When it comes to legal SEO, there are a lot of weekend warriors. Many lawyers try to take on boosting their own SEO, writing high quality content and optimizing their websites.
We respect that.
But all too often, we come across SEO tips for law firms that fail to mention the tools SEO professionals use to measure a website’s performance. In fact, many lawyers we work with are unaware of the many free SEO tools that exist all over the web.
When a law firm reaches out to our team, the first thing we do is run their current website through a variety of tools to assess how it is performing. It’s amazing what you can learn about your law firm website in just a few minutes.
In this blog, we want to share a few of those free SEO tools that we use, and we encourage you to test out your own law firm website. The results may surprise you. If your law firm’s website is older, for example, it may not be as responsive as you hoped. Or maybe you are hosting your website through GoDaddy, and you find that the server response time is too slow. You may also find that your site performs surprisingly well!
Whatever the results, these SEO tools will give you a starting point when it comes time to discuss your law firm’s marketing objectives and needs.
Pingdom is a Swedish company that provides monitoring and web performance management services. But Pingdom also offers a free website speed test tool. It is super easy to use and provides a host of great insights about the performance of your website. All you have to do is copy and paste your law firm’s URL, select a location that relates to where your website is hosted, and click submit.
Pingdom will provide a waterfall analysis of how your law firm is doing in a matter of seconds. To understand the results, it may be helpful to know what assets Pingdom is looking at.
When you run your law firm website through Pingdom, you will see a performance grade, a load time, the page size and the total number of requests on your website. After we published our own website, we ran it through Pingdom. As you can see below, we scored a 94/100 on Pingdom and had a total load time of 1.98 seconds. According to Pingdom, our website loaded faster than 70% of tested sites. We can also see the page size and number of requests.
In just a matter of seconds, we identified several areas for improvement on our own website. We wanted a faster load time (we typically shoot for faster than 92% of other tested sites), and we also needed to reduce the page size. This snapshot summary revealed to us what we could not see during the development of the site, and allows us to formulate a plan to improve its performance.
Performance insights and response codes are the next two sections you will see after running a test. These sections will help you identify what, if anything, is slowing down your website’s speed. For most lawyers, these sections will provide little actionable insight. If you want to know what each of these results means, we suggest downloading the results for your web provider and reaching out to a marketing team. For the weekend warrior, we suggest looking to next section, Content Size By Content Type, to see what can be easily optimized to increase website page speed.
In our test, we could see that “Images” and “Other” were the largest file types and provided our best hope of reducing the size of our page and speeding up our load time.
We have a lot of images on our site, so we expected that there may be a few images we needed to optimize. In fact, images typically make up 64% of an average web page’s total size. So we jumped down to the next section, sorted file request by “file size” and identified several photo images that we could optimize.
The largest file, surprisingly, was a photo used for our chat feature, which is hosted by a third party. So our first step to optimizing our website was reducing the size of that image. As you do this for your own size, keep in mind that your images should be at 150 kb or less. Images of this size still appear high quality, but are optimized for web use.
Other files that may be slowing down your website could include typekits, heavy scripts or even a slow server connection. Pingdom is a great tool for identifying things that are slowing down your law firm website so that you can begin optimizing it for peak performance.
Your law firm’s name, address and phone number, or NAP, are important when it comes to legal SEO. Search engines like Google use this data when determining which law firms to show for geo-targeted searches. You can use your NAP to boost your search engine rankings by making sure it is correct and consistent throughout the web. Inconsistent, incomplete or duplicate NAP information can kill your chances of ranking on Google local searches.
We suggest using Moz Local’s “Check my Business Listing” tool to identify any inconsistent, incomplete or duplicate information. It’s as simple as typing in your business name and zip code, then hitting submit.
The first thing you will see if your law firm’s score. This is a bird’s eye view of how your NAP appears on the web. Here is a screen shot from one law firm we audited:
The next thing Moz Local shows you is the platforms that your NAP appears on, as well as which platforms have inconsistent or incomplete NAP information.
For law firms, monitoring NAP information is critical. Not only will law firms show up on Google My Business and Yelp, but law firms may also appear on a number of legal directories. Law firms with multiple locations, for example, may require more legwork to make sure information is consistent across the board. Also, law firms that have recently gone through a name change, such as adding a new partner, should go through each platform and do a NAP cleanup.
One mistake we see a lot of law firms making is creating separate Google My Business accounts for each partner in a law firm. This may be considered duplicate information by Google. Moreover, NAP information between the multiple partners may be inconsistent, especially if different phone numbers are listed. To rank better on Google, you can use Moz Local to identify problems with your NAP information and create a strategy to fix it.
Siteliner is another free SEO tool that allows you to explore your website’s performance and reveals any key issues that may affect your law firm website’s quality and search engine rankings.
We use Siteliner for our law firm clients to identify duplicate content, broken links and the pages that are most prominent to search engines - all of which may be affecting your law firm’s SEO.
Duplicate content, for example, can lower your law firm website’s rankings in search engine results. Using Siteliner, you can check your law firm website for internal duplicate content while excluding common content such as menus, navigation and call to actions.
Broken links can similarly lower your website’s rankings in search engine results. Siteliner will check all of your law firm’s internal links to make sure they are working. Siteliner also highlights which links are broken, allowing you to fix the links or use a 301 redirect to a working URL.
Siteliner also identifies Page Power, or the pages that are most prominent to search engines as they crawl your law firm website based on link patterns that exist between your web pages.
All of this information is displayed neatly in a detailed Siteliner Report, which is accompanied by an XML sitemap for your law firm’s website.
Since we use so many of Google’s tools, we are putting the search engine in a category of its own. You may already be familiar with Google Adwords and Google Analytics, but other Google products are similarly worthy of your attention. Here are a few ways you can leverage Google’s free tools to maximize legal SEO.
If Google Analytics is not already set up on your website, you should do it now. Google Analytics is a great tool to see how your website is performing overall. You can see not only how many people are coming to your website, but also where they are coming from, what they are doing when they are on your site, and how which pages are performing the best. You can also create goals, like completing a form or watching a video, to track visitor behavior.
The insights you gather from Google Analytics should inform your legal SEO process. If there are certain web pages that are important to you, but not getting enough attention, then you will want to formulate a legal SEO strategy to improve the rankings of those web pages.
We wrote about Google Trends in our last blog post, Essential Law Firm SEO Strategies, but it deserves a second mention here. This free SEO tool will help your law firm identify topics that people in your legal market are searching for. For example, you can compare two or more related search terms to see which one is more competitive and identify opportunities for your law firm to improve its SEO rankings.
As with Google Analytics, Google Trends can help you spot SEO blind spots. For example, you may be optimizing your content for keywords that are not relevant to your target market. Google Trends can help you spot such issues and take corrective action.
Google’s PageSpeed Insights is another great tool that shows you how your law firm website is performing both on mobile and desktop. PageSpeed Insights identifies performance best practices for your website while also providing suggestions on how to optimize your site with the goal of making your website faster.
Why is page speed important for SEO, you might be asking? Google gives preferential treatment to websites to load fast. The slower your site, the higher the bounce rate. By lowering your bounce rate, your site will perform better in search engine rankings.
We love showing these tools to our clients, and encourage you to use them to track your own site’s performance. If you are interested in an in depth look at your law firm website’s performance, contact our team today for a free website audit. We’ll run your website through these tools, as well as a few paid tools we use for our clients, to show you opportunities to boost your legal SEO. You’ll receive a video walking you through every step, taking away actionable insights you can leverage for your law firm.