Did you know that potential clients are already searching for you?
According to research, 96% of people in need of legal advice use a search engine, and 74% of visitors go to a law firm’s website and take an action. If you’re not trying to be found in search engines, then you’re missing out on opportunities to provide legal advice and gain clients every single day.
However, even SEO from just a few years ago should be updated with the latest methods. We look at some of the technical aspects of SEO with these visual guides.
12 SEO Concepts for Law Firms
SEO depends on the keywords you use, and for lawyers, it’s crucial to have in-depth keyword research. However, there’s so much more that goes into an SEO strategy today.
These 12 visuals show you just what these SEO terms mean and how to use these techniques for your law firm website.
1. Canonical Tags
Have you ever wanted to publish the exact content found on one page on another? You can if you take advantage of canonicals.
When using a canonical tag, you’re using the rel=”canonical” tag to tell search engines that the specified URL is the master copy of a single page. This prevents issues with search engine crawlers seeing duplicate content on multiple URLs on your own domain.
This is important as there is typically a variety of duplicate content that also includes unique content. Widespread duplicate content on your site can also diminish your rank in search engines. In addition, search engines may pick the wrong URL when ranking your content.
For search engines, every URL is a unique separate page. You may not even know that your site is duplicating content if you have an older CMS.
Key Takeaways for Law Firm Websites
- Canonical tags can point to the current URL as the main page of content
- You should canonicalize your home page
- Make sure canonical tag doesn’t point to a noindex page
- No more than one rel=canonical for each page
- *Like anything it seems, Google may not always honor this.
If your law firm takes cases in English and Spanish, or you have offices in a different country, you need to know about Hreflang.
If you are practicing any kind of international law, then you’ll need hreflang. These are technical tags that denote similar content but in different languages. This signals to a search engine that the site owner wants the search engine to send people to content in the right language for where they live. For example, a user is French and the ranking page in Google is the English version.
You would want Google to show the Dutch page in search results because the user is French. You can use the hreflang tag to mark up pages that are similar in meaning but aimed at different languages.
However, there are some common mistakes with hreflang tags, including return tag errors or wrong country codes.
Key Takeaways for Law Websites
- Use hreflang to denote pages in different languages
- Use a hreflang sitemap to set up your pages in different languages
- Check that the hreflang tag is correct (ie it’s not hreflang=”en-uk” it’s hreflang=”en-gb”
- Don’t combine hreflang with page tagging methods
3. Google Tag Manager (GTM) Installation
Google Tag Manager is an incredible tool for SEO and tracking actions on your website. However, it’s important to install this code in the right area.
Back in the old days we would install Google Analytics code, but now we can install analytics, optimize, and all types of code through one piece of code provided by Google. This allows you to deploy changes to your site in an instant without messing with website source files.
It’s pretty awesome.
Here’s how you can install it.
- Install the first GTM snippet higher up on the page underneath the head, but after the a dataLayer code
- The second snippet goes at the top of the opening body tag
4. 301 Redirects
I think there is a common misconception out there that “301 redirects are not important”. This is where I would bore you with how I fixed hundreds of internal 301 redirects and added a few to pages that links were no longer pointing to and saw a 500% increase in traffic. But you don’t care about that…
If you have ever moved websites or changed the URL of a page, you know that your site has permanently moved to a new location, but Google does not. If you don’t use a 301 redirect, you will lose any ranking history for that URL.
A 301 redirect indicates that you have moved a page of content permanently. When you change URLs and move content, you should always include a 301 redirect so that people visiting Page A will go to the new Page B. This also indicates to a search engine bot that content has simply moved, not disappeared.
Also, what kind of user experience is it if someone is looking for information but they can’t find it? If I get a 404 page instead of being redirected seamlessly to the most relevant page, I am going to bounce.
Key Takeaways for Law Websites
- Install a 301 redirect whenever you permanently move content to a new URL
- Search engines take some time to recognize new URLs and credit the new page
- Submit the new URL via the Google Search Console to get a faster indexing
5. 302 Redirects
However, if you are temporarily setting up a new page for content, you can use a 302 redirect instead. This indicates that the original page will return shortly.
6. Flat Site Structure
In a flat site structure, you design your navigation so that there are minimal clicks from the home page to your other pages of content.
This is ideal for ranking higher in search, as search engine crawlers can easily find your home page and link it to all of the relevant SEO terms via your navigation.
Think about it. If you have to click more than a couple of times to get the information you want, you may not have the patience to wait around.
In my experience pages typically get buried in blogs that are updated frequently. In these scenarios the only link to the blog will be on a double digit page number in your blogroll. That isn’t helping anyone.
7. Deep Site Structure
The opposite is true for deep site structure. The site’s homepage is several clicks away from the majority of your pages. This typically means you have set up a service page or secondary page, which links out to several other pages.
The lesson here is to start with a flat site structure and link to your most relevant SEO pages from the navigation.
8. Pagination Canonicals
For law firms who use slideshows within their pages, you should use self-referential pagination canonicals. One thing to keep in mind is that these do not include the noindex tag.
Instead, you acknowledge this content exists in a paginated sequence and therefore is not duplicate copy.
9. Pagination View All Page Setup
If you have a “view all page” setup, then you’ll also use the view all page pagination tag. Within this sequence, you’ll want to canonicalize all URLs on the view all page.
10. Topic Clusters
The buzz word in SEO content these days is “pillar pages.” These are top of the SEO food chain pages that contain lots of information on a particularly popular keyword, such as “criminal law.”
From there, the pillar page will link out to “topic cluster” pages, such as “criminal law defense” or “criminal law punishments. These topic cluster pages provide more details and typically use long-tail keywords to rank higher.
11. rel=”nofollow” Tag
When using the rel=”nofollow” tag, sites tell Google to not follow an outbound link. This is typically done when you don’t want to give authority or endorse another website, whether you don’t want to compete with that content or it’s a paid link. This also prevents a search engine crawler from navigating to that page when gathering information about your rank.
This is typically done when you want to avoid problems with crawlers thinking that your site is selling influence or somehow involved with websites that may be considered “scammy” or spammy.” When you use nofollow tags, you boost your own domain authority.
12. Noindex Tag
You may have older content or pages that you want to keep out of search engines. To do this, you’ll use a noindex tag. This tells Google that it shouldn’t rank this page. You can place this in the head of any page you don’t want to show in Google.
Note: Google crawlers won’t typically crawl a page that has noindex, but if your page has already been indexed, it will take some time for a page to turn noindex and fall off of Google Search.
Pro Tip: If you want to remove content and not have Google crawl it again and you will NEVER bring it back you can use a 410 code.