SEO for Criminal Defense Lawyers

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    Criminal defense is a high volume, high competition niche. Some firms have DUIs down to science, so they are able to process scores of these low-level cases each month and make money that way. Other firms prefer to handle only bigger-ticket cases, like high profile murders or white collar crimes. One thing remains consistent – your business can only make money if you are receiving a consistent volume of leads.

    If you want to learn more about lead generation for criminal defense lawyers, read on. If you’d prefer to focus on litigating and have us get your phone ringing in a short period of time, call us right now.

    How Do Criminal Defense Law Firms Get Leads?

    What channels should you be focusing on to earn clients? Do you need a billboard? Does your website really matter? What about social media?

    Here’s a quick overview:

    Your Website

    This is your most important lead generation mechanism. Your website has the potential to earn leads every day if it is optimized correctly for Google, directly addresses potential clients’ needs, and communicates authority in your field. We’ll discuss this in detail below, but in short, your website:

    1. Earns traffic from people searching for a lawyer in your geographic area and people researching relevant subject matter (like “should you get a lawyer for your 2nd DUI?”)
    2. Urges those visitors to contact you with strategically placed calls-to-action
    3. Communicates authority by displaying your qualifications, awards, and verdicts

    Online Profiles

    A smaller number of potential clients will search for an attorney on popular directories like Avvo, Justia, and FindLaw rather than visit your website directly. You still want to market to these leads by building profiles on as many directories as possible and taking the time to write thoughtful content on those directories. You’ll also receive a backlink to your website in many cases.

    Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising

    You may not want to spend thousands of dollars each month on Google Ads, and as your SEO strategy kicks into gear this won’t be necessary, but you really can make a significant amount of money from cases earned through Google search and display advertising. Scroll further for more details on this channel, but know that a finely tuned search campaign or carefully constructed display advertising campaign can get your phone ringing.


    Referrals, of course, are a great way to get criminal defense clients, and these often come after you have taken the time to build a strong brand through your website.

    Is Social Media Worth Your Time?

    Generally speaking, no, there’s always something more important that you could be focusing on. Don’t worry about running Facebook ads or spending money on Instagram. You do want to create social media profiles though – this is a good reputation management tool, and you certainly don’t want an imposter to build pages with your firm’s name because you neglected to do so (this happens!).

    Important: Lead Intake Is Just As Important As Lead Generation

    Phone calls don’t matter if you aren’t answering your phone, and form submissions don’t lead to cases if it takes days for you to respond. Criminal defense leads usually have an urgent need, and they are probably “shopping around” at other firms if they have called you. If you are the last attorney to call them back, you probably won’t get the case.

    If you have a receptionist or lead intake services handling your calls, you will probably want to listen to the recordings every once in a while. Is the person answering the phone calm, helpful, and reassuring? Are they following a good script and asking the right questions?

    How Much Will You Pay For Criminal Defense Leads?

    The True Cost Per Lead (CPL) For SEO

    Let’s say that you live in a densely populated area with plenty of lead volume to go around, and you just hired us. If your website has been online for a period of time and you already have some backlinks, we can probably get your phone ringing within that first month. If you get ten calls from organic traffic in your first month and you are paying for $4,000 worth of SEO, that’s a $400 CPL.

    By the third month, when your new content starts to rank and your service pages are even more visible than before (SEO takes time), you will probably average one call per day – your CPL is already down to $133, and your costs haven’t increased. After that, the benefits of SEO continue to compound, you’ll receive even more leads, and your ROI will improve further

    The Cost Of PPC Advertising For Criminal Defense Lawyers

    If you are trying to show search ads for phrases like “Chicago criminal defense lawyer,” your average cost per click (CPC) will probably be around $115. Even with an exceptional conversion rate of 20%, you’ll need to spend $575 per lead. That’s assuming you don’t have a competitor clicking on your ads and running up your costs. This can be worth it, but it’s not exactly scalable.

    On the other hand, we have created some display advertising strategies for lawyers that bring phone calls in for under $100 apiece – it’s well worth the investment, but it can only scale so far.

    In short, we usually recommend running a modest and dialed-in PPC campaign alongside your SEO efforts at the beginning of our engagements. The data from our SEO research helps inform PPC strategy and vice versa. As your organic traffic starts to increase, you can gradually scale your PPC budget down to almost nothing without a dip in leads.

    SEO for Lawyers

    SEO For Criminal Defense Law Firms

    Search engine optimization for law firms is the single most powerful lead generation channel for criminal attorneys. It’s a true investment that continues to compound in the future, it delivers consistent leads, and most importantly, it delivers high quality leads that result in cases. Here are the key components.

