Search Engine Optimization – Part 1 of the Top 5 Family Law Marketing Strategies

Last Updated on June 15, 2021 by Amy Geldean

Search Engine Optimization for Family Law Firms

In this section, you’ll learn how to:

  • Find the right keywords and topics
  • Create amazing content that converts lurkers into clients
  • Optimize your website to rank highly in the search engines
  • Appear in local searches and maximize your conversion rate
  • Attract backlinks that help you reach the top spot on search engines
  • Leverage the EAT score to improve your reputation and get more clients than your competitors

What Is SEO?

SEO (short for search engine optimization) is a low-cost method of attracting more clients to your firm’s website via search engines.

Why SEO Works for Family Law Marketing

It’s simple: 96% of people seeking legal counsel use search engines.

And with the right SEO strategy, you can provide them with the answers they are looking for. Whether it’s to answer their questions, or simply appear as the best firm that could represent them, SEO is a valid marketing choice for acquiring new family law clients.

Additionally, SEO is one of the best low-cost methods of acquiring new clients. Once you set up your campaign right, you’ll be getting a lot of free traffic to your website.

However, it’s a long-term strategy. If you’re in a saturated niche, it can take a while (6-12 months) to reach the coveted spots.

Here’s how to implement SEO:

Keywords and Topics

SEO relies on keywords and queries, because it’s what search engines rely on.

Every time your potential client googles something like: “How to get a divorce,” Google will scour the internet to serve them with the best search results.

Now, in order to qualify for appearing in your potential client’s search results, you have to make sure you use the right keywords.

However, your competitors are using them, too, so you have to play smart to get a lot of clients from search engines (without paying for it).

The first rule is to use the keywords your audience is using.

You have to find the questions your audience is asking. Resist the temptation to create content and optimize based on what you think they’re asking.

In the vast majority of cases, your potential clients are not using the legal terms you would be using to discuss family law.

Some of the frequently searched for family law keywords you should consider are:

  • “How to file for divorce in [your state]?”
  • “What is the first step to getting a divorce?”
  • “How divorce works in [your state]?”
  • “What happens in a divorce?”
  • “Do I qualify for alimony in [your state]?”
  • “How to get alimony in [your state]?”
  • “How to get child custody?”
  • “Family law attorney [your state]”
  • “Best family law attorneys [your state]”

You can use a tool like Answer The Public to find the keywords people search for most often when it comes to subjects that family law covers.

The second rule is to find keywords with actionable intent.

Avoid optimizing for generic keywords such as “divorce,” “alimony,” and “child custody.” You won’t reach the top spots easily, nor will you get a lot of clients. People who are searching for generic terms just want general information.

If you want to acquire as many clients as possible, focus on transactional keywords. These are the so-called bottom of the funnel keywords; keywords used by people who come to the search engine with the intent of hiring an attorney.

They’ve already made their decision, and now the only thing they want to do is find the right firm for the job.

Other keyword intents are information and navigation.

With informational keywords, people could be looking for general information on a subject. However, if you specify your area and a particular point of interest (e.g. “How to file for divorce in Florida”), you’ll have better chances of reaching people who want to learn more about the process since they are considering getting a divorce.

Navigational keywords can also be an asset. For example, when your potential client looks up the name of your firm on Google, that is considered to be a navigational search.

The third rule is to use your location to your advantage.

You probably noticed that a lot of keywords we listed mention states.

People want local lawyers, which is exactly why you should incorporate your state into the keywords you use.

There is no use appearing in the search engine results for people in Florida if you practice family law in Alaska. 

Additionally, when you use transactional keywords that include your state, you’ll have less competition. You won’t be competing with family law attorneys from across the country (or the world).

You’ll only be competing with the ones in your area.

Finally, evaluate the search volume of a keyword.

A keyword may seem good on paper. However, if not enough people are searching for it, there is no point creating content about it. On the other hand, if a lot of people are searching for it, there’s bound to be a lot of competition.

Fortunately, you can evaluate the search volume of your keywords with Google Keyword Planner. You can also turn to legal Q&A forums such as The Law.

Find the right keywords with the following tools:

Content

Content is everything that has the potential of ranking (appearing) for your target search terms.

For example, if you want to target “how to get a divorce in Florida?” search query, you could write a blog post explaining the process.

Types of content that perform well in family law marketing are:

  • Blog posts
  • How-to posts
  • Case studies
  • Explainer videos

You should also consider your practice area pages to be content. Google can index everything, and if you have valuable practice area pages, it’ll rank them as well as any blog post.

