Top 10 Rules of Lawyer SEO
Rule Number 1 – Practice Where There is Search Volume
This rule actually has 2 parts. It has to do with (1) physical location, and (2) legal practice area.
Lawyer SEO Is Local and Based On Your Office Address
Physical Location – Put your office address in a real city, a major metropolitan area…an actual city that people have actually heard of.
There is no search volume, for any kind of attorney, in West Mineola, Texas.
I can rank you NUMBER ONE for every lawyer search term in West Mineola, Texas, and it will not be financially viable because zero people per month are looking for any kind of attorney in West Mineola, Texas.
If you want to use search engine optimization to get clients, then move to a city that has actual search volume.
Best Lawyer SEO Niches
Be The Kind of Lawyer That People Search For On Google
Legal Practice Area – Nobody is looking for a “commercial litigation lawyer” on Google.
See also…Finding Search Volume
If you want to use search engine optimization to get clients, then you should practice…(in order, and assuming you’re in a real city)
- Immigration (high search volume, low competition, website visitors are likely to convert into callers, who are likely to convert into paying clients)
- Car Accident (high search volume, high competition, site visitors likely to convert into callers, callers are extremely likely to convert into clients…if they actually have a case, and when they have a case the payoff can be huge, even if it just settles…especially if it just settles)
- Notice I said “car accident lawyer,” and not “personal injury lawyer.” Someone searching for a “car accident lawyer,” is much more likely to convert into money for your firm, then someone searching for a “personal injury lawyer.” Additionally, the SEO competition for “city personal injury lawyer,” is much much much higher than the competition for “city car accident lawyer.” If you have a $10,000 per month online marketing budget to throw at SEO, Facebook Ads, Google Pay Per Click, then go after personal injury lawyer. Otherwise just build your entire website with the intent of ranking solely for car accident lawyer.
- DWI / DUI (high search volume, high competition, website visitors are highly likely to convert into callers, callers are highly likely to convert into paying clients)
- Notice I said “DWI,” and not “criminal law.” If you’re looking for return on investment, and if you’re going to throw money at a search term, then DWI is going to convert (turn into dollars) far better than “criminal lawyer.” Also, it will be easier to rank for DWI than Criminal, because it’s more niche.
- Divorce (high search volume, high competition, website visitors moderately likely to convert into callers, callers will convert into paying clients if your phone answer-er has any sales ability)
- Notice I said “divorce,” and not “family law.” If you’re going to throw money at a search term, it should be divorce. Divorce converts better and you get more return on your investment. Someone searching for “divorce lawyer,” is further down the marketing funnel, than someone searching “family law attorney,” which means they are more likely to give someone their money.
- Business Lawyer (search volume depends on the local economy, but there is low competition here and the term converts well)
- NOTE: There is also a lot of low competition, high search volume long tail here that converts extremely well, e.g., business formation lawyer, small business lawyer, business name availability [state], LLC Formation [city], LLC Operating Agreement [city], corporate formation attorney, check business name availability [state], LLC dissolution [state], etc.
- NOTE: If you build a “business lawyer” website, it can easily swallow up bankruptcy, real estate, and employment law on inner pages. I recommend registering something with the word businesslawyer in the domain name (before the dot), then ranking the home page for “city business lawyer,” and ranking the inner pages for “city bankruptcy lawyer,” “city real estate lawyer,” “city employment lawyer.”
- Bankruptcy (high search volume, low competition, website visitors are likely to convert into callers, but callers are only moderately likely to convert into paying clients. Still, in any major city, the search volume is so high, and the SEO competition is so low that you’re going to get paying clients here)
- Real Estate Lawyer (search volume depends on the local real estate market, but there is low competition here and the term converts well)
- Employment Lawyer (search volume depends on local economy, low competition, but you’ll have to sort through a ton of non-cases…i.e., people calling to complain because their boss was mean to them today)
- NOTE: Ranking for “Employment Lawyer,” will produce more and better phone calls than ranking for “Labor Lawyer,” but the comp is so low that I’d just rank your home page for both.
- Employment Law also include a lot of decent long tail, like sexual harassment, racial discrimination, etc., but I’ve found that SEO doesn’t produce as many viable cases in this niche as something like divorce, DWI, or car accident. There are just a lot of elements that have to be met before any “employment” issue is actually a viable case, and the majority of these calls are just terrible employees complaining because their boss fired them for being a terrible employee. Still, in a decent city, there is enough search volume to make a very good living off of SEO marketing practices.
Here are a few practice areas that nobody uses Google to find..
