I’m going to walk you through EVERYTHING you need to know about SEO for personal injury lawyers. And I’m going to hold your hand through every step.
Because you CAN do SEO and get more clients from it. You have to be able to see through the smoke and mirrors — the distractions.
I can help with that. I’ve been doing SEO for injury attorneys for more than a decade. And I’m sharing everything I know in this guide — in simple, everyday terms even a total beginner can understand.
Let’s get started.
Get a grip on the basics before diving into the more advanced topics.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a set of tasks and processes meant to make your personal injury firm’s website appear more in Google.
That might mean appearing for more search queries that people type into Google (keywords). Or appearing more prominently for those keywords. Or even appearing higher in Google Maps.
It’s all SEO.
And while there are DOZENS of tasks that fall under the SEO umbrella, you can break them down into five distinct categories:
We’ll go into much more detail on those five categories later in this guide, but that’s all you need to know for now.
Why should you care about SEO as a personal injury attorney?
Because EVERYBODY uses Google. That means your potential clients use Google.
SEO helps you get in front of them when they search for legal information. Or an attorney.
This isn’t just me guessing, either. The numbers back it up:
In other words:
SEO is how you get new personal injury clients. And that’s why you should care.
Sure, billboards work. But they’re pay to play: All your competitors can buy billboards in your area.
But you know what they can’t do? They can’t all rank No. 1 for your main keywords.
But YOU can. If you learn to do your SEO right. And that puts you at a huge advantage when you’re competing for the very best personal injury cases in your service area.
You can’t do great SEO until you have a solid understanding of how search engines actually work. So let’s get the basics down.
First, a quick caveat:
I’m mostly talking about Google. They have more than 90 percent of the search engine market share in the U.S. — they have for years now — so they’re the main search engine to understand.
But they’re all pretty similar. In fact, most search engines have based a lot of how they work on how Google works.
So, here goes:
Google uses computer programs to “crawl” the internet. These programs are called bots, spiders, or crawlers, depending on who you talk to. Google just calls it Googlebot, so that’s what we’ll call it.
Googlebot “crawls” the internet by following links. So it sees a hyperlink on one website and follows it to the website at the other end of the link. Then it follows all the links on that page to discover all the pages on that site — and all the other sites the new site links to.
This is the process Google has used to process billions and billions of websites.
Once Googlebot reaches a page, it reads the content of the page and tests a host of other factors. It uses potentially hundreds of proprietary signals to decide whether the page should be added to Google’s index — the repository of websites Google uses to populate search results.
If the page meets the criteria for indexing, Google indexes it and moves on.
Then, when a Google user enters a search query related to the page, Google uses an algorithm to call up the page and others like it in the index. Then it uses potentially hundreds of so-called “ranking factors” to decide in which order the relevant pages should rank.
Not sure about the whole “ranking factors” part of that explanation? Nobody is.
That’s because Google keeps the factors it uses to rank content really close to the chest. It rarely confirms that something is or is not a ranking factor.
Some SEO experts have pretty strong opinions about unconfirmed ranking factors. But as a beginner who has a law practice to maintain, you need to worry about the ones that REALLY move the needle.
If you’re interested, SEO expert Brian Dean of Backlinko has compiled a list of potential (unconfirmed) Google ranking factors. But the three I described above are the most important factors in personal injury lawyer SEO.
The basic ingredients for an SEO strategy are simple:
I’m going to assume you have the first two and proceed by giving you No. 3: SEO knowledge.
Follow the steps below, in order, to do your own personal injury SEO. I promise that your firm’s website will be MUCH better off by the time you’re finished.
On-page SEO is what you do on the visible parts of your website to make it perform better in search engines.
Here’s what that entails:
You really can’t do ANY SEO until you’ve identified the keywords you would like to rank for.
But how do you do that?
You can guess what people might be entering into Google. But you really need to back it up with data.
So, make an investment in an SEO tool: Semrush, Ahrefs, and Moz are all great choices.
With access to an SEO tool, you’ll have TONS of keyword research methods at your fingertips. But we’re keeping it simple here, so let’s focus on what will cover the most bases with the least fuss:
Manual keyword research is the process of typing a “seed” keyword into an SEO tool and getting information about the keywords related to it.
A seed keyword is a broad term related to your firm. So try something like “personal injury,” “car accident,” or similar. Don’t forget to add your city or service area to see what that brings up, too.
Type your seed keyword into the tool and view the results. You’ll see a ton of related keywords and their metrics.
The metrics you need to pay attention to as a beginner are search volume and keyword difficulty:
Higher search volume means more potential traffic. Lower keyword difficulty means you’ll have an easier time actually ranking where people will click on your site.
The other keyword research method is about your competitors. It’s a little easier than the manual method.
Just find your competitor’s website URL and enter it into your SEO tool of choice.
