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SEO for Criminal Defence Lawyers

A Straightforward Guide to Finding Clients Online

Our clients rank in

Top spots for keywords like…

  • Criminal Lawyer
  • Lawyer Criminal Defence
  • Criminal Lawyer Near Me
  • Criminal Defence Attorney

SEO for Criminal Defence Lawyers – The Best Way to Generate New Leads

As a criminal defence law firm in a highly competitive niche, you need regular client intake to succeed and grow.

Given most people head to Google when looking for defence lawyers, search engine optimization (SEO) can seriously boost your company’s profile in search engines’ results and keep client numbers healthy.

However, without SEO, you’re missing out on thousands of people using Google to find criminal defence attorneys. 

You might have a website, but it simply won’t appear in search engine results without a robust SEO strategy.

Where do you even start with SEO for criminal defence lawyers? The good news is, you don’t have to go it alone.

We’ve written this concise guide to introduce you to what your criminal defence SEO strategy needs to focus on – and if you need support from marketing experts, we’re here to help.

Let’s get started.

What Is SEO for Criminal Defence Lawyers?

Search engine optimization for criminal defence lawyers is a series of strategies experts use to ensure websites rank higher in search engine results pages, or SERPs.

We use SEO to show Google and other search engines that your law firm’s website is relevant to searchers’ needs, getting you clicks instead of your competitors.

SEO techniques play by Google’s algorithm rules as it’s the market-leading search engine.

You might already know that if someone searches for certain keywords, like “criminal defence lawyers in Ottawa,” a web page containing those words appears.

However, Google uses other ranking factors to decide how to order these results. That means your website needs to prioritize:

  • Relevant, engaging, and informative content
  • Link building from other authority websites
  • Website loading speeds
  • Ease of navigation
  • Usability on mobile devices

Google updates its search algorithms frequently to improve user experience. For example, its Helpful Content Update encouraged website owners to make pages easier to navigate and their content more relevant to the keywords they targeted.

Why Does Criminal Law SEO Matter?

Organic search is the leading way to attract people to criminal defence law firms online. You should use paid search advertising alongside SEO – just remember that organic search results account for 66% of all legal call conversions.

Moreover, 79% of law firm owners recommend SEO as their number one marketing strategy, which means many of your criminal law firm competitors are already putting it to good use.

Compared to strategies like pay-per-click advertising and press releases, criminal defence SEO offers a consistent flow of relevant, engaged traffic to your website. 

It’s also a major money-maker. Around 60% of the top 100 criminal defence websites attract organic traffic worth at least $5,000 a month.[1]

Finally, it’s also the backbone of other criminal defence attorney marketing strategies that encourage visitors and convert new clients. 

Just one SEO-driven blog post can help influence social media content, podcast material, explainer videos, and open discussions on forums like Reddit and Quora.

The Pivotal Elements of SEO for Criminal Defence Attorneys

Let’s look at a few elements all good criminal defence lawyer SEO campaigns should include.

Criminal Law SEO Essentials: A Summary

SEO audit●     A complete check of your website’s SEO health to look for improvements
Keyword research●     An analysis of terms your clients are searching for
Website optimization●     Techniques to improve the performance of your website, boosting user experience and aiding Google’s crawlers
Content creation●     The production of unique, high-quality, and relevant web copy, blog posts, videos, podcasts, emails, and case studies to inform and encourage visitors to work with you
Internal and external link building●     Techniques to show Google you’re an authority in your field by linking to and from trusted sites in your industry
Technical SEO●     Background checks and edits to help Google crawlers understand your site and improve its overall performance
Local SEO and Google Business Profile●   Tactics to make your website more visible to people searching locally, including using local-focused keywords and a Google Business Profile
Tracking criminal defence law firm SEO performance and improving continuously●     Regular checks on keywords, landing page performance, and conversions using industry tools; making updates as and when needed

SEO Audit

An SEO audit evaluates how effectively your website targets Google’s ranking factors and supports users’ experience.

An SEO expert analyzes key elements of your website and finds areas that might need improvement.

