Legal SEO Experts with over 60 Years Combined Experience
Our team of attorney SEO experts are dedicated to helping all of our clients in achieving their digital marketing goals, maximizing ROI, and getting more leads!
Hire the Team That’s Obsessed With Rankings in Google
Why Do Serious Attorneys Across the U.S. Choose the Experts at Black Fin?
Because we’re absolutely obsessed with SEO!
We know what it’s like. You’re ready to take your firm to the next level. All you need is for the phone to start ringing.
And you’ve done everything that you’ve been told to do to raise your site to the top of the search results. You’ve listened to the so-called gurus, and might have even spent big bucks on law firm SEO companies that promised quick results.
But when you look at the search results and see how much better your competitors are doing, all you can do is ask yourself why they’re winning and you’re not.
We get it.
We know what it’s like to know how much better you could be doing with a little more resources, a little more knowledge, a little more time. That’s why we’re here.
We’ll show you that we can deliver when we claim that we know what actually moves the needle with SEO for lawyers. Regardless of what you choose to do next, you’ll be left with this recording of our free consultation, including some smart, actionable ideas for growing your business.
“I have been in the internet advertising game for over 15 years. During that time, I have hired and fired at least 6 SEO/SEM companies. Luckily, my search is over. Black Fin is by far the BEST company I have used. EVERY SINGLE PERSON I have dealt with from Day 1 has been super-knowledgeable, as well as professional, courteous and friendly. My questions (and I have a lot of them), are ALWAYS answered beyond my satisfaction in a very quick manner, and someone is always available. Most importantly is that Black Fin has grown my business exponentially. They not only designed 2 beautiful website for me, but they have managed my PPC campaigns VERY effectively and cost-efficiently. I cannot say enough about this company, other than that I am happy I need look no further.”
“Black Fin is a powerful partner to improve your Firm’s web presence, credibility, and get new business. I’ve worked with several other companies who claim to get results and, only now, since working with Black Fin have we actually gotten solid results.”
“We have been using Black Fin more than a year for both SEO and web design. We appreciate their responsiveness to our requests and questions. They have been a pleasure to work with.”
The Black Fin Search Engine Optimization Advantage
- Custom built strategies to beat your competitors
- Dedicated team of over 8 SEO analysts and specialists
- Full-service marketing team on call
- Coordinated internet marketing campaigns
- 10+ years ranking law firms on the first page of Google
- No contracts, cancel anytime
Google’s search engine teams, which involve some of the brightest computer scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in the history of human civilization, work around the clock to ensure that search result algorithms return the most customized, relevant, and competitive results. Lawyer SEO tactics that may have worked in the past are facing extinction today.
We’ve learned that getting your firm to the first page is just what it takes to scratch the surface — and we’re good at it. Maintaining your spot, improving your relevance, and beating your competition — these are stories that most law firms aren’t familiar with when it comes to hiring an SEO firm.
Examples of our legal SEO results
Below you will find just a few examples of the types of results that we have been able to generate for our clients.
The Truth About Law Firm SEO Marketing
Attorneys are required to pass the LSAT, finish law school, and attain a J.D., which takes on average 7 years, just to wear the badge of “attorney.” Doctors endure a similar series of rigorous trials to attain their M.D. status. Unfortunately, there’s no way to qualify an SEO firm’s legitimacy other than by examining what they have to say. And what they have to say is often far from what they actually do.
There are far too many “expert” SEO and marketing agencies that produce mediocre results and cause damage.
Every week, for the last 10 years, our sales team has consistently reported at least one “SEO expert” horror story. The problem is so prevalent that we once considered writing an internal report on this. Today, we could document an encyclopedia. The most common problems we’ve heard about smaller firms that devalue the good practice of attorney SEO services include:
- Using outdated tactics
- Violating search engine marketing guidelines
- Outsourcing attorney SEO services to smaller individuals and firms, from strategy to execution
- Using the same, rigid SEO strategies for clients with varying needs and budgets
- Accepting payments without producing results
Optimizing for attorneys and law firms is one of the most competitive SEO practices that exists
SEO for attorneys and law firms is, on average, far more rigorous and competitive than SEO for other industries. Compared to other professional industries, it takes longer to repair damage from poor lawyer SEO practices in the past, costs more, and is saturated by many small players who use graceless, low-quality technique to prey on the inexperience of newer attorneys and law firms. Some even manage to turn a profit and expand, only to spread poor practices farther.
