Law Firm SEO Tactics: 19 Techniques for Top Google Rankings

law-firm-seo-tacticsAre you searching for new clients for your law firm?

If so, I have some exciting news.

Potential customers are already searching for you!

In short, if you want to attract new clients to your law firm, SEO is perhaps the most effective way to do so.

In this article, I will share 19 actionable techniques we use to get law websites across the USA and Canada to the #1 Position in Google.

Not the first page.

Not close to the top.

I’ll show you how to get to the #1 position in Google and stay there.

1. Create a user-centric website (that your customers AND Google will love!)

There’s one big question you should ask when creating a law firm website. And that is…

What’s in it for the customer?

Get that part right and the search engines will also love you.

So, where do you start?

Let’s look at a few examples.

Make the information easy to skim read


No jargon, no overly complicated legal explanations, and no long blocks of text. Keep sentences short, paragraphs broken up, and use bullet points and sub-headers wherever possible to help with skim reading.

Use graphics/images and bold important terms


Use plenty of images and graphics to break up text and make it easier to digest. Also, use bold text to make important terms stand out.

Make it easy to navigate

Can visitors find what they need in a click?

All key pages should be accessible from the homepage and be no more than two clicks away from any page. A ‘flat’ link structure like this requires a fairly detailed drop-down menu on your home page.


NOTE: For firms with multiple locations, allow users to switch between locations with menu navigation like this.


2. Remove zombie pages & fix your website structure

Zombie pages are those ‘walking dead’ pages that exist on your site but provide no value to your customers. The term was coined by Brian Dean at Backlinko.

Here’s an example.


These include:

  • Category pages (often used on WordPress blogs)
  • Archives (also generated by WordPress-based sites)
  • Image media links
  • Pagination
  • Thin content pages, containing less than 50 words
  • Old press releases

At times, these pages can be indexed by Google but provide no value to your audience. Google has stated that it prefers small sites with high-quality pages to larger sites with useless content.

If you find any of these, fix them up and it will boost performance.

The best way to identify Zombie pages is to create a Google Webmasters account. It’s completely free to use and only requires a few minutes to configure.

A complete tutorial on using Google Webmasters is outside of the scope of this article, however, here is what you will see in your account.


Once offending pages have been identified, they can be removed.

3. Turbocharge your website’s speed

Nothing damages the user experience like a painfully slow website.

Google says that page-load speed matters for SEO. It’s one of the 200+ ranking factors according to Backlinko.

How’s your site’s speed? Check it using this free tool from Google.

Here’s the result for one of our clients Taylor Janis.


As you can see, the page speed score is almost 100% – the average is 50-89%.

To make your website super-fast:

  • Select a premium hosting platform (for WordPress websites we recommend WPengine).
  • Compress all images prior to uploading them to your website.
  • Install a cache plugin to reduce load times.

If this is outside of your expertise, get your web developer to support you with these modifications.

4. Reach your customers early, often and when they’re ready to buy with these three keyword categories

There are a limitless number of theories on the type of keywords you should target with an SEO campaign.

You’ve probably heard of the core concepts:

  • head terms
  • body terms and
  • long-tail keywords

If not, check out this resource.

In my opinion, however, the most effective approach to keyword targeting is to focus on categories that follow a typical customer journey as opposed to the traditional head, body, long-tail keyword approach.

For those unfamiliar with a customer journey, here is a simplified example.


To put it another way, your SEO keyword strategy should map to specific user intent based on where they are in the customer journey.

Let’s look at the three examples.

Information Queries

The first keyword category, located in the awareness phase of a customer journey, is informational queries. These queries are terms used to find information on a topic, usually presented in the form of a question.

For example: How can I get my dangerous driving charges dropped?

Creating content, especially in the form of articles, resources and blog content, allows you to target these keywords directly.

Here’s how Oykhman Criminal Defence does it in their FAQ section.


And, here are the results.


