Recently, I wrote a post about how important it is to pay attention to Google. Since they are the single most important ingredient in building up your SEO rankings, their advice can be invaluable for those who are serious about getting noticed online. However, even with that knowledge, there have been some marketers who have managed to make the rankings in spite of the sometimes confusing algorithms set out by Google.
You’ve probably already noticed how in your online search efforts, you’ve stumbled across one single website that seems to appear in the middle of your search that has nothing to do with what you’re looking for. This leaves many people confused about how Google ranks these pages and how you can make sure that your page appears where you need them to be. The fact is: there are many factors that can affect where you land in the search engines. According to Jennifer Van Iderstyne of Search Engine Watch:
There are plenty of reasons that one page may show up in the SERPs over another, and not all of those considerations may be within our control. But there are several opportunities to enhance the likelihood of the “right” page showing up for the “right” search.
By learning what those opportunities are and how to take advantage of them, we can improve our chances of connecting and getting the rankings we need.
Words on the Page
One of the easiest ways to get a ranking, and probably the strategy that most people are familiar with, is using relevant content. The words and phrases you painstakingly choose to attract visitors may be well intentioned but they can at times, miss their mark. Somewhere, the meaning you intended could get mixed up with what Google understands and before you know it, your site has drifted off into the “Twilight Zone.”
Clearly, you cannot rely entirely on keywords and phrases to get your page to a place where it can be found. It is also important to take into consideration other factors, such as navigation, backlinks, and relevancy to the subject. When you consider all of these factors, it is easy to understand why occasionally missed messages can be seen in SEO.
Evidence of this can be seen often in search engines. One page with an on-page relevance to the topic can easily be outranked by another page that has factored in all of the other related factors in addition to making sure their content is on point. For effective SEO, you cannot limit yourself to only one approach to achieving your ranking, you’ll have to be a master of a number of techniques in order to achieve that ranking and maintain it.
Account for Unpredictability
As the Internet ages, people are getting more comfortable with how they use it. Their search approach is not always going to be with a specific keyword. Some people will even speak to the search engine like they would to a real live person. For example, consider the comments made by Nate Shivar of Shivar Web,
I saw someone had searched for “I have a 1959 Dodge Ram and last week a rock kicked up and hit the front glass windshield how do I get it fixed.”… yes, big keywords are important to rank for – and keywords should guide your strategy… it’s becoming harder to predict what searches will actually rank your site.
Because of the many variables, you’ll have to approach your keyword ranking efforts in a more creative way. It is almost impossible to determine how people will set out to look for your site so you’ll have to make sure that you have a variety of ways to connect with your audience.
Previously, I provided some essential Internet marketing techniques for firms. And in some of my last few blogs, I discussed the importance of taking advantage of social media platforms to build up your online image and a new Google algorithm that concentrates on incorporating mobile devices to improve site rankings, but in this post I want to focus on how to get the most out of your interactions with Google.
Whether you have been developing your skills in SEO for a while or you’re just getting started in search engine optimization, you’ve probably already realized the importance of Google to your plan. No matter what your goals are, Google will in some way be at the heart of it. So, learning how to decode or decipher what they’re trying to tell you can be crucial to your success. Donna Duncan of Social Media Today explains,
The key to organic SEO success is conceptually simple – you have to please Google AND your intended audience…. Google dominates the search world. 65-85% of the world searches uses Google depending on who you ask and what they measure.
This means that if you work only to target your intended audience, you’re missing half of the equation needed for SEO success. The reality is that Google doesn’t just come out with a new algorithm without warning. Sometimes, the indicators are there years ahead of time if you only knew how to pick up on the cues.
The Mobile Update
A perfect example of this was when Google began talking about sites needing to be more mobile friendly. I know that I have discussed the need to be mobile friendly in the past, but still many companies are not picking up on it. But clearly, Google was laying the groundwork for mobile devices long before their recent update. For example:
As far back as December 2011, Google announced they were launching Googlebot-Mobile. The role of the bot was to crawl websites to determine those that provided the viewer with a better mobile experience. And in August of 2013, Google added more support to their PageSpeed tool for mobile devices. They provided webmasters valuable advice on how to speed up their interactions with the consumer on the go. This step should have been a clear sign of what was to come.
