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SEO for Lawyers & Law Firms: The Complete Guide

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What do you do these days when you have a question? You ask Google. And what do you do when you look for a local service? You ask Google too. That’s why lawyers, attorneys, and law firms have been using SEO to get more clients. And with this four-step guide, you can too.

But first, let’s answer an important question…

Why is SEO important for lawyers?

SEO (search engine optimization) is the practice of growing a website’s traffic from organic search results. 

The end result of SEO is more visibility for your website on search engine results pages (SERPs) so that more people can get in touch with your business. That’s, in a nutshell, how searchers can turn into your visitors and how visitors can turn into your customers. 

Moreover, the great thing about organic traffic is that it’s continuous as long as you rank and you don’t need to pay for each click you get (unlike digital advertising). 

Speaking of advertising, law-related keywords can be quite expensive in the law niche. SEO allows you to take advantage of their popularity without an ad budget. 

So basically, the reason why law firms, lawyers, and attorneys need SEO is the same as why they need a website: because people look for law services online. When your business doesn’t appear in Google, you simply leave money on the table. 

Another way lawyers benefit from SEO is by earning potential clients’ trust with helpful content. When people look for solutions to their problems, they may find your content through Google and see that you know your stuff. 

So without further ado, let’s see how lawyers can get the most out of SEO. 

1. Optimize for Google Map Pack

The Google Map Pack (also called Google Local Pack and Google Snack Pack) is a so-called rich result that Google shows to searchers to help them find the best result based on location, among other things. 

In most cases, the queries your potential clients use to find businesses like yours will trigger Google’s map pack because Google “thinks” people want to find something related to a location. 

Google Map Pack vs. regular organic results

As you can see, Google’s map pack is displayed on top of the organic results. And apart from the ads, it’s the first thing that searchers see. So getting your name out there dramatically increases your chances of being discovered. 

No one and nothing can guarantee your place in the map pack. This is because your competition will do similar things to get there. Plus, nobody except for Google itself knows how exactly local ranking works. What we do know are the three principles Google uses fluidly to determine what goes into the local pack:

  • Relevance – How well a business profile matches the meaning of the query. 
  • Distance – The distance between the search result and the location of the searcher or location specified in the query (e.g., “lawyer mountain view”). 
  • Prominence – This counts in a number of things: popularity in the “offline” world, online reviews and rankings, links to the website and, interestingly enough, rankings in the organic search results. 

Based on Google’s guidelines and known local ranking factors, here are three things you should do to increase your chances of showing up in Google’s map pack. 

Get and optimize your Google Business Profile

Google’s map pack is made up of Google Business Profiles, so it’s crucial that you list all of your business locations with the service (but don’t use virtual offices). 

Search results with map pack and organic results

What’s more, with this profile, your business will be eligible to show up on Google Maps. 

Google Business Profiles listed on Google Maps results

And Google will be able to display a local knowledge panel for queries, including your business name. 

Example of a knowledge panel

If you’re starting fresh, you will need to create your business profile. If the business already exists or someone else has claimed it, you may need to claim your profile instead. 

Link to claim business profile

The process of filling out the details in your business profile is similar in both cases. And it’s quite straightforward—a bit like setting up a social media account. But to make sure your profile is optimized, check out tips from our guide: How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing in 30 Minutes

Remember, the more specific information and relevant photos you share, the better. And when in doubt, check with Google’s guidelines. This is because a violation of those can lead to profile suspension. 

Sidenote.

Some SEO guides state that information displayed in these rich results comes from schema markup. That’s not accurate. First and foremost, they come from business profiles. So while it doesn’t hurt to apply schema markup to your website, you should focus on optimizing your Google Business Profile.

Get listed on local citation sites and directories

Local citations and directories are online mentions of your business that display your business name, address, phone number and, in most cases, your website too. 

You need them for three reasons: 

  1. They are a ranking factor for Google Map Pack; they can help you rank higher in those results. 
  2. While any local directories can help you rank higher in Google Map Pack, the ones that feature a link to your website can help you with organic search results too. 
  3. They will help searchers find your business in a) search engines like Google and b) search results of those directories. 
Google SERP for "lawyer near me"
“Lawyer near me” results in directories, directories, and then some more directories. But those can potentially lead to your business if you get listed.

Start by getting listed with big aggregators like Foursquare. Then submit your data to popular platforms like Facebook, Yelp, and Bing Places, and go for popular directories in your local area and industry like FindLaw, Justia, or LegalMatch. Just make sure to keep your citations consistent at all times. 

A method that saves your time when looking for local citations manually is to use Ahrefs’ Link Intersect tool. Just open the tool, plug in your competitors’ URLs, and leave the last input blank. 

Ahrefs' Link Intersect tool
You will find the Link Intersect tool by clicking on More in the upper menu. Then fill out the fields as shown in the example. You can inspect up to 10 domains in one go (click “Add target”).

Here are some sample results. Note that you can use the tool to find other link opportunities too. (In this case, the tool shows us almost 15K domains.) 

Link intersect showing links from business directories

Encourage your clients to leave reviews 

According to Google, positive reviews and rankings help its algorithms understand which businesses are more prominent. 

You can ask your customers to leave reviews any way you like. Since we’re focusing on ranking on Google, reviews submitted there will likely be the most important ones.

Things to remember: Don’t buy reviews, don’t offer something in exchange for reviews, and try to reply to reviews as often as possible. (Here are Google’s guidelines for managing reviews.)

Recommendation

Google can help with that by allowing you to create a special link you can share to request a review on Google. 

"Review request" tool in Google Business Profile Manager

That’s about it for optimizing for Google Map Pack. Let’s move on to a slightly more complex topic of optimizing for organic results, i.e., the results below the map pack. 

2. Optimize for organic results

To stand a chance of ranking in the organic search results, you need pages with content relevant to a given search query. The more useful, interesting, and well-linked that content is, the higher your chances are. That’s what we’re going to focus on going forward. 

List your services 

SEO or not, you need to provide visitors with a list of services that you offer and also share where you offer your services. Some of the services will have a considerable search demand; others potentially not. Later on, we will expand on that using keyword research.