- city elder care law attorney
- city wills and trust lawyer
- Quick Note: even in large cities, terms like city probate lawyer, city will lawyer, city estate planning lawyer…this niche (Probate / Estate Planning) never does well online, even when there’s search volume. Do not throw money at SEO if you practice probate / estate planning. It’s not that you can get to page one, YOU CAN, it’s just that your SEO marketing efforts are not going to convert into dollars. Use other marketing methods in this niche, not SEO.
- UPDATE JUNE 28, 2021: See here regarding Advances in Estate Planning Attorney Marketing.
- city commercial litigation lawyer
- city construction litigation lawyer
- city DTPA lawyer
- city animal law attorney
The point is, I get contacted all the time by these attorneys who either live in BFE, where there is no search volume, or they practice some obscure area of the law that nobody uses Google to find attorneys for…like “Midlothian Appeals Attorney.”
I can rank you “position zero,” for these terms (above the maps listings, above the paid ads, i.e., higher than position one), and you will not make any money.
Don’t do this to yourself. Practice where there is search volume.
Rule Number 2 – Put the word “Lawyer” in your Domain Name
UPDATE OCT. 18 2020: Due to Google favoring inner pages for many lawyer terms in the search results, I no longer believe that it is extremely important to have the word “lawyer” in your domain name. It helps, but the Google algorithm is continuously moving towards favoring “branding,” and “brand search” over “keywords,” which makes having the keyword in your domain name not as important as it used to be.
Don’t register a website like “smithlaw.com,” I see so many attorneys doing this when the word “law” gives you zero relevance in the eyes of Google.
If you absolutely have to go branded, then instead of registering “smithlaw.com,” register “smithlawyers.com,” or “smith.lawyer.”
Additionally, some scam artist is out there pedaling “dot law” domains (domainname.law), for hundreds of dollars, when this dot law provides zero relevance in the eyes of Google, while you can register a “dot lawyer” domain (domainname.lawyer) at dreamhost for $34. And those dot lawyer domains are extremely relevant in Google’s algorithm.
If you really want to make your SEO Expert’s job easy, then register a website like this “CityPacticeArea.Lawyer,” e.g., “DetroitCarAccident.Lawyer.”
Of course an exact match domain like that is likely to be taken and will cost you $3,000+, but you could easily register something like “SmithDetroidCarAccident.Lawyer,” for the cost of registration.
What About Other Keywords?
At a minimum, you need the word “lawyer” in your domain name, you could use “attorney” instead of “lawyer,” but I prefer “lawyer,” it just seems to work better.
The perfect domain name would also include the city and practice area, but there are some reasons why you might not want to do that, like, your domain name might get too long, which is sub-optimal.
Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use exact match domains (keyword + city), it just means if you don’t know what you’re doing, then just make sure you have the word lawyer in your domain name (or use a “dot lawyer” domain).
Rule Number 3 – Copy Whoever Is Winning
Whatever keyword you are trying to rank for, search on that keyword, and then copy the SEO strategy, blogging strategy of whoever is on page one for that term.
I use a tool called AHREFS to do this for every client.
How many backlinks do you need?
What backlinks do I need?
How many blog articles should I write?
What blog articles should I write?
What should my SEO Meta-Titles be?
…All of these questions can be answered by simply doing exactly what the winners are doing. Write the same blog articles, get the same backlinks, use the same Meta-Titles.
UPDATE OCT. 18 2020: In terms of technical local SEO (backlinks, on-page, off-page, etc.), nothing ranks your website faster and higher than keyword search and click, from real people, in your city. I did not mention that in the original version of this article because even though this tactic is extremely simple, it’s very hard for most people to do right.
This sounds obvious, but almost nobody actually knows what it means, and almost nobody actually does it.
It means, if you’re a lawyer website, then you need other lawyer websites to link to you.
There are probably over 100 of these online lawyer profiles that you can get. Some are free, others are paid.
See also…Best Lawyer Backlinks Playlist
Rule Number 5 – Get 100+ Google Reviews
Showing up in the Google Maps Listing for your search term is where most of the money is in law firm SEO.
Your likelihood of appearing in the maps listing is highly correlated to the number of Google reviews that you have.
- Read my article about how to get 100+++ Google Reviews
- Get 100+ Google Reviews
Rule Number 6 – Write The Right Blog Articles
The only reason you should ever write ANY blog article is because (1) people are actually searching for that specific topic, and (2) those people are likely to convert into paying clients.
Someone searching for “how much is child support in Dade county,” is looking to hire a divorce lawyer. Instead of searching for “Miami divorce lawyer,” they did a search for the actual problem that a divorce lawyer is going to solve for them.
