Law Firm Marketing: The Ultimate Guide for 2022
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Law firm marketing involves understanding your customer’s needs and promoting your legal services to them using paid and organic strategies. It is necessary to ensure your firm has a filled pipeline of high quality leads.
However, most attorneys today struggle with framing a robust law firm marketing plan that helps them reach and persuade their audience. They end up relying on referrals and the courthouse for getting new clients — which are both unsustainable in the long run.
As an award-winning law firm marketing agency, it’s no surprise to us that firms had a utilization rate of merely 31% in the Clio Trends 2021 Report. Today, we want to share law firm marketing strategies to improve your financial performance.
Ready to grow your law practice? Let’s get started!
According to the American Bar Association (ABA) 2021 Websites & Marketing Report, the smaller your law firm’s size, the less likely they will have a strategic marketing approach.
From firms with 100+ lawyers, 84% indicated having a marketing budget. However, that number falls to 55% for law firms with 10-49 attorneys and further falls to 35% for ones with 2-9 lawyers.
No wonder then that the above survey’s respondents were not super confident of their law firm marketing efforts. They reported confidence of 3 (on a scale of 1 to 5) for their marketing effectiveness.
If you’ve to improve your promotional efforts — and in extension your bottom line — you need a law firm marketing strategy in place and internal marketing staff. This begins with allocating a marketing budget. It could be up to 15% of your annual revenue, depending on your law firm’s existing reputation.
Once you allocate a budget and hold someone accountable for your marketing, it’s time to draft a marketing strategy. It can include:
- a detailed understanding of your target audience and their buying journey,
- your marketing goals,
- marketing channels you’ll focus on,
- unique selling points of your services,
- how you’ll price the services you provide to your legal clients,
- and the core values that define your law firm brand.
Customer research and competitor analysis could help you find the above components. You can even conduct a SWOT analysis (of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) for your firm. Here’s an example of a firm in the first year of its operations:
Next, you need to devise a plan with the tactics you’ll execute for achieving your legal marketing goals. This will also document the person(s) responsible for the channel(s) you’re integrating into your marketing, the marketing budget you’re putting behind them, how you’ll track the impact of your campaigns, and other necessary info.
Here are sample law firm marketing plan examples you can use for inspiration.
The backbone of your entire law firm marketing efforts is your website. It represents your law firm brand and will probably be the first place where your potential clients will first be looking when considering hiring you — even if they become aware of your law practice offline.
Indeed, the ABA 2021 Report of law firms we referred to earlier found that 94% of survey respondents now say they have a website. However, only 69% of them confidently say it’s mobile-friendly.
As a trusted law firm website design agency with over 300 law firm websites in our portfolio, we’ve found that legal clients like interactive and responsive sites. You need visuals and videos to engage your visitors. Clients also expect remote payment and video conferencing options.
Of course, your design should rely on carefully chosen colors to communicate your brand’s values. Further, in the light of the page experience update by Google, there’s even more emphasis today on page speed and overall user experience as measured by your Core Web Vitals.
For instance, for one of our clients, our website redesign SEO efforts helped to lift their search rankings across the board.
Here’s how The Pendergrass Law Firm’s website traffic looked like back with their outdated design between November 2021 to December 2021:
And look at the increase in their overall traffic and keyword rankings between January 2022 to March 2022:
Their new website was launched on 11th Jan.
If you want to build your website DIY, WordPress is a great content management system (CMS) with many premium conversion-focused themes that can represent your law firm. You’ll also find lots of out-of-box solutions (WordPress plugins) to ensure stellar SEO upkeep for your site.
Here’s a one-hour tutorial on building a law firm website from scratch:
Law firm SEO is arguably the most effective channel for your law firm to get new clients. We know because we have results and offer specialized niche law firm SEO services for numerous law practice areas, including immigration lawyer SEO, divorce lawyer SEO, personal injury lawyer SEO, and DUI lawyer SEO.
As per a Milestone research study of 500 location-based websites, organic search brings 69% of digital traffic.
SEO has three crucial components: content, links, and technical SEO. While working with our clients, we allocate our resources (based on the client’s budget) across these.
You need to conduct an SEO audit using a tool like Ahrefs (an SEO tool), then create a custom strategy allocating resources based on your website’s current requirements.
Let me share some examples.
One client came to us with multiple websites and competing pages fighting for the same keyword. So we cleaned their website, built a new one, rewrote some of their content, and built links. Here’s the timeline of how we executed their SEO campaign:
The client’s rankings jumped across the board for a bunch of personal injury and worker’s compensation keywords in the Fresno California area (which was the client’s goal):
For another criminal defense attorney in St. Petersburg that worked with us, they started with not ranking in the top 100. However, as we published new SEO content and built some links for them, their ranking position jumped in a few months:
Already been doing SEO for a while?
