Search Engine Optimization for Lawyers:
Your Guide to Law Firm SEO

Want your website to rank well in the Google search results? Read our guide to law firm SEO to find out how.

What Is SEO for Lawyers?

Search engine optimization, or SEO for lawyers, is the process of implementing digital marketing strategies to increase organic (not paid) traffic to your website. SEO tactics and techniques, such as keyword research and content optimization, provide the search engines with information your prospective clients are searching for in the format Google wants. This results in your site ranking higher in the search engine results. In the context of law firm marketing, search engine optimization, or SEO, helps bring qualified traffic to your website. Prospective clients who find your website on page one of their Google search results will often contact your firm in search of legal help.

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Implementing a successful law firm SEO strategy requires expertise and a commitment in time that attorneys rarely have. Additionally, trying to design an effective search engine optimization plan without an expert is much like trying to navigate a lawsuit without an attorney. You may achieve some favorable results, but your chances of success are much greater when you work with an experienced law firm SEO agency.

Founded, owned, and operated by an attorney, our SEO team understands the law, the online marketplace lawyers operate in, and what needs to be done to create an effective online presence. Our keyword research is heavily focused on the practice areas for which you want to rank, and our team specializes in identifying the questions that are most likely to be searched by your prospective clients.

How Lawyer SEO Works

Law firm SEO is built around an understanding of how Google ranks your site. On-page and off-page SEO strategies come together to provide a roadmap to guide Google’s algorithm from a query to your webpages. Targeted keyword use, content built with the reader in mind, and a well-curated web of links are just a few of the elements that help to serve this purpose.

How Search Engines Rank Your Site

Google ranks pages with a singular goal in mind: to provide users with the most relevant information based on their search query. To do this, Google has an algorithm that crawls the pages of your site and ranks them to a particular search query based on relevance and authority. Relevancy is analyzed based on how well it answers the user’s question. Authority is based on a variety of factors, including the quantity and quality of the links pointing to a site. Google values content that is more relevant to the query and has better quality links pointing to it.

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Law Firms Need Keyword Research that Targets Desired Practice Areas

To boost a page’s relevance, and therefore its ranking, our team researches the keyword terms and queries in your geography that are most relevant to your practice areas. Then, we create content using keyword terms and semantically-related language that are tied to those queries. Properly selected keyword terms serve as road signs to a search engine, allowing it to contextualize the content on your page and, subsequently, your website.

Featured Snippets

When Google identifies a page’s content as directly related to a search query, Google may create a featured snippet on the search engine results page (SERP). This feature appears in the organic section of the results page above position one as excerpts of text from a webpage’s content. This is commonly referred to as “position 0”. These highly desirable features often yield more clicks and higher website traffic.

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Local Ranking Factors for Law Firms

In addition to relevance and authority, Google’s search engines take additional factors into consideration for ranking local businesses. Specifically, your site will be analyzed based on its prominence and proximity to the person doing the search. Proximity, or distance, is determined by the address on your website, how geographically targeted your content is, and the address provided by your Google My Business listing. A user’s location data, or the location typed within the search query, is used to determine how close a user is to a business. All else being equal, a law firm closer to a searcher’s location will rank higher than those further away.

Prominence is similar to authority, and is based on how popular or identifiable a law firm is. Prominence is demonstrated to Google through a well-rounded web presence, including positive reviews, directory listings, and backlinks.

A Comprehensive Law Firm SEO Strategy

A strong web presence should focus on creating quality content, incorporating targeted keywords, be user-friendly, and demonstrate practice area knowledge and experience. Additionally, off-page SEO strategies, such as maintaining a web of diverse, high-quality backlinks, upholding a strong social media presence, and collecting client reviews and testimonials help build a well-rounded web presence.

On-Page SEO for Lawyers

On-page SEO consists of those elements of a website that improve its visibility to the search engines. These include content, title tags, speed enhancements, site architecture, and internal links. At Market JD, we use our understanding of the law firm marketplace, subject-matter knowledge, and technical on-page SEO tactics to optimize the following elements:

Title Tags That Guide Google to the Appropriate Pages

Search engines rely on title tags to discover what your page is about. While not visible on the page, title tags should be an accurate summary of the content on the page. Title tags also help guide users to the pages they want to click on in their organic search results. A properly formatted title tag for a law firm website can improve your click-through rate (CTR) by anywhere from 20-100%. It will tell Google what the page is about and often includes the law firm name.

Optimized Informational Content That Benefits Users

Your content’s uniqueness, value to readers, keyword placement, cohesiveness, and length will impact your ranking.

