How Bowden Spratt can dominate the Google results page (and why you’re not right now)
Below is a very detailed analysis of the Bowden Spratt website.
It is not cookie cutter. Every image and every description is for your site specifically. We hope you’ll find it useful.
The explanations are long and detailed but we wanted to ensure you understood every aspect of how to make your site rank better, attract more traffic and turn that traffic into paying clients. Even without our help, many of the recommendations below can be implemented with minimal effort and can make a tremendous impact on your rankings and ultimately your bottom line. We offer this information entirely for free to you, no strings attached. Of course, the underlying intent is to impress you with our knowledge and expertise to the point where we can at least have a conversation about how we can work together in a more long-term fashion that benefits both of us. If you choose not to, then we hope you’ll still use the information in this article – it’s extremely valuable and can truly make a difference.
My name is Perry Hurtt and I run SnugData, a Digital Marketing company in Covington, Georgia. We specialize in helping brick and mortar businesses that serve the local market dominate the Google rankings to help increase traffic flow to their website and ultimately, their business. It started as a labor of love as I truly love helping folks realize their dreams and what better way to do that than help them with their business? It’s a challenging task, it’s dynamic, there’s no “one size fits all” approach but the result is a tremendous amount of value.
Value is one thing, but you aren’t paying your bills or your employees with value. The clear result to what we do is money in the bank. We do this by making your website easier to find, easier to navigate, and optimized to turn visitors into clients. We like to think we create an unfair advantage for our customers, putting them at the top of the Google rankings for valuable and important keyword search phrases.
This isn’t light reading.
You won’t finish this in 5 minutes and, in fact, if you take it to heart and understand the potential impact, you’ll never really finish it. This is an ongoing process but it’s a process that will increase your bottom line by a huge percentage. The Return On Investment for good SEO is probably one of the most attractive you’ll find.
I should clarify: SEO is Search Engine Optimization, or in layman’s terms the art and science of attracting more visitors to your website and converting those visitors into paying clients.
This is a lot of reading and possibly a lot of new material for you. Probably some unfamiliar terms or ideas. We’ve tried to break it up and make it interesting so we hope it’s not boring for you. We’re going to review your website, your content, your competition, your linking/backlink profile and other components of the site with an eye toward identifying and describing exactly what needs to be done to help you dominate the Legal industry in Atlanta, GA.
Here’s a overview and a table of contents to help you navigate:
- Is SEO worth pursuing?
- Is the Bowden Spratt website helping create business or is it a static business card?
- Search results – a more detailed look
- How big is the opportunity?
- Keyword overview and research – getting your piece of 5,000 searches per month
- Large opportunity if played well
- Website analysis
- What would I do?
- Site Speed
- Social Signals
- An example of a very well done website
- 4 questions your website should answer
- Steps to improve your Google Rankings
- Tell Google who you are and what you do
- Create solid content (yes, Content really is King)
- Optimizing your website
- Links and Backlinks
IS SEO WORTH PURSUING?
How well is the Bowden Spratt Law Firm website attracting visitors and turning those visitors into paying clients?
Let’s start with how “worth it” is it for you to improve your rankings on Google?
How much traffic is there to be had?
Where are you ranking today and for what search terms? Are there other search terms you should be targeting?
The next logical question is, how many visitors can I expect from any given search result? Numerous studies have been done on how many Google Users click on the advertisements, how many click on the first result, the second, how many actually look at the Page 2 results, etc. A very well known and often referenced article can be found here by the great guys at Moz. It was done in 2014 but the consensus is that it remains highly accurate.
A few quick numbers from that report are important to understand:
- 71.33% of Google users click a result on page 1
- 5.59% of Google users click a result on page 2 or 3
- On page 1, the first 5 entries account for 67.60% of all clicks while the 6-10 entries account for 3.73% of all clicks.
- The other 23.08% of clicks go to the Advertisements, users clicking the “back” button, entering another Google search, etc.
By position, the percentages are as follows:
- #1: 31%
- #2: 14%
- #3: 10%
- #4: 7%
- #5: 5.5%
- #6 – #10: 3.73%
- Page 2: 3.5%
- page 3: 2.09%
Let’s take a look at your website to see what you are trying to rank for and how you’re doing. Your site clearly spells out that your primary offering is Estate Planning assistance but additional expertise includes charitable planning, family business planning and other areas. Given this, lets take a look at how your site ranks for your primary focus of Estate Planning.
Below is the result for “Estate Planning Atlanta GA” along with detailed explanations of the entire set of results.
With this knowledge, we can look at just about any search results in a new light. We know that if you’re not in one of the top 3 spots, you’re losing a LOT of traffic to whoever is. So lets look at a couple of other results (smaller this time)
Below we see that for the search term “Power of Attorney Atlanta GA”, we can see that the top results (aside from the advertisements) are made up of directory type sites. Remember, Google would rather show a good business site but in the absence of one, they’ll show a directory site. My guess is that other law firms are content to pay the Pay-Per-Click rates to rank for this term instead of having their websites optimized for it. Also, as stated elsewhere, the presence of 3 or more advertisements statistically shows a lower percentage of clicks on the organic results.
Notice that there is not an actual Legal firm in the top three organic results for this search term.
How about another one?
For the search term “Probate Atlanta Ga”, we don’t see any advertisements or many directory type sites. What we do see are government sites (.gov) which are difficult to rank against. We would want to proceed with caution with this type of keyword. Do keep this in mind though, government sites (and educational sites “.edu”) are a special breed of site and can become very valuable to us when we start considering your link profile (explained below). You’ll notice that the very last site on this page is an actual Legal firm (Sanders Legal Group) that is at the bottom of the list. If you take a few minutes and visit their site, it’s not a very good site at all so I would say that there are very few Legal sites trying to rank for this search term which is probably just as well since it seems to be targeted towards mostly .gov results.
For “Setting up a will Atlanta Ga”, we see a single advertisement which is very good for us, (remember, a single advertisement increases click through rate in the organic results), then a couple of directory sites and a government site. A pretty interesting mixture here. I suspect we could do pretty well focusing on this as a keyword for your site. Notice also, Clark Howard’s site is here. Not a great listing for him but his site is very powerful and can be difficult to rank against. By the same token, Clark Howard may be likely to link to an article on your site that explains how to set up a will if that article was good enough. We’ll talk about this approach and how it can benefit you a bit later in this analysis.
