fbpx
Blog Development, Search Engine Marketing, SEO, The Path: Ebook

Building Your Law Firm’s SEO Plan

Building Your Law Firm's SEO Plan

The following is excerpts from our FREE ebook, The Path: A Step by Step Search Engine Marketing & SEO Guide Book for Law Firms

The Path SEO Guide Book

This Discussion Alone is Worth Over $3,000!

In this section, we are going to go through all the elements of a strategic SEO plan. The plan we detail will target all three components we covered in What is SEO – Content, Community, & Website Optimization.

About Anytime Law

Ok, Anytown Law doesn’t exist. At least the fictional law firm we are building this strategic plan around. However, the data in this report is pulled from several firms, which will remain anonymous. The goal is to walk you through creating your own strategic plan and, more importantly, your own ACTION plan.

Keyword Analysis & Methodology

The reason we are looking into a keyword exploration is to help provide a roadmap for future website SEO focus. The keyword analysis and planning will drive link outreach and internal blog hierarchy.

To determine our best set of focus keywords, we looked at the existing website: AnytownLaw.com.  We also looked at other websites that rank well in the Spokane & North Idaho Market for generic terms related to Anytown Law’s core business. Namely: ERISA – Long Term Disability Law.  

We looked at three local firms and two agencies that have a local presence but also rank exceptionally well nationally. In looking at these companies, we focused on determining their keyword profiles.  We also wanted to discover their incoming links to their websites. Comparing and contrasting keyword profiles gave us a seed list of terms they have focused on (intentionally or otherwise).   Looking at incoming links gave us an idea of where we should focus on website outreach in Stage 2.  

Once we had a list of keyword and key-phrase combinations, we sought to turn the list into an actionable plan. The original keyword profile for all five websites is about 500 words, many of them not related directly or tangentially to your core business. Since each one of the firms we looked at has a different profile of services, this was expected. 

The next step was to manually reduce the list to terms and phrases that reflect the core business of Anytown Law. By doing this, we were able to develop a list of ~140 words and phrases to act as our first filter for our seed list. 

Once we had a seed list of terms, we went through each keyword/phrase individually and looked at related terms that might not have made our list. We were able to increase the number of terms related to our goals and start applying filters.  

Since our seed list started at about 140 terms, our related terms search resulted in a somewhat bigger list of keywords and combinations. It was at this point that we implemented our first filter.  We wanted all the terms and phrases that had a minimum search volume of 200 users per month.  If any lesser performing terms were particularly poignant, or provocative in some way, we added them to our filtered list as well. 

This process helped us get our final keyword list to 99 keywords/phrases.  

Note, there are many terms related to Anytown Law’s business that simply does not have a lot of search volume.   While at first glance, it seems like a big hole to omit seemingly obvious terms/phrases,  the goal is improved and focused traffic. The value-work ratio to get noticeable traffic from those terms is not reasonable for the foreseeable future.  

Once we had a keyword/phrase list of 99 well-performing keywords (200 searches + per month), we wanted to set up a defendable way to sort, analyze, and turn the list into an actionable plan. To do this, we looked at search volume, factored in the difficulty of each term for first-page ranking, and utilized the click per search impression ration for that term. 

This analysis gave us the three factors we used in creating the final list shown in this report.  We label this final formula the Adjusted CVC Rating (ACVCR), and it is our key metric for determining the order of importance in our analysis. The ACVCR gives the ability to compare all the factors against each other consistently. For instance, if Keyword(1) has 2,000 impressions per month but only takes two links to reach the first page of Google, then it will score much higher in the ACVCR than Keyword(2).  Even though Keyword(2) has 5000 impressions per month, it would require ~12+ high-quality links (and excellent content) to reach the first page.  

