Your law firm’s website is now the sine qua non of your legal marketing. It is one of the most powerful ways that you can demonstrate your expertise and authority as well as your personality, obvious professionalism and trustworthiness mixed in with a little added element of social proof. This is the context within which I will be helping you with your Legal Content writing.
Legal Copywriting (with an understanding of Search Engine Optimisation) is something that lawyers need to integrate into their marketing these days. When I qualified as a corporate finance solicitor in the City back in the 1980s, there was no such thing as law firm marketing. In those days law firms were not even allowed to advertise, and the thinking was quite simply that as professionals they should rely on their reputation alone….how times have changed!
The information in this blog post is very powerful, and is key to where millions of pounds in future legal fees will be channelled. If you want a share of this, then read on, but be aware: this blog post runs to a few thousand words. This is quite deliberate since law firm marketing is quite involved.
Just ticking over with a very basic internet presence is no longer an option. Potential clients today are increasingly looking for lawyers the same way that they are looking for just about everything else, on the world wide web, and three quarters of them researching law firms will probably look at three or more sites.
It goes without saying that your site needs to make a good first impression. Just as when you meet someone for the first time, they will make unconscious decisions about you based on what you look like, how you’re dressed, whether you make eye contact and how firm your handshake is. So too will your site send out certain signals.
So don’t be dull and uninspiring, however technically excellent your content may be, and however much you demonstrate your reputation, expertise and experiences. Don’t forget to talk to visitors who are asking themselves:
- do you understand my pain points?
- can you solve my problem?
Too few legal websites connect with their audience in a sufficiently human and personal way.
But above all else, you need to be on page 1 of Google for your designated keywords and this is where people look nowadays. Three quarters of people will never go past page one, and about the same number routinely ignore the advertised rankings. The search engines are the number one driver of traffic, and have far more impact in this regard than social media.
SEO for law firms…..Does SEO really work for law firms?
Of course Legal SEO is an obvious route for the type of lawyers that now advertise on the television – personal injury solicitors trying to find a client who slipped on a wet floor. Legal SEO will help a prospective client find you if you are a divorce lawyer in Bath. But it less likely to help a City Firm Law Firm get a new M&A client to defend a hostile takeover?
SEO is one of the most powerful business skills that one can acquire nowadays. Nevertheless, offering legal services and helping people solve their legal problems (or creatively finding legal solutions) is not exactly the same as selling soap powder.
Now this might very well work……
- A prospective client goes to Google, and types in “personal injury lawyer Northampton”.
- That person who has recently experienced a personal injury, immediately finds you and lands on the personal injury section of your site, and reads your material.
- With a bit of luck they pick up the phone, call you, and hey presto you have a new client.
This process can and does work for “personal injury lawyer Northampton“, or “Divorce Solicitor Canterbury” or “criminal defence solicitor Croydon” or “cheap conveyancing Newcastle” or “human rights solicitor London” or even a long tail keyword like “how can a father get sole child custody if the mother is an alcoholic“. Certainly there are firms paying money to Google Adwords to advertise in all of these spots (except the last one!).
This is the exact same process that works brilliantly if you are selling a “Tottenham Hotspur key ring” or a set of “purple bluetooth speakers for iPhone”, or if you are an “emergency plumber Bristol”. It is fundamentally no different.
The legal search market is vast
Let me give you an idea of just how big this whole search engine ecosystem actually is. Here is some data from Google AdWords from a while back: just a few random Google AdWords categories (with several related keyword phrases) together with its average monthly search volume on google.co.uk.
- Injury Manchester (eg personal injury solicitors Manchester) 540
- Firms Manchester (eg law firms in Manchester) 1,540
- Law Manchester 670
- Manchester Conveyancing 340
- Lawyers Manchester 320
- Manchester Property 150
- Firm in London (eg London Law Firms) 5,120
- London lawyer 1,130
- Employment solicitors 4,660
- Conveyancing solicitors 5,580
- Criminal Solicitor 3,260
- Criminal Defence 520 (plus another few hundred using American spelling and terms like “attorney”)
- Corporate (eg corporate lawyers) 560
- Pension Law 1,560
- Pensions Lawyer 370
You’ll need to be sitting down when you look at some the Google AdWords Pay Per Click prices for some of these terms. But somebody is paying good money to advertise for these keyword terms whenever anybody clicks on their advertised listing, so presumably they think it’s worthwhile.
