How to use SEO to build your legal brand

legal brand

Ranking for your name as an attorney is one of the more worthwhile tasks related to online marketing. Even if you are working for a large firm, ranking well for your name can pay dividends long into the future, especially when it comes to generating direct leads or striking out on your own. Ranking for your name is a tactic that involves developing a consistent presence across many popular websites. Here are some websites to start with and tips for making the most of them.

Before you start

Lawyers should be mindful of their state bar code of ethics and other rules for marketing. Every association has its own guidelines, so it’s important to follow those in the state within which you practice.

Fill out online person profiles

Many popular professional profile and directory sites rank very well in organic search. These sites usually have been around for a while and have thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of users.

Avvo

Avvo, which continues to surge in the legal space, is becoming one of the leading sites to visit for online legal research and resources. With a knack for humor in recent television advertising and a robust directory of high-quality legal professionals, Avvo is quickly becoming the go-to legal resource for consumers and a high-quality marketing tool for lawyers.

Creating an Avvo profile is easy, but to get the most out of your profile, you should fill it out entirely. Not only can a more thoroughly completed profile contribute to a higher rating, but it also accomplishes something important that many people don’t realize: the additional content affects organic rankings and the SEO for a branded name search. This additional content helps an Avvo profile rank higher than an unclaimed or incomplete profile in online search results.

Click here to claim your free Avvo profile

For ambitious lawyers, contributing to one of Avvo’s blogs can also score some authoritative inbound links. Lawyernomics, for example, has a healthy Domain Authority of 80 out of 100. Do follow links from high Domain Authority pages on Avvo properties can be beneficial for rankings in search.

domain authority

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your Avvo profile:

  1. Increase your Avvo rating: Avvo’s rating system uses an algorithm based on the content of an attorney’s profile. By adding items like awards, legal associations, publications, work experience, and other elements, lawyers can increase their rating on Avvo.
  2. Keep your profile up to date: Obsolete information is bad for users, and it is also bad for your standing on Avvo. Keep things like your employment role current, and be sure to eliminate certifications that may have expired. If you have outdated information, consumers will be less trusting of your overall attorney image.
  3. Consider sponsored listings: A sponsored listing on the platform can get lawyers that extra bit of exposure they might be looking for. Profiles that are sponsored show up at the top of search results within Avvo (with a sponsored listing label).sponsored listing
  4. Add your practice areas: This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you do not include a practice area on your profile, you will not show up in practice area-specific results on Avvo. Be sure to add all the practice areas you want to be shown for, even if you are promoting one specialty more than another.

LinkedIn

Searching for a person by name almost always shows that person’s LinkedIn profile on the first page of search results. A social network specifically designed for professional networking and promotion, LinkedIn is a great place for lawyers to add information about their background. Here are some tips for making the most of LinkedIn to get your profile to rank above similar names in search:

Fill out your profile completely:

  • Write a compelling description and make it long
  • Include special cases you have worked on in the projects section of your profile
  • Add links to other profiles you have created on the web
  • Add skills that are relevant to your practice area and the legal industry in general
  • Add a professional photo
  • Add special certifications and other unique credentials in addition to your law or other higher education degrees
  • Add relevant past experience that highlights what you want to be known for

Leverage keywords:

Keywords in your profile information are used by both search engines and within LinkedIn to make your profile appear in relevant search results. If you want to show up in searches for specific legal practice areas, make sure those keywords are in your profile. Here’s where to put them, if possible:

  • In the title of your current position
  • In your description/summary section
  • In descriptions of past work experience
  • In project sections
  • In credential sections
  • In volunteering sections

Put relevant keywords in your profile wherever it makes sense. As with Avvo profiles, make sure you add the practice areas you want to show up for in search results.

Add additional information to past positions

You will notice that each past position you add to your profile gives you the ability to add documentation, photos, links, presentations, or videos. Add whatever information you have as long as it is relevant to that job or work experience. Not only does this add content for search engines to find, but it also makes your profile more appealing to people who are interested in you professionally.

Get connections

Reach out to people you already know in the offline world and connect with them on LinkedIn. Import your email account, and all of your contacts will automatically be sent an invite to connect with you. The more connections you have, the more visibility you will get, and the more likely it is that people will engage with your content.

Get endorsements and recommendations

Don’t be afraid to reach out to former clients or employers and ask them to recommend your services or give you endorsements for your skills. You’ll have to work a little harder for recommendations, which have to be written and submitted and therefore take more effort and commitment on the part of the person submitting them.

About.me

About.me is a site dedicated to helping people create profiles about themselves. About.me profiles can display pretty much whatever the creator wants, whether that be personal or professional information. This service is perfect for lawyers because users can customize their page to fit their particular needs. In addition, it is an authoritative site that, like LinkedIn, gives lawyers the ability to publicize brand-boosting information about themselves.

Some other benefits of creating a profile on About.me:

  • Lawyers can add multiple links to other profiles and websites
  • They can upload custom imagery
  • They can add tags, keywords, and links to other social accounts
  • It is easy to set up, and it’s an authoritative site

Facebook personal profile

Whenever you hear about marketing on Facebook, it’s usually something to do with Facebook business pages. But lawyers can also market themselves using their personal profiles. Even though there are limits to the number of friends a personal profile can have, lawyers can still rack up 5,000 friend connections before hitting that maximum.

Other than some administrative elements, a Facebook page is similar to a business page, and attorneys trying to rank for their first name will be fine using it that way. Like LinkedIn, Facebook profiles tend to show up high in name searches. Keep in mind that the majority of Facebook is not indexed by search engines, but basic profile information is. Here are some tips for making the most of your personal Facebook profile:

  • Fill out all information fields as completely as possible
  • Add contact information, and ensure that it is consistent with other profiles you have on the web
  • Add a website URL
  • Work on making connections with the account

Build out attorney web properties

Starting a personal offsite blog

Attorneys can start a blog on a free blogging platform like Blogger, operated by Google, or WordPress. Starting a blog doesn’t have to involve anything groundbreaking. Create a blog about a practice area in which you have a lot of experience and add content on a regular basis, at least  2 to 3 times per month. .

You can then use this blog to link to your own website, link to your other online profiles, and to promote yourself as a legal professional. Your blog will also serve as one more piece of content that search engines can display as it relates to your name in search.

Having a profile page on a website

In addition to maintaining an offsite blog, attorneys can also create a page on their personal website or their firm’s website to promote themselves professionally. Here are some tips for making the most of that process:

  • Add a profile image to the page (with the file named after yourself)
  • Add your name to the meta description, title, and headers of the page
  • Add your name in the copy of the page
  • Add your name to the alt attribute of any images on the page where relevant
  • Ensure that any links pointing to that page have your name as hypertext

Buying your .attorney domain name

If you do start a website or offsite blog, buying your .attorney domain name is a good move. These domains were released specifically for legal professionals. Having a domain name that is an exact match for the keyword phrase (in this case a name) may still have some significance in search.

An attorney-specific domain name also solidifies you as an attorney in the eyes of users. These domains lend a degree of credibility to the owner because obtaining .attorney domain names requires certain credentials

If you’re currently working for a firm, branding yourself as an individual might not be at the top of your list. But it never hurts to start. Many attorneys eventually strike out on their own, and having a strong presence in search results for their name can lay a good foundation for future self-promotion. All it takes is some time, consistency, and a concerted effort to dominate the first page of results for your name.