Here’s a 20-minute tutorial by Ahrefs to conduct an audit and see where you stand:
The Ahrefs Webmaster Tools offers a free site audit tool that can be helpful to diagnose obvious issues with your site:
Typically law firm SEO services between $3k to $5k per month (or even more) depending on the competition in your market.
Are you a solo attorney and plan to pursue SEO on a brand new, technically robust website? Then keep your efforts focused on the law practice areas that already make up a significant chunk of your revenue.
Here are three steps for the same:
Step 1: Find the money keyword for your primary law practice area and add local keyword data to it. This could follow the format: “[your primary law practice area] + [business location].” For instance, “uber accident lawyer Chicago.”
Step 2: Create a page on your website targeting this keyword. You can use Surfer SEO’s content editor for crafting optimized content.
Once you plug your main keyword into it, the tool returns suggestions of phrases to use and topics you need to cover in your writing. Based on your usage of them in your content, it gives you an overall content score. Aim for at least taking it in the green zone.
Here’s an example screenshot for our example keyword. You need to consider the keyword suggestions in the right sidebar while creating content:
Step 3: Look at the overall competition in search engine results pages (SERPs) for this keyword and plan a link building campaign to match the authority of your competitors. For our example keyword, Ahrefs tells us that we’ll need to get links from 3 websites to get in the top 10:
However, you’ll need to get more granular in your SERP analysis. The Domain rating (DR) — a measure of a website’s overall authority as per Ahrefs — of websites ranking on the first page are no less than 17:
So you’ll have a hard time ranking for this keyword without building your domain rating — which calls for building links.
I’ve already written a detailed guide on link building for law firms. Choose a couple of tactics from there to build links to your specific “money keyword” page and your website’s homepage. I recommend you try guest posting and HARO in the beginning.
Once you start building authority (as per SEO tools like Ahrefs) and ranking on the first page for your primary practice area, it’s a signal that search engines have started trusting your site. From there, you can target new keywords and keep building links.
There are two prime real estates you can own as a local business in SERPs: local pack and localized organic results.
Let’s first talk about dominating the maps. While I’ve covered local SEO for lawyers in detail, let me reiterate the three key local ranking factors as per Google:
You can’t control the distance of your prospect searching for your services from you. However, optimizing your Google Business Profile (GBP) (earlier called Google My Business or GMB) and getting reviews can help you with the other two factors.
For our clients, we’ve found the following aspects improved their Google My Business SEO:
- Carefully chosen primary and secondary business categories in their listing,
- The usage of relevant keywords in their GMB title,
- Complete business information.
Read Google’s detailed guidelines for businesses and ensure you comply with them.
You also need to build citations with consistent NAP + W (name, address, phone number, and website) across the web from local directories, social profiles, and the like.
So you need to clean any incorrect, incomplete, and duplicate citations first. Plugging your details inside the Moz Local Listing tool can help with finding these:
It will return an overall score and show you what’s missing in local listings on various directories. For instance, for the Chamber of Commerce directory, it lists that the law firm I entered above has an inconsistent address (highlighted in red color):
You can also use the Whitespark Citation Finder to find more potential citation opportunities for your business.
Further, getting more positive reviews for your listing is crucial to your rankings, equivalent to word-of-mouth referrals, and a powerful marketing tool.
Now offering incentives to bias the reviews in your favor is against Google’s guidelines. However, you can simply provide stellar services to get more satisfied clients. Then encourage them to share their experience of working with you.
Next, come your local organic rankings. For gaining top spots here, the most important factors as per a Brightlocal survey of local SEO experts are:
Let’s focus on the top two of these in your control: on-page and links. We’ve already talked about these, but let’s talk specifically about creating optimized location pages as they are important for your local SEO.
Of course, you need a dedicated page for the location and practice area your business serves. However, should this be your homepage or a separate page on your website?
Well, it depends on your competition.
For one of our clients, Jesse Minc, we reoptimized their homepage for the phrase “personal injury lawyer Bronx” and did some internal linking.
Their rankings jumped (data as of August 2021).
From there, you should consider creating a content hub for all the law practice areas you offer services in for your primary business location. For starters, here’s a video that explains what I mean by content hubs:
Here’s an example of a personal injury attorney for whom we allocated over 15k words of content — one page each for every practice area:
If you’re expanding multi-location, you should pursue multi-location SEO. This can call for restructuring your website and creating content hubs for every location across all the practice areas you want to serve.