By November of last year, Google began identifying sites as “Mobile-friendly” at the beginning of site descriptions.
So, if SEO marketers had been in-tune to these various changes Google had been making over the years, chances are that they would not have been surprised or caught off guard by Google’s announcement on April 21st of this year. The new algorithm was designed to give websites who have been considered mobile-friendly an added boost in Google’s search results. The changes were so vast that the new algorithm picked up a few ominous names; mobilegeddon, mobilepocalyse, mopocalypse, or mobocalypse were just some examples of the identifying marks of what was to come. Today, we’re seeing a new trend coming to life. According to Bryson Meunler of Search Engine Land,
Keep improving your sites for mobile searchers…. If you are not yet mobile-friendly, make it happen. And if you are mobile friendly, prepare for the next update – because in this new era of SEO, it’s no longer possible to ignore mobile searchers and mobile sites and compete with those who don’t.
It was obvious that Google had been steering businesses in the right direction long before they launched their latest algorithm. But if you were not paying attention to the announcements and looking carefully at the subtle changes that were being made progressively over the years, chances are that you missed the 8-ball and are now playing a game of catch-up.
Those who heeded the cautions, notices, and discussions of Google have gained a lot of wisdom over the years. When you consider how SEO has changed over the last decade, it is easy to see how following their lead can help to propel your business to the top of the rankings.
What You Need to Know
Knowing what to expect in the future of SEO has helped more companies to become proactive rather than reactive. Heeding their warnings will not only keep you ahead of the pack, it will also help to avoid penalties or other complications that may result from poor ranking strategies.
We are all well aware that there will be many more updates and new algorithms heading in our direction. We can choose whether or not to pay very close attention to the direction that Google is heading in and make the changes before they are released, or we can find ourselves playing another round of catch up and wait until everything is said and done.
Every business that has an online presence needs to recognize that we are all playing in Google’s playground and that we need to be able to comply with their rules of the game. While focusing our efforts on targeting potential new customers is always a good strategy in our SEO plans, it should not come at the expense of recognizing who is pulling it all together for us. Learning how to read Google’s signs and cues will help us to keep a competitive edge in our industry.
The truth is that Google has never been secretive about its expectations when it comes to SEO. Heeding its advice can make a huge difference in the success of your site. As Owain Powell of Decibel Digital tells us:
Over time we have also seen may updates and YouTube videos… This has been of great value to those clean cut, law abiding citizens within the SEO industry, but another nail in the coffin of those stuck in the dark ages who continue to defy or ignore best practice SEO or Google algorithm updates.
For those industries that are serious about improving their search rankings, it has become increasingly necessary for them to pay more than the “usual” attention to the leadings of Google. The more you’re able to tune in to the direction Google is going, the stronger your brand image and search rankings will be.
My previous post talked about the effect of social media on a firm’s clients. Moving past all of the social media concepts I have been talking about lately, I’d like to talk today about some internet marketing techniques that are “must-tries” for this year. Many firms believe that once they implement a few strategies, they can leave it at that and ride off of past successes for the future. Unfortunately, when it comes to the online world, things are constantly evolving, and so your marketing techniques must evolve as well.
Get Published Online
I have touched slightly on the subject of guest posting before on other community or law firm blogs, but it’s also important to create a certain level of authority for your firm above competitors in your area by being published online. If you can find a legal site, local, national, or otherwise, which accepts legal essays and articles, it might be in your best interest to have one published.
You can add a link to this article on your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media feeds, post it to your blog, and advise clients, potential and current, to read it from your firm’s website.
It isn’t always enough to create amazing content for your clients, you also need to have a fair idea of who is reading it and who isn’t. To do this you can monitor the traffic to your site and blog by setting up software or utilizing online tools such as Google Analytics. HG.org suggests:
Web traffic monitoring should be your top priority. You have to determine the incoming web traffic in order to gauge the visibility of your website, and effectiveness of your marketing. Once you understand your user habits, you can definitely increase your market profits.