So for example, say you’re specialized in entertainment law, including a number of areas like talent contracts, music law, and publishing. The absolute minimum here is to create a page that explains your expertise in entertainment law and mentions the above specialities.

However, a more effective tactic is to create a content hub where the pillar page talks about your expertise in entertainment law in general and, at the same time, links to subpages dedicated to each area of that type of law you cover. 

This page is an example of a content hub (aka topic cluster). We have the general information on entertainment law (there’s more of it on the page below that part) and links to relevant areas on the left. Each link leads to a page dedicated to an area.

Content hub with general information on entertainment law and links to relevant areas on the left

And here are some results:

Content hub brings over 1K organic traffic each month, as seen in Site Explorer
This content hub brings over 1K organic traffic each month.
Some of the keywords that the hub ranks for
Some of the keywords that the hub ranks for. A good scenario if you’re an entertainment lawyer in N.Y.C.

In short, here are some benefits of the content hub approach:

  • More topical authority – Interlinks from related content build semantic relationships, which may be a signal of authoritativeness of the topic for Google (learn more).
  • More link authority – Pages linked in a hub benefit from each other’s backlinks.
  • A user-friendly way to navigate your website – Information is just a click away. 
  • More perceived value – People often see such hubs as a valuable resource on the topic (which may also increase the propensity to link to your hub).

An additional idea worth considering is creating separate hubs for practice areas and industries. This way, you will increase the number of keywords you can rank for while providing a clear structure for the user. 

Example of listing showing both practiced law areas and served industries
Example of listing showing both practiced law areas and served industries.

List your locations

The goal here is to help Google index your website for keywords with local search intent. Some will be explicit. It’s when the searcher uses a location modifier like “new york entertainment lawyer.” Some are implicit, i.e., when there is no location modifier, but Google still thinks there’s local search intent (“bakery” will show you bakeries in your area). 

So here is a tactic that will save you time spent on creating a ton of pages for each location and save you from duplicate content issues:

  • You can create a page (for example, one called “Contact”) with at least each location’s exact address (including the state/region), phone number, and email (if the email addresses vary). 
  • Include your locations in the footer. So if you have multiple locations, you can just mention the name of the region and city and link them to the page with the locations’ details. 
  • If you want to provide more specific information related to the locations, such as practicing lawyers, you can create subpages for each location. 
  • Reminder: make sure to list all of your physical locations in Google Profile Manager. 
Example of locations listed on a contact page
Example of locations listed on a contact page.
Example of locations listed inside the footer
Example of locations listed inside the footer. All of them link to pages with more information.

Sidenote.

To Google, N.Y.C. is the same as New York. D.C. is, in this context, the same as Washington D.C. So you don’t need to list all of the popular abbreviations of cities or regions.

Do keyword research

Up to this point, we’ve got ideas on what to create content about from the lawyer’s perspective. Now let’s look at the searcher’s perspective. 

From the perspective of a searcher, a keyword is a word or phrase that they type in Google to find things like local products or services. 

This means that for us, keywords will become the topics of our content, blog posts, landing pages, etc., and/or things worth mentioning in our content. More importantly, they will be the drivers of organic search traffic. 

Here are some keyword research ideas for lawyers. 

Expand your services by analyzing other ranking pages 

For this, you will need a keyword research tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer

Go to the tool, type in a seed keyword like “corporate law,” and go to Related terms. The tool will show you keywords that other pages rank for and talk about while ranking for your seed keyword.

Related terms report in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer
You can toggle between Also rank for and Also talk about reports or show them all at once. Choose Top 10 or Top 100 to limit or broaden your search.

So for example, it may be worth targeting these keywords: 

List of keywords worth targeting

Look up specific competitors’ keywords 

Some of your competitors will already be ahead of the SEO game, targeting lucrative keywords with their content. But that shouldn’t stop you from ranking for the same keywords (and even outranking the competition). 

There are two methods for analyzing your competition in this scope. 

The first one is done by plugging in your competitor’s domain in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer set to “subdomains.” This will show all of the keywords your competitor ranks for. 

Site Explorer finds over 18K keywords that this domain ranks for

For a more manageable keyword list, you can also plug in a specific page’s URL (like the blog or practice areas) and/or use filters to display keywords by criteria like search volume, traffic potential, or keyword difficulty. 

Applying the "Position" filter to the Organic keywords report
Filtering the results to keywords ranking at 1-20 gives you a more manageable list.

In the second method, you can look up a few competitors in one go. Go to the Content Gap report in Site Explorer, plug in your competitors, and leave the last input file open.

Setting up a Content Gap report in Site Explorer to show only competitors' keywords

This will show you keywords where at least one of your competitors ranks in the top 10. 

Content Gap report results
To increase the relevancy of the results, you can uncheck the “1 target” intersection.

If you already have a live website, you can also insert your domain to see the keywords that your competitors rank for but you do not. For this, use the last input field for your domain. 

Setting up a Content Gap report in Site Explorer

Look even further 

If you want to uncover more opportunities for driving organic search traffic, spend some more time in Keywords Explorer and browse through:

  • Google autosuggestions. 
  • Common questions. 
  • Topics your competitors blog about. 

For example, we can take our Also rank for report and make it show only keywords with questions by including words like “why,” “how,” “when,” etc., in the Include filter.

Filtering the Also rank for report to uncover common questions

This way, we can uncover common questions related to areas of law like the one below. Note that the first five search results belong to law firms; it’s not uncommon to see law firms attracting visitors through education. 

A common question sending traffic to lawyers' websites

An important skill in keyword research is choosing and prioritizing keywords. To see how it’s done step by step, read this: Keyword Research: The Beginner’s Guide by Ahrefs

Create optimized pages 

Now that we know what to create content about, it’s time to learn how to create that content. So in this section, we’ll focus on optimizing the so-called on-page SEO factors: Things that you can include on your page or inside its HTML to improve its ranking and visibility on the SERPs.

Align with search intent 

Search intent refers to the reason behind the search. It’s one of the strongest ranking factors.

