Try to imagine your law firm operating without a cohesive computer network. Can you picture it? Most people today probably can’t. The computer network you use is the powerhouse of your firm, taking in information, delivering information, scheduling, keeping records and more. If it isn’t working well and predictably, your firm will suffer.
Why Do We Need IT?
Sometimes, the biggest IT challenge faced by a law firm is the period before it gets IT services. During that time, some firms will operate with no IT at all. They will call in a consultant or repair person if they believe there is a problem. And, have you ever heard that a guy is coming in to fix the system because he’s the brother of a friend and “knows a lot about computers?” There are plenty of small businesses that operate that way for a while until the demands of the computer network get too big for the current solution. That’s when firms realize that with IT services, they can keep the network running smoothly and keep it safe from hackers. Businesses of every size and description need IT personnel to monitor their computers systems and identify any problems quickly.
Attorney-Client Privilege and IT
You know how attorney-client privilege works, and you know how important it is to keep your clients’ information private. It’s part of your reputation and your livelihood. Hackers try harder than ever to steal data because it can be lucrative for the thieves. Today, hackers are targeting law firms in particular because they are known to keep so much private information about their clients. Getting malware into your system can get the names, social security numbers and even banking information that they can use to drain your clients dry. One of your biggest obstacles in the hackers’ path is your IT service. It monitors for any hacks, for malware and for unauthorized use of your system to act quickly before data is lost.
We’ve all heard about viruses that can infect computers and ruin the data being held there. However, there are many more types of malware used y today’s hackers. One of the most popular of these is ransomware. All it takes is clicking a bad link, and your system may be closed down and held hostage until you pay the ransom to get it back. Because this type of attack is so lucrative, it’s gaining steam like never before. This year, a business will be hacked by ransomware every 14 seconds in the U.S. There are also keystroke trackers that can easily steal passwords and get into all of the websites you use, including financial accounts. Billions are spent every year to pay ransoms, and that doesn’t include the cost of fixing hacked computers, getting rid of viruses and losing clients after a hack.
Privacy and Security
So, you want to have IT services to help keep your system running and to protect it from hackers. How do you know the IT personnel will understand privileged information? This is why it’s so important to choose an IT provider who has experience with doing IT for law firms. This experience makes them fully aware of how sensitive some of the information on your network is and how important it is to keep it from any prying eyes. By using high-level encryption, regular maintenance and fixes when needed, your IT personnel can add many layers of security over your data so that it isn’t an easy target for thieves.
One of the worst things that can happen to your firm is having a long list of clients that you have to contact to tell them that their data has been stolen from your computer network. It’s bad for your reputation, it’s bad for overall morale, and it can cost the firm dearly when it has to make restitution to all of the victims. If you never want to make those calls, make sure you have IT services in place to prevent thieves from coming and taking whatever they want.
If you run a business these days, being ranked at the top of the lawyer SEO list is one of the most important keys to your success. Having the right keywords embedded into various search engines is not only paramount, it’s imperative. When you are a lawyer it’s even more important to have your firm’s’ name out there, since your ideal is to help citizens attain a fair or at least somewhat fair trial.
96% of people that are seeking legal advice are doing so through a search engine, so here are some tips to get your name out there.
Select the Right Keywords
Pinpointing the best keywords that will create the greatest flow of traffic to your site is the first thing you should do. Knowing your audience and obviously knowing your craft are the two components that will bring success to your SEO plans.
Make Sure You Get Ranked
After you have chosen the optimal keywords that should make you a player on the web, you now need to confirm that you are getting the traffic you deserve. Keeping up with the trending keywords should be a part of your job description in the year 2018. This will allow you to know what is and what is not working and or getting your law firm ranked at the very top of people’s searches.
You not only need to know your “stuff” you also need to have a website with credible and readable, interesting, eye-catching content. These are the adjectives you should be striving for. You also should be ready to back up the claims you make within your content. Put your mouth where your money is, and mean it.
Procuring the right inbound links can make or break your business. If you are dialed into the correct keyword links that will bring a tidal wave of traffic to your website and law firm, you’ll reap the rewards not only financially but in how many people you can help to get a fair shake with the law and the powers that be.