A stat counter on your website works well enough for those who are new to this concept, and it gives you the option to see how many people have seen your site per day in real time. These are offered for free by many online application developers, but your own web developer may have a tool that can be customized to fit your site as well.
Search Engine Optimization
This is something we have talked about before, but it is another ongoing marketing concept that needs to be continued over time. It seems like Google and other search engines are implementing new guidelines, rules, and internet laws on a regular basis, and these can affect the way that your clients see your website, and how your site is ranked compared to others in your industry. Legal Marketing Review says:
Search engine optimization requires optimizing such things as the URLs, headings, sub headings, text, meta-tags, images, load time, interlinking structures, categorization of content and so much more.
Search engine algorithms are impossible to track 100%, but one thing you can count on as a law firm is the ability to hire a professional who knows how to use SEO properly. These experts can be found online, and often offer services through a variety of packages that include not only better web design, but other methods of marketing and advertising tools as well.
If you are pretty SEO savvy yourself, you may not require a service of this nature, but even if you only hire on a search engine optimization expert as an advisor for a short time, you could surprise yourself and the rest of your firm with how great of an impact it can really make to your search engine rankings.
Remember that many potential clients will pass up a website in favor of another simply because of how they are stacked in the search engine results and the number of people who select second and third choices dwindle the further down the list you get.
Previously, I discussed the effect of the Google algorithm change that takes into account the need for mobile responsive sites. And recently, I have talked about a few of the varieties of social media and how law firms can use them to their advantage, but what I want to touch on today is why social media is making such an impact for all businesses the world over.
It’s not difficult to see that the internet age has been pushed to the side by the age of mobile technology. We are entering into vastly different ground here, with PCs and laptops being edged out by the most sophisticated tablets, cell phones, and other gadgets that seem to be hitting the shelves daily. The more that these technological gadgets evolve, the faster the business world must move to match them because so many companies now depend on online sales and it seems as though the majority of internet-based shoppers are taking to their smart phones to make their purchases.
This change in business practice and online use has also changed the way that various businesses across the world have to market themselves, and while law firms remain tragically traditional in some ways, in other ways it is crucial that they also evolve with the times. This means getting on board with social media applications and taking the plunge into consumer communication through this method of marketing.
More People Will See You With A Social Media Account
Having a Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ account has little to do with following trends or seeming on top of tech changes, and much more to do with getting your brand out there and growing it from the ground up. Just as you would have done with word-of-mouth marketing in the past, the more places you drop off a business card, talk to potential clients about your firm, and call to network, the online world is booming with growth opportunities if you take the time to market yourself accordingly. Samantha Collier of Social Media for Law Firms explains:
Are you marketing your business on Twitter? If not, you should seriously consider getting started. According to Lori Taylor, the average Twitter user follows five or more businesses. Over a third (37%) of Twitter users will buy from a brand they follow.
The more social media accounts you have your firm set up with, the more people who frequent those sites will see your firm. If your account leaves a lasting impression in their minds, you may have pulled in a potential new client. Now, of course, the number of people who visit your account versus the number that will call for an appointment is still going to be vastly different, but remember that every impression counts, and if one site visitor tells a friend who tells a friend, that could be money in the bank.
Sharing Is Caring
Believe it or not, when it comes to social media it isn’t just your account profile that will bring in new clients. You also have the potential to get mentioned in other people’s status updates, have your content viewed and shared by millions, and make a mark on local events and other community businesses by mentioning them in posts and getting links in return. Social media is just that, a social way to share media, and what better opportunity could a law firm ask for to get noticed in their community, and nationally. Cube Social expresses these thoughts:
By now you’ll have people talking about you on social media all the time. They may be sharing your blog posts, discussing the events you’ve hosted, or simply chatting with your lawyers. Each one of these is a lead. Have a process for tracking them and following up with them.
As mentioned by Cube Social, all of that shared content can turn into serious leads if you know how to track them. There are services and software available to keep track of the people and businesses who have shared your images, videos, and other content from your social media account. I fully encourage my clients to take advantage of this opportunity, because it means you can follow up, even if only online.
