Family law is different from other practice areas in the legal profession. Not only do emotions run high when subjects like divorce and children come up, family law is often a much longer process than other legal proceedings. As a result, family law firm marketing should be approached a little differently.
There's no question about it--most people turn to the Internet. Not only can divorce and family law involve very personal issues--those people may not want to share with family or friends--it can be a long process, much longer than certain facets of criminal law, for example. Divorce and child custody cases can stretch out for months or even years, giving potential clients plenty of time to visit websites, read blog posts and read online reviews. As a result, family law marketing presents its own unique set of challenges. It can necessitate a more creative marketing strategy, though the fundamentals of search engine optimization still apply.
A family law firm wants to appear at or near the top of the search engine results page, preferably in the top three local results. The firm wants to generate organic leads and turn those leads into clients, the same as any other business. And like any other business, it can do this partly through a website that ranks well in Google, partly through stellar and unique content on that site and partly through an effective marketing campaign tailored to the needs of the family law firm.
This approach works best when used as a long term strategy that approaches the issue from every angle. Rest assured, your competitors in family law are using every opportunity to appear first in search results and lure potentials to their website.
Advertising is a proven marketing strategy and pay per click ads will bring site visitors. They have advantages and disadvantages. Obviously they can be expensive. At the same time, they are very visible to divorce clients and other people needing family law services. Still, some people mistrust ads and will scroll past them. And while paid ads might work faster, studies have shown organic search brings much more traffic. Since paid ads are also no guarantee visitors to the website will hire the law firm, they should, at most, be used as part of a comprehensive SEO strategy. SEO services that keep your website ranking and keep it in front of clients--things like optimizing your site structure and conducting keyword research--keep working toward your visibility even after the budget for paid adds has been depleted. Even Google ads do not generate as much business as organic search.
Clients have a choice when it comes to a family law firm. The first thing to do is make sure people in need of a family lawyer can find you--which they won't if they have to scroll through ten pages of listing before they see yours. They'll likely settle on another lawyer long before that--one of your competitors who appears at or near the top of the list.
The website itself influences rankings. It should be professional, with an optimized URL structure and sitemap. Broken links and error messages result in not only a poor user experience--and possibly bad reviews--they tell Google that your site isn't a reliable place to send its users. A detailed assessment of your site should be part of any SEO marketing analysis, because it not only influences rank--it's the first experience family law clients will have with your firm. Given the level of competition in the field and the time this client base has to make a decision about an attorney, you cannot afford for that first impression to be a bad one.
The content on your family law website is one of your most powerful marketing tools. It can help you stand out from other divorce lawyers.
How? Focus on the needs of your target audience. You already know that family law clients and those going through a divorce are under strain. Present information in a way that's understanding, offers information and highlights your knowledge and experience in these matters. If you are a child support lawyer or child custody lawyer primarily, you can speak to the challenges facing those customers and highlight you past successes. What makes you different from all the other family lawyers out there? If you can leave a memorable impression on a visitor, you will be a step ahead of many others.
To this end, it may be beneficial to seek a professional opinion on your content marketing plan. An SEO company can assess your content, help you resolve any issues and suggest ways to take full advantage of your strengths.
As you explore content further, keep in mind that content is more than written material. It's anything that informs or engages the people who come to the family law firm website: images, photos of your team, recorded testimonials from past clients, a written or recorded review, or other videos.
Practice area content. These are the pages most closely related to your focus and the keywords you want to highlight. Think of searchable phrases like divorce lawyers, family law attorney, child support, child custody lawyer, divorce attorneys and similar. These topics should have high visibility and demonstrate the knowledge of you and your team. Because Google uses word count to assess sites, it's crucial to have just the right amount--not too much or too little--for each subject. Here you can answer questions, share information and highlight past divorce cases. This is the area to put extra emphasis on the aspects of family law you know best and it can include case studies, lists of services and reviews. Your goal is to show the client your skill and convince them you're the best lawyer for them.
Supporting content. One way to rise up the Google ranks is to engineer your site to rank for more than one thing. Family law firms are sometimes limited in the focus areas they can emphasize. For example, if you are a divorce lawyer, you practice divorce law. You will encounter a lot of competition on the search results page for those phrases and for good reason--they're accurate and describe your services. But they are also widely searched and bring in hundreds of results. Supporting content, like an article or case study, can be used to direct traffic back to the main content pages on the family law firm website. This type of content allows you to broaden your focus somewhat and cast a wider net, but it can be a delicate balancing act. The supporting content has to relate to your practice in some way and to be effective, it can't rehash what you've said in the practice area content. It's an opportunity to get your site ranking for less competitive terms and then use those results to redirect customers.