There is one other factor weighted in the final score of the ACVCR, the click rate per impression. This measure is perhaps the last critical filter and helps us continue to whittle our screened list of 99 keywords and phrases down to ~40 or so keywords. Some keywords and phrases look as if they would be excellent to focus on initially; they have high search volume #’s and low difficulty for first page listings. However, looking deeper into the data shows that the search terms themselves result in variable click rates. We do not just want items showing up more in search; we want to focus on phrases that get clicked on too.  

Creating a List of Keywords

We prefer to use AHREF’s for keyword research; however, it is not the only tool available. Here is a wonderful article that breaks down alternative tools (free and paid), including the following: 

  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Google Trends
  • Keyword Tool.io
  • Term Explorer
  • Moz’s Keyword Difficulty Tool
  • SEMRush
  • Ahrefs
  • Accuranker
  • HubSpot’s Content Strategy Tool: https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/22842/4-helpful-tools-for-identifying-the-right-keywords.aspx

Using these tools (AHREFS), we found the following for one of the firms (duplicate this process for others).  

As you can see, there is a clear approach to at least some SEO development. Organic traffic is increasing. The keyword strategy is…existent, though not a core focus. Also, it appears that the firm pays ~$850 in ad spend per month on search engines. We can also see they have about 700 keywords.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, many of the keywords for this site are either related to a part of the business not associated with Long Term Disability, or they are otherwise extemporaneous. You’ll want to export the bulk list to a file format you can more easily work with. Excel, for instance.  

In the appendix materials, we are including the exported keywords for this particular research.  

File: Keywords_Unfiltered.xlsx (Download Ebook for Materials)

In this file, we placed the raw (unfiltered) keywords for all the comparison firms. In the first tab are the keywords broken down by the firm, and the second tab is all the keywords in a list. From here, we need to select the keywords that best match the goals/business of Anytown Law. You’ll end up with a list that looks similar to the list in the file: 

File: Keywords_Filtered.xlsx (Download Ebook for Materials)

Now we’re down to about 120 focused keywords. The keywords are at least related to the area that Anytown Law represents. From here, we need to look deeper at the keywords and see which ones are high value, low competition. Essentially, we’re looking to get the best bang for our efforts. In the methodology above, we call this the ACVCR score.  

File: Keywords_ACVCR Final List.xlsx (Download Ebook for Materials)

In the third file, we have a calculator for calculating an ACVCR score. 

There are three key calculated metrics.  First is the “Build Links From” calculation. This metric takes the “difficulty” score from each keyword/key-phrase. It assumes how many quality links it will take to be competitive for the front page. By links, we’re tipping our hat that these keywords will become the core component of the developing content strategy.  

Second is the “Rating” calculation. This metric assumes a difficulty of 1 is 10x more preferable than a difficulty of 10. 1 link being easier to build than 10, for example. With this assumption, we aim to figure out what the preferable keywords by volume are when compared to the difficulty. The calculation is (Volume*(10/Difficulty)).  

The third is the ACVCR calculation. This metric closely follows the rating metric and also takes into account the actual estimated traffic for the keyword/phrase. If you notice, the order from best to worst score between rating and ACVCR closely track. The calculation is ((Clicks*Rating)/Volume)). 

Note: If you want to be fancy and are good at math, you might notice that you can get to the ACVCR by removing several steps and calculating (Clicks*10/Difficulty). However, you lose some context that can help you further refine your list of keywords/phrases along the way. 

Our final list of keywords and phrases after being paired down is now ~31 with a Links to Front Page count of 189.  

Using Keywords to Build out Blog/Content Plan

Our next step is to start building those links. To do that in the most fundamentally sound and permanent way, we are going to develop good content that answers questions or addresses topics, including those keywords in a natural way. (no keyword stuffing or awkwardness here). 

File: Keywords_Articles-Content (Download Ebook for Materials)

We/You’re going to take a while to get through this next step. Your task now; take the keywords & phrases you have and brainstorm article/blog/page titles for the keyword * the “Build Links From” number. 

