Pop open your Internet Explorer, Firefox or the Google browser. Type in “ny personal injury attorney”. Why do certain law firms seem to always come up on Page 1 of Google?
The answer is SEO – Search Engine Optimization.
In a nutshell, SEO is tweaking your website so that Google (and subsequently all other search engines) will recognize and note your site more immediately than those of your competitors. Today’s Bulletin, the first in a two-part series, addresses maximizing your firm’s online visibility – through the use of keywords, copy, and keyword placement.
Know Your Market
Be keenly aware of your strongest area(s) of practice: personal injury, medical malpractice, wrongful death… By concentrating on your expertise, you will draw the clients best suited to your practice.
What search words are potential clients using to find a law firm to represent them?
This is the most important question you need to ask yourself, preferably, before your site is built. The quickest way to get the answer to this question – and in a manner designed to NOT re-invent the wheel, is very simple:
1. In Google, type in the keywords you think your potential clients might use to search for a law firm. (This will bring up the first page of Google results.)
2. Click through to any of the top named law firms.
3. At the top of your browser click the drop-down box, “View”. Next click “Source” (in other browsers like Firefox it might say “Page Source”).
4. What initially appears as gibberish to most people with hectic schedules is actually called “basic tags”. You’ll note the more web savvy sites intentionally including misspellings (atorney, attorny, laywer…) to ensure they capture as wide a portion of the searching public as possible.
Now that you know what the competition is doing – you also want to know the actual search terms that potential clients input. There are two simple ways to do this:
1. Wordtracker. There’s a free tool at wordtracker.com (register for free to access) that allows you to punch in specific words and get a run down of how many searches (in general terms) for these keywords have been performed in the prior 90 days. (IMPORTANT: Overture is a similar keyword tool owned by Yahoo. Overture has been disconnected and is no longer providing relevant info – but the site is still up and running. Overture may be on hiatus, nonetheless, its current functionality and information is out-dated.) This site also contains fee-based services/functions your firm may want to pursue.
2. Your Browser (equipped with Google Toolbar). Make sure your Google toolbar is installed on your Internet Explorer or Firefox Browser. When you type in different search terms it will offer suggestions (known as “Google Suggest) of what people are currently searching for. But even better, Firefox provides the number of searches performed in the last 90 days.
Adding Keywords to your Site
Now that you know the specific search criteria input by potential clients, DO NOT PUT THESE SAME WORDS ONTO THE CODE OF EVERY PAGE OF YOUR SITE. Make sure your web development department is aware of this. Google’s response to repetitive keyword code on every page of your site is to place your website at the bottom of the pile.
Instead, have your IT person:
- Group your Keywords in 3s. 3 words, or phrases (“personal injury lawyer, accident lawyer, personal injury firm New York”) …then rearrange these words/phrases on each page of your site so that the phrases/key words do not appear in the same order.
- Ensure that your keywords are in similarly coded pages that have visible text containing that keyword(s). (I.e. If you enter “personal injury” as a keyword for a page on your site that only refers to medical malpractice and does not, in any instance, mention personal injury, your website will result in the bottom pages of a Google search, not the top, as is your goal.)
- Name each page after the relevant page keywords. (E.g. TrueLaw.com/personalinjury.html.) This allows one to instantly monitor the site for consistency.
These above directions relate to hidden code. Next, we approach maximizing your keyword results.
Best and Strongest Foot Forward
Your main keywords and phrases should be in the first paragraph of your text, preferably in the first sentence. The most effective boost to your firm’s site regarding search rankings is to have your most important keyword in your main page’s heading and two other keywords in the immediately following paragraph.
This concludes Part I of our two part series in “Being Number One”. In the next Bulletin, we’ll explore PageRank, Backlinks, “White-hat/Black-hat” and a number of other tips that will put you on top of the search engine game.