3 Not So Secret Tricks That Law Firms Can Use to Get Their Websites to Rank Highly in Google

A certain percentage of the world (and attorneys are part of this world) believes that there are a series of “secret rules” and shortcuts to success. There are no shortcuts to success and really never have been. Now and then, people discover a little trick that may work for a few weeks or months, but Google is a giant company with lots of smart people dedicated to finding these tricks. Once they are found, they are immediately stopped. Your site will be penalized, and your competitors who are following the rules will quickly rise up the rankings way beyond you.

The Good News

I have been promoting law firms and other legal sites for almost two decades now, and I can tell you that there are very few secrets. For the past 20 years, there have been three things that will get your site to rank, and these are not going to change soon. These three things are something you learned in law school and are capable of doing. Anyone can do them that has a law degree.

The Bad News

The bad news is that there are no tricks and the hard work never stops. If you want your site to rank highly, you will need to continually do work on it to get it to rank.

There are the three tricks you need to do in order to get your website to rank highly:

  1. Attorneys Need to Get Links (Naturally) from Sources that Are Reputable.

This means that other sites and people on the Internet start linking to you. Generally, people will link to you if something you wrote, or did, makes them look good by linking to you. If you write a good article, have a good reputation, or say something interesting, then others will want to link to you to show readers your point about something.

Here is an example of someone who will link to me that is “trusted”. It is from a university and linking to an article about “law firm economics”.   When you receive these sorts of links and mentions, it generally means you are producing content that is valued. Google wants to send users and traffic to people with valued content. What this means is that you need to work very hard to produce content that people want to read and tell others about.

From: Christy Moon
Sent: Friday, October 10, 2014 3:06 PM
To: Mihir Sheth; Carleen
Subject: Rights to reprint Harrison's article?


This person appears to want to reprint one of Harrison’s articles. Are they ok to do so as long as they link back to our site?


October 10, 2014

RE: Harrison Barnes, “The Impact Law Firm Economics Can Have on Your Legal Career”, Employment Crossing,.

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing on behalf of Timothy Fort of Indiana University Bloomington, Kelley School of Business to request permission to reprint a portion of copyrighted material from the above publication in his upcoming book, 100 Vignettes on Firms Responsibility: A Book on Business Ethics, designed primarily for classroom use in law schools and undergraduate pre-law programs, and to be published by West Academic Publishing in May 2015. The print run will be for 5000 copies and the length of the book will be approximately 250 pages. Additionally, the proposed cost per book will be $50.

I am requesting permission on behalf of Mr. Fort to reprint this material to be used throughout the World in all languages, in this and any future editions in all print, electronic and digital formats and media (including ancillaries, derivatives, custom, marketing and promotional use), including, without limitation, audio versions (including podcasts), CD-ROMS, DVDs and other portable electronic devices, websites, learning management systems, and other technologies, whether now known or developed in the future. These rights in no way restrict publication of the material in any other form by you or others authorized by you.

Full credit will, of course, be given. If you have a specific credit line that you wish used, please indicate so in your reply. If you do not own or control the rights to the material, please refer us to the correct rights holder as soon as possible.

If you agree to grant Mr. Fort the rights requested above, please execute the lower portion of one copy to grant permission, return it to my attention at the address/email below, and retain the other copy for your permissions file. If you prefer to use your own license or permission agreement instead, please note that it must include the rights described above.

Thank you for your assistance and cooperation in this manner.


Kayla Giese
Copyright & Permission Specialist

Ph: 651-202-4725 (office)
444 Cedar Street
Suite 700
St. Paul, MN 55101

Permission is hereby granted for use of the above referenced copyrighted material.

(Employment Crossing)

BY ___________________________________

Position ______________________________

Date _________________________________

Years ago it was sufficient to write content that was shallow and simply talked about a given issue (Personal Injury Attorney in Des Plaines!). This is no longer enough. Your content needs to be interesting and such that people with credibility will want to link to it.

Think about it this way. I know an attorney who represents women who have been raped in lawsuits against their accusers. I’ve seen her quoted in newspapers and on television when I am literally on the other side of the world. She has more business (and fame) than she ever knew what to do with. She has links coming into her website from major newspapers and publications all over the world.

Here is what makes her different. She writes articles about the psychological trauma that women who have been raped suffer. She gets inside their heads and is able to communicate this very effectively. People quote from her articles, and they want to speak with her when major issues happen. In comparison to other attorneys, she really “flushes out” the issues with respect to what women who are raped are up against. She is an “expert” and quotable because she is out there.