If you find yourself running out of ideas, take a break, or simply put as many naturally sounding titles together as you can. You can review the file above (02-03), to get an idea of what your goal should be at this step.  

Once you have those articles, you can choose to populate the strategic plan with your data in the “KEYWORDS & PHRASES” section or keep the list to the side. You’re going to come back to it in a moment, regardless.  

In the second tab of the file, we’ve included a =rand() calculation. Every-time you hit {Enter} on your keyboard, the number to the right of the articles will generate a new random number. In this way, you can filter by lowest to highest and get a random order of articles to build into your plan. To see an example of a randomized order, look to the Sample Strategic Plan, Page 45. The proposed blog order is randomized. Randomization isn’t necessary; it is a stylistic choice for how you want to build out your content, and when.  

Backlink Plan Fundamentals

One of the most important things that can be done to improve a website’s search engine exposure is focusing on ensuring the website marketing focuses on building backlinks.  

Focusing on backlinks is both a big challenge for SEO and a high reward activity if done correctly. There is some caution that needs to be advised on this path, however. Not all backlinks are created equal.  

In SEO terms, the path to SEO is split into three categories: White Hat, Grey Hat, and Black Hat. We will cover all three below. However, for the sake of this plan and our work, we only focus on White Hat efforts, especially regarding link-building activities. Why? These are reputable, effective, and in the end – the longest lasting of all the efforts. 

White Hat

White Hat SEO is about building high quality and long-lasting website optimizations and relationships through ethical and responsible efforts.  For instance, writing things that help people find answers to questions related to a given niche is a white hat effort. There’s no trickery involved, just a lot of sweat equity and deep & effective analysis. The goal of White Hat efforts is to make a website more dynamic and relevant to a given core demographic. White Hat promotes natural growth of website traffic and is the most sustainable approach for long term success.

White Hat efforts may include making a site easier for search engines to understand, building backlinks with tangentially related content, and guest posting and exchanging ideas with other content creators and thought leaders.

Grey Hat

Grey Hat SEO is questionably ethical but not illegal. Regardless the value might appear significant upfront but is temporary in nature. These methods of SEO development often include items likely to be seen as non-beneficial in future search engine algorithm updates.  

Examples of Grey Hat SEO: Spun content – using a program to write articles that are grammatically incorrect to natural readers, but seem genuine to a computer program (gaming the content creation strategy). And, of course, paying for reviews or low-quality traffic.

Black Hat

Avoid Black Hat SEO. At best, it is ethically dubious; at worst, it is illegal.  

Examples of Black Hat SEO: Redirects for traffic manipulation, Duplicating pages & content across pages/networks, Blog Comments Spinning/spam, Writing negative reviews of competitors, Creating private blog networks (registering many of URLs that have minimal content and all refer back to your page). 

Building Your Backlink Plan

Our goal with the backlink plan is two-fold. First, find all useful backlinks of Anytown Law’s competition and make sure that Anytown Law is listed there as well. This can be citations, comment links, directory listings, blog compilers, letters to the editor, or really anything else. Second, while the majority of these links will be low effort, low return links, they give you a sense of the work that the other firm’s SEO team has been doing.  

In some cases, you’ll come across pay-to-list your articles listings, and in other cases, you’ll see a firm heavily invested in AVVO or other similar platforms. It’s up to you how much you want to engage those pay-to-play services. You certainly do not need to in order to see benefit from this plan, however. For instance, we’ve built many law firms’ search profiles without paying for a single listing.  

Similar to how we used AHREF’s to identify keywords, we can use AHREF’s or another one of the tools listed earlier, to determine the backlinks for competitors’ websites.

In the following file, we share an example of how to organize the backlink data and filter it out for junk backlinks, including Pro Blog Networks (PBN- Black-hat), redirects, dead-links, and other useless links.  