Respond to the intent behind search queries

We’ve already covered the fact that each keyword comes with an intent. Fortunately, you can cover every type of intent with your content:

  • Informational intent – Create explainer and how-to posts and videos for keywords such as: “Do I qualify for alimony in [your state]?” and “How to file for divorce in [your state]?”
  • Transactional intent – Optimize your practice pages to highlight all the benefits of having your company represent your potential clients. Sample target keywords: “Best family law attorneys in [your state]” and “Family law attorneys [your state]
  • Navigational intent – If your potential clients are already familiar with you, they will search for your firm through Google. Their search queries will contain the name or the approximation of your law firm’s name. Create informational content that is full of social proof (testimonials, case studies, practice pages, and so on).

Aim to structure your content as a FAQ section

Your potential clients are increasingly using questions as their search queries, and search engines have started adapting their results pages to satisfy their intent (for example, you can now see “People also ask” sections).

Search engines also value content that is structured as a FAQ section.

You should start off a blog post section with a question like the one your potential clients are asking (refer to keyword research section), and then provide your answer.

Create engaging content

Creating legal content that will help you acquire more clients for your family law practice is not magic. Simply follow these tried and true rules:

  • Avoid using professional jargon. Instead, use a conversational vocabulary and tone of voice that your potential clients are using. When using a legal term, explain it.
  • Create comprehensive content. Don’t publish 500-word blog posts. Instead, cover the topic in depth and structure it as a FAQ section. If you are covering a broad topic, aim for at least 1,500 – 2,000 words. For example, in a post responding to the “What is the first step to getting a divorce?” query, you could cover all the steps – not just the first step.
  • Make your content skimmable. People rarely read articles word for word. Instead, they go straight to the things they are interested in. Break up your posts in multiple paragraphs (avoid paragraphs longer than 2-3 sentences). Use formatting like bold, italics, and headings. Embed images, infographics and videos.
  • Reference your experience. Whenever you can, refer your potential clients to case studies to demonstrate your expertise.
  • Learn from your competitors. Research what the competitors who rank highly for your target queries write about, and how they write about it.

Create great practice pages content

As a family law firm, you need to put your expertise front and center. Now, you can do a lot just by mentioning your experience and unique case studies in your blog posts. However, you should also pay a lot of attention to your practice pages.

Create separate pages for every practice area.

If you handle divorce, annulment, child custody, and alimony proceedings, create a separate page for each. This way, you will be able to accurately target relevant keywords.

Integrate a FAQ section in your practice area pages. List the most common questions your potential clients have when it comes to that practice area, and answer them.

Don’t forget to end the page with a call-to-action (CTA) button.

If your potential clients were convinced, they will want to get in touch with you.

Case studies

You can publish case studies as separate posts. However, you can also integrate them into your practice area pages. Potential clients want attorneys who have a track record of winning proceedings like theirs.

Use your experience to your advantage.

You don’t have to go into detail:

  • Briefly describe the case
  • Explain how the process itself went (this is particularly important for sensitive areas of family law such as child custody)
  • Explain how your law firm approached the case
  • State the results

Again, aim to be personable.

Avoid complicated jargon and focus on demonstrating both your expertise and your personality. One of the most common problems stopping law firms from acquiring more clients with SEO is the fact that people think attorneys are reserved and don’t have empathy. 

In family law, it’s crucial that you show your personality and paint your attorneys as approachable.

Links

In order for your website content to become visible in search engine results pages (SERPs), you will need to get links.

There are two types of links:

  1. Internal links (links within your website)
  2. Backlinks (links from other reputable websites to your website)

Internal links

Backlinks are infinitely more important to your law firm’s SEO success. However, in order for those backlinks to help all of your major pages rank in the search engines, you will need to link from one page on your website to another.

For example, let’s say you have a practice area page on divorces. From that page, you could link to other pages (e.g. a blog post describing the proceedings, and a blog post with your case studies).

Then, when another website links to your general divorce page, the “link juice” will transfer onto the other two pages (proceedings and case studies).

Search engines will take this as a signal that all three pages are important, and adjust their ranking in the results pages accordingly.

External website

|

Your divorce page

|           |

                          Your proceedings page    Your case studies page                  

In order for that equal transference to happen, it’s important to have a good internal linking structure.

You should have a navigation bar stating your practice areas and other relevant pages on your homepage.

Then, the general practice area page (e.g. “Family law”) should link out to pages describing specific practice areas (e.g. “Divorce” and “Child Custody”).

From those pages, link out to blog posts, case studies, and other content on your website.

Backlinks

Backlinks, also known as editorial links, are the links sent to your website from other reputable websites. This is Google’s way of understanding whether your law firm is popular and useful to the searchers.