The search intent of any given search query can be identified by looking at the SERPs and determining three things: 

  • Content type – Is the domination type a blog post, landing page, video, or free tool?
  • Content format – Common formats include how-to guides, list posts, opinion pieces, definition posts, etc.
  • Content angle – The unique selling point of the results, e.g., “in 2022” or “for beginners.” 

For example, judging from the top-ranking pages and the “People Also Ask” box for “emancipation in new york,” it seems that Google thinks people want to know what that is. 

The SERP suggests that people seek knowledge first and foremost

So the best way to align with search intent is through an article that explains what emancipation is and maybe even explains the processes behind it. 

To become proficient in optimizing for search intent, see our guide: What Is Search Intent? A Complete Guide for Beginners

Create quality and up-to-date content

Google is getting better and better at understanding quality content. To give you a quick overview of its SEO guidelines, you should make your content:

  • Easy to read – When writing about the law, you probably won’t be able to avoid jargon. But you can still explain it sufficiently and use simple sentences everyone (actually, even a 9-year-old) can understand. 
  • Clearly organized – Break text into sections with descriptive headings. 
  • Up to date – Crucial in law-related topics. 
  • Unique – You can take cues from the best-performing content but try to provide some unique value to your readers at the same time. For example, you can provide a unique content angle or include educational materials like an infographic. This is also the part where you want to consider adding link bait. 
  • Focused on providing essential information to solve a searcher’s problem – Longer content doesn’t mean that it’s of higher quality. 
  • Aligned with E-A-T guidelines – More on that in the next section. 

Demonstrate E-A-T 

E-A-T- stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. It’s a concept taken from a guideline that Google Quality Raters (humans) use to help engineers improve Google’s algorithm. It means that Google wants to promote pages that demonstrate E-A-T, and it’s getting better at it.

E-A-T bears the most importance for YMYL topics (Your Money or Your Life). Surely, law is one of them. 

Besides the quite obvious things like keeping your content accurate and up to date and citing your sources where necessary, flashing your credentials can be helpful too. 

So create an About page introducing you and other lawyers in your firm and demonstrate why people should trust you. Mention things like education, bar admissions, affiliations, awards, etc. 

Example page showing the lawyer's credentials
Flashing credentials is not bragging. If you’re an accomplished lawyer, people (and Google) will find you more trustworthy.

Then make sure each article that you publish mentions the author and links to their About page. 

Two other tactics that may help you with demonstrating your expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness are:

  • Using schema markup on pages where you introduce the lawyers – Schema markup is a simple code that helps Google better understand your content. You can learn how to apply it with this guide.
  • Getting links from authoritative sources – I’ll explain some link building tactics later on in the article. 

Recommended reading: What Is EAT? Why It’s Important for SEO 

Optimize page titles and meta descriptions 

Page titles and meta descriptions are important because the searchers can see them on the SERPs, and this can impact what they click on. Additionally, page titles are considered a “small ranking factor.” 

Here’s what to take into account when crafting a page title: 

  • Make the title eye-catching and accurate – Write a line that piques users’ interest and accurately describes what’s unique about your content/offer. 
  • Insert the target keyword in your title – Make it sound natural to the reader. For your homepage title, make sure to include your company’s name. 
  • Fit within 60 characters 

And here’s what’s important for meta descriptions: 

  • Make it compelling but not clickbaity 
  • Fit within 920 px – You can use a tool like SERPSim to help you with that. 
  • Synchronize the description with the title – The description can be an extension of or support what you claim in the title.

Use short and descriptive URLs

URLs are another “small” ranking factor. And you should optimize the URL with the user in mind. This means:

  • Keep it short – Don’t use an overly nested structure. URLs should be an indication of the user’s location on a website. 
  • Make it human-readable – Use a few words that describe the page. Don’t use cryptic signs. 
  • Get an SSL certificate This will show users that the connection is secure and private; they will see “HTTPS” at the beginning of your domain as a sign of secure connection in the browser. It’s also a lightweight ranking signal.

Here’s an example of a user-friendly URL that checks the above boxes. It comes from a subpage on art law—part of a content hub on entertainment law. 

https://www.romanolaw.com/entertainment/art-law/

Recommended reading: How to Create SEO-Friendly URLs (Step-by-Step) 

Add internal links 

Internal links are the links to other pages on your website. You need them for a few reasons. They can: 

  • Provide a crawl path to target pages 
  • Boost other pages you own – This means they pass link equity. So pages that tend to get a lot of links can help other pages (where building links is harder) rank higher (see the “middleman” method).
  • Help Google understand what the page is about – This is possible with the internal links’ anchor texts. 
  • Help users navigate your website 

The content creation phase is the best time to include internal links. The three places you should consider when adding internal links are:

  • Your money pages, i.e., the pages that describe your services or help visitors contact you. But don’t force it; add them when it’s a natural next step for the user. 
  • Other relevant articles on the topic. 
  • Related articles

To find internal linking opportunities, you can use search operators in Google. Use the site: operator together with a search term in quotation marks, like this: 

Using search operators in Google

Another way is to use the Link opportunities report in Ahrefs’ Site Audit. It focuses on the 10 best keywords for each page on your website and looks for mentions of those terms on your other pages. 

Link opportunities report in Site Audit
You can find the report in the menu on the left in Site Audit.
Sample results from the Link opportunities report in Site Audit
Sample results from the Link opportunities report in Site Audit.

Recommended reading: Here’s Why You Should Prioritize Internal Linking in 2022 

Optimize images 

Optimizing images for SEO is about these three things: 

  • Compressing image file size – You can use a plugin like ShortPixel or a bulk image optimizer like Kraken. This will help your website load faster and load speed counts for SEO (as shown in this case study). 
  • Using descriptive image file names
  • Use descriptive alt texts – Together with file names, they help Google understand the context of your page. In addition, alt texts help visually impaired users. 
Using a person's name inside the file name of their portrait—a good practice spotted at wilmerhale.com
Using a person’s name inside the file name of their portrait—a good practice spotted at wilmerhale.com.

