “trademark lawyer”? You’ll be paying between $6 and $15 per click.
Once they click (and you’ve paid that price), that just gets them to your site. There’s no guarantee that they’ll actually hire you.
If you’re just starting out, or trying to run a firm with low overhead, that’s just not financially feasible. I certainly don’t want to pay $15 every time someone clicks my ad.
So what can you do?
Getting Google to show your content on the first page
This is the tricky part, and the reason for a whole industry of SEO experts. Many of them prey on the unaware and charge a ton of money for not-so-great results.
In order to get Google’s first page blessing, you need to do a combination of 3 basic things:
- Find the low competition topics and keywords that your prospective clients are ACTUALLY searching for
- Create and format your content in a way that Google likes – which makes them reward you with high rankings in the search results
- Have other sites link to yours, showing Google that your site is an authority for that particular topic
This 3-step process is the best method for getting Google to notice your site and rank your pages high. If done correctly, this will lead to natural, organic website traffic from potential clients motivated to hire an attorney who can help them solve their problem.
Let’s look at some techniques you can implement right now to start making this happen.
I’ve split my techniques into 3 distinct categories, because they all approach things from a different perspective.
Step 1 – Discover your audience: Keyword research tactics
First, we’ll look at the research you should be doing before you even start writing content for your site or blog.
I’m going to assume you’ve got a good idea of who your ideal client is. If not, check out my free course on the subject by subscribing to my newsletter below:
Now, you should go where your ideal client hangs out online. It could be:
- Facebook groups about their type of business or specific problems
- Certain news and other websites that deal with their types of issues
- Blogs that are about their particular problems
- Reddit.com “subreddits” where their relevant topics are discussed
You get the picture.
This research will introduce you to the kinds of real-world issues your potential clients have, and the actual words that they say when talking about them.
Those words are what you’ll use to find great “keyword” phrases to write blog posts around.
These “keywords” are the things that people type into Google when they’re looking for information. If you can be on the other end of that, waiting with an answer, then you may have landed a new client!
There are a number of tools that you can use to do this kind of research. I’ve reviewed a few here in my guide to the best law firm keyword research tools.
You want to look for “low competition” keywords. I’ll show you how in a second, but first, let’s explain what I mean.
What are “low competition” keywords?
When someone types a search term into Google, Google tries to show the most relevant results to the user. That search term that they typed in is called a “keyword.”
For keywords with a high number of searches every month, a lot of websites are trying to get their content on that first page of the search results. We refer to these as “high competition keywords,” since everyone is competing to get seen (and adjusting their content accordingly).
Other keywords don’t have a huge number of searches each month. This means there are less potential clicks and most bigger websites aren’t interested. The competition for that first page of search results is lower, so we refer to these as “low competition keywords.”
That’s what we’re trying to target – motivated searchers that are typing low competition keywords into Google.
Usually these are going to be longer search terms, rather than the more general, short search terms.
Here’s an example:
For my own practice, I often work with copyright and trademark issues for video game developers. I could try to go after something like “trademark law,” which has a high volume of searches but also tons of competition trying to rank on the first page.
That would be a mistake.
Instead, I target search terms like “video game trademark,” “video game copyright cases,” and “how much does it cost to copyright a logo.” These all have pretty low monthly search volume (under 300), but they’re also much easier to get on the first page of Google for.
Similarly, rather than going for the extremely broad term “divorce,” you target something like “how do I get a divorce in California” or “how much does a divorce cost in California.”
Hopefully, you get the idea.
Using tools to find low competition keywords
Technique #1 – The Keyword Golden Ratio:
My favorite way to find very low competition keywords is to use something called the Keyword Golden Ratio (KGR), which is a data-driven way to find these easy-to-rank-for keywords.
This is the primary method that I use to find low competition keywords for my own law firm.
You basically apply the formula comparing the ratio of articles out there with all of the keywords in the title, over the average number of monthly searches for that keyword.
You can read more about how to implement the KGR by checking out my post on the subject with step-by-step instructions, or you can view Doug Cunnington’s (creator of the KGR formula) original video here:
I’ve also set up a Google spreadsheet for you to input the Keyword Golden Ratio info – the fourth column will change color depending on the result:
- Green = go for it!
- Yellow = maybe
- Red = these will be difficult
You can access the spreadsheet here – just make a copy to your own Google Drive and get to it!
