How We Get Law Firms to the Top of Google (and Ahead of Local Competitors)
There is a difference between having a law firm website and having a website that actually makes you money by bringing in bigger cases from brand-new clients.
Most criminal defense firms have at least launched a website by now, but too many are still missing that second mark, and it’s either because the site is poorly designed or because their Google rank is too low.
This distinction between great-looking sites and great-looking + firm-growing sites is our focus at Black Fin.
We are a team of legal marketing experts who do only one thing: use the internet as a tool for making law firms grow.
We do that through web design, SEO, and all the other tricks of the trade, employed strategically. It’s both a science and an art — a discipline that requires experience and straight-up knowledge about:
- How Google works,
- How people use the internet to find lawyers, and
- Which website elements actually convert legal prospects into clients
To understand these things, you have to understand your audience. And not all legal audiences are the same. A website for corporate defense lawyers is fundamentally different from a website for criminal defense lawyers — or at least it should be.
Our agency works with law firms of every stripe and size, but this webpage is going to focus specifically on web design and SEO for criminal defense lawyers. We will explain:
- Why we are obsessed with Google rankings for criminal defense law firms
- What works on a criminal defense website vs. what doesn’t
- Our approach to criminal defense web design (from aesthetics to mobile device optimization and beyond)
- Why strategic content writing is critical to competing against other criminal defense firms in your jurisdiction (and how we can beat them for you)
- That getting to the top of Google isn’t a guarantee, but it also isn’t a shot in the dark… there’s a roadmap to success, and we have our hands on it.
Web Design for Criminal Defense Lawyers: A Subpar Website Leaves Money on the Table
Being a lawyer means being busy, and it also means being an expert in a lot of things… but not necessarily in web design.
No problem. That’s our job. So to begin with, our goal in designing criminal defense websites is to make them:
- Great for Google
- Great for potential clients
- Easy for you
Let’s take a closer look at each of those goals.
Great for Google
Google and the other leading search engines use complex, proprietary algorithms to determine your law firm’s search engine rank (SER). The exact formula is shrouded in secrecy and constantly changing. Careful study is the only way to crack the code.
The written content on your site is so important to giving Google what it wants. We’ll dive into that in the next two sections. But you can’t focus on words alone.
Style, form, function, speed: these things matter too. Google is looking for websites that will give its search users a great experience. That means your website needs to be:
- Fast loading
- Easy to navigate
- Organized pursuant to a site map that web crawlers can make sense of
- Compliant with Google’s best practice recommendations (e.g. using only the right kind of pop-up chat window)
…among other things. A lot of this is technical in nature and taken care of on the backend. It’s a matter of starting with the right template foundation (we use WordPress and you should too) and then knowing how to build a fast and fluid website on top of it.
Great for Prospective Clients
People don’t browse through criminal defense websites for fun. It’s no one’s idea of a lazy Sunday. Nor are they hungry for a deep dive into your county bar association memberships or your outstanding tenure on law review.
They’re there to get answers, get justice, get money, and find the best possible lawyer for the job.
In other words, while your website should exist to make you money, it should also help clients understand how you can get them money too.
We always design criminal defense websites with your client’s journey in mind.
The average criminal defense client doesn’t know the finer points of state law, they don’t know how to defend themselves, and they don’t know what separates great attorneys from average ones.
Most people feel a great deal of inherent skepticism toward lawyers — however unfair or misguided that stigma might be.
So right off the bat, your website has a few jobs to do:
- Get people to your website in the first place.
- Once they’re there, overcome their skepticism. Establish credibility and authority early on in each webpage and blog article.
- Answer their questions (with enough information to be worthwhile but not so much that you’re boring them, overwhelming them, writing a treatise, or crossing that bridge from general information to attorney-client advice).
- Be easy to read, easy to navigate, and easy to remember.
- Call them to action. Explain why they should contact you for a free consultation, and then make it easy for them to do so.
A website that meets clients where they are is a website that will lead them to take action. After all, you do have what they need. Our websites make that case.
Easy for you
The #1 complaint we hear about competing attorney web design agencies is that they’re difficult to work with. They’re sluggish. They don’t answer the phone. They won’t make changes when you need them. Their sites don’t stand out. They demand long-term commitments. They charge more than their results are worth.
You don’t mind investing in your website, but you want ROI. And you don’t have time to worry about it yourself.
We get it.
Most lawyers would wash their hair off their websites altogether if they weren’t necessary for the growth of a firm.
We get that too.
Black Fin is here to shoulder that burden for you. And because our entire business is based specifically on law firm website design, you can rest assured of our expertise.
We’re proud of our customer service. It’s the reason we earn rave reviews across the board. More importantly, it’s the reason we get our clients actual results — measured in Google rank, client intake, and firm growth.
You can be as involved as you want to be, but all we really need is for you to choose from one of our five beautiful layouts and various color schemes. Our team can handle everything else from there.
Let us make it easy for you to have an awesome-looking criminal defense website that gets the job done… and then some.
SEO for Criminal Defense Lawyers: Your Google Rank Is (Almost) Everything
Nothing about criminal defense SEO is easy. Nothing.
Did you know that legal services are the single most crowded, competitive industry in all of SEO?
Attorneys spend more money on SEO marketing than anyone else. And their relevant key terms require the costliest PPC bids.
There is a reason it’s so competitive. Google is how people search for and find lawyers today. So SEO is how law firms make money. It’s the new phone book ad, the new TV commercial, the new radio spot.
Even when your competition is primarily local (as it is for many PI firms), you have more than your fair share of competitors. And studies consistently show that absolutely no one goes beyond Page 1 of the Google search results. Most people don’t even scroll past the first half of Page 1.
