In today’s digital world, your clients are going online to find information and compare their options. If it’s difficult for people to discover your law firm, you’re most likely losing out on a significant amount of potential clients.

To help you enhance your SEO skills, we’ve developed a guide that outlines the basic fundamentals of SEO for law firms. This guide focuses on SEO for lawyers who are at the very beginning stages of developing an online lead generation strategy.

What is SEO?

SEO involves enhancing your law firm’s website visibility by elevating its ranking on search engine results pages, such as those displayed on Google, Bing, or other search engines. Essentially, it pertains to the links that surface after inputting a query into a search engine.

Securing a prominent position in search engine results, particularly on the first page, leads to increased website traffic for your law firm. Notably, SEO excludes any advertisements displayed in the results.

Once users click on your link within the organic results, provided your website furnishes them with the pertinent information they seek, they are inclined to reach out to you for further details about your services.

Does SEO work for lawyers?

Certainly—when executed effectively.

The enduring challenge with SEO for law firms lies in deciphering how to secure a top position in organic search results.

While numerous vendors offer lawyer SEO services, there are no fail-safe strategies or guarantees of attaining the number one ranking in organic search results.

Thankfully, there are various methods to enhance your likelihood of appearing on the first page of search results. By grasping the fundamental factors that search engines assess when determining the relevance and value of websites to online users, you can navigate through the market clutter and capture the attention of potential clients.

Law firm SEO ranking factors can be categorized into three main areas:


This encompasses the textual and visual elements present on your law firm’s website pages. Ensuring your website features high-quality content enhances user experience and contributes to elevating your website’s search engine rankings, particularly if the content aligns with user intent.

Backlinks and Off-Page Citations

This pertains to the online perception, credibility, and authority of your law firm relative to others. It’s influenced by the number of external website domains and pages that direct traffic to your website.

Technical SEO

User experience plays a pivotal role in Google’s website ranking process. Factors such as page speed, title tags, and site structure significantly impact rankings and should be considered as long-term goals for optimization.

Why is SEO for lawyers so important?

If you’re a law firm aiming to expand your business, organic search traffic represents a crucial yet often overlooked marketing channel, presenting a significant missed opportunity.


Research underscores the importance of enhancing law firm SEO efforts. According to the Legal Trends Report, 17% of legal consumers sought a lawyer via online search, tying for the second-most popular method.

While SEO may appear daunting, especially for law firms new to this form of marketing, it’s a fundamental element of any comprehensive marketing strategy for law firms.

Having outlined the basic definition of SEO and its critical significance for law firms and attorneys, let’s delve deeper into the key factors influencing SEO ranking.

SEO ranking factor #1: Content

When it comes to law firm SEO, high-quality website content should meet the following three criteria:

1) Your content needs to answer the inquiry or search term used by the user

For instance, if you aim for your law firm’s website to rank for the keyword “criminal lawyer in Maryland,” you must incorporate specific content that informs potential clients about your practice area, specifically criminal law in Maryland.

Put yourself in the shoes of your potential clients. Upon landing on your website, they are likely pondering:

  • Is this law firm based in Maryland?
  • Does this law firm specialize in criminal law?
  • Can this law firm address my specific legal needs?
  • How reputable is this law firm?
  • Does this law firm offer services within my budget?
  • Am I inclined to engage with this law firm?
  • Your law firm website’s content should offer preliminary responses to these inquiries.

This is because search engines strive to direct users to the most relevant and informative sources. Thus, if Google perceives your site as capable of fulfilling the user’s intent, it’s more inclined to prioritize it higher in search engine results pages. Consequently, Google may actively contribute to generating leads for your law firm.

2) Your content needs to be keyword optimized

Addressing visitors’ inquiries is crucial, but how does a search engine discern if you’re effectively providing answers? And what role does this play in SEO for law firms?

Here’s where keywords come into play.

When Google, or any search engine, assesses your website, automated bots are dispatched to analyze its content, discerning the subject matter of each webpage.

To facilitate visitors’ comprehension of your content, it’s essential to explicitly indicate the targeted keyword for each page on your law firm’s website. This not only clarifies your specialization to visitors but also signals to search engines that you are indeed a “criminal lawyer in Maryland.”

