Law Firm SEO Glossary | Terms You Need to Know

SEO is not just technical in its implementation, but also verbiage. Like legal terms, SEO terms have their unique meanings. It can be difficult to understand an analysis report, SEO blog or an article if you cannot understand half the technical terms. At NearMe Marketing, we want you to know exactly what we do for you. We want our clients to understand our communications and reports.

This is why we have come up with this concise SEO glossary for lawyers that contains all SEO terms relevant to legal firm websites. This will allow you to get a clearer picture of how your site is faring in terms of competition and SEO.

Comprehensive SEO glossary for lawyers:

A

Ads (Google Ads)

Google ads are used for creating online ads specific to Google users. These ads reach users whenever they search for a particular keyword or another parameter as defined by the advertiser.

Algorithm

This refers to a set of rules or processes that have to be followed in problem-solving operations involving computers. Currently, Google’s core algorithm is considered to be the most robust mainstream algorithms.

Alt Attribute

Search engines cannot crawl images or decipher them. Alt attribute or alt text is an image (<img />) tag that allows bots to understand the image and consider it for ranking purposes. It also allows users to know what an image depicts when browsers are unable to render them.

Analytics

This refers to software that can capture data regarding traffic and visitor activity on your site. The data is typically accessed through a dashboard where everything is categorized.

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

AMP are stripped down versions of regular site pages. These are optimized to load extremely quickly and are very lightweight.

Anchor Text Distribution

This text appears within your hyperlinks and should be more than “click here”. Search engines receive a powerful signal with keyword-rich anchor texts. 

Article Directories

Article Directories specialize in legal website listings or legal content. Typically, they cater to regular audience looking for legal advice. Targetlaw.com, Lawyers.com, Justia, and NOLO are common legal directories.

Authority

Your site’s authority depends on various factors such as quality and amount of content and backlinks. Authority sites tend to be ranked higher by Google.

B

Backlink

These are links on other sites that point to your webpages. They are vital to SEO as long as placed on authoritative and non-spammy sites. They help search engines understand what your site is about which is an important ranking factor for Google.

Black Hat SEO

These refer to practices that were used prior to various Google algorithm updates to increase rankings. They are against best practice guidelines now because they try to “game the system”. If caught, you could end up with a penalty that may harm your site beyond recovery. Examples include low-quality directories, keyword stuffing, and link networks.

Bot

Bot is also known as Internet bot, web bot, or web robot. Bingbot and Googlebot refer to the company that produced it. These are sophisticated software applications designed to perform automated tasks on the web. In relation to SEO, bots crawl the internet to index content for their respective search engines.

Bounce Rate

This refers to the percentage of visitors on your site that exit without spending a considerable amount of time. They leave a particular page without visiting any additional web pages or clicking other hyperlinks.

Broken Link(s)

These are also known as dead links. Hyperlinks that no longer work on a web page are known as broken links. This can be because the URL has changed, the target page ceased to exist, or any other error on the target site.

C

Caching

Users can save a version of your site during their visit in their browser through caching. They will continue seeing the older version even if you have made changes to your site.

Canonical Tag

Canonical tags are a type of meta tag that come in useful when your site has duplicate content issues. They help notify search engines which page is the preferred version of the content.

Click-Through Rate

Simply put, this metric is the percentage difference between your listings’ search impressions and number of clicks received. They are applied to both paid search and organic results.

Cloaking

In this practice, a completely different set of web pages and content are shown to the visitors from those created specifically for search engines.

CMS

Content Management System refers to a system that allows a novice to construct and maintain a site easily without needing programming knowledge. More popular CMS systems include Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress.

Content Marketing

This includes everything related to content on your site. It involves designing content and maintaining it in such a way that your site attracts legal clients that stay on to do more than just visit your site. Content marketing may involve videos, images, and social media.