The other major benefit to the Informational Query approach is that it provides visibility to long-tail keyword phrases. These phrases tend to be less competitive terms, making them easier to rank for.

Evaluation Queries

The next stage in the customer buying cycle is Evaluation.

The customer may be searching for terms like:

  • (Law firm name) reviews
  • Best DUI law firm
  • (Law firm name) successful cases

In short, potential customers are evaluating their options.

So, how do you address these searches in your keyword-based content?

You create a reviews/testimonials page and optimize it for “best” and/or “top” keywords, just like Oykhman Criminal Defence does on its reviews page.


Here are the results.


Transactional Queries

The third part of the customer’s journey is making a purchase.

To do so, potential customers search using transactional terms, where they intend to buy your services.

These include phrases like:

  • Criminal defence law firm
  • Criminal defence lawyer
  • Criminal defence
  • Hire DUI lawyer

Usually, these terms are best targeted with your home page or a practice area power page (which I describe in the next section).

Here’s how Oykhman Criminal Defence does it on their home page.


5.Create practice area power pages

After your Home page, your practice area pages are the most important on your website.

Create pages that super-charge your presence and provide users with relevant, easily readable information.


  • Short, easy-to-read sentences
  • Include images – at least one per page, with dimensions 600 x 400
  • Sub-headers and
  • Bullets to make pages easier to skim read

You can see each of these features on the Family Medical Leave Act page of employment law firm, Werman Salas.


One unique page per practice area

Create one unique page per practice area – don’t confuse your customers by trying to cram multiple services onto one page.


Remember, you can only target one or two keywords per page. So it makes perfect sense to create a separate page for each of your practice areas.

For more pointers on content, read our 13 tips for creating winning law firm website content.

6. Create a ‘home run’ home page

No surprises here – your home page is the most important and valuable page on your site. You need to hit a ‘home run’ with it.

You do that by…

Optimizing it for the most competitive terms

This is the home page of Colorado Legal Group – a fairly clear targeted keyword.


Featuring trust indicators and reviews

You need to establish immediate credibility and authority on your home page. Notice how Colorado Legal Group includes client reviews.


Creating sticky content (videos, graphics, etc.).

Create content that encourages users to spend longer on your site.

Video and infographics are great for this as people engage with multimedia content more readily than with purely text-based content.

Colorado Legal Group has video front and centre on their home page.


Linking to internal pages

Another way to keep customers on your site is to link to internal articles, posts, guides, and other useful content that answers their questions.

This helps people find what they want.

Note how the Colorado Legal Group links multiple times to its internal content on its home page.


7. Become a topical authority: the go-to source for your practice area

You have a lot of legal IP in your head. If you can build content around this, make it original and readable, and answer the key questions in your target audience’s minds, you’re on the way to becoming a topical authority in your field.

Consider your main practice areas and the themes around which you can create high-quality, in-depth content. Think:

  • Step-by-step guides
  • Technical articles that explain complex topics in simple terms
  • Blog posts on key topics for your target audience
  • FAQ information

The Oykhman Criminal Defence website provides in-depth overviews of key topics presented as FAQs. Clicking the articles will take a user to expanded content that uses short paragraphs, bullet points, sub-headers, and examples.


Keywords should be interspersed in your content but are secondary to the quality of the content you produce.

If people read it, remain on your site, and search out other similar content on your website, you will see the SEO results regardless of the number of keywords you use in it.

The TopicSeed website says “topical authority is the future” and points out that websites are increasingly ranked based on this rather than on keyword usage. It adds:

“Unlike keyword research that targets a set of literal phrases, topical authority and topical research require a broad yet deep comprehension and mastery of linked entities and hierarchical concepts.”

8. Create location satellite pages to reach an audience in under-served communities

Your firm can create location pages for small cities and surrounding areas (around major centers) that are currently under-served by law firms.

Just look at this example for Okotoks (a small city outside of Calgary, Alberta) that is published to the Oykhman Criminal Defence website.