Technique #2 – “Keyword Difficulty Score”:
Most of the paid keyword research tools I discuss in my guide have a “competition score” or “keyword difficulty” that can be useful in choosing the easiest keywords to rank on the first page for.
You basically want to choose the lowest difficulty keywords, which will allow you to quickly rank for those search terms. Sometimes, that will involve getting links back to your post from other sites, though (we’ll discuss getting other sites to link to you later in this guide).
Technique #3 – Look at your competitors:
Another great trick for finding keywords and blog topics is to check out what your competition is doing, and use that info to plan your content.
If you have online competitors that are doing well, you can use a tool like Mangools’ SiteProfiler (affiliate link) to scope out what keywords your competitors are ranking for. Their whole suite of tools is super helpful for figuring out what to do.
Then, you can create better resources for those same keywords in order to beat your competition in the rankings.
Technique #4 – Find “forum” keywords:
You can use a tool like Ahrefs to look for topics that forums and other discussion/Q&A websites in your niche are ranking for and writing content around that. If forums and Quora answers are ranking high for common questions in your practice area, that means that Google will be more receptive to an actual authoritative site like yours to be on the first page.
Once you’ve done the research on what to write about, you can get that post written the right way with something called “On-Page SEO.”
Sprucing up your content: On-Page SEO basics
Don’t get intimidated by the name:
“On-Page SEO” simply means that your post is written in a way that Google likes and will want to rank high.
It’s pretty easy, actually, as long as you know the most effective things to do. These are:
- Getting your post’s title and description set up correctly
- Using your target keyword naturally
- Setting up your post with the proper internal headings
- Using images, video, and other rich media in the post
Let’s go through them one at a time. Hope you’re taking notes!
A Catchy Title and Description
When you’re writing your post’s title, you want it to include the target keyword and also be appealing to a potential searcher.
You want the title to be evocative and attractive when it’s among the other Google search results. One trick is to include something [in brackets] or (parentheses) to make it stand out from the other listings on the page.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say your target keyword is “how to copyright a photo.” You want your post title to be something like “How to copyright a photo easily [Ultimate Guide]” or “How to Copyright a Photo (Step-by-Step Guide)”.
When someone searching for that term sees that bit in brackets or with “power words,” their eye is going to be drawn to it. They’ll be more likely to click on it.
And when people click on your link, this signals to Google that it’s a link worth moving up in the rankings.
You should also write a nice meta description for your post, which has variations on the keyword and is equally evocative. SEO guru Brian Dean suggests checking out the Google Adwords ads on the search results to steal relevant words and phrases, as well.
Use your Keyword in the post properly
Within your content, you want to make sure that you’re using your keyword a couple times, but you don’t want to overuse it.
Years ago, people used to try a technique called “keyword stuffing,” where they would put their keyword into the post as many times a possible to trick Google. That doesn’t work anymore, as Google is way too smart now.
Now, what you want to do is use your main keyword sparingly, and instead seed the post with natural variations and related terms to your main keyword. This sends the signal that your post is comprehensive and relevant to what the user’s looking for.
One way to find these related keywords is to use a Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) tool, like LSI Graph – this will show you the kind of similar keywords Google is looking for.
Proper headings within the post
In your posts, you should include various headings splitting up the article. This helps for 2 reasons:
- It shows Google what your post is about, helping them rank you correctly for different keywords you may not even have thought of
- It helps readers follow along with your post and breaks up the “wall of text” that happens if you don’t have them
When you’re setting up a post in WordPress, you generally choose the specific heading type – H1, H2, H3, and so on.
- Your H1 heading is your post title. Don’t use this for anything else in the post.
- H2 headings are the main topics. One of these should include your full target keyword.
- H3 headings are the subtopics under those main topics, where you can get a bit more specific.
These are super important for organizing your post properly, so don’t miss them. And please, don’t just dump a ton of text into the post and hope that your readers make it through. It’s an awful user experience, especially on a phone!
Use images and other media to make it easy on the eye
One other technique for showing Google that your post is quality and to keep users on the page longer is to incorporate images and other rich media content into your posts.
Especially good are things like infographics and YouTube videos that are relevant to the article. It can be either someone else’s video or you can make your own.
Maybe you’ve got a PowerPoint presentation that you can record and post on YouTube, then embed that into the page?
You might have screenshots or charts that you can put in the post to demonstrate info and be more pleasing to the eye than just plain text.