It is not sufficient to simply have some information about what you do. You need to love your subject matter and get out there and write, speak, go to conferences, put on conferences, sponsor conferences and more.

Here are ways to get links:

  • Win awards

  • Get seen and noticed by the media

  • Do press releases

  • Sponsor events

  • Give speeches

These are things that lawyers have been doing for decades. You need to learn how to do these things and get as good as possible at them.

  1. Your site’s use and trust based on how people on social media sites are using and referring to it.

When you publish an article, or do anything, Google and other search engines realize that part of the “ecosystem” is social networks. If someone is doing anything meaningful on their website (or in the community) the odds are that people on social networking sites are going to be talking about it, “liking it”, “tweeting” and “sharing” various pieces of information about whatever the attorney is doing.

For example, if you are speaking at a huge conference, there are going to be people Tweeting about this. There are going to be people chatting about it on Facebook and sending links, pictures and other information. The same thing goes if you win an award, or do something else that is notable. Social networks need to be a part of your law firm and attorney SEO, and they are here to stay.

The reason they are so important is simple: Search engines want to give people content and information they are interested in. If people are talking about you and your website on social networks, then search engines know you are up to something that people are interested in and are more likely to send traffic to your website.

Think about it this way. If you are a criminal law attorney in Traverse City, Michigan, and Google constantly sees people chatting about you related to various cases, they are going to assume you are a “player” and someone who is relevant. When consumers and others are searching for a criminal law attorney in Traverse City, Michigan, Google will show them your site because they want to give people the most relevant information. They want to show people the results that people seem most interested in. This will keep users satisfied with using Google as their search engine.

To keep users engaged on social media and chatting about you, it is important that you are sharing on an ongoing basis what you are doing and involved with on social media sites. If you write an article, give a talk, do a media interview, win a case, do a transaction, etc., this information needs to go out on social media sites.

The most effective thing you can do, of course, is interest your audience on social media and get them chatting and talking. When you do something that interests people, this helps you even more. Debate around someone is a very powerful thing, and the better your content, and the more you can provoke conversations on social media sites, the better off you will be.

  1. You need to be able to interest and engage your visitors.

I’ve ridden through various recessions and watched numerous competitors and upstarts in online businesses come and go. Typically, a competitor will come into a business I am working in with a nice looking website that is dry on content. Because they have no content and nothing to interest visitors, they get no links, and Google and other search engines do not send them any traffic. They need to advertise to get users, and when recessions come, they stop advertising (not enough money coming in!) and then do not have any clients and go out of business.

I cannot think of how many law firms and other businesses that were dependent on the Internet go out of business due to lack of content.

Many believe that the most important factor is simply an attractive website and no more. Designers are certainly happy to oblige you with this because that’s what they think too.

Nothing could be further from the truth! Your website needs a ton of content. You need to get as much content on your website as possible. You should be spending every single second you are not billing (or working on client matters) getting content on your website. It is incredibly important and the more content you have (generally) the better off you will be.

It is not just about content quantity, however. The content needs to be interesting to your users and provide them with information that is relevant to what they are interested in. Google rewards websites that have content that users find interesting. For example, if people come to your website and find the content uninteresting, Google can tell by how quickly people exit your website and Google will stop sending you users. That is to say: You could have all of the content in the world on your website, but if people are not interested in it, Google is not going to send you users.

You need to write about topics that people are interested in. For example, if you are a family law attorney who specializes in foreign adoption, you might want to write about things like:

  • The cost of your services

  • Pitfalls

  • Travelling to a foreign country to pick up a child

  • Best countries to adopt from

  • How to avoid being taken advantage of

  • How to ensure you have a healthy child

This is the content that is likely to be interesting to people adopting children. If the users find your content and think it is interesting, they may forward it to people they know, link to it, post it on social networks and spend a lot of time on your site reading it.

In contrast, many people (attorneys included) believe they can fool search engines by putting up poor content (often written in foreign countries). Your users can see right through this, and it does not help you at all.



Creating good content, getting involved in the community and getting out there is a lot of work. However, when you do this, you are never going to get penalized by Google, and the work you do will continually help your practice. Over time, you will get more and more business from it. There are no shortcuts.

For more information about getting business as an attorney, I highly recommend reading: How to Get Business as a Lawyer: How Lawyers Can Get Clients

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