For one of our law firm clients, Fasig Brooks, we changed their homepage from being optimized for their home location to incorporating a multi-location plan. Last year, we created 70 pages of high quality SEO content — standing at 86,710 words — across these locations:
Here’s a sample of the content targets for various target keywords in Jacksonville:
The result of such massive strategic content being published has been a jump in rankings of the target pages across locations. Here are the results for Destin:
And here’s Panama:
See how content hubs can power your keyword rankings. More importantly, they lead to an increase in your targeted traffic, leads, and conversions. Fasig saw growth in form conversions by 86% last year:
But hey, when you create such pages, as our ex-head of SEO, Mr. Taylor Murchison, proclaims, “always be internal linking.” That’s how search engines understand your website’s architecture and its content. Then establish you as a topical authority on a subject.
You can establish the content hierarchy and internally link from the top navigation of your website:
But you should also link from every page across others. For instance, you can use the sidebar on every page:
Law firms — and many marketers — tend to equate SEO with content marketing. However, any content you post on the web can influence a prospective client.
So think multimedia content across formats, including podcasts, videos, graphics, and emails. And maintain a consistent production cadence — even if it’s one content piece per week. That’s how you establish credibility and build trust with your audience.
Let’s start at the beginning, though.
Do you have a standard style guide for writing content for your law firm?
If not, here’s a client content questionnaire we use for law firms we begin to work with:
It’s an extensive document with over 20 questions. We ask attorneys across parameters like:
- the laws in their state,
- their business goals,
- the USP of their services,
- the tone and brand image they want to portray,
- any do’s/don’ts they want our legal writers to keep in mind, and the like.
To nail your law firm’s brand image that you want to portray in front of target clients, you’ll need to create a similar content style guide.
Need some inspiration?
Mailchimp’s content style guide is a great resource.
Next, you need to identify the ideal formats your audience likes to consume content in. One of the most common ways most attorneys begin content marketing is blogging.
As per the ABA 2021 Report, it’s used by 37% of surveyed participants. It also found that the two major reasons for legal blogging are:
- for client development at 88%,
- or because attorneys enjoy writing and outreach (at 59%).
What do you blog about?
Try to answer the pressing questions of your ideal clients before they consult you. Even better, if you can find a relevant keyword to target based on such identified subjects. For instance, one of our clients, Jesse Minc, have covered “lien” in a post:
It ranks for a bunch of relevant keywords, including “lien case”, so it can drive them some new clients:
You can also cover general trends in your niche industry that can impact your clients. Overall we’ve found blog posts effective in ranking our client sites:
Once you have a content repository, you can repurpose the existing content in small infographics, Ebooks, whitepapers, or even turn them into an email autoresponder.
For example, 72% of law firms indicated they used client alerts to market their law firms in 2021. So if you cover trends on your blog, you can repurpose them into such alerts.
If you prefer speaking over writing, try audio and video formats. Podcasts and videos are relatively underused and an intimate communication medium that can deepen your relationship with your clients.
For instance, Scott Reisch, a criminal defense attorney, runs “Crime Talk”, a podcast around crime. His YouTube’s crime channel has reached over 200k subscribers:
Such social proof on social media via multimedia formats can help your law firm get more clients. However, your goal should be to:
86% of law firms indicated having a presence on social media as per the ABA Website & Marketing Report. LinkedIn and Twitter top the list of platforms:
As per the report, lawyers on social media for professional purposes use it majorly for career development, networking, and client development.
I’m here to tell you that you should treat social media as a brand awareness channel where your target audience can engage with you.
For one, organic social media posts on most platforms are little. So you’re essentially putting efforts to build your audience on rented land of social platforms that you’ve little control over — because they change their algorithms pretty quickly.
The only option you’ve is to pay to reach the audience that you built. However, for direct response services of the kind that attorneys offer, social media advertising may not lead to clients directly.
For instance, how often do you see a plumber’s ad on Facebook and book their appointment? The same goes for law firms.
So you can consider retargeting your website visitors through social media ads. Or you can invite them to join your newsletter (or maybe call it a VIP list) — if you have an email marketing program in place.
Ultimately don’t expect direct ROI from social media marketing efforts. However, it can help you build a deeper relationship with your audience — especially if you pursue video marketing.
Pay per click is a relatively underutilized digital marketing tactic by law firms. The reason is, especially in competitive lawyer markets such as personal injury, the cost per click (CPC) for running Google ads could touch an astonishing $1000.
However, if you run PPC ads on a decent advertising budget (determined best by law firm PPC experts), you can receive leads through your website — much quicker than SEO.
For instance, for one of our law firm PPC clients, we received only 5 impressions and 1 click in the first two weeks. However, in the next couple of weeks, their leads scaled. We got their PPC campaign 150 impressions, 13 clicks, and 8 conversions.