Reputable websites are:

  • Websites dealing with your topic (practice area)
  • Well-known legal websites
  • Media outlets

The more backlinks you get from relevant websites, the higher will you rank for your target search terms.

So, how do you get backlinks?

Guest posting

Guest posting is one of the most popular ways of obtaining backlinks. It’s an outreach method.

You get in touch with websites that deal with legal topics, law firms, and – even better – family law, and offer to write an article for them.

You can find guest posting opportunities by searching for:

  • “family law” + “guest posting” / “contributors” / “write for us”
  • “[your state]” + “guest posting” / “contributors” / “write for us”
  • “[website name]” + “guest posting” / “contributors” / “write for us”

Make sure you understand which topics the website is interested in covering, and which it covered in the past. Then, craft a pitch, and make sure that the finished article contains references to your expertise.

In the majority of cases, you will be able to insert a link or two to your law firm’s website.

Networking

You can generate backlinks by networking.

For example, if you frequently talk about legal matters on social media, you can connect with journalists and other influencers in that practice area.

By building relationships with journalists and other individuals that deal with legal matters, you have better chances of them including links to your content within their own articles and blog posts.

Not to mention other opportunities that could help you not only improve your SEO results, but actively acquire new clients.

Outreach

Pay attention to the older, outdated content on reputable websites.

Chances are, some of the laws have changed, and the links they referenced in their content are out of date.

Get in touch with them and offer them your content as a much better alternative.

You’ll get a backlink, and they’ll get updated content for their readers.

Media

You can also get backlinks by being featured in media outlets.

While requests for your opinion will come naturally as your family law firm rises to prominence, you can speed up the process by signing up for HARO and SourceBottle.

Reporters and journalists often use HARO and SourceBottle to get input from experts such as family law attorneys.

Usually, they’ll mention your name, as well as your law firm’s name, but you can arrange with them to link to your content if it’s related to the topic.

Social media

It always pays to share the content you publish on your law firm’s blog to social media. It increases your likelihood of attracting quality backlinks.

Similarly, if you network with journalists, they’ll see your content and could include a link to it in their own articles and blog posts.

Directories

Finally, it’s important to claim your law firm’s profile in all the relevant directories.

The general rule of thumb is: if your (potential) clients are leaving reviews on that site, you need to be on that site. In some cases, that even means Yelp.

If you don’t have profiles on legal directories, consider adding them. Potential clients often use them to find suitable lawyers for their cases, as well as read reviews.

Avoid legal directories that aren’t ranked highly and used by potential clients. Since some of them charge for profiles, make sure that they’re valuable to you before you pay the signup fee.

Finally, having profiles on directories will help you build a “healthy” link profile, signaling to Google that you run a reputable law firm, and that it should serve your results more often.

Technical SEO for Family Law Firms

Another important part of your SEO optimization is technical optimization.

In order for your content to rank highly for your target search queries, your site has to be optimized to provide a great user experience.

Mobile-friendly websites

Since the majority of searches are coming from mobile, Google has decided to evaluate mobile versions of websites first. This means that, even if you have a functioning desktop site, your rankings could be impaired if the mobile version isn’t as good.

First, run a Google Mobile Friendly Test to evaluate your rating.

If your website isn’t functioning as well as it should be, you will get pointers on how to improve it.

In general, you should:

  • Make your website fast
  • Avoid complicated code
  • Remove unnecessary features
  • Make your website easy to navigate with your internal linking structure
  • Avoid using pop-ups designed for desktop websites, and opt for mobile-friendly pop-ups
  • Use responsive website design (website design that automatically adapts to the device the site is accessed from)

Improve your website speed

High rankings, mobile friendliness, and client acquisition go hand in hand. In general, people won’t wait longer than 3 seconds for your website to load.

One of the first things you should do is run a PageSpeed Insights test for your website.

Similarly to Google’s mobile friendly test, PageSpeed Insights is going to show you how fast your website is, and what you can do to speed it up. You can do plenty just by removing unnecessary elements, and by choosing responsive, simple web design.

Google Search Console

Sign up for Google Search Console and submit your sitemap as soon as possible.

GSC monitors the performance of your firm’s website in search engine results pages. It will alert you to any problems with ranking and performance.

You can also review the backlinks you’ve received.

SSL certificates and security

Google wants to protect their searchers, which is why they demote websites without security certificates.

As a family law firm, you should get a SSL security certificate installed as soon as possible. It’ll give you the padlock next to your address, which is a significant security advantage for your potential clients.

It also improves your clients’ perception of your law firm.