By definition, these areas are less competitive but optimizing your website can help you stand out here. You won’t receive as many visitors as you would for large cities, but if executed for several satellite locations, the traffic can add up.

Here’s what displays for Oykhman Criminal Defence in Google’s search results.


9. Create and optimize videos for the world’s second largest search engine

Know what the world’s second largest search engine is?

Nope – not Bing. It’s YouTube.

We’ve mentioned using video on your home page to increase user ‘dwell time’ but you should also be creating and optimizing YouTube video.


Because you’ll not only rank for YouTube searches; it’ll also help your visibility in Google.

In YouTube, people regularly search for legal advice. Make sure you’re visible there – like New Mexico Legal Group is for Child Custody queries.


You can improve rankings for your videos on YouTube by:

  • Using YouTube’s Search Suggest tool to find the keywords that users are typing in
  • Including these keywords in your video titles, descriptions, etc.
  • Finding a niche that is less competitive and trying to dominate it
  • Creating “sticky” and in-depth video content that keeps people watching for longer
  • Boosting clicks with attractive thumbnails and titles
  • Encouraging comments and ‘thumbs ups’ from viewers
  • Promoting your videos on your website, blog, and social media
  • Creating playlists
  • Building a good following of subscribers to your channel

What happens to your videos on Google search?

On Google’s SERPS, looks what happens in the video section for an Albuquerque child custody lawyer search. You can really dominate those pages.


Content ideas for video

What topics do you create videos around?

  • Answering legal FAQs
  • Providing how-to tips for people about legal matters
  • Explaining legal practice areas and how they can help
  • Creating client testimonial videos
  • Showing visitors behind-the-scenes peeks of your law firm

10. Create a polished Google My Business account: Own your local panel

Do you largely target local clients, like most law firms?

Whether you have multiple locations or a single office, you need to optimize your pages for location so that you own the space.

To do this, start doing more for local search – in addition to everything else mentioned in this article.

How to Get Started With Google My Business

Google My Business is the free business listing that replaced Google Local and Google Places.

As an example, if you search for “Oykhman Criminal Defence Calgary” this is the Google My Business local panel that will display.


This information is coming directly from the firm’s Google My Business page.

Why is it so important?

Information from your Google My Business account may be used on Google SERPs directly in place of information from your actual website as in the example above.

It also displays in the “local search results”. These are the three business listings that display for search terms that have a local intent.

A search for criminal defence lawyer Edmonton, for example, displays the following result.


But to achieve that, it’s very important to optimize all your business information.

How to optimize your Google My Business account

  • Enter your business location correctly on the map: users need to be able to find you easily
  • List your authoritative and official business website
  • Add information such as opening hours
  • Ensure that your business name, address, and phone number(s) (“NAP”) are consistent with other listings and across your website: Google aggregates your business information from around the web – keep addresses and other details EXACTLY the same.
  • Choose the most appropriate category for your firm, to ensure it shows up in the right searches. Be as specific as possible.
  • Add a few photographs of yourself, your staff, and your business premises:
  • Consider adding a 360-degree ‘virtual tour’ of your office
  • Describe the key points of your business, use keywords, and add links in the ‘Introduction’
  • Solicit reviews about your firm (more about this in the next section).

11. Share your corroborating evidence: Get 5-star reviews on Google, Avvo & Yelp

Think of reviews as your corroborating evidence.

Almost every web visitor now expects to see people saying good things about a business. But, for a law firm, it’s an essential component of SEO strategy. Like this example from Colorado Legal Group.


Reviews help real people understand your services better AND are used as a ranking indicator.

Bright Local’s 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey shows how important it is to actively solicit reviews:

  • 85% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • Positive reviews make 73% of people trust a local business more
  • Yelp, Facebook, Google and BBB are people’s most trusted review sites

Where should your customers leave their reviews?

You will probably feature some 5-star reviews on your website. But where should you be asking your customers to leave reviews for your law firm?