A huge opportunity waiting to be capitalized on
One thing I noticed in browsing through your site (and a number of other estate planners here in Atlanta) is a lack of “genuine” content that really related to me personally.
This is an enormous opportunity waiting to be capitalized on.
I see this all the time: the client wants to rank for a search term or a keyword they consider important but since I’m a step or two removed from the client’s business and do this for a living I can usually identify a large number of easier to rank search terms or keywords. In the end, I usually end up proving the client and I were both initially wrong and we settle somewhere in the middle with a great list of terms that are fairly easy to rank for and have enough volume to make them attractive.
We have to remember that people who are looking for your services are searching for terms they are thinking of, not terms you use every day. You know what a Testamentary Trust is because you do it every day but the average person probably searches for something like “eliminate estate taxes when I die”. The content on your website, indeed the very structure of your website, needs to have this in mind to attract the masses.
To drive this point home, the search term “Testamentary Trust’ gets between 10 and 100 searches per month in Atlanta and the surrounding areas. In the same time frame, search terms such as “trusts to avoid inheritance tax”, “trust inheritance”, “inheritance tax avoidance”, “how to avoid inheritance tax” are getting hundreds of searches each month. These terms are also easier to rank for and easier to create content for because they are of more of a conversational nature. We’ll talk more about keyword selection and creating content later on but I wanted to bring this up here so it would be on your mind. This is critical. (If I got the comparisons to Testamentary Trust wrong, my apologies…but I’m sure you get the point)
There are a couple of important considerations regarding the content of your site and how Google users do their searches.
- 16-20% of searches on Google have never been searched for before.
- If you give a second to consider this, right now there are about 3.5 Billion searches performed by Google every day. (I just Googled that!). Research shows that 16-20% of those searches have never been searched for before. This means that for every “how to create a will” search that has been searched for millions of times, there’s about 700 million people searching for terms that have never been searched. Just making this up, of course, but searches such as “how do I create a will after I win the lottery but before I die in January.” I know, odd, but I’d bet somebody searched for it. The point is that we can do research on the 2.8 Billion or so daily searches that are “common”, but those other 700 million are terms and phrases we cannot predict but we can take advantage of. I’ll explain how we do that when we talk about Keyword Research below.
- The information above can be found here: http://www.internetlivestats.com/google-search-statistics/
- People search for words and strings of words THEY think of when they think of your industry (which may be very different than what you, your competition, your friends, or coworkers believe that may be)
- There is also the concept of “Branded” and “Unbranded” searches. People who know you or have used your services before may search for something like “Bowden Spratt how to create a will”. This is a branded search and has a higher chance of resulting in your site showing up very high in the search results. However, this is not the norm although many business owners tend to think it is. Keep in mind, you are not trying to rank for “Bowden Spratt” or “Bowden Spratt Law Firm”. First, you’ll rank for that regardless simply because nobody else is competing for it. But the reason you don’t need to put effort into ranking for that is because most people are doing unbranded searches. Most of them have never heard of you but you need to make it easy for them to find you anyway.
- Consider my own site, snugdata.com. I could put effort into ranking for “snugdata” but really, how many people are going to Google that? I’d estimate about zero. Anybody looking for our services will Google something like “how do I improve my Google rankings”. So I put zero effort into ranking for “snugdata”. Although I put zero effort into it, if you do Google “snugdata”, I come up #1 simply because it’s my brand and nobody else is competing for it. Likewise, there’s no reason for you to put focus or effort in ranking for “Bowden Spratt Law Firm”.
The best plan for success is to create content that answers your actual client’s pain points:
- What are they struggling with?
- What questions do they commonly ask you?
- What are they looking for?
This is the content that will resonate with visitors to your website and I have seen very little of that so far.
We have a content section coming up – so sit tight on that idea!
Okay, so now we know that the your website isn’t ranking very well for a number of popular keywords. Now we need to know how much search volume are those keywords getting? If you are targeting a search term that is getting extremely low search volume, now is a good time to change that up and go after search terms that will attract more visitors and ultimately more clients.
Keywords – getting your piece of 5,000 searches per month
Let’s jump into Google Adwords and take a quick look at how often are people looking for some of the most popular keywords. A keyword is simply a word or strings of words people type into Google when they are searching for something. You’ll see it referred as many different terms, mostly “search terms” but we tend to refer to them simply as keywords.
We will focus on Atlanta and Dekalb Country specifically since that’s the area you can most expect your clients to come from. The information below is taken from Google tools, so this is information straight from the horse’s mouth.
A key focus for you is “Estate Planning” (per the website). If we focus on Atlanta and Dekalb County and search for “Estate Planning”, we get the below results.
The results here are incredibly useful. I’ve numbered the items we should focus on:
1 – Showing this is for Atlanta (and Dekalb County)
2 – Shows the search term used (Estate Planning)
3 – Shows the average monthly searches for terms and ideas that relate to the searched term
4 – Shows the average monthly searches for the search term itself
5 – Shows that there are 701 related results available for this specific search
6 – Starts the list of the 701 results – the two results shown in the image are “Power of Attorney” with a range of 100-1000 searches per month and “wills” with 10-100 searches per month in the Atlanta and Dekalb County areas. In the actual results, there were 700 examples of related keywords that we can consider (I give a good subset of them below)
Keep in mind, the info above is from Google itself, not a tool I created or something somebody else created – this is straight from Google.
As a quick summary, in Atlanta and Dekalb County, there are about 10-100 monthly searches for the term “Estate Planning” but there are between 10,000 and 100,000 monthly searches for terms and ideas that relate to “Estate Planning” and Google is nice enough to give us easy access to 701 of those related terms!
…given this, what terms should we target your site for? A term that gets 100 monthly searches and is highly competitive (because every law firm is focusing on that term) or the other 100,000 or so terms that most law firms are not focusing on. Easy math!
The above is for the keyword “Estate Planning”. Below are the results for “Legal Contracts” and “Business Formation”. You can see the results are pretty much identical.
So what can we do with this info?