Most lawyers who blog, just throw random blog topics on their site like: “My Day in Mediation,” or “What if the Government Shuts Down,” or “18 Wheeler Accident on State Hwy 109.”
They are blogging because they read the SmartPassiveIncome Blog in 2010 and it told them that websites need blog articles.
So they throw random useless crap on their blog and can’t figure out why “it’s not working.”
Skip the bullcrap, just read my entire series on lawyer blogging.
Rule Number 7 – Your Phone Number Should Slap The Website Visitor In The Face
THE ONLY PURPOSE OF A LAW FIRM WEBSITE IS TO CONVERT INTERNET TRAFFIC INTO PHONE CALLS.
NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.
THE ONLY PURPOSE OF A LAW FIRM WEBSITE IS TO CONVERT INTERNET TRAFFIC INTO PHONE CALLS.
Anybody who tells you any different doesn’t have a freaking clue what they are talking about.
Anybody who tells you any different has never used the internet to make money.
I don’t care what your nephew who knows web design tells you.
I don’t care what your favorite lawyer blogger tells you.
I don’t care what your friend who runs a lawyer lunch and learn tells you.
THE ONLY PURPOSE OF A LAW FIRM WEBSITE IS TO CONVERT INTERNET TRAFFIC INTO PHONE CALLS.
Do not let some artsy-fartsy web designer, who has never used the internet to make money, do some bull jive like this to you.
If someone is visiting the mobile version of your site, you need to have a clickable phone number at the top of every page.
They are visiting your site ON THEIR DANG CELL PHONE….MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM TO CALL YOU.
If I can go to any page of your website, mobile version or desktop version, and the phone number doesn’t slap me in the face, then that means that whoever built your website doesn’t have a clue about ANYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And I’m not just saying that they don’t know anything about web design or SEO; I’m saying they know absolutely nothing about any conceivable subject matter.
DO NOT WORK WITH PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT ANYTHING.
If you have a law firm website, where the phone number doesn’t slap you in the face on every single page, then you need to just scrap your entire online profile and start over from square zero with someone who actually knows what they are doing.
Rule Number 8 – You Have to Answer The Dang Phone Calls
When lawyers tell me that “SEO doesn’t work,” what they mean is “I hired someone to do my SEO, and I didn’t make any money.”
No matter how good your rankings are, no matter how much traffic your website generates, SEO will not work if…Every single incoming phone call isn’t answered by
- a human being,
- who has some sales training, and
- who actually cares about whether your firm ever signs another client.
It’s a SALES Call
What happens with many attorneys who try SEO is that the incoming callers aren’t saying, “Hello will you take my money please? Here’s my credit card info.”
And so they say that SEO doesn’t work, or they say that these callers don’t have any money or can’t afford to pay for legal services.
You will be called by complete strangers, people who found you as one attorney, on a list of attorneys (10 attorneys they don’t know, like, or trust) on the first page of the Google search results.
They are calling you with one purpose, to get a price out of you, so that they can call the other 9 attorneys on page one and compare.
Hence, whoever takes that phone call, needs to convert that phone call into an office visit, and then whoever they visit at the office, needs to convert that office visit into money, i.e., a paying client.
You’ll want to simplify things. Give the website visitor as few decisions to make as possible. You don’t want them to choose between a contact form vs. calling vs. emailing. Ideally, you want them to be able to make only ONE decision…call the phone number, or leave the website.
Some attorneys insist on having a contact form + a phone number, this is sub-optimal. Other attorneys insist on having a contact form, a phone number, and a chat box. This is even more sub-optimal. Optimally, your phone should be answered 24/7 by a live human being, who has been trained to convert incoming phone calls into office visits. See also…https://www.
There must be some kind of sales process in place to convince a complete stranger to give you money. And that sales process has to be based around, “I’m the best lawyer you can possibly hire for this, and here’s why…,” and not based on price.
What About Hiring An Answering Service?
Several of my clients use Call Ruby. I have some hesitation in recommending Call Ruby, because truthfully, I don’t think they are very good.
But the problem is, I’ve listened to at least 10 different answering services (including Call Ruby) handle my Client’s incoming calls, and they all stink!
What you have are $9/hr employees answering your incoming calls who are going to get paid whether you ever sign another client or not, and they’re answering these calls as if they’re upset because they have to put their Instagram down long enough to do their dang job.
The only reason I know this is because I audit several of my clients’ incoming calls and I can listen to the recordings where no callback number, or email, or name was ever asked. And the operator’s only goal in life was to get off the dang phone as quickly as possible so they could go back to tooling around on Facebook.
So if you use a call service, it’s a good idea to have the ability to record all incoming calls so you can at least review the calls that came in and report it to your call service.