Translate your content (for multilingual regions) 

International law firms and lawyers working in multilingual regions who provide services in multiple languages should consider looking into translating their content. They should do so for at least the pages they want to rank for multilingual phrases, e.g., homepage, services, locations, and contact page. 

Here’s why:

  • Content in the same language as the search query is likely more relevant to that query. 
  • It helps with link building outreach in the same language. 
  • Translated content will be more accessible to the group of people speaking that language. 
Canadian lawyer's website with content in English and French ranking for a keyword in French
Canadian lawyer’s website with content in English and French ranking for a keyword in French.

Multilingual SEO involves many details and technicalities, so let me point you to our guide on the topic: Multilingual SEO: Translation and Marketing Guide.

That concludes dealing with on-page factors. Now we can move to off-page factors, i.e., factors that occur outside the website. 

Build links 

Links from other websites are one of the most impactful ranking factors. The more good quality backlinks you have, the higher you can rank in the organic results.

You can get backlinks in two ways:

  • Earn them organically through link-worthy content on your site 
  • Build them through link building methods (what I’ll be explaining in this section of the article) 

Sidenote.

According to some SEOs, all backlinks can help you rank both in Google’s map pack and organic results. This actually makes sense if you read into the hints that Google gives us on how it determines local ranking:

Google explaining that position in web results can impact the map pack

Generally speaking, to improve your local rankings, prioritize those link opportunities that are at the same time contextually relevant, are locally relevant, and come from authoritative sources. 

Venn diagram showing ideal backlinks for local SEO

With all that out of the way, let’s look at some ideas on how lawyers and law firms can build relevant backlinks. 

Publish press releases

Following an important case, it’s a good idea to issue a press release and distribute it online. Depending on the type of the case, it can gain interest from international, national, and local magazines alike. 

One example of this is the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard case led by Camille Vasquez and Benjamin Chew from Brown Rudnick. As you can see below, that case earned that law firm follow links from 213 quality domains. Some are local, and some are national/international. 

Backlinks report in Site Audit filtered by anchor text, follow type, and DR
Quite frankly, that case has gained so much worldwide attention that the law firm probably doesn’t have to issue a PR note. I bet there are some unlinked mentions that can be turned into links, so that number may be even higher.

Some other ideas for press releases include:

  • New hires.
  • Mergers.
  • Important company statements.

Look for newsjacking opportunities

Also called “reactive PR,” this technique is about providing reliable information on current events. 

This requires regular monitoring of what’s happening in the world or your local area related to your law specialization. Here are two ways to do this and remain sane. You can:

  • Hire someone, e.g., a local PR agency. 
  • Use a web monitoring tool like Google Alerts. If you’re an Ahrefs user, you can also use the Mentions tool. 
Example use of Ahrefs' Mentions tool
This alert setup will send daily emails about new content mentioning the words “startup” and “law” in English-language websites with a DR of at least 40. As a lawyer offering law services tailored for startups, you can pitch your expert opinion when some news about this topic comes up.

Link from your publications, teaching, or public speaking events 

Lawyers often have the opportunity to teach at universities and present lectures at conferences. Oftentimes, this will come with the possibility of including a link in the lecturer’s bio. It’s a great opportunity to earn a link from a domain with high authority (strong backlink profile) and local relevance, as in the example below. 

Backlinks report in Site Audit filtered by anchor text, follow attribute, and DR

Go after guest blogging opportunities

Guest blogging is a common link building practice. Yet the availability of opportunities varies depending on the topic. Below is an example guest post on TechCrunch about the legal issues with the startup credo “move fast and break things” that links back to the law firm of the authors. 

Guest post on TechCrunch

Here’s how you can find and vet guest blogging opportunities using Ahrefs’ Content Explorer. You can:

  • Type in law AND (“guest article” OR “guest post”) in the search bar. This will search our database for the word “law” and at least one of the two phrases “guest article” or “guest post.”
  • Set the website traffic filter to “From 500” to filter out new websites and websites with potentially low quality. 
  • Turn on the “Only live” filter to weed out broken pages. 
  • Use the “One page per domain” option because we only want a single result from any website. 
Advanced search example in Content Explorer

Here’s an example find. Note that you can instantly see metrics of each page, which can help you vet prospects. 

Sample results from Content Explorer

Answer journalist requests

Services like HARO, ResponseSource, and SourceBottle allow you to track journalist requests for expert commentary on legal matters (or from a legal perspective). If your commentary appears in a newspaper or magazine, you benefit twofold: You earn a link and increase awareness of your law firm. 

All you need to do is to sign up for their services, subscribe to topics that interest you, and wait for an email with the latest request. If something piques your interest, answer as soon as possible. 

Additionally, you can follow the #journorequest hashtag on Twitter.

If you can, prioritize local news and magazines because those links will have local relevance that can help you rank for keywords with local intent. 

Local magazine linking to a lawyer's website (data from Site Explorer)

Local rankings 

Here’s the last thing on our menu: local rankings published by local magazines, blogs, or review sites.

Not to be confused with local listings and directories featured at the beginning of the article. 

While “local rankings link building” is a sound tactic for any local business to pursue, I haven’t seen many of those opportunities in the law niche. Still, if that kind of opportunity knocks on your door, give it serious consideration. Just remember to evaluate it in terms of contextual relevance, local relevance, and authority. 

Local rankings of lawyers in New York
Local ranking of lawyers in New York.

That concludes the link building section. If you want to learn more about link building, see our detailed guides: 

Next stop: how to stay on top of technical SEO and SEO tracking. 

3. Keep your site healthy

The “SEO health” of your website can impact your rankings or prevent you from showing up on Google’s. Here, we’re stepping into the territory of technical SEO: optimizing your website to help search engines find, crawl, understand, and index your pages. Fortunately, there are tools for that.

Tl;dr: The easiest way to keep your website’s SEO health in shape is to get a tool like Site Audit and fix any error it reports (also available for free in Ahrefs Webmaster Tools). 

