Local SEO for lawyers is all about geographic relevancy (city, state, county, etc) as well as keyword relevancy (practice area, type of lawyer, legal service, etc.) Making a website relevant on these two factors is not rocket science. In fact, all it takes is the proper balance of keyword inclusion throughout the content, and right link building techniques.
Many attorneys take pride in the their content and ability to convey ideas through words. As a result, many of them take the task of SEO copywriting into their own hands.
In part II of Local SEO for Lawyers, we will focus more on the link building aspects of a website, but for now, the on-site content is the primary focus.
Once a lawyer has determined the geographic target (e.g. Chicago, IL) and the keyword target of the site (e.g. Business Lawyer,) the task of copywriting begins. The first and perhaps most important rule is to optimize a webpage only for one or maybe two closely related keywords. For instances, one page might be optimized for "Chicago Business Lawyer/Law Firm" and another page "Chicago Employment Lawyer/Law Firm." The main idea is having focused, dedicated pages.
In addition to having keyword focused pages, each page must contain the SEO-targeted keywords, and in the right areas throughout the page. There are several on-page (visible to the user) and off-page elements (visible in code and search results) that search engine take into consideration. We will discuss each below.
URL Name: URL naming is huge factor to any local SEO strategy. Typically the more inclusion of keywords in a URL, the better. A good URL name for latter example would be something like “/Chicago-business-lawyers.html.” Just remember to keep your URL’s short and tight, and never keyword stuff URL’s (e.g. “/Chicago-business-commercial-attorneys-lawyers-law-firms-chicagoo-illinois-il.html”.)
Page Title: As perhaps the most important element in the SEO process, the page title should always include the targeted keywords of the page, and in exact phrase match. The page title is also the main link or headline for the pages listing in the search results. Most search engines only display 72 characters of the page title in the results page.
Meta Description: Also shown in the webpage's listing of the search results (just below the title) is the meta description. For local SEO optimization practices, include the keyword target in exact phrase match at least once, and perhaps a variation later in the description (e.g. flip the keyword from "lawyer" to the "law firm" variation.) Most search engines only display 160 characters of the meta description in the results page.
Meta Keywords: It's argued that meta keywords have no role for local SEO, but some professionals still include them. Matt Cutts of Google has stated and posted so on his blog, but some SEO's believe the more keywords included in a page, the better.
Image Alt Tags: Search engine spiders cannot crawl and place local SEO value on images. That is why there is image "alt tags" that serve as alternative text for users who cannot view the images. Here is another opportunity to include keywords in the page. However for best practices, ensure your copy is relevant to the image and do not keyword stuff - include with cohesion and moderation.
In addition to the off-page elements, there are a few on-page elements that should be clearly stated and aligned. Alignment is key, meaning the keyword inclusion of the off-page elements must directly coincide the on-page SEO elements. Also important is having a fair amount of content, such as at least 100 words of relevant copy.
Headers: H1's are one the strongest on page elements and should reflect the off-page title. Keyword inclusion in the first H1 is important, and variations should be strategically used in H2's and H3's down the page.
Body Copy: It doesn't hurt to include the exact phrase match of your keywords early in the body copy (the first couple sentences is ideal.) Use variations throughout the content, but in logical manner. If you're struggling for copywriting ideas, don't get too overwhelmed. Try something subtle like "As Chicago business lawyers with experience serving local companies, we..."
Strong Tags: Strong tagged copy is bolded in the text. Strong tag exact phrase keywords to help make the page more relevant on targeted phrases for local SEO.
Both the on and off-page elements of a webpage are significant for local SEO, and both must be aligned and parallel. The trick to being a good SEO copywriter is respecting both the user and the search engine spider while constructing optimized content.
One last point: legal professionals are good writers, but many of them like to write thoroughly. That can mean long, drawn-out sentences that are not friendly for web users. Keep sentences easy to read and understand, and always remember the true target audience of your message.
Keep reading the Law Firm Web Marketing blog for Local SEO for Lawyers part II.
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