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At the start of any SEO campaign it is very important that a reasonable amount of time is spent researching and considering which keywords your law firm should use.

Within this article we shall explore: what keywords are, how to choose the right ones and how they should be incorporated into your law firm’s SEO strategy. We will also look at many of the ways that they should not be used, so as to avoid an unwanted search engine penalty.

What are keywords?

Keywords are the words or phrases that are most relevant to the services your law firm provides and the locations that your firm is able to serve. For example, a keyword (or key phrase) for a solicitor in London might be: ‘solicitors in London‘, or they might want to be more specific and include the area of law that they specialise in such as ‘family law solicitors in London‘, or perhaps they would like to be even more specific and include the London borough or town where their office is based and so they might instead use something like ‘family law solicitors in Ealing‘.

The more relevant your keywords are to the legal services your firm provides and to the locations of your firm’s offices, the better. This is because search engines such as Google work on complex algorithms that are based on relevancy. The more relevant something is, the higher it will usually show for related searches.

Evaluate the competition

As mentioned above it is very important that your keywords are highly relevant to your legal services and also to the locations of your firm’s offices, so this would be the first consideration.

The next consideration for your keywords is how strong is the competition for such keywords. In other words, can you realistically outdo your competitors that are also targeting the same legal services?

This is where the research really begins as targeting keywords that you have no chance of obtaining a page 1 position for, will usually be a waste of time and money.

To do this you will need to evaluate the strength of your competitors websites. This will include examining their backlink profiles and their website’s content to determine how much work will need to be done in order to compete with them.

It is also important that you do not make this decision based on how big or small your competitors are, as a small law firm with excellent online marketing skills can get ahead of a larger law firm in the search engines if they know what they are doing.

How to incorporate your keywords into your SEO strategy

As we focus on providing SEO for lawyers, we have a lot of experience as to what works when it comes to keywords and what doesn’t. So from this experience we will now share our insights as to how you should incorporate your keywords into your online marketing efforts.

Meta tags

Meta tags are bits of text based code that you cannot usually see when you visit a website but Google is able to read them.

The ‘meta title’ is the most important and this is the one that should contain your keywords. Remember that people will also be able to read the meta title on many  occasions as Google often shows these so you should ensure they make sense to humans too. If people think that they look odd then they will be less likely to click on them.

The next meta tag is the ‘meta description’ which you should focus on human visitors for as many believe that Google does not consider the meta description tag when calculating search engine positions. They will often be shown though in search engine results so you should ensure they are informative to human readers. It is not a bad idea to include your keywords (naturally) in the meta description but this does not have the same weight as the title.

A third meta tag that you have probably heard of is the keywords meta tag. Google does not consider this for rankings so this one is optional but unlikely to have any positive impact for your Google positions. Many people choose not to include these now as the evidence for most seems to suggest that it does not help.

The h1 heading

If your website has been built / coded correctly, then the main page titles should be within a h1 tag. The h1 tag is a html based tag but it basically makes the statement (from a code perspective) that the title within the h1 tag is the main title for the page. This is not the same as the meta title tag, as the h1 tag should be a visible heading on the actual website which people can read. Search engines can also read the html structure of a website and so they are also able to read where the h1 tag is.

It is a good idea to include your keywords within your h1 heading at the top of each page. As these headings will also be the main readable headings for each page on your website, you should ensure that they will also be appreciated by humans too.

Body text

The body text for each page should naturally be relevant to your keywords and you should also include your keywords within this text. You should not unnaturally repeat the keywords as this will not help. Mentioning them a few times in suitable places is usually a good idea though.

Alt tags

Alt tags are HTML tags that are associated with images. You should use genuine alt tags that describe the images rather than trying to fit more keywords on the page as the purpose of alt tags is to describe images to people that are not able to see them or that have difficulty seeing images on a screen.

Many online tools will recommend putting keywords in all tags but this is not a good idea. You should use the meta and HTML tags correctly so that you avoid over optimising a page.

Things you should not do when incorporating your keywords into your law firm’s SEO strategy

Now that we have explored things that you should do when incorporating your keywords into your SEO strategy, it is time to look at the things you should not do. This is important as this will help your firm to avoid a Google penalty and will also help your SEO efforts to be much safer and effective.

Keyword stuffing

You must avoid putting too many keywords within the main text for each of your web pages. This is something search engines can detect easily and will usually do far more harm than good for your search engine rankings.

A good test to check for this is to read each of the web pages back to yourself. If it  sounds like you have repeated the keywords unnaturally, then you probably have repeated your keywords too frequently.

Remember that you also need to impress human visitors too and not just search engines. People expect excellent content from a law firm’s website, so ensure that this remains a priority.

Capitals for everything

Putting lots of capitals in headings and page titles might standout more but it is not appreciated by humans or search engines. It will not help your rankings and does not look professional so you should avoid trying to capitalise everything just to make things more noticeable.

Repeating your keywords in titles

It will not help to repeat your keywords more than once in your page titles so this should be avoided. Remember that page titles can also be seen in search engines so these also need to be appealing to human visitors.

Creating low quality blog posts just to match more specific legal searches

Whilst creating high quality content on legal issues related to your main legal services is an excellent SEO strategy, creating low quality content that does not provide any real value to people is a bad idea. Lots of low quality content just informs both humans and search engines that a website is full of low quality content which really won’t help.

Keywords conclusion

Within this article we have explored: what keywords are, how to choose the right ones for your law firm, how to include them within your firm’s SEO strategy and how they should not be included.

Keywords are an essential part of any SEO campaign and so doing your research early and preparing a strategy for how they should be included within your firm’s website will usually make your online marketing efforts much more effective.

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