law firm website seo

For today’s modern law firm, the ability to drive traffic and exposure to their website is becoming increasingly more difficult, especially when your highest quality prospects begin their search in places like Google.

The initial problem is the top search results in Google are becoming filled with directory sites such as Avvo and FindLaw.  And for the few law firms that do find their way onto page one in Google, there are hundreds of more that fall to the second page and beyond.  As a result, law firms are increasingly turning their budgets to pay per click platforms like Google Adwords.  However, as they soon discover, the competition in paid search traffic is even more fierce than the organic search results.

As an example of the competition in paid search for law firms, the keyword phrase “personal injury attorney atlanta” receives an average of 4,680 searches per year.  Which, according to Google, falls in the medium range of competition.  But one look at the suggested bid, and you’ll see the average cost law firms are willing to pay for just one click is an astounding $102.18.  This means, if you are a personal injury law firm in Atlanta and you expect to compete in the upper echelon of the paid search results, you better be willing to spend over $100 per click!

Take one look at the front page of Google for this keyword phrase, and you’ll find 4 out of the 10 organic search results are directories, not law firms.  This leaves 6 of the 10 front page search results made up of actual law firms in Atlanta.  But then ask yourself, how many personal injury law firms are there in metro Atlanta?  According to Avvo, there are 1,114 personal injury lawyers in Atlanta.  Granted, a portion of those work in the same law firm.  But you quickly see the point here… for every 1 law firm on the front page of Google, there are easily 100 or more that are not.  Again, the front page search results in Google is a brutal environment to compete.

Local Search Results

The competition is even more fierce when it comes to the local search results in Google.  Again, using “personal injury lawyers atlanta” as the example, you’ll find only three local search results appearing on page one Google, which is also the case on mobile phones.  To be fair, the 3 pack of Google’s local search results is not exclusive to law firms.  Back in August of this year, Google made a sweeping change in the local search results for all business categories to show only the top three local search results on desktop and mobile devices.

Read more:  Are The Top 3 Local Search Results The New #1?

So where the organic search results at least gives you 10 positions to compete for on page one, the local search results in Google gives you only three.  Now for every 1 law firm on page one in Google local search results, there are upwards of 300 that are not.  The competition for page one rankings just got exponentially more competitive.

Increasing law firm website traffic

So what’s a law firm to do?  If the odds are stacked against you in the organic search results, and even more so in the local search results, is there any hope to driving increased traffic and exposure to your law firm’s website?

Luckily there’s a lot you can do, it just requires some careful planning and a concerted effort over time.  In other words, persistence is the key ingredient to competing in Google search and driving increased traffic to your law firm’s website.

3 ways to drive increased traffic to your law firm’s website and compete in Google search

There are 3 ways for a law firm to drive increased traffic their websites and compete in Google search:

  1. Articles and blogging
  2. Social media distribution
  3. Persistence

Blogging for law firms

The most effective way to drive increased traffic and exposure to your law firm’s website from Google is to start a blog.  The advantages to running a blog for your law firm are vast, but the most important is realized in the traffic gains from Google search.  For one of our law firm clients, we write one news article per day (30 per month) on their blog, and as a result, they have increased their organic search traffic by over 152%.  This particular law firm went from a steady decline in website traffic, to now receiving triple digit gains in organic search traffic month over month.  And not only is this law firm receiving month over month gains in traffic, but they have received more leads and contacts over the past 30 days than the entire 60 months combined.

Blogging for a law firm can take many different angles on content strategy.  But the one strategy we find to be most effective is local news coverage.  Using the “personal injury lawyer atlanta” market as an example, this implies that my law firm is located in the metro Atlanta area.  And likewise, my highest quality prospects would more than likely live in the metro Atlanta area.  So we would produce Atlanta based news articles that focus on topics such as injuries and accidents.  When you focus on local area news coverage as the content for your blog, you naturally attract readers who live in your target metro area.  The more consistent your news articles are published on your blog, the more your traffic will increase over time.  The impact here is that all of the traffic is coming directly to your law firm’s website to read the news articles.  And while reading the news, your law firm is achieving 100% of the brand equity and exposure to the visitors.

This strategy is equivalent to taking out an ad in your local area newspaper.  Except with your newspaper, and the online version of that publication, your ad would compete with several other advertisers.  And this would dramatically decrease your overall brand equity for each pageview.  But, when the news articles are published directly on your law firm’s blog, your law firm now receives 100% of the brand equity per pageview.  In other words, driving traffic to your law firm’s website through the use of blog means your law firm is the exclusive advertiser for every pageview.

The reason running a blog on your law firm’s website translates into more traffic and exposure in Google is because you are no longer attempting to compete for the hyper competitive keyword phrases such as “personal injury lawyer atlanta”.  Instead, you are leveraging the search volume around the long tail phrase variations of keywords that are either directly or indirectly related to your law firm.  The point is, you go from competing for one hyper competitive keyword phrase to driving increased traffic for a wide range of keyword phrases.  And ultimately, the most critical component here is that your law firm retains 100% of the branded exposure to your visitors for every resulting pageview.

