Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Legal SEO Checklist

Some of the greatest professionals in the world operate on a daily basis through the use of checklists.  Surgeons, airline pilots, construction project managers, and even rocket scientists all use checklists in one form or another to ensure they do things correctly.  If you’ve ever read The Checklist Manifesto, you know what I’m talking about.

Using a checklist for optimizing a site helps lawyers cut through the fire-hose of advice found on the Internet and ensures that they don’t miss any important steps.  

We’ve put together a checklist of basic SEO tactics that all attorney websites should follow.  This list is by no means exhaustive and each website has unique needs to help it rank well.  

1.      Keyword research: The foundation of any good SEO campaign starts with researching and selecting the keyword phrases to target.  After all, if you do not make your site relevant to searchers, Google will not show it to them. Attorneys should come up with keyword phrases that:
a.       Are specific to their practice areas
b.       Have purchase intent (indicate the searcher is ready to buy)
c.        Are a mix of local and non-local
d.       Have decent search volume
e.       Are not too broad (i.e. single terms like “lawyer” or “attorney”)

2.      Set up tools:  Attorneys need a way to track their progress when doing SEO. That means seeing where they are now in terms of ranking for their keyword phrases and then being able to check again later to see where they’ve gone. 

To do that, set up tools for measuring progress.  Here’s a mix of free and paid tools that can help:
a.       Ahrefs: A paid link-analysis, rank-tracking, and keyword-research tool.
b.       Google Analytics: A free tool for looking at visitor traffic and behavior on a website.
c.        Google Search Console: A free tool for looking at data related to links, search traffic, and site configuration.

It’s important to get a benchmark measurement of your referral traffic from search and where you rank for your keyword phrases so you can track your progress.

3.      Onsite optimization: Onsite optimization is one of the more undervalued tasks in SEO, but it’s incredibly important to ranking well.  This refers to the process of configuring the website itself to rank well in search and includes:
a.       Keyword placement in copy, title tags, meta descriptions, headings, and permalinks of a site.
b.       Ensuring technical elements like load time, sitemaps, attorney schema, mobile responsiveness, indexing settings, and internal linking are configured properly.
c.        Usability elements like content, site architecture, and functionality.

4.      Create useful content: Content along with links is one of the primary ranking factors in Google search.  Attorney sites should contain the most authoritative sources on the Internet for their topic areas.  Visitors should find it the most valuable, the most helpful, and the most informative source of information available compared to the competition.

5.      Build links:  Links are the most important ranking factor in Google search. Attorneys should get links from a variety of high-quality domains, directories, and citation-based sites.  A core focus of any SEO effort should include a sound and practical link-building campaign.  Here’s some tips on what to look for:
a.       Get links from domains that have a DR20+ or higher (Ahrefs metric)
b.       Get links from domains that are relevant to the legal industry
c.        Follow Google’s best practices for links (no buying or deliberately trading links)

6.      Focus on local SEO: Ranking well locally is extremely important for lawyers because their services are often confined to local areas.  With limited real estate in Google maps and the local 3-pack of Google My Business listings, ranking well can present a challenge.  Here are some tips to get you started:
a.       Moz does a survey of local search professionals who provide top local ranking factors.  Check out what’s important on that list.
b.       Claim your Google My Business profile and fill it out completely. (Add more images than your competition, add a specific category, and add business and practice-area descriptions.)
c.        Build local links such as from, your local Chamber of Commerce, or local business resource pages.
d.       Get reviews on your Google My Business profile and other sites like Facebook.
Like we mentioned before, this list is not all-encompassing.  An effective SEO campaign contains many complicated strategies in addition to the ones on this list.
The tactics in this list, however, are the most important ones to focus on for pretty much any attorney SEO campaign. 

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