Experts might suggest using tools like SEOptimer to make recommendations for smaller criminal defence sites:

An example of SEO Audit is essential part of SEO for Criminal Defence Lawyers


A typical audit might discover your website:

  • Is difficult to navigate on mobile devices
  • Loads too slowly
  • Uses broken links
  • Is vulnerable to hackers
  • Uses irrelevant keywords
  • Doesn’t use enough relevant keywords
  • Uses low-quality content
  • Duplicates content
  • Is poorly structured
  • Is missing technical elements like meta tags and descriptions

Once an SEO expert has the results of your audit, they use them to build a roadmap to start fixing things.

Keyword Research

Comprehensive keyword research involves discovering phrases your prospective clients use to find your law firm’s legal services. It’s the process of finding actionable opportunities.

However, you need to determine which keywords will likely attract the right people. Professional SEO experts and agencies use industry tools, like SEMrush, to find specific phrases based on a few key metrics.

Keyword research for SEO for Criminal Defence Lawyers


When researching keywords, you typically prioritize:

Relevance: Do the phrases found specifically refer to the services you offer? If not, you can’t expect people to convert.

Volume: How many people are searching for a given phrase? The more people searching per month, the more traffic it’ll drive regularly.

Difficulty: Is there a lot of competition on a phrase? “Low” difficulty typically means few websites target it with paid ads, making it easier for you to rank organically.

How to do Keyword research when implementing SEO for Criminal Defence Lawyers

Once you find keywords and phrases that pass these tests, you can use them sparingly in blog posts and page copy to rank on Google’s search results.

For example, Costa Law Firm optimizes the phrase “criminal law firm in Toronto” on a service page to target a specific audience:

an example of keyword phrase optimization on page for Criminal Defence Attorney SEO


It’s also good practice to use keyword research tools to check phrases your competitors use and to read client reviews to check phrases they frequently use when describing you.

Website Optimization

Website optimization is complex. It’s a series of measures that boost your site’s performance with user experience in mind. After optimizing your website, Google should see it’s fit for public consumption and ready to climb the results page.

Optimizing your criminal defence law firm’s website means making it faster and easier for visitors to use on all devices.

You might target the right keywords for your target audience, but if your website doesn’t load properly on mobile, you’re cutting out 64% of people who search mainly via smartphones and tablets.

Here’s how your criminal defence website should look to mobile users. Information’s condensed and easy to read, and there’s no need to pinch and zoom:

an example of optimizing for mobile devices for SEO for Criminal Defence Lawyers


an example of optimizing for mobile devices for Criminal Lawyers SEO


A fully optimized website inspires visitors to stick with you and reach out for help if needed.

Typically, an SEO expert:

  • Optimizes your website’s design and navigation for all devices
  • Cleans up design elements
  • Boosts loading speed across all pages
  • Checks which pages lose the most traffic
  • Runs A/B test pages to see which drives more conversions

A slow-loading, awkwardly designed website isn’t likely to keep people. At least 9% of website visitors click away if a web page takes longer than two seconds to load, and 38% leave if it takes more than five.

Content Creation

“Content” is a blanket term that covers your:

  • Website copy
  • Blog posts
  • Contact details
  • Audio/visual media, like videos and podcasts
  • Landing page text
  • Social media content
  • Email marketing and newsletters

Your content must be relevant, informative, engaging, and authoritative. Google expects you to demonstrate experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, otherwise known as the EEAT formula.

The most successful online criminal defence law firms use this formula to build knowledge bases people use for information.

Here are some criminal law posts Damien Frost & Associates LLP uses to build its knowledge base:

Building knowledge base for SEO for Criminal Defence Lawyers


Here’s another example from Canada Criminal Lawyer:

Content creation as part of SEO Strategy for Criminal Defence Lawyers


Strong content with original ideas shows your expertise and also encourages external linking, which helps build your online reputation.

Although you might feel confident creating your own content, outsourcing to experts like web designers, video editors, content writers, social media managers, and photographers is more time- and cost-effective.

You can continue running your business safely in the knowledge your content is taken care of.