Good, organic SEO, especially for law firms, is difficult because it requires:
- Keeping up with Google’s algorithm changes
- Understanding and practicing new SEO technologies
- Accurately theory-crafting results and outcomes based on oftentimes ambiguous data
- Creating affordable and manageable SEO strategies
- Designing creative and competitive strategies that beat the competition
Black Fin has succeeded for 10 years by solely focusing on real results in the legal industry
We’ve become a strong player in the SEO market because of our singular passion for lawyer, attorney, and law firm SEO. While many competitors in this space transfer their SEO skills across a wider domain, Black Fin remains focused on maintaining and expanding its position as the best SEO solution for the legal industry, and no others.
Common SEO problems we solve:
- Your “Law Firm SEO expert,” isn’t showing any results
- Your management responsibilities prevent you from expanding your online presence, let alone keeping up with the SEO world
- You’ve delegated SEO and marketing tasks to different members of your staff, but you don’t have an overall winning strategy
- You’re constantly playing catch-up with the competition
- You’re blindly throwing handfuls of money at your website and SEO issues
- You’re trying to utilize “lawyer SEO tricks” that you’ve read about, but you’re not getting traffic; or, worse yet — You’re getting penalized by Google
The art & science of Black Fin’s SEO marketing
In optimizing your online presence for search behavior, while each case requires a unique approach, there are a number of principles and techniques that are common and repeated. We’ve prioritized and organized these elements into systems that have proven to continue working on our behalf, despite Google’s constant search algorithm changes.
SEO isn’t synonymous with rankings. It’s an organic and spontaneous craft which combines the technical mastery of understanding how search systems work, and the artistic, creative expertise of developing effective marketing campaigns.
Below, we’ve shared the general approach for the first 2 months of most of our SEO for attorneys programs, as well as the continued “innovative maintenance cycle” that follows.
First 60 Days: Setting a Strong Foundation and Framework
Any successful SEO campaign requires a strong foundation: your website. Your website is where traffic is directed, where high-quality content lives, and where your clients first connect with you, your firm, and your brand. This first month is crucial to ensuring that the mechanical aspects of your website don’t drag down your actual marketing campaigns. In this first month, we aim to quickly solve the most basic, yet vital, problems with your website.
The most common goals for this month are to ensure that:
- Your website looks good and is well organized for users
- Your website scans well when it comes to search engines
- Your website loads quickly
- Your website is filled with useful, optimized high-quality content
Here is what is involved in the first 60 days.
- Discussing your goals and laying out an SEO strategy that is appropriate for your competition level and practice areas
- Performing keyword research and competitive analysis
- Setting up Google Maps, Bing Maps, and Apple Maps, making sure your locations are verified and fully optimized
- Analyzing all your directory profiles online and making sure each one is accurate, updated, and optimized (this is an on-going check)
- Fixing indexing problems
- Checking your site health, looking at any possible SEO attacks or spammy backlinks that need to be disavowed
- Making sure your images are optimized for both SEO and loading speed
- Making sure that your site’s title tags and header tags are optimized, but exclusively unique
- Checking Google’s page speed insights for weaknesses and opportunities to help your site run smoother
- Laying out a strategy for high-quality off-site optimization
- Performing a content audit, checking every page on your site for any plagiarism, duplication issues, or thin content
- Building a content strategy for SEO
- 45 or more tasks…
From verifying your listing to optimization; cleaning up old citations to creating new citations, it’s an enormous undertaking – but it’s absolutely essential to SEO success. Not only is Google’s organic algorithm now dependent on Maps, but many of your ideal clients will look for your services using local search.
Innovative Maintenance Cycle
As we continue to strengthen the foundation and framework of your law firm’s online presence, we add on a new series of tasks to your base: Innovative maintenance.
The overarching goal is the same: To build your firm’s authority both within search engines and your local community (online and offline). This involves seven different pillars, listed below.
