There was a time when all you needed to rank in a Google search was to write a lot of good content for your website. Unfortunately, those days are long gone. Websites like Avvo, FindLaw, and others are almost always going to rank on page 1, pushing real law firms to page 2.
You would need thousands of dollars invested in your website to even begin to compete. Even then, ranking above Avvo is not guaranteed.
What can we do, when search ranking for lawyers is so competitive? There are 3 main ways to still get on page 1, without outranking Avvo. Your first priority should be your local SEO.
Local SEO for Solo and Small Law Firms
In brief, local SEO is making sure your law firm ranks in your geographic region. You do this by making sure your listing is on the major directories, like Google My Business, Yelp, and Bing. All the info you put onto the internet needs to match, so unless you have satellite offices, use the same info throughout.
Local SEO is important because you want to rank in the "local 3-pack." Currently, the local pack appears above the first result. If your law firm has good reviews and consistent web presence in the directories, you will "beat" Avvo in search rankings.
Focus on Long Tail Keywords
As business owners, we tend to focus on the simplest keyword. For example "Ann Arbor MI attorney" might be a keyword that you would pursue in that area. If you can rank for that keyword, great! However, you could be missing out if that is your only focus. Instead, long-tail keywords are focusing on full questions that people may search for. For example, "will I lose my home in a bankruptcy," or "does my insurance cover uninsured drivers?"
These are questions that people with legal issues inevitably ask before they call a lawyer. By answering these questions, you can position yourself as the expert in their case.
Work on Your Review Strategy
Getting reviews can help you two-fold. First, your listing in the google local pack will be helped with healthy reviews. Second, reviews in general will show potential clients that you are a great attorney.
Getting reviews is easier than you think, all you have to do is ask. The key is asking at the right time and in the right way. First, you don't only have to ask when the client's case is complete. You can ask for a review when they sign with your law firm, during their case, or even right before the case closes.
Second, make sure you are following up with the client. Give them plenty of opportunities to leave a review. Make sure a link to your Google, Facebook, or Avvo page is in the footer of every email you send them.
Finally, make it easy for them. Don't send them blindly to Google and expect them to do all the footwork for you. Make sure they have direct links to your page, and they know what they are supposed to do.
Working on all these items will certainly help you compete on Google, but the rules change everyday. Focus on doing the right things, and avoid shortcuts. Google is always refining their process, and they will surely punish you for any tricks.