Internal and External Link Building

Linking to authority websites elsewhere in your niche shows Google you’re trustworthy and helps your audience find useful, related resources.

Google deems external linking a factor in their EEAT formula, provided your links are relevant.

Additionally, the more external links you gain from other relevant websites, the more authoritative your website becomes. Other websites link to you because your published content is relevant and inspiring.

Meanwhile, building internal links means connecting your website’s content. Linking makes it easier for people to navigate your site without searching.

Here’s how seamlessly Damien Frost links to a fraud lawyer service page via a blog post:

an example of interlinking for Criminal Defence Attorney SEO


Linking internally also helps Google crawl your website and better understand how your content works together to create value for visitors.

Technical SEO

SEO experts follow technical checks and measures to show Google your website is legitimate, user-friendly, and explains what it offers.

Technical SEO checks are important because Google’s crawlers need to understand how and where to index your website in SERPs.

An SEO expert typically checks that:

  • Your website structure is fully linked-up and easy to follow
  • You have a complete sitemap submitted to Google
  • You’re using the secure HTTPS protocol to protect visitors
  • Your website speed is fully optimized
  • There’s no duplicate content
  • There are no broken links or orphaned pages

Here’s how Costa Law Firm ensures its practice areas and links are well-organized and easy to navigate:

an example of good website organization and navigation - SEO for Criminal Defence Lawyers


PCS Law links its sitemap clearly from its main page too:

an example of sitemap page - SEO for Criminal Defence Lawyers


When clicked, it brings up a full XML sitemap the law firm presents to Google’s crawlers:

an example of XML sitemap - SEO for Criminal Defence Lawyers

More technical checks SEO experts perform include ensuring your website meets Google’s core web vitals (covering media load times and how much web elements move around). They also check your code is clean and compact, making it easier for crawlers to understand your site.

Local SEO and Google Business Profiles

Local SEO techniques target people searching for your services within a specific location or general area.

Local searches are frequently connected to mobile use as smartphone searchers ask Google to use their location to find nearby services.

Local SEO techniques include targeting keywords and phrases with town and location names in search, like “Chicago criminal defence attorneys.” 

You should also list your service areas clearly in your web copy, like Chand & Co.:

listing service area can help with Local SEO for Criminal Defence Lawyers


However, optimizing a Google Business Profile, or GBP, is just as important.

Formerly known as Google My Business, a GBP appears at the top of certain local search listings when people look for services within a specific area or use location services.

GBP listings tell searchers what your business does, confirm opening hours and contact details, let them find you on an interactive map, and provide recent Google reviews from paying clients.

Showing honest reviews in snapshot format helps to convert searchers, especially as 98% of people searching for lawyers consider online reviews before calling them.[3]

Google business profile is essential for local SEO for criminal defence

Don’t ignore local searchers. Local and organic search accounts for 73% of all web page views and drives 67% of revenue gained online.

Tracking Criminal Defence Law Firm SEO Performance and Improving Continuously

Search engine optimization for criminal defence attorneys is a marathon, not a sprint. SEO experts measure the following metrics over time:

  • Bounce rates (how frequently visitors click away)
  • How your keywords are ranking
  • If there are any new keywords to rank for
  • Clickthrough rate (CTR) from organic links
  • Authority scoring for your domain

For instance, they might use Ahrefs’ website authority checker to see how a site ranks compared it its competitors:

Ahrefs is one of many SEO tools to help you track the performance of your SEO strategy for criminal lawyers


They also look for updates to make to your SEO campaign based on any changes in your industry and intake. For instance, if there have been major changes to local fraud laws, that might be an opportunity for new keywords and to reoptimize landing pages.

7 Proven Criminal Defence Lawyer SEO Tips

Now that you know why criminal defence attorney SEO is so important, let’s look at a few ways to put it into practice.