- Strong Structure. Make sure that nothing on your site will prevent you from ranking in the future
- High-Quality Content. Optimize for both SEO and conversions
- Trust. Ensure conversion elements are in place
- Thought Leadership. Blog to gain influence, links, and trust
- Authority Development. Link-building and website promotion (offsite SEO)
- Preeminence. Rank YouTube videos, Facebook, and Yelp profiles in Google
- Social Clout. Make sure that your brand is building trust on social media websites
Of vital importance: the aforementioned maintenance cycle involves far more detailed work than simply applying randomized updates, or repeating/reusing earlier strategies. While repetition is often harmless in and of itself, search engine algorithms are frequently updated, and adaptation tends to involve fresh strategies as opposed to dated ones. Just as products, services, and technologies must adapt to the socio-economic landscape, so must your law firm’s SEO for attorneys strategies adapt to the evolution of search engine algorithms.
Black Fin’s innovative maintenance cycle is what separates us from all the other legal industry’s SEO organizations — it’s our unique playground of creativity and innovation, and it results in growth that our competitors struggle to keep up with.
How Long is This Going to Take?
Building a well-optimized website and establishing your law firm’s online presence as an authority can take time, as does fixing a website that is out of date or has been “optimized” by “SEO gurus.” Each case is unique and successful optimization is dependant on the authority of your firm’s current web presence and how long it’s been online.
Generally speaking, it takes about 6-8 months for a brand new website to generate results in Google. Established websites can take 3-5 months to start generating results, depending on the tactics from the last SEO company and how aggressive and thorough your campaign is.
How Much is All of this Going to Cost?
This is one of the many ways that we’re different from the competition. We aren’t going to give you the runaround when it comes to price. Our suggested budgets are based on your law firm’s market(s), goals & needs, and are designed to help aggressive law firms beat their competition. We work with competitive, established law firms of various sizes, and customize strategies based on the degree of domination you’re seeking.
If you’re ready to get started, get in touch with us today.
And if you’d like to know more about our perspective on law firm SEO, read on for answers to common questions we get from attorneys.
More FAQs with Legal SEO Veteran, Gerrid Smith
Q: What is SEO for lawyers?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art and science of ranking web pages in the organic section of the search results.
For simplicity sake, because there are over 250 factors in Google’s algorithm, Google is primarily looking at relevancy and authority.
Relevancy is all the things — both on your site and off — that tell Google your site is relevant for a particular niche. If you’re a personal injury lawyer, what are the things on your site that tell Google you’re an injury lawyer? Aside of the fact that you reference it on your site, you probably have pages on your site that target medical malpractice, dog bites, car accidents, and slip and fall injuries, which are common on many PI sites across the country. Google looks specifically for a theme on your site, so if you tell them “I’m a personal injury lawyer,” they will actually look for the car accident page to make sure you really are.
Authority is much trickier to build. Think of relevancy as a bucket. All of the personal injury lawyers in your market are in a single bucket because they all include works like “your city,” “personal injury,” “car accidents,” etc. on their website. With maybe 100 competitors in the bucket, how does Google determine which site should rank first, second, third, etc.? They are primarily going to look at authority, which involves the number and quality of websites that link to your website. If you have 50 quality websites that link to you and your top competitors have 25 websites linking to their site, your site will likely rise to the top of the bucket. Again, there’s a lot that goes into ranking a site, but that’s the simplified version.
The next level analogy I use is that there are four primary pillars for any SEO campaign (that are also important ranking factors):
- Maps/Google My Business SEO – This is crucially important these days.
- Content Optimization – Making sure your content is optimized so Google can categorize your website properly.
- Site Structure – This includes things like site speed and crawlability so Google can find all of your web pages.
- Link Building – Getting quality sites to link back to you (from legal directories, news websites, sponsorships, etc.)
Generally speaking, we like to tackle the first three points in months 1-3 as that really sets the foundation for the site. From there, we focus on increasing your domain authority by getting other quality sites to link to yours. This is also known as offsite or off-page SEO.
Here are some other factors Google may consider for your law firm SEO campaign:
- The age of your domain name.
- How long your domain name has had a live website.