#5 shows us that there are 701 keywords provided for each of the terms we searched for. Why Google chooses 701, I have no idea but we can work with it. When you’re Google, I guess you can do things like that. Going back to the Estate Planning results, I’ve downloaded that list, ran some filters on it and ended up with a lot of very good and unique keywords. Below is a subset of that – about 150 of them. Notice the subtle variations of the main keyword – these are all unique searches and, therefore, keywords we can target. Sorry for the long scroll below but I wanted to drive the point home that there are a LOT of keywords we can consider.
|Keyword||Avg. Monthly Searches|
|estate planning||10 – 100|
|power of attorney||100 – 1K|
|wills||10 – 100|
|probate||100 – 1K|
|living trust||100 – 1K|
|trust||100 – 1K|
|living will||100 – 1K|
|estate planning attorney||10 – 100|
|revocable trust||10 – 100|
|revocable living trust||10 – 100|
|last will and testament||100 – 1K|
|elder law||10 – 100|
|wills and trusts||10 – 100|
|living revocable trust||10 – 100|
|irrevocable trust||100 – 1K|
|what is a living trust||10 – 100|
|simple will||10 – 100|
|probate attorney||10 – 100|
|family trust||100 – 1K|
|elder law attorney||10 – 100|
|estate attorney||10 – 100|
|probate law||10 – 100|
|estate planning lawyer||10 – 100|
|estate lawyer||10 – 100|
|estate planner||10 – 100|
|probate lawyer||10 – 100|
|estate planning for dummies||10 – 100|
|estate planning checklist||10 – 100|
|trusts and estates||10 – 100|
|asset protection||10 – 100|
|living trust forms||10 – 100|
|estate law||10 – 100|
|elder care attorney||10 – 100|
|wills and estates||10 – 100|
|special needs trust||10 – 100|
|executor of estate||10 – 100|
|estate planning lawyers||10 – 100|
|wills and estate planning||10 – 100|
|trust attorney||10 – 100|
|estate planning basics||10 – 100|
|what is a trust||100 – 1K|
|estate planning trusts||10 – 100|
|elder care law||10 – 100|
|what is a revocable trust||10 – 100|
|wills and probate||10 – 100|
|setting up a trust||10 – 100|
|estate executor||10 – 100|
|will trust||10 – 100|
|revocable living trust form||10 – 100|
|probate process||10 – 100|
|asset protection trust||10 – 100|
|discretionary trust||10 – 100|
|trust lawyer||10 – 100|
|estate trust||10 – 100|
|legal will||10 – 100|
|life estate||10 – 100|
|will and trust||10 – 100|
|wills trusts and estates||10 – 100|
|testamentary trust||10 – 100|
|will and estate planning||10 – 100|
|executor of a will||10 – 100|
|will lawyer||10 – 100|
|estate planning documents||10 – 100|
|writing a will||10 – 100|
|elder attorney||10 – 100|
|estate administration||10 – 100|
|creating a will||10 – 100|
|legal trust||10 – 100|
|inheritance planning||10 – 100|
|probate a will||10 – 100|
|health care directive||10 – 100|
|trust law||10 – 100|
|probate will||10 – 100|
|trust and estate planning||10 – 100|
|inheritance tax planning||10 – 100|
|ilit||10 – 100|
|what is living trust||10 – 100|
|setting up a trust fund||10 – 100|
|trusts and wills||10 – 100|
|attorney estate planning||10 – 100|
|living trust attorney||10 – 100|
|trust estate||10 – 100|
|pour over will||10 – 100|
|trust estate planning||10 – 100|
|what is a living revocable trust||10 – 100|
|living will and trust||10 – 100|
|what is estate planning||10 – 100|
|estate planning information||10 – 100|
|types of trusts||10 – 100|
|preparing a will||10 – 100|
|will attorney||10 – 100|
|trust planning||10 – 100|
|tax and estate planning||10 – 100|
|will estate planning||10 – 100|
|estate will||10 – 100|
|estate tax planning||10 – 100|
|probate estate||10 – 100|
|will planning||10 – 100|
|spendthrift trust||10 – 100|
|trusts & estates||10 – 100|
|wills & trusts||10 – 100|
|estate planning and wills||10 – 100|
|will probate||10 – 100|
|living trust template||10 – 100|
|estate planning strategies||10 – 100|
|wills attorney||10 – 100|
|wills estate planning||10 – 100|
|estate probate lawyer||10 – 100|
|estates attorney||10 – 100|
|will contest||10 – 100|
|family limited partnership||10 – 100|
|estates and trusts||10 – 100|
|setting up a living trust||10 – 100|
|the estate plan||10 – 100|
|creating a trust||10 – 100|
|planning law||10 – 100|
|elder law firm||10 – 100|
|living trust benefits||10 – 100|
|planning laws||10 – 100|
|lawyer estate planning||10 – 100|
|trust documents||10 – 100|
|elder law lawyer||10 – 100|
|lawyer will||10 – 100|
|estate planning law firm||10 – 100|
|personal estate planning||0 – 10|
|estate planning and trusts||0 – 10|
|inheritance tax||100 – 1K|
|living trust fund||10 – 100|
|family estate planning||10 – 100|
|a living trust||10 – 100|
|executor||100 – 1K|
|living trust will||10 – 100|
|trust will||10 – 100|
|last will & testament||10 – 100|
|estate planning will||10 – 100|
|living will trust||10 – 100|
|benefits of a living trust||10 – 100|
|trust administration||10 – 100|
|estate planning 2013||0 – 10|
|estate planning wills||0 – 10|
|wills trusts||10 – 100|
|probate property||10 – 100|
|family living trust||10 – 100|
|wills and estates law||10 – 100|
|estate trust planning||10 – 100|
|probate of will||10 – 100|
|living trust and will||10 – 100|
|financial and estate planning||10 – 100|
|estate planning resources||0 – 10|
One of the early hits here is “Power of Attorney” (near the top of the above list). Just about every law firm does it, I think, and there are 100-1000 searches per month. Might be a tough one to derive value from. But, running the term “Power of Attorney” through the tool gives us a very interesting and approachable set of keywords.