Best practices for criminal lawyer SEO

TipIn Brief
Set up practice pages and a blog●     Create regular, informative content to show Google you’re an authority and visitors you’re trustworthy and knowledgeable
Register on criminal defence directories●     Register your company’s details on public directories to increase traffic and to show you’re professional and authoritative
Target long-tail criminal defence keywords●     Use highly specific phrases to target niche searches and attract prospects who are almost ready to work with you
Combine SEO with other marketing strategies●     Use social platforms, paid ads, and a digital marketing strategy to increase traffic while SEO gets up to speed
Build backlinks alongside an internal linking strategy●     Write guest posts for other authority sites that link back to your own for more traffic
Diversify your content with video and podcasts●     Attract more visitors and prospects with varied video and audio content, going beyond basic Google search
Track and optimize your SEO over time●     Regularly check and reoptimize your SEO strategy with changes in your industry and with client needs

1. Set Up Practice Pages and a Blog

Original high-quality content shows Google you’re an industry authority. 

Other SEO ranking factors can only do so much if you don’t have the quality content to back it up.

Create a blog and post regularly about recent changes in local criminal law. Answer common questions your clients have about defending certain criminal charges, and link carefully to other areas of your site. 

Use keywords already researched to inspire topics, and sow them across your posts without overstuffing them.

Alberta Legal, again, leads the way with a varied, insightful blog that doubles as a knowledge base:

SEO for Criminal Defence Lawyers requires blog to rank high in SERP and showcase your expertise


Although it’s good practice to set up a service page purely for criminal defence if it’s one of your niches, you’ll target more searchers if you break it down into practice pages.

PCS Law breaks down the different areas of criminal law they defend clients on and offers overviews for each, targeting highly specific keywords and searchers.

criminal attorney SEO best practices: practice page


2. Register on Criminal Defence Directories

An effective SEO strategy relies on off-page techniques alongside on-page SEO tweaks. For instance, list your law firm in your area’s criminal defence directory or registry.

Legal directories act as databases of law firms that potential clients search through to find relevant support. It’s an alternative route to simply searching through Google. 

Sometimes, you need to pay to register and list in a directory. It’s worth it because:

  1. You appear more authoritative and trustworthy
  2. It’s an extra set of links for you to advertise on
  3. You make your website even easier to find online

There are several generic law firm databases (FindLaw and, but if you’re trading in the US, we recommend you consult the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Here’s how your profile might appear on Justia, a leading directory that offers a criminal law section:

SEO for Criminal Defence Lawyers best practices: setting up a profile in criminal defence lawyer directories


3. Target Long-Tail Criminal Defence Keywords

Boost traffic further by targeting as many long-tail keywords as possible that relate to specific case needs.

Consider the different areas of criminal defence you cater to regularly. Look back at your cases and try to find patterns. Are there any trends emerging more frequently than others?

Take some inspiration from Chand & Co., listing its main criminal defence practice areas like so:

enhance your SEO for criminal defence law firms by targeting long-tail criminal defence keywords


You could target keywords like “Ontario fraud lawyer” or “assault lawyer in Toronto” to target highly specific searches where paid ads are expensive over the long term.

Be sure to optimize existing web pages and copy, not just new ones. Google is always indexing and crawling pages, regardless of publication date.

Notice we use cities in our examples above, too. Consider creating specific “city pages” to appeal to long-tail and local SEO in one go.

Alberta Legal goes a step further and targets a long-tail keyword on its home page:

SEO for criminal defence law firms example: targeting long tail keyword on main page


4. Combine SEO with Other Criminal Defence Marketing Strategies

Don’t rely on SEO alone to increase visibility and build traffic. 

Managing SEO over the long term is trial and error, and it typically takes up to six months to start seeing traffic increase.[4]

Therefore, marketing experts recommend you split your budget between SEO and pay-per-click ads (PPC). One of the best reasons to do this is because, at least at the start of your website’s life, it needs a kick-start before your SEO techniques start driving organic traffic.

Research claims the average conversion rate for PPC ads in the legal industry is around 2.2%, with organic SEO links converting at 7.5%.

That clearly shows SEO is a better tactic for driving long-term traffic, but why not combine the two? Instead of settling for 7.5%, run PPC ads alongside and boost your chances of getting clicked to 9.7%.