Assess Your Progress
Taking stock of your progress will help you measure whether or not you’re using the right words in your placements. There are so many things in life that we can’t control especially when it comes to running a law firm. Being on top of your search relatability is something that you can control, and it is something that will make or break your success in the industry.
You got into the world of law for important reasons. You don’t want those reasons to go unfounded and have your firm be lost by the wayside. So take the proper steps to assure your presence with the online marketplace for those in need of a law firm to represent them.
You hear it all the time, how every business needs to have a blog and an inbound marketing strategy. Cries of “content is king!” and other common sayings about SEO and marketing spin in your head, and you can’t imagine where to begin, let along why your law practice might need a blog at all.
The answers are simple and yet more complex than you might imagine. The simple answer is that the more potential clients can find you in relevant searches, especially local ones, the more likely they are to hire you.
The more complex answer is that the larger your digital footprint, the more likely you are to be found in searches. The conversion rates (searchers into actual clients) rises significantly with higher search engine rankings. Besides that, searchers that you help with great blog content are more likely to choose your law firm for their legal needs.
Here are five reasons your law practice absolutely needs a blog.
Your Competition is Ahead of You
Go ahead. Google DUI attorneys in your area. Or whatever your law niche is. We’ll wait. Is your name in the first page of results? Second? Where do you rank in that first page? Now perform the same search on your mobile device. What did you discover?
Unless you are on that first page, clients are not finding you through the web, and studies show that most searches start on mobile devices and end with customers calling one of the top ten search results (that is not an ad) first. If your name is not on that list and your competition’s name is, you are losing business to them in the digital sphere.
Now, take a look at the websites of the top five search results. You don’t have to dive really deep here, just note one thing. Odds are those sites have a blog or have other content that websites are linking to and building their authority. Yes, content and link building still matter for search engine ranking, and if you are not doing anything about it, your competition is.
Online Search is Your Friend
Often it is hard for more traditional businesses to understand why online search matters so much, but many potential clients search for and find the law firms who represent them on the internet, and if you are not there, you are missing out on clients and leaving money on the table.
Secondly, online search allows you to rank for certain questions, questions potential clients may already be asking you on a daily basis. Answering them online ahead of time in a way that ranks in search engine results pages (SERPS) will lead them to you faster, and will also lead to more clients who may currently be finding those answers from other websites like those of your competition.
Simply put a law practice without a blog and a digital presence is sacrificing clients to those who do. Imagine you are a DUI attorney in Phoenix, Arizona. Your competition has a blog that offers advice about when to contact an attorney in the case of a DUI and things to do and not to do when it comes to facing charges in court.
Even if both of you have prominent billboards in strategic areas, the practice with the blog that answers searchers’ questions will be more profitable and win more clients. Those potential clients might see and recognize your name, but what they find on the web will sway their decision about who to hire.
Local Search Matters
Local search results matter a great deal. Most searches start on mobile devices and potential clients are looking for attorneys near them with the type of specialty you practice. Google as launched a couple of initiatives like the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project and the Mobile First search initiative.
The way your listing appears in local searches matters to potential clients and appearing in the first three to four listings displayed will increase your conversion rate from the web exponentially. This means it is also important to keep all of your business information up to date on Google and other search engines, including contact phone numbers, email addresses, and the hours your practice can be reached.
Neglecting any of these things will literally drive your potential clients to the arms of your competition. Having a blog that explains what they can expect of you and sets you apart from your competition will set up your practice for even greater success.
Social Media is the New Word of Mouth
How are you going to get the word out about your law practice? Word of mouth is still the most powerful form of advertising, but now clients have a megaphone and will tell hundreds, sometimes thousands about your business rather than simply 10 close friends at a party. Social media is the new word of mouth, and your blog gives those who would share about your practice something to talk about.
This is why not only having a blog but the content of your blog matters so much. Answer the questions your clients are asking. Offer free advice that illustrates the client’s need for an attorney to protect their rights. Give potential clients what they want that will inspire them to call you before anyone else.
This means sharing success stories, talking about changes in the law, and many other topics. The more relevant the post, the more likely a searcher will share it on social media and tell their friends and followers about it. Posts that are evergreen—in other words, ones that address an issue that is common over a long period of time—perform even better.
You may have heard of content marketing and how inbound marketing is where the future is headed but may not have adopted it yet. Your law practice needs a blog just like any other business does. What you do with that information may lead to your success or failure as an attorney.
