Search Engine Optimization Suggested Reading for Lawyers
The lawyer SEO ranking and conversion protocols should aim to place you in the top 3 for 100+ high traffic search phrases, so you can benefit by having a massive and constantly growing set of prospect entry and conversion points online.
However, most lawyer SEO campaigns are plagued with technical, content, and law firm website design issues that kill ranking and conversion opportunities and result in missed leads, clients, and future referrals. These problems represent a significant burden for all law firms in terms of future growth and stability.
Top Seven On-Page Lawyer SEO Elements Google Uses to Determine Relevance
For this example, we’ll use “LOCATION Car Accident Lawyer” as the focus keyword. These rules apply to any and all phrases: “LOCATION DUI Lawyer”, “LOCATION divorce Lawyer”, “LOCATION bankruptcy Lawyer”, etc.
Anytime one of these 7 elements is missing, or sloppy, you decrease your chance of being in the top 3 for the intended phrase. When we see any of these elements missing in your competitor’s sites, we know we can jump up above them in the SERPs, and grab the top spots and best cases.
1. Page Titles
Page titles should be as simple as possible. In fact, we get the best ranking and conversion results by just adding the focus KW to the far left and adding “free consultation” or “free case evaluation” after the pipe. For example, “LOCATION Car Accident Lawyer | FREE Consultation”. Not only does this help rank your page for its keyword, but it also increases the page’s click-through-rate (CTR).
Your most competitive phrase should be right on the domain. Just like this: www.law-firm-domain.com/LOCATION-car-accident-lawyer/. We have found that adding the entire phrase in the URL, including your location and the word lawyer, gives your page a boost in rankings.
3. H-Tags (H1 and H2)
Some SEOs say H-tags do not affect rankings, but our extensive testing shows that placing the raw keyword “LOCATION Car Accident Lawyer” in the H1 yields the best results. H2 tags are best used like article-style headers with buzz words to lead the reader down the page, keep them interested in your law firm website, and provide additional commonly searched words for Google to bite onto. For example: “Auto accident victims in LOCATION ask what to say to police at the scene of the collision.”
4. Page Content and Keyword Density
Top-level keywords should have between 800–1300 words and a 2-3% KW density (e.g. – mention a permutation of the phrase 16 times for 800 words). We like to make certain the phrase is in the first and last paragraphs of the page. Note: Going back into every page of our clients’ sites to re-optimize after running the rank checkers has become an important part of our winning process.
5. Supporting Pages with Proper Folders and SILO Structure
Adding 15–50 relevant pages of relevant legal content to your SILOs, if done properly, is a powerful lawyer SEO strategy with the following benefits:
a. These 15–50 longtail-phrase pages climb into the top spots quickly and bring in targeted visitors. (Our tests show that many of your visitors will come from these longtail searches.)
b. Providing content that perfectly matches the issues your website visitors are having is the best way to increase conversion. Why would they look elsewhere when all of the answers are right there in front of them?
c. Adding 15–50 relevant pages to your SILO (folder) will strengthen your top-level page which will give it a boost in the search engines. Google LOVES sites that have strong SILOs filled with relevant content.
For example, “LOCATION texting while driving accident lawyer” is a good phrase for a supporting page. In this case, the proper folder/URL structure is this: www.law-firm-domain.com/LOCATION-car-accident-lawyer/texting-while-driving/
Notice that all of the words of the phrase are present in the URL, yet nothing is repeated. Each supporting page should be added to the /LOCATION-car-accident-lawyer/ folder in the same way that the texting-while-driving page was. Each page within the SILO gets the car accident custom sidebar and links to and from the other pages within the SILO.
6. Custom Sidebars
Google’s goal is to promote the webpages that provide the best and most relevant information for their users. Having a custom sidebar filled with links to supporting pages built on commonly searched/related phrases is the best way to accomplish this.
Plus, we know that visitor bounce rates go down (a very good thing) when we remove all off-topic links from the page, because your prospects are looking for a specialist, not a generalist. If we’re focusing on car accidents, we’ll keep your slip-and-fall, dog bite, and construction accident links out of your car accident sidebar.
7. Internal Linking
We always link up to the top of the SILO (your top-level keyword landing page) from each child page within that SILO, and we link into all pages of the SILO from relevant blog posts. Think of this like the human nervous system, properly wired up and sending all messages to the brain.
Note: Choice of anchor text (the text of the on-page links) is very important. Exact-match anchors need to be around 3–4%.
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