If you’re starting your first campaign, here’s a video tutorial by Google you can follow:
To improve the effectiveness of your campaign, you need:
- Phrases you can target (identified via keyword research) that have purchase intent but are relatively low competition.
- Dynamic ad copy personalized for every searcher (to stay relevant to your prospects).
Here are example ad copies we tested for one of our clients:
- Custom landing pages that communicate your value proposition persuasively (while reaffirming the offer you made in your ad copy).
Here’s a landing page we used in tandem with the ad copies we used:
- A data-backed understanding of your complete PPC funnel so that you can optimize your campaign and bring down your costs. Appending UTM parameters to your URLs can help with the same.
For our PPC campaigns, we use Google Sheets to track the above across different sheets:
Once you start getting impressions and clicks on your ads, track each lead’s quality. On The Map Marketing provides a “Notes” column to our clients for providing feedback on every incoming prospect. You can do something similar for your campaigns.
Want to have more potential clients in your sales funnel that become your high-value customers? Then here are six quick lawyer lead generation tips for 2022:
Attending Chamber of Commerce meetings, sponsoring events, and donating for relevant causes in the local community are some great ways to expand your network. Given that event marketing is the most common law firm marketing tactic (as per an ABA 2021 Report), you’re pursuing offline marketing in some form.
But how would you like to improve the effectiveness of your digital marketing efforts through such offline marketing efforts you’re pursuing anyway?
For example, one of our clients, Fasig Brooks, used to make donations but didn’t benefit from them besides a mention. Here’s one 2019 event they conducted in a partnership but it’s an unlinked mention:
In one of our weekly review calls, they brought such marketing efforts to our attention. Kevin Cook, our SEM product director, explains how it led to helping their law firm SEO efforts:
“We discussed the importance of local backlinks and established a new policy for Fasig to request a backlink whenever they donated to a local event or charity. This resulted in us being able to attain local links at scale.“
Here’s one recent backlink they got as a result of such sponsorship:
The best way to persuade prospective clients to hire you is by making the choice easy. Offering a free consultation during your client intake reduces the buying risk to zero while giving your prospects a taste of your professional services.
Here’s an example personal injury law firm that offers a free consultation on their homepage:
They ask the visitor to fill out the detailed form below to get details of their case:
Such free “case evaluation” also lets you judge the lead quality.
As a small law firm, one of the most effective ways to stand out in SERPs is by focusing on improving your E-A-T — your expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. It first came to light when Google mentioned it in Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines.
For law firms, E-A-T is super important because Google will possibly cover the subject as ‘YMYL.’ Here’s some context on it:
“Some types of pages or topics could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety. We call such pages “Your Money or Your Life” pages, or YMYL.”
Now there are various ways to improve your E-A-T. Marie Haynes, an SEO consultant, shares that mentions and links from authoritative websites can help:
However, author pages could help Google evaluate your E-A-T. August last year, the search engine recommended adding “author.URL” to your article schema structured data:
So publishing an author bio page sharing your legal qualifications and credentials that make you an authority on the subject could help your rankings.
For instance, on their blog, Suzanne R. Fanning, has the author’s name appearing at the top of their blog posts. And it’s linked to their attorney bio page from there:
On their attorney bio page, they have a professional photo, their contact information, a Vcard, and detailed career background:
If you scroll down, they link to their practice area pages, list their education, and the professional memberships they possess. Overall, it’s a well-rounded bio that establishes their expertise.
A new social media platform might take center stage every month, but a good marketing strategy is backed by data. Ultimately paying clients will sustain your law firm business. So track the results of your financial investment on every marketing activity — unless its purpose is pure brand awareness.
Let’s face it:
Most law firms don’t have millions to spend on physical marketing collateral to generate new business. They have limited marketing dollars to get the attention of their potential clients. So if your budget doesn’t cut it, look beyond running ads on TV, newspapers, and radio.
You can begin law firm marketing by creating a responsive website that makes a strong first impression in front of your potential clients. Next, get positive reviews from past clients on your Google My Business page. And start pursuing law firm search engine optimization to get in front of new prospective clients. You can always integrate other marketing efforts later.
If you’re short of time and can’t do this legal marketing by yourself, then hire a specialized digital marketing agency. We’ve worked with small law firms to larger ones — just contact us for a free law firm marketing audit.
Article by Chintan Zalani
I’m the inbound marketing director at On The Map Marketing, taking care of content marketing and SEO for our website. Previously I have helped numerous SaaS businesses with content and got my own website to over 50k monthly visitors. I have written more than 500 articles on digital marketing, small businesses, sales, and related subjects, with my work appearing on the likes of Entrepreneur, Content Marketing Institute, WordStream, CoSchedule, and G2.