2024 SEO Trends for Law Firms & Attorneys
SEO for law firms has changed more in the last few years than it did in the decade prior. In the 2010s, search engine optimization was an area filled with black-hat practices of marketers trying to cheat or trick Google. And that worked for a while. With recent algorithm updates, we’ve seen numerous law firm websites take big hits to their rankings from their use of these unscrupulous tactics.
In the 2020s Google has put its focus on the consumer first and foremost, quickly followed by what is best for them as a business. Because of these revenue-driving initiatives by Google, many marketers claim SEO is dead. The reason some claim this is that Google has added numerous paid and local placements above the organic listings lessening their visibility. Personally, I couldn’t disagree more and believe that SEO is still very important. Consumers are more educated than ever and are better at recognizing who is paying to be in front of them versus who Google believes is the most relevant business from their search. For this reason and others that I will outline below, why attorneys should still invest in SEO for their law firms.
What Happened to Organic Search in 2023
When looking ahead to 2024 SEO trends for law firms and attorneys, I would like to take a look back at what Google has been doing. In 2023 we saw a number of impactful updates made to the ever-evolving Google search algorithm. By understanding how Google itself evaluates websites and content, business owners can have a better idea of what they should be focused on and the type of content that they should be producing.
2023 Google Algorithm Updates
- November 2023 – Core Algorithm Update
Core updates target entire sites rather than specific elements or components of a website. Websites negatively affected by November’s algorithm update were an indication that their site was losing relevance for the search terms they targeted. Google’s John Mueller stated that working to improve your website’s on-page content should be the focus to improve rankings. Additionally, their was a Google reviews update and mobile-friendly first update. So don’t get friends and family to spam 5 star reviews for your business, and ensure your website is optimized for mobile devices.
- August 2023 – Helpful Content Update
With AI becoming more prevalent in content writing, Google is always working on improving its algorithm to make sure people are getting the most out of it. The helpful content update will reward content that focuses on real human interactions and penalize websites focused solely on unoptimized AI written content designed to regurgitate what search engines want. Content should be informative without being overly promotional, conversational, and informative while not being too technical. This created a great opportunity for attorneys who specialize in certain practice areas as opposed to jack-of-all-trades attorneys.
- May 2023 – Core Update
The first core update of the year was a broad update with little information on the specifics but reports did indicate an increase in video performance and focus on e-commerce products. TikTok saw a massive visibility index increase of 133% indicating why Google is experimenting with how and where they display video.
- February 2023 – Page Experience Update
The mobile update rolled out in the summer of 2021 so this was focused on desktop only. The same three Core Web Vitals metrics, LCP (largest contentful paint), FID (first input delay), and CLS (cumulative layout shift), will apply for desktop ranking. Other aspects of page experience signals such as HTTPS security or absence from intrusive interstitials remain important too. These are the technical SEO components a modern website will have and where dated sites will struggle to perform.
How Law Firms Can Rank Higher on Google in 2023
Search engine optimization strategy and fundamentals aren’t going anywhere. All of Google’s updates mentioned above represent enhancements to better serve content that is what the searcher is looking for and displayed in a manner they’d expect.
Start with Strategy
The first places we look when evaluating a law firm’s website are what keywords are they currently ranking for and which keywords are most valuable to them as a business. While ranking #1 organically is great, if it is for a keyword or phrase that is irrelevant to your services, what good does it really do? Generally, your geographic location + service + “lawyer” or “attorney” are the most valuable combination to target. We recommend having a dedicated service page that is optimized for this term and then creating supporting content like blogs and FAQs that internally link to it. With a variety of well-written content you will establish your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness to Google by providing helpful content to your target audience which was the point of their August and September algorithm updates.
Other Google Organic Placements
Beyond the standard search results, you can also appear in the featured snippet, people also ask, and local search results map. FAQs have gained a lot of prominence on search engine results pages (SERPs) being placed directly below the paid ads. Using schema markup is the easiest way to indicate to Google that your content’s purpose is to answer the frequently asked questions and appear in these placements. To appear in the local search results map, having an optimized Google Business Profile is critical. Earlier this year we shared 5 Tips to Improve Your Google Local Map Pack Ranking.
Video for SEO
In addition to the opportunities above, video content can be found in multiple ways on Google and don’t forget they own YouTube. Having optimized videos that are aligned with your overall content strategy can have you appear in multiple ways on search engine results pages. Having your desired keyword in the file name, title, and description is an easy starting point. With short-form video being a recent focus, consider making a long-form video that can be broken down into shorter clips to be shared on TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts.
The #1 Takeaway for Law Firms to Succeed on Google
It’s our belief that law firms need to be omnipresent with their marketing to truly be successful and we bring that same line of thought to dominating Google. Let us first state that advertising on Google does NOT give any added benefits to organic search results as some have claimed at times. It has been rebuked by Google itself. That said, if you advertise there will be more opportunities for prospective clients to see you. In a perfect world, the “location + service + attorney” search result could have your firm show up five or more times on the first page; Local Services Ads, Paid Search Ads, local search, the featured snippet, and organic results. Shoot, maybe you show up for Video and you have a sub-link on your organic results, that’d be seven times. While most competitors are dreaming of page 1, you’re dominating. This creates a durable advantage for your firm over others so even when an algorithm update occurs, you have protection due to the multiple placements and outlets you’re leveraged.
Take the time to create a content strategy that works for your practice, without it, you’re a rudderless ship. We recently helped a client launch a new website and content strategy and in 90 days their website improved 90+ positions to the first page of Google for “divorce attorneys” in New York City. If your practice is struggling to appear in search results and acquire clients from Google, our Launch & Earn® marketing can help improve your law firm’s digital marketing. Contact us today and we’d be happy to provide a free strategy session.