I will drill down into just one of these categories: Employment Solicitors, a category with 4,660 searches a month. Here are just some of the results which branch out into other relevant Google categories:
- employment law solicitors 1,600
- unfair dismissal solicitors 90
- unfair dismissal claim 880
- unfair dismissal compensation 720
- unfair dismissal cases 480
- unfair dismissal lawyers 70
- what is unfair dismissal 260
- unfair dismissal uk 320
- compensation for unfair dismissal 170
- redundancy 22,200
- redundancy solicitors 50
- redundancy solicitor 30
- redundancy lawyers 30
- unfair redundancy 210
- employment law advice 1,000
- employment legal advice 170
- employment advice 720
- employment law lawyers 40
- lawyers specialising in employment law 10
- employment tribunal solicitors 50
- tribunal solicitors 30
- no win no fee solicitors employment tribunal 50
- contracts of employment 1,000
- contract of employment 3,600
- employment contract 2,400
- employment contract law 320
- employment tribunal claim 390
- employment tribunal lawyers 30
- employment tribunal 8,100
- employment tribunal rules 880
- employment law advice for employees 70
- employee law 140
- employment law for employees
- no win no fee employment solicitors 1,300
- no win no fee employment lawyers 480
- no win no fee employment law 260
- employment law no win no fee 170
- employers rights 320
- employment rights 1,600
- constructive dismissal 18,100
- constructive dismissal compensation 390
- constructive dismissal cases 260
- constructive unfair dismissal 170
- employment law uk 3,600
- uk employment law 1,300
- employment laws uk 320
- employment solicitors london 320
- employment lawyers london 390
- employment lawyer london 210
- employment law solicitors london 170
- employment law london 70
- compromise agreement 1,900
- compromise agreements 210
- compromise agreements solicitors 20
and the list just goes on and on and on and on.
Are you getting the picture of how big this is?
Do you see how much opportunity there is out there?
Let me remind you that these are average monthly search figures.
So can you just imagine how much more powerful your online presence would be if you were sitting at the top of some of these organic search results? Admittedly some of these searches will be from journalists, some from students and some will be frivolous. But so what? There will always be a very significant number of such searches with buyer intent…..and they are being made month after month after month after month.
What better way to get your brand, your expertise, and your passionate compelling desire to help others widely known than to be found at the top of the search engine results?
Remember this: the vast majority of people click on the top result, and a smaller but nevertheless significant number will click on the second and third results. Below that and the law of diminishing returns kicks in rather quickly, and as for page 2 ….well being on page 2 is obviously not quite as bad as being on page 7 or page 17, but the the plain fact of the matter is that if you are not on page 1, then you are simply not going to make the dynamic progress that you either want or deserve.
There is a tsunami of traffic out there, and it wants a solution to its problems, and the bottom line is that Google wants to give its users a good customer experience. It needs to identify good content and match it up to those who are seeking that information. My job is to put you into the middle of that equation.
More sophisticated branding Law Firm SEO
But this relatively simple process will NOT work for more sophisticated legal services. What happens if somebody types into Google a keyword search term such as “implications of the Intellectual Property Act 2014” or “competition and consumer protection under the Trans-Pacific Partnership”?
How exactly does Search Engine Optimisation for law firms work at a deeper level?
Well as the old adage goes: it’s a marathon not a sprint.
A prospective slightly more sophisticated client will google a very specific search term, say “s166 Skilled Persons Review Financial Services & Markets Act as amended”.
You would want that person to then land on an article you’ve written on that very subject, and perhaps even actually read it (or even see a short two minute video by you on the subject, of which more later). Hopefully that person will be impressed with your authority and insights, and so become familiar with you. They may then subscribe to your newsletter, and follow your output. They may subsequently bump into you at a conference where you are speaking one day, and your name recognition will work strongly in your favour. Eventually they may instruct you when they need expert legal assistance on this, or a closely related area.
What you do not want is for that prospective client to land on your competitor’s site.
The bottom line is that Law Firm Search Engine Optimisation is not necessarily a quick shortcut to get business. Rather Legal SEO is a means to let you shine as a thought leader and an expert, and research is showing that over 70% of professional firms are now getting business through on-line leads.
Your future clients need to find you and then see you as an authoritative expert lawyer who can help them with whatever issues they have.
You can either view Lawyers SEO as boring old marketing work which is a necessary evil in this day and age, or you can treat search engine optimisation for law firms as an amazing and creative opportunity to produce outstanding content, to shine your light and be found on the internet over and over again.
Internet Marketing for Law Firms
Are you getting a Return on Investment from your website?
You are busy running a successful practice with its inherent constant pressure and deadlines. You certainly don’t have enough time to update your website and you struggle to keep up to date with changes in the law, so you’re not remotely interested in keeping up to date with changes in the SEO world.
