Law firm web marketing is one of the most competitive spaces online. Just ask the lawyers who spend $100+ per click on Google Adwords or $10,000+ per month for search engine optimization.

Whether you handle your law firm’s search engine marketing yourself or outsource to an SEO professional, it’s very helpful to be able to view your law firm website through the lens of the search engines. While your website might look great to you, it might not look so great to a search engine.

Fortunately, there are many free tools available that can help you get a better understanding of how search engines see your website. If you handle your SEO yourself, tools like these are essential to measure the effectiveness of your efforts. If you hire a professional, you can use these tools to hold your search engine consultant accountable.

Here is a quick list of some of my favorite free search engine optimization tools:

SEOmoz

Open Site Explorer: Link Popularity and Backlink Analysis Tool

Open Site Explorer is powered SEOmoz’s Internet index. It’s built like an index of a major search engine. The link data provided by Open Site Explorer is quite powerful. It can assist you in researching the links that point to your law firm website to identify content that discusses you or your law firm. It can help you discover errors or omissions in the links that point to your website so that they can be corrected and optimized. It can help you perform competitive analysis by reviewing the link data of a competitor law firm. This is a great way determine where they’re gaining links so that you can “reverse engineer” their efforts.

SEOToolbar for Firefox

The SEOToolbar for Firefox provides immediate access to SEOmoz’s web index metrics. It displays Page Authority and Domain Authority. It also displays SEOmoz proprietary metrics such as mozRank (mR) and mozTrust (mT). Finally, it provides a snapshot of the number of URLs and domains linking to a particular page. Since it’s a browser-based toolbar, you get access to these key metrics right in your browser’s toolbar area.

SEOmoz has a host of additional tools that are essential if you plan on doing search engine optimization for your law firm.

SEOBook

Rank Checker

SEOBook’s Rank Checker tool helps you to know where your website ranks in the search results. It’s a Firefox extension so it is easily accessed within your browser. The tool allows you to easily check your law firm site’s rankings in Google (US and international), Yahoo, and Microsoft Live search.

SEOBook also provides excellent information from some of the top professional consultants.

SEO Extensions for Google Chrome

Not a Firefox user? There is also a growing library of SEO extensions available for Chrome. Here are just a few:

Chrome SEO

The Google Chrome SEO Extension can help you with Competitive Analysis, Keyword Research, Back link Checks, PageRank Checks and other daily SEO tasks.

SEO Site Tools

In addition to the more common SEO metrics, SEO Site Tools adds social media reactions to Google analytics page details with Facebook shares, likes and comments as well as bookmarks and digg.

If you’re brave enough to venture into the world of search engine optimization on your own, don’t go without the help of these fantastic tools. If you have already hired a law firm SEO consultant, use these tools to monitor their progress. If you’re not seeing increases in quality back links, rankings, traffic, and new business, it’s time to find another solution.

(photo: marciookabe)