    Criminal Defense Website Design

    A modern website needs to satisfy the following criteria:

    • It must be mobile-friendly
    • It must be exceptionally fast
    • It must offer helpful content to visitors
    • It must send the right signals to Google

    Site Speed

    A fast website is necessary because 1) For every extra second it takes your website to load, that’s another potential lead that gets frustrated and leaves for another firm’s website 2) Google’s algorithm rewards faster sites, all other signals being equal.


    Mobile-friendliness follows similar logic to site speed. If Android users can’t properly navigate your site, you are losing a huge volume of possible cases. Google also indexes the mobile version of websites first these days, so you’ll rank poorly with a website that only renders correctly on desktop.

    Sending The Right Signals: Onsite and Technical SEO

    If site speed and mobile-friendliness are for humans, page titles, meta descriptions, and other technical signals are mostly for Google’s benefit. You need your page titles, metas, H1 tags, H2 tags, image alt text, redirects, canonicals, and internal links to be written or built in an intelligent manner or Google will devalue your site.

    You also need to clean up broken pages (404s) as quickly as possible, rid yourself of slow-loading scripts in your code, and more. If this sounds boring to you, we get it – call us and let us handle it for you.

    Criminal Defense Content Strategy

    Treat your website like a funnel:

    1. Top of the funnel: folks researching their case, potential penalties, do they need a lawyer, etc.
    2. Bottom of the funnel: people literally searching for things like “assault defense lawyer near me”

    In-depth keyword research will reveal a number of topics and questions your potential clients are searching for, and over time, you should write (or have us) write that content for your website. Also, the more informative blog posts should include internal links to your service pages, and those internal links will help the service pages rank higher on Google.

    You can also qualify your web traffic through your content strategy. We mentioned assault cases above – if your web page has something like “assault lawyer” as the heading, you will get all kinds of irrelevant calls from people who are victims of assault, not the individuals being charged. Your headings and titles need to properly describe what you do as a defense lawyer.

    Link Building For Criminal Defense Attorneys

    You need backlinks to rank higher on Google, but how do you acquire those? Should you pay someone on Fiverr for “thousands of high quality backlinks”? No, of course not.

    You can acquire good, relevant backlinks from legal directories, local business directories, local event sponsorships, by pitching unique articles to good publications, and by interacting with journalists when you have newsworthy insight or verdicts to share. It takes time to acquire backlinks that will move the needle, but we can use our experience to get the process moving quickly for you.

    Local SEO For Criminal Lawyers

    You need to rank higher in the Google Map Pack if you want to maximize your lead flow, and Google’s local SEO algorithm is a bit different from the regular search engine results page (SERP).

    How close your address is to the person searching matters, and even if you don’t have as many backlinks or blog posts as competing firms, you could rank #1 in the map pack if you are simply closer to a lead. You will need to have a well-optimized Google My Business listing, your business name, address and phone number (NAP) will need to match the information on your website and other online profiles, and you should have locally relevant content on your website.

    Citations on other websites, or instances of your NAP information, also help your GMB listing rank higher. These citations function similarly to backlinks for local SEO.

    Criminal Defense Marketing Through PPC Advertising

    Most lawyers think of search ads when they think of pay per click marketing – these are the text ads that show when someone searches for a relevant keyword on Google. These clicks cost well over $100 apiece in many legal niches, and you can only bring that cost down if you’re willing to achieve a very low amount of volume. Many cases are worth spending $500+ to land though, so if your margins are good, this can be an effective channel.

    Display advertising levels the playing field somewhat. We use lists of carefully researched keywords to build custom intent audiences for lawyers, and we can also carefully curate which websites, age brackets, and topic areas your ads will show on. These clicks cost around $1 apiece, and we’ve successful earned leads for law firms for under $50 apiece through this method.

    Tracking Results and Demonstrating ROI

    One of the key benefits of digital marketing for criminal defense attorneys is that you can track the results down to the minute detail. We use web tracking and call tracking software to see how your keywords are ranking, how much relevant traffic you are getting, how many forms and calls you’re receiving, and which channels those leads are coming from. We also package this data up in a clean Google Data Studio dashboard that you can view at any time.

    Start Earning More Criminal Defense Leads Today

    A consistent flow of high quality criminal case leads takes time to build, so give us a call today. The SEO investment you make today will help you start earning more leads in the short term, yes, but the long term effects are far greater. PPC advertising has a more immediate impact, so if you need more leads in a short period of time, we can help you with that as well.

    Remember – a holistic marketing approach that includes SEO, paid media, great web design, and helpful content will always win in the end.

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