There are three main places to focus on.


You’ve seen how Google reviews show on the SERPs with a star rating next to your name.


You can feature them on your website too, like the New Mexico Legal Group.


If you’re listed on Avvo, make sure that you get customers to review you. Your rating shows on your profile and adds instant credibility.



5-stars next to your name on Yelp provides instant credibility too – as you can see from the Werman Salas profile:

And when potential customers check the reviews, they will better understand the services you provide.


How can you get more reviews?

Since reviews are so powerful, how can you get more customers to write them for you?

Most importantly and most obviously: Ask for them!

Here’s how Oykhman Criminal Defence request reviews on their website. Note how they make it as easy as possible for clients to leave a review.


Prime customers to review you at the start and remind them at the end

Let customers know that their feedback is welcome and expected at the start of the relationship. Include it in the description of your process.

Then, when you remind them to leave a review after the case file is closed, it will jog their memory to act.

Understand the rules of engagement for each review platform

Different sites have different rules for how and where you can ask for reviews.

Yelp expressly forbids asking for or incentivizing customer reviews but Google has no problem with you asking customers to review you.

Use GatherUp 

GatherUp is a platform which helps you automate the customer feedback process to make getting online reviews easier.


12. Latch onto other websites with ‘barnacle SEO’

You can use other websites to improve the performance of your visibility in Google’s search results.

This strategy is termed ‘barnacle SEO’ because you latch onto the name, popularity, or authority of these sites in order to promote your own firm.

For example, if you search “best criminal defence lawyer in new mexico”, you will see these websites appear in Google’s search results.


If you click on the website in the second position, Justia, you’ll see this published to their website.


Not bad for our client David Crum. He’s been able to attach himself to the website and benefit from the credibility and traffic he garners as a result.

So, how can generate results like this for your firm?

Guest blogging

Look for opportunities to write blog posts for authority websites.

It may take a little while to build the relationship but if you can demonstrate how your legal insight can help readers, they should see the value in your guest blogging.


You could try Lawyerist,, or Overlawyered. Or try other law firm websites in different practice areas: if you’re a bankruptcy lawyer, approach tax law websites, for instance.

Alternatively, look at complementary sites (not necessarily in the legal field) that will benefit from your legal know-how: accounting or other professional services, for instance.

Create power profiles in legal directories

Listing your practice in the free directories helps you latch on to these sites. We’ve already seen that they rank well in the search engine results pages. This can help you generate traffic and leads.

Any law firm can get these links. They are of the least value but still worth getting.

Focus on directory sites like:


Here’s an example.


Paid listings in legal directories

The following directories specialize in providing paid links and advertising:

    • (NOTE: there is a nomination process to be accepted on here)

Links through nominations and awards

Being nominated for awards or as the ‘best’ or one of the ‘top three’ attorneys in your practice area for your city. This is another good example of barnacle SEO and best-practice link-building.

Look at the results for Michael Oykhman in Google’s search results.


And, what the user sees when they click the first link.


13. Invest in social stacking: Gain visibility and own your branded search results page

Social stacking involves investing time into building your presence in the social media channels.

It’s a little like ‘barnacle SEO’ in that you’re latching onto the popularity of other sites – but these sites are all social media platforms, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.

You can quickly start to dominate search results pages if you get good at this, as you’ll start ranking for all your branded terms in Google.

So you need to create profiles on popular social accounts. Like Vogel LLP:

On Facebook


On Twitter


And on LinkedIn


These accounts generate a ‘no follow’ hyperlink but allow your firm to effectively ‘own’ your branded search result.


NOTE: What are ‘no follow’ links?

‘No follow’ links are used by webmasters to instruct search engines not to count the link.

It means that the link will not influence the target site’s ranking in the search results.

14. Create ‘authority anchors’: Get digital votes that skyrocket your rankings

You already know that authority is a priceless commodity for any law firm. In fact, attracting high-power links at scale is one of the most important tactics for a lawyer’s search engine optimization campaign.

