If you want to start getting organic traffic on the web, you’ll have to build a great website – but that’s only half the battle (maybe less). The rest of your efforts will go towards getting found online through search engine optimization (SEO).
So what do you do if your law firm’s website is showing up on Google? There could be a few reasons why you aren’t visible, and we’ll diagnose those issues here. You might not be indexed on Google, you may not have a Google My Business listing, or you simply might not have enough domain authority. Keep reading to learn more.
1. Your Website Hasn’t Been Indexed by Google Yet
You won’t rank well in search if Google doesn’t know your website exists – you don’t need us to tell you that. Google crawls the web constantly, but with millions of pages being published every day, how can you encourage Google to find your site? Simply publishing your new website isn’t enough.
First, you need to create a Google Search Console account (assuming you already have Google Analytics installed in your website). Go to the Search Console website and follow the steps to get started. Once you have created an account and added your property (your website), you will need to verify your Google Search Console account – then you are ready to proceed.
You can then submit your website to Google in a few easy steps. You can begin by downloading your website’s sitemap, which can be done by adding “/sitemap/xml” to the end of your website’s url. When you have your website’s sitemap, submit it to Google Search Console.
Then, any time you add a new page to your website or edit an existing page, you can submit that page to Google Search Console and “force crawl” it as well. Type your URL into the discovery bar:
Then click the “request indexing” button for the URL that Google hasn’t discovered yet:
Google will now crawl and discover your site – you are now eligible to show in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Note: If your robots.txt are implemented incorrectly, or if Google is otherwise unable to crawl the page that you’ve submitted, Search Console will show you a warning. You can then refer that issue to your web developer and they can resolve it for you.
2. You Haven’t Created a Google My Business (GMB) Listing
Law firms rely on local web traffic to sell their services, and you’ll want to be eligible to show in the local map pack when people search for things like “personal injury lawyer near me.” Here’s an example of the local map pack when I search for “IP lawyer near me:”
Go to business.google.com, create a listing, and fill out your business information. Make sure your name, address, and phone number appear exactly as they do on your website! We’ve discussed ranking well in local search elsewhere, so read our blog on how to rank in the Google Map Pack.
Once you’ve created a GMB listing, you will be eligible to show in the map pack, and you can rank well for proximity-based searches even if your website doesn’t have much authority yet.
Why your GMB listing might not be ranking after you built one: if there are lots of competing firms near your address (for instance, you are on the sixth floor of an office building, and you have competitors in the same building), Google might be filtering your listing out of the map pack. You will need to build links to your website, earn a competitive number of reviews, and write content on your site to get enough “authority” in Google’s eyes to start ranking.
3. Your Website isn’t Optimized for Search Engines
Getting your website indexed doesn’t guarantee that it will show up on Google. If your website isn’t optimized for Google, it’s less likely to show up as a search result. Luckily, you can make your website more aligned with what Google is looking for by making a few tweaks.
Search engine optimization is a HUGE topic, and we’d encourage you to read our law firm SEO guide before continuing. But here is a quick checklist:
- You need internal links. You’ll notice that we have a few links to other blog posts with targeted anchor text above – that helps Google crawl through to that page, and it tells Google what those pages are about. This is good for SEO. Also, if you link from your blog posts up to main practice area pages, you can increase the ranking capability of those practice pages.
- You need optimized title tags, H1 tags, H2 tags, etc. If you are a Milwaukee-based criminal defense lawyer, put “Milwaukee Criminal Defense Lawyer” in your title tag!
- You need lots of good content. Google uses your page content to determine your relevance and authority around a subject matter, so you should be publishing relevant pages and blog posts every week, at minimum.
- Your site must have good user experience (UX). Is your site fast, mobile-friendly, and can users find your call-to-action (CTA) buttons easily?
- You need backlinks from other websites. Google views backlinks as “votes” from other websites, and in a competitive niche, you’ll need lots of “votes” to rank well.
- You need “local citations” on web directories and other site — these are instances of your business, name, and address across the web.
4. Your Site is Indexed, but You’re in a Competitive or Crowded Market
If you are targeting the same keywords as a number of other established law firms, the competition is going to crowd you out for a while. It doesn’t mean that Google isn’t aware of your existence, but you won’t outrank more established firms for the same keywords.
It can take 3+ months of professional SEO work to start getting organic traffic for your desired terms, and 6+ months to rank on the first page (and especially the top 3 results) of Google. Don’t get discouraged – just realize that the sooner you start investing in serious SEO, the sooner you can enjoy the benefits of consistent, targeted organic traffic.
5. There Are “No Index” Tags on Your Website
Another possible reason that your website might not be appearing in Google is that there may be “no index” tags within the code on your website. “No index” tags tell Google to NOT show certain websites in its search results, which means your website won’t show up on Google if it has these tags, even if your site has been crawled by Google. This tag can show up in the code on your website even if you didn’t put it there if you accidentally click a box on WordPress or other content management system. It’s also possible that the web developer that made your site added this tag to prevent the site from showing up in results while the site was still in development and forgot to remove it.
Simply submit your URL to the Search Console discovery bar, and if Google is unable to index your URL, it will tell you why.
6. Your Website Has Been Removed From Google
The least likely reason that your website isn’t showing up on Google is that Google manually removed the site from its index. This only happens if Google believes that a site is illegal, doesn’t meet its quality guidelines, or distracts from users’ ability to find the information they’re looking for.
To remove a site from appearing in search results, a page can either be de-indexed (completely remove the site from Google), penalized (still indexed but only able to found through limited search queries), or sandboxed (a filter is placed on your website to downgrade your keyword rankings).
If you pursue “whitehat” SEO strategies, avoid illegal behavior online, and generally avoid spammy methods, you won’t have to worry about getting hit with a manual penalty.
Get Your Law Firm’s Website to Show Up on Google
It takes time and strategic effort, but your law firm can be visible in Google search. For help showing up on Google, ranking better for your desired keywords, or increasing your organic lead volume, get in touch with us by calling (215) 309-1631.