Is it your ultimate goal to rank high in Google for search queries containing [your practice area + your city/state]? Of course it is! And I sincerely hope you’ve already reached that milestone.
What you’re probably missing, however, is how to make the content on your practice area pages relevant and useful for users, and perhaps even more important for SEO, how to make it unique from the competition’s.
There are only so many unique things you can say about auto accident cases or DUI defense for a given city. And guess what? You are saying the same stuff as all of your competitors, which means that your content isn’t standing out, neither to your site’s visitors nor to Google’s crawlers.
Ok, at this point, you’re probably thinking, “Who cares? I’m ranking #1. I’m on top of the world! I just need to keep cramming more keywords and backlinks in to stay on top, right?” Wrong! Actually…
User Experience Is SEO
Google’s business model thrives on advertising, which only works if they have a steady stream of users. People like to use products that work well (obviously), so Google only maintains its dominance by feeding users the best possible content to answer their queries.
And so on that principle, the search engine came into existence. But their plans were foiled by some
meddling kids SEOs who realized that they could game the system by cramming the most keywords onto their page. Of course, that resulted in such masterpieces of content as:
Our Denver law firm has the best lawyers in Denver! Hire our personal injury attorney to handle your car accident case today. Our lawyer practices law from a law firm in Denver, and serves all of the Denver suburbs in personal injury cases, including Lakewood, Littleton, Englewood, Centennial, Aurora, Arvada, and any other place where car accidents happen and a person could use personal injury services.
Because of the above-stated business model, Google didn’t really love this, so for many years, they have been developing more and more complex algorithms to find sites that really give the user the best experience. While some have claimed that this means that Google is trying to eliminate SEO, the reality is that they are just changing the factors of SEO (for the better). These days, having good SEO means providing a good user experience.
So how do you make your content more awesome? Here are some simple ways to make your practice area pages better, in the eyes of both humans and Googlebot:
1. Create Short videos
You want your content to represent the needs of as many users as possible, and videos are a great way to target people who are either visual or aural learners. They can accompany your main content to give users a quick and easy breakdown of your main points. Here are a few tips on making a great video:
- Keep them short and simple. We live in a society that values quick information, and if they don’t see what they’re hoping for quickly, they’ll move on. If you can manage to keep your video around 30 seconds to a minute and a half, you’re doing great.
- State your purpose early. If you explain what you’re going to talk about within the first ten seconds, you’ll confirm that the visitor is in the right place and lay the groundwork for the rest of the info.
- Break it into small chunks. Write out your points before you start the video, and make sure you state each point before explaining it. You can even number them and say the number in the video. Keep each chunk as concise as possible, and edit out any dead space between.
Video has a reputation for being expensive and complex. However, it need not be, especially for small or solo firms. Here is the investment required to make perfectly adequate videos:
What’s that? You don’t have the skill to do video?
You don’t want to pay anyone?
What should I talk about in my videos?
Just ask yourself one simple question:
What information does the person who will be watching this video need the most?
If someone either landed on, or clicked to, your auto accident practice area page they are likely interested in information that will help them determine whether they should contact an attorney about a potential law suit. In your video, give them information that will help them make this decision.
Consider transcribing your videos
Transcribing your videos will add a few hundreds words of completely unique content to your page. Here is an example of a lawyer doing this.
Here is an example of a law firm that is doing a great job using quick videos to make their practice area content better.
As you can see, this attorney didn’t spend thousands or come up with some elaborate, highly creative concept. Hell, he didn’t even write a script.
He simply talked to his online audience the same way he would talk to a client in his office.
2. Write Short Client Case Stories
It’s really hard to get clients to leave you a review online. What isn’t hard is taking 5-10 minutes each time you help a client to write a quick synopsis of their case and how you were able to help them.
This type of content is amazing for SEO purposes for several reasons:
- Each case is unique, which makes your content unique. By discussing specific cases you are giving users (and Google) content that they cannot find anywhere else.
- It improves long-tail search visibility. If you write up a case story about a client you helped who was t-boned by a driver who ran a red light, then your practice are page will likely be found for long-tail keyword phrases such as “lawyer for t-bone auto accident cases”.
- It makes you seem trustworthy. The general public has a fairly low opinion of lawyers. We don’t trust them. Case stories are a great way to show prospective clients real-world examples of how you help people, which can influence someone (who may otherwise decide against contacting an attorney) to pick up the phone and call you.
Here is an example of a small firm that is using case stories effectively.
3. Include Client Reviews
As I mentioned above, it can be very difficult to get your client to leave you a review online. However, what we see quite often is that clients are willing to write-up kind words about your legal services in an email or even speak them over the phone, but they just won’t get online to leave the review.
In these cases, use the client’s review on your practice area pages!
For example, if you help a client with filing for bankruptcy, and they send you an email thanking you for your help and quality services, ask them if you can use this as a review on your website.
Also be sure to ask if you can use their name. At a minimum you’ll want to include their first name, and the initial of their last name.
Tell Google about the reviews using Schema.org
Beyond injecting unique content into your practice area pages, and potentially improving the conversion rates of those pages, adding reviews to your pages using schema.org will also make your important pages eligible for review star rich snippets:
Here is a free tool I created for easily generating the schema.org review code: [Schema.org Review Generator for Attorneys]
Here is an example of a law firm effectively using client reviews on their practice area pages.
4. Keep Topics Concise and Link to Related Content
If your practice area is personal injury, you don’t have to tackle car accidents, slip and fall, and brain injury on one page. Instead, talk generally about personal injury and your firm’s experience in it. Make subpages for each of the more specific practice areas that fall under the category of personal injury, and include a list of them (with links) on the main personal injury page. You may include a short blurb about each, but don’t chase a rabbit down a hole.
While conciseness is important, don’t let that get in the way of fully explaining the topic. Practice area pages are well suited to long-form content, and Google will reward your completeness. If there is a subject that you feel warrants mention, but is too specific for that page, and you don’t have any information on your site, consider linking to an external source. There are SEO benefits to outbound linking, which are rarely mentioned.
You could also consider including related blog posts at the bottom of each practice area page.
This firm does a great job of staying on-topic and guiding users to more specific details.
5. Spice It Up to Keep Visitors Engaged
Humans have short attention spans. If your practice area page is just a wall of text, users will find it daunting and probably won’t make it through the second paragraph. To keep users’ attention, you’ll need to spoon-feed them information, by breaking it into digestible chunks. Here are some steps to help:
- Divide your content into sub-topics and use headings above each one for larger sections of information. If those sections can be divided even further, you can use lower-level headings to achieve that.
- Instead of a comma-separated list, try a bullet list. If sequence is required, use numbers.
- Add an image or video to the page. If it’s a longer page, you may want to consider multiple images.
Bonus Points! Here Are a Few More Dos and Don’ts
- Make sure that your videos, images, case stories, and client reviews are always highly relevant to the topic of the page (ie. don’t include a client review of your DUI services on your “reckless driving” practice area page).
- Avoid flashy elements and complex layouts. These will only make your visitors’ heads spin. You don’t have to follow every single suggestion in this post on every single page. Instead, remember that simplicity is part of a good user experience.
- Don’t do these things just for SEO value; keep the user’s need in-mind above all else. If you don’t, the your efforts will prove to be meaningless.
By incorporating short videos, client case stories, client reviews, and engaging formatting, as well as keeping your topics relevant, you can not only improve the SEO of your most important practice area pages, but also provide your potential clients with the information that they need to make the best decision possible.