Conversion

In terms of internet marketing, conversion means to achieve a goal as specified by you. This can be your potential clients downloading legal material, completing contact forms or using a click-to-call link.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

This is a language used by web designers to attach style elements to your web page or your HTML documents. Style elements include font, color, spacing, and other things.

D

Do-Follow Link

These links clear PageRank to pass on link juice. They pass on SEO benefits to the pages they are linked to. Almost all links that are configured are treated as Do-Follow by default. Otherwise, they are categorized as No-Follow.

Domain Authority

Websites are given a number from 1 – 100 to determine their authoritativeness within a specified niche. The term was coined by Moz. Ahrefs uses a similar concept called Domain Rating. Quality of content and backlinks are used in determining this rating.

Duplicate Content

Duplicate content can hurt your site’s ranking. It refers to publishing same or nearly similar content on different pages of your site. This should be avoided at all costs.

DNS

DNS are records that help in maintaining the internet. DNS queries are called whenever someone sends an email or loads a site. You would need to store these records at your website host or domain registrar. DNS records can include CNAME, HOST A, TXT, and MX records. Each record serves as a pointer for routing traffic.

E

Engagement

Engagement in terms of SEO refers to the way your site visitors engage with your website. It is measured using various factors, such as unique website visitors, pages viewed per session, average session duration, frequency of visits, core user actions, bounce rate, and visitor recency among others.

Error Pages (404)

Sometimes, a web browser is unable to find a particular webpage. Error pages are placeholders to show instead of those pages. Hosting providers tend to generate common error pages for all users, but webmasters can always generate unique and customized error pages.

External Link

External links are hyperlinks placed within your webpages that direct a user to another site. These links help in improving search performance. However, they need to be linked to a quality authoritative site. Generally, for law firm SEO, these links are for NOLO, Justia, and Bar Association among others.

F

Featured Snippets

Google has revamped its search pages to show a small box with informational bit for particular search terms. These snippets are right at the top of the page and are pulled from live websites. They can be helpful or not based on individual queries. But, the trend is to feature a snippet for all search keywords.

Fetch as Google

‘Fetch as Google’ tool is useful to test how Google views or crawls a URL on your website. You can use this tool to determine whether Googlebot is able to access a particular page. You can also check if any page items, such as scripts or images are blocked by the bot.

G

Grey Hat SEO

This refers to SEO tactics that are not exactly white, but do not fall under black hat SEO as well. The practices are not inherently deceptive in this approach, but are still frowned upon by Google and other search engines. Examples of grey hat SEO include manual link building, cloaking, link buying, duplicate content, and social media automation among others.

Google My Business

You can use this platform to list your local business on Google Maps. Your business information will be highlighted, such as name, address, phone number, email address, and site address. My Business may also get featured in relevant search results.

Google Search Console

This is a Google tool designed to allow webmasters to notify Google about site changes. Google Search Console offers information about any issues on your site from Google’s perspective.

H

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)

This is the authoring language used to achieve color, font, hyperlink effects, and graphic by tagging files on your webpages.

.htaccess File

This file informs the web server on processing files on the site. A typical way to use it is to write redirects, which pushes traffic from an old site page to a new one.

I

Image Carousels

Image carousels allow several images to slide around every few seconds on a web page. They are typically used on home pages and can contain important information about your legal firm and work. However, studies have shown that no one really goes beyond the third image, so maybe it’s better to have just one at the top of your page.

Image Compression

Image compression tools allow for faster page loading. Images can have a large file size which may bog down your site and reduce its ranking.

Index

This is the overall search knowledge of any search engine, such as Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo. Index refers to a store of all websites that a particular search engine has indexed and stored in their database.

J

JavaScript (js)

This programming language is typically used in web development for creating interactive effects.

K

Keyword Research

This popular practice is used by marketers and SEO experts to determine the more profitable keywords used by a target audience. Keyword research also determines searcher intent or the kind of queries that a potential lead may enter in a search engine. Keyword research forms the foundation for PPC, SEO, landing page design, and blogging among other search marketing activities.