File: Keywords_Articles-Content (Download Ebook for Materials)

Once you have a filtered list of backlinks, now you can start creating lists of what to tackle, such as listed on pages 54-59 of the Strategic SEO Plan. Again, like the content Blog Plan – we’ll come back to these lists, so hold on to them.  

Website Optimizations

For this portion of your Strategic Plan, we’re going to point you to one of the best tools you can use for SEO – Screaming Frog. The best part about this tool, the free version is useful, functional, and all you need for this plan. We’ll cover using this tool in a video for this lesson. But, if you cross-reference the results you get with scanning your current website in Screaming Frog with the sample strategic plan, you should be able to build a list of “to-do” items.  

How you need to accomplish those items depends on how your website is built. We’re more than happy to consult with you regarding this. Here is some useful information regarding what you need to look for and fix. 

WWW Redirect

Your website should be able to be reached via both “www” and naked URLs. This effort should be accomplished via redirect rather than duplicating content on two separate web pages. You’ll be able to tell within the Screaming Frog dialogue whether there are portions of your website that have URL errors (including backlink errors). 

URL Rewrite

Your website’s URLs should not contain vague elements that will make them difficult to read. All URLs should be clean and clear for users. With SEO Friendly URLs, it is easy to rank your website in search engines and share different articles with clear URLs in social media. Don’t use underscores in your URLs.

Robots.txt

This file helps to restrict access for the selected search engine robots and prevent them from indexing specific pages or the whole of the website. Robots.txt file contains the link to the XML sitemap file that helps search engine crawlers to discover and index the maximum number of the website’s pages.

More Information: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6062608?hl=en

XML Sitemap

An XML sitemap will help search engines crawl your website. It will also make it easier for search engines to figure out (quickly) if there is new material they need to index. An XML sitemap is essential for a dynamic and growing website, such as one that adds new content and articles regularly. 

More Information: https://seranking.com/blog/the-importance-of-xml-sitemap-do-you-need-to-generate-and-submit-it/

HTTPS / SSL

Setting your website up for https is an important future-proofing action. Fundamentally, https is a security protocol designed to help ensure that someone interacting with the content of your website is not being eavesdropped upon by someone. It is crucial for websites that take personal or financial Information (transactions, bill presentation, even contact form info). Https is also being required to avoid pop-up “non-secure” notifications within newer browsers.  

More Information: https://seranking.com/blog/the-importance-of-xml-sitemap-do-you-need-to-generate-and-submit-it/

Content Analysis

Unique content plays a vital role in search engine results. Your website structure should include HTML headings (h1-h6). Try to use relevant keywords in titles. The tag H1 must have the most relevant keywords. Don’t use duplicate content for heading tags. Write unique content, no duplicate, or rewritten content. Keep content with 400 words and more.

In addition to the formatting, the way in which the content of the site connects internally and externally is important to assess and revise as necessary. This effort can be as simple as making sure all the outbound and internal links are connected to websites and pages that still exist. The risk in not doing this is in having content that might be compelling and engaging, but not ranked as well as it could be because it is full of broken links. A plethora of broken links could signal to search engine algorithms that content is out of date or not well maintained.  

Lastly, every piece of media on a website is a searchable piece of content. Regarding SEO, this means it is vital to add descriptions, titles, and alt tags for all media on a website. All media needs to be treated (from an SEO perspective) the same as a web page on the website and optimized for search. Scheduling Work

Want to Know More About Driving Traffic to your Legal Website?

Reach out to us today.  We build and manage custom marketing plans for law firms across the US!

Contact Us

The Path: A Step-by-Step Search Engine Marketing & SEO Guide Book for Law Firms

E-book & Custom SEO Strategy Tools
Download & Receive
FREE: Keyword & Key Phrase Analysis Tools

FREE: Article & Backlink Building Tool

FREE: Strategic Planning Tool

FREE: Sample Strategic SEO & SEM Plan
GET YOUR COPY RIGHT NOW!
The Path SEO Guide Book
close-link
Contact Us Today!
close slider