There’s no question that lawyers need to optimize their sites for search. That process can be more or less complicated depending on how a website is built.
WordPress is a content management system that makes building and maintaining a website extremely easy.
There are also a ton of great plugins (software pieces that can be added to a WordPress site) that make performing specific SEO for lawyers tasks very easy.
This post will outline some of the must-have SEO plugins for WordPress and their primary benefits.
Disclosure: you must have a WordPress self-hosted site in order to leverage these plugins, otherwise this post won’t make much sense.
Why Attorneys Need an SEO Plugin?
Technically, attorneys don’t need to install an SEO plugin at all. Wordpress already has some pretty good optimization features without having a plugin.
That being said, you’ll either have to do a lot of extra work to get your site optimized properly or miss out on some really basic SEO configuration options without the use of a plugin. And since they are free and easy to use, there is not excuse not to just install one.
The key thing that is lacking when you don’t use a plugin are clear guidelines for how certain onsite elements can be configured along with important integrations to SEO tools like Search Console and Google Analytics.
These are features that leading plugins bring to the table to make WordPress even better for SEO.
Many of the leading SEO plugins are also used by millions of people and are updated regularly by developers who are cognizant of best practices for ranking lawyers well in search.
All of that translates to lawyers not really having to think so hard when they want to make a site that ranks well in search.
What Lawyers Should Look for in an SEO plugin
We’ve outlined some of the key features you should look for in a plugin and there are a few terms worth understanding before you install it.
Onsite optimization: The term onsite (also written on-site or called onpage) refers to the elements of Attorney SEO done directly to a website as opposed to promoting the domain on some other website.
Things like content, keywords, titles of pages, headings on pages, sitemaps, permalinks, meta descriptions, and internal linking are all concepts of onsite SEO for lawyers.
This is important to know because most SEO plugins are geared toward optimizing onsite elements of SEO.
A good SEO plugin will:
- Provide the capacity to, make suggestions on, and actually prompt you to optimize onsite elements.
- A great SEO plugin will do these things and also provide you feedback on how well optimized your onsite elements are from within the WordPress interface.
- Have features for optimizing title tags, meta descriptions, robots file settings, content readability, internal linking, keyword placement, and image optimization.
- Provide suggestions on site and page speed improvements.
Popular SEO Plugins
SEO-Pressor is a comprehensive paid plugin. It’s designed to be sort of fool-proof for new users or for people who just don’t know a lot about SEO for lawyers. It takes you step-by-step through the process of optimizing your site or a single page on your site hitting all of the onsite elements along the way.
Pros of SEO Pressor
Google Algorithm Friendly
Google has made a substantial number of updates to its algorithm over the years (they make around 500 updates a year). While thousands of updates have been made, some notable improvements include the updates code named Panda and Penguin.
Google Penguin – Penguin was introduced in 2012 and was deployed in response to websites gaming search results by purchasing links or participating in link schemes.
Google Panda – Panda focused on low quality content. Sites that used machine-written or spun content that was of little value to users would suffer a rankings loss.
SEO-Pressor was developed with these updates in mind and is continually updated to align with Google best practices for onsite SEO for lawyers.
SEO Scoring Features
SEO-Pressor allows you to constantly monitor the score of your SEO keyword in real time. You can make changes to your post accordingly as you write it. There is also an over-optimization feature included that prevents you from using your target keyword phrase too many times.
A while back Google changed their algorithm to penalize sites that ‘keyword stuff’. The over-optimization feature ensures your keyword is not overused so you are not penalized by Google.
Smart Linking is a feature that stores your keyword anchor text for internal linking purposes. With this feature, you no longer have to go hunting for the relevant keyword phrases you want to hyperlink to other relevant pages of your site.
This is extremely helpful when you publish new content and you want to help it rank well by linking from pages that are already established.
SEO Pressor automatically finds predetermined relevant keyword phrases and inserts the link based on your settings. You don’t even have to think about it.
Controllable Crawler Setttings
Google uses software called spiders that scan the web, read, and index pages. You can control how a spider crawls your website however without a WordPress plugin, that task becomes much more involved and requires programming knowledge.
SEO Pressor’s dynamic crawler control gives you total control over how the crawlers operate on your site. You can choose which pages you want search engines to see and which ones you want to keep private.
