At Moore Legal Technology, we specialise in helping law firms use the internet more effectively to increase their turnover. There is a vast number of things you could be doing online to make this happen, however, the following five steps are amongst the quickest and most effective ways you can contribute to your law firm’s success online.
(You may also be interested in reading our Director Chris Davidson’s excellent blog recently on the perils of Law Firm Websites that cost £500.)
1. Keyword Research
This is probably the first major step taken in any law firm online business generation campaign. The keywords you need to select must be relevant to your law firm and have a relatively high search volume. If you are a Criminal Lawyer in Manchester, you will probably want to target the keyphrase ‘Criminal Lawyer Manchester’. Even without investing in the professional SEO tools that we use, Google's Keyword Planner will give you certain information on keywords, such as how many searches they have per month, as well as suggested additional keywords and phrases which may be relevant to your law firm. As a starter for ten, it would be useful to compile a list of 20 relevant keywords/phrases with decent search volumes to begin with as a starter for ten.
2. Optimise your law firm's website for the keywords you are targeting
To target a keyword or phrase through the creation of a relevant landing page, it is important that the keyword is included (but not overused) throughout the page. This may seem like common sense, yet it is possibly the most important step in a law firm online business generation campaign. To do this, you could start by using a tool such as Screaming Frog. This will allow you to quickly simplify the most important parts of your site into a spreadsheet. From here, you can ensure that each landing page includes your target keyword in all the right places. For example, if one of the keyphrases you are aiming to rank for is ‘personal injury solicitors in Yorkshire’ you should ensure this is mentioned in the title, meta description, a H1 Heading and a H2 Heading. Once you have done this for every page, you should start to see an improvement on your rankings. There is, however, more to it than just simply adding keywords. Indeed, as aluded to above, adding too many of the same keywords can harm your rankings. To get this right, you should keep a close eye on your ‘keyword density’ (i.e. the percentage of times a keyword or phrase appears on a web page compared to the total number of words on the page). And it’s not just about putting in keywords and hoping that Google picks them up – ultimately you need to provide useful, relevant and authoritative information for your readers and, generally, the more content you can introduce in to your landing pages the better for ranking and conversion purposes.
3. Internal Link Building
Once you have optimised your online platform for relevant keywords, it is important to build links internally for your site. Doing this is helpful to both user experience and indicating to search engines which pages are the most important on your site. You could do this manually by linking keywords on each page to the relevant landing pages. However, depending on the size of your site, it might be quicker to use a plugin. If your site is built on WordPress, a plugin such ‘Internal Link Building’ can do this for you. With Joomla sites, such as most of the law firm sites we operate for our clients, there are equivalent tools we use.
4. External Link Building
Next, you should aim to gain external links by outreaching to influential sites and asking them to link to your pages from your site. This part sounds easy but it can be difficult and time consuming. You want to find websites that are both trusted by search engines and are relevant to your site. Ideally, you want a website related to the legal sector with a strong Domain Authority (a measurement of the power of a domain name). To be successful at obtaining links, try offering a piece of unique content to the website in question in return for the link. You may wish to email at least 20 different sites as this will increase your chances of getting several useful links.
In addition to outreaching for links, you should add your law firm to several online directories as most directory websites will count as a valid link. You may also get enquiries directly from legal directories. Again, this is only just scratching the surface of what is a complex area of SEO. One of the key pieces of advice you should note if embarking on your own link building campaign is not to overdo it – don’t stuff keywords into too many links back to your site and don’t go out and buy hundreds or thousands of links on the cheap. Since Google released their Penguin 4 algorithm update (announced by Google on 23 September 2016), getting your link building strategy right with ‘white-hat’ practices is crucial.
5. Website Speed
Website speed is important for both user experience and search engine optimisation (SEO). A faster website will lead to increased interaction with users, leading to a lower bounce rate and in turn, better SEO performance.
Before attempting to speed up your website, you should first assess your website’s speed. We recommend using GTmetrix for analysing your website’s speed. This tool gives you a free, in-depth audit of your site and useful suggestions. If your website receives a high score, then happy days! If not (which is usually the case), then you may wish to take the steps below to improve your speed.
One of the most effective ways to improve your website’s speed is to choose a good host. If your hosting is slow and unreliable (usually if the hosting costs less than £5 a month), you should consider paying a bit more to have a speedy website. You may wish to choose a fast, reliable and UK based hosting service such as TSO Host. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Our clients pay substantially more than £5 per month for hosting but using great suppliers and our own innovations we provide state-of-the-art, powerful legal website hosting with 99.9% uptime and better speed than most basic hosting packages/providers will supply.
If your website is on WordPress, you could disable any plugins you are not using. Once you have ensured the only plugins left are necessary, you could install the following plugins which will quickly improve your website speed:
- WP Fastest Cache – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Qvju9_dKHA – follow this guide to configure it effectively.
- WP-Optimize – this plugin speeds up database.
- Optimus – this is an easy-to-use plugin, used to bulk optimise all the images on your site. Once installed, go to settings > Optimus > Optimus Bulk Optimizer > Optimize all images. Simple.
- Lazy Load – only load images before the fold on pages when you don’t scroll.
And there are nuances for other Content Management Systems – for Joomla, for instance, we use a variety of techniques to ensure our clients sites are as fast as possible. If anything, it’s the poor practices of lawyers or legal marketers not versed in online technologies that will be responsible for making their own sites slower. One of the most common mistakes, for instance, is uploading photos that are too big for their intended purpose and which haven’t been properly resized and formated.
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