With increased competition on search engines like Google and Bing, it takes a concerted effort to achieve a high ranking and even appear on page 1 of a search engine results page (SERP). For your law firm’s website to appear on page 1 organically, above your competitors, you’ve got to continuously optimize your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). The art of SEO generally includes crafting authoritative keyword-rich content, having the proper site architecture, building backlinks, and avoiding black hat techniques. One element of SEO that’s often overlooked, but is crucial to a website’s performance is technical SEO. Technical SEO refers to the process of optimizing your website for search engines, so that they can read, interpret, and rank your website without any problems. Refer to our checklist below to learn how you can diagnose and fix technical SEO issues that may impede the performance of your law firm’s website.
A Technical SEO Checklist for Law Firm Websites:
1. Check your website sitemap.
A sitemap is a file that has information about your law firm website’s pages, and the relationships between them. It’s like a map that informs search engines about the organization of your site content, ensuring accurate readability. Check your sitemap for any errors that might compromise your website’s ranking. Make sure your law firm website has a sitemap registered with Google Search Console (GSC), that it is clean, concise (less than 50,000 URLs), accurate and up-to-date. In GSC, you can run a simple report to check for any sitemap errors.
2. See how many of your pages are indexed.
When a page is not indexed, that means that it will not appear on a prospect’s search. This is a bad thing for most pages, especially your homepage, attorney bio pages, and service pages. To check how many pages are indexed, you can use a tool called Website Auditor. Use the “Domain Strength” tool to see how many pages are indexed. You’re hoping for a number that’s close to the actual number of pages on your site. If there are gaps, look into what to do to address those pages.
3. Use an SEO crawler to make sure key resources are being crawled.
This is another task where a tool like Website Auditor will be helpful. You can see which pages are prevented from being indexed. You’ll want to check for orphan pages, which are those that exist on your site but aren’t linked to internally. Orphan pages aren’t indexed by search engines and don’t allow visitors to continue navigating through your website. Orphan pages can hurt your bounce rate and lead to missed opportunities of engagement and retention.
4. Make the most of your crawl budget.
That figure is the number of a website’s pages that search engines crawl during a certain period of time. You can see this number by looking in the Google Search Console under “Crawl Stats”. To amplify the crawl budget, you can do things like clean up duplicate content or restrict the indexation of pages that don’t offer SEO value, and remove or fix broken links.
5. Audit your internal links.
Review all of your internal links. Broken links can have a negative impact on your site’s SEO and usability. Also pay attention to click depth – ideally any page is no more than 3 clicks away from the home page.
6. Check for mixed content.
Mixed content presents a security risk for your website and its visitors. Mixed content problems happen when a secure page (loaded through HTTPS) also contains styles, images, scripts, or other linked content served via an unsecure HTTP connection. Make sure that all links on your HTTPS site, as well as redirects and canonicals, point to HTTPS pages directly.
7. Ensure pages load in 2 seconds or less.
Or, if that’s not possible, make sure pages are loading as quickly as you can get them to. Google has confirmed that they expect pages to load in less than 2 seconds. Therefore, speed is a ranking signal as well as a UX issue. There are several tools online to help you diagnose page speeds.
8. Your law firm’s website must be mobile-friendly.
Google has recently started migrating sites to mobile-first indexing, which means that they will index the mobile versions of websites instead of their desktop version. It’s never been more important to check how mobile-friendly your web pages are. Check each page and put them through the mobile tests suggested by Google.
9. Have search engines re-crawl your site.
After going through our 8-step checklist, you’ve likely diagnosed several items and critical issues. Some of these issues can be corrected yourself, while others will need to be brought to the attention of your website developer. Once corrected, to make sure all of the work has been done properly, have search engines re-crawl your pages. To do this, go to Google Search Console and go to Crawl > Fetch as Google. Enter the URL of the pages you want to be re-crawled and then click Fetch.
Technical SEO is the foundation of a solid online presence. It’s important to make sure your law firm website is navigable not only by people, but by search engines too. As years go by, your law firm’s website goes through changes. You may embed videos on your practice-area pages, write new blog posts, update attorney bios, etc., which all leave room for technical SEO problems to arise. Thus, a well-developed digital marketing strategy should always include a plan to consistently monitor technical SEO.
If you need help diagnosing and fixing technical SEO problems on your law firm’s website, contact us for help. We are a team of seasoned website developers, SEO specialists, digital marketing strategists, and legal writers. We can work with you to develop an SEO strategy that improves your search engine visibility and drives more qualified leads to your website.