For comprehensive keyword optimization, it’s imperative to incorporate keywords in the following areas of the page:

  • Title tag
  • Description tag
  • Headings and subheadings
  • Distributed evenly throughout paragraphs
  • The webpage’s URL

3) There should be a variety of content that addresses keywords within the same category

This aspect of law firm SEO presents a significant challenge.

It entails identifying a primary keyword and then exploring variations or long-tail versions of that keyword. This ensures that your content encompasses a broad spectrum of search queries users may pose online.

While many individuals may search using the most common keyword, others may employ natural language queries or enter variations of the same keyword. The objective is to generate ample content that addresses search inquiries related to your primary keyword.

Returning to our example, if the primary keyword you aim to rank for is “criminal lawyer in Maryland,” variations of the keyword could include “best criminal lawyer in Maryland” and “price range for criminal lawyer in Maryland.”

SEO ranking factor #2: Backlinks and off-page citations

While great content is essential, the internet is akin to a vast sea of endless content, stretching beyond the horizon.

This prompts the question: How does Google discern which content deserves placement on the coveted first page of search rankings?

A significant determining factor is the quality and quantity of backlinks—referral links situated on other websites that direct traffic to your own.

In the world of SEO, backlinks serve as a measure of popularity. When your law firm receives numerous links from reputable websites, it’s akin to being endorsed, indicating that “the attorneys at this law firm are recognized authorities in their field!”

Conversely, if your law firm’s website boasts few backlinks, it suggests a lack of popularity and credibility.

Despite their significance, a staggering 66% of pages lack backlinks altogether, while 26% only possess links from three sites or fewer.

It’s crucial to bear in mind: Search engines strive to direct users to the most reliable and informative sources. Thus, if search engines observe that your law firm’s content receives numerous referral links from reputable websites, you’ll be perceived as a trusted and authoritative source.

Increasing local SEO for law firms through off-page citations

Extending the “popularity contest” analogy, optimizing local SEO for law firms involves ensuring your firm’s contact information is prominently displayed across various online platforms, making it visible to search engines and potential clients.

To maximize exposure through local SEO, acquiring backlinks from sources displaying business contact information, known as citations, is essential for long-term SEO success.

Here are examples of platforms where you can obtain off-page citations to enhance your local SEO:

  • Legal directories such as Avvo
  • Local directories like Google Business Profile
  • Social media profiles including Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • Shares of your content on social media
  • Reviews and endorsements on other websites

Pro Tip: While link building demands time and effort, it can yield significant SEO benefits.

Consider these strategies to acquire backlinks from relevant sources:

  • Provide free legal expertise or analysis to local media outlets
  • Author compelling blog articles related to your legal expertise and encourage sharing within your network
  • Participate as a speaker at local events

SEO ranking factor #3: Technical SEO

In the world of law firm SEO, Technical SEO emerges as a crucial element that can greatly influence your SEO effectiveness, serving as a cornerstone of overall success.

However, mastering Technical SEO can be daunting, especially for those lacking expertise in the field.

In essence, Technical SEO gauges how “Google-friendly” your law firm’s website is. While akin to user-friendliness, Technical SEO also encompasses aspects such as security and sitemaps.

Given its complexity, many law firms opt to enlist the services of an SEO consultant specializing in law firm SEO. This approach minimizes risk compared to attempting to manage everything independently.

Here are key considerations regarding Technical SEO:

Make sure your firm’s website follows all of Google’s guidelines

Ensure your firm’s website adheres to all of Google’s guidelines. Google provides clear insights into enhancing your law firm’s technical SEO through its Webmaster Guidelines.

Make sure your firm’s website is fast and mobile-friendly

Ensure your firm’s website prioritizes speed and mobile-friendliness. Key factors for technical SEO include ensuring that your website:

  • Loads swiftly—aim for under 2.5 seconds.
  • Renders well across various screen sizes, particularly on mobile phones.

Make sure your law firm website is easy to navigate

Ensure your law firm website boasts easy navigation. Simplify navigation to enhance user experience and optimize for search engine crawlers. By creating straightforward menus and incorporating frequent internal linking, you enable Google’s robots to easily locate and comprehend your website’s pages.

For additional guidance on crafting a law firm website, explore our digital marketing for lawyers hub.