|Keyword||Avg. Monthly Searches|
|power of attorney||100 – 1K|
|power of attorney form||100 – 1K|
|durable power of attorney||100 – 1K|
|lasting power of attorney||10 – 100|
|enduring power of attorney||10 – 100|
|power of attorney template||10 – 100|
|medical power of attorney||10 – 100|
|power attorney||10 – 100|
|power of attorney sample||10 – 100|
|durable power of attorney form||10 – 100|
|financial power of attorney||10 – 100|
|what is power of attorney||10 – 100|
|medical power of attorney form||10 – 100|
|trust||100 – 1K|
|special power of attorney||10 – 100|
|limited power of attorney||10 – 100|
|lasting power of attorney forms||10 – 100|
|specific power of attorney||10 – 100|
|power of attorney format||10 – 100|
|power of attorney document||10 – 100|
|letter of attorney||10 – 100|
|power attorney form||10 – 100|
|special power of attorney form||10 – 100|
|health care power of attorney||10 – 100|
|durable power of attorney for health care||10 – 100|
|limited power of attorney form||10 – 100|
|dual power of attorney||10 – 100|
|legal power of attorney||10 – 100|
|what is a power of attorney||10 – 100|
|power of attorney cost||10 – 100|
|poa form||10 – 100|
|power of attorney letter||10 – 100|
|revocation of power of attorney||10 – 100|
|enduring power of attorney form||10 – 100|
|financial power of attorney form||10 – 100|
Thousands of searches per month!
Quite a few searches for forms related to “power of attorney”. I would bet that any law firm could attract considerable visitors by creating either a downloadable ebook that discusses the various forms, or maybe even provide those forms on their site. The page where these forms reside would have solid content explaining the forms, how they’re used, why they’re used, etc. This page could easily become the #1 page for searches relating to Power of Attorney forms and would attract a large number of visitors to the Bowden Spratt site. Keep in mind, the list above is a subset of the overall list of 700 results. These results represent well over 5,000 searches per month for terms relating to services you offer. And this is only for Power of Attorney as a single subset of Estate Planning. This is not even taking into account what we could do with “Wills” or with “Business Formation”.
It’s important to note that not all of these results show intent. A search term such as “need help with estate planning” is much more likely to be a person in search of what you offer whereas a search term like “estate planning” could be somebody doing research, a student, another law firm, etc. So we want an exhaustive list of search terms from which we can build content around search terms that show intent.
A large and valuable opportunity if played well
If you look at the above sampling there is a TREMENDOUS number of searches related to “power of attorney” right here in Atlanta, GA and not one local company is even trying to fill it or, if they are, they’re not doing a very good job of it. When it comes to marketing online, that is a present being left on your door with a big red bow on top. It’s a natural fit and I believe that with some effort and focus, your website could do very well with that term and many others.
This would be pretty easy to rank for and while your website visitors are getting their free form, they also see:
- What you need to be aware of with ‘free’ Power of Attorney forms you find online
- Why Power of Attorney might not be the right answer
- Questions to ask before you sign a Power of Attorney
- What if you signed a Power of Attorney and now you wish you hadn’t?
- Options besides Power of Attorney
- Read this before you think about giving somebody Power of Attorney
I know very little about Power of Attorney forms and not much more about estate planning so without talking to somebody smarter than myself I don’t know how best to capitalize on this niche. I just know there is tremendous search volume and nobody local is filling that need and there are a number of ways, from an SEO perspective, your firm could benefit from this.
Take a look at the search results for “Power of Attorney Atlanta GA” – you have to go to the 9th spot before you see an actual legal firm’s website.
So now we know your website isn’t ranking on Google as well as you would probably like. And, importantly, we know there is an impressive number of searches per month for pertinent keywords in their immediate area they can benefit from. Let’s take a look at your website so we can figure out why you aren’t ranking as well as you could be.
SECTION 2: WEBSITE ANALYSIS
I will start with providing some feedback on the website itself. There’s not much point in driving more traffic to your site if nobody will like what they see or take action once they get there. There are some very definite steps we can take to improve the user experience once they arrive at your site and entice them to reach out to you.
It’s not uncommon that a handful of fairly small tweaks to a website can dramatically improve the standing in the Google Results. Some of these tweaks will be website related and we’ll go over them in detail.
4 things I like about the Bowden Spratt website
1. The site is very well put together, easy on the eyes and easy to find the information a visitor would be looking for. It is critical for your website visitors to be at ease and to know they are dealing with humans that care about them, not a cold assembly line mentality and your site will certainly put a visitor at ease. Nice job with that!
2. It’s important to leave no doubt in your website visitor’s mind about what it is you do and what you specialize in. I like that you state you are Estate Planning Attorneys on the front page where it is easy to see.
3. Along with the above, it is also important to let your website visitors know how to reach you. Having your phone number prominently displayed is important.
4. The content on your site is excellent. We could use more but what is there is very good and I wold imagine somebody searching for information would be well served by finding your site.
A few things I would change
I want to caveat the below by saying I’m not trying to be negative but rather to offer constructive criticism. Some of it may sting a bit but it is offered to help you improve the site so your firm can derive the most benefit from it.
- About Page: Although you have a “Firm Overview” page, it’s not really the same as an About page. The importance here cannot be understated. Most of our customers – most businesses in general in fact – overlook the About page and consider it an afterthought. Research shows that it is the single most often visited page on most websites and for sites in the service industry, it is even more critical. Potential clients want to understand you, your firm, your staff, how you have treated past clients, why the firm was started in the first place, etc, etc. Keep in mind, a thorough and thoughtful About page can make the difference between a prospective client and a client that will pick up the phone and call you. This should not be an afterthought but rather it can and should be a cornerstone for your entire site. For your site, I would combine the Professionals pages and the Firm Overview pages into a single About page with basic text, lots of images and then links out to the respective pages.
- More images: Although you have some, I would add even more. Images of people, the staff, the office party, trophies of your chili cookoff trophies, etc, etc. Again, visitors want to know they are dealing with people and will be treated well. Set them at ease. An important and almost universally unused aspect of images is that they can and should be geo-tagged. This attaches a latitude and longitude to your images which helps cement the location of the services you offer. This is important for Google as they want to ensure they give internet searchers the very best results possible and geo-tagged images help them understand where you do business.
- Videos: Videos are a great way to educate your visitors and, importantly for ranking purposes, keep them on your site longer. Google owns YouTube so they love to see videos on your site.