Looking into technical SEO issues is not something that will consume a lot of your time on a regular basis. Once you make sure your site is crawlable and indexable and fix any errors or warnings that may already be occurring on your site (e.g., broken links, slow page loading), it’s a matter of occasionally checking on the report. 

Example email technical SEO report from Site Audit
Example email technical SEO report from Site Audit.

For a deeper dive into the subject of technical SEO, check these out:

4. Track your SEO progress 

Tracking your progress “manually” on Google is not reliable because Google personalizes results based on factors like search history, device, and current location. Here are some tools you can use instead. 

Starting from Google Business Profile, Google allows you to track a set of performance metrics for free within the service. For example, you can see queries people used to find your profile, the number of direction requests, or the number of people who viewed the profile. 

You’ll also need a tool to track your Google Map Pack performance, e.g., the freemium Grid My Business or Local Falcon

If you want to track all of your keyword rankings, try a tool like Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker. It lets you track up to 10,000 keyword rankings for “regular” organic search by country, state, city, and even ZIP/postal code.

Setting up local rank tracking in Rank Tracker

Recommended reading: 10 SEO Metrics That Actually Matter (And 4 That Don’t) 

Final thoughts 

While SEO can bring you traffic that you don’t need to pay for, it’s worth noting that this marketing tactic takes time and effort. The more competitive the keywords you try to rank for, the more time it can take you to rank for them. 

The first steps will probably be the hardest, so it may not be the best idea to bet everything on SEO just yet. But once you get the process up and running, you can use the same techniques over and over again for consistent results with compounding effects. 

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter



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SEO

New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

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New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

A keynote at Google’s Marketing Live event showed a new AI-powered visual search results that feature advertisements that engage users within the context of an AI-Assisted search, blurring the line between AI-generated search results and advertisements.

Google Lens is a truly helpful app but it becomes unconventional where it blurs the line between an assistant helping users and being led to a shopping cart. This new way of engaging potential customers with AI is so far out there that the presenter doesn’t even call it advertising, he doesn’t even use the word.

Visual Search Traffic Opportunity?

Google’s Group Product Manager Sylvanus Bent, begins the presentation with an overview of the next version of Google Lens visual search that will be useful for surfacing information and for help finding where to buy them.

Sylvanus explained how it will be an opportunity for websites to receive traffic from this new way to search.

“…whether you’re snapping a photo with lens or circling to search something on your social feed, visual search unlocks new ways to explore whatever catches your eye, and we recently announced a newly redesigned results page for Visual search.

Soon, instead of just visual matches, you’ll see a wide range of results, from images to video, web links, and facts about the knowledge graph. It gets people the helpful information they need and creates new opportunities for sites to be discovered.”

It’s hard to say whether or not this will bring search traffic to websites and what the quality of that traffic will be. Will they stick around to read an article? Will they engage with a product review?

Visual Search Results

Sylvanus shares a hypothetical example of someone at an airport baggage claim who falls in like with someone else’s bag. He explains that all the person needs to do is snap a photo of the luggage bag and Google Lens will take them directly to shopping options.

He explains:

“No words, no problem. Just open Lens, take a quick picture and immediately you’ll see options to purchase.

And for the first time, shopping ads will appear at the very top of the results on linked searches, where a business can offer what a consumer is looking for.

This will help them easily purchase something that catches their eye.”

These are image-heavy shopping ads at the top of the search results and as annoying as that may be it’s nowhere near the “next level” advertising that is coming to Google’s search ads where Google presents a paid promotion within the context of an AI Assistant.

Interactive Search Shopping

Sylvanus next describes an AI-powered form advertising that happens directly within search. But he doesn’t call it advertising. He doesn’t even use the word advertising. He suggests this new form of AI search experience is more than offer, saying that, “it’s an experience.”

He’s right to not use the word advertisement because what he describes goes far beyond advertising and blurs the boundaries between search and advertising within the context of AI-powered suggestions, paid suggestions.

Sylvanus explains how this new form of shopping experience works:

“And next, imagine a world where every search ad is more than an offer. It’s an experience. It’s a new way for you to engage more directly with your customers. And we’re exploring search ads with AI powered recommendations across different verticals. So I want to show you an example that’s going live soon and you’ll see even more when we get to shopping.”

He uses the example of someone who needs to store their furniture for a few months and who turns to Google to find short term storage. What he describes is a query for local short term storage that turns into a “dynamic ad experience” that leads the searcher into throwing packing supplies into their shopping cart.

He narrated how it works:

“You search for short term storage and you see an ad for extra space storage. Now you can click into a new dynamic ad experience.

You can select and upload photos of the different rooms in your house, showing how much furniture you have, and then extra space storage with help from Google, AI generates a description of all your belongings for you to verify. You get a recommendation for the right size and type of storage unit and even how much packing supplies you need to get the job done. Then you just go to the website to complete the transaction.

And this is taking the definition of a helpful ad to the next level. It does everything but physically pick up your stuff and move it, and that is cool.”

Step 1: Search For Short Term Storage

1716722762 15 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above screenshot shows an advertisement that when clicked takes the user to what looks like an AI-assisted search but is really an interactive advertisement.

Step 2: Upload Photos For “AI Assistance”

1716722762 242 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above image is a screenshot of an advertisement that is presented in the context of AI-assisted search.  Masking an advertisement within a different context is the same principal behind an advertorial where an advertisement is hidden in the form of an article. The phrases “Let AI do the heavy lifting” and “AI-powered recommendations” create the context of AI-search that masks the true context of an advertisement.

Step 3: Images Chosen For Uploading

1716722762 187 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above screenshot shows how a user uploads an image to the AI-powered advertisement within the context of an AI-powered search app.

The Word “App” Masks That This Is An Ad

Screenshot of interactive advertisement for that identifies itself as an app with the words

Above is a screenshot of how a user uploads a photo to the AI-powered interactive advertisement within the context of a visual search engine, using the word “app” to further the illusion that the user is interacting with an app and not an advertisement.

