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Striking Distance Keywords and How to Improve Them

What is a “striking distance keyword”? A striking distance keyword is phrase we use here at Sundown Marketing to describe a keyword that is not quite at the top of a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) yet, but with a little time and attention could rise to the top of Page 1.  In other words, it is a keyword that is within “striking distance” of the top of Page 1 of Google. Most of the time we focus on keywords that are in Position 8-12 (bottom of Page 1 or the top of Page 2), but sometimes we look even further down the list of a Google search. We work to find keywords that are competitive keywords, that we feel could rank better and could significantly increase exposure for our clients.

This is the natural train of thought that an SEO technician would take after watching keyword performance go up and down for a few months. The question is: “Can I impact a client’s website performance for a keyword by focusing on that keyword on the website?”

So, for example, we want our client’s website to rank highly for “personal injury attorney” and their site is currently ranking in the 18th position (bottom of Page 2) for personal injury attorney. Armed with that information, we would work on the site to “beef it up” for SEO factors for the keyword we are trying to rank for.

Methods

Until recently, we would begin this task by using Google Search Console. Search Console tells you what pages are ranking for what keywords and in what position they rank.

To use Google Search Console, you would simply log into your dashboard and select Performance. From there you can see all the Queries that your site ranks for and by clicking on the Pages tab you can see the page that it ranks for.

search-engine-console-dashboard

We recently discovered another way to more effectively accomplish this task. After reading an article written by search guru Neil Patel, we found a way to get even better data which includes the search volume for all of the keywords your website ranks for. This data is better because you can then use the search volume to target the keywords with the highest search volume and ranking highly for these keywords will have an even higher impact to your website performance.

semrush-dashboard

At Sundown Marketing we use SEMRush for our SEO management. With SEMRush you can enter the domain you want to analyze to create a report containing website performance. From this report you can select Top Organic Keywords. Your results will be a list of your ranking keywords, along with each keyword’s search volume. From here you can sort by Volume, so that the high-volume keywords are listed at the top of your list. Search volume tells you whether or not it is worth the effort to try and improve the ranking of a certain keyword. As an example, if the volume is only 10 searches per month, then it might be wiser to move on to the next keyword.

Here is an example of a Keyword search for one of our clients:

organic-search-positions

Once you have chosen a keyword to focus on, you must decide how to improve your website for that particular keyword. The first step is to determine what page is ranking for the keyword so you know where to focus your efforts. Once you have that information, you can analyze the page by reviewing this data:

  • Is the keyword in the title tag?
  • Is the keyword in the H1 tag?
  • Is the keyword in the meta description?
  • Is the keyword in the schema tags and the image alt tags?
  • Can you add more content about the keyword?
  • Can you add more images that are optimized for the keyword?

Most of the time you will find an area where you can improve the condition of a page on your website for a particular keyword. Perhaps a blog only has 200 words, which would suggest you bolster the content with keyword focused content. Perhaps a page has great content, keyword specific titles and meta data and quality backlinks, but no schema. In that case you may want to consider adding schema or additional optimized images. When adding additional optimized images, make sure you add them below the fold, so they don’t add significant load time to the page. In essence, go through and make the changes that make the most sense for your website.

Results

Usually the results can be seen within a month, but some changes make take longer. In the case of one of our clients, we focused on two keyword phrases:

  • “Statute of Limitations for filing a personal injury claim in Alabama” (very long tail keyword)
  • “what conditions automatically qualify you for disability”

Four days after doing some basic optimization on two pages we found that the first keyword phrase didn’t see any improvement, but in the case of the second keyword phrase, and after only optimizing the image on the page, we saw a slight increase in the position of the website for “what conditions automatically qualify you for disability” (from 18 to 17)

keyword-improvement

This is a good way to not only optimize for keywords, but also know which keywords are likely going to bring in enough traffic to make it worth your time.

If you would like a website analysis by our SEO team, please call Sundown Marketing at (800) 649-1749 or via our website contact form for a free initial consultation!

Website Content – The Difference Maker

The purpose of every law firm website and every law firm internet marketing plan is to increase brand awareness and drive potential clients to the firm. Securing clients through your website requires you to accomplish two major objectives:

  • Generate Traffic: You need to be able to drive potential clients to your website
  • Create Conversions: You need to be able to convert your website visitors from potential clients to actual clients

A great website that is never seen has no opportunity to convert, and a poorly designed website that has strong exposure and receives a lot of traffic from targeted prospects has very little opportunity to convert. Either way, if you don’t have a quality website with robust, relevant content that is well-optimized, your chances to secure business from your website are slim.

