10 Quick SEO Tips You Can Implement Right Now
Let's face it - some firms just don't have the budget or resources to hire an external agency like us for their search engine optimization campaigns.
We get it.
And that's why we're making this guide, free of charge! It's what we do for our clients, and it's a good way to get the ball rolling for your firm.
In no particular order, the following is what we believe you should be implementing as soon as possible.
2. Secure Your Website With SSL
3. Make Your Pages Load Faster
4. Use Text Over Media
5. Remove Duplication Issues
6. Add Your Website To Search Engine Consoles
7. Keep Your URLs Clean
8. Apply For Local Business Listings
9. Utilize LSI Keywords
10. Optimize Your Meta Description
It's the first thing people see on Google, and helps a lot with how potential clients find you. A lot of firms lead with their name, followed by what they do - or worse yet, just their name.
For example, Curly & Wurly LLP might have their title tag as:
Curly & Wurly LLP - The #1 Divorce Firm since 1969
At the very least, they included the term "divorce" and we can therefore gather what they practice, but far from a well-optimized title. A much better title would be:
Divorce & Family Lawyers in the Los Angeles County | Curly & Wurly LLP
What did we do here? A couple of things:
- Included the term "family"
- Included the term "lawyers"
- Included the term "los angeles county"
- Removed unnecessary keywords i.e. "firm", "#1" and "1969"
This was done because, based on keyword research, we know that people search for divorce lawyers and family lawyers, and they also search for lawyers that are local. In other words, if our law firm stuck with their original title, they would only show up for the following terms:
"divorce firm since 1969"
And that's about it. How many people do you think are searching those kinds of terms? Not many. With the new title, however, they can start ranking in Google for:
"divorce and family lawyers"
"divorce lawyers los angeles"
"family lawyers los angeles"
"divorce and family lawyers los angles"
"divorce lawyers los angeles county"
"family lawyers los angeles county"
"divorce and family lawyers los angeles county"
So, it begs the question(s): How much extra traffic do you think this one change can bring to you? How many extra leads will you receive? Subsequently, how much extra revenue will your firm bring in from a change that took less than 5 minutes to implement?
Now, some of you may ask, "But what about the firm name? Isn't branding important?", to which we may reply, "Yes, but at what cost?". Will it do your firm any good if you don't show up for the very thing you claim to be an expert at? How will that help your brand? How will it help your brand if you have no clients and need to close your doors?
Of course we are not saying remove your firm name from the title completely, but it is secondary to what people are actually searching for - and to the handful of people who are actually looking for your firm, it will still pop up in the search engines, whether it's in the title or not.
It must also be said that search engines only scrape the first 60 characters of a title tag, and that is another reason we named the example title how we did. Keep it short, and don't overdo the title with unnecessary keywords that don't help you from a potential client's perspective.
Remember, they are searching for certain kinds of lawyers, sometimes from a local city or region - so that is exactly how you want to present yourself if you want to be found.
SEO TIP #2 - Secure your website with ssl
At the risk of sounding too technical, search engines like to rank websites that are secure and therefore serve a better experience for their users (according to them). The way to do this is to make sure your website is secured with secure socket layers, otherwise known as SSL.
There's a very good chance you've already come across websites that have it implemented. If you look at the address bar at the top, you'll notice some websites lead with a "http:" while some are "https:". That extra "s" stands for "secure" and it makes all the difference.
Depending on your domain registrar and web hosting provider, it may be either very easy or very difficult to implement a SSL - nevertheless, it is important to have it enabled. Some may require you to purchase it, while others may have it already included in your web package. If in doubt, ask your web hosting provider's support staff if they can assist, otherwise an SEO agency (like ours) can help you with this step if necessary.
Search engines are favoring secure sites over non-secured websites, and the number is increasing daily. Don't neglect this step!
SEO Tip #3 - Make Your Pages Load Faster
How fast your website loads is important to search engines (and more importantly, anyone browsing your site). This makes sense not only from a search engines point of view, but from a users perspective also. Why would someone wait around longer than they need to for your page to load?
Every second counts! Every second could be costing you hundreds or thousands in potential clients leaving your website and finding your competition.
So, what are some things you can do right now to decrease the page load time?
- Optimize or completely remove images.
- Avoid any page redirects.
- Improve server response time by investing in a content delivery network (CDN).
These are the most common and immediate steps you can take to improve your page load speed.
SEO Tip #4 - Use Text instead over Media
While search engines are progressively getting smarter, there are some elements they just can't see.
