You finally got your website up and are excited for the client calls and emails to start rolling in. But when they didn’t, you checked your Google ranking and your firm wasn’t in the search results. What’s going on?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical to getting your site in front of prospective clients.  SEO is an internet marketing process leveraged by law firms to improve online visibility in the search results.  Arguably, the most critical aspect of SEO is understanding keywords and phrases that a potential client would use to search for your law firm and then ensure that you are targeting them on your website.   This can help search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing properly index your website.

Help search engines — and prospective clients — find you

Search engines are smart — but they do need help with specific content and where to direct online users when they search for certain phrases. A search engine is essentially an “answer machine” that responds to people looking for information online and points them to those answers across the internet. Your website should provide solutions and information to both those seeking legal advice and those searching for a local attorney.

One best practice for SEO is to design and optimize your website for visitors rather than turn your site into a keyword collection zone. Create a useful website full of information that your prospective clients want to know. By creating a useful and informative site, the search engines will recognize these efforts, see the traffic flowing to it and staying on the site, and will hopefully rank your pages and website highly in their results.

Answer the questions you hear from clients every day

So, where to begin? As an attorney who talks to clients every day, you probably hear the same questions asked in different ways. If you are a family law attorney, clients may ask about leaving the marital home or how much alimony they will have to pay. If you also represent clients in bankruptcy matters, your clients have a different set of questions, perhaps about credit history, what assets they can retain or the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. All of these questions should be answered on pages on your site that describe each area of practice. If you are focused on one area — say personal injury — your pages may contain sub-topics, such as car accidents and slip and fall.

In addition to researching and including keywords that your future clients are using to search online for legal help, start a blog. At first, the thought of maintaining a blog might seem overwhelming. But you could spend a weekend or two on a handful of specific, tightly written posts that answer one of those client questions you get asked over and over. Or you could tackle something happening in the news (a celebrity breakup, a local crime story, a new statistic on student debt) and tie it into one of your areas of practice. If you write four of these posts at once, you can start by posting one and updating your blog with a new post every other week or every month, depending on how often you can generate content. You can also delegate maintaining your blog to someone in the office, hire a writer or invest in a web marketing package. Search engines value quality (not spammy or overly repetitive) content that is refreshed regularly, so a well-maintained blog with relevant keywords will also help your ranking.

Check your listings, get more clicks

Another way to push your site to the top of web searches is to make sure outside sites are linking to your site. One way to do that is to add your firm name and information to online legal directories like Lawyers.com, Avvo and Martindale.com as well as prominent local directories like Google My Business, Yelp, and Apple Maps. Not only is it important to have an accurate listing for each of your firm’s locations, but quality links from credible directories like these count to search engines determining your site’s relevance and authority. Every directory will provide you another opportunity to get in front of a new client and at the same time also work towards pushing your site up in search results.

Your firm’s website may already include great information about your practice, but it won’t matter if no one can find it. By optimizing your web presence to appear in the search results, eventually, you will see more traffic to the pages you have worked so hard to create. By focusing on the end-user and their need to find a trustworthy, competent lawyer in a specific practice area, you will be on the way to attracting the right clients to your site.  But by generating insightful content on your website and leveraging online directories to echo your website’s content, you are taking the right steps to improve your search ranking and help new clients discover you and your firm.

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