Upload Process Masks The Advertising Context

Screenshot of interactive advertisement that uses the context of an AI Assistant to mask that this is an advertisement

The phrase “Generative AI is experimental” contributes to the illusion that this is an AI-assisted search.

Step 4: Upload Confirmation

1716722762 395 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

In step 4 the “app” advertisement is for confirming that the AI correctly identified the furniture that needs to be put into storage.

Step 5: AI “Recommendations”

1716722762 588 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above screenshot shows “AI recommendations” that look like search results.

The Recommendations Are Ad Units

1716722762 751 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

Those recommendations are actually ad units that when clicked takes the user to the “Extra Space Storage” shopping website.

Step 6: Searcher Visits Advertiser Website

1716722762 929 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

Blurring The Boundaries

What the Google keynote speaker describes is the integration of paid product suggestions into an AI assisted search. This kind of advertising is so far out there that the Googler doesn’t even call it advertising and rightfully so because what this does is blur the line between AI assisted search and advertising. At what point does a helpful AI search become just a platform for using AI to offer paid suggestions?

Watch The Keynote At The 32 Minute Mark

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Ljupco Smokovski

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How Do I Get A Job With A PPC Agency

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Conversion Tracking In PPC Campaigns

This month’s “Ask A PPC” question is particularly significant because the job market has been quite volatile.

“How do I get a job with a PPC agency when I have only worked in-house. What experience would they want?” – Karl Toronto

It’s understandable that people want to know which skills employers seek when hiring for a PPC team. There can be a disparity between what people think they need and what the market actually demands.

We’ll delve into some data and commentary to explain why various traits are valued.

It’s crucial to understand that the ideal candidates will be versatile and have an aptitude for all aspects of digital marketing.

However, no one can excel at everything, so leveraging your strengths or preferences is beneficial.

Ensure that you’re securing the best role for yourself while the company hiring you finds the best fit for them.

Here Are The Essential Skills

  • Analytics.
  • Creativity.
  • Ad network knowledge.
  • Willingness to test/learn.
  • Culture fit.

Discrepancy Between Market Demands And Perceived Needs

I conducted a poll on my LinkedIn to gauge the skills desired by current employers and practitioners.

Screenshot from author, LinkedIn, April 2024

Analytical skills emerged as the most sought-after trait. Employers seek individuals who can interpret numbers and discern the story behind them.

However, relying solely on analytical prowess may overlook the importance of creativity.

Creative skills are vital in today’s ad networks, especially emphasizing visual content like videos and campaign types that force visual content (Performace Max/Demand Gen). Neglecting creativity can hinder a company’s branding efforts.

Unexpectedly, ad network skills and cultural fit were deemed far less critical than analytical skills. Brands should prioritize team cohesion for long-term success, yet this aspect is often undervalued.

The disparity between job descriptions and actual skill requirements contributes to the difficulty in the job market.

Agencies that hire for how PPC used to work will be left wanting. Practitioners who only focus on popular skills instead of needed ones will be made obsolete by the privacy-first era obscuring data and AI owning creative.

Analytical Skills

Analytical abilities involve knowing where to find relevant data sources and understanding how they contribute to success.

While PPC historically relied on measurable outcomes, the landscape is evolving, necessitating adaptability in data analysis. Technical proficiency and strategic acumen are crucial for navigating different data sources.

These include:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
  • Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
  • Ecommerce platforms.
  • Content management platforms (CMS).

Empathy for various ad channels improves your candidacy, and knowing how to work with post-click data will give you an edge over those who can only work with ad platform data.

While being highly technical isn’t required, having empathy for coding and scripts will give you a better chance to stay current with evolving data mechanics (especially as APIs become even more important for accessing data blocked by privacy-first regulations).

Here are some takes from PPC experts on why analytics is the most important:

A screenshot of a LinkedIn comment by Georgi Zayakov, who describes himself as analytical Screenshot from author, LinkedIn, April 2024
A LinkedIn post by Kathryn B., a paid media specialist at a PPC agencyScreenshot from LinkedIn, April 2024
Screenshot of a LinkedIn post by Nikolaos B., discussing how marketers must become data-savvyScreenshot from author, LinkedIn, April 2024

Creativity

Creativity is essential for crafting compelling ad content, yet many PPC agencies struggle in this area.

Clients are often tasked with providing creative materials due to cost or complexity constraints.

You’ll get a competitive edge if you have these skills:

  • Video Editing: With the rise of PMax, as well as many ad networks leaning heavily into connected TV, having video editing chops will be a huge asset for any team. If you’re not comfortable using conventional editing tools, AI tools like Descript are a great way to take on those tasks.
  • Graphic Design: No matter the ad network your potential employer is hiring for, you will need some ability to design static images. Whether you use stock photos or AI-generated images or come up with the creative yourself, the days of purely text ads are over. Tools like Canva can help bridge the gap for less technical designers, but don’t discount ad network AI.
  • Content Creation: While the first two categories leaned toward visual content, written content is still important (i.e., most ad formats include some text). Having the ability to understand how diverse audiences prefer to be addressed while respecting the specific requirements of each format is a great skill to hone.

While some roles may prioritize analytics or ad network knowledge, emphasizing creative abilities can distinguish you during the hiring process.

Here are some experts who value creativity:

A screenshot of a LinkedIn post by Erik PetersonScreenshot from author, LinkedIn, April 2024
A screenshot of a Linkedin post by Amy HebdonScreenshot from author, LinkedIn, April 2024

Ad Network Knowledge

Ad network expertise is valuable, but adaptability is paramount as platforms evolve rapidly.

Some agencies will have specialists, while others hire folks they expect to be passable at every network they service. It’s important to understand what workflow will enable you to succeed.

If you’re happy working with all platforms, then don’t shy away from it. However, if you do better in focusing on one aspect of PPC, that’s totally valid. Just know it might limit your ability to get hired into smaller “familyesque” agencies.

Understanding auction dynamics and bidding strategies is crucial.

Many of us who entered the industry when manual bidding was more popular have an unfair advantage over those who came in during the Smart Bidding era (i.e., anything from 2020).

