Is lawyer SEO easy? Not a chance. There are a number of essentials that go into optimizing a law firm website. Many of these elements are achieved behind the scenes with an in-depth SEO audit and a skilled SEO manager. The following 54-point SEO audit checklist can give you a good idea of what’s involved in top-notch attorney SEO.
SEO Audit for Case Winning Speed & Performance
The speed and performance of your law firm website is critical to providing a powerful user experience that drives quality cases to your firm. There are a number of factors that play a pivotal role in your attorney website’s speed and performance.
1. Clean Code
2. Valid Code
Using the right code is of course important when it comes to speed and performance. Ensure you’re using HTML for your site. HTML makes it easier for web crawlers to crawl and understand your website content better. It is also valuable for site updates, like when you’re making SEO changes.
You probably didn’t think much about your server when you launched your website, but it is actually pretty important to speed and performance optimization. Having the right server type for your site will reduce slow page load time and interruptions in website uptime.
4. Page Size
Website pages that are thousands and thousands of words long can have speed and performance issue, especially if the above three technical SEO elements are not optimized. Large pages can get clunky, and cause navigation issues as well. Clean up your web copy and provide users with pro performance.
Optimizing your law firm website for mobile users is a must, and it could have some SERP benefits as well with the latest Google mobile-first index algorithm. Mobile searches have also surpassed desktop searches. To increase traffic and conversions it is vital to lawyer SEO for mobile.
A responsive website design is the first step in optimizing for mobile. A mobile responsive website design adjusts your site for viewing on multiple devices. This is important since mobile users access online content from multiple mobile devices.
6. Mobile Site
A mobile site is the next step in providing a strong mobile user experience. It is essentially a website designed specifically for mobile, allowing you to tweak menus, footers, sections, font, and other key website features for the best mobile experience.
Prioritizing website security is vital to your site’s continued success. Malware and hackers continue to evolve to access data and personal information, and protecting your website using negative lawyer SEO countermeasures is a must.
Taking anti-hacking measures for your site, like two-step verification, site backups, and anti-virus software for your site, as well as knowing your server anti-virus strategy, can keep hackers at bay.
HTTPS, or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, is the enhanced security version of HTTP. This secures the data sent between your website and a user’s browser. Having HTTPS implemented on your site provides an extra layer of security as well as Google ranking benefits.
9. Content/Link Injections
A link injection is the insertion of malicious code onto your website. It is one form of hacking and SEO terrorism that needs to be addressed. Hunt down those link injections and get rid of them.
The Crawlability of your law firm website is absolutely crucial to lawyer SEO and your site’s online visibility and the ability for search engines to fulfill searchers intent. For instance, Google uses a crawler (bot or spider) to follow web links and save HTML of a site to the index or database.
10. Indexation Analysis
Doing an indexation analysis lets you see what content is showing up in search results. This can also help you get an understanding of the pages wasting time when a search engine crawls your website.
A sitemap is an organized list of the pages within your website. This helps search engines, like Google, better understand the pages and their organization better when bots crawl your site.
Website owners can use a robots.txt file to instruct crawlers about what pages to crawl and what pages not to crawl on their site. For instance, you can tell crawlers to not index a certain page on your website.
13. Log File Analysis
Requests made to your website’s server are recorded in your log file. By accessing your log file, you can see the resources search engines are crawling. This can help improve your SEO by identifying poor crawl spend, page errors (4xx and 5xx), and more.
14. Crawl Budget
A crawl budget is the number of times a website page is crawled and the number of times a deep crawl is done. Essentially, optimizing crawl budget can lets crawlers find your best content.
15. Crawl Depth
Crawl depth is the length at which your website pages are crawled and indexed. For instance, your home page is crawled, but subpages not linked to your home page, maybe promotional landing pages, may not be crawled that often, or at all.
16. Crawl Rate
Your website’s crawl rate is the time it takes a bot to crawl a webpage added onto your site. This is important, because if your crawl rate is low, your recent content or site changes may take awhile to get indexed. This can hurt the traffic to a time sensitive blog for instance.
17. Errors (404s)
Identifying 404, “Page Not Found” errors can have a big impact on your website. A 404 error may not cause a direct ranking issue, but limiting them is essential. For instance, finding the internal and external broken links on your site and fixing them.