You may have done some Do-It-Yourself SEO. You may have paid someone a great deal of money who promised you the SEO world. Your competitors may be ahead of you. With a little more time & resources and Legal SEO knowledge you could perhaps get there.
You’ve delegated these SEO and other marketing tasks, but there may not be be a coherent strategy in place.
Don’t forget if you’re not doing this strategically, then your competition might well be, and that tsunami of internet traffic will be finding them, not you.
Let me apply some creative thinking & work with your existing SEO strategists to create the content that you need.
I will need to understand the design strengths and weaknesses of your site, and analyse its information architecture. This will touch on what is helping, and what is hurting the site’s rank-ability.
My specialist Law Firm Content Writing for Search Engine Optimisation
Why trust me?
As a Cambridge law graduate with around 15 years experience of working as a Corporate Finance Lawyer for some of the biggest law firms in the world (Freshfields, Dentons, Linklaters) as well as a niche City Firm (Carter Lemon Camerons), I understand the way law firms think and work.
- I will get to know your law firm deeply.
- I will take an intimate behind the scenes look at your site.
- I will focus on the most important keywords.
- I will not outsource this work to India or anywhere similar.
- I will understand your unique needs.
- I will find a solution for you that works.
- I will take solid action to optimise your site & use all of my creativity to get you more business & therefore to help you make more money.
- I will be honest in my dealings with you & hit our agreed deadlines.
SEO Work Flow
SEO for law firms work would progress this is a typical (to the extent that there is such a thing) scenario:
The foundation of this work is to start with the website itself.
This after all is where people go, where your content is, where your brand talks.
An SEO consultant will just focus initially on optimising the site (so called “on-page optimisation”). This will go over a lot of technical matters, with a particular emphasis on the architecture of the site, your tags, and your inner linking. Some of the technical analysis will be page load speed (which is very important) and mobile responsiveness.
An integral part of this, of course, is understanding the Keywords that are important.
The SEO consultant may then add semantic code, and make suggestions to your eco-system of supporting web properties, with a particular emphasis on Google+ and how you are optimised for local listings and Google Maps.
We may well discuss some matters which may not make you too comfortable – such as putting more videos onto your site. Lawyers seem reticent to do this, but this human touch adds enormously to your website presence.
In my opinion it is staggering how little this is used on legal websites. Video is a powerful medium, and helps you make an emotional connection with visitors to your site. (There are also many good technical reasons why I recommend videos too.)
Now the thought of using videos may push you a little out of your comfort zone. But this will instantly make you stand out from the crowd, and videos can help you make a much more intimate connection that mere words on a screen can never match.
Establishing a human connection in this way can break the ice with a visitor – and don’t forget that some people are intimidated at the thought of consulting a lawyer. It allows you to show your human side and instantly gain trust in what is otherwise an impersonal online world.
Law, after all, can be a very personal profession.
Don’t worry if you are uncomfortable in front of a camera. I can help coach you to create an authentic personal message which will allow you to truly express yourself.
At this point an SEO Consultant will focus on building the authority of your brand, your site and your lawyers.
This is mostly “off page” work, some of which you will almost certainly already be doing.
This requires a systematic approach to Press Releases, Citations, various aspects of social media and your article writing and seminar output. Your Google Maps listings must also be properly optimised.
Month 3 and onwards
This is when the real creativity kicks in, as the SEO Consultant will set up a powerful link building programme. This will be fully integrated into your position of trust, leadership and authority.
There are so many other means to make yourself loved by the algorithms. Personally I am a particular fan of using Press Releases creatively for many, many reasons.
Don’t forget that high rankings do not necessarily guarantee conversions, ringing telephones, high profile work and greater profits. High rankings do not guarantee any of these things, but they certainly cannot harm you in any way, and they are an integral part of your overall marketing strategy.
Good Legal Content writing will systematically raise your Domain Authority and generate rankings for an enormous number of keywords, both specialist and highly competitive general terms.
The intent of a full package will be to generate a minimum of tens of thousands of pounds in increased monthly revenue. These increased revenues will not be the result of luck, but rather of a sustained, proven strategy that will lead to your domination of the search engine results.
Price depends on your business model. Sole practitioners, 10 partner firms & major City firms each have a different business model, and are probably aiming at a different demographic. SEO is both an art and a science, and each model demands an individual strategy.
Law Firm SEO Conclusion
As I said above, your future clients need to see you as an authoritative lawyer who can solve their legal issues for them.
It is your choice whether Legal SEO is a boring necessary evil, or an exhilarating, creative opportunity to create outstanding content, to create huge value for others, to be a thought leader and to shine your light brightly. Then your compelling firm can be found over and over again by the relentless online traffic that is trying to find you.