You have a sleek, responsive, easily navigable website. Your growing business blog contains useable, relatable information in multiple formats: Text, graphics, and video. Everything’s organized so articles link to one another and to core site pages, legitimizing your claim to competitive search terms. Search engines are taking notice, and traffic’s on the rise.
Still, there’s more you can do to improve your search engine results page (SERP) rankings and build confidence in your firm’s brand. When Google crawlers note your firm and attorneys’ names on reputable directories and third-party review sites, they’ll recognize you as active and authoritative members of the legal community. And search engines translate these mentions as valuable endorsements.
Here are our recommended off-site SEO tactics for improving search engine optimization (SEO) and placing your firm’s name in front of the widest online audience.
Get listed with legitimate online directories
Identify reputable directories for location- and specialty-specific legal services, and apply for a listing. Opportunities include networking and civic groups such as Rotary International, Business Network International, city and state bar associations, and law school alumni directories. Lawyers of Distinction is among the best directories for attorneys. The organization’s vetting process lends authority to your firm and associates’ names, providing potential clients with a merit-based endorsement that encourages them to pick up the phone and call for a consultation.
Read our popular article, “Should Legal Directories Be Part of Your Legal Marketing Strategy?” for in-depth coverage of this topic, and a comprehensive directory guide.
Find guest blogging opportunities
Expand your own website’s content value and reach a broader audience by arranging to contribute to other blogs, and posting blogs written by non-competing professionals whose ideas your audience will appreciate. Examples may include insurance brokers, financial advisors, attorneys who practice outside your specialty, and professionals who provide services complementary to yours. Your byline on their blogs, as well as links back to your site, improves SEO and opens avenues for additional traffic.
Don’t be discouraged by high-profile websites requiring payment for guest posts. This is their strategy to slow down the deluge of lawyers just like you, scrambling to build backlinks. Start with more modest sites and soon, your portfolio of published guest posts will open doors.
Produce white papers for industry peers
When journals and other business bloggers use your articles, videos, blog posts, and long-form downloadable content as a reference—linking back to your original content—Google will view you as an industry authority and rank you higher in their SERPs. As a bonus, these citations serve as endorsements, generating new referrals and additional cross-marketing opportunities.
Interact on third-party review sites
Monitor your online reputation on legal review and directory sites such as AVVO, and general review sites hosted by Google My Business and Facebook. Social listening is the term for gathering client feedback from online reviews and social media chatter, and your responses to both positive and negative reviews inform search engines of your eagerness to interact with their users. Google’s search engine is designed to provide the best resources for its searchers, and your digital presence indicates a viable, active business. This, in turn, elevates your potential for above-the-fold SERP rankings.
Bad reviews are an opportunity to prove that your attorneys are approachable and responsible. In the field of law, potential clients want to be heard and your responses to comments make a difference in their perception of and trust in your brand.
Encourage clients to leave honest reviews
Do you feel uncomfortable asking clients to leave reviews about your legal practice or firm? Don’t. According to a recent study by BrightLocal, 70% of clients will write an online review if the business asks for one, and as we alluded in the previous section, online reviews significantly influence consumer decisions. These results are similar to those we noted in our own surveys; you can find the results and our commentary here.
Requesting a review isn’t much different than asking clients to refer their friends, family, and colleagues to you, a common practice that’s still vital to legal professionals today. A few objective sentences on any of the major legal and general review sites don’t require your client to put their contacts on the spot.
If the client does agree to leave a review, ask them for permission to quote the review on your website’s testimonials page.
Engage in old-fashioned public relations
It’s been said that if it weren’t for public relations, many businesses wouldn’t perform outreach within their greater community. We disagree, knowing how personally gratifying public service is and how outreach projects galvanize organizations. Support civic groups, Chamber of Commerce events, and alumni fundraisers and find out which non-profit missions are important to your key markets.
It’s okay to earn business and generate traffic from sponsor appreciation pages. Think of it as setting an example for your industry peers.
If your practice recently won an important case, or your firm is taking a non-profit under its wing, put together digital media packets with a press release and professional headshots. Send them to editors of sites where you’ll get good exposure and include links to your professional blog, guest posts, and downloadable content. You’d be surprised how many editors and content managers are looking for good story ideas or even “go-to” legal experts for the occasional opinion on other pieces.
Congratulations! You’re building brand authority and SEO-boosting backlinks
When your name appears in the right context on multiple relevant sites, you gain SEO points with the major search engines and elevate brand trust and awareness. Develop a content calendar and commit to generating engaging, shareable media for your firm’s blog and social media accounts. If you don’t have an in-house blogger, look into using professional content marketing ghostwriters to match your brand voice and tone; most businesses follow this practice as their principals have better things to do.
Contact us to learn how we can guide your law firm’s digital marketing strategy and get your brand noticed by Google and a broader audience. Name mentions, bylines, and backlinks drive traffic to your site, where your content will convert visitors to qualified leads and add value to their experience with you and your colleagues.