• Heidi Turner

Why Law Firms Need High Quality SEO/SEM

Updated: May 1, 2020

Law firms need clients. That's fundamental to their success. Traditional methods of finding clients, however, can no longer be relied on to keep a steady stream of clients coming, and business experts know you can't just rely on your current business to sustain you. You need to bring in new business to stay afloat. That means you have to be marketing yourself constantly, and these days you need to be marketing yourself online.

SEO (search engine optimization) is a fundamental component of SEM (search engine marketing). The idea is to blend bricks-and-mortar marketing and online services marketing and it is designed so that your law firm appears prominently online in all places, including online directories, search engine results, social media, and maps.

Marketers use Search Engine Marketing to ensure your law firm can be easily found by people who are looking for legal information or legal services. Once viewers have found your website, your law firm content marketing is used to encourage them to reach out to you for more information, turning them from people who sought information into potential clients and solid leads.

How does law firm search engine marketing work?

Kristoff Coates is a senior strategist at Exemplar Legal Marketing. He explains how Exemplar's search engine marketing services work.

"First, we identify the law firm's existing space online, including any strengths and weaknesses," Coates says. "We evaluate competing law firms within the same market to identify their marketing strategies and how effective their marketing is, including any of their missed opportunities. Then we create a marketing blueprint including the planned progression over the next 6, 12 and 18 months. We build a priority list based on the law firm's need, budget and time constraints. The law firm then decides where and when to start and when to add additional marketing components."

It's vital to build-in an analytics program that tracks how users move through your law firm's website. This gives valuable insight into when they make the decision to make contact—or leave. It also enables your marketer to build event tracking and goals for customer interactions. This information not only shows how successful the marketing is, but it also provides opportunities to revise pages or content that are not as successful.

As attorneys know, there are specific rules for how lawyers can and cannot advertise, including the information they are allowed to publish. This creates limitations in their content. It also means law firms must ensure their information is easily discoverable by potential clients, and that the content is engaging and compelling while still complying with the law.

How do law firms differentiate themselves?

Because clients tend to look for attorneys when they need legal help or advice in a reactive situation, it's vital that law firms be found quickly and easily. In the past, differentiating yourself meant using keywords to get the search engines to notice you, but Google's algorithm changed in 2019, making compelling and engaging content even more vital.

"Since BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, for those of you keeping track) came into effect, it's no longer a keyword war between law firms," Coates says. "It's more of a competition of transferrable ideas. Can law firms get their content to say the same thing in a more easily digestible and sharable way? That's how you get good 1-to-1 interactions with your readers."

Having engaging content that speaks to your readers is how you build relationships and trust with them, which is what encourages them to reach out to you.

Isn't a website with my bio enough to get clients?

These websites are called "brochure websites," and while they do provide potential readers with a bit of information about you, beyond that they are useless. They do nothing to build a relationship with your potential clients, they do not show website visitors your expertise or knowledge level and they do not convince Google that you are an expert in your field.

A successful law firm website is one that generates clients and/or billable hours. To do so, viewers must find you easily and be convinced by your content to reach out to you to set up a consultation. They—and Google—must believe you are accomplished in your practice area. It's not enough for you to refer to yourself as an "highly rated" or "peer-reviewed," you have to show it with your use of language and the content you publish.

This means that the more information you publish in your practice area—both in plain language and using legalese—the more easily you'll be found. To capture the top spots on a search engine results page, your content must be interesting to read and easy to navigate.

Can I do my law firm marketing myself?

The short answer is, of course you can. But it will take up a lot of your time and it likely isn't your area of expertise. Just as attorneys spend years honing their skills and their practice, so do good search engine marketing (SEM) companies and content marketers.

But are you able to stay up-to-date on changes to Google algorithms and what they mean for your law firm content? SEM companies are able to react to those changes to ensure your website and your firm remain easy to find and offer insightful, authoritative content. They also understand your target audience and the best content to develop a relationship with your potential clients.

You can go ahead and study marketing practices on your own, but there will be a noticeable difference between marketing done by someone who is specialized in it compared with someone who isn't. All the time and energy you spend in learning and working on marketing you could spend with clients, while your content marketer works on generating new leads so you have a steady stream of potential clients coming your way.

In the end, hiring a company that specializes in search engine marketing is money well spent and it frees up your time for billable hours or contingency fees.

Interested in learning more about search engine optimization and search engine marketing? Need help producing content that helps Google see you as highly knowledgable in your practice area? Contact Corporate Writers today to discuss your content marketing needs. Our strategies help law firms bring in new clients.