- Website Orientation: I would change the orientation of the site and have a top menu and then the content flowing down the pages. With the left hand menu you have, the content you can provide is limited and prevents long content since long content would scroll past the menu and look funny. Which brings up my next comment
- Content: Research shows conclusively that long content helps your site rank better than short content. This means it’s far better to have a long article/description/write-up of a given topic than a short one. As an example, your Estate Tax Planning page has less than 300 words, a bullet list of items and a contact link. My question to you is, given all of the pages that deal with Estate Planning in Atlanta, can you truthfully say that your page is the single best page…the most informative page…Google can find? Because if it’s not, your page won’t rank and prospective clients will end up at a legal firm’s site that has a better page about Estate Planning. So my point is, every single page on your site should be so comprehensive, so informative the visitor gets all the info they need. There should be images and videos and links out to other credible sites on every topical page on your site. Do less, and Google will send your prospective clients to your competition.
- Resources page: A good resources page can draw customers. It’s not necessary but we have found that a resources page that contains write-ups, analysis, case studies, industry reports, link to other sites, etc, etc correlates with improved rankings.
- Credibility Indicators: As mentioned before, customers want to know they are dealing with compassionate people that care about their problems, but they also want to know they are well qualified to help them solve those problems. Adding images and links to industry specific sites, review sites, chambers of commerce site, etc, etc help solidify this for your website visitor. We can lump testimonials in here too. The legal industry is a bit more restrictive here since most folks don’t want to air their laundry, so to speak, but that also makes it that much more valuable. Mr. Bowden is a graduate of Emory and earned memberships in Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa. Do you imagine links and images of these would help establish Mr. Bowden’s credibility and therefore the firm’s credibility? I think so.
- Maps: You have images of maps on your site, but not actual embedded maps. Google needs verification of where you do business. The content of your page, your phone numbers, your address all help with that. But an embedded, active, clickable map is something Google can put real belief in and will reward your site for having it. I would replace your current map image with an actual embedded and interactive map.
Congrats…your site is mobile friendly! I bring this up separately because it’s absolutely critical. Last year, Google announced that websites that are not mobile friendly would not be shown in the search results that are performed from mobile devices. Last year was also the year Google announced that over 50% of all internet searches originate on mobile devices. The implications here are obvious – if your site isn’t mobile friendly, you immediately lose over 50% of your prospective clients. Again though, your site is mobile friendly so nothing to worry about here.
One other key point is speed – how fast does the website load for the user. Obviously, given Google’s emphasis on user experience, this is important and once again, Google rewards sites for having good performance. I checked your site and it’s good with one exception – I would set it up to serve images faster by configuring a “Content Distribution Network” (CDN). Technical, yes, but very easy to do and free. If you’re curious, the one I use is CloudFlare (www.cloudflare.com). This will speed up your site a a good bit and every little bit helps. It could turn your “B” grade below to an “A”. If the other recommendations throughout this analysis are taken, then images and videos will be added to your site which naturally slows it down. Having a CDN as well as web optimized images will be important to keep your site load speed optimal.
Lastly, there is increased indication that “Social Signals” are playing a role in ranking websites. By that, I mean social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you have a following on any social media outlet, posting articles and then sharing them on your social media sites is a great approach. As visitors to your Facebook page, for example, find a reference to an article on your website and then visit it, Google sees that and if it happens often enough, your page rankings will improve. Google knows when a person visits your site from a Facebook link, for example. I would highly recommend choosing one or two and then committing to using them on a regular basis.
An example of a very good website
Given all that we’ve put together so far, let me sum it up by showing what I think is a very good site. Let me show an example of a Plastic Surgery site here in Atlanta. When I Google Atlanta Plastic Surgeon, one of the top sites that show up is the Atlanta Plastic Surgery Specialists. If you look at a few screen captures of their site below, is there any doubt of what they do or how good they are at it? Do you think there’s any Plastic Surgery question they couldn’t answer? Do you think that they think that they have the single best resource on the Internet for Atlanta Plastic Surgery? I bet they do think that – Google thinks it also and has rewarded them with a very high ranking that is worth hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars to them every year.
This is their navigation system. Pretty impressive and leaves very little doubt in the mind of the visitor that these guys know their business.
This is a list of blog topics they cover. Again, with an impressive list like this, the visitor’s fears are addressed and there’s no reason for the visitor think that these guys are not the best at what they do.
The front page of their site is attractive, spacious, easy to navigate. Lots of whitepace, uncluttered, etc, etc. All of the user experience items discussed before, this site nails them.
- Is there ANY doubt in the world this site is ALL about Plastic Surgery?
- Is there ANY chance you will call them with a question about Plastic Surgery they can’t answer?
- Is it blatantly obvious they have a wealth of real world experience when it comes to Plastic Surgery? Absolutely.
- We have useful links that relate to Plastic Surgery
- We have a list of different kinds of Plastic Surgery
- Icons for industry associations
- Customer testimonials
- Photo Gallery
- Written reviews
- Video reviews
- TON of resources
ALL related to Plastic Surgery!
Granted, Estate planning is not the same as Plastic Surgery, but hopefully you see my point. It is very easy for Google to see that website is very clearly all about Plastic Surgery so when a person around Atlanta is searching for Plastic Surgery related topics, Google rewards this website by showing them very high in the search results.
For your site, we wouldn’t need to go that far but trying to rank for important keywords, that you specialize in, would be much easier with more content that helps Google understand why you deserve to be #1 when it comes to Estate Planning and your other focus ares.
4 questions that need answered
Here is an excellent article about four questions every website should answer as quickly as possible – http://menwithpens.ca/questions-website/
- Who are you? Visitors to your website should be able to discern this quickly simply because there are a thousand other legal firm’s websites waiting to be visited and if yours doesn’t provide immediate validation, the visitor will move on. A solid “About Us” page can help here and allow your Home page to focus on specific topics your site visitors and clients care about.
- Why should I care? Tell your visitors enough about you that they know you’re qualified for the job, and then put the bulk of your efforts on showing people that they’re dealing with a human being who cares about them, their problems and helping them find a solution.
- Can I trust you? While reading your website, your potential client is skeptical. Everyone is. They’re thinking, “Yeah, right. Why should I believe any of this?” Do you answer that question? I think this is another opportunity. The pieces are all there, but it’s hard to quickly find it right now on your site. Some logos or links to some well known industry sites or sites such as local Chamber of Commerce would give the the Bowden Spratt site a great deal more credibility. I think a handful of well-placed logos and meaningful testimonials could give this website tremendous credibility with their visitors, which is critical.
