The competition to win top slot on Google is tough for a solicitor. And it’s only getting tougher. A quick search of ‘family and divorce solicitor Bristol’ brings up 172,000 results.*Gulps* That’s a lot of solicitors. Using your social media channels effectively is a great way to become an authoritative figure in your industry, but there’s also a whole host of technical tips you can do to improve how optimised your website is. When Google sends a spider to crawl your site, you don’t want there to be any stumbling blocks or logistical issues. You want Google and its peers to easily read what you do and the services you provide, so it can offer your business as a result for someone’s problem that they’re searching for.
If your SEO agency are hesitant to help with any of these tips then why not try our 100% accurate flow chart to determine whether your agency are in fact cashing in on your ignorance and ripping you off.
1. Set up fee earners profiles
People build relationships with people - not businesses. If you’re asked by your friend Barry ‘Do you know of any family solicitors in Bristol?’ - you are more than likely to refer the specific person who helped you, NOT the business name itself.
Therefore it is important to make sure all of the fee earners within the business have an individual page set up as their profile. Make sure all of the information is clear - their name, the sector that they specialise in, their testimonials, and so on. By providing a simple form on the page with only the necessary information needed at the first hurdle, you are more likely to receive a higher conversion rate of enquiries.
2. Reviews are important
According to the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report - 83% of consumers trust recommendations from their peers over advertising. Unfortunately, fee earners very often forget to ask their clients to leave reviews. Encouraging your clients to leave honest reviews on Google gives your solicitors more credibility and trust. (If you haven’t set up your business on Google my Business then pause reading this and go add a listing here - pronto! This is how you become eligible to be listed in the map results at the top of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) - which is where you want your business to be.
3. Never overlook local SEO
Nailing your local SEO as a solicitor is a pretty big deal to help Google with any searches where geography is relevant. Whether this is ‘Divorce lawyers in Bristol’ or ‘Family solicitors near me’ you want to be ranking for these competitive phrases. We won’t go into too much detail as we’ve got a whole blog post here on dominating the local SEO scene. However it is a pretty crucial tip to ensure all of your information is marked up using a structured data format, such as schema markup.
Google may understand that ‘0117 327 0171’ is a phone number, but it doesn’t know that it is the office number for Noisy Little Monkey. We can help search engines like Google understand this important correlation for businesses by using structured data like Schema. This fancy code can be used on any HTML page that features business information. You can use Josh’s example from our Local SEO blog post, but as stated please paste as plain text - otherwise it will copy the styling across! As a law firm we recommend marking up your fee earners profile pages, location pages, services and any careers/vacancies you may have open.
Once all useful information that Google needs to know about your business has been formatted correctly, you can go ahead and use Google’s Structured Data Tester. Copy your URL into the tool and it’ll give you pointers on any errors you may have made.
4. Speed is key
In the words of Nichola Stott - fast is the only option, particularly when it comes to conversion. Speed has been a ranking factor for Google since 2010, so if your website loads slowly, you’re less likely to rank well in Google. Judging the speed by your watch isn’t good enough either - you can use a tool like Google PageSpeed Insights or WebPageTest to get hard data on how quickly you (and your competitor’s) websites load.
5. Optimise your website for mobile
A quick look at your Google Analytics will more than likely show that the majority of visits to your website come from a mobile device, especially for local businesses. Local searches like ‘Solicitors Bristol’ are more often than not done on mobile, so be sure to run your website through Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to make sure it is user-friendly for any visitors. The more user-friendly your website is for mobile the higher your conversion rate is going to be.
Google is one thing, but taking a critical human eye to the mobile experience offered by your website can also be invaluable in revealing friction in your website’s UX.
6. Have great content
Your business will benefit greatly from having a section for relevant local news, events and any charities you work with. This repetition of location will send Google a clear signal that you’re based in a specific area - which in turn will help with your rank for local search results.
It is also important to be writing content around specific questions based on your customers' pain points. We call this ‘long tail content’ and it can be found with a little bit of search term research. For example, if you specialise in Commercial Law - a great question to write blog content for would be ‘How enforceable is restrictive covenant?’. This is a question a potential customer would be searching for, and if Google feels that your content answers the question in the most simple way then it is more likely to show yours over the competition.
7. Plan a content calendar
It is important to write for topics that are seasonal. For example - divorce is most known to happen in January, agricultural disputes happen around Harvest in September and GDPR is set to take effect in May 2018. Plan your content based on what’s happening in your industry to show Google that you are a thought leader and have the answers to customers pain points.
8. Make the most of local directories
It’s important to make sure you’re on all local directories - Yelp, Thomson Local and Yell to name a few. Do a search of your industry and/or sector and see what local directories come up on the first page of search results and make sure you’re listed on them. It’s also important to ensure all of these listings are consistent with the same information. You may think that ‘Raleigh Rd’ and ‘Raleigh Road’ are the same thing, but it’s crucial to use the same across all listings.
9. Don’t use technical jargon language
It can become an easy habit to shorten certain technical terms down for ease, but you will struggle to rank for your industry if Google can’t understand your copy. For example, use ‘Dispute Resolution’ rather than ‘DR’ and ‘Agricultural Law’ rather than AG, as you want to be writing what your customers would be searching for. As Jon says in his vlog from Digital Gaggle ‘don’t slip into industry jargon or airy fairy language that really means nothing to anybody’.
10. Avoid broad terms
Make the user's journey as easy and accessible as possible by using specific terms for each sector of your industry. Don’t just have a page on Family Law that covers everything under the umbrella. Instead, section each sector off with its own page - divorce, probate etc.
11. Have a strong UX
This isn’t necessarily a SEO tip, but your user interface is very important. People tend to treat law sites like encyclopedias so it’s crucial that your website has strong, carefully thought-out user journeys. Start by dividing the entry page into three sectors of commercial, private and specialist, then segment every fee earner by their sector. That way the user can easily make their way around your website to find the information they need, without getting out of their depth and clicking off your site to find a solicitor that’s more user friendly.
Own these tips and you’ll be sure to start turning your website into a digital haven for success. If you need any more help then our handy guide is free to download! G’wan, don’t say we don’t treat you...