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Google also emphasizes the importance of helpful content. A well-written, comprehensive page that addresses users’ concerns and answers their questions provides more value to readers. Therefore, it should rank better than a more skeletal, less informative one.

Internal Links Between Pages to Guide Users to Additional Relevant Content

Internal links guide users to related pages within your site. This helps your readers navigate to pages that are most beneficial to them based on their search. Guiding clients to additional pages that may answer their questions keeps them on your website longer. The more time a client spends on your site, the more likely it is that they will contact your law firm for help. 

Google perceives pages with a lot of internal links as most important on the site. As such, the pages with the most internal links pointing to them should be the ones you want to rank the highest.

Off-Page SEO Strategies

Off-page optimization is building your website’s authority by getting links from other web pages in the web ecosystem.

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High Quality Backlinks from Relevant, Authoritative Sites

Gaining backlinks from relevant, respected sites to your law firm website helps demonstrate the authoritativeness of your site. A website with authoritative links is able to rank better in the search engines, as it is perceived as more trustworthy.

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How do I get backlinks to my law firm website?

Backlinks can be acquired through a variety of methods. The best links are those from reputable sites that occur organically, or without any direct effort of your own. However, it is difficult to earn these links and almost impossible to do it in scale.

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Create Link-Worthy Content

Attorneys (or their law firm marketing team), should focus on creating high-quality content that is useful or interesting, especially to a particular group of people. For example, writing a comprehensive post explaining the new OSHA standards regulating confined spaces may be of great interest to boiler-room operators. That resource, when promoted properly, has the potential to attract the attention (and backlinks) of websites that cater to those types of workers. Alternatively, law firms, or their marketing partners, can provide a how-to guide to a third-party website in the form of a guest post that contains a link to more content on the attorney’s website.

Links can also be self-made, through online directories, press releases, and relevant discussion forums.

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What influences the quality of a backlink?

When selecting collaborators to get backlinks through, it is important to consider what the collaborative site will contribute back to your law firm. Link equity, or the value and authority distributed from one page to another, can be determined by analyzing various factors. These include the topical relevance between the two pages, the trustworthiness of the collaborating website, how old the link is, the collaborating site’s popularity (site traffic) and authoritativeness, and the anchor text used to create the link.

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Client Reviews and Peer Ratings

Reputation is a factor when it comes to ranking in the SERP. Reputation management strategies include getting and responding to positive reviews on Google and social media. In addition, negative reviews should be avoided or minimized.

Ratings from peers can also contribute to a law firm’s reputation. Obtaining reviews and ratings on peer review websites can be a helpful element to round out a client’s perception of a law firm.

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Local Search: Optimizing Your Google Business Profile

Creating a highly-visible Google Business Profile with an abundance of positive reviews should drive traffic to your website and result in more qualified leads. The Local Pack (Map Pack) attracts a significant percentage of the traffic from consumers looking for a local attorney. In fact, a high percentage of our clients’ leads come from their visibility in the Map Packs. The ranking factors for the Map Pack are different from the paid and organic listings.

Your law firm’s proximity to the searcher plays a significant role in determining whether you appear in the search results. Ensuring that your firm’s name, address, and phone number are current and consistent on your website and Google Business Profile validates your location and increases your likelihood of getting found by those closest to your office.

In addition to notifying Google of where your law firm is located, your Google Business Profile provides users with engagement opportunities. Attorneys, or their reputation management firms, can respond to reviews left by clients on Google. Law firms can also make Google posts through GBP. Google posts provide law firms with a way to share updates and blog posts that link back to their firm’s site. This helps to establish local engagement, which in turn improves local rankings.

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Directory Listings on Trusted Client Resource Pages 

Legal directories are a resource through which clients can search for attorneys. Maintaining a listing in the essential directories for lawyers is a vital component of your law firm SEO campaign. Law firm directories don’t just connect you with users seeking legal advice. In addition to giving your potential clients another place to find you, legal directories often allow you to build a link back to your law firm website. This provides you with an additional relevant, high quality backlink, which helps boost your law firm’s authority and credibility as perceived by a search engine. As a result, the more backlinks you have from credible directories, the more your SERP rankings improve.

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What are the best law firm directories?

 We target those directories with significant traffic, relevant content, and trusted backlinks.

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Continuously Updated Social Media Accounts That Build Engagement

Social media provides a platform through which law firm content can be promoted. An audience engaged with your social media channels will likely build familiarity and trust in your brand, and ultimately driver them to your website when a need for a lawyer arises.


Approximately 45% of people surveyed said they evaluate professional service providers by using social media.


Roughly 55% of consumers who use videos to help them choose a lawyer say they view them on social media platforms.