This is because manual bidding requires you to think about the mechanics of each ad platform’s auction and how you could use those mechanics to your advantage in building account structure.

Knowing what to track and allocating appropriate budgets are key considerations.

Understanding that some networks require more conversions than others to run (e.g., Meta Ads’ 50 in a 7-day period vs. Google Ads’ 15 in a 30-day period) should influence what you choose to track, as well as how you report the data.

Additionally, if you are under or over budget, you’ll set yourself up to fail. Knowing which channels require a big investment upfront and what the breaking point for each network is (either on underspending or spending too much) is critical.

Awareness of potential pitfalls, such as false positives or negatives, enhances campaign effectiveness. For example, it’s important to know how to check if automatically applying recommendations is on and what tasks it’s on for.

It’s worth noting that none of the experts who chimed in on the poll made a clear case for ad network knowledge specifically.

Willingness To Test

Success in PPC requires openness to experimentation and a willingness to adapt. While this wasn’t one of the criteria in the poll, it was one of the most popular traits experts look for in hiring.

Perfectionism can hinder progress in a fast-changing environment. Testing new ideas and embracing failure as an opportunity for growth are essential.

While analytical skills aid in test design, empathy and creativity are equally vital for devising effective experiments.

Here is an expert who favors a willingness to test:

Screenshot of a social media post by Mike RhodesScreenshot from author, LinkedIn, April 2024

Cultural Fit

Cultural alignment with an agency fosters productivity and job satisfaction. However, you can only achieve that by being honest with yourself about what you want and the mechanics of how you work.

Agencies demand intense effort and collaboration, making compatibility with colleagues crucial.

Anyone looking to make the shift from in-house to agency needs to be prepared for a much faster pace of work and a lot more agency.

Open communication with leadership regarding preferred management and learning styles will ensure a positive working relationship.

Respect for peers and a supportive atmosphere contribute to a fulfilling work environment.

Here are a few thoughts on cultural fit from polled experts:

The image shows a LinkedIn post by David Zebrout containing text discussing the importance of integrating PPC network knowledge with intertimed optimizations in generating profitable growth.Screenshot from author, LinkedIn, April 2024
LinkedIn post by Lisa Erschbamer discussing the importance of cultural fit and individual personality in team dynamics for effective performance at a PPC Agency.Screenshot from author, LinkedIn, April 2024
A screenshot of a LinkedIn post by Aaron Davies discussing the importance of cultural fit, individual skills, and team communication in marketing for a PPC agency. The post has reactions and a question comment by NavahScreenshot from author, LinkedIn, April 2024

Final Thoughts

Navigating the current job market can be challenging, but understanding industry needs and honing relevant skills increases your chances of success.

Balancing technical proficiency with creativity and cultural fit is essential for thriving in a PPC role. By aligning with market demands and showcasing your strengths, you can secure rewarding opportunities in the field.

Have a question you’d like us to address? Fill out the form!

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Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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Why Every Marketer Should Be On Reddit

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Why Every Marketer Should Be On Reddit

In its nearly 20 years of existence, Reddit has built a robust, dynamic, and highly engaged community.

It has cemented itself as not only one of the key influencers for the internet culture we have come to know today, but also as one of the top 10 social media sites in the world, with more than 500,000 monthly visitors across more than 100,000 active communities.

Despite its size and influence, marketers have long avoided, overlooked, and failed to establish a presence on what is arguably one of the most influential social media sites today.

To be fair, Reddit has always been known as one of the hardest communities to have marketing success with, requiring months (if not years) of dedicated commitment to actually being a part of the community and engaging with your audience through meaningful, genuine, and honest interactions.

To many, that is just too much risk and too much work, but let’s be honest – most amazing things take risk and hard work. And for all of you who put in that work to be successful on Reddit, you already see the payoff it brings.

Regardless of the reasons, marketers who continue to overlook Reddit’s potential are missing out on an extremely influential community with ideal targeted demographics, where authenticity and genuine connections lead to valuable information, positive branding, and marketing success.

Not convinced? Let’s take a closer look at Reddit!

Reddit Stats You Cannot Ignore

Reddit users are dedicated to their use of the platform, with a reported 82 million (16.4%) of its 500 million users visiting the site daily, sharing over 1 billion posts, with over 16 billion comments across 100,000+ active communities, making it easily one of the top visited and most active sites in the United States today.

The user base is so loyal that they spend, on average, 20 minutes on the platform each day (and over 45 minutes a day for long-time users of more than 7 years) and, in many cases, are inactive on other social platforms.

This makes Reddit one of the only places to actually get in front of this massive audience, with 32% being inactive on Facebook, 37% on Instagram, 41% on TikTok, and 53% on X.

When it comes to demographics, a 2019 survey concluded that the overall Reddit audience was majority male (59%), ranged in age (36% aged 18-29; 25% aged 30-49), and well educated (42% college degree; 31% some college) making them an ideal audience many businesses looking for success.

They also helped Reddit improve revenues by 21% to $804 million in 2023, with a global addressable market for advertising estimated at $1.4 trillion by 2027.

Thought by many to be mostly a North American audience, Reddit claims more than 50% of its traffic comes from international users, a rather impressive climb from its earlier years.

It is important to remember, though, that Reddit is a platform that allows communities to grow and thrive, so those demographics change from subreddit to subreddit.

If that isn’t enough to grab your attention, surveys have found that 75% of users find Reddit a trustworthy source for making purchasing decisions.

For years now, it has been included heavily and prominently in Google search results, which have become even more visible due to reports following their inclusion in SGE results and with Google’s recent $60 million a year deal with Reddit to have real-time access to Reddit content and to use its content to train Google’s future AI models.

Speaking of Reddit’s visibility in Google’s search results, let’s take a closer look at why that deal is so important, especially to search marketers.

Reddit In Google Search, SGE, And Google’s Reddit Deal

For years, Reddit results have been prominently displayed in Google’s search results – so much so that users have even started adding the term “reddit” to the end of their search queries.

So often, you will see Google suggest search lines with the term “reddit” prefilled at the end.

