How the Top-Ranking Law Firms in Your Area Are Outranking You
You know search engine rankings are important for your law firm. And you know other law firms are ranking above you for your target keywords.
Your firm’s marketing team publishes blog posts each week, shares them on social media, and updates your practice area pages. You run pay-per-click campaigns and advertise in local publications. Your attorneys have won countless awards.
Why, then, does search engine optimization (SEO) feel like an elusive, mythical creature you can’t tame?
Law firm SEO is a specialized process
SEO takes time, but with the right process, you can outrank competing law firms in your area. The issue though, is that many of the articles you’ll find about SEO strategy aren’t written with legal SEO in mind. For example, an article written by an expert in SEO for eCommerce or healthcare won’t help you learn about the nuances of SEO for law firms.
For more than a decade, our team has helped hundreds of law firms across the U.S. rank on the first page of the search results. After spending that much time working almost exclusively with law firms, we can tell you with confidence that legal SEO isn’t difficult if you have the right formula.
5 reasons your practice area pages aren’t top-ranking
Based on our research and case studies, there are five primary reasons that may explain why your law firm doesn’t top-rank in your city. Below, we’ll outline these reasons your competition is winning the SEO game and show you what you can do to turn your rankings around.
1. Their landing page is more comprehensive and user-friendly than yours.
What’s going through a person’s mind when they search for “charlotte car accident lawyer”? More than likely, they have recently been injured in a car accident in Charlotte, North Carolina and have reason to believe they should file a lawsuit. Google will prioritize landing pages that clearly and completely match the searcher’s intent.
Search intent is what the user hopes to accomplish with their Google search. In this case, we can deduce that the car accident victim wants to consult a personal injury attorney in Charlotte about their accident. They may not know everything there is to know about personal injury cases or what they need to do to get the process started, but they know contacting a personal injury lawyer is the first step.
The top-ranking law firms for your target keywords understand this and have published content—such as a landing page and supporting resource pages—that fully addresses the searcher’s intent and additional questions they may have. For a successful SEO strategy, your content needs to be extremely useful and relevant to the searcher.
2. Google perceives them to be more experienced, authoritative, and trustworthy than your firm.
In Google’s eyes, the top-ranking law firms in your area explicitly demonstrate E-A-T (experience, authority, and trustworthiness). Essentially, this means Google boosts law firm sites that explicitly demonstrate:
- Expertise, such as years of experience, the number of successful cases, awards, and credentials.
- Authority through guest posts on reputable and relevant websites.
- Trustworthiness by showing images of the firm’s attorneys (not just stock photos), filling out the “About Us” page, testimonials on the firm’s site, and reviews on external sites.
If your site doesn’t signal to the searcher (and Google) that your firm has expertise, authority, and trustworthiness for your practice areas, look through your site for evidence of these three factors. Fill
in the gaps on your home page, About Us pages, and the landing pages you are trying to rank.
3. Their landing page has more high-quality backlinks than yours.
Google counts links pointing to your page (known as backlinks) as votes of confidence. Basically, if reputable sites add a link to your landing page from within the body text of one of their pages, your page may get a boost in rankings.
The law firms ranking in the top positions for your target keywords likely have more high-quality backlinks than your site. Examples of high-quality backlinks for law firms include local government websites, reputable legal directories, and law school websites with “.edu” in the URL.
Unfortunately, building backlinks to your landing page and site as a whole is somewhat of a manual process. It takes reaching out to website managers and authors, submitting your page to directories, and patiently waiting for results.
Because of this, I recommend outsourcing your SEO efforts to an agency that already has these processes in place. Easy for someone who works at an SEO agency to say, right? But just like you wouldn’t advise a client to handle their personal injury lawsuit themselves, we don’t recommend law firms do link building in house. We already have the resources and processes needed to reverse engineer your competitors’ links and build high-quality links on your behalf.
4. Their sites perform better and have fewer technical issues than yours.
Sometimes, the problems holding your law firm’s SEO back are on the backend of your site. It may have too many technical issues, such as:
- Low page speed
- No HTTPS security
- A low text-to-HTML ratio
- Indexing errors
- Duplicate content
- Broken links
- Little-to-no schema markup
- Poor URL structures
Law firms that rank on the first page have addressed many or all of these problems. Google’s algorithm gives gold stars to sites that look and perform well on mobile devices, and many of these technical issues prevent websites from achieving mobile-friendliness.
If you don’t have a development or SEO background, partner with someone who can tell you why each is important and help you make the right changes to your site.
5. They have optimized Google My Business listings more thoroughly.
Some of your competitors may also rank in the “local pack” listings, which are often placed above the organic search results (just under the paid listings).
To show up in the local pack, law firms must:
- Set up their Google My Business (GMB) account for each of their physical office locations
- Optimize their GMB listings for their target keywords
- Collect positive reviews
- Add images and videos to their listing
You don’t have to make these updates all at one time, but you do need to make them a priority if you want your law firm to show up in the local pack.
Find out what your law firm’s site is missing
If you want higher SEO rankings for your law firm, start with the five strategies we discussed in this guide to out-rank your competitors. The strategies are simple, but implementation takes time, patience, and experience.
Want our law firm SEO experts to help you pinpoint optimization opportunities for your site? Reach out to us today to book your free law firm website review.