Pay someone on Fiverr or Upwork to create an infographic, if your article involves any kind of data, process, or other information that can be consolidated into a nice, shareable and easy-to-read image, or make it yourself on Canva.
These are great ways to spice up your content and make it more attractive to both readers and Google.
The bigger world: Off-page SEO basics
“Off-page” SEO is almost the complete opposite of what we discussed in the previous section. It doesn’t involve the content itself, at all.
Rather, this is about your place in the larger Internet world.
Specifically, this is about the number of other places that are linking back to your site. These “backlinks,” as they’re called, are another signal to Google that you’re someone worth reading.
You can do this a number of ways.
Set your business up in directories and on Google
The simplest are setting up your business on various business directories (whether they’re industry-specific or not – think Avvo and Yelp, for example), and claiming your business on the “Google My Business” service.
There are services (like The Hoth) that you can pay to put your info into all of these directories easily. Otherwise, the process is a bit time consuming. There are a lot of business directories out there.
Google My Business is super important, because it shows your business info directly on Google, along with reviews from real users.
Pro Tip: Ask your clients to review you on Google, if you can. This will help immensely with local searches.
Comment on niche-relevant blogs
Another way to seed the Internet with links back to you is by commenting on blogs that are relevant to your specific client base.
You can find good blogs by typing the following into Google:
[your niche] “leave a reply” or [your niche] “commentluv”
So, for the photography example I used above, it would be
- photography copyright “leave a reply”
- photography copyright “commentluv”
Note: Commentluv is a plugin that blogs use that puts a link back to a commenter’s latest blog post. This can be a great way to get people clicking back to your blog!
Or check out this screenshot for lawyers who do “california divorce” work:
Then, you do the following:
- Find some good article that are accepting comments (you’ll know when you see other comments on the post)
- Leave a relevant, insightful comment, and fill out your name and your website info
- Wait for the blog’s owner to approve your comment!
While these aren’t the strongest SEO-generating links, they are good for laying a foundation that shows Google that you’re the real deal.
You can also use these comments to transition into guest posts:
Guest posting for supercharged SEO
This is the big one.
In a nutshell, you want to do some guest posting on other, high-authority blogs, in order to signal to Google that you’re someone worth listening to.
These don’t need to be law-focused blogs. In fact, it’s probably better that they’re not. Your aim is twofold:
- Get a link back to your site, to show Google you are an authority and that someone with an established blog thinks you’re worth linking to
- Use that link to hopefully get potential clients to click over to your site and hire you
There are a number of ways to get a guest post opportunity. Many marketers use the tactic of spamming out a form email to a huge number of sites. These are easy to spot (and often have terrible grammar), but it can be effective if you scale it up big enough.
The better way to approach this, though, is a more hands-on method, where you cultivate a relationship with the blogger before asking for the guest post.
I use this general process:
- Start with the blog commenting on specifically targeted blogs – ones where your potential clients might be reading. For example, I am in the video game and board game industries, so commenting and guest posting on games business sites is the way to go for me.
- You then sign up for their newsletter and reply to those newsletter emails a couple times with a relevant comment or added value for them.
- Then you offer to write a guest post for their site, with a few example post ideas that their audience would be interested in.
Many bloggers would be happy to have you write something, because they’re often hungry for more content (especially free content) and they want to have an actual expert write something for their readers. Then you build a link back to your site into that guest post.
It’s a win-win situation!
Pro-Tip: If you’ve got connections within your industry, you may be able to leverage them to get get posts without going through the hassle of blog commenting and pitching. Work that network!
Have a great Call to Action
All of the above would be worthless without having a clear “Call to Action” on all of your posts, whether they’re on your site or guest posts on another blog.
Basically, you want your article to do the following:
- Explain the problem,
- Give just enough info so that the potential client understands the situation and why they should hire you, and
- Tell them where and how they can contact you – this should be a link to your website where there’s a contact form, email address, phone number and other contact info. That way, they have no excuse not to contact you immediately.
Never leave them without a motivation to get in touch. Remember, we’re not doing this for fun – we’re trying to get clients!
Wrapping it up and moving forward
Hopefully this post helped you wrap your head around some important SEO concepts.
You can use these techniques to increase your visibility on Google quite a bit, which will lead to more potential clients clicking onto your site.
There’s always more tweaking you can do and deeper keyword and competition research, but a lot of that just isn’t relevant for most solo attorneys.
So, what are you waiting for? Start creating some awesome blog content!