New websites need a lot of attention to start ranking well in search. A new domain is not trusted by Google and is typically buried deep in search results to start. It takes time to build up the authority on any website but here are the key activities lawyers should be doing first.
Submit site to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools
- Lawyers can get their pages indexed faster.
- Initiating a manual crawl from Google and Bing alerts them to your pages a little sooner.
- Search Console gives site owners other valuable information about their domain such as keyword positioning, technical information and alerts about potential issues.
- In as little as 15-20 days, you can have some good information on how people are finding your site
Search Console from Google and Webmaster Tools from Bing are free to use and relatively simple to set up.
Build Citations and Other Links
Citations can help a new domain get a good web presence quickly. Lawyers should use a citation service like Moz Local or Yext to get a new domain out on the web. This can also be a good way to get multiple local links to a site in a short amount of time.
Most citation services and websites will allow for links to be placed but higher quality links should be obtained from other sources. Here are some good places to start:
- Submit your site to top legal directories (both paid and free).
- Create social profiles.
- Look for guest posting opportunities on niche-relevant websites.
- Submit your site to local directories and authoritative business related websites like the Better Business Bureau.
The idea with citations is that your firm will be listed in dozens if not hundreds of locations online all with the same consistent information. This can improve your rank for local searchers. Links are a core part of Google’s ranking algorithm which makes earning them one of the most important tasks in SEO.
Keyword Research and Content
Content is another top ranking factor so it should be a primary focus for lawyers working on ranking a new domain. A core focus of attorney SEO should be making well-researched, helpful content that is beneficial to a law firm’s audience. Along with good content, it’s important to keep the keywords that you want to rank for in mind when generating new content.
Here are some best practices for keyword research and implementation:
- Each page on a website should target a specific keyword phrase.
- Look for purchase intent keywords (i.e. personal injury lawyer cost, bankruptcy attorney pricing, etc.).
- Use synonyms of your target keywords on your pages.
- Insert target keyword phrases in page titles, headings, meta descriptions, image file names, alt attributes, anchor text of internal links pointed at the page and in page copy.
It should be noted that having a blog can increase the number of pages (and hence the number of keywords that can be targeted).
Lawyers should use tools to find out search volume of keyword phrases before going after them. After all if an audience is not using a phrase to find legal services, it doesn’t make much sense to target it in search.
Here are some good tools to get that data:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Ahrefs Keywords Explorer
Google’s keyword planner can be used to figure out search volume for specific phrases and it’s free. Ahrefs Keywords Exlporer can be used for the same thing although you can only use it so much for free before having to sign up for a subscription.
Use these tools by plugging in a few phrases as ‘seed’ keywords (starter phrases). The tools will produce more phrases that searchers are using to find legal services like yours.
Onsite SEO refers to things you can do to your actual website to rank well in search. This builds a solid foundation for a site to perform well in search. Here is a short list of onsite elements that should be optimized:
- Write a unique and compelling title tag and meta description for all pages with important content (especially practice area specific pages)
- Make sure your target keyword phrases are included in page copy and other key areas on the page
- Check that each page has an h1 tag (just one) and if necessary, subsequent header tags (h2, h3, h4, etc)
- Add alt attributes to images and try to work your keyword phrase in there
- Make sure you have a properly configured Robots file
- URLs on pages should be short and easy to read
- Here is a more comprehensive onsite checklist
Claim Your Google and Bing Business Listings
These are powerful business listings for local businesses. Google in particular has a strong interest in delivering relevant local results to users. When people look for law firms, Google tends to serve results that are close by a searcher’s location based on their IP address. Lawyers who do not have a robust Google Business listing are not going to show up in those results.
Bing has a good listing service as well and being present there helps for a lawyer’s presence on that platform (which has surpassed 20% market share in search). For both of these services, it is important to fill out profiles as completely as possible which includes:
- Adding Name, Address, phone number to the profile
- Adding website URL
- Add as many images and videos as allowed
- Add accurate categories including practice area categories
- Add a keyword-rich description of the business
- Verify the listing
- Add a local phone number and not a toll free
Adding as much content as possible to a listing makes it more useful for users. More useful content is more likely to be served.