Beyond this, the more active you are on social media, the more visible you become. For instance, some claim Google indexes pages and posts quicker when you post about them on socials.

Moreover, promoting your content on social media (through Facebook posts, for instance) drives traffic from a different angle. You’re increasing engagement on social media while encouraging clicks to your latest content.
Use social media content like Instagram stories for lawyers to boost your EEAT. You could share news about industry achievements and emerging trends relevant to your clients. Here’s an example of a promotional Facebook post with authoritative clout.

SMM helping SEO for criminal defence attorneys


Finally, don’t ignore email marketing – like SEO, it’s a great strategy for brand awareness and assuring authority and trustworthiness.

According to MailChimp, open rates for marketing emails in the legal industry average around 22%, with click rates averaging 2.81%. That’s not a negligible audience to ignore – these are willing recipients!

To start building up an email audience, consider offering a regular email newsletter subscription through your website, like so:

newsletter subscription can help criminal defence law firm SEO, lead generation and client retention


5. Build Backlinks Alongside an Internal Linking Strategy

Backlinks are great for building your online reputation. Research shows the top result in an average Google SERP has almost four times the number of backlinks than those listed in positions two through ten.

Many SEO experts suggest reaching out to blogs looking for guest posts, where a content writer naturally links to your website from another.

Look for leading law websites in criminal law directories or blogs specializing in law in your local area and reach out to write posts.

Here’s an example of a guest post written for Ottawa Business Journal by David Costa of Costa Law Firm. The article links to his law firm’s website:

boost criminal defence law firm SEO with backlinks from guest posting


Internal linking is always worthwhile along with building a backlinks database. Internal links help guide people toward where you want or need them to go.

Internal linking is particularly beneficial when discussing criminal defence thanks to the variety of cases you cover. Plus, readers will be eager to find a way to contact and connect with you.

6. Diversify Your Content with Videos and Podcasts

You don’t have to just target Google through SEO strategies. In fact, by using video and audio media, you can pull in even more searchers looking for criminal defence advice elsewhere.

YouTube, for example, is one of the largest search engines on the web, with more than 200 million users in the US alone. In Canada, it has over 26 million users.

Capitalize on this and create YouTube “explainer” videos to guide first-time prospects through complex areas of criminal law.

SEO for criminal defence law firms best practices - video content


Podcasts help strengthen SEO, too. You could create audio content discussing news in criminal defence or case studies.

It’s possible to help podcasts rank in Google SERPs, but you can also list episodes on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Audible, and Soundcloud, all of which have different audiences and could help extend your reach.

Kruse Law, again, ran a series of episodes about COVID-19 and Canadian criminal justice at the height of the pandemic:

SEO for criminal defence lawyers best practices - video content on hot topic


Adding video and audio to your landing and service pages also helps keep people on-site longer. Various studies suggest many people prefer watching videos for answers to reading walls of text.

7. Track and Optimize your SEO over time

Criminal defence law isn’t static. Because of changes in local and national laws, you need to top up your expertise often and tweak your SEO strategy.

That means regularly checking if your keywords are ranking as you expect them to and searching for ones more in line with current client demands and industry trends.

It pays to work with a marketing agency specializing in criminal defense attorney SEO to make suggestions and changes autonomously.

For example, Damien Frost works with dNOVO to regularly target trending keywords via blog posts:

SEO for criminal defence law attorneys best practices - track and optimize SEO regularly


SEO changes depending on your budget, emerging marketing trends, and client demands. It’s worth keeping an open mind and prioritizing user experience when maintaining your site.

Failure to track and optimize SEO regularly means you’re at risk of falling down the search engine rankings – and below your rivals.

3 Ways To Get Started With Criminal Lawyer SEO

There are three key ways to put your criminal defence law firm SEO strategy into action:

  1. Learn SEO best practices and DIY it
  2. Build a team of in-house criminal law SEO specialists
  3. Hire an agency that’s a criminal defence SEO expert

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.