Since SSL certificates are so common, not seeing them on a law firm’s website may turn clients away.

Schema markup

Schema markup is a special type of code added to the content on your law firm’s website. You can use it to properly define the content on your page to Google bots and searchers.

Schema can also make your pages in the search results more prominent. You will get the ability to add images, ratings, and other meta elements to your results. And since Schema is not common, it will help you capture the attention of searchers looking for an attorney to represent them in their next case.

Law firms have plenty of Schema options, including (but not limited to):

  • Opening hours, phone number, address, email
  • Price range
  • Awards

You, your webmaster, or your marketing agency can implement Schema with Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.

Meta tags

Finally, you should implement meta elements:

  • Meta descriptions
  • Meta tags
  • H1 and H2 headings

Technical optimization tools

EAT Score for Family Law Marketing

Law firms in particular have to pay special attention to Google’s EAT score.

EAT stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. It’s also known as page quality. This score is particularly important for legal, medical, and financial content (also known as Your-Money-Your-Life pages).

If your law firm’s website doesn’t demonstrate your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, you may not rank properly in the search engine results pages.

Expertise

The creator of the content should be an expert on the topic, and possess all the necessary credentials.

You can optimize by including author boxes with every blog post on your website. In it, state the credentials of the attorney who wrote the post.

If you use ghostwriters, then state the credentials of the attorney who reviewed the post for accuracy.

 Authority

The content creator should be viewed as an authority on the topic.

It helps if your family law firm is mentioned in the press, or if the attorneys who authored posts have a good digital reputation (website and press mentions, social mentions, awards, etc.).

You should also include biography pages on your website.

Make sure you showcase awards and credentials that your law firm and your attorneys received. 

Trustworthiness

Google is now monitoring social mentions. If your law firm has positive reviews across the internet, you will improve your trustworthiness score.

Similarly, if people are mentioning you in a positive context, your EAT score will improve.

Your website should be trustworthy as well. Implement SSL certificates and take all the necessary precautions to safeguard your website from hackers, DDoS attacks, and other security threats.

Local SEO

Finally, since you practice law in specific cities and states, you should focus on local SEO. It’s one of the best family law marketing strategies that will help you acquire clients fast. After all, Californians don’t go looking for lawyers in Alaska.

Create a Google My Business listing for your law firm

Google My Business (GMB) listings will help you improve your law firm’s visibility in search engines. It’s completely free, and very useful.

When you create your GMB listing, you should optimize it by:

  • Adding NAP (name, address, phone) information that is consistent with the information you provided on your website and other websites such as directories
  • Specifying your practice areas (don’t state your service as “law firm” – instead, focus on specific practice areas – “family law”)
  • Add high-quality images and videos
  • Select proper attributes
  • Encourage and respond to reviews

Share updates

Another extremely useful feature of GMB listings are updates.

When you post updates to your GMB listing, you get the ability to show people who search for your law firm special offers that also include contact CTA buttons:

  • Learn more
  • Buy
  • Sign up
  • Reserve
  • Get offer

You can add text, photos and videos to your updates.

In addition to offers, you should also share information about your law firm:

  • Blog post outtakes
  • Case studies
  • Awards

However, keep in mind that GMB updates disappear after a while, so make sure they are timely.

For example, if you are running a branded advertising campaign, it’s a good idea to share updates related to your ad during that time. Chances are, more people will search for your law firm during that time.

Google Maps

When you add a GMB listing for your law firm, you will eventually start to appear in map listings when people search for family law attorneys in their area.

As your law firm rises to prominence and your rankings improve, you will also compete for the Local 3-pack (the first three businesses that appear under the map when searchers search for attorneys in their areas).

The local 3-pack features reviews prominently in the listings, so make sure you’ve attracted positive reviews.

Your potential clients will also be directed to your website and your address, so the information stated on there should be consistent with the information you’ve stated everywhere else.

Local content

Finally, if you create local content on your website and/or post it to your GMB profile, you will get a significant rankings boost.

Since you are an attorney that operates in a specific area, you should make sure your content references that area. This can be achieved through blog posts answering queries related to a specific state.

You should also reference local cases and events.

If there have been a lot of divorce proceedings in your immediate area, why not reference it in a blog post?

Search engine optimization for law firms is as much about pleasing search engines as it is about pleasing your potential clients. Show them that you are an expert by creating and promoting valuable content, and improve your reputation by attracting backlinks from reputable websites.

Congratulations: you’ve just learned everything you need to know about SEO, one of the most cost-effective family law marketing strategies. And what you’ve learned will help with our next lesson…

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