Over 78% of millennials surveyed said they would be more likely to hire an attorney with a strong social presence.

Other Technical SEO Strategies for Law Firms

Though the technical components of a law firm SEO strategy are not visible to a searcher’s eye, search engines and bots pick up on these seemingly invisible pieces to the SEO puzzle, and as a result, are able to contextualize your site. If the backend of your law firm’s website is not optimized for the indexing by a search engine, your SEO efforts will be in vain. Search engines heavily rely on the guidance provided by back-end optimizations to comprehend your website’s content, and therefore its purpose. Without this knowledge, Google doesn’t know what search queries to relate your content to, or how to rank your site.

The most essential elements of technical law firm SEO include:

A mobile-friendly design.

More than half of Google searches are performed on mobile devices with smaller screens, such as iPhone or Android smartphones or tablets. A website that features touch-friendly elements provides mobile users with a more enjoyable user experience. A positive user experience is a major ranking factor for Google. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, users are less likely to interact and engage, and convert into new clients.

An XML sitemap and robots.txt

An XML sitemap provides Google and other search engines with a comprehensive list of the pages on your site. This helps them understand the structure of your website and index the pages more efficiently. Additionally, using a robots.txt file to instruct search engine crawlers which pages to index and which to exclude helps search engines determine the most important pages on your site, understand its context, and properly rank your pages.

Site speed.

To prioritize user experience, search engines take site speed into consideration when ranking your law firm’s website. Pages that load quickly provide users with a better experience, likely improving your ranking in Google. Compressing images, enabling browser caching, and choosing a reliable hosting provider will help enhance site speed and performance.

Consistent resolution of technical errors, crawl issues, and broken links within the site.

Broken links and technical errors present on the site don’t just impact user experience; search engines cannot crawl and properly rank a damaged web page. Inoperable pages tell the story of an outdated site, and an outdated site’s content may not be perceived by Google as helpful to users. Additionally, broken links prevent your site from taking advantage of the power of backlinks.

Keyword-focused image alt text.

Image alt text provides further context to search engines regarding the picture used and, subsequently, the content on the page. Embedding a focus keyword into an image’s alt text helps search engines determine how to index it, and what queries with which to associate the page. Alt text also helps screen-reading tools explain your site to people with visual impairments, which improves accessibility and user-friendliness.

Optimized URLs.

Google prefers URLs that are concise and direct. Taking a simplistic approach when designing a URL is best. The URL should include the protocol (HTTPS) and website domain at a minimum. The URL will end in the “slug.” The slug describes the content on the page in as few words as possible. This could be done using a keyword or a page’s title. This helps Google understand the subject of your webpage, and its relevance to a search query.

An SSL certificate.

A secure socket layer (SSL) certificate communicates the trustworthiness of your law firm’s website to visitors and crawlers. An SSL is an extra layer of security installed onto a website server, providing a protected connection between the server and the browser. This is represented by a small padlock icon displayed next to a URL. The presence of an SSL certificate increases a website’s ranking because it increases the trustworthiness of its pages.

Schema markup.

Schema markup helps a search engine determine how to interpret the content of a webpage. There is a standardized list of structured data types that primary search engines have collectively agreed to support. Associating this schema with the content of your law firm’s website helps improve your search engine rankings because it helps them understand what your content is and how it is helpful to users.

Accessibility features.

In 2006, websites began to be considered places of public accommodation. Just like physical business spaces, websites owe it to users with disabilities to create an accessible space. Incorporating an accessible design enhances user experience, which is a priority to search engines. Legible text, fast page load speeds, accessible forms, consistent navigation, explicit link text, proper color contrast, and sequential heading structure, all contribute to accessible web design. Properly executed SEO staples, such as alt text, help screen reader users navigate pages more effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions About Lawyer SEO


Why is SEO important for law firms?

SEO is essential for law firms as it improves online visibility, attracts potential clients, and boosts organic traffic to their websites. A well-optimized website with relevant keywords and quality content enhances credibility, increases the chances of appearing in search results, and ultimately helps law firms grow their client base.


Does SEO work for law firms?

Lawyer SEO uses a targeted approach to drive prospects searching for legal help to your website. This is done through on-page, off-page, and technical strategies that help search engines contextualize the content on your law firm’s website and connect your webpages to related search queries made by your future clients.


How long does it take for SEO to work?

Creating a website that establishes trust, provides useful information, and demonstrates subject matter proficiency takes time. Generally speaking, the more competitive a practice area is, the longer it will take to gain visibility and attract qualified traffic. It should be noted that even smaller firms can rank well in competitive markets if they are disciplined, obtain client reviews, and focus on attracting local clients.