As search optimization experts for law firms, we stay on top of the latest industry trends. The algorithms behind organic search results are constantly evolving, and, likewise, SEO strategies for lawyers must constantly evolve to stay ahead of the competition. Unfortunately for many law firms’ websites, they haven’t adapted to the times. In other words, they don’t have the infrastructure to conduct a truly successful SEO campaign. Here are the two major reasons why:
1. SEO Without Content is Like Target Shooting Without Bullets
We get calls from law firms that want to enhance their presence online through SEO, but their websites either lack content or their content is stale. When we impress upon these lawyers that they need content, many respond the same way – either they don’t have the time to produce content or they don’t want to incur the expense of a content writer. Google focuses more and more on content and less and less on keyword saturation. Your law firm’s website should have custom content that uses relevant keywords and synonyms but focuses more on the content than the words themselves. Also, semantic search is very important. Search engines use intent, context, and meaning in a search query, instead of focusing on keywords related to the practice of law and legal services. What this means to you is that your content should include “conversational-style” (or long-tail keyword) phrases that are becoming increasing import for SEO rankings.
2. A Website that Isn’t Mobile Friendly is Like a Door Without a Handle
Simply stated, you MUST have a mobile friendly web site to succeed at SEO. In January 2015, mobile searches officially surpassed the desktop searches and they continue to grow. That’s why, in April of 2015, Google officially announced that a mobile user experience is a very significant factor in Google’s search engine ranking algorithm. Even if an antiquated law firm web site does show up in search results, site visitors aren’t inclined to stick around. Ask yourself whether you have recently visited a site that isn’t mobile friendly where menus and text are ultra-small, you have to pinch and zoom to move about, and filling out a contact form is near impossible. If you’re like the majority of mobile users, you’ll quickly bounce out of an antiqued site and on to the next site in your search results.
Some of our customers think that they have a mobile friendly site, but they actually are running a different site than the law firm’s desktop counterpart. You’ve probably seen examples of this where the website address is “m.lawfirmsite.com” and has a link or button that reads “Visit Desktop Version.” Google has stated that a responsive web design is the recommended mobile configuration and that responsive web design is the best industry practice. Responsive web design uses flexible layouts that detect the visitor’s screen size and orientation and change the layout accordingly. By having a single site and single URL, it’s easier for Google to crawl, index, and organize your law firm web site’s content. Also, Google prefers responsive web design because content that lives on one website and one URL is much easier for users to share, interact with, and link to than content that lives on a separate mobile site. Not only does Google prefer a responsive web design for purposes of SEO, a responsive website provides a better user-experience across many devices and screen sizes.
If you have separate desktop and mobile site, then you’ve put yourself in the position of having separate SEO campaigns. Obviously, managing one site and one SEO campaign is far easier than managing two sites and two SEO campaigns. This is a key advantage a responsive website has over a separate mobile site.
Even if your law firm web site is ranking well, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the site is generating conversions and new firm clients. If so, then your site needs to be updated or changed to meet your law firm’s conversion goals. You will need to apply new SEO strategies that look beyond link building and keyword ranking, and focus your content on engagement with your audience, which will eventually convince them to convert into a client.