Social Media Distribution for Law Firm’s Blog Content

Building off the content being published in your law firm’s blog, each new article should distributed throughout all of your law firm’s social media profiles.  Your law firm should at have a Facebook page, Twitter profile, LinkedIn company page, and Google+ business page.  This alone equates to four key social media profiles for any given law firm.  And again, whenever you publish a new article on your blog, that articles needs to be distributed to each of your law firm’s social media profiles.

By sharing your blog content across all of your social media profiles does, in essence, create a highly effective social media marketing strategy for your law firms.  If you look at any social media marketing strategy for a law firm, you will find the core tenets being consistent content shared across a maximum number of social media profiles.  Well, whenever your law firm produces a new article on your blog, that’s a new piece of content that can be shared across of your social media profiles.  In essence, by running a blog on your law firm’s website, you are also flipping the switch on to a highly effective social media marketing campaign.

For the law firm client discussed above where we are publishing 30 news article per month on their blog, each of their articles are automatically distributed to their social media profiles.  This particular law firm client has six social media profiles combined.  They have two office locations, so they have two Facebook pages, two Google business pages, a LinkedIn business page, and a Twitter profile.  And by sharing each article across all six of these platforms daily, the social media side of their business has been ramped up exponentially.

To put it in perspective, traffic to this law firm’s website from social media referrals has increased 225% over the past 3 months.  That’s combining all of the inbound traffic to the law firm’s website from all six of their social media profiles.  Combine this with the 152% increase in traffic from the organic search results in Google, and you are talking about a fundamental shift with inbound traffic to this law firm’s website.

Not only does social media distribution directly impact the inbound traffic to a law firm’s website, but each new social share includes a link pointing back to the article.  This builds a large, growing portfolio of inbound links pointing to the law firm’s website.   Granted, I understand these social media sites are more than likely no-following every link, but Google will still account for the referral traffic coming to your site from these major social media environments.  And that carries a substantial amount of weight over the long term.

Plus, knowing that Google ranks websites based on competitive analysis, how many of your competitor law firms are producing 6 new social media posts each and every day?  Probably very few, if any.  So in another way, you are differentiating yourself in your law firm’s market by sending signals that you are extremely active in the social media.

Persistence

Ultimately, in order to succeed in driving increased traffic and exposure to your law firm’s website through blogging and social media is you have to be persistent.  The good news for most law firms is that very few people are willing to put in the time and effort to build an audience.  Most law firms will figure out a way to get started, produce blog posts for a couple of months, but then slowly dissipate in their efforts, and eventually the new articles stop altogether.

From Google’s perspective of relevance and authority, here’s the how it unfolds:

  1. Google sees the new law firm website, or the site that’s been rebuilt, and comes to crawl and index the news pages.  Great, you’ve got your new website crawled and indexed by Google.
  2. As you consistently publish blog posts over time, Google sees the increased content velocity and likewise, comes back to your site more often to crawl and index the new content.  The proportion in which you create new content on your law firm website drives the frequency in which Google comes back to crawl and index your website.  And when Google crawls and indexes a website, it doesn’t typically just index your new article, but attributes relevance to your website as a whole.  So the more content you create over time, the more you are building authority in your top level domain – or, your entire website.
  3. But then your frequency dissipates and / or stops all together.  Because Google is a “crawling and indexing” search engine, as you decrease the frequency of new articles, the search engine follows suit and starts to decrease it’s consumption of your new website.  And again, since Google attributes authority to your website as a whole, the decrease in the “crawling and indexing” starts to negatively impact the authority and relevance of your website as a whole.
  4. Finally, after months or years have gone with no new content, Google no longer has a reason to see your website as different or authoritative.  In fact, your website then becomes normal, and you are back to no longer competing for the upper echelons in the search results.  And as a result, the traffic and exposure to your law firm’s website suffers.

The good news is that the overwhelming majority of law firms follow this path.  Or, they never even get beyond creating and publishing a new website.  Meaning, they never even take the first step in producing new content on a consistent basis.  Since this is the norm, when your law firm steps up and starts a proactive blogging campaign, you are positioning your law firm for long term traffic growth and exposure.  Couple this with social media distribution, and (again, over the long term), you are positioning your law firm to achieve the highest levels of traffic and exposure that your market can deliver.  But all of the above requires persistence, and a long term view on the growth prospects for your law firm’s brand through the use of your website.

Conclusion

Building a dominant brand for your law firm is possible.  And never before in history has the opportunity been so readily available as it is through the use of your website and social media.  However, in order to capitalize on this opportunity, your law firm has to take a proactive approach to content creation through the use of blog coupled with social media distribution.  By being consistent in your efforts and placing a priority on building your brand, your law firm can rise to the top of the search results in Google for a wide range of high impact keyword phrases.  And in turn, your website (and your law firm) can experience exponential growth and market dominance.

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