When marketers first realized that they could influence where their website appeared in search engine results, people clamored to figure out the best methods. Unfortunately, many of those methods created the kind of search engine optimization that users hate: off topic, generic, low information pages that use keyword spam or other tricks to get into the top page of results. Google changed how it ranked search results in 2012, which made a lot of search engine marketers unhappy. However, even today, search engine marketing isn't just possible—it's better than ever. In this guide, we'll look at how to create search engine optimization strategies that work by making your content more tailored to your audience, rather than by trying to outguess Google's spam detectors.
#1: Know Your Audience
One of the biggest things that attorneys need to know when they do law firm search engine optimization is that no firm needs to be at the top of the heap for very generic search terms. You're never going to crack the top fifty for “lawyer” on Google—and that's okay. Do you really want everyone in the country who wants a lawyer looking for you if you're a plaintiff's employment law specialist in Knoxville, Tennessee? Probably not—you want people to come to your website who would actually be interested in your services, not just clicks that won't ever amount to anything.
By knowing what your ideal client is like, you can make sure that you're putting search engine marketing efforts toward getting those kinds of clients. Knowing your audience ensures that you'll be getting the kinds of clicks you want, without getting those that you don't. When you do have search engine keywords, make sure that they're specific and clear enough that you're sure to get the people you want to reach.
#2: Make Your Title And Descriptions Clear
If you're trying to get very clever with the title or description of your website, odds are it will just result in confusion for people trying to search for your legal specialty. If your descriptions are not clear or don't use at least some search keywords that you'd like people to find your site using, you're not going to get the web traffic you've been hoping for.
Why? Because Google places a great deal of weight on your title, descriptions, and even your URL. Google assumes that these are the places where you will summarize what's on a page using language that will both attract people to click and draw in the right keyword audiences.
#3: Focus on Local Websites For Backlinks
Many people don't realize that Google actually weights search results higher that have backlinks from other local websites, when people search for local terms. Why does the search engine work this way? Showing that you can get backlinks from legitimate local websites in your area shows search engines that you're not just spamming—you're an actual part of your community apart from your keyword marketing. They reward websites accordingly that are clearly doing things in their local area.
Consider seeing if your local Chamber of Commerce or even your municipality offers a listing service for local businesses. This can help you get an easy local backlink or two. You may also want to see if you could partner with other community businesses to build backlinks to each other, forming your own ad hoc affiliation of local businesses—even those as local as your block or street.
#4: Get Rid of Keyword Spam and Bad Backlinks
Keyword spam is so SEO 1.0—you can do so much better with quality content and legitimate backlinking strategies. If any parts of your website still look like they were written by a machine that sprinkles in keywords, get rid of them. If you don't, Google may decide that you have a low quality spam website and de-list you or rank you significantly lower than other similar websites.
The same kind of spam detectors are triggered by bad backlinks. You might know the kind—ones that you pay for, ones that come from comment spam on blogs, or ones that were created through automatic reciprocal backlinking. These kinds of links are no longer valuable, and can even hurt your website if Google decides to sandbox you.
#5: Add Fresh Content Frequently
If you're letting your website today look exactly the same as it did a year ago, congratulations—you're losing potential clients every single day. In order for you to stay high in search results for relatively popular terms, even niche terms, you'll want to update your website on a relatively frequent basis. Even if you're only putting together an update every month or so, it's still much better than letting a website become stale.
Google weights search results on websites that have been recently updated with new, fresh, original content. If you're only reposting other people's content, search engines notice, and you won't get the same level of boost. For optimum performance, you should make sure that you're updating on some kind of regular schedule. Having an onsite blog can make this easier—by creating new blog topics every so often, you'll be updating your site and providing new content for people to search for with every new entry.
#6: Keep Search Pages Updated
When people start searching for you online, they might look at review websites like Yelp or mapping websites like Google Local. If you want to get business, you need to make sure that you're actually keeping your information on these websites up to date. If your offices change location, update your location in as many places as possible. Make sure that you have a description of your business and what you do. You may even want to try adding some photographs or video to make it easier for people to see what your office looks like and what they can expect if they sign up for a consultation. All it takes is one piece of out of date information to send potential clients into the offices of your competition.