SEO for lawyers can be complicated. Using the right tools can make the process a lot easier.
Whether you’re just starting out or looking to boost existing search results, here are the best tools to improve your Google rankings.
1. Getting Started
If you’re new to SEO, start with Google’s SEO guidelines to learn the basics. Read this document to ensure you’re familiar with all technical terms you’ll need to know.
This gives you a great step-by-step on how to set-up your titles, meta tags, and site structure.
Do it right the first time rather than have to go back and fix mistakes later. While it might be time consuming to do it right, it’s way more time consuming to correct past errors.
Takeaway: Make sure you know what factors matter to Google.
2. Google Quality Guidelines
You’ll also want to read Google’s quality guidelines to learn the right way to do SEO.
Even if you plan on hiring someone to do your SEO, this will give you enough insight to know what to ask and steer clear of any shady tactics that will get you penalized you down the road.
While a lot of this information might not make sense if you’re new to this, it’s still something to review occasionally as your knowledge base grows.
Takeaway: It takes a lot longer to recover from a violation than doing it right the first time.
3. Google Tools
The two critical Google Tools that every SEO campaign needs are Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools.
– Google Analytics (GA) gives you a wide variety of data regarding your website. You should pay special attention to the following in your GA account.
- How many daily visits
- How many pages are viewed on average per visit
- Average visit duration
- Bounce Rate
- This refers to how many people go to your site and leave without clicking anywhere else on the site.
GA gives you great insight into how people interact with your site. Instead of wondering whether people are engaged by your content, GA will tell you by giving you insight into how long they remain on your site and whether they get past the first page they land on.
– Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) provides excellent information on the health of your site. If your site has technical issues (duplicate tags, missing pages, server problems) GWT gives you the information you’ll need to make necessary changes.
GWT also gives you insight into how well you’re ranking on various search terms. As you can see below, the information includes how many times your site has come up for a particular search term, and how many times users clicked on your site following that search (click through rate).
Takeaway: Taking the time to learn GA and GWT is critical if you’re serious about improving your SEO.
4. Page Download Speed
Google has stated under no uncertain terms that user experience impacts your SEO rankings. One of the key components of user experience is the website download speed.
All major online retailers like Amazon have placed great emphasis on download speed, because over 50% of users will abandon a site that doesn’t load in under 3 seconds.
As you’re building your site, make sure you use these tools to check the download speed of your site:
And don’t forget to test your website on a mobile device to make sure it’s downloading quickly.
Takeaway: Speed matters. Make sure your website downloads in less than 3 seconds.
5. Social Media
Not only does Google use social media as an indirect ranking factor, but it’s a great way to increase your online exposure.
I’m going to assume you’re familiar with social media, so we’re just going to give you a list of must have accounts to help promote your site:
If you already have these accounts but need a simple way to manage your social media, check out hootsuite.com. You can start with a free account and upgrade if you like it.
Takeaway: Social Media takes time, but it’s a great way to build brand awareness.
6. Link Building
This topic could take up an entire book, so I’m only going to cover the basics. If you’re looking for where to build links, start by seeing where your competition is getting their links from. These sites should help get you started on your link-building campaign.
- OpenSiteExplorer from Moz (excellent resource for anything SEO)
- Ahrefs (in my opinion, they have the most complete and updated link profile of each website)
- MajesticSEO (another great resource to learn where your competition is getting links)
Takeaway: Despite reports to the contrary, link-building still matters. Start by seeing where your competition is getting links, then go from there.
7. Link Diversity
A common mistake most people make when handling their own SEO campaigns is building spammy anchor text.
For example, if you’re a plumber in Chicago and the name of your business is Joe’s Plumbing, you may have built a bunch of back links with the words “Chicago Plumber” as the anchor.
Don’t get me wrong, this used to work. But now Google is penalizing sites that over optimize the anchor text, and you should instead focus on promoting your brand.
Focus on mixing it up when you create anchor text. Using the above example, try:
- Joe’s Plumbing
- Joe’s Plumbing in Chicago
- Chicago Joe’s Plumbing
You’ll also want to include naked link anchors (for example: www.yourbusiness.com), and other generic terms. Click here to see what post-Penguin link profile should look like.
It’s ok to have some spammy anchor text, but just make sure you don’t overdo it. To see your current anchor text mix, go to ahrefs and type in your URL in the search box.
Takeaway: Focus on building your brand – NOT building spammy anchor text links.
8. Local SEO
Local SEO refers to results generated when an user searches for a business or service in their local area. Unlike organic SEO, local SEO focuses on the user’s geographical area to deliver relevant results.
A lot of focus has been given lately to Local SEO, and for good reason. When we shop for goods or services, we tend to only stay within a certain range of where we live or work. Think about it, how far are you willing to drive for a restaurant or a dry cleaner?
With that in mind, prepare to spend a lot of time focusing on your local SEO efforts. Unlike organic SEO, it will take longer to show results but getting high rankings in local SEO is worth the effort.
Below are a few tools to help you build local SEO citations:
A great source for Local SEO info is Phil Rozek’s Local Visibility System. He even offers an in-depth eBook to get you started.
Remember, local SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. If you are in a competitive industry, expect to not see results for potentially 3 – 6 months. With that said, the sooner you get started the better.
If you haven’t already, make sure to setup a Google Business page for your business.
Takeaway: Local SEO is a critical component of your marketing strategy. Research this topic or hire someone if you’re confused, as bad Local SEO can be a nightmare to fix.
9. Building Your Website
If you haven’t yet build a website and are looking for a straight-forward solution, check out Weebly.
They offer a free site to get you started. If you decide you like the service, they charge $99 per year to use your own domain name which includes hosting. In my opinion, it’s by far the easiest solution.
- Easy to Use
- Includes a Mobile Site
- Built in SEO features
- Requires knowledge of CSS to fine-tune positioning of elements
- Support only via email
- Limited amounts of pre-designed templates
Takeaway: Make sure you pick a content management system that works for you. Check out Weebly or WordPress.
10. Developing Your Content
I’m sure that by now you know the importance of writing great content if you want to rank well in Google. What are some of the hallmarks of great content? In a nutshell, here they are:
- No grammar or spelling mistakes
- Do not keyword stuff your content so that it creates an awful user experience. Remember: write for humans, NOT Google.
- Cite your work whenever possible by linking to authoritative sites like Wikipedia
- Readability: make sure your line length is no more than 50 – 60 characters with lines (including spaces)
- Write for your target audience.
- This might require research on your part, but understanding your audience helps you maximize the impact of your content.
- Use Google to research your area of interest and find the top authors in your category. This is a great place to get inspiration. If you come across a great article, can you add to it to make it better?
- Always remember that great content either educates or entertains. If you can do both, even better.
The folks over at Content Marketing Institute provide a ton of great free info on how to get started on developing your content. Another great online resource is Copyblogger, make sure you check out there free ebooks.
Takeaway: Write for humans, not Google. When writing content ask yourself, “would I read this?” Let that answer be your guide.
SEO takes time, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Don’t get desperate if you don’t see results right away and turn to black-hat techniques. Good SEO results take time, but if you do it right you can reap long-lasting and profitable results.
If you have other SEO tools that I missed, please add them below.