Thinking about hiring a law firm SEO consultant? Already paying someone to help with SEO at your law firm? Wondering what they should be doing? Here you go.
Reviewing Your Site(s)
One of the first things that any SEO should do is perform a thorough review and audit of their client’s site(s). They should be answering questions like:
- Does your law firm website have a clear hierarchy?
- Can every page be reached through at least one link?
- Does your site contain useful, informative, helpful or entertaining pages?
- Are each of your page titles unique and descriptive of the content on your pages?
- Does your site have any broken links or bad code?
- Are the pages you want to appear in search results getting indexed properly, and those that shouldn’t be indexed, properly blocked?
- Does your site appear correctly in different browsers and on different devices (i.e. desktops, tablets and smartphones)?
- Do your pages consistently load quickly (1 to 3 seconds)?
These are just some basics. It’s unfortunate how many law firms are paying people a lot of money for SEO and don’t even have some of the most basic technical search engine issues resolved.
Send these questions to your SEO and request proof (i.e. Google Webmaster Tools, web page speed tests, cross-browser and platform tests, etc.) that these issues have been resolved.
Setting Business Development Goals
Once your technical issues are under control, your law firm SEO consultant should be working with you to set business development goals.
This might come as a surprise to some people, but how can the person who is responsible for helping you attract new business from search effectively do her job without knowing what your goals are?
This is where most law firm SEO campaigns fail. They don’t include clear goals and performance indicators. Make sure you have clearly defined:
- What specific goals your law firm SEO consultant will be accountable for achieving.
- What you can expect in terms of working with your consultant (communication, access, response times, etc).
- When you should expect certain goals, metrics or performance indicators to be met.
- What the rationale is for everything that your SEO is planning to do on your behalf.
- How reports will be delivered and what they will contain.
Set specific performance goals in advance and get regular reports on success. And make sure you are focusing on the right metrics. For example, if the goal of your SEO campaign is to increase unbranded organic traffic in your state, make sure that you’re measuring that. Ultimately, the primary goal of any marketing campaign (SEO or otherwise) should be return on investment. Make sure you have a way to measure whether you’re actually realizing a benefit.
Helping You Develop Content
Helping you develop web content is one of the most important jobs of a law firm SEO consultant. The contents of your web pages will play the most significant role in whether or not people link to, share and otherwise publicize your pages online. Further, it will be the most important factor in whether someone engages you. Even if you get people to your site from search, what will they do when they get there? Call you? Email you? Comment? Subscribe? Or bounce off your site without taking any action?
In order to help you develop content, your law firm SEO should be answering questions like:
- Who are the people you are trying to attract to your website(s)?
- What are these people looking for online relevant to your practice?
- How are they using search engines and other websites to find what they’re looking for?
- What can you create on your pages to supply their demand for information?
- Why should they care about what you have to say on the subject?
- Why would they engage you through your website?
- What actions are you trying to motivate them to take?
- What feedback are your visitors giving you about your pages (i.e. surveys, comments, emails, social mentions, etc)?
Publishing “stuff” that people want to read, share, subscribe to, link to, comment on and otherwise engage is tough. That’s what makes it valuable. And that’s why search engines are constantly evolving to distinguish content people like from content people hate.
Finding People Who Might Be Interested in Your Content
The web is a big place. If you think you can just create stuff and people will find it, you’re wrong. The second part to having success in search is getting your content in front of the people who are likely to want it, like it, share it, etc. You law firm’s SEO should be helping you identify who these people are and how you can effectively get your content in front them.
Notice that I said “effectively.” It’s not effective to send out mass unsolicited emails to people you don’t know. Instead, you need to interact with these people in meaningful ways.
Discovering How People Are Searching for You
People use the internet and search engines in vastly different ways. Part of your SEO’s job should be to help you understand how the people you want to attract are using online tools. This includes what words they use in search engines, but also, what other sites they frequent, what content they “like” and share. This is an ongoing process. There aren’t a handful of “magic” keywords you should be targeting. Instead, you need to study your audience and constantly adapt to what they’re looking for and how they are looking for it online.
Remember how we discussed setting goals above? Make sure you’re measuring your progress. I recommend that you track progress on a monthly basis. Obviously, what you track and measure depends on what your goals are. Here are just some suggestions to consider:
- Meaningful organic search traffic in your practice area(s) and location(s).
- Potential client inquiries (i.e. phone calls and emails) attributable to organic search traffic.
- Your cost to acquire a new client from organic search.
- Your return on investment in acquiring a new client from organic search.
Notice that links, number of followers on twitter and rankings are all conspicuously absent. It’s not that those metrics don’t matter. They might. But they’re not the ones you should be obsessing over. They’re also not the ones you should be using to measure the performance of your SEO consultant. Any idiot can build links and create fake social media profiles.
It takes skill to generate meaningful traffic from organic search that converts into new paying clients for your law firm.