1. Learn SEO Best Practices and DIY It

It’s easy to assume you can learn and manage criminal lawyer SEO on your own, and we’ve probably made it look pretty straightforward. Yet…

It’s good to learn SEO basics to understand the ranking factors that affect your website.

However, DIYing SEO means wasting time you could spend better engaging with clients and defending their cases.

Building SEO knowledge and applying it competently takes years of dedicated experience. If you’re already running a law firm, you won’t have the time available to ensure your SEO is firing on all cylinders.

What’s more, if you’re not an expert in SEO, you’re going to get things wrong. Experts in the trade have played the trial-and-error game many times – and you can rely on them to make well-informed decisions.

Making SEO mistakes could lead to Google penalizing you and stunting your SERP rankings. At worst, you could alienate new and existing clients.

2. Build a Team of In-House Criminal Law SEO Specialists

Hiring an in-house team for criminal law SEO means you have experts who solely focus on your needs. They’re fully trained and specialized in what you need to rank higher in criminal defence SERPs.

However, doing so is a large expense for smaller firms. Instead of simply paying an SEO agency per project or for the hours you require them, you’re paying salaries – and all the benefits attached.

Remember, too, that to hire the best criminal defence marketers, you must know what to look for in applicants. If you have little experience in managing a marketing team, there’s no guarantee you’ll hire the right people from the get-go. 

3. Hire an Agency That’s a Criminal Defence SEO Expert

Hiring a criminal defence SEO agency ensures you have access to trained expertise whenever you need it.

Specialized experts present the lowest risk to criminal defence law firms investing in SEO support. Pricing is transparent, meaning you can start tracking your return on investment right away.

The money you invest in an SEO agency goes directly to the expertise, not salaries and benefits.

When looking for the best SEO agencies to work with, look carefully at their client portfolio. How are they ranking in SERPs? Explore their websites on different devices. Are they easy to use and full of useful information?

Beyond this, always look for firms ready to support you whenever you need them. On-call experts might offer instant messaging, for example, if you need to raise emergencies out of hours.

Lastly, look for an agency willing to work with in-house marketers. If your law firm already has one or two marketing professionals onboard, the best SEO agencies gladly work seamlessly with them to support you.

Here’s a bonus tip. When you work with lawyer SEO agencies like dNOVO, you also benefit from an exclusive, no-compete contract, meaning we never work with rival law firms while we’re in contract with you.

Let’s tie this all together and discuss what your next moves should be.

SEO for Criminal Defence Law Firms: The Key to More Client Conversions 

As you can see, SEO for criminal defence lawyers is an intricate process but one that delivers fantastic conversions for firms that follow best practices.

Consider this guide a roadmap to guide you through the basics of law firm SEO – and how to spend less time managing the nitty gritty and more time building and nurturing client relationships.

The first step is choosing a trusted SEO partner at dNOVO. Get in touch, and we’ll keep your criminal defence firm competitive.

If you’re not quite ready to reach out for help yet, take a closer look at other ways to boost your online presence with a little help from our guide to Google local service ads.

If you’re growing your criminal law practice, be sure to read our guide on law firm growth strategies.

SEO for Criminal Defence Attorneys: FAQs

Let’s finish our guide with a quick look at some common questions about criminal defence SEO.

Why is Local SEO for a Criminal Defence Law Firm Important?

Local SEO strategy helps criminal defence lawyers appear higher in SERPs based on their location. This means they’re more likely to connect with local people needing their services. 

What Are Some Common SEO Mistakes Criminal Defence Lawyers Make?

Some criminal defence lawyers do all the SEO work for their law firm websites without help from agencies or experts. Without SEO expertise, they risk harming their web content and turning away visitors, as well as losing time on helping people with cases.

How Much Does Criminal Defence Lawyer SEO Cost?

Expect to pay somewhere between $1500 and $20,000 a month for your SEO efforts.

The average cost of criminal defence lawyer SEO depends on a few factors, like whether you hire a team in-house to help, choose an agency, or choose to do it yourself. Hiring an SEO agency is more cost-effective than other options because you only ever pay for the support you need, and you get to work with experts in their trade.

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