SEO Basics for Law Firms

Jeremy Hessing-Lewis

Most of our clients may not fully understand search engine optimization (SEO), but they know that its important.  This vague concern is amplified by the onslaught of solicitations from SEO consultants, vendors, and a motley crew of hustlers with varying levels of legitimacy. To get you started, I have prepared this handy 5 point guide for thinking about SEO for your law firm. This is the same message I relay to our clients.

  1. Before even engaging in a conversation on SEO, the best starting place is to read through Google’s own description of the SEO Business. This will help you spot the obvious scams and discriminate between fly-by-night operations and qualified professional consultants.
  2. Consider the keywords that would draw prospective clients to your your firm (e.g. “Edmonton Employment Lawyers”).
  3. Ignore any warnings from “SEO Experts” claiming that you are not ranking for particular keywords. Ignore any screenshots they may send you showing that your competitor is ranking above you in Google’s organic results. Do your own testing. Because a variety of factors will influence your ranking, there is no such thing as a generic ranking. Search results are localized to your geographic location and tailored to previous search history (among other factors). When I search for “Toronto Personal Injury Lawyers” from Vancouver, I receive different results than when I search from Toronto. To run your own tests, use Google’s Ad Preview Tool. This tool is intended for testing paid ads, but can also be used to test how search results generally look from other locations. Based on the example above, I could just tell the preview tool to run the same search from Toronto. Use these results to assess where you actually rank.
  4. Read Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. Its well worth your attention. Keep in mind that Google never reveals how its search algorithms actually work. Most consultants will offer a best guess combined with a portfolio of results. Starting with what Google itself actually says is always where we begin when it comes to building websites and offering SEO services.
  5. Content. Content. Content. I’ll be returning to this topic in further detail over upcoming posts, but the answer to any SEO question is generally to produce quality content and to ensure that your content is highly visible. While their are shortcuts if you are willing to take risks, most law firms should not be willing to go down that path.

The next post will cover “5 Questions to Ask an SEO Consultant.”

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