Personal Injury Lawyer SEO is an engaging topic. Mostly because the search engine results page is extremely competitive for personal injury lawyers. Successful firms are flush with cash and capable of deploying heavy content strategies. This makes it tough on sole practitioners or bootstrapped firms.
If you decide to compete and win, the reward is an ongoing stream of inbound calls that will result in new cases. This is the ultimate scenario, and yes, it is obtainable.
It takes more than a budget, determination, and patience to reach the first page, though. You will need to be armed with accurate knowledge to execute or oversee a best-in-class SEO plan.
I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear the SEO industry is rife with misinformation, exaggerating sales reps, and flat out dishonest industry professionals. In fact, if you’re reading this, I am willing to wager you’ve worked with a digital marketing professional that oversold their company’s capabilities.
Am I right?
You’ve probably sat through phone calls, webinars, screen shares, face-to-face presentations, and taken a few chances. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It means you care about your firm and you’re committed to its growth.
If you read this to the end, I promise you will have the roadmap to a successful Personal Injury SEO campaign. Implementing this plan could result in regular cases from organic traffic. If you decide to implement these tactics on your own, it will most likely take more reading and studying. If you decide to outsource, you will be much better prepared to interview an SEO company and manage them properly each month.
Organic Lead Statistics | The Proof it’s Worthwhile
Here are a few pieces of data from Search Engine Journal that illustrate the value of SEO:
- 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine
- 70% of the links search users click on, are organic
- 80% of search engine users say they occasionally/rarely/never click on the sponsored search results
- 75% of users never scroll past the first page
The facts are irrefutable: ranking organically is one of the best things you can do for your law firm and it just happens to be very timely. Social media traffic has massively declined since 2015 and Google is now driving twice as much traffic to publishers.
It’s possible that your site will need to be redone or, at the bare minimum, receive a makeover. A good site on a strong content management system is a prerequisite to rolling out SEO. I’m hoping this only applies to the minority of people reading this post. If you have a really old HTML site built in DreamWeaver or the like, it’s time to bite the bullet and launch a new website.
About 39% of sites on the internet are built in WordPress. This open source content management system is stable, well respected, flexible, fast, and mobile responsive, and there is an endless talent pool that can develop WordPress sites. If you’re long overdue, outsource to a strong yet affordable WordPress shop and get a new and modern site built.
It’s unlikely your practice area pages are structured in an ideal format. But, I’ll cover that in the section of this article.
SEO is broken up into different disciplines. I’m now going to cover each discipline as it relates to personal injury law. The content in this post can and should be converted into an SEO project plan with actionable task items for your firm.
Proprietary Content Management Systems and Ownership
Many firms are using FindLaw, Justia or other companies with their own content management systems. While some of these big players are migrating to WordPress, the culture of owning the digital assets of their law firm clients is deeply entrenched in their DNA.
I highly discourage using any proprietary content management system.
Additionally, you will want to make sure the ownership structure is properly configured. You should have full admin rights to your site, host, domain, Google Tag Manager, Google My Business and Google Analytics account. Any other setup is an infringement on your valuable assets and should not be tolerated.
Google is regularly updating their algorithm to provide a better experience for users. In 2014, the Pigeon update for the first time placed an importance on local search. Then again in 2016, Google made local more of a priority with an algorithm update referred to as Possum.
Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is the cornerstone to local SEO and houses the data that displays on Google Maps and the Local 3-Pack. Setting up your GMB account is easy, and you can start your account here.
Simply create an account and add your business’s details like category, address, phone number, URL, hours of operation, pictures, and business description. From there, Google will send you a postcard with a 4-digit PIN in the mail. After receiving the PIN, log back in and enter the 4-digits to verify your listing.
Of course, you can manage messages from prospects, do reviews, analyze statistics, and add users. But, the most important task is to ensure you’ve listed your business with 100% accuracy.
If you have changed phone numbers, moved, or shutdown old locations, it’s imperative to update your info through Google My Business.
Your business listed on a directory is referred to as a citation. Google looks for consistency in name, address, and phone number (also referred to as NAP). There are a number of ways to add your site to directories:
- Automated Tool
You can leverage tools like Yext, Moz Local,or Synup to send your business info across 50+ directories at once. This is the easiest and smoothest way to get your site listed. All three will allow you to enter the information once and manage listings from a single sign-on dashboard. If some of your business info changes, it’s very easy to login with one password and make a change. All three are good. Our preference at Rocket Pilots is Synup.
This is not quite as straightforward as it sounds. It tempts some business owners because it’s free, but I’ll warn you that all the directories that count have an integration with companies like the ones mentioned above and many of them push products like Yext.