18. Server Redirects
Server redirects like 301s and 302s are other essential elements to your technical SEO audit. They help redirect site visitors to another URL when the URL they first try to request is moved temporarily or permanently.
Website migration involves many moving parts. It is typically a term used by attorney SEOs when major changes are done to a site, like a complete website redesign to improve UX, or when moving a site to an entirely different platform. When doing website migration, you want to aim for the least amount of traffic lost for your law firm.
Migrating your site from HTTP to HTTPS can improve your search rankings, especially for Google SERPs.
W website redesign and/or migration can have a negative impact on your SEO if done wrong. A few redesign/migration basics include, proper use of 301s and 404s, having a new sitemap strategy, and testing.
21. Moving Platforms
Moving your website to a different platform, like moving from your existing platform to Shopify is you’re an ecommerce site for instance. For a successful platform move you need a detailed plan and pre-move and post-move testing in place.
There are a few different markups involved in lawyer SEO. Essentially, a markup is a set of standardized notations that give a piece of content structure to help search engines understand the content better on your law firm’s website.
22. Schema Tags
Schema tags are used in a schema markup to enhance the rich snippets of content. You can add schema tags, markups to your website’s HTML to improve how your site pages look in SERPs.
23. Open Graph
Open graph, or open graph protocol lets a website page become its own rich snippet in graph form. This has become a ranking factor and SEO tactic to move site content to position zero in Google SERPs.
The internal architecture of your law firm website is another factor of a technical SEO audit that involves URL structure and parameters, pagination, and even click depth. An SEO-minded internal architecture can improve usability.
Pagination is a block of website links that are connected, making the links scalable and easy to find. It’s essentially a list of HTML elements identified as navigation sections wrapped as <nav>.
25. Topical Focus/Dilution
Topical focus, or dilution, adds authority to a site, since most of the content is topic focused. For instance, having your site’s content cover a large swath of everything in your industry and niche signals to Google, and other search engines that your site is a subject matter expert.
26. Sub-Topical Organization
Similar to topical focus, sub-topical organization provides an added layer to the authority of the topics your website covers.
27. URL Structure
How you structure your URLs can impact your website’s rankings. URL structure should satisfy both search engines and users, using the keywords that represent what that page and content on-page is about.
28. URL Parameters
URL parameters can give you information about a user click. These are commonly used for influencer marketing or promotional URLs on social media, in newsletters, and other marketing channels.
29. Click Depth
Click depth is the amount of clicks it takes to get from your home page to another page. There are a few ways to look at click depth. From a sales funnel perspective, you want your click depth to be shallow, leading users through the different sales funnel stages in the least amount of clicks. From a search engine perspective, there is more importance placed on pages less clicks away from the home page.
Linkage is the types and quality of links you have on and point to your law firm website. It is an intricate part of lawyer SEO for sure! There are generally three different types of links to pay attention to when it comes to a technical SEO audit; internal, outbound, and broken links.
Internal links are the links you use in anchor text and in call to action (CTA) buttons to redirect users to another webpage within your website. For example, a link that takes a user form the home page to the about page.
Outbound links are the links used in anchor text or affiliate ads on your site to redirect users to other websites. For instance, if you were quoting a statistic, you would use an outbound link to support that statistic.
Broken links are exactly as advertised, links that don’t lead anywhere, because they are broken. This can happen if you have an outbound link to a webpage that is deleted, or an internal link to one of your old pages, but forgot to set up a 301 redirect.
Content is in fact still king, and optimizing website content is a must to increase your sites online visibility, traffic, and ranking in search engines. Quality content that is easy to read and makes Google happy are a few content optimization priorities.
Quality content keeps users engaged, gives actionable information, and highlights your site’s authority in an industry and niche. Quality content fulfills searcher intent, and this can have a positive impact on ranking.
Readability of content is important, because users and search engines need to understand the content on-page in order to fulfill searchers intent and increase engagement.
Content duplication can have negative ranking consequences for your website. Duplicate content is common on ecommerce websites when listing similar products or using product descriptions from the manufacturer. Duplicate content in Meta descriptions and SEO titles should also be identified and fixed.
