SEO has come to mean a lot of different things to people. But one way to think about it is as an enhancement of “your” search results. In other words, it’s the “stuff” you can do to influence what people see when they search for you.
someone is referred to you you are referred to someone, do you look them up online? No? You’re in a shrinking minority.
Let’s face it, for both better and worse, people turn to the internet to learn things about the people and businesses that they’re considering hiring.
And this is true for lawyers.
Needless to say, people will look you up in a variety of ways. One of the most common will be variations on your name. So, if you care what people find when they look you up (and you probably should care to some extent) you should take a look at what they will find.
You should also spend a little time learning about what you might do to influence these results.
Here are a few suggestions.
- >Biography Page – Whether you call it “biography” or “profile,” you should have a page (or even a whole site) that showcases information about you. While most people are unlikely to make a hiring decision by what law school you went to, most people will have some curiosity about that. People expect to be able to find some basic biographical information about you, especially as it pertains to your background, knowledge, skill and experience as an attorney.
- >Honors & Awards – You might not put a lot of credence into lawyer awards. And there are countless awards that don’t even deserve a mention on your profile. However, to a lay person, your professional honors and awards may be a signal of your competence. I generally recommend creating an honors and awards page as a sub-page of your attorney bio page. That way, when you accumulate enough authority, search engines are likely to display this page as a sitelink of your bio page.
- Memberships & Affiliations – A professional memberships and affiliations page is another great candidate as a sub-page of your bio page. Like honors and awards, you don’t want to shotgun blast visitors with this information, but you do want it available for those who are seeking it.
- Leadership Positions – Earning a leadership position in a professional organization can carry substantial weight with people. Not everyone rises to the ranks of President of their state bar or trial lawyer association. Depending on the nature and number of your leadership positions, these may be most effectively included on your honors page.
- Teaching Engagements – There is perhaps no better indication of your understanding of an area of the law than to be a teacher of it. For some practice areas, I don’t want the lawyer who merely “does” I want the lawyer who teaches the subject (obviously, this varies depending on the subject matter and practice area).
- Notable Cases – While you should make it clear that prior results don’t guarantee future results, it’s hard to deny that your previous case experience is extremely relevant to your knowledge and skill in a particular area.
- Speaking Engagements – Like leadership positions and teaching, speaking engagements are another powerful way to demonstrate your knowledge. If you’re a regular speaker, you should include a section on your site for these speaking engagements that has been marked up with schema for events. That way you can get nice event rich snippets in search results.
- Publications – Are you the person “who wrote the book on it?” You should probably let people know. If you really have written a book, you might consider offering for sale on Amazon. It’s very likely that those pages will bubble to the top search results. This is one way to put the authority of other sites to work for your visibility.
- Community Service – As a profession, lawyers have rough reputation. Participating in community service activities in one way to put a human face on your practice. There’s little that can garner better good will with your audience than your appearance on recognized community organization pages. Like speaking engagements, community service activities are a good candidate for event markup. There are many offline activities that can have a significant impact on your appearance in search. In fact, doing real stuff is the best way to earn attention online.
- Charity / Volunteer Work – Are there charitable causes and organizations about which you are passionate? Get active on those sites. Visibility there is very effective in terms of building rapport with your audience. Also, those sites are often extremely authoritative in the eyes of search engines. Great sources for links.
- Breadcrumbs – Using breadcrumb markup to help users understand and navigate your site’s hierarchy can have a very positive impact on your appearance in search results. They help your listings stand out and will attract attention from searchers.
- Sitelinks – While you can’t directly control which pages search engines use as sitelinks, as you develop authority, you’re likely to see more sitelinks. And while you can’t directly choose them, you can demote certain pages that you don’t wish to be included as sitelinks.
- Blog – Your blog content is probably one of the most effective ways to communicate with your online audience and show them that you know what you’re talking about. If your blog is engaging (i.e. it’s attracting visitors, links and social signals), it’s likely to appear prominently for searches related to your name. This makes it a great candidate for your core web presence.
- Social Profiles – Social profiles are sort of an SEO lay-up. Claiming profiles on major social sites, and using your real name as a handle, will help you stay in control of the results that appear for searches on your name. Like your blog content, they are also a good vehicle for engaging your audience and providing searchers with a way to find out more about what you have to say.
- Local Page – If your practice is local, focusing on local search is key. Make sure you claim and complete local pages for your office locations and attorneys at your firm. For people who are looking for contact and location information about you, your local pages are the most likely places they will be looking.
- Firm Site – Of course, you probably want your firm’s website to appear in organic results too. And it’s likely that it will. Especially if you’re focusing a lot of your local marketing efforts around your firm’s site.
- Authorship – There are several advantages to adding authorship to the content that you publish around the web. Ultimately, this is one of the most important ways to communicate with search engines about what and where you are publishing. Authorship snippets are also really great ways to engage users directly from results.
- LinkedIn – I have singled out LinkedIn here because it’s one of only a very few sites for which Google displays organization and description rich snippets.
- Review Snippets – Probably the single most credible source of information about your services comes from other people (i.e. clients and colleagues). Providing great service and encouraging happy clients to leave positive testimonials online is extremely effective in motivating people to take the step to initiate contact with you. Be sure to send them to sites that contain review markup like Avvo.
- Image Results – In case you haven’t noticed, the web is going visual. There is a growing expectation that people will be able to find visual content related to your practice. While some lawyers worry about what impact their appearance might have, I think this is largely unwarranted. After all, at some point, your clients are probably going to want to meet you in person. Obfuscating what you look like is simply delaying the inevitable. Notice, I’m not advocating stock imagery here…
- Video Snippets – When executed professionally, online video marketing can be one of the best ways to share your knowledge and engage online audiences. But videos should not be advertisements. Instead, provide short informational videos that supply your audience’s demand for information and answers to more complicated questions. Make sure to use video markup on pages that contain video. We also strongly recommend Wistia for video hosting.
- News Results – Publishing something under your name, that’s newsworthy, on a site that appears in Google News is almost guaranteed to appear in searches for your name. It’s not easy to get in Google News. But if you can, it’s a really great way to enhance your search results.
- Page Titles – Of course, old-fashioned page titles still matter. They’re sill what search engines primarily rely on to create the blue links. Optimize your page titles in a way that is descriptive of your pages but that also attracts clicks.
- Meta Descriptions – You pages’ meta descriptions are probably the closest thing we have to “ads” in organic search. Met descriptions form the snippet below your titles. Make them engaging. Think about why someone who reads your meta description would click on your result.
- Knowledge Graph – The future of Google is Knowledge Graph results. I’m not going to get into all the gory details of the semantic web here. But you should know that this is where search is going.
- In-Depth Articles – As of this post, this is one of Google’s very latest features. It’s the latest strong argument for becoming a contributor at other authoritative sites. If nothing else, make sure you are adding article markup to your articles.
Well, there you go. 24 different ways you can enhance your organic search results.
If you’d like to see some live examples of this stuff in action, click this link.