This comes in handy when you are working on pages that you don’t want live in search yet like those under development or campaign pages where specific channels are being tracked. The bonus is that you can configure these settings without knowing how to program or getting into your site’s files to edit documents by hand.
Cons of SEO Pressor
- You have to pay for it. This is not a big draw back. After all, you get what you pay for and if you want good SEO software for attorneys on your site, you may have to pay for it. That being said, there are many free options out there and if you aren’t an SEO agency, you may not need something that powerful.
- Support is lacking: There are some reviews on the internet that report SEO Pressor support leaving something to be desired. We all know how frustrating it is to need help and not have someone be there for us.
2. SEO Squirrly
SEO Squirrly takes sort of an SEO plugin for dummies type approach. It is designed for people who want to concentrate on marketing but may not have a ton of SEO knowledge for Lawyers.
Great for beginners
SEO Squirrly’s interface and helpful guides make optimizing pages and posts intuitive and easy. Basically when you are drafting content, you type in the seed keyword that you want the post or page to rank for in search.
The plugin then guides you with relevant images and a series of lights and indicators for article length, keyword density, keyword placement, suggestions for external linking, and so on.
This takes a lot of time and guess work out of the optimization process for someone who would otherwise have to do a lot of Googling to make sure they checked all the onsite elements on the list.
SEO Squirrly has a stock photo gallery available for its users. You just input a keyword related to an image you need and then choose among stock images.
The inspiration box helps provide guidance while you are writing. It uses social intelligence to help you create high-quality content based on what is already on the internet related to the subject you are writing about.
The plugin provides you with a weekly SEO performance audit. It examines strong and weak points on your site. From there, it offers suggestions for improvement. It is a great option for a new blogger or website owner.
Cons of SEO Squirrly
- If you write over 3 posts per month it costs $20 a month. Not all features are accessible on the free platform either.
- It’s an excellent accompaniment to other SEO plugins, but not a stand-alone tool. Managing your law site’s SEO with multiple plugins adds complexity to your workflow and can cause conflicts among each other.
3. SEO Ultimate
SEO Ultimate is a comprehensive plugin with tons of onsite and technical SEO features. It’s a great option for people who have an attention to detail or who are doing SEO for lawyers on a professional level. The plugin covers dozens of onsite elements including canonicalization, 404 monitoring, support for editing .htaccess, permalink and title tag writer, and much more.
When people hit error pages (server code 404), that creates a usability issue which aren’t good signals for attorney SEO. Multiple 404 errors are an indicator to search engines that the site is not managed well. The 404 monitor redirects visitors to a working page if there is a 404 error so your legal niche SEO doesn’t take a hit.
Deep Link Juggernaut and Google rich snippets
The Deep Link Juggernaut feature helps create internal links. Internal links create structure on your site and help distribute link equity throughout your site. Deep linking also allows readers to find related content on your site.
Google Rich Snippets functionality allows you to customize the content that people see in search engine results pages. This is important as it helps improve click through rates on your search results by being able to customize your snippets instead of leaving them to chance.
The code inserter helps you quickly inject code into different areas of your WordPress site. Things like meta tags, Google Analytics snippets, or schema are common examples. For site managers not familiar with editing raw site files, this is a helpful feature. Even experienced coders can save time by being able to insert snippets from the WordPress interface instead of bouncing back and forth between admin panel and an FTP program.
Cons of SEO Ultimate
- If you are a beginner this plugin is a lot to take in and it can feel quite complicated.
- SEO for lawyers is always changing, and this app is a little slower to updates changes (as of this writing it hasn’t been tested with the last 3 releases of WordPress).
4. All-in-One SEO Pack
The All in One SEO Pack is arguably one of the best SEO for lawyers plugins on the market. Even for users of the free version, it has a ton of features that make optimizing your site a breeze. It has over 3 million active installations indicating that it’s trusted by a ton of users. It’s also one of few plugins that come with premium support in the paid version.
Here are some of the pros of the All in One SEO Pack
Easy to use
All-in-one SEO pack is a great choice for beginners or advanced users. The installation is simple, and there are numerous site-wide settings that can be configured all on one page.