This means it’s sometimes difficult and frustrating to find where to manually submit your site. They all have some sort of verification process, and they do not always email the verification PIN the same day. If you go this route, be prepared to keep the process extremely organized.
Remember: if something changes in your business, you will have to make the change on each directory by hand.
Whitespark is similar to the previously mentioned tools but also has a Citation Finder. The tool finds citations based on what Geo and Keyword you enter. This is perfect for finding local directories and directories specific to personal injury law. There is a good chance your competitors did not go through the trouble, so this is a great way to get a leg up on the competition.
I’m going to start this section by addressing how your site is structured. A lot of On Page SEO has to do with how your site’s content is siloed.
From my experience, most personal injury lawyers did not consider SEO when their site was being built. Or the site was built by a developer who did not have the foresight to consider SEO and paid traffic campaigns.
It’s too bad that web development and SEOs are not collaborating more often on new site builds. The team effort would save the site owner money and time, and skip some of the technical and on-page SEO efforts.
I understand that every personal injury law firm is a little different in regards to practice areas. For this post, I am going to use five common practice areas to show you how to structure your menu navigation and individual pages.
First of all, whatever you do, do not cram all of your services into one page. I have seen personal injury lawyers with one page that says “Practice Areas” with a paragraph or two about ten different services. This is not only a bad user experience, but the page will never rank in the search engines.
In your menu navigation you will want an option that says “Practice Areas.” Under Practice Areas, there should be a submenu with options to select one of the following pages:
- Car Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Dog Bites
- Medical Malpractice
- Product Liability
Before we dive into the individual pages, I want to cover a little more on the homepage. It is also a great idea to have a small section for each practice area on the homepage with a link to the individual page. This is not only good for user navigation but also for search engine spiders to better understand how your site is structured.
Optimizing Individual Pages
The core premise of on-page SEO is to create consistency between your URL, page title, title tag, meta description, and H1 tag.
Below is an example for the Car Accident page. I picked a keyword, but in reality you will have to do keyword research about your local market and make decisions accordingly. If you’re in a big, competitive city, you will want to compare core keywords against keywords with Geo Modifiers included. (e.g., car accident lawyer vs. Chicago car accident lawyer. The former will likely have a higher search volume and a higher keyword difficulty score. The latter will have less monthly search volume but will be easier to rank for.)
For keyword research, I like Google’s Keyword Planner and ahrefs.
Car Accident Ideal On-Page SEO
Focus Keyword: Car Accident Lawyer
Title Tag Structure: Keyword | Compelling Copy | Firm Name (50-60 characters)
Title Tag: Car Accident Lawyer | Chicago Auto Accident Law Firm | Smith & Smith
Meta Description Structure: Compelling copy designed to entice users to click your organic listing with a call to action near the end. Character count should be between 300 and 320.
Meta Description: Were you seriously injured in a car accident caused by somebody else? You deserve compensation for your injuries. The car accident lawyers at Smith & Smith will fight for the money you deserve. If we don’t win your case, you don’t pay a dime. Contact us today for a free consultation with a friendly attorney.
Copy: The copy on your page should be at least 400 words and use the focus keyword in the first sentence of the first paragraph. Make sure the copy is well written, informative, showcases your firm’s expertise, and has a call to action at the end.
H1 Tag: Your focus keyword should be wrapped in an H1 tag. Make sure your page does not have multiple H1 tags. This is a very common mistake and some WordPress themes will create “hidden H1 tags.”
I recommend the SEO Quake chrome extension as a way to quickly audit the on-page SEO of a page. Simply bring up a page, click extension, click the “Diagnosis” tab, and look for errors that need to be fixed.
H2 Tags: You can also use the keyword in an H2 tag if it naturally fits. Don’t try to force a subheading with the keyword if the language does not sound natural.
Internal Links: You can include a few internal links on this page. A link to your recent settlements, testimonials, or a contact page would make sense. This will help with the user experience and again help search engines better understand your site’s structure.
Multimedia: If you use pictures on your page, make sure to add Alt tags to each picture. One of the pictures should be relevant to the focus keyword and use the focus keyword as an Alt tag. If you use video, make sure the video is short and hosted on YouTube or Vimeo for purposes of speed.
Okay, you just learned how to properly optimize a practice area page. I thought I’d provide the example prior to addressing the importance of strategy and planning.
Before you embark on your SEO journey, you will want to map out the keywords you want to rank for and assign them to a specific page. During this exercise you will definitely come to learn that there are phrases you want to rank for but no current page addressing this keyword. These keywords will fall into one of three categories:
- The keyword is vital and you simply need a practice area page. For example, maybe you want to rank for “Uber car accident lawyer.” You need a new page specifically addressing “Uber” accidents.
