Most lawyer search engine campaigns aren’t optimized to capture qualified leads and generate future referrals – two elements your practice depends on. A poorly structured website is usually the culprit, although it’s not always obvious from the outside. Sometimes beautiful designs can be bad for SEO.
Follow this advice to improve your site’s ranking in the search engines, beginning with establishing a strong foundation for SEO:
Set the foundation: structure your website
The foundation of SEO requires intentionally structuring your website so that search engines can find and index your pages, determine the content, and rank each page. This begins by focusing on the following on-page SEO elements:
- Page titles. Your page titles should help your page rank and increase click through rate at the same time. For example, say you’re a criminal attorney in San Diego. You’ll accomplish both objectives with a page title that reads, “San Diego Criminal Lawyer – Free Consultation.”Page titles should contain the keywords you want to rank for, and should be short and simple. Remember that although tabbed browsing shortens the visibility of page titles to the user, page titles still show up in search results, so don’t skip them.
- URLs. Just like page titles, URLs should contain the keyword you want to rank for, and describe the page content.
- Heading tags. Headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.) are how search engines scan your page to determine the relevance of content. Make sure to wrap your main keywords in at least one H1 tag toward the top of the page.
- Page content/Keyword density. Your page content should be organized like a dissertation with a title, abstract, table of contents, and finally the content with supporting references and footnotes.
- Proper folders and SILO structure. A silo structure organizes your website directories and pages by grouping information into distinct sections according to subject. For example, you might have a silo for criminal cases under the directory /criminal. Another silo might be related to felonies under the directory /felony. ApricotLaw suggests adding 15-20 relevant pages to each silo/directory to capture visitors searching for longtail keywords.Don’t skip this part of SEO. Many of your visitors will come from longtail searches. Without proper silos, you’ll miss out on plenty of traffic.
- Custom sidebars. Contrary to what some web designers might say, sidebars are not dead. In fact, they’ll help your website thrive in the search engine results pages (SERPS).Think like a search engine for a moment. Google wants to provide the best and most relevant information for users. Having a custom sidebar filled with relevant links tells Google your page is filled with relevance. However, it’s crucial to create a custom sidebar for each page and remove links that aren’t relevant from each page’s sidebar.Removing off-topic links decreases bounce rates because people scan the content of the page and see only relevant information.
- Internal links. Each of your pages should contain at least one relevant link to another piece of content. Don’t overdo it, though. The longer your content, the more internal links you can create without making your page look cluttered.
Once your website’s foundation is in place, make sure you know how to access your analytics program to monitor progress. If you’re paying an SEO company for their services, make sure they provide you with direct access.
Ditch the trendy SEO tools
If you’ve bought any fancy SEO tools, you may want to research to find out what professional SEO companies think about them. Internet marketers are constantly repackaging basic SEO techniques as new systems and strategies, and over-charging for it.
In the early 2000s, using SEO tools was all the rage. However, legitimate SEO tools are more for tracking progress and analyzing competitors than actually performing SEO tasks. If your SEO tools perform tasks like generating backlinks, they’re likely creating spam or duplicate content, which will decrease your ranking in Google and might get you blacklisted.
Backlinks have always been, and still are the backbone of Google’s ranking algorithm, but it’s impossible to automatically generate the quality links Google wants to see. Automatically generated links tend to be irrelevant, and Google knows it. Too many bad/irrelevant links will result in a penalty to your website.
Consult with expert SEOs
It’s understandable if you’re not up for the task of running a full SEO campaign. The process is involved, complex, and confusing at times. Instead of trying to figure it all out on your own, find a good SEO firm to take over the task and consider the cost an investment in your future.