- How much time people spend on your website.
- If people quickly bounce off of your website and back to the search results.
- How many times you mention your keywords on your web page (more isn’t necessarily better).
- How many related/LSI keywords you use on your web pages.
- How many local directory listings you have (your Local SEO strategy).
- How those directories use your firm’s Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) and how consistent it is across all the directories, your website, and your Google My Business listing.
- The length of your content.
- The grade-level of your content.
Q: How much are quality SEO services from a reputable provider?
First off, the price you pay depends generally on two factors:
- The strength of your competitors
- The strength of your own website
Let’s say you had an estate planning firm in Cleveland, OH. If you ranked #3 in Google for “Cleveland estate planning lawyer,” I may bid $750/month on your campaign, whereas if you were just getting started and had no history in Google, I may have to charge more like $3,500/month for the campaign.
Most of the reputable companies I respect charge a minimum of $1,500 for smaller cities and upwards of $7,500-$10,000/month for larger cities. On an hourly basis you can expect to pay between $50-$250/hour. You should never choose a provider simply based upon price. What’s cheaper? A company that charges you $2,500/month that ranks you in six months on the first page of Google, or a company that charges you $1,000/month but you never rank anywhere?
Q: Can Xyz legal SEO company who just sent me an email telling me my website sucks actually help me?
Have you received one of those sales emails from SEO companies sharing how many issues your site has? They tell you that everything your current SEO company is doing is wrong.
Next time that happens, drop the domain name of their site into this tool and you’ll see if they actually know anything about SEO: https://www.semrush.com/
(Screenshot of a tool we use called SEMRush that shows an estimate of how much organic traffic a site is receiving each month from search engines. One of our clients received a sales email from this company and they were claiming to know SEO, even though their own website receives 0 visitors per month in traffic from SEO.)
Q: Why does it take so long to get ranked?
There’s a number of factors here. Assuming you’ve chosen a quality digital marketing company, I would primarily look at the strength of your competitors and the strength/weakness of your website. If your site has been around for awhile, you have a number of quality sites linking back to you and your competitors are weak, it shouldn’t take long (maybe 3-5 months). But if you’re new and you have strong competitors it can easily take 12+ months to rank.
You have to understand that it’s not uncommon for firms to have been doing SEO for 10-15 years. Even the best strategy won’t help you win in the short-term if your competitors are strong. The fact is, you’re probably the new kid on the block and Google already trusts your competitors. Trust is never built overnight.
Q: What kinds of law firms do you serve?
Over the years we’ve been able to help a wide range of law firms:
- Family Law/Divorce Lawyers
- Adoption attorneys
- Personal injury lawyers
- Criminal defense law firms
- Estate planning attorneys
- Real estate lawyers
- Landlord and tenant attorneys
- Financial Fraud Lawyers
- IP Litigation Lawyers
- …and many more
We can help just about any firm, regardless of market size.
Q: Can you share some recent examples of your success in ranking law firm’s in Google?
Yes, here are a few screenshots from recent campaign wins:
Q: Should I focus on keywords in my content?
When it comes to keywords, search engines used to take things very literally. If you were interested in ranking for a certain practice of law in a certain city, using keywords in the headline, subheadings, the body copy and metadata was a surefire way to make sure your page ranked well. Unlike the old days of SEO, the practice of “keyword stuffing” is no longer rewarded by search engines. There’s simply no point of stuffing your web pages with keywords that you hope to rank for, and it will likely lead to your site getting penalized.
A good rule of thumb when thinking about the content of your web pages is that if your readers won’t like it, Google probably won’t like it either. While that wasn’t the case a few years ago, the technology and algorithms that Google uses to optimize search have become ultra-sophisticated in recent years.
To think of Google’s technologies as free-thinking robots wouldn’t be very farfetched. Its algorithm values high-quality content that is useful and readable, just as readers do. That means the level and quality of your writing and diction needs to be high.
This isn’t to say that keywords don’t matter. Keywords definitely matter. However, with latent semantic indexing (LSI – basically a fancy term for synonyms), you don’t need to stuff your page with keywords for Google to recognize what your page is about.