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is a black hat SEO practice. It involves overusing particular keywords in an attempt to increase rankings. This used to work earlier, but is highly discouraged now because of creating non-quality content.

KPI (Key Performance Indicator)

KPI values are used to determine the impact of marketing efforts and helps in valuing performance. It allows for determining the effectiveness of campaigns for taking better future decisions.

L

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSIs)

LSI refers to related keyword phrases that are similar to your primary keywords. In SEO, focusing on a single keyword will lead to keyword stuffing. Hence, LSI are used to establish relationship and stay true to SEO purposes.

Lazy Loading

Overall website load speed can be improved by employing lazy loading tactics. This involves deferred loading of certain files and images. The functionality comes into action only when a visitor scrolls or interacts with the particular area.

Link Building

This refers to the process of purposefully creating backlinks for your site by engaging in relevant activities. It includes signing up for legal directories, publishing content with a site link on other platforms, and sharing authoritative content with other site owners among other things. 

Link Bait

Link bait is quality and highly engaging content that is created in such a way to promote shares. The content should also encourage others to place a backlink to your site.

Link Juice

Link juice is also known as page authority, PageRank, or link authority. It refers to having value passed from one page to the next by a search engine. It is the vote that one page gives to another on the internet by linking to it. Search engines are indicated of a page’s authority and quality when other pages link to it.

Local SEO

SEO strategies are applied to a site to make it rank well within a specific geographic location. This is typically the radius circle where a business is located. Local SEO is usually beneficial to brick and mortar businesses, but can be employed by legal professionals as well when they want to advertise their services in a particular area.

Long Tail Keywords

These keyword phrases are lengthier and more specific or targeted in their purpose. They form the bulk of internet searches and are easier to rank for since they are not widely used by SEO experts. When used appropriately, they can offer better conversion rates for a site.

M

Map Pack

The map packs refers to three or four listings of businesses related to the query above search results in Google SERP. This is based on distance to the city center, business area, and other local ranking factors.

Meta Description

Meta description is the text block that appears under the title of a webpage in the SERP. Google shows approximately 166 characters, which can be a description of the web page or the services you offer.

Meta Tags

Meta tags are important in identifying and describing your site to potential site visitors and search engines. It refers to meta description, title tag, and metadata.

N

Noindex

This is a meta tag which informs the search engine to not index or crawl that particular page.

Nofollow

This meta tag is deployed to inform the search engine to not follow or crawl the hyperlinks on the web page.

O

Off-Site SEO

Certain SEO techniques take place away from the domain. For instance, creating active social networks, building links, and generating business listings are all part of off-site SEO.

On-page SEO

These are the SEO tactics that take place on your site. This can include a variety of things, such as content creation, enhancing page speed, configuring site content architecture, and blogging among other things. It is also known as on-site SEO.

Organic Search Results

Organic search results are the unpaid results that typically show under the paid results on a SERP. These results are supposed to match the user’s search query.

P

Page Speed

Page speed metric is used to understand the time taken by a page to fully load. Quick page speed is better for SEO.

Penalty

Google awards penalties when you run afoul of its guidelines, like keyword stuffing and other black hat SEO practices. Earlier, sites would use paid backlink schemes to rank higher. A lot of them were awarded manual penalties and dropped from search results. Sometimes, it is easier to abandon a site and start from scratch than recover from penalties.

PHP

PHP is a programming language that is said to run the web. Experts speculate that over 80% of the net is run on PHP.

Pogo Sticking

This refers to a visitor a clicking on your site, spending a few seconds, and then moving on to your competitor’s site through the same search results. A visitor would not stick around on your site if the content or presentation is subpar. They would rather hit the back button and click on the next link. Google gets a message that your site is poor.

PPC (Pay Per Click)

A type of search engine marketing involving an advertiser that creates an ad campaign with Google or any other search engine platform. The advertiser is required to bid on the keywords in which they want their ad to be triggered. The advertiser is charged whenever a search engine user clicks on the ad.