Search engines don't see websites the way humans do. They have their own proprietary crawling technology, nicknamed "spiders", which crawl sites automatically and update their search engine database with what they find. In other words, when you type something into a search engine search bar, you are not actually searching the web, you are in fact searching their database of the web.
Having said that, when these elements absolutely need to be included on a web page, you can and should always have some sort of description to go along with it. Images contain an ALT (short for 'alternate') attribute, which is the way to give context for a search engine. Videos could contain a transcript to serve as a sufficient workaround. It is ideal to minimize these elements as much as possible in preference for text, however.
When in doubt, adding more text in lieu of another element is a good idea. It gives search engines more to work with, while making your website more relevant and able to be crawled & loaded quicker.
SEO Tip #5 - Remove Duplication issues
This may seem like common sense - don't have any two pages that are the exact same, right? But it actually happens a lot more often than you may think. In fact, your website may be doing it right now!
To do a quick check, visit both:
Are both pages active? Or does one redirect to the other?
If one of them redirects, that's a good thing. It means the search engines only see that one version and that's the one everyone else sees also. If neither redirects, that means you have two versions of your website and one needs to be redirected ASAP.
Search engines get confused when you have both the www and non-www versions of your website working because it doesn't know which one to rank and index. In most cases, it does both, but this dilutes your potential to rank higher because they are almost seen as two different websites and neither can have as much authority as one main website.
Depending on your web hosting and content management system, this is usually an easy fix. A quick email to support should steer you in the right direction.
SEO Tip #6 - Add Your Website To Search engine consoles
Search engine consoles are web dashboards indicating where your website stands in terms of compliance, authority and other aspects you will want to know about and respond to accordingly, in order to maximize your exposure and visibility in the search engines.
Here are a just some signals they highlight:
- Crawl errors
- Structured data issues
- HTML improvements
- Search analytics (clicks, impressions, rankings)
- Backlinks to your website
- Index status
- Robots.txt tester
- Sitemap status
- Security issues
Most of these data points are technical in nature, but the interface is friendly enough where you will be able to understand where any issues lie, how serious or benign they are, as well as how you should address them.
You'll also receive messages from the search engines directly about your website, so it's ideal to have your website registered in the consoles.
SEO Tip #7 - Keep Your URLs Clean
If you were lucky enough to have your firm name incorporate what you actually practice, you have an ever-slight advantage over the competition. If not, that's OK. Manipulating your website URLs to reflect keywords you want to target is a feature available to all, but few take advantage of.
Which of these would you imagine looks better to a search engine?
- automotive.com/content/page.php?id=512 or
Having a short, descriptive URL is a much better alternative to what some websites are currently showcasing. It is also easier for users to understand what your page is about when viewing it from the search engine results page, and thus a greater chance of having them click-through to your website.
SEO Tip #8 - Apply For Local business Listings
Since most law firms have a local presence, it's a no brainer to join search engine local business programs. They are free to join and you may have noticed them popping up for local search terms such as "pizza" or "bail bonds". They're those that pop up before the organic listings in a map format, attempting to show you the closest business to you.
SEO Tip #9 - Utilize LSI Keywords
LSI, otherwise known as Latent Semantic Indexing, is a methodology which determines how keywords are linked to each other contextually.
LSI keywords are those which are relevant to each other and help search engines understand your content. For instance, by including both keywords "Apple" and "iPhone" in your content, search engines are able to understand your website is about the technology product, not the fruit. It would be ideal to include other relevant keywords such as "app", "4g" and "manual" to provide even greater context.
There are a lot of cases where keywords have double or even triple meanings. Another example would be "java" - are we referring to the programming language, or the coffee? LSI is a guide you can use to optimize your website in the best possible light.
SEO Tip #10 - Optimize Your Meta Description
A meta description is the short paragraph of text you can observe underneath the title of any website listed in the search engine results page. Potential visitors read them when pondering if they should click through to your website.
While the description not a direct ranking factor, it will most certainly influence if searchers click through to your website or not, and that's why it is critical to ensure it has been optimized well.
As a rule of thumb, it is ideal to include the following features in your meta description:
- Your area of practice
- A unique selling point about your firm
- What your client can expect
- A call to action at the end e.g. "Click here!"
It's also important to know you can include up to 160 characters in your meta description. A lot of firms simply have a one-liner or a minimal description, which is either due to ignorance or laziness. Don't allow that to you be you.
Maximize the opportunity to gain as much real estate on the search engines result page and exposure to potential clients with a lengthy description that puts your firm in the best position to make a positive, lasting first-impression.