Screenshot by author from search for [are purple mattresses good], Google, May 2024

Even without selecting the query that includes “reddit,” you will notice Reddit’s prominent placement in two places: discussions and forums, and Reddit sitelinks, which are both just below the ads and the first organic result.

Reddit resultsScreenshot by author from search for [are purple mattresses good], Google, May 2024

This was amplified by Google’s recent Helpful Content Update (HCU), which allowed platforms like Reddit and other forums to show up more frequently in search results,

Reddit’s ability to be helpful in satisfying a user’s search for information is so successful – in combination with reported shortages in new content for AI models from all major platforms – it is not surprising Google struck a deal with Reddit to show its content faster in search results and to use the content in training future AI models.

Since news of the deal between Reddit and Google was reported, there has been a lot of additional focus on Reddit’s visibility in Google’s search results.

Experts throughout the search industry report an increase in not only the total visibility of Reddit going up within search but also the speed at which a Reddit post is indexed and shown to users.

Google responded to concerns about Reddit showing up more in search results, saying that “some of the SEO folks who tend to be vocal on this platform (X) really dislike seeing more forum content in our search results. But actual searchers seem to like it. They proactively seek it out. It makes sense for us to be showing it to keep the search results relevant and satisfying for everyone.”

Google responded to concerns of Reddit showing up more in search resultsScreenshot by author from X (Twitter), May 2024

Although disputed by Google, Roger Montii wrote about one report of Reddit content being indexed within five minutes.

ChatGPT to Surface Reddit Content

Adding to the deal Reddit made with Google, it was recently reported that OpenAI has partnered with Reddit to surface their content in ChatGPT, adding to the clear value that both OpenAI and Google see in Reddit’s content today and in the future.

Of course, this has sparked a lot of interest in companies of all sizes. They want to figure out how their brands can participate and succeed on Reddit in hopes of increasing their visibility in Google’s search results, SGE, and ChatGPT and building their brand’s visibility amongst one of the most influential audiences on the internet today.

**Quick warning: Reddit requires genuine, long-term engagement and a strategy for success. So, I would definitely advise individuals and businesses to avoid trying to game, spam, or blindly jump into marketing on Reddit and take the time to really understand the platform, its audience, and your place of value within its communities.

Let’s look at how some major brands have been successful on Reddit in the past.

noosa Yoghurt

Noosa Yoghurt’s 2021 back-to-school campaign on Reddit was a great example of tapping into niche audiences to create engaging, user-driven content.

To capitalize on Reddit’s community of vocal yogurt enthusiasts, noosa launched a Flavor Poll that invited Redditors to upvote their favorite noosa flavors in the comments. This created a sense of community and interactivity around what could have been a standard poll.

Noosa Yoghurt’s 2021 back-to-school campaign on Reddit.Screenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

After tallying the upvotes, noosa published a Promoted Post that showcased the results using a sleek custom infographic, highlighting the community’s favorites while also giving the brand important insight into consumer preferences.

Noosa published a Promoted Post that showcased the results.Screenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

The results:

  • 49% increase in brand recall among Reddit users who were exposed to the campaign.
  • 30% increase in brand favorability.
  • 39% increase in purchase intent (15X the typical lift observed in the food vertical).
  • 50+ billion monthly views.

Sony Pictures Germany

To drum up excitement around the release of “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” in Germany, Sony Pictures Germany crafted a Reddit campaign that combined organic and promoted content to engage the platform’s robust fan communities.

The brand created a Reddit account under the protagonist’s name, u/MilesMorales, and used it to share exclusive content directly within Spiderman-related subreddits.

It also organized an AMA with the German voice actor Miles Morales to create a more personal connection with fans and promoted video posts featuring the movie trailer to amplify the excitement.

Sony Pictures Germany crafted a Reddit campaign.Screenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

The results:

  • Sony Pictures Germany achieved a click-through rate (CTR) that was 344% higher than that of its standard paid media.
  • 831 upvotes.
  • 618,000 impressions.
  • The film remained No. 1 on the German movie charts for three consecutive weeks.

It is important to note that promoting your content and your brand on Reddit is definitely not the only value Reddit can bring you and your business.

Reddit is an amazing place to get honest feedback.

Whether you are trying to figure out what your target audience wants from your brand, test out a new feature or concept before investing and launching it openly, or even just to have continued open communication with your customers to support them and keep them connected to your brand, Reddit can help you succeed in an amazing way.

Transamerica Helping Reddit Make Dollars Make Sense

Transamerica’s campaign on Reddit is a great example of a company identifying an opportunity to connect with its target audience on the subreddit /r/finance.

This allows the company to better understand its customers’ needs and focus on content creation and future marketing plans.

Transamerica’s campaign on RedditScreenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

Aligning itself with its audience by demonstrating awareness of the topics around personal finance happening in the subreddit, as well as acknowledging the Redditors working at the company, it asked what topics it could create “specifically for the reddit community” around the topic of finance.

It stayed involved and engaged throughout the campaign, responding to threads and maintaining a lighthearted and sometimes humorous tone.

Transamerica’s campaign on RedditScreenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

After getting all the feedback it needed, it created content around the more popular requests, going as far as branding and designing them similar to Reddit.

IRA vs 401K venn diagramScreenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

It even took the time to individually comment a link to the published content on its site, bringing attention back to the overall campaign and the content it created.

This campaign was 10 years ago, and it is still referenced as a core example of engaging on Reddit as a brand in a respectful, thoughtful, and meaningful way.

Why You Should Be On Reddit Wrapup

TL;DR: If your brand has something meaningful to say and is interested in truly connecting with your audience, then yes, you should be on Reddit.

These successful brand campaign examples showcase Reddit’s power when used correctly. With research to understand the specific communities you want to reach, Reddit can have exceptional performance compared to other channels.

The stakes are high to get it right because Reddit communities can be highly negative toward self-serving promotion. But if you put in the effort and solve people’s needs and problems, Reddit has the potential to be a high-performance channel.

Edit: Updated daily active users figure based on Reddit’s Q1 Earnings Report

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Featured Image: Julia Tim/Shutterstock



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