An SEO is only as good as her tools. But when it comes to choosing SEO tools, the options can feel overwhelming. As an agency that does SEO for lawyers, we’ve worked with most of these tools at some point. So, we wanted to make some recommendations of tools we’ve used and recommend that can work for lawyers.
Google & Bing Webmaster Tools
In my opinion, Google and Bing Webmaster Tools should be a part of any webmaster’s arsenal. It’s always surprising to see that so many lawyers and legal marketing people don’t have their sites verified in these tools.
Both of these tools are really essential to understand how your sites are performing in search engines. They’ll also alert you to major problems going on with your sites.
Fortunately, both of these tools are provided for free.
If you want to attract people to your sites from search engines, you have to know how people are using search engines to find sites like yours. Which means you need tools to gauge web search interest. That’s where keyword discovery tools come into play. Historically, Google’s external keyword tool has been a very popular choice. However, Google is shutting down the keyword tool and is replacing it with their new Keyword Planner tool. Frankly, I never really found Google’s keyword tool to be especially helpful or accurate.
One of the best tools to use for keyword research and discovery are Google’s auto-suggest function and related searches.
If you head over to Google and start typing (don’t hit enter), you should start to see some additional suggestions from Google. During the brainstorming and discovery process, these are great keywords of which to make note. They represent other search queries that Google is seeing that they believe are related to your example search.
If you hit enter, you are taken to a search engine results page. Usually, near the bottom of the page you’ll “Searches related to” you search. These are additional keywords that Google has related to your example search. By opening each of these in a new tab, you can get additional related searches.
This can be a cumbersome process. Especially if you’re working with large numbers of keywords. Fortunately, the good folks at Ubersuggest have created a tool to help. Übersuggest takes your base term, adds a letter or a digit in front of it, and extracts suggestions for it.
While there are a variety of other tools for keyword discovery, if I had to pick just one, I’d recommend Ubersuggest.
If you’ve read anything worthwhile on SEO, at some point you should have heard that links that point to your web pages (incoming links, backlinks) are like votes for your site in the eyes of search engines. But it’s an unequal democracy. Not all links are created equal. While links from relevant and authoritative pages are powerful votes for your web pages, links from unrelated or spammy sites don’t count for much, if at all.
Part of any law firm SEO campaign should involve coming up with ways to earn new links to your pages. This might include developing content that people are interested in linking to. It might mean taking a stand (here are some additional attorney SEO tips). It might include claiming, updating and optimizing a local business or social networking profile that allows for a link.
Keeping track of where and how you’re acquiring backlinks is very helpful to measure your progress. In my opinion, there are four tools worth mentioning here:
If you have the budget for them, you should purchase subscriptions to them all. Alternatively, you could subscribe to Raven Tools which pulls data from at least 3 of them.
Local SEO Tools
If your law firm is a local business, then there are a couple of local SEO tools worth mentioning here. First, is GetListed.org. GetListed also has a an excellent Learning Center that you should check out. Second, is Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder. Darren Shaw is building some awesome local tools over there.
Next up is a web analytics solution. Having a web analytics solution for your law firm’s website is essential. For most people, this means Google Analytics. But there are other options (Piwik.org).
In my view, you simply shouldn’t spend any time or money marketing your firm online if you’re not going to monitor and analyze your site traffic and conversions.
Rank Tracking Tools
I know some of you really came here to learn about rank tracking tools. For the record, we’re currently using Caphyon’s Advanced Web Ranking with Proxy Servers. But this is probably overkill for you.
If you’re going to track rankings, focus on tracking general ranking trends. Don’t hyper-focus on rankings. Most ranking tools aren’t very accurate. Localization and personalization of search results make it very difficult to get reliable ranking information. Further, search engine rankings are in a constant state of flux. Ranking tools take snapshots of rankings.
You’re really better off focusing on organic search traffic in Google Analytics. Don’t obsess over your rankings. Especially for terms that don’t have much meaning in terms of bringing in new clients.
As you might suspect, there are way more SEO tools out there than just these. However, I tried to stick to a couple of the most important. I also wanted to avoid those that really aren’t as actionable for lawyers.
If you insist on exploring more SEO tools, here are some great resources: