SEO for Divorce Lawyers: Understanding SEO for Family Law

Frank Olivo

Frank Olivo is the founder of Sagapixel. He writes on a number of topics related to digital marketing, but focuses mostly on web design and SEO.

Table of Contents

SEO presents a number of opportunities that are unique to family law marketing.

This is a guide to SEO for divorce lawyers aiming to get more divorce clients through your websites. You’ll learn about some of the unique SEO opportunities available to family law SEO that simply do not exist for practices focused on other areas of law. You’ll also get an introduction to the best practices for each of the three parts of SEO.

If you’re hoping to get a primer on what effective SEO for divorce lawyers looks like, what you’ll have to do if you decide to do your own SEO, and what you should be looking for if you decide to hire a legal marketing company that offers SEO services.

If you’d like to talk to someone about your website, click here.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of making your business more visible on search engines. There are three pieces to doing SEO for a divorce lawyer, which are no different that doing SEO for any attorney:

  1. Ensuring your website is accessible to Google, allowing it to index your website optimally.
  2. Creating relevant content that aligns with what your clients are searching for. This means you should not only aim to rank for “head terms” such as child custody lawyer but also for the common questions clients research before contacting an attorney.
  3. Maximizing the “authority” or “trustworthiness” of your website by creating content that earns links to your website and fulfills search intent. Earning links from other websites is a critical part of SEO that will have a tremendous impact on your search rank. Also, family law is what Google calls a “Your Money or Your Life” area of content, meaning that it is subject to additional scrutiny by the search engine. Your website must aim to establish itself as a trusted resource for content related to divorce law in the state where you practice.

SEO is a very common strategy used in law firm marketing. This article will outline what goes into each of the three activities involved in SEO.

Technical SEO: Fixing Any Technical Issues With Your Website

If Google can’t access and understand your website, it isn’t going to show it in search.

Any credible legal SEO agency will begin a new project by performing a technical audit of your website. This is something that requires a specific skillset that your web developer most likely doesn’t have. While your developer may have told you that “we do basic SEO when we build a website,” that usually means that they installed a WordPress plugin. There’s a good chance they dropped the ball with a few key items.

What is Involved with an SEO Technical Audit?

One could write a book on performing a technical SEO audit of a website. I’m just going to give a high level overview of some of the things involved with a technical SEO audit.

We have a 77-point technical SEO audit we perform on all our new clients. Here are some examples of what is on it.

Example #1: Noindexing Autogenerated Low Value Pages

To start, we make sure Google is able to access the pages we want it to access, while preventing it from accessing content we don’t want it to show.

For example, WordPress generates a lot of archive pages that add little value to a divorce attorney website. Having dozens of pages of category archives, tag archives, date archives, and author archives on your website that provide no value to the user does not send signals that your website is high quality.

We almost always add a noindex tag to these archives so Google doesn’t waste your crawl budget crawling and indexing them.

Example #2: Making Sure You’re Delivering the Preferred Version of Your Website

Another example of what goes into a technical audit is to make sure there’s only one version of your website being delivered to Google.

A common mistake we find is that both the www and non-www versions of your website are available. This can cause a number of issues, including the dilution of link equity from other pages, holding back the potential impact of links earned from other websites.

We may also find that while you have an SSL installed on your website, the non-https version of your website may still be available.

This means that if someone were to access the non-encrypted version of your website on a coffee shop’s wifi and fill out your contact form, pretty much anyone on that network could easily intercept that person’s personal information.

This is not only an SEO issue, but potentially a legal one as well.

If you’re interested in learning more about technical SEO audits, you can read this guide.

Content: A Critical Part of SEO for Divorce Lawyers

SEO presents a number of marketing opportunities for divorce lawyers that are not necessarily available in other areas of law.

A common misconception about SEO for divorce lawyers is that the goal is to rank #1 for divorce lawyer near me.

This is a goal of doing SEO for divorce lawyers—maybe even a primary goal—but it is a very shortsighted view of SEO.

Buyer’s Journey Content to Find Divorce Clients

Marketers refer to the process of going from realizing you need a service, to researching the options, to making a purchase as a buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey for a divorce law client differs substantially from that of, for example, a personal injury client.

Often, if not usually, the buyer’s journey of a divorce law client will begin with informational searches related to their particular legal issues.

Before a client performs a search such as child support lawyer near me, she’ll often perform searches such as how is child support calculated in NJ? or can I move from NJ to PA if I have shared custody of my child?

These types of informational searches are often referred to as “long-tail keywords.”

The people behind such searches will often need a family law attorney very shortly and your blog article was the first touch point they’ve had with a law firm. This is an opportunity to establish credibility and demonstrate your knowledge of the specific legal issue they need help with.

It is also an opportunity to pitch your services. Having a sticky sidebar contact form and a sticky header with your phone number placed prominently are both keys to converting these website visitors into paid consultations.

It can also potentially be an opportunity to retarget them with Facebook and YouTube ads, though you may want to take a light touch with this, it can be fraught with issues when you’re dealing with such a delicate area of law such as family law.

It’s Often Easy to Rank for Long-Tail Keywords

While it will likely take some time to rank on page 1 for “divorce lawyer in XYZ city,” these queries are often extremely easy to rank for.

If you know how to select your content topics—more on that later—there’s a good chance that you’ll write the post and show up on page 1 within weeks, if not days.

What Should You Write About?

Just writing about random topics you think of is going to be a massive waste of time.

There are three boxes a content topic must check off to justify covering it on your blog:

  1. There must be “purchase intent” behind it. Covering a topic such as “5 tips to make your divorce go smoothly” does not have a clear purchase intent behind it. “A Guide to Adjusting Spousal Support in Pennsylvania” does.
  2. There must be enough search volume for the keyword in the market you serve. If 5 people search for an esoteric topic related to family law every month, you’re wasting your time.
  3. It must be of an appropriate level of difficulty to rank for. If a topic has already been covered thorough by USA Today and the NY Times, don’t waste your time.

Knowing how to uncover opportunities to rank for the queries potential clients are entering into Google is a specific skill that requires training and experience. Trying to do this yourself is likely to result in a lot of wasted time writing articles that end up on page 5 of Google or that no one ever searches for.

That said, if you have the time and willingness to learn, I encourage you to learn how to do it. Ahrefs has a great series of videos on this topic. Here is one of these videos:

On-Page Optimizations to Maximize Relevance

There are steps you can take to help Google understand what each of your pages is about. This is what most divorce lawyers think of when they think of SEO, but it goes way beyond “putting the right keywords on the page.”

Setting Title Tags and Metadescriptions

Your page’s title tag is the most important place for you to include the keyword you are targeting. The text in blue in the photo below is an example of the title tag of this article:

SEO for divorce lawyersIncluding your targeted keyword in the title tag is the easiest thing you can do to help your article rank for a given query.

The metadescription does not directly impact the search results, but it will influence people to click on or skip your result.

Your title tag has a limit of roughly 60 characters and your metadescription has a limit of roughly 160—use them wisely.

Schema Markup

Schema markup is code that is added to a page that tells Google what a page is about. This is what it should look like:

schema markup for lawyer

This code provides a ton of information about the law firm. Everything from its basic address, phone number, latitude and longitude to its hours of operations and its social media and directory listings are given to the search engine.

There is specific schema type for lawyers. It’s probably beneficial to use, as opposed to the default “organization” added by SEO plugins such as Yoast.

There are additional types of schema markup you may use to add structured data to your website. Most divorce lawyers can benefit from adding article markup to all blog posts (which is likely added automatically by a plugin if you’re using an SEO plugin such as SEOpressor or RankMath).

It’s probably worth adding FAQ schema to a page that contains answers to frequently asked questions. This will allow for the first three or so questions and answers to be displayed right on the search engine results page (SERP). Superlawyers has implemented FAQ schema on many of its pages, resulting in its results displaying like this:

SERP for lawyers

Not only does this allow you to stand out in the SERP and occupy more real estate, it can be an opportunity to entice the searcher to click on your result.