- The keyword is important but not appropriate for a practice area page. This sounds like a great keyword to save for a future blog post. For example, “texting and driving statistics.”
- The last category are keywords that are very long and simply lower priorities. Sprinkle these keywords throughout blog posts that have a similar focus keyword with more traffic. These phrases will be classified as “LSI keywords.”
Content, Content, Content
“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”
That quote is from the Bill Gates’s article titled “Content is King” written in 1996.
I can’t explain how Mr. Gates saw so clearly into the future. He was spot on. I have spoken with dozens of personal injury law firms across the US. I am always shocked with how many of them say, “I’m already doing SEO.” Then I check out the firm’s blog and the last posting was three years ago and 250 words. Not exactly link bait.
If you are not producing content, I highly encourage you to take action… TODAY. You are falling behind your competitors. If you wait too long, you may fall too far back to catch up and the first page of Google will start to resemble a pipe dream.
If you’re frustrated with everything you have to do to compete, don’t be. Truly ambitious people will always be the minority. Just remember, a lot of your competitors are probably lazy, not knowledgeable in SEO, misinformed, or under-resourced. I love that content is a requirement because I know if I put the work into creating long articles like this one, the search engines will reward me and I’ll keep flying by my competitors.
Okay, without further ado, here is your succinct step-by-step plan for producing content. For a more comprehensive guide, check out my post on Content Marketing for Lawyers.
- Create an editorial calendar. This is a calendar of blog postings you’re going to write or have professionally produced. Each piece should have a unique keyword that does not conflict with focus keywords for your homepage or practice area pages. Include production and posting dates and hold yourself accountable to those dates.
- Write the content or source an SEO copywriter. Target around 2,000 to 2,500 words per blog.
- Upload the blogs and optimize them with all the best on-page SEO best practices.
- Share them on social media. If your budget permits, boost your posting on Facebook.
- Email the blog to your list of subscribers.
Another necessity will be Link Building. Content and backlinks are two of the three top ranking signals so your time is well spent on these initiatives.
The link in the previous paragraph is a backlink for Search Engine Land. That is considered a natural link because they did not request it from me. They simply created a high quality, relevant piece of content and they were rewarded with a backlink. It will help their rankings and help me educate my readership.
If you create extremely high quality content that addresses commonly asked questions, you too will earn natural backlinks.
For links that are not natural, you will have to put in the work and acquire them through outreach. We call this custom blogger outreach. This is the practice of putting together a database of link prospects, creating email pitch templates, and emailing site owners/publishers requesting a backlink.
Here is an example of email outreach:
I have been reading your legal blog for months, and I’ve really been enjoying the content.
I noticed last Friday’s topic covered texting and driving.
In the third paragraph, you mention “texting and driving statistics are astounding.” I recently created a 2,000-word posting dedicated to texting and driving stats.
I thought my article would enhance your posting and improve the experience for your readers.
Let me know if you would like to collaborate on a piece in the future.
Personal Injury Attorney
You will have to do this process at scale and make sure to target websites with a good Domain Authority.
For a more comprehensive guide, check out my posting on Link Building & Link Prospecting Strategies.
SEO for personal injury lawyers will take a substantial effort, but the juice will definitely be worth the squeeze. When the phone rings on a regular basis with calls from injured victims, your cost-per-acquired-case will materially decrease, revenue will increase, and new case flow will become more predictable.
Cases from organic traffic also provide the opportunity to improve your reputation online. These clients are internet users and are probably familiar with leaving reviews on Yelp, Avvo, and Google. Create a process where you tastefully ask for a review after settling their case. This will convince clients to choose your firm when doing online research and help you stand out on the search engine results page. When someone Googles your brand, a snippet appears showing the number of reviews your firm has and a star rating.
Whatever you do, don’t let the amount of time it will take to rank your site discourage you. I have seen business owners continue to justify not investing in SEO because “it will take too long.” Then, guess what, a year passes and they are still dumping money into paid advertising and their site is on page 50. Unless you are barely scraping by or are about to retire, investing in SEO is an absolute necessity.
Keep up your paid advertising efforts or whatever is working to bring cases in each month. Roll out a strong SEO plan loaded with quality content, be patient, and over time the search engines will reward you!
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Feel free to leave comments below, and good luck on your SEO for your personal injury law firm!
You can also contact me directly for a free consultation, I have helped many Law Firms grow their practice through SEO efforts. I would be happy to craft a custom plan tailored to your firm’s needs, and help in bring in more cases.