The Australian law firm SEO guide updated for 2022
Earn more traffic to your law firm website and do better legal business with this roadmap to SEO for lawyers
It's high time to give your law firm's website SEO (search engine optimisation) full attention.
Smart law firms will move fast in 2022 to power up digital marketing efforts by prioritising improvements in SEO performance.
Check out more of Social Hive's specialist SEO insights, like:
- How to master title tags for better website traffic and conversions
- Master meta descriptions to boost traffic and conversions
- Why you should add structured data to your law firm website
- How to optimise your content for featured snippets
- Understanding the value of quality keyword research
Knowing what optimisation tasks to focus on for best results in 2022 starts here. Let's jump right in, starting with a clearer understanding of...
What search engine optimisation (SEO) is, in simple terms
SEO is the practice of optimising your law firm's website to win high rankings in organic search.
An organic search result is the free listings in search engines like Google. It appears because the page is relevant to someone's search term used to find information.
Search engines to match the best pages to a searcher's query (searcher intent). They need to find and understand your page. Their algorithm's scan the net looking for content value. The pages they serve up must satisfy the searcher's need for a clear, helpful answer.
And for algorithms to do that, they must find and understand your website pages with ease and speed.
To make that happen, you need to make sure your web pages are technically "sleek" and algorithm bot friendly. Plus, the quality experience and value transfer need to be measurable.
This takes technical and web-smart creativity expertise to achieve on an ongoing basis.
Because this is the bottom-line on ...
Why search engine optimisation matters so much
Most website traffic comes via search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing.
Statistics show that search engines drive 93% of all web traffic.
In fact, Google is by far the dominant force. Its market share is 92.47%, as of June 2021.
Ranking high in search engine results is, thus, critical. Do it and win more law business.
It's sobering to know some of the statistics relative to Google search, like:
- 60% of users click on one of the top three organic search results;
- the first five organic results account for 67.60% of all the clicks;
- but only 0.78% of Google searchers click on results from the 2nd page; and
- 80% of customers use search engines to find local information, like legal services.
So, do what you must to position high on page one of Google's search engine page results (SERPs).
This means prioritising organic search outcomes, starting now. After all, organic search accounts for 68% of all trackable website traffic.
And a little data on paid search; while still valuable under the right circumstances, know that 70-80% of users ignore sponsored search results.
So now you're inspired to focus on winning page one organic search results. Since Google dominates, you'll follow Google's guidelines.
Do what's needed to improve your Google ranking signals
Ranking signals are website characteristics that search algorithms might consider to calculate value. The value calculation then determines where content will position in search results pages. Ranking signals are also known as ranking factors.
Major search engines don't disclose the details of their ranking algorithms. To do so would encourage people to "game the system". Instead, search engines often provide guidelines.
There are also many reputable sources of information that offer insights. Many sources include search engine patent filings, extensive testing and case studies. Official search engine representatives also make statements about what's expected. And this type of invaluable information is evolving all the time. Google alone changes its algorithm more than 500 times per year.
For sure, not all updates are game-changers. But some are. You can read about one of the most recent major updates here:
And it's Google's ranking signals that must be front and centre of your attention in 2022
Any effort to optimise your website must focus on what Google says is acceptable or expected.
Beware of SEO "specialists" who claim they can game the algorithm to your advantage. Amongst the creepy techniques they'll "infect" your site with are:
- keyword stuffing;
- low-quality content from cheap content creation farms;
- automated link generation;
- toxic backlinks;
- satellite pages;
- hacking, hot-linking, cyber-squatting and typo-squatting;
- spammy comments, reviews and link forums, and on-and-on...
Don't go there!
Also, watch out for SEO agencies that claim they have a special relationship with Google. They might promise insider access to rankings.
Remember.. Google does not disclose its algorithm ranking details to anyone!
This "gaming the system", is what we call "black hat" SEO. It's a very high-risk recipe for disaster. Game it and you'll pay a high price. Your online business will suffer.
At Social Hive, we do nothing of the sought. We follow Google's best practice guidelines to the letter. And we'll always keep you up-to-date with what's matters most.
This means doing "white hat" SEO all the way. And the bundle of tasks is wide and varied.
Google looks beyond pure technical matters to a full-spectrum performance assessment
In the early days, SEO was almost 100% technical. Today, it goes way beyond that. It's full-spectrum now, covering your entire digital marketing efforts, like:
- content marketing;
- public relations and branding;
- content design and user experience;
- conversion rate optimisation; and
- coding and web development.