For instance you can set crawl rates and pages, Google Analytics and Search Console integration settings, canonicalization settings, meta tag settings, and image settings all in the General Settings section of the plugin.
For beginners, there are also helpful icons that give you a description of what value should be placed in a field.
All in one comes with PHP 7 and Nonce Security making it difficult for hackers to do damage. It’s all inclusive in the plug-in. This probably is not on the radar for many lawyers but WordPress is one of the most popular CMSs on the market which also makes it one of the most popular targets for hackers.
If you choose the paid premium membership it comes with video tutorials and support forums. This support can be very helpful to beginners, especially if they are stuck on how to fix or use an aspect of the plugin.
Cons of All in One SEO Pack
- Some basic features like XML Sitemaps and Opengraph tags are not enabled by default when they probably should be.
- It does not offer SEO scoring or content scrutiny.
- It does offer a substantial amount of social sharing control the options can be overwhelming.
5. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is also one of the best SEO plugins for attorneys available for WordPress. There are over 4.5 million active users of Yoast and it has earned a 4.7 out of 5 rating. It is great for novice and advanced users and the interface is clean and organized. Along with many of the features you would see in the All In One plugin above, Yoast has some additional free features that make it a strong contender for the best SEO plugin for lawyers.
The ‘traffic light’
The traffic light works in real time to help you create a post that ranks high for readability and SEO for lawyers. Yoast uses principles from the Flesch-Kinkaid score to check your post’s readability.
If you scroll down the bottom of the page, Yoast offers real-time tips to improve your post for SEO and readability, giving you the ability to add a title tag and meta description, and checking your post for keyword use. This feature helps you create better content as you gain more experience.
Targeting a specific keyword phrase for each page of your site is obviously important but you have to be careful not to over-use them. When you put your keyword into Yoast it makes sure your keyword density is appropriate and not overly spammy.
Breadcrumbs are a helpful navigational element and they help your visitors navigate through a logical site hierarchy. Search engines use breadcrumbs too allowing them to crawl through a site and map out a picture of how your site is organized.
Yoast automatically adds a canonical tag to your pages which saves you time and reduces the need for technical know-how. Canonical tags let Google know which pages you would like indexed and can save you from some of the hassles of duplicated content.
Yoast has a sitemap generator which is another big time saver. Without it, site owners would have to generate and upload their own sitemap using a third party tool and then manually sending it to Google. This isn’t a huge deal but when you can save half an hour doing it with a plugin and not have to think about it, why wouldn’t you?
If you are running more than one site, you can install multisite through WordPress. That way you can easily manage all your sites on one dashboard and you don’t have to constantly be switching over. Yoast is multi-site compatible so you can optimize all your subsites at once.
Yoast has a lot of free features and the premium features can help you optimize your site even further.
Redirect – You are always changing and improving your website. However, if you don’t redirect the old URL’s too you’re going to have issues with your search traffic. The redirect tool makes it easy for visitors to still find your pages even after you’ve changed the permalinks.
Social previews – Sometimes, when you go to share the post you worked so hard to craft on social media, the wrong picture shows up. How annoying is that? But, with social previews, you can upload the right picture and preview exactly how your post will be shared without leaving your page.
Cons of Yoast
- While it is hard to say that a plugin has too many features, Yoast has become very bloated. This can make it difficult to use for beginners and the same love and care may not be taken with all features.
- It does not alert you to some common optimization no-nos like stop words in title tags or errors in sitemaps.
WordPress is a great platform to build your law firm’s website on and it’s already designed to be easily optimized. Attorneys can get so much more out of their site however if they install a great SEO plugin for attorneys, they can make it a super-star in search. Great directories like SSQ Legal Search and good plugins like the ones outlined in this post help law firms in a step-by-step fashion with optimizing the content on their pages as well as their site as a whole, making for really simple to understand SEO for lawyers. They make the whole SEO process much easier, faster, and higher-quality even for novice users.
Chris Dreyer/Company Bio
Chris Dreyer is the CEO and Founder of Rankings.io. Chris has been featured in numerous legal and search marketing publications such as Legal Ink Magazine, Law Marketing, Attorney At Work, Moz, and more.
As an attorney, you know that there are countless benefits to working with you and the rest of your team.
The only problem?
