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As an immigration law firm, ranking above your main competitors in Google search results will send more leads and more business your way.
The problem is that everybody wants to do that. It’s very competitive.
The firms above you aren’t there by accident.
Most have taken active steps to get to page one of Google because they know that 90 percent of people don’t search beyond the first page.
Backlinko reports that moving up one spot in the search results will increase your click-through rate (CTR) by over 30 percent, on average.
It’s not about quick wins. SEO hasn’t worked like that for years.
Results come when good strategy is applied consistently over a period of time.
You’ve got to start somewhere. Here are three SEO strategies that any immigration law firm can implement to start climbing the rankings…
1. Get your keyword selection and optimization right
Want to know a secret?
Most immigration law firms are targeting the wrong keywords.
The best strategy?
Focus on the keyword categories that follow a typical customer journey. In other words, keywords that target specific user intent.
Many law firms are missing an important fact when they select the keywords to target: not everyone who searches in Google are ready to hire a lawyer.
So, we’ve broken it down into three distinct types of searchers:
Those who want a question answered
Say that an individual wants to investigate whether they can work legally and would like to know the benefits of a green card and if they could obtain one in the local area.
They may visit your website if you can help them answer the main questions in their minds.
These might be something like:
What are the benefits of a green card?
Can I get a green card?
They may not be ready to pick up the phone and hire you just yet. They are just gathering information.
As such, they will enter informational terms into Google that reflect the questions they want answering.
To rank well for those terms, you need to answer these questions on your website and help build awareness of the legal matter.
That’s the first step of the customer journey and many law firms miss it. This can be your opportunity to outstrip the competition and fill the gaps that they’re not filling for their customers.
Here’s how one immigration law firm answers these types of informational queries on their website:
There is another major benefit of answering informational queries.
It encourages you to target long-tail keyword phrases as opposed to “head” keywords” such as “immigration lawyer” or “immigration law firm”.
Long-tail keywords are usually less competitive, which makes it easier to rank for them.
A study by Conductor also found that long-tail keywords convert at 2.5 times the rate of ‘head’ keywords.
Those who want to evaluate and compare
The second stage in the customer journey with immigration law firms is the process of evaluating and comparing law firms.
In this stage, the customer will type different terms into Google in a bid to compare services, success rates, and other people’s opinions and experiences, before selecting the firm they will hire.
So, immigration law firms need to optimize their websites for these types of comparative keyword phrases:
Best green card law firm in Texas
Best immigration law firm
(Law firm name) reviews
(Law firm name) testimonials
First, make sure you have a good testimonials page on your website:
Then you need to try to optimize for phrases like “best” and “top”. This is where you need to be clever as law firm marketing restrictions mean that you can’t claim to be the “best”.
As you can see, you can still optimize for terms like “best” and “top” without falling foul of the law marketing guidelines.
Customers who are ready to hire you
In the third and final stage of the customer journey with an immigration law firm, the customer is ready to hire a lawyer.
This is where many law firms start – and consequently they miss the important first couple of stages that identify important keywords that you can target and optimize your website around.
Here, customers type in transactional terms. They show intent to purchase your services (hire you) with terms such as:
Immigration law firm in (location)
Immigration attorney in (location)
(location) immigration lawyers
These are generally shorter “head” keyword phrases that are more competitive.
However, if you’ve already done the groundwork with the longer tail keywords as suggested earlier, the customer may already be inclined to go with your services.
Enough for now about keywords. On to the next important strategy that can improve your rankings as an immigration law firm.
2. Create long-format, engaging content
Long-format, engaging content should be one of the pillars of your online marketing strategy.
Not only does it help you establish credibility and authority with your target customers. It will also help you climb the search rankings.
But where do you include this content and what should it look like?
I will break it down into a few key areas.
Practice area power pages
Your practice area pages are the most important pages on your website after the Home and, perhaps, About pages.
Treating them as a place simply to “sell your services” is a waste. It may work for a few leads but remember that not all people visiting your website are ready to hire a lawyer.
Practice area pages can be part of a lead-nurturing process as you answer the questions in the mind of your target customers.
The beauty is that Google also prefers in-depth content.
Create one in-depth page per practice area and use it to inform your potential customers about that particular aspect of immigration law.
You will improve page rankings if you apply this consistently.
Create long-form blog posts that seek to inform your audience with in-depth topic coverage. This is the place to pass on all that expertise you possess.
Original, long-form, well-written content that answers the key questions in your target audience’s minds will rank well.
This can include:
Technical articles that explain complex topics in simple terms
Blog posts on key topics for your target audience
Bear in mind that content that keeps a reader on the page for longer (sometimes called “sticky” content) is also better for SEO.
“Dwell time” (the time that a user spends on a page) is an important search engine ranking factor, according to leading SEO authorities.
What should long-form content look like?
To sum up, focus on providing relevant, easily readable information through your content.
Sub-headers and bullets to make pages easier to skim read
Images and/or video included
Short, easy-to-read sentences
Use keywords in the copy naturally to optimize pages.
However, it’s important to write for the reader first and the search engines second.
3. Build authority with active link-building
A third crucial element of SEO for immigration law firms is to pursue active link-building with authority sites.
Google wants to return the best possible results for audience searches. This means including the most authoritative sites highest in its results pages.
How does it judge that?
Partly by looking at which other authoritative sites a website has associations with.
You can influence that by practicing “barnacle SEO”.
This is where you use other websites to improve the search performance of your own website. Effectively, you attach yourself to the authority of other websites.
There are a number of strategies for effective link-building in this way.
By guest blogging on authority sites, you may earn a precious backlink to your own site from an authority site.
This could be:
Legal websites like Lawyerist or Attorneyatwork.com
Other law firms that offer complementary (but not competing) services
Other related professional services websites that complement immigration law
You can build profiles in legal directories with backlinks to your website. These can be either free or paid.
A few of the main ones include:
Winning nominations and awards
Being nominated for awards or named as the “best” or one of the “top three” attorneys in your practice area for your city is a good way to get a quality backlink too.
For instance, these three immigration lawyers in San Francisco all earn valuable backlinks from the Three Best Rated website:
Don’t forget to link to other resources
Backlinks are crucial for SEO.
A quick word on linking to other resources too, though.
Throughout your site, link to other internal pages of your website (how-to articles, service pages, guides, FAQs, etc.) wherever it makes sense to do so.
Also link out to valuable resources that will expand your customers’ knowledge and awareness of immigration issues, legal processes, and other information they may need to know.
This is just good practice – and Google will love it too.
This immigration law firm includes links to useful government sites, for instance:
Start taking SEO seriously – it matters!
The three strategies outlined above just scratch the surface of SEO for immigration law firms but will start you off in the right direction if you’re looking to improve your organic rankings.
For an updated and comprehensive guide to the law firm SEO strategies that can catapult your rankings, check out our article on Law Firm SEO.
This stuff matters – and it’s not as difficult as you may imagine.
By: Calin Yablonski
Calin is the founder and lead strategist at Inbound Law Marketing. Since 2009, he has been working with law firms to design websites and develop comprehensive Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Google Adwords Marketing campaigns.