Meta descriptions and Meta title tags are used by search engines, like Google, to determine what a website or webpage is about. Meta descriptions and Meta titles are also what users see when scanning SERPs, so they should be optimized.
Canonical tags tell search engines that a URL (webpage) is the master key. Canonical tags can clear up any duplicate content or duplicate URL issues that could negatively impact your website.
38. Keyword Categorizations
Categorizing keywords allows you to group keywords together under a larger (probably more difficult to rank for) keyword. This allows you to leverage a larger number of easier to rank for keywords to increase your monthly search volume.
Content is not all about text anymore. As more and more online users demand visual content, it is important to optimize multimedia assets for user experience and increased online visibility for your law firm. This is now a very critical lawyer SEO strategy.
39. Image Optimization
Image optimization involves using high quality images that are compressed to keep page load time to a minimum. This is essential for ecommerce sites that are commonly image heavy.
40. Video Optimization
Video content has become a must and if you don’t optimize it correctly, your site speed will slow to a snail’s pace. Instead of uploading clunky video files, embed YouTube video code.
41. Others (PDF, DOC, PPT)
Anytime you add a multimedia file to your website, it can potentially slow down your page load time and cause a poor user experience. Optimize all PDFs, DOCs, and PPTs used to showcase your authority or used as lead generation tools.
Building trust is important to the growth and success of your site. If users don’t trust your site, you will simply not get a lead or convert them. Trust factors include, testimonials, credentials, privacy policies, and more.
Credentials are a must when building trust. For example, if you’re a lawyer, list your law credentials and awards from law associations and societies.
43. Contact Details
Having contact details on your website let users know that you are real and can be reached. This is vital for local SEO.
Testimonials highlight how your business, product, or service helped someone that actually used it. It can be part of your overall social proof assets.
Privacy is a big issue right now with all the cyber security concerns. Having privacy policies in place let users know that their personal information and data is secured and important to you.
46. Terms & Conditions
Terms and conditions are another trust building aspect that layout what a user can expect.
47. Author Authority
Author authority is important, since it highlights the “why” for users. For example, users are more likely to trust a blog on something medical if a doctor is the author authority.
48. Social Signals
Social signals are the following and engagement your website has on social media. If a user sees that you have a million followers on Facebook, they are more compelled to trust you.
Business intelligence allows law firm website owners and managers to find gaps in lawyer SEO performance by analyzing data like conversion rates, the length of buying cycle, and client lifetime value.
49. Conversion Rate
Your website’s conversion rate is the percentage of site visitors that perform specific task delegated as a conversion. Typically, this is a sale or member registration, but can also be a lead generation task like white paper or newsletter opt-in.
50. Length of Buying Cycle
This is the amount of time it takes for a potential customer to become a customer. The goal is to decrease the length of your buying cycle, leading potential customers through the different buying cycle stages (awareness, evaluation, conversion) as fast as possible.
51. Lifetime Value
Customer lifetime value is the amount of purchases a customer makes overtime, or in some cases the amount of uses over time, depending on the website sales/member model.
User experience, or UX, is the latest buzzword in lawyer SEO, and for good reason. Providing a stellar user experience increases user engagement, satisfaction, and conversions for your overall law firm online.
52. Bounce Rate
The bounce rate of a website is the percentage of users that land on a webpage and take no further action or interaction with your website. The lower your bounce rate the better.
53. Time On Site
Time on site is another valuable user experience metric to measure when performing a technical SEO audit. The more time a user stays on your site, the longer the engagement. This signals to search engines that your website is providing useful information and fulfilling searcher intent.
When someone performs a search and clicks on a result, but then goes back after a few seconds, and then clicks on another page in the SERP, but then goes back and clicks another page, and on and on it goes. This is called pogo-sticking and Google actually calculates this, since it is a signal to how well your website is fulfilling searcher intent.
There are certainly a number of other factors we may have not listed. However, the above are absolutely critical in ensuring your law firm website is 100 percent optimized on the technical side of things. With an in-depth SEO audit for lawyer SEO, you can outrank competitors, provide an outstanding user experience, and drive more quality cases, which will in-turn boost profits for your firm. If you’re an attorney that wants to see proof of how this 54-point checklist works in real-time, check out our law firm SEO case study.