Get everything configured correctly. Technical SEO demands meticulous setup initially. Once established, maintaining strong technical SEO is relatively stress-free, particularly for smaller law firm websites.

How to implement SEO for lawyers

Based on the aforementioned factors, there are two avenues to enhance your law firm SEO and ultimately elevate your website’s ranking in search engine result pages:

  1. You can undertake it independently.
  2. You can enlist the assistance of a seasoned expert with proficiency in SEO for law firms.

Option #1: Execute SEO Yourself

This post marks just the initial step of your journey into the realm of SEO for law firms. Commence by delving into and comprehending the Moz beginner’s guide to SEO and Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Conduct Keyword Research

Here’s a swift method to generate content ideas for your law firm website:

  • Jot down all your law firm’s specialties, services, and locations.
  • Engage in keyword research. Initially, for each practice area/service and city combination, utilize synonyms to generate three or four alternative expressions conveying the same meaning.
  • Learn more about conducting keyword research.

Draft and Publish Website Content

Follow these steps:

  • For each practice area and city combination identified in step #2 (keyword research), compile a list of the top 20 priorities a customer might have when considering hiring you. Refer to your client intake notes for inspiration.
  • For each practice area and city combination, compose an easily understandable summary of your legal service, incorporating information regarding all customer priorities.
  • Identify opportunities to incorporate some of your keywords, while exercising moderation. Remember to include keywords in the title, meta description, and headings.
  • Publish each summary on a separate page of your website.
  • Utilize website calls-to-action to direct clients on where to go to book your services.
  • Lastly, ensure adherence to other fundamental aspects of law firm website construction.

Ensure your law firm website meets technical standards before initiating SEO tactics

Ensuring your website aligns with all technical requirements can prove challenging, which is why we advocate seeking external assistance from an SEO expert for your law firm. However, if you opt to proceed independently, we recommend consulting Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Expand Your Presence and Build Links

  • Claim all your online profiles.
  • Consider investing in a tool like Brightlocal to automate the submission of your law firm to various local directories.
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews by following these suggestions.
  • Sustain the currency of your content through regular blogging and monthly updates to website pages.
  • Select at least five backlink building initiatives from this list and aim to secure five new links every month.

Option #2: Hire a law firm SEO expert

SEO is a highly rewarding yet time-intensive endeavor. The truth is, many lawyers lack the time or inclination to delve into a new discipline.

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. According to the 2022 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report, 28% of law firms have sought assistance from a consultant or agency for SEO.

Considerations When Hiring an SEO Expert for Your Law Firm


The cost for SEO services typically aligns with the hourly rates charged for legal services. For monthly retainer rates, expect to budget between $501 and $1,000, which is standard for most law firms investing in marketing initiatives.

Where to Find an SEO Expert for Your Law Firm

Finding the best SEO experts may not be as simple as conducting a Google search. Since top experts often prioritize client work over their own websites, seek referrals from other lawyers in your network who specialize in SEO for law firms.

Qualities to Look for in an SEO Consultant

  • Ensure potential SEO experts discuss the foundational aspects outlined in this guide. Inquire about their approach to content, backlinks, and technical SEO, and request examples of their previous experience.
  • Check references, particularly from other law firms. It’s crucial that the SEO consultant comprehends the industry and understands the specific pain points potential clients face when seeking legal services.

Red Flags Indicating a Poor Law Firm SEO Consultant

  • Avoid SEO consultants who guarantee specific results for your law firm. Genuine SEO experts understand that results can vary and cannot be guaranteed.
  • Be cautious of consultants who solely focus on promising increased clicks, traffic, and leads without explaining their process. Look for transparency regarding the required efforts and expected outcomes.
  • Ensure you’re not paying for paid search advertising, which differs from SEO. While both are viable strategies, it’s essential to clarify the distinction.
  • For additional red flags signaling an SEO consultant to avoid, refer to the article “9 Skills Your Legal SEO Writer Should Have.”

Parting thoughts on SEO for lawyers

SEO for lawyers is akin to a marathon, not a sprint. Immediate improvements in your law firm’s search engine rankings shouldn’t be anticipated. Instead, remain dedicated to consistently producing exceptional new content relevant to potential clients, fostering backlinks, adhering to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and encouraging client reviews.

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