They all look a little different, but all SEO tools will give you the option to see the keywords your competitor is ranking for. Review those keywords and make a list of the ones you’d like to rank for, too.
Now that you’ve identified keywords, what do you actually do with them?
You’ll want to create content targeting each keyword, and we’ll get to that later. But you may already have content that does or could target some of the keywords you’ve identified.
You’ll want to optimize those pages for the keywords you’ve decided to target with them. That means including the keyword in the following places:
Not sure what some of those things mean? Don’t worry — I’m going to walk you through all of them below. Keep reading.
The title tag is a field in the code of each page that tells Google what to display as the title in its results pages. It looks like this:
Google uses title tags as a ranking factor. That means you need to write each one carefully.
Include your target keyword at the very least, but remember that you need to entice Google users to click your search result and not someone else’s. So make it compelling, too.
Oh, and you don’t have to know how to code to adjust your title tags.
If your site is on WordPress (or some of the other common content management systems), just download the Yoast or Rank Math plugins. They’ll give you a quick and easy way to adjust the title tag of every page you’re editing.
Meta descriptions are the text that appears right under the title tag in the search engine results:
They’re similar to title tags in that way, but they are NOT a ranking factor.
So why should you care about meta descriptions when you’re doing personal injury SEO? Because Google bolds users’ keywords in meta descriptions (see the image above), and you can use them to entice users to click through to your website.
So, include your keyword in each meta description. And write it in a way that will convince users to click.
Same deal here — you can use Rank Math or Yoast to edit meta descriptions without touching any code.
Internal links are links on one page of your site that point to another page on your site. And they’re a HUGE factor in SEO.
I’ve seen internal links grow massively in importance over the years. And there’s no sign of this slowing down.
Google uses links and the text you include with them — called anchor text — to understand the relationships between webpages and rank them accordingly. And you have total control over your internal links.
So, don’t miss this on-page SEO opportunity.
You CAN get really fancy with this, but in the interest of keeping things simple, follow this basic internal linking strategy for personal injury firms:
Keep it simple like that at first. Later on, when you’re doing more advanced SEO for personal injury, you can try out some more interesting internal linking strategies.
External links are links on your site that link to websites other than yours. Don’t forget about these — they’re an opportunity to associate your site with highly credible, authoritative websites.
An easy strategy is to link to your state statutes any time you’re writing about a particular law. And when you’re discussing particular injuries your clients may face, link to a health authority’s webpage about that injury.
Keep it fairly sparse — no more than two or three external links per page. But DO include external links.
Header tags are HTML tags that determine the relative importance (and styling) of a particular piece of text.
Search engines use them to understand what content is about. They go from H1 to H6, with H1 being the most important.
There should be ONLY one H1 per page. It should contain your keyword and serve as the on-page title of the content.
H2s are your broad sections, and H3s are subsections beneath H2s. This pattern continues down through H6, although you’ll probably never have reason to go beyond H4 with web content.
Try to make your header tags keyword-rich. And use them liberally. They are good for search engines AND online readers, who use them to skim content for what they’re searching for.
You can select header tags in Google Docs or right in your WordPress content editor. Here’s what it looks like in Google Docs:
You control the URL of each page on your website. And each URL should contain the main keyword you hope the page will rank for.
So, if the page is “Minneapolis Car Accident Lawyer,” the URL should look like this:
Now, it’s likely that many existing pages on your injury firm’s website do not follow this rule. That’s OK.
I recommend leaving those URLs as-is and applying this rule for all new URLs going forward.
Because if you change the URL of an existing page, you can create a lot of SEO problems for yourself. And you might lose some rankings in the process.
In general, it’s not worth it to change URLs just to include the keyword. But it IS worth it to include the keyword from the get-go.
Technical SEO is, well, technical. So it’s hard to discuss it in depth in a beginner’s guide to SEO for personal injury lawyers.
So, I’m not going to. At least, not in full.
I’m only going to talk about the parts of technical SEO that you can easily address yourself. Without the help of a professional technical SEO provider.
The stuff I’m not going to discuss here matters, but it’s just not appropriate for a beginner’s guide.
With that, let’s dive in.
One of the most essential aspects of SEO, period, is helping search engines crawl your website.
Otherwise, they may never know your pages exist. And then you’ll never get any traffic from Google.
There are a lot of technical, back-end things you can do to affect crawl rate, budget, etc., but that’s too far in the weeds for a beginner’s guide.
So here’s what you should do right now:
There are a couple of tricky technical issues that could prevent Google from indexing your site. We won’t go too deep there, but let’s start with this simple trick:
Google this: site:[your website’s homepage URL]
If Google shows no results, then you probably have a major indexing problem involving either the noindex tag or your robots.txt file.
If that’s the case, contact an SEO professional for help.
If you see a bunch of your website pages, that’s great. Google is indexing your site.
Pro tip: You can check any specific URL on your site with this method. And then you can pop the URL into Google Search Console for even more information on the page’s indexing status.
