SEO has a lot of moving parts, which can make things confusing. For starters, some optimizations don’t have definitive rules. This can be challenging for smaller and newer law firms just getting in on Lawyer SEO.
Some SEO practitioners prefer blogs with no less than 2000 words, others will do 1000, and some say 600-800 words is more than enough. Other flexible SEO rules confuse beginners, making it difficult to formulate and execute the right marketing strategy. In some cases, these mistakes could lead to bigger problems like drops in rankings and de-indexing.
That said, these are some aspects of SEO that don’t have hard and fast rules. There are, however, definitive don’ts that can seriously affect your law firm marketing strategy. They’re proven to negatively impact SEO and are avoided by SEO experts.
1. Keyword Stuffing
One of the most well-known SEO don’ts is keyword stuffing. Back then, SEO practitioners only needed to get in as many keywords as possible to rank in the SERPs. However, Google (and other search engines) have significantly improved their search algorithms, so keywords alone aren’t enough to push you to the top of the SERPs.
These days, stuffing as many keywords as you can comes off as spam. As a result, crawlers and search engines will consider your pages low-quality and push them down the rankings.
To avoid keyword stuffing, make sure the keywords you’re optimizing for are relevant to the page’s content. You should also limit the use of each keyword to 5-7 times, so you’re not repeatedly spamming it all over the page.
Additionally, another rookie problem is forcing keywords to a point where it affects user experience. For example, some newbie content writers will use a high-volume long-tail keyword even when it doesn’t make grammatical sense in a sentence. This can often happen in legal blogs, where posts are over-optimized with keywords to a point where some sentences are hard to read or understand.
2. Keyword Cannibalization
When you optimize for a specific keyword, you aim to compete with all the other pages doing the same thing. Thus, when several of your pages are optimizing for the same keyword, they will compete with each other.
Although most websites optimize several pages for one keyword, they still use secondary keywords to differentiate them from each other.
So, make sure you diversify your keywords. If two of your pages are relevant to the same keyword, you should consider merging them. If not, you should also add secondary keywords to ensure your pages are adequately differentiated from each other.
3. Duplicate Content
Search engines are getting really good at detecting spam and duplicates. Unfortunately, when they detect duplicates, they go to the original version and index that, rendering the other essentially useless.
If you’re running a legal blog, you must have a content plan and keep track of the topics you’ve already covered. Covering the same topic will likely lead to a complete rehash; although it isn’t a direct copy, it will probably have nearly the same exact content as the first one.
That said, even if you don’t create duplicates yourself, some malicious entities might. For example, some shady parties will scrape off content, even newly-posted ones, and put them on their site. In some cases, Google might not be able to detect which one was published first, and will end up not indexing yours. That said, it’s critical to watch out for possible malicious parties implementing negative SEO to deliberately cause problems for you and your law firm.
4. Low-Quality Content
Since content is king in SEO, there’s a lot of pressure to churn out as much content as possible. This leads to practices such as content spinning and duplicates. Even if there’s so much to write about in the legal niche, the pressure to come up with daily content forces writers and SEO practitioners to recycle ideas and forget that they’ve already covered the same topic.
While you might be posting more than your competitors, it hardly matters if you can’t outdo them in terms of quality. Remember, to get to the top spot, your content needs to be the most relevant, user-friendly, and attractive to the audience. In addition, it needs to be informative, free of spelling and grammar errors, and well-formatted. If you’re not getting a lot of traffic, people are bouncing all the time, you don’t have the right keywords, or you don’t have the right information, search engines aren’t going to rank you very high.
If it takes you a week or two to come out with high-quality and well-optimized content, you should stick with that instead. On the other hand, if you’re having difficulty balancing creating content with running a law firm, you could hire a legal content writer to help you. Either option you choose, you won’t be sacrificing the quality of your legal content for quantity.
5. Low-Quality Backlinks
If you already have a great website and a system for content creation, the next step you’re taking would be to get backlinks. Lawyer SEO is not just centered around everything on your website—it also includes off-page factors like social media and backlinks.
So, SEO practitioners would often create link-magnet content that attracts third-party websites to link to their pages. These links send signals to search engines and will associate your content with the other website’s pages.
That said, not all backlinks are suitable for your Lawyer SEO. Getting backlinks from low-quality, spammy, and shady websites will do more harm than good. For example, if you have a lot of backlinks from low-ranking, low-DA, and hacked websites, you will be directly associated with them.
So, make sure to audit your backlinks and have the bad ones removed or disavowed. Check for relevant anchor text, website Domain Authority, and possible security issues.
6. Irrelevant Anchor Texts
Anchor texts give readers and site crawlers an idea about what the linked page is about. Hence, serving a purpose in both Lawyer SEO and user experience.
Using irrelevant anchor text isn’t just going to inconvenience readers. Site crawlers might also read it as spam or an underhanded way to get backlinks.
The same principle applies if you’re using keywords as anchor text. So again, you need to make sure the anchor text fits organically and is not forced for the sake of keyword optimizations.
There might be some debate on how to best optimize some Lawyer SEO factors, but some have proven to be complete no-no’s. All of the above no-no’s can not only drag you down the rankings but might also lead to complete de-indexing.
Fortunately, most of these mistakes you can recover from. Once you fix your keywords and backlinks, you could start climbing up the SERPs again.
That said, why learn the lesson the hard way? If you know what to avoid, then you won’t have to deal with the problems that come with them.
JC Serrano is the founder of 1000Attorneys.com, one of the very few private enterprises certified to process lawyer referrals by the California State Bar. His marketing strategies have continuously evolved since 2005, incorporating ever-changing SEO strategies into lawyerleadmachine.com.