In SEO, authority is the measure of the quantity and quality of the websites that link to your website. In the SEO industry, we refer to these links as backlinks.

A backlink is analogous to receiving a digital vote. All things being equal, the website with the most digital votes is going to rank the highest in Google’s search results.

Here are five simple ways to build backlinks to your firm’s website.

Legal Directories

The web is jam-packed with legal directories. For a monthly or annual fee, you can purchase a profile that lists your law firm as well as attorneys at the firm.

In most instances, you will also have the opportunity to include a backlink to your website, like this example.


While this can be an effective link building strategy, it is also expensive.

One important item to consider is the amount you’re spending each year to maintain or build your website’s authority. Very quickly, your link building fees can add up.

Location Links

Location links are backlinks from websites that have a local intent.

These are most commonly resource websites, your local chamber of commerce and blogs.

Here is an example of a local profile listing for Vogel LLP and the backlink it provides.


Better Business Bureau (BBB)

The Better Business Bureau has become an important directory for all businesses. It details:

  • Accredited status
  • Years in business
  • BBB rating
  • Customer reviews
  • Any complaints received
  • Contact details
  • Backlink to the website

For law firms, it’s an extra vote of confidence. Check out the extra credibility (and therefore SEO ‘juice’) this provides for Vogel LLP.


Scholarship backlinks

Nothing improves your authority level (and rankings) like links from high-authority educational institutions, such as colleges and universities.

These have a high ‘trustrank’ value and search engines rightly see them as confirmation of the value you provide.

But these links are hard to come by. One of the best ways to approach them is to provide scholarships to US or Canadian colleges/universities.

Here’s an example.


Legal Blog Lists

I’ve already discussed the benefits of guest blogging in this article, however, if you write a legal blog for your firm, you may also qualify for inclusion on one of the legal blog lists.

Vogel LLP publishes a fantastic blog and was included in the Stem Legal New Blog section on their website.


These are just a small sample of the link building techniques we implement as part of our legal SEO campaigns.

15. Share the link love: Increase your dwell time by linking to resources and non-competitive firms

Your linking strategy should not be all one way.

While a strong inbound link profile can be a strong SEO ally, you also need to keep user experience in mind at all times.

Linking to non-competitive websites that enhance a reader’s understanding of a topic is good practice. This improves the user experience – and will aid your rankings.

For example, the Vogel LLP website includes a page of legal resources with outbound links.


Increase dwell time and user engagement

If people can find what they need on your site, they will be more engaged and stay longer.

It may seem counter-intuitive but that applies even if you link to sites that will take the visitor away from your site temporarily.

You don’t need to have a separate dedicated page for links. Simply link to relevant resources within the text of blog articles like New Mexico Legal Group.


In the above post about alimony on the New Mexico Legal Group blog, there is an external link to a child support calculator, which is a useful tool for visitors.

16. Secure your website with SSL (Secure Socket Layer)

As a lawyer, I don’t need to explain how important security is to a business.

The same is true on the web.

A Secure Socket Layer, or SSL certificate, is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser.

It’s also what enables the padlock icon in browsers like chrome.


Here are just a few reasons you should consider adding SSL to your website:

  • 84% of users would abandon a purchase if data was sent over an insecure connection, indicating that website insecurity could potentially impact sales.
  • A Google spokesperson stated that an SSL certificate may act as a tiebreaker between two competing websites in Google’s search results.
  • Around 40% of Google page one organic listings are HTTPS.
  • HTTPS has been a signal in Google’s ranking algorithm since 2014.

In short, if you don’t enable SSL on your website you are providing a poorer user experience and potentially angering the Google gods at the same time.

Most domain name registrar and hosting providers offer some form of SSL certificate. In some instances, they are even offered free of charge or for a negligible annual fee.

17. Create citation boosts in the top legal directories

SEO is not just about links

At least, not if you serve local clients.