- What’s next? Adding a Call to Action is important. Without some kind of call to action, the average visitor simply doesn’t know what to do next. This doesn’t have to be a cheesy “Call today, operators are standing by!”. It could be a simple “This is where we are located and these are our hours and this is our number, if you have questions about ‘x’ we are here to help.” Or maybe a friendly guide they can download for free (remember the Power of Attorney discussion above) for the services you offer. Nothing pushy, just a friendly invite or a way to get more information. A few clients of mine were surprised when, after adding an “Ask a Question” box to their site, the questions were coming in late at night. But it makes sense: This is when the kids are in bed and they have a chance to actually work on something. You aren’t around to answer the phone then, so an online form makes sense. With Google Analytics, it is easy to set up these calls to actions as “goals” and then be able to see exactly what percentage of visitors to your site took this action. This can be invaluable in tracking how well your website is working for your business.
SECTION 3: HOW TO RANK BETTER ON GOOGLE
Tell Google who you are and what you do
Telling Google who you are, what you do and where you’re located is important to obtaining solid Google Rankings. I wrote an article that spells this out in good detail – it can be found HERE. I’m happy to answer any questions you have about this process.
I would consider this the most important first step to take – and it’s not even website related! As mentioned above, you can land your business in the Google Snack Pack without even having a website, so Google’s intent here is very clear – give the Google Searcher the very best result for their search term, even if that business doesn’t have a website.
Content is King
You’ll see this a lot if you’re researching how to rank a website, and with good reason. The content on a website is what makes it valuable to a user. A site that has scarce content will not be viewed as authoritative by Google and the search results will suffer as a result. A site with valuable content will do well in the Google rankings.
What is Content?
Primarily it’s the spoken word, or in website terms, the typed word. Along with that are images, videos, recordings, etc. This makes up the content experience for your website visitor. When a Google user types in “how do I do estate planning”, this is a highly intent focused keyword – this person is researching how to do it. If the text, videos and images on the pages of your site explain this in great detail and in a way that is easy to navigate and read, Google rewards you. If not, the searcher will never see your site.
We talked earlier about some keywords we could focus on for your site but we didn’t really discuss how we would do it. First, we should take another look at the keywords themselves.
Long Tail Keywords
Keywords are odd things. The longer they are, the fewer searches they get but the more valuable they are to us and (sometimes) the easier they are to rank for. Take a look at a quick overview of the “Estate Planning” keyword we searched for earlier:
- “Estate Planning” for example is a very general term and has roughly 8,560 searches (nationwide) for this term every month and a tremendous amount of competition (over 67,000,000 website pages all fighting to rank for this keyword). We saw earlier that there are between 10 and 100 local searches per month.
- “Estate planning for farmers” has less search volume, only 2,120 searches and 4,500,000 competing pages.
- “Estate planning for couples, Atlanta GA” has even less search volume, 30 plus a month and very few competing pages.
- “Estate planning for second marriages Atlanta GA” has about 40 searches a month and by the time I got to the bottom of page 4 on Google, I started getting sites that weren’t relevant or local which means only 40 (local) websites are ranking for this keyword at all.
If we analyze the very last search term “Estate planning for second marriages Atlanta GA”, “Estate Planning” would be considered to be the “Head Term” and the rest is called the “Long Tail”. Keep this in mind as you read below.
When you add up the hundreds (often thousands) of keywords that people type into Google when they are searching something, the ones at the top of the long tail are called “head terms.” These get a LOT of traffic and are very difficult to rank for due to lots of strong competitors. As you move down the tail the keywords get more and more specific and easier to rank for.
What is so great about the long tail of search?
70% OF ALL SEARCHES ARE IN THE LONG TAIL. Regardless of your industry.
Think about it, which would you rather try and rank #1 on Google for?
- A very general, very popular keyword like “accident attorney” that gets thousands of visits a month (many of which are very general and have no buying intent) and costs a fortune and a mountain of time to rank for?
- Or 15-20 much easier keywords that get less traffic but are much easier to rank for?
The key is to target keywords that, added together, have significant search volume but not a great deal of competition (or strong competitors).
This is a tremendous opportunity for small businesses to beat the much bigger players in their market while spending very little money.
So although ranking for “Estate Planning” may not be in the near future for your website, ranking for longer tail keywords such as “estate planning for second marriages Atlanta Ga” certainly is…and should be. Over time, as more and more content is created and your site attracts more and more visitors, your ranking for more popular terms such as “Estate Planning” will improve without specific effort towards it. Focusing on the long tail over time improves your results on the head terms. Consider that every long tail keyword includes the head term (naturally!) so all the content created for the long tail also support the head term. Over time, you site will naturally rank higher and higher for the head term.
Let your competition spend their time and money ranking for terms that are highly competitive, show little to no intent, will take forever to rank for, and will cost a good deal of money to get there. Far better to let them do that while you rank smarter.
You can read more about long tail keywords here if you wish:
So what is a great way for you to create a wealth of Long Tail keywords and dramatically improve their chances of ranking better and turning your website into a true asset that helps grow the firm?
Interview a client (or potential client) once a week or once a month. Hell, have a mock interview with their IT guy, receptionist, or a friend.
That’s it. Take me for example. Imagine if one of the attorneys on the Bowden Spratt team and I were to sit down and we had a conversation where I asked questions and they answered them and we made a blog post out of this every month, what would we have?
A ton of really, really great long tail content. What would make it SO great?
You would be answering MY questions, a potential client who isn’t familiar (very much) with estate planning. This means I would be using verbiage that your customers are using when they search on Google!
I am 51, married and have 3 kids. I own my home and have stocks, and IRA and own some property here and in California. I have three brothers, two children and one grand daughter. I own an SEO business (that I love!).
- What do I need to worry about first?
- What would happen to my assets if I were in an accident and died tomorrow?
- What can I do to eliminate or reduce the hassles my family will face if I die?
- What should I be concerned about most at my age?
- If I don’t have a will, where to my assets go?
- etc, etc, etc.
I hope you see the value here. This is not done in “legal-eze”, it’s done in plain English and using terms your potential clients will be using to search for your services. It’s a natural match!