So getting toward the top of Google means everything. But as we mentioned, it’s a huge challenge. So how do we do it at Black Fin? (And we do it often… both for our clients and for ourselves. In fact, we have the top spot on Google for “Attorney SEO.”)
Black Fin’s founder, Gerrid Smith, has been working in SEO for criminal defense lawyers for about as long as law firm websites have existed. You might say he’s obsessed with it. (He says that, and we all say about it to him, so you can say it too.)
He’s developed a two-month SEO launch strategy that essentially takes your existing website (or your soon-to-be website if you don’t have one yet) and optimizes the hell out of it.
We use smart strategies – none of the shady or outdated “black hat” stuff that gets other web agencies in trouble (things like keyword stuffing, for example… it does not work!). We take advantage of literally every single Google-compliant strategy that exists to prime your website for Page 1 search result success.
You can read more about that two-month strategy in detail on our general law firm SEO page, but it’s important to understand that this is just the beginning. Think of it like building your rocket pack. After those first two months, it’s time for us to shoot you into flight… and then to keep you there. (But if you stop fueling the rocket pack, you’ll fall back down to no man’s land, i.e. Page 2.)
Maintaining great SEO for criminal defense lawyers means:
- Creating great new written content on a regular basis
- Link building
- Website promotion
- Building preeminence for your firm through review sites like Google, Yelp, etc., as well as attorney rating websites like Avvo
- Social media marketing
- YouTube video marketing (hugely important yet often overlooked)
- Google Maps and Local Search marketing
- Exploring opportunities to promote your firm on third-party websites (e.g. guest blogging, press releases, etc.)
- Creating content that ties into news, trends, and events within your city/market
- Staying on top of SEO best practices and changes in Google’s algorithms… these change all the time!
- Constantly running analytics to identify where your website is excelling vs. what needs to improve
- Monitoring your top competitors’ SEO efforts to stay competitive
Getting great results in criminal defense SEO never happens overnight, and it will never be a one-and-done proposition. Anyone who promises otherwise is either inexperienced or is trying too hard to make a sale. But with the right strategies, your firm can absolutely dominate the
Writing for Criminal Defense Websites: Content, Tone, and Language Matter
Too often lost in all the focus on Google results is the importance of great writing after the fact.
In other words, you can bring ten billion people to your website, but if none of them like what they read when they get there, none of it mattered.
So many criminal defense websites feature blog articles and practice area web pages that are:
- Poorly written
- Overly lawyerly
- Stuffed with incoherent/unnatural keywords
- Focused on the lawyers and their credentials instead of the accident victims and their needs
Google’s algorithms are getting pretty good at penalizing that kind of content, but even if yours manages to get by, you’ll still fail to connect with potential clients. Remember: your prospects are only one back click away from hiring your competitor instead.
Strong writing matters for every type of law firm, but it’s especially important for criminal defense attorneys. Did you know, for example, that the amount of time a reader spends on your site directly impacts the website quality score that Google assigns you?
Because criminal defense is such a competitive field, it’s imperative that your quality score be as high as possible.
And because the criminal is so inherently personal, it’s equally important that your website’s tone resonates with them on a personable, human level.
Don’t talk at them; speak to their experiences instead.
At Black Fin, we do that by working with expert copywriters who have extensive experience in criminal defense law and in writing for accident victims.
Through blogs, webpages, press releases, and more, we create written copy that is both credible (establishing you as a deeply knowledgeable authority in your field) and organic (using natural, relatable language that empathizes with the reader, making your whole website about them and what they need).
Our writers emphasize “you” language over “us” language.
You are a well-educated professional with a doctorate degree, so the content on your site needs to convey a sense of professionalism, education, and authority. It needs to be well researched and accurate. In other words, it needs to read like it was written by an attorney (sans legalese). That’s something most law firm marketing agencies just aren’t able to offer.
Black Fin websites meld professional competency with relatable empathy.
And we are always sensitive to the delicate demands of attorney ethics rules. (See our list of 6 common website mistakes that get law firms in trouble with the state bar.)
As with any other aspect of criminal defense SEO, content writing is both a science and an art, and we’ve committed ourselves to master both.
No Criminal Defense Law Firm Is Too Big or Too Small
We’ve created websites for countless criminal defense firms, ranging from one-person offices and boutique practices in smaller towns to major, multi-city law firms with hundreds of attorneys operating on a national level. In fact, we are working with many law firms on both ends of that scale right now.
No practice is too big or too small for our team of experts. Our strategies are tailored to your firm’s size, scope, and goals.
Whether you focus on local car crash cases or class-action lawsuits against pharmaceutical manufacturers across all fifty states, we’re here to deliver the results you need.
Let Us Turn Your Criminal Defense Website into a Money-Making Firm Grower
Want to learn more about Black Fin’s approach to web design and SEO for criminal defense lawyers? We usually start with a free website audit, which is your chance to find out exactly what is (and isn’t) working on your website right now — and the steps we could take to get you better results.
With Black Fin, there are no long-term commitments or contracts. But we do want you to have a spirit of commitment — that is, a determination that you absolutely can and will beat your competitors in SEO. It’s possible, and we can make it happen.
We offer a different kind of web design experience for law firms:
- Honest, transparent communication
- Pricing that makes sense for your law firm’s size and needs
- Results you can read and understand on a regular basis, and
- A passion for being excellent in everything we do
Stop worrying about your law firm’s Google performance and start actually improving that performance today. Better results are only one contact form or phone call away. Reach out to Black Fin right now.