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Most law firm websites have similar issues when it comes to search engine optimization — some major, others that are relatively simple fixes. But almost half of the websites I see are missing the basics. Title tags, for example, can have a huge impact on your rankings.
While Google looks at over 200 metrics to rank a website for certain keywords and phrases, the title tag is still one of the most important factors.
I’m glad you asked! The title tag is what shows up at the very top of your web browser. It’s also what shows up in search results along with a description of the content of the web page. Here is an example of a title tag as it appears in a browser tab:
The title tag is the first line the search engines read and it tells them what a website page is about. It is considered one of the most important signals when it comes to on-page optimization, so it’s imperative you write the title tags in a way that helps Google (and site visitors) understand what the pages of your site are about.
Essentially, it all comes down to one important element: using the proper key terms.
If you’re an IP lawyer, your title tag shouldn’t read “IP law.” Why? Because a potential client won’t search that way in Google.
Stop to think about it: If you could rank for “IP law” would you want to rank for it? Probably not. You’re an “IP lawyer” and that is what people are searching for, so that’s what you should place in your title tag. You should also spell out “IP” with the words “intellectual property” so that the search engines know what the page is about.
Now that you know you should have the service you offer in your title tag instead of the area of law you practice, let’s add another very important keyword phrase: the location you service.
If you practice law in New Jersey — then your title tag should read “Intellectual Property Lawyer in New Jersey.” Doing this will increase your site’s ability to show up when people search for “Intellectual Property” and use the geo modifier.
Law firms often put the location before the service in their title tag. This is a mistake. While location is important, it’s secondary to the key term (IP Lawyer).
Always start with the key phrase that’s most important.
Avoid repetition as much as possible. The only thing worse than a poorly optimized title tag is a spammy one. Repeating your key phrase, using variations of the same phrase or trying to optimize one page for multiple terms are also bad practices you should avoid.
Should you optimize for the term “attorney” or “lawyer”? Google understands that they both mean the same thing. If you have to choose one over the other — use the word lawyer. Why? Most people associate with “lawyer,” thanks in part to mainstream media. Think of the term “lawyering up!”
One more tip: Never place your firm name before your main keyword. Why? If every page on your site starts with the firm name, Google could see these pages as duplicates and not recognize it as the brand name. Also, if there isn’t much content after the firm name, Google may not see enough uniqueness and it may exclude those pages in search results.
Joe Balestrino is an expert in search engine optimization. Based in New Jersey, Joe has more than 13 years in digital marketing and is former head of SEO strategy at ALM Media. You can learn more about Joe’s work with law firms here and follow him on Twitter @JoeyBalestrino
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