Check your website’s URL. Does it say “HTTP” or “HTTPS” at the beginning?
It should say HTTPS. If it says HTTP, you have an SEO problem.
This is a security issue that Google cares a lot about. It can affect your SEO performance.
The fix is pretty technical, but there’s good news. The vast majority of web hosts will force a HTTPS redirect for your site for free as part of your hosting service.
So contact your web host immediately if you have this issue.
Website loading speed is an EXTREMELY complicated topic with tons of rabbit holes to go down. But you can keep it simple and still promote better loading speeds (which helps your SEO).
First, make sure any images you’re using are compressed. Use Shortpixel to compress images before you upload them to your site.
Then, install a minification plugin. WP Rocket is one of the best.
When you ask it to minify your code, it will remove unnecessary parts of your website’s code. Which speeds up your website without affecting functionality.
Off-page SEO encompasses a few concepts, but the most important factor is backlinks. These are links on other sites that point to yours.
Backlinks have been one of the most important SEO ranking factors since Google’s very beginning.
Here again, you can get pretty complicated with personal injury SEO backlink strategies. But we’re going to keep it simple here.
Here’s what you need to know:
You can get yourself into trouble if you get the wrong backlinks. If you buy spammy links that have no relevance or traffic to support them, you could get your entire site removed from Google.
So don’t do that.
Instead, either work with a high-quality link builder or engage in the following safe link building tactics.
Start with your law firm directories. (Hint: You’re on one right now.)
If you don’t have a backlink from your listing on each directory, you’re missing an opportunity. So, add the link.
Some directories will want you to pay to do so. If they have traffic (you can check in your SEO tool), then it’s probably worth it.
It’s not the sexiest link building tactic, but it is the safest: Create amazing, unique content, and the links will roll in (eventually).
I’m not talking about a blog post you bang out in 25 minutes before lunch. I’m talking about in-depth thought leadership or original studies in your practice area.
That’s the kind of stuff that racks up backlinks.
I’ll even give you a freebie:
Pull the car accident data for your city. Find the five most intersections where you’re most likely to have a car accident, based on the data. Write an article about that and let your local news sites know about it.
That’s a pretty quick way to get a few high-quality backlinks, and that’s just one idea.
Call it guest posting, media outreach, or whatever you like:
The point of this personal injury link building tactic is to contribute quotations or even whole articles to websites that are relevant to your firm or practice area.
And in doing so, you get those websites to link back to your firm when they credit you.
This takes some work. It’s not easy. But it can yield incredible results if you stick with it.
So, get started:
Note: Backlinks are an INCREDIBLY important and complex topic. We’ve kept it surface-level here, but if you want to learn more, check out this comprehensive guide to building backlinks.
SEO content for personal injury firms can be broken down into two main types:
You’ll need to create a piece of content to target each of the keywords you would like to rank for. And you’ll need to be:
But most importantly, you need to nail the search intent. In other words, you need to create the content Google users are looking for when they search for the keyword you’re targeting.
That’s the most important factor — search intent. It’s what Google is looking for first and foremost. If you nail it, you’re primed to rank.
Local SEO isn’t important for everyone, but it IS important in SEO for personal injury lawyers.
That’s because you’re trying to rank locally — in the geographic area you serve. That may be a single city, a state, or a broader region. But it’s geographically anchored.
Local SEO is complicated, and I’ve got a whole guide on local injury law SEO that you can dig into.
But when you’re just starting out, the most important parts of local SEO are:
You’re already doing the local keywords bit if you’re following my advice from the keyword research section.
But the GBP (formerly Google My Business) part is a little more involved. Essentially, it’s what influences this part of the Google results:
And how you show up in Google Maps:
Luckily, it’s not complicated. You just claim your profile. Then, you fill it out. Follow every single step and add as much information as possible.
Make a plan to take advantage of the ability to post on GBP, too. Treat it like a social media platform.
And finally, encourage your clients to leave reviews on your GBP.
Google likes it when you use their toolset. And GBP is one of their favorite tools.
Trust me — fully optimizing and utilizing your GBP is one of the most important ways to dominate at local SEO.
After you start doing your own SEO, you need a way to see if it’s working. There are a few ways to measure SEO results:
You’ll want to see all of these rise over time. And you can measure them with Google Search Console and your paid SEO tool of choice.
But really, there’s only one measurement that actually counts:
In other words, the number of people who are visiting your site after seeing it in Google and then contacting you about a viable personal injury claim.
That’s the measurement that matters. But if you’re doing your SEO right, you’ll see leads start coming in.
This isn’t everything there is to know about SEO for personal injury lawyers. But it IS everything you need to know to get started.
So, what’s next? How do you take this all further and get even better results?
By taking our course on SEO for personal injury attorneys. It’s the most comprehensive course in the game, and it’s focused on getting more cases for YOU. Best of luck.