There are several distinct elements that go into an effective website and internet marketing plan.

The first order of business is to drive potential clients to the firm’s website. This requires a structured and comprehensive search engine optimization (SEO) plan. Once a potential client arrives at your website, they have to find something that piques their interest, keeps them on your site and drives them to move further into your website.

Once you have an engaging, professional website, you need to consider the first element of improving conversions – quality content:

  1.  Consistently Add Content to Your Website: Google has made it clear that in order to rank well, a website must have authoritative and relevant content that is regularly updated. When you think about it, this makes a great deal of sense. Google’s mission is to provide the best results possible to their customers (web searchers) when they perform a search. In Google’s world, “best results” are measured by the quality and relevance of the content on your website in relation to the keyword that was searched for. Not only is continually adding fresh content helpful for achieving better search results, it also gives your targeted prospects more opportunities to find you. Think of each web page or blog post as a “doorway” into your most valuable digital real estate; your website.
  2. Create Useful and Authoritative Content: Visitors to your website expect to find quality content that provides useful answers to questions they have about their legal issue. Avoid being too technical with your content. Your primary readers will be lay people who have a legal question or need legal help. Write professionally, but in a way that makes complex legal information understandable for the average reader while at the same time distinguishing your firm as an authority and thought leader in your area(s) of practice.
  3. Draft Content that Addresses the Google Algorithm: In order to rank well for keywords related to your practice areas, you must draft content that integrates the keywords your target audience is searching for in a way that makes sense and flows naturally within the text. Google’s Algorithm is powered by artificial intelligence (AI), and it has gotten much smarter over the years. Your web pages and blog posts not only have to contain naturally integrated keywords, they must also contain related keywords (commonly known as “theme” words) that show Google (and other search engines) that your page is truly relevant to the end user and not just a bunch of “stuffed” keywords designed to fool the search engines.

Content Marketing for Law Firms

In the early days of the internet, the goal for most law firms was to put up a website that would act essentially as a digital calling card and be done with it. These days, the creation of a high-quality website is just the beginning of a comprehensive content marketing strategy.  As mentioned earlier, consistency is one of the major keys to the success of your strategy. Not only does Google expect regularly updated content in order to establish authority, your audience expects it too. Just like a TV or radio show or podcast, your audience expects you to put up regular content that informs and engages them.

Here are some of the most important steps to take in creating your content marketing strategy:

  • Understand your Target Audience

Find out what legal questions your targeted prospects are typing into their search queries. What are they asking about repeatedly in various legal and community forums? What emerging issues and trends are affecting your target market? The answers to these questions should allow you to create a long list of keywords for which you can develop articles around. If you are writing on topics your target market truly cares about, your content is more likely to become widely read and shared.

  • Develop a Workable Content Production and Distribution Process

As we’ve already touched on repeatedly, consistency is critical to the success of a content marketing strategy. This means having a system in place that allows you to write and distribute your content on a regular basis. Once you have your list of keywords, create a content calendar that allows you (or whomever is writing your content) the time necessary each month to ensure that you are able to get your content out there consistently.

  • Inform and Engage, but Don’t Hard Sell

As we talked about earlier, the primary purpose of your content is to be useful and informative, giving your readers answers to important legal issues. In doing so, readers will start to see you as the expert in your various practice areas. You may include a call to action inviting readers to contact your firm once or twice throughout the piece; but avoid overselling your legal services. Your authority on the topic speaks for itself, and if the reader cannot solve their legal problem on their own, you are the one they are most likely to call.

  • The Length of Your Article Matters

In the past, a 300 to 500-word blog post was enough to achieve good rankings in the search engines. Today, research shows that Google prefers longer, more robust content. 750-900 words is now the minimum that you would want to have for a post to rank, but ideally, you want your word count to be in the 1000 – 1,500 range or more. There are some SEO experts that suggest even going as high as 2,000 words, but there is no need to do that unless your article needs to be that length to fully cover the topic. In other words, don’t include “filler text” just to bring your word count up as this will hurt the quality of your content and make your efforts counterproductive.

Contact Sundown Legal Marketing Today

Sundown Legal Marketing specializes in helping law firms review their current internet footprint, developing a comprehensive internet marketing plan and implementing every part of that plan, including developing and implementing a content strategy. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your website content and a no obligation assessment of your internet marketing plan. Call us at (800) 864-1764 or online through our website contact form.