Q

Query

This refers to the search phrase a search engine user puts in the search bar.

R

Rankings

The key goal of SEO is to improve rankings. This is the spot where your site appears in SERP. Most businesses want to rank on the first page because only a few people ever click to the next page.

Reciprocal Links

This is a form of link building tactic where you link to a site and ask them to link back to yours. You need to ensure that the links are relevant and provide quality content for both your users. Otherwise, the link will be considered spammy.

Redirect

In redirect, a site automatically redirects the visitor to another URL. In simple words, the user gets forwarded to a new URL from the original one they typed or clicked on.

Responsive

Responsive sites are those that can change their shape and size as per the screen size or viewing environment. All sites need to be responsive to show nicely on desktop, tablets, and mobile.

Rich Snippets

This is all the additional information a user sees in Google when running a search query. Rich snippets include reviews, dates, authors, article info, and videos among others.

Robots.txt

This file lets Google know whether or not to index your site and particular pages. While most times you want an entire site indexed, sometimes, you have certain secrets you want Google to stay away from.

S

Scraping

Scraping is when you use a computer script to visit another site and steal all their text or data. This can be a powerful tool. But, it can also annoy site owners since you are essentially stealing their data and causing their site to slow down.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM is different from SEO, but can include SEO. SEM is a way to bring in more traffic quickly but inorganically. This means you invest in paid search campaigns and other paid initiatives to make your site more visible and bring in more potential clients. SEO can take a while to bring in results. But, SEM starts right away.

Semantic Search

This refers to results that are not directly what the user requires, but are related to the search query.

SERP

SERP or search engine results page is the results page that appears when you search for something.

Sessions

This is the time spent on your site by a visitor before leaving.

Sitelinks

These are links to subpages of a site that appear under certain search engine results. These are additional relevant pages besides the ones appearing in results page. These can be on both paid and unpaid search results.

Status Codes (2xx, 3xx, 4xx, 5xx)

Status codes define how particular web pages loaded – successfully, not found, redirected to another page, or ended in a server or code error.

SSL

This is a standard security technology which is employed on sites that are designed to encrypt data sent from the web server or browser.

Spider

Search engine spiders are also called crawler, bot, or robot. They are used to index the entire web. Spiders are essentially responsible for following links to discover new pages and index them to the database.

T

Title Tag

Title tag includes the name of your business along with a quick description as appearing in the SERP. Title tags are typically 65 characters and play an important role in your rankings.

Tiered Link Building

This is a link building strategy wherein link groups are built on web properties and sites on one tier before moving on to the second and so on. This allows link juice or PageRank to flow through several tiers and back to the money site or main site.

U

User Generated Content (UGC)

This refers to content created, posted, generated, or shared by site visitors instead of the site manager or owners. For instance, YouTube and Facebook primarily rely on UGC.

Unified Resource Locator (URL)

This refers to the complete address of a webpage, script, image, or any other file that is located on the internet.

Unnatural Links

This refers to links that are placed solely for the purpose of search engines and not users. Unnatural links form part of black hat SEO. Example includes paying for bulk links on low-quality directories.

Usability and UX

UX is the overall function of your site. It is generally used in context of making a site better, easier to read, and easier to navigate among other things.

V

Volume Search

This is the overall number of times a particular keyword phrase was used in a specified period. For instance, “SEO glossary for lawyers” may have a volume search of 1,000 in a month.

W

White Hat

White hat SEO is the opposite of black hat. It follows all search engine guidelines. It prioritizes users when implementing SEO.

X

XML Sitemap

This is a markup language used to notify search engines about every URL on your site. This allows for better discovery and indexing of your site’s web pages.

Conclusion

These terms make up our SEO glossary for lawyers. They are the most commonly used terms by SEO specialists when working on any sites, especially for legal clients. While we have worked hard at covering all terms and concepts, there can be a few that are process specific, like Yoast SEO. You can always reach out to us if you believe you need help with any term.