Citations are ‘mentions’ of your business name, address, and/or telephone number. Quality citations are important for a law firm, even in the absence of a live link.

Google considers citations from well-established and reliable online websites (with good domain authority) an important ranking factor in the local search results. Like these listings below.


They add credibility, context, relevance, and authenticity to your law firm.

The two types of citations

There are two main types of citations relevant to law firms:

Structured citations – the most common; found in online directories like Yellow Pages, Yelp,, and Avvo.


Unstructured citations – found on blogs, government websites, media websites, etc.


The best citation sources

The best places to get citations include.

Prominent legal marketing directories

Go for quality citations over quantity. Most are free but there are also paid options. Select the directories with the best domain authority, such as:

  • Avvo (free)
  • Justia (free)
  • FindLaw (free)
  • (paid)
  • hg. org (free)
  • (free)


NOTE: For a full list of directories, this page from Moz will help you find the best citation sources for your city.

Important data aggregators in the USA and Canada

Make sure your business information is correct with all the key data aggregators in the US and Canada.

This is important because the search engines get most of their data from four major players:

And these aggregators get their data from the likes of:

The aggregators regularly send updated data to the search engines (every couple of months).

So it’s important for your business information to be up-to-date and match what the search engines already have. If not, it can damage your rankings.

18. Make it loved by mobile users

In 2016, mobile and tablet Internet usage surpassed desktop usage for the first time.

That trend is continuing and it means that:

  • You should make sure all pages display clearly on all screen sizes
  • Call-to-action buttons must be easily clickable (preferably using the thumb)
  • Forms should be easy to complete on a smartphone

Look at this example for Colorado Legal Group.


BOTTOM LINE: If you’re not designing your pages with a mobile-first approach, you’re harming both the user experience and SEO.

Google will penalize you for a non-responsive website.

Luckily, it’s easy to find out how you’re doing. The Google Mobile-Friendly Test tells you how well your website is set up for mobile use.

Here are results for the Colorado Legal Group.


NOTE: Most WordPress websites are inherently mobile-friendly. It’s one of the best platform to use for your website for this reason and many others.

19. Measure, analyze, repeat…

What ultimately decides the long-term success of your SEO strategy is your ability to measure, analyze, iterate and repeat

You’ll need to measure key performance indicators like:

  • Rankings – how are you ranking in Google for your main keywords?
  • Traffic – how many visitors are landing on your website due to organic search?
  • Pages – which pages are receiving traffic? Are they your most important landing pages?
  • Leads – how many target clients are contacting your law firm?

Here are the main steps.

Use Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free tool for webmasters. It allows you to measure many key website performance areas:

  • How many visitors you’re receiving
  • Where visitors are coming from
  • Visitor demographics
  • What they’re doing on your site (behavior)
  • Frequency and ‘recency’ of visits
  • Conversions
  • Site speed
  • Mobile visitors


Use Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager is another free tool that manages JavaScript and HTML tags. These are snippets of code that are added to the site and used for tracking and analytics on websites.

This information is then sent to third parties.

If you don’t manage it properly, it can lead to site issues. Tag Manager makes it easy – without the need for a web developer.


Monitor conversions

As well as the key performance indicators mentioned above, monitor the conversions you’re getting.

How many web visitors are clicking your call to action buttons and turning into paying customers?

That’s easy enough to measure when you’re receiving emails, completed contact forms, etc. Google Analytics tells you this.


But many customers simply want to pick up the phone. A great tool for measuring the number of phone calls you receive is CallRail.

Monitoring calls via CallRail

I’ve blocked out a few columns for privacy, but you get the idea.


With CallRail, you can:

  • Measure phone call conversations from search, digital marketing (including PPC), or even offline
  • Record phone calls
  • Automatically show the right number to the right audience

Google domination is in sight!

There you have it: the techniques you need to start dominating the search pages.

It’s worked for multiple clients and it can work for you.