Since website engagement (the time people spend on the site) influences rankings, having plenty for visitors to read will benefit you. However, user behavior has shown that clients will abandon long, unbroken sections of text. Content creation doesn't just mean written pieces--breaking them up with images, video, charts, or bullet points can positively affect how much time website visitors spend reading, which in turn will prove to Google that the firm website is a good place to send its users.
Because search engines have become more sophisticated, packing a family law website with expected keywords like "divorce law" and "child support" is no longer enough. For one thing, Google is working every day to improve the search experience for its users. It wants to direct them to high quality websites and it is devising ways to deliver useful and relevant content... and it ranks sites according to their usefulness and relevancy. Keywords are still important and they still impact a site's ranking, but they need to be well-researched, well-placed and the RIGHT keywords. As you have probably deduced by this point, the art of SEO for family lawyers is in striking a balance between keywords that are too general and will result in thousands of results and those that are too specific to be germane to the work actually being done. To get the best ranking in Google, it is essential to research and test key words, terms and topics--and be aware that what search engines prefer is constantly changing.
Backlinks are incoming links--links from somewhere else to your website. The source of these backlinks might be other websites, blogs, reviews, or directories. They're important to SEO for two reasons. One, the bring not only the client, but the search engine itself to your website. Two, they validate you as an authority in your field to Google--especially when other prestigious sites are linking to yours. When it comes to SEO and backlinks, your law firm is very much judged by the company it keeps. Experienced SEO professionals know that a collection of links to and from low quality sources won't do your page any good. They should work to cultivate high level links that will bring you organic traffic and enhance your respectability to Google. Link building is essential for SEO success, but it must be done meticulously and continuously.
Citations are similar to backlinks in that they're any mention of your law firm's name, address and phone number on an outside source--this could be an article on divorce, a directory, or a review site. Like backlinks, Google uses citations to assess the credibility of your site. Building a large and accurate collection of citations on sites like Yahoo or Yelp is an excellent tactic for SEO marketing and law firm marketing in general.
While backlinks and citations from authoritative sources are immensely desirable, building them can be arduous and time-consuming. Your law firm will have to decide whether to handle this important piece of the marketing puzzle in-house or source it to a professional.
The same holds true for your social media presence. Maintaining social media sites for a family law firm is worthwhile, but for it to be effective, they must be kept up to date, which entails a further investment of time. It's not hard to see why so many companies are in the market for social media managers. Divorce lawyers and divorce law firms also have the option to delegate tasks like link building, monitoring Google ads for ROI, maintaining the law firm website, soliciting local review traffic, updating Facebook and other social media and other marketing to a company well versed in it.
Getting your target audience on your website is a big part of the battle, but it won't win the war--especially not considering the fierce competition between divorce attorneys and the longer time frame clients have to make sure they've landed with the right firm. Because family law attorneys might need to engage clients for longer than those in other practice areas, they must pay special attention to what steps they can take to increase conversion. Some are simple and logical: ensuring your name, phone number and email appear on every page, for instance. Google Analytics can tell you how many visitors your website attracted and it can be disheartening if few of those leads converted. Engagement tools like a live chat feature or a pop-up can help, as can honing your keywords to lure better leads. Law firm marketing cannot neglect conversion--it's not enough to get people on your page if they never pick up the phone.
Everything you've read might make starting or improving an SEO campaign for your family law firm seem intimidating. While it is a complex process full of ever-changing variables, it is well worth the trouble. In fact, with so many people turning to Google for matters of divorce and child custody, a law firm without a robust online presence and respectable ranking might find it difficult to thrive in the current environment.
You don't have to go it alone.
The first move in an SEO law firm marketing plan should be to analyze what you have presently: your website, your link portfolio, review quality and quantity, your keywords, your Google rank and local SEO position, your leads, where they're coming from, how long visitors spend on your site and how many convert to customers. These results will help your law firm determine the best use of its time and budget and a professional can answer any questions you might have and suggest a course of action. Depending on your needs and goals, you might opt to leave the SEO marketing and website details in someone else's hands so you can spend your time on what you do best--helping those who need a top-notch divorce or family law lawyer.
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