Google Wants Thorough Content

Techniques for ensuring your content is thorough could be a guide itself. I gave a webinar for Local Marketing Institute on this exact topic some time back (click on the link in the previous section to check it out).

I’m not going to go deep into this topic, but I will share a few of the techniques we use to ensure that we cover a topic thoroughly, a key part of on-page SEO.

Check What the Top Results Cover

Make sure you’re looking over all the top results for the query you’re targeting. Make sure there aren’t any important subtopics you’re missing.

Check “People Also Ask”

This part of the search engine results is autogenerated based on what Google believes is related to the query a user has entered. You better believe that it thinks they’re related to the keyword you’re targeting.

This is what the “people also ask” looks like:

people also ask

This can be a valuable resource for touching upon topics that Google has identified as being related to the topic you’re writing about.

Optimize Your Copy Using Natural Language Processing

After Google indexes your page, it uses a type of machine learning called natural language processing (NLP) to determine what it’s about. It also determines the quality of the content.

Wouldn’t you like to know how Google interprets your content?

This is the last step we take to on-page optimizations at Sagapixel. We run the content through Google Cloud’s NLP to generate a report to see how it categorizes the text and what entities seem to be the most salient:

nlp results google cloud

Once we have the results, we compare them to the top ranking results.

This step often helps us to tweak the content to enable Google to better understand what we are writing about. It also helps to better align with what Google believes people want to read about when they perform a specific search.

Build Authority and Trustworthiness Through Linkbuilding

Link building is the most difficult part of doing SEO for divorce lawyers.

It is also potentially one of the most impactful.

One of the main factors Google uses in determining the search rank of a page is the number and quality of links to a page, as well as the links going to that page. This system is known as PageRank.

Earning links to your website is a critical part of doing SEO for a divorce lawyer. This section will talk about the three main methods we use for building links for our divorce lawyer clients.

Again, this is not a thorough guide to link building, but you should walk away with an understanding of how we earn links for our clients.

Creating Citable Content

The best way to build links is to do it passively.

Unfortunately, it’s not easy.

Why would a website that doesn’t know you link to you?

Usually, it’s because they’re citing something you wrote to support something they’re writing. Statistics and studies are the most likely way to do this, though this type of content can be extremely time-consuming to produce.

Often you’ll need a very good SEO to identify these opportunities and produce the kind of content that passively earns links.

Guest Posting

A surefire way to earn links is to become a contributor to other websites. At the very least, you’ll earn a link in the author bio. At best, you’ll be able to work links to content on your website though your guest posts.

Guest posting is a time-consuming process:

  1. You need to find websites relevant to family law.
  2. You need to find the contact information of the editor.
  3. You need to pitch the article.
  4. You need to write the article
  5. You need to send the article, then follow up to ensure it’s actually published.

It is very time-consuming. We’ve developed a process for doing this at scale using three different people specialized in different parts of the process. It’s definitely not something you want to do all yourself.

Broken Link Building

Broken link building is the process of finding dead pages on the web that already have a number of links, recreating the content, then reaching out to the linking websites to ask them to swap out the link.

It’s even more time-consuming than guest posting, but it can potentially generate tons of links.

Doing broken link building as a part of an SEO plan for divorce lawyers is tricky. It’s hard to find content relevant to divorce or family law that would make sense on a law firm’s blog. We do look for these opportunities for our divorce lawyers, but it is often a nonstarter.

SEO Can Have a Massive Payoff for Divorce Lawyers

Unlike other areas of law where the only way to “win” at SEO is to rank for something like “personal injury lawyer near me,” SEO for divorce lawyers can be quite easy to start generating leads.

Search also plays a key role for divorce lawyers. While people are likely to ask for recommendations for an estate lawyer on websites like Facebook, they don’t do this on social media. That’s why Google is such a critical part of the buyer’s journey for a divorce lawyer.

SEO is also semi permanent. Unlike paid advertising, it doesn’t stop once you’ve paid for it.

A divorce lawyer’s website that ranks well for a query should continue to rank well for that query for a long time, potentially continuing to drive leads for years.

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