My questions, coupled with your simple answers, times 6-10 of these could work wonders for helping the Bowden Spratt website rank for keywords that have intent, very little competition yet enough search volume to make them worthwhile – that’s a perfect recipe for SEO success (Coupled with a handful of other suggestions throughout this document).
I would recommend this approach regardless of anything else you do. I would make it a point to interview one customer each month from here on out – forever – and transcribe that interview and post it. If you can video it or record it, post that as well. I’d create a menu item called “Client Interviews” that linked to a “Client Interviews” page that had links to all of this information. This single page would boost the rankings for the rest of your site tremendously. I would probably seed this a bit with maybe 4 or 5 interviews up front to get the ball rolling and then settle on this as a monthly effort.
Interviews are just one method of creating useful content. Another approach which is probably my favorite is to find a subject that many clients or potential clients are curious about and create a single page on your site that is the best on the internet for that topic. Back to the Power of Attorney subject from before, imagine a page (as long as the one you’re reading now) that described every aspect of Powers of Attorney. Anything anybody wanted to know, they could click on your page and find out about it. This becomes a valuable resource that we then socialize to other sites and they link to from their sites. So, as a pie-in-the-sky example, we create a page like this and reach out to the Harvard Law School and say “hey, check out this page”. They like it and link to it from their own resources page. You now have a link from Harvard Law School to your site which is an incredibly powerful link that brings huge credibility and power to your site. I talk about links below but I wanted to mention them here as well as they go hand-in-hand with creating content that is so valuable, other sites link to it. These links are probably the single biggest ranking factor as they represent votes for the content of your site and votes from established and credible sites are like gold.
Optimizing your website
What does it mean to ‘optimize’ a website page? It’s not as complex as many SEO geeks want you to believe.
Let’s use your estate tax planning page for an analysis
We’ll look at how well this page is optimized for “Estate Tax Planning”.
Title Tags (The very first thing that needs to be changed!)
The very first thing I do, and I hear it’s also one of the first for Google as well, is look at that is called the “Title Tag” for the page. Easy to find – what does the tab at the top of your browser show? Depending on what browser you are using, you can usually hover over the tab and the entire title tag will display.
This is called the ‘Title Tag’ and is the #1 suggestion in the Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide put out by Google themselves.
What we see here is a very common and costly mistake. This is the place where you tell your visitor and Google what this specific page is about. Keep in mind that Google does not rank websites, they rank pages. With this mind, we need to tell Google what every single page is about. On your site, you have the exact same Title Tag for each page. The content on the rest of the page should support what the title tag says the page is about.
In the case of your pages, the title tags say simply “Bowden Spratt Law Firm | Atlanta Georgia”. There is no indication that this page is about Estate Tax Planning based on the title tag.
This would be the very first thing to do to improve your Google rankings – ensure every page’s title tag matches the intent of that page.
For your Estate Tax Planning page, you should have “Estate Tax Planning | Atlanta Georgia”. Notice I omitted the firm name as well. There’s no reason to have your firm name in the title tags since you will rank for “Bowden Spratt Law Firm” without any effort whatsoever. You should follow this exact same pattern for each page of your site. As a standard rule, you want the intent of the page first and then the location if it all fits.
If would also strongly consider the URL itself. Right now, yours is:
There’s nothing technically wrong with this but it is a bit long and the shorter the URL, the better. Your site structure could easily be changed to support this page with a URL of:
…again, not critical but keep in mind that shorter URLs are generally better. Anything that is easier to read is better.
There are a number of other items to look for but for the most part, your site is well optimized with the above exception. A few things to change but relatively minor.What would I do to this page to make it more valuable to readers and to rank better?
- Consult the previous keyword output and see where some of those keywords would be a natural fit in the context
- Link out to two or three credible websites that explain concepts you are talking about.
- Link out to two or three other pages on the Bowden Spratt site to help explain concepts and keep the user on your site
- Provide one or two testimonials
- Break up the heavy text with images and videos
- Images should be used with “alt text” as this tells Google (and the reader) what the image is about. Google cannot read images yet so they rely on the alt-text setting. You could have a picture of a dog eating a pizza with alt-text reading “Estate Planning” and Google would think it’s an estate planning image. I don’t recommend the dog picture, I strongly recommend the Estate Planning image.
- As mentioned before, images can also be geo-tagged before uploading to your website. This puts an actual latitude and longitude aspect on your images that shows Google you are actually located in Atlanta – this is becoming a very heavy hitter for local SEO efforts.
I think you’re probably getting the idea here. Tell Google what they page is about, then tell them again, then reinforce and then reinforce it again. Leave no doubt in Google’s mind that this page is the single best reference for Estate Planning and Google will reward you for it.
For what is probably one of the best On Page SEO articles I’ve found, take a look here:
Last but certainly not least, no SEO analysis would be complete without talking about links.
You can think of a link as a vote for you website. When you get a link from another site to yours, the site that is linking to yours is saying “there’s valuable information here, that’s why I’m linking to it”. The more you have, the higher you will rank.
A concept to be familiar with is “Link Juice”, which I think of as the power a link brings to your site. A link from a strong site (Harvard Law School, for example) has more Link Juice than a link from the pet store down the street. Ideally, we want links that are credible and relevant. So a link from the pet store down the street is neither credible nor relevant for your site. A link from PetCo (petco.com) is credible because it’s a well known business and brand, but maybe not relevant.
This isn’t cut and dry though – as the following example explains:
My brother is a plumber and his company’s strongest links come from the Verizon Amphitheater. Huge credibility but seemingly, little relevance to plumbing but when I followed the link back to Verizon’s site, I found an extensive article on how professional my brother’s company was to deal with and gave a very strong recommendation for them. In this case, it’s an extremely strong link with strong credibility and although the relevance isn’t on track at first, in the end it actually is so I consider that link to be quite valuable for their site. So relevance can be a little uncertain but the end game is that I would not be upset about a link from any credible website regardless of perceived relevance. Some SEOs will tell you different.
So keep in mind the concept that links from other sites bring link juice (ranking power) to the pages on your site. Links from your site also send link juice! As your site becomes more powerful, your link juice will be more powerful and other sites will be happy to have a link from you.