In other words, a thesaurus is better than a broken record. But that doesn’t mean you should start “synonym stuffing” either. When writing content for your site, simply think like a reader.
Q: Is it better to have more backlinks or higher quality backlinks?
Most people have probably heard that you can boost your search rankings by having other websites link back to your own. This is a true statement, but it should be noted that sites with the highest QUANTITY of referral links won’t always beat those that have the highest QUALITY.
Quality has to do with a number of factors, but generally refers to how legitimate a website is in the eyes of Google. If a very legitimate site links to your site, then some of that “link juice” trickles down to your rankings as well. On the other hand, if you’ve got a lot of low-quality sites linking back to your site, that negative standing in search engines could impact your site in the other direction.
Google also places a heavy emphasis on the relevance of the websites that link to yours.
That means that your friend who owns a hair salon two towns away who’s linked to your personal injury practice webpage 15 times might actually be hurting your chances of ranking well instead of helping it, especially if your friend’s website comes off as spammy to Google.
Most people would probably ask themselves, “What does a hair salon have to do with personal injury law?” Similarly, Google might ask the same question. There may be completely reasonable times in which a hair salon links to a law firm’s site. Maybe that law firm just helped them deal with a break in?
While relevance is a very important part of quality backlinks, there is no specific number of irrelevant links that will get your site penalized. The quality of a link profile is difficult to diagnose. Unless a link is from a spam website, you might not be able to tell what is a good link vs. a bad link. As always, having an experienced SEO team on your side will help you sift through the high quality and low-quality backlinks. You can read more about our law firm SEO link building strategies in our FAQ section here.
Q: What counts as irrelevant blogging?
If you’re blogging just for SEO, stop blogging. We’ve all heard the phrase “Content is King” so much that maybe, sometimes, we miss the point of content marketing completely.
Don’t get us wrong, content IS king and having a well-put together blog is great, but there are certain ways of utilizing content that can actually have a negative impact on your SEO.
For a long time, we saw law firms and attorneys post all sorts of content on their blogs, from celebrity gossip to how to change a tire. The thinking was that, by engaging an audience with content they might regularly read, the blog would bring extra organic traffic to the site.
Unfortunately for those blogs, most people don’t care about a lawyer’s opinion on any subject that is not related to the law. And perhaps more importantly, people searching for non-legal content on the web have no interest in your law firm or finding an attorney. So why would you waste your time trying to get their attention?
Effective law firm blogging can be very healthy for your site and actually help improve your search rankings. By blogging about topics relevant to your firm’s practice, you’ll attract people that are legitimately searching for legal help to your website. Our content team at Black Fin can help you outline and implement a successful content marketing strategy for your law firm.
Q: Do legal ethics issues arise from SEO?
For the most part, legal ethics issues don’t arise from SEO, especially when you work with an agency that works specifically with law firms and attorneys. Each word that is on your website is your firm’s responsibility, regardless of who you are working with. At Black Fin, we make getting the details right our highest priority so that those legal ethical issues don’t enter the picture. There are times, however, when legal ethics issues do arise due to lack of experience or knowledge on the part of the SEO agency. For lawyers, two words that seem to mean the same thing in everyday conversation often have vastly different legal implications. In the world of SEO, agencies that don’t specifically work with law firms and attorneys might not understand that the intricacies of legal jargon, and those instances might get your firm into trouble.
In other instances, the agency might not understand different state bar regulations for advertising and marketing a law firm, leading the agency to use phrases such as “the best,” “expert,” and “specialist.”
Q: Does page speed affect search rankings?
Like many other factors, page load speed does have an effect on how your site ranks in search engines, and it should be addressed so that your site loads as quickly as possible. This does not mean, however, that the site that loads the fastest will always rank the highest in Google (That being said, websites that take longer than 3 seconds to load lose 40-percent of traffic, according to Kissmetrics). Since there are hundreds of factors at play for how a web page ranks in Google, your site should be optimized for all of those factors, some of which may negatively affect your page load speed.
For example, some plugins may promise great features but ultimately just lag your site down more than they’re worth. However, with the proper web design and build, you should be able to find the perfect balance of usability and speed so that your web pages rank well in search engines while not sacrificing user experience.
