Updated for 2021
One of the most common questions we get asked when we are taking over a law firm marketing campaign where we are doing a site redesign is “When should I start SEO?” It’s an important question to ask in order to make the decision that is best for you and your practice. For most law firms, it makes the most sense to start the optimization process as soon as possible. The logic here is pretty simple:
Before you can start ranking high for competitive keywords, Google needs to develop trust for your domain. Building trust for a domain does not happen overnight. This is actually a good thing, as it is what helps to prevent most websites that use “spammy” tactics from appearing high on Google search results. The process of Google crawling the web and discovering new trust signals for the domain being optimized takes time, and it’s the reason why the SEO process typically takes 4-12 months to see substantial ranking impact. Certain keywords where many law firms are competing for the same term in an ultra competitive geo area can take even longer. The sooner we can start optimizing your website and start building those trust signals with Google, the faster we can improve your rankings.
One of the most important elements of getting high rankings on Google is getting links from websites that Google trusts. The process of acquiring the right types of links that send positive trust signals to Google is not easy and it takes a lot of time. What is not commonly known however is that a link built today will typically take 10-12 weeks to have any impact on rankings. This is intentional on Google’s part, as it helps Google improve the quality of their search results. For this reason, if your goal is rank as soon as possible, waiting to start the link building process doesn’t make sense when your competitors are ranking ahead of you and you are trying to catch up in Google’s search results.
If you are using the same domain name, 95% of the time the answer will be yes, start SEO a soon as you can. While the design of a website plays a big part in how well you convert your site visitors into leads and cases, the design does not impact most off-page SEO efforts. This means we can begin optimizing your existing website. When it comes to SEO, there is on-page and off-page SEO. On-page refers to optimization of HTML code and content in your site. Off-page refers to all the measures that can be taken outside of the actual website being optimized. The heavy majority of the time we spend each month optimizing a website involves off-page SEO so it has nothing to do with touching the HTML of the website at all. While most people only think of link building for off-page search engine optimization, there is a lot more involved with conducting smarter SEO campaigns. Our off-page SEO process involves many things, including:
All the things listed above can be done without editing any code on your site. Since most site design and development projects take 90-120 days on average, the timing of the site launch will work well with the new trust signals that Google will be gathering for your domain from the SEO process that is already taking place.
For some of our clients, their domains have been damaged as the result of bad SEO practices and they are better starting over on a new domain. If this is the situation you are in, you should wait to engage in SEO until that site is live. Yes, there is the occasional situation where it could make sense to start the SEO process, especially if it involves cleaning up bad links, disavowing links and NAP consistency issues. However, in most cases we prefer to wait until the new domain has been launched to begin SEO. Similarly, if this is a brand new website starting on a new domain, you will need to wait until the site is launched for SEO to begin.
If you have questions on this topic, feel free to reach out to us anytime!