Yes, this means SEO is getting more complex. But this brings opportunities for smart law firms leveraging full-spectrum digital marketing. If you're not going to, your competitor will. But to do so, you'll want to know what's acceptable and expected by search engines like Google.
So let's dive into a roundup of what is essential in SEO for law firms in 2022.
Pay close attention to on-page SEO factors
On-page (or on-site) SEO refers to the work done on your own website. It includes content (written for humans and optimised for search) and the optimising of technical components.
On-page SEO optimises web page content for both search engines (Google, et.el.) and users (e.g. your clients). Google considers this of critical importance.
Common on-page SEO practices include:
Underscored here is the need to optimise both for search engines AND your users. If your content doesn’t help users, Google will not serve it up in search results.
But likewise, if your content isn’t “coded” to let search engines assess value with ease, it will remain invisible.
Give on-page SEO a high priority at all times by focusing on ...
The essentials of on-page SEO for law firms in 2022
Many of your on-page SEO efforts are made for search engines. But always remember this...
The people who visit your site are always paramount. They visit your site expecting value; an answer to their question, a solution to their problem. You need to deliver, every time.
Writing content for Google is about giving the reader everything (and more than) they need.
SEO technical elements serve algorithms. Qualitative human elements make exceptional on-page experiences. Both work in tandem to up your SEO game.
Be hyper-useful for search engine algorithms AND people.
Having stressed this, here's a list of the technical elements that'll move you to SEO success.
Optimise every page with keywords and key-phrases
Keywords are still primary elements used by Google.
Smart keyword choices help in signalling what your page is about. They tell algorithms what the relevance of your page is relative to a search query. Do smart keyword research. Discover keywords that your clients use to find answers and solutions. and make sure the page's information matches the intent of the keyword query; that is, the intent of what the searcher is seeking.
Add your target keyword to the first 100 words of your page. Google puts more weight on terms that show up early on the page.
And be sensible with keyword frequency. Don't keyword stuff your website pages. Keyword frequency is how often you use the keyword in your content. The early days of the Internet were all about mentioning the keyword as much as possible. That's a definite no go, today.
Today, keyword use for natural flow is the game.
Google does not say that using a keyword more than once will help your rankings. But testing shows that pages with more than one or two mentions tend to do better. It helps confirm for algorithms, what page's focus is on.
Having said that, increase frequency only when it makes sense to the copy; that is, when it reads properly to the visitor. The flow and meaning of the text must be clear and easy to read without feeling like badgering.
Wrap your page title in an H1 tag
Google is clear about this. Using an H1 tag "helps Google understand the structure of the page".
A page that is well-structured is easy to read and helps visitors to understand the content and value transfer. And that's great news for search engines and users.
The H1 tag gives search engines a high-level overview of what your page is all about. Front-loading your keyword in the title tag can help, too.
Social Hive's smart design websites make it easy for you to add the H1 title tag without coding new page content.
Wrap your subheadings in H2 tags
Structure the page's information even more by using H2 tags.
Make the hierarchy of information super clear for both algorithms and users. It will build flow and understanding.
Include your target keyword in at least one subheading.
Add external/outbound links to your pages
When appropriate, link to external sites that offer related information and strengthen the authority of your own content. Build your page up as a high-value source for people searching for answers and solutions.
This will also help Google know what your page is about, how it fits into the web of knowledge. That can build page authority, another ranking signal.
Optimise web addresses for SEO
Webpage addresses (URLs) are often underrated parts of on-page SEO. Don't overlook this opportunity.
Make your URLs are as short as practicable, particularly concentrating on the slug for each unique page. Be precise and clear, adding a keyword where possible.
Write unique, keyword-rich meta descriptions
Google is clear. "Adding description meta tags to each of your pages is always a good practice".
Search engines won't always use your meta descriptions in search result snippets. They may generate a snippet from other elements on your page. But it's still a good idea to write your own for every page.
A well-written meta description stands out in search results. They encourage people to click through to your site. This can boost organic click-through rate (CTR), in turn, a great ranking signal.
Like title tags, try to front-load your keyword in the meta description. The Google algorithm will bold keywords in search results. It increases the result's visibility.
Write unique and super-valuable content
100% focus on satisfying the website visitor's needs, is all about great content.
Great content is clear, easy to read and answers the visitor's questions to the full. Great content solves their problems. Great content gives readers value beyond their expectations.
