blue SEO or search engine optimization word on keyboardAttorneys want more website traffic. More traffic means more phone calls which results in more clients. I’ve spoken with attorneys who have tried everything imaginable to get more traffic. Interestingly, they don’t do the one thing that actually helps; they don’t make their content relevant to readers and, in turn, relevant to search engines. Let’s take a look at the approach attorneys regularly take and then let’s discuss how you can rise above the pack.

Attorneys and law firms spend too much time focusing on SEO mechanics

Google’s entire goal is to provide its users with the results that are most relevant to a given query. The search engine uses SEO mechanics as a way of determining which results are relevant. “SEO mechanics” is the technical side of search engine optimization. These are “signals” that help Google understand what a page is about as well as whether that page is reputable. In terms of a site’s subject matter, the search engine needs to be helped along in understanding a site’s message for a very simple reason – Google can’t read[i]. By this I mean that the search engine can’t read a paragraph and give it context in the way a human can. So the search engine looks to several “signals” to understand which queries that page’s subject matter may be relevant to. In terms of reputation/authority, Google also has several signals that it looks to so it can determine whether one’s page is more important than another. These signals are important in helping a site do well in search.

One example of SEO mechanics is the way in which Google looks at key words. If the search engine sees particular keywords or Meta descriptions on a page then it determines that the page’s content may be relevant to topics relating to those keywords. Another example is backlinks. If Site A is linking to Site B than the search engine sees that as an “endorsement” because one reason a site would likely link to another is because the linked site is interesting. The more of these backlinks one gains the better their page must be. It’s these and other SEO mechanics where attorneys often spend their efforts in terms of attempting to do better in search.

Internet success concept with diagram, html and writing pencilYour law firm is erring if you are focusing too much on these mechanics and not on the content of your site. You must understand that Google simply uses these mechanics as tools to find better websites. These tools don’t define what a better website is. In other words, if you have these signals in your site but Google determines your content is not relevant then you’re still not going to rank well in search.

Attorneys need to think of SEO mechanics as the procedure for asking Google to notice your site while the content is the substance. If a criminal attorney wants to exclude evidence then the procedure is to file a Motion to Suppress. Now imagine if the Motion’s body, or substance, consisted of nothing but the following statement:

“Please suppress the evidence. Pretty please.”

Assuming you did not include a judicial bribe with your Motion, it’s safe to say the Judge is going to deny it. This Motion will get denied because, even though proper procedures were followed, it lacked the right substance. If Google considers your site because you followed “procedure” by including SEO signals, and your content sucks, then your request to rank higher in search will be DENIED! When attorneys focus solely on building backlinks, using the right keywords, generating as much content as possible regardless of what that content says, etc. then they are following procedure and ignoring what really matters, their content. Let’s talk about how lawyers can make search engines like their content more than that of other attorney websites.

How attorneys can make their website content more relevant in search results

Here are the four biggest mistakes attorneys make in terms of their site’s content:

Make your static pages unique – I’m amazed at the extent to which attorney websites all say the same thing. “We’ll fight for your rights!” “We’ll protect you!” “We’re here for you!” The only thing they don’t include is “Ra! Ra! Go team!” Ask yourself, is this relevant to someone facing a legal issue? Nope! It isn’t.

Make your content relevant by describing the law to which your particular page relates in a way that is understandable by laypeople. Then describe unique steps you take to help people deal with that legal issue. Now when someone is searching for an attorney your page is relevant because it is different from other attorney sites and actually says what you’re going to do for them. Would you be interested in a business that doesn’t actually say what it’s going to do for you? Guess what, clients aren’t interested in that either.

Blog often – The more frequently you update your blog then the more Google sees your site as providing new, timely, and relevant information to potential clients. There are several other benefits of frequent posting that I discussed in my article on why attorneys who blog frequently will get more consultations.

Make your blog posts useful to potential clients – What do I have to do to get attorneys to stop blogging about topics that don’t interest clients? Actually, the fact that attorneys do so is great for you because that’s your competition who is rambling in their posts about the hearsay rule (which clients don’t care about). For a few tips take a look at my article on how attorneys can improve their blog content.

Understand that life is about choices – I’ve had numerous conversations with lawyers who don’t make the time to blog frequently, if at all. I’ve also talked to numerous attorneys who have low quality content and they don’t want to take the time to update it. That’s fine – just remember that if you choose to not put in the work then you are choosing to not grow your practice. I wrote regularly when I started blogging in 2008 and I wrote regularly two years later when my firm grossed over a million dollars in revenue. It’s up to you.

SEO mechanics are important but they aren’t the end all. Why do you think attorneys focus so much on these mechanics while ignoring their content? Feel free to chime in on the comment form below.

[i] Matt Cutts at Pub Con 2013. Accessed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KnYqySMUL8