Lawyers and other professionals are busy, yet they need to market themselves online just like any other business owner. The problem is, the practice of law is highly regulated. So are many other professions such as doctors and accountants.
This article will give these kinds of professionals three actionable SEO tips as well as a strong warning about the type of online content that commonly violates ethical rules, and is from the office of a noted Philadelphia bankruptcy attorney.
DO create blog posts that target your intended client.
Too many law firm bloggers publish only about current events in the firm’s practice and awards and accolades the firm has received. This information is not really helpful to your potential client, nor does it attract them to your website.
What sort of blog content does attract potential clients to your website? Compelling, well-written, and informative articles that answer questions that your potential clients have and search for online. You want your blog articles to answer your potential clients’ questions and to rank organically for those queries.
Who is your target client? What questions might they have about their situation if they have the kind of legal problem your firm solves?
Here’s one way you can find out. Let’s say, for example, that your firm practices family law. Open your web browser and start typing “child custody” in the search field. Chances are Google will “autosuggest” how you will complete that query. Whatever comes up in the autosuggest field below the search field is what Google is telling you your potential clients have been searching for. Can you write an article about any of that?
Complete the query with one of the phrases (called “longtail keywords”) that Google auto-suggested. Now Google will likely give you a field below the paid ads and perhaps the first organic result or two. This field is called “People Also Ask.” Are any of these queries related to the longtail keyword you are going to write about? Be sure to include them in your article verbatim as an H2 or H3. Google will then recognize that your article answers topically-related questions.
Consult the top few results to get the content you need to convince Google that your article answers this query comprehensively and should rank. Be sure to mimic the structure of those pages.
DO create location pages to help potential local clients find you.
Creating location pages allows Google to pinpoint where you are and list your firm in the results when people search for an attorney near them.
Again, go to the search field. Type in “child custody lawyer near me.” A map should appear and below it, a list of local law firms. Go ahead and click on the top result. That #1 page is sure to have a location page for where you are searching from.
A location page can target cities, towns, counties, states, and other local regional areas. In our example, the family law firm will title their location page “Philadelphia Child Custody Lawyer.”
DO create practice area pages that help convert the reader to a client.
Use your website to sell your practice, not just list your practice areas, bios, and results.
Every practice page should be titled a discrete practice area along with the word “lawyer” or “attorney.” Be sure to write a Call to Action in the first section, something along the lines of:
“Do you need a child custody lawyer in Philadelphia? We can help. Over the last twelve years, we have helped hundreds of parents get the child custody and parenting time arrangement their family needs. Put our experience to work for you.”
DON’T fail to consult your jurisdiction’s Rules of Professional Conduct.
Creating web content without consulting and understanding the ethical rules that apply to you is a recipe for inevitable ethical violations.
Most professionals are subject to state rules of ethics. For attorneys, almost every jurisdiction has codified some version of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
Some states require lawyers and law firms to submit the address of their firm’s homepage along with a fee to the state disciplinary board. Others do not.
Some states regulate what a firm can be named, including the name of the firm’s website. Be sure your domain name complies with the rules in your jurisdiction.
Many jurisdictions consider a law firm website “attorney advertising” governed by RPC 7.1, 7.2, 7.4, and 7.5. Be sure your website is marked “attorney advertising” on each page, and take care to adhere to the rules regarding the use of language that in any other profession may be considered mere puffery. All claims about the practice and results must be verifiable.
Each page of a law firm website should contain a disclaimer that complies with the rules regarding giving legal advice, establishing a lawyer-client relationship, and promising a specific outcome in a legal matter.
Last, be aware that if you employ a virtual marketing firm, a web developer, or an SEO firm to manage your website, and they violate the applicable Rules of Professional Responsibility, you are the one on the hook, not them.
About the Author
Veronica Baxter is a legal assistant and blogger living and working in the great city of Philadelphia. She frequently works with David Offen, Esq., a busy bankruptcy lawyer in Philadelphia, PA.