As mentioned above, links from some sites are more powerful than links from others. For a long time, a link from a Government site (.gov) or an Educational site (.edu) was kind of the holy grail for a website, it brought a lot of power. These days, that is lessened a bit but they are still very good links to get. So, if you are a member of a government or educational party of some sort, or if one of these types of sites likes and links to content on your website, that’s very helpful.
There are a couple of contradictions we deal with though:
- Anybody can create a link to your site, there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop them
- A backlink from a site that is not credible (think porn or gambling) may actually hurt your rankings but Google realizes you can do nothing about this and rumor has it they don’t penalize as much as they used to for this.
- The more links you have, generally the better you will rank as long as those links are valid. There are sites that will send “5,000 high quality backlinks” to your site for $4.99. Doing this can destroy your site’s credibility and ability to rank so tread carefully here. Google knows when you’re doing this and will severely penalize your site for it.
- I have experimented with this approach on some test domains we own and have seen the results – the site’s rankings plummet if the rest of the site’s link profile is not exceptionally strong.
- Links from highly credible sites are MUCH more powerful than from non credible sites. Quality is more important than quantity.
If the Atlanta Journal Constitution writes a story about Legal firms in Atlanta and mentions Bowden Spratt and links to your site, that’s a very, very powerful link and will help raise your rankings. If Joe’s House of Probiotics (making that up) links to your site for some reason, it will not carry as much weight as the AJC link. We want to attract good links…we do that by creating good content that other sites want to link to.
Another concept of backlinks is that you can have more than one from a given website. In the above example, the AJC may have run an article last year in which your firm was also featured and received a link. In this case, we’d say you have two backlinks from a single referring domain (ajc.com). With this in mind, it’s better to have many backlinks from many different domains than a lot from a single domain. It’s not bad to have a lot from few, but it’s better to have a lot from a lot, if that makes sense. Looking at your site, I see that you have 78 backlinks from 16 different domains (Referring Domains in the image below), which is something we’ll want to work on.
Another important metric we use is called “Domain Authority” which is loosely defined as the likelihood of a given website to rank. Basically, how authoritative is that website.
Let’s compare link profiles for your firm and a couple of other firms that are ranking well on Google.
Looking at it like this, its pretty easy to see that your site is doing well with respect to how many external websites are linking to yours – you have 16 which is very good but can be much better. The number of links themselves is sitting at 78 which is also good. Your Domain Authority needs a bit of work. Overall though, with this as a starting point and taking in all of the other recommendations above, I have no doubt we could make some significant improvements to your Google Rankings.
What is so valuable about this approach is that I can find where the other sites are getting their links from and often these are fairly free and easy places to get links. One of the early efforts would be to identify where the competing sites are getting their links and determining if we can mimic those links. That, coupled with creating valuable content that sites will want to link to will result in us gaining and passing your competitor’s sites.
I promised about 10,000 words and by my count we have 12,430 so I went over a little bit. I tend to get excited about this stuff though and I hope you see the potential value.
If we take a look at what has been explained above, much of the changes involve surface level and easily changed items that can make an immediate difference. Other items such as content creation and interviews will take a bit longer to complete. The long term effort at building a good backlink profile is usually the most difficult and time consuming but it is also the most rewarding in terms of Google Rankings. As a comparison to a recent customer of ours, we built their website from scratch and started SEO efforts in a somewhat competitive market. Not high dollar, not extremely competitive, but there were some big names we had to overcome. It took about three months to top the other sites and an additional three months to move firmly ahead. That was about a year ago and I still track their rankings. From work done then, they continue to rank #1, #2 and #3 for several high volume keywords and we’ve literally not added a thing to their site in the past year. So SEO results can stick for awhile depending on the nature of the industry. For the legal industry, we would want to be consistently updating to keep ahead of competitors.
As a quick checklist of items, the following outlines a solid approach:
- Keyword selection: Stop the effort at competing for low volume, highly competitive keywords
- Website updates: Given the page structure, the URL structures and the content we would want to add, I would recommend a pretty thorough update to your site to take advantage of the recommendations made above. This can be done relatively simply and with minimal downtime.
- Content creation: I would take a two pronged approach here
- Start with creating maybe 4 or 5 interviews and get them onto the site in the very near future. After that, conduct one per month. Best case would be to have video and text but if it can only be text, that would still be immensely beneficial
- Start creating a “power page” document on a given subject your clients as well as other websites will find valuable. Take your time on this to ensure it covers every angle your user base will be interested in. It could end up being as long as this article. In fact, I consider this article to be an excellent article that outlines what any website should look for and having it on my own web page is something that will give my own site a boost. Also, as a side note, since I’m linking to your site in this article, I’m sending a bit of link juice your way!
- Building a solid link profile: Your link profile right is ahead of the game with respect to your competition, but needs work. A couple of very easy, powerful links you can get are from places where you are a member. For example, I’m a member of my local Chamber of Commerce and have built a profile page on their site with a link to the SnugData site. This is a powerful and credible link. Anywhere you or your employees are members of and can create a link back to your site is very helpful. Aside from this, building valuable content and then doing outreach to share that content and ask for links…and following up…is something we do for our customers so they can focus on their own business. But, saying that, there is nothing stopping you from doing that for yourselves either.
- Competitive Analysis: Find out the strong pages that you will compete with, look into their Link Profile to see what you can mimic, look at their content and see what’s weak that you could do better, etc, etc. I like to say it’s OK to be a copy cat, as long as you’re copying the right cat.
- Google Analytics: We didn’t discuss this much but Google Analytics is a free tool, although somewhat complex, that shows pretty much everything you need to know about how visitors to your site behave. Where they came from, what page they landed on, how long they stayed on that page, where they went next, what device they’re using, etc, etc. Effective use of Google Analytics helps to understand how to fix under performing pages, where to link, problem areas to address, etc, etc. Very useful!
If we were to implement the majority of these suggestions and intelligently (and aggressively) build relevant links and give it a little time, that’s it, the Bowden Spratt Law Firm will dominate Google when it comes to estate planning and other terms we decide to focus on.
I would love to work with the Bowden Spratt team and help you dominate Google!
If you would like to have these suggestions (and a lot more) implemented and really see for yourself what it would do for your firm to start ranking well for potentially hundreds of different keywords you can reach Perry at 404-849-6615 or send us a note using the form on the page HERE. I hope you found this useful and even if you decide to not work with us, there is a goldmine of recommendations in here that you can implement for yourselves.