In turn, great content establishes your authority, enriching your brand. It builds trust, making readers more likely to click through to other pages on your site, for more value. And it leads to business-making actions like phone calls and consultation bookings.
All this equals conversions, click-through rates and other ranking signals.
Optimise your content for click-through rates
Click-through rate (CTR) is the ratio of users who click on a link to the number of total users who view the destination page.
Algorithms do assess CTR. Improving it can drive more organic traffic to your site.
Several practical ways exist for you to improve CTR, like:
- using question-based title tags;
- ensuring every page has an original meta description;
- using schema markup to encourage Google to display rich snippets; and
- adding some emotion to your headlines.
And make sure your site-wide user experience (UX) is excellent
This is an ever-increasing value point.
Site visitors' interaction with your content has a lot to do with UX factors. And Google measures several key UX factors, like dwell time and bounce rate.
Websites with mediocre UX will experience lower search performance. It's a critical on-page SEO factor for 2022.
But it's not all. You'll also want to ...
Pay attention to these off-site SEO factors
"Off-page SEO" refers to actions taken outside of your website, that impact your rankings within search engine results pages (SERPs). It is also known as "off-site SEO".
Good SEO is a combination of both on-page and off-page SEO work.
Off-site SEO involves improving how search engines and people perceive your site's popularity. That includes the site's relevance, trustworthiness and authority.
Off-site SEO concerns the quality of sources linking to or promoting your site. Those links "vouch" for the quality of your content.
So, here's a quick run-down of ...
The essential off-page SEO factors for law firms in 2022
The core of classic off-page SEO is:
- generating quality backlinks;
- encouraging branded searches; and
- increasing engagements and shares on social media.
In fact, these ranking signals still form the foundation of Google’s algorithm. So in 2022, it's time to...
Grow the number of quality backlinks to your site
Note that quantity doesn't trump quality.
Backlinks add value when they're from authority sites. The link must be relevant to the destination content on your site. Backlinks that add no value to your user's experience are worthless at best, damaging at worst.
Publish quality content and authoritative sites will link to you. An authority site will not link to low-quality information. So write solid blog posts that educate. Make them helpful. And provide that value for free.
Data-rich content or long-form content takes the reader deep into a subject. Research-backed posts featuring your lawyers' insights will work well. Other websites that are authorities will gain by linking to your sources. It's a win-win for both you and them.
You can also earn good backlinks by having your lawyers guest post on other reputable sites. The added benefit is that this approach gets your firm's brand noticed. It broadens your audience, too.
Guest posting can generate unlinked brand mentions which algorithms can pick up, too. It's all part of signalling the virtue of your firm's experience, expertise and authority.
Keep track of and fix broken links
Make sure that all links to your site are working. A broken link (Error 404) is a dead-end. That's frustrating for users. For algorithms, it can signal that the site is not up-to-date.
Generate brand signals
Google wants to verify your law firm's brand is legitimate. It needs to know that you are who you say you are and see proof of quality status.
Do an audit to assess your current online brand footprint. Leverage Google Search Console and use its Performance Report function. Look at the 'Impressions" column. It will show branded searches to benchmark progress and measure improvements over time.
Invest in YouTube, a Google-owned source of quality backlinks
YouTube is an excellent media channel to help boost your firm's online footprint. It's a popular source of knowledge for many. Conversion rates from YouTube content are often amongst the highest performers.
Creating helpful law-related videos for YouTube can be a cost-effective off-site SEO strategy. There's a huge audience out there for audio-visual content.
And Social Hive has done facilitated this for many of its clients with great results.
Improve your E.A.T score
Your website's E-A-T value depends on how well you can communicate your firm's expertise. Put your talent forward. Write web-adapted content showcasing your lawyers' knowledge. Make the law accessible to everyone, with ease and comfort.
Get your lawyers visible on the net. When they appear at seminars and conferences, publish posts sharing their contributions. Make sure it's done in an accessible way for laypeople. After all, you're trying to attract client business, not the accolades of other lawyers.
And try to attract the attention of the media with press releases and doing interviews (but we do acknowledge this is a tough call for many smaller firms).
A well-written press release or quote in a news article can lead to invaluable brand mentions.
And with all that, you'll have your hands full
Or better still, talk to us at Social Hive and we'll make it all happen for you.
Let's talk about prioritising your law firm website's SEO the easy and most effective way in 2022.
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