Your current website may not be doing enough to help the clients that need your services the most find you. In fact, your website design may even be actively driving them away. Slow loading times, annoying pop-ups, and menus that are impossible to navigate are never a good thing when it comes to visitor satisfaction.
But don’t worry — we can help you to fix it.
In this post, we’ll share with you some of our most effective tips when it comes to creating a quality website design for your law firm.
1. Make Getting In Touch Easy
Let’s start simple. The most important aspect of quality website design is making it as easy as possible for people to get in touch with your firm.
This means that you need to have your contact information — your address, hours, email, and telephone numbers — on every single page of your website. In most cases, people will search for contact information at the bottom of each internal page, so it’s best to keep it there.
Why can’t you rely on the drop-down menu?
Remember that, especially if you have a blog or write guest posts where you frequently include internal links back to your content, readers aren’t going to want to have to search for how to contact you.
Having your contact information clearly listed on each page of your site — and on every social media platform you use — will drastically increase your conversions.
For example, the homepage of this company, Freedom Law, clearly states the different phone numbers, addresses, and even Google reviews of the firm. It also lets readers click on these contact pages for more information about specific services.
2. Focus On Mobile-Friendliness
These days, more people access websites on mobile devices (both phones and tablets) than they do on desktop computers.
However, if your website is only designed for those who are logging onto your website from their home computers, you’re missing out on a huge section of your target market.
Mobile-friendliness is also incredibly helpful when it comes to boosting your website in local search. This means that it will be much easier for clients who live in your area to find your website — and even contact you the very same day to schedule a consultation.
Make sure you’ve removed any large image files and annoying pop-up ads from your homepage.
Not sure where your website currently stands when it comes to mobile-friendliness? Use this free tool to find out.
3. Embrace Live Chat
What is one of the most popular indications of quality website design? A live chat feature on your law firm’s website.
Not only will this help to increase your site’s conversions, but it will also cut down on the number of those lengthy phone calls that cost you tons of business every month.
Visitors to your site can get immediate answers to their questions, and you can guide them through the direct paths you want them to take while on your site.
You can choose to have automated bots answering these questions or assisting your visitors, so you won’t have to lose time by doing it yourself.
4. Don’t Be Afraid Of Video Content
Unless you’ve been in outer space for the past few months, you’re likely already aware of just how important video marketing has become within the digital sphere.
Especially in the legal world, potential clients will feel much more at ease if they’re able to watch a video explaining penalties and complicated legal concepts than if they’re forced to read a whole wall of text about it.
Plus, video content is highly shareable, which can help your firm to gain followers on social media. For best results, include a few videos introducing yourself and the other lawyers in your firm on your website.
You can also create a video series on common legal issues in your state, as well as upload “Q & A” videos outlining your qualifications and the answers to the questions you most often receive.
5. Don’t Neglect Website Speed
What is one of the most important ways to ensure that the design of your website is as effective as possible? Take the overall speed of your quality website design into account. Sure, autoplay options and enormous images might make your firm’s website look exciting. However, they’ll also ensure that it slows to a crawl.
People can and will navigate away from your website if it’s slow to load. This will cause your site to fall in the search engines rankings, meaning you’ll likely lose business directly to your competitors.
To see the current loading speed of your website, use this free tool.
6. Make Your Website Consistent With Your Branding Strategy
Last but certainly not least, ensure that your website’s design is in line with your overall branding strategy.
For a law firm especially, quality website design often goes hand-in-hand with simplicity. Stick to primary colors, don’t weigh down your pages with unprofessional flashing graphics or pop-ups, and clearly display your logo on each internal page of your site.
Looking for a way to make your design stand out from your competition?
One of the best things you can do is to have a professional typographer create a signature font for your firm. This is a perfect way to build your brand recognition without compromising your professionalism. Make sure that you use the font on all of your online and print promotional materials to keep things consistent.
Need More Quality Website Design Tips?
Now that you have a few ideas for how to take your website’s design to the next level, it’s time to start implementing them.
Once you’re happy with the design of your site (it’s a smart idea to test it before you go live) then you need to begin doing everything possible to get more visitors to your page.
In addition to claiming your online listings and starting to blog, you should also submit your website to our online lawyer directory. We offer both free listings and a premium listing for as little as $25 every year.
Sign up with us today to gain more clients and continue to grow your firm’s reputation.