The legal sector has never been so competitive. Since 2011, we’ve seen a 20 per cent increase in the number of UK law firms, giving SEOs a bigger challenge than ever.
Law firms, in particular, face a number of search engine optimisation challenges. These include:
- Ranking locally against competitors
- Indexing the right services
- Remaining compliant with best practices.
As we see an upward trend in legal services, we need to optimise our online presence. Statistics from March 2020 revealed that an incredible 96% of those seeking legal advice did so via a search engine. Within those, 74% went on to view the firm’s website.
Law firm SEO marketing: the challenge
According to the 2019 PwC Law Firms Survey, marketing makes up just 1.4% of all costs for UK law firms. This suggests that many firms do not have an in-house marketing team. Those that do will largely focus on local PR and social media, rather than technical elements like SEO.
This is why law firms continue to run websites that are not optimised. An independent study revealed some of the commonest SEO problems for law firms were:
- No internal linking (73%)
- No keyword strategy (67%)
- Incorrect page indexation (60%)
- Bad page speed (40%).
The good news is that we can fix these with ease.
- No internal linking
- No keyword strategy
- Incorrect page indexation
- Bad page speed
What should law firms be doing to rank higher?
By working with a law firm SEO expert, lawyers will see higher rankings, click-through rates and conversion rates.
Conduct thorough keyword research
With 96% of us searching for legal queries online, there are a wealth of opportunities for lawyers. For example, the search term “solicitors near me” has a minimum of 10,000 UK searches per month. Firms can capitalise on this, not only with their on-site copy, but through geo-targeting services like Google My Business.
2. Internal linking with relevant anchor text
Internal linking helps search engines to understand how your website is structured. It also helps them to understand the services you offer, for example different areas of law. Every indexable page should have links to corresponding services or pages that serve the customer, like a contact page.
The anchor text should also be clear, for example, “family law” rather than “click here”.
3. Check their robots.txt file
This file can be found within Google Search Console. It contains data on which pages are being blocked from search engines. SEOs block certain pages for many reasons. For example, they may be behind a login page, or they may not be relevant to transactional queries, such as privacy policies.
We do this because search engines operate on a “crawl budget”. They can only crawl so many pages at once, so it’s important that we focus on crawling pages that lead to an enquiry.
4. Identify barriers to loading speeds
The search engine’s job is to render websites that satisfy the user query. Part of this includes user experience – offering a fast-loading site with user-friendly design. Law firm sites that are encumbered by large images or bad code will load slower. This has a direct impact on rankings, and can be fixed by “minifying” code (essentially tidying up) and compressing images.
Non-technical fixes for marketing teams
A reputable lawyer SEO will be able to fine-tune these common problems on your website. He/she may also be able to assist internal marketing teams with “off-site” SEO. This refers to gaining links back to your website, for example from Chambers or Legal 500.
A successful law firm acquires clients through its strong reputation. The same applies for search engine rankings. If search engines can see that reputable, relevant sites link back to your firm, they will rank the site higher. You can gain these links through sources such as:
- Legal directories e.g. Legal 500
- PR e.g. local newspaper stories
- Trade associations e.g. The Law Society.
Another sign of a great reputation is a trust signal. A simple website update, like your web address and company number in the footer, will signal to search engines that your firm is legitimate.