You can ask around as to what other lawyers are using, I tend to recommend Call Ruby (1) because I don’t think they are any worse than any other answering service, and (2) because they will typically follow a script if you give them a script to follow.
Hope I’m not discouraging you, but you need to be aware of this problem because every incoming call now represents $5,000+ and you’re trusting someone to answer those calls who has zero sales experience, making $9/hr in a call center, who doesn’t care one way or the other whether you ever sign another client. This is literally one of the biggest sources of frustration in my business.
Rule Number 9 – Re-Target, Call-Back, Follow-Up
Every lawyer website should have a Facebook Pixel installed on it such that any visitor to any webpage can be re-targeted with extremely low cost Facebook ads.
70%+ of the people who visit your website will bounce right back off without ever calling you, never to return again. This is the nature of internet marketing.
If you’re one of my SEO Clients, that fact doesn’t matter, because for the next 180 days you’re going to be in that potential clients face every time they log on to the internet, every time they scroll through their phone, every time they log on to Instagram, or Facebook, or YouTube, or one of Facebook’s thousands of online partners.
This is the easiest, most cost effective, most effective way to get in front of your potential clients today, and every lawyer should be spending at least $300 a month on Facebook Ads.
What if I can’t afford to spend $300 a month on Facebook Ads?
Then get a damn job!
This sounds obvious, but almost nobody does it.
You should collect the “best call back number,” and “email address” of every incoming caller.
Less than five minutes after hanging up, someone from your office should email every incoming caller with some kind of reminder or some kind of info package that makes the incoming caller trust you, like you, and think to themselves…sweet this is my lawyer, I can stop searching now.
And obviously, you need to call-back every incoming caller. Call them back and try to convince them to hire you…try to convince them to let you help them solve their legal problem. No other lawyer they call that day is going to do it, and just one simple five minute call might be all it takes to convert this price-shopper in to $5,000 of law firm revenue. Why not?
Rule Number 10 – Just Get Famous
This rule trumps all the others.
You can completely ignore SEO, backlinks, Facebook, organic search rankings, blogging, web design, and everything else, if you just get famous.
And it’s easier than you think. Here’s my video about the #lawyerfamous method…
There is a personal injury lawyer in Houston, who goes by the name “The Texas Hammer.”
For the last 30+ years he has been running television commercials that begin with, “I’M JIM ADLER, THE TEXAS HAMMER!!!”
Now, some 30 years later, whenever anyone in Houston needs a personal injury lawyer, they don’t go to Google and search “Houston Personal Injury Lawyer,” they go to Google and search “Texas Hammer.”
This is highly significant, because if you search, “Houston Personal Injury Lawyer,” then Jim Adler is one of 10-13 possible lawyers on Page One of the Search Results, and you might click on any of those 10-13 lawyers.
BUT…if you search “Texas Hammer,” then Jim Adler is the ONLY lawyer that you can click on.
Do 1,300 people even know that you are a lawyer?
How would your life change if 1,300 people in need of the exact legal services you offered, searched for your website by name…EVERY MONTH!!
How to get #LawyerFamous
There are many ways to get #LawyerFamous.
2022 UPDATE: The easiest way to get lawyers famous is now short form video (TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels, YouTube Shorts).
You could buy a billboard on a busy freeway, but you’d have to do it right > Lawyer Billboard Ads & Television Commercials That Work
I also wrote an article about How to Become Lawyer Famous, that you might read.
But you don’t have to do anything expensive like buy a billboard on the freeway, or run a televsion or radio commercial advertising campaign.
You could follow and learn from Angela Langlotz on Facebook, YouTube, or LinkedIn.
You could follow and learn from Attorney Trang Tran on TikTok.
See also…DodLaw San Diego Criminal Defense
@dodlaw State prison Gate money #prisontiktok #prisontok #priaonbreak #stateprisons #stateprisoner #inmates #inmatesoftiktok #inmateslivesmatter #edutok ♬ Epic Cinematic Heroic Dramatic Music (Military Motivation Inspiration) Intro – FlorewsMusic
Don’t like YouTube, then you could follow Pegah Rahgozar and copy her video marketing skills on Facebook.
Seriously? Would you ever have imagined that an immigration attorney video about the Notice of Intent to Deny would get 58 Shares and 1,700+ views? That’s the power of lawyerfamous (and Live Videos on Facebook).
Try to remember that you don’t have to be world famous, just lawyer famous.
People are using Facebook, Instagram,
SnapChat, TikTok, and YouTube to get famous every day.
People are getting famous with Fake News stories.
You buy a billboard for a few months and get famous.
And if people start searching for you by name, you’re not going to need SEO.