Looking to the future that emphasizes mobile search, there may be changes to the page speed algorithm to better suit the speed at which pages load on mobile devices.
Q: Is SEO affected by keyword density?
Keyword density has remained a topic of discussion in the SEO world simply because it used to be a factor in ranking well for different keywords. These days, however, keyword density doesn’t have the same impact that it used to. In fact, it may have an adverse effect. In the last 10 years, search engines have become incredibly sophisticated, with algorithms that go far beyond simply recognizing certain keywords on a page. Search engines can now ascertain exactly what it is your website is for without any obvious direction. If they see that you have an office in Atlanta and you’re offering legal services for people with personal injuries, that’ll be enough for them to recognize you as an “Atlanta personal injury attorney” even if that phrase never makes an appearance on your page.
Of course, keywords make sense to have on your page in a number of instances, but the name of the game is making sure that they appear naturally as opposed to forcing them in at every instance possible. Google’s ranking factors are volatile, but one thing stays true: if your website delivers useful information and is created with the user in mind, you are more likely to succeed.
Q: Should law firm websites be submitted to search engines?
Any website that’s been built and designed well, with high-quality content and utilizing the latest technology, does not need to be submitted to Google or any other search engines. By using a sitemap file, your site will automatically notify search engines each time you update a page or add a new page to your website. If an SEO company is providing a service to submit your website to search engines, turn around and walk away.
Q: How often should I post to my site’s blog?
When done right, a solid blog can prove to be one of the best and most effective elements of your site for improving your search rankings. But blogging correctly means knowing how often to post new content to that blog, and that answer is dependent on a couple of factors, such as your area of practice, your location, what sort of clients you target, how often your competitors update their blogs, and how often things change in your legal field.While blogging more is generally better, making sure there is always purpose behind your blog posts is always the most important factor. Nothing helps your blog more than providing your audience with content that is relevant to them, but only if you prioritize quality above quantity. For most markets, we recommend posting once a week. For more ideas on how to build effective content marketing strategies, contact our team.
Q: How do “black hat” SEO and “white hat” SEO differ?
There are no standard “hat” practices in SEO.There are tactics that “white hat” SEOs use that other “white hat” SEOs say are “black hat” tactics. There are tactics known as “gray hat” SEO. When somebody identifies him or herself as a “white hat” SEO or “black hat” SEO, there’s no way of telling what sort of tactics he or she uses.
What a lot of SEO comes down to, and the spectrum of “white hat” to “black hat,” is people that like to follow the rules that Google lays out against people who like to try to get around those rules. Generally, “black hat” SEO refers to the people who try to get around those rules and use practices that cause penalties. “White hat” SEO, in contrast, is generally made up of the people who follow Google’s rules and are less likely to be penalized for their tactics.
Google doesn’t want you to focus on SEO. Google wants you to rely on creating high-quality content for your law firm’s website.
If an SEO for lawyers company is promising you immediate page 1 rankings, chances are they’re employing tactics Google doesn’t like or they’re lying to you. Following Google’s rules (for the most part…) takes longer, but it’s generally the safer bet for a business taking a reasonable, long-term approach to finding success online.
Q: When and why should I disavow backlinks?
While backlinks can be a huge help for SEO, sometimes there are instances in which you want to disavow the websites that have linked back to your pages. Maybe an agency you were working with was getting links from shady sources, or maybe a rival firm was trying to sabotage your rankings.Whatever the reason, link disavowal can prove to be a useful tool in ensuring the sites linking back to yours are of high quality. Google provides a detailed description of how to disavow links, but its very complex and we highly recommend that you have an experienced SEO agency help you with the process. In addition, to disavow backlinks, you must be the owner of your law firm’s website.
Learn the art & science of SEO for lawyers. Partner with Black Fin.
- We will get to know your law firm, your unique SEO needs, and what makes you different from the competition.
- From Day One, we will take solid, proven actions to make your website optimized and your law firm more successful.
- We track and share our concrete, objective results with you.
- We will continue to be passionate about SEO innovation and the SEO system that we have developed for attorneys over the last 10 years.
- We will be upfront, honest, and straightforward about our services, our prices, and our promises.