All Advertising Are Good Advertising
This may not be one hundred percent true but to a certain extent it certainly holds some value because if you can get your name out there in the form of blog shares, social media likes or other forms of recognition, it’s still sharing your firm, and that can bring some heavy conversion in the form of website visits and follow up phone calls or e-mails. Sproutsocial.com states:
Only 34 percent of firms have established blogs. This is surprising considering a 2012 study found that general counsel read attorney blogs “as often as they read those by professional journalists.” Additionally, 76 percent of respondents said they attribute some level of importance to a lawyer’s blog when deciding which firms to retain.
Your blog, social media posts and website content say a lot about your firm, what you do, how you might interact in person, and how successful you are as a business. People want to know this before they waste their time calling a company that they don’t feel is a good fit for them. I hate to make this comparison, but sometimes social media accounts are a lot like online dating when it comes to selecting a law firm. It allows potential clients the option to scan through all of the local firms within your area, check up on staff members, see what your company ethics are, and assess the situation before making the call that they want to enter into a business relationship with you.
For this reason, among many of the others that I have listed throughout this article, it’s a good idea to use social media to your advantage every chance that you get, and only share the content, images, and videos that you feel really tell your clients who you are and what you do. The first impression is a lasting impression, even online, so be genuine, and you might be surprised by the results.
Previously, I discussed the dos and don’ts on Internet marketing for firms. I had also talked about the changes in Google’s latest algorithms a little while ago, and one of the big changes that we knew was on the way had to do with all websites being more mobile friendly. Well, this latest roll out began on the 21st of April and has already begun causing some waves in a variety of industries.
The latest algorithm change has offered greater rankings for those sites that are accessible through mobile devices such as phones and tablets, and while the jury is still out on how effective this latest change will be, it seems like businesses and individual site owners are taking it fairly seriously.
Mobile Searches Affected By Algorithm
Some sites have been reporting that this new algorithm change won’t have too large of an effect on rankings in general, but will only cause favor for searches that are actually performed from mobile devices. NPR.org reports:
The change is only taking place on Google searches made on smartphones. The results will favor websites deemed “mobile friendly,” giving them higher rankings than sites that are only optimized for desktops and laptops.
Other algorithm news reports have suggested that the entire online world is at risk of being topped by competitors who have gone mobile, if site owners don’t start making changes and getting their code in order.
Take Heed of Google Warnings
One thing that made this algorithm update a little bit different from some of the others is that Google came forward and made it known exactly what it was we were all being judged on. I have to admit that this makes my life much easier, and I could see how this warning would help law firms and other companies looking to marketing themselves online as well. Search Engine Land advises:
It’s unprecedented for Google to pre-announce a big algorithmic change like this, but Google did so in order to give publishers ample time to make their web sites mobile friendly.
In the past, many of the Google algorithm changes have come as a shock to those who use the internet as a place of business. There are actually new changes made at a constant rate, some of which we won’t know about unless we do the research necessary to make the changes. I have talked about Google in the past in terms of how nobody really understands all of what makes their ranking system tick, but what we do know as of now is that honest and genuine material is given priority, and now, that making your site mobile may be more important that we first thought.
Legal and Other Industries Majorly Hit By Changes
For my last point of this post, I just want to touch on the fact that these changes to mobile searching are making waves not only because it is such a big overall change to make for site owners, but because the world has become a place where mobile searches make up the majority of searches now performed on the internet. USA Today states:
Score Media Metrix estimates has a 65% market share of U.S. Internet searches, wants sites to load quickly and be easy to navigate on a mobile phone. Google is doing this because it wants consumers to “find content that’s not only relevant and timely, but also easy to read and interact with on smaller mobile screens,” Google said in a statement.
This is a good thing for law firms specifically because you also want consumers to find the content they need and be able to interact with you from mobile devices. If a mobile user can’t access your page and use all of the features the can use from a PC, they are likely to move on to the next competing firm in your area.
Last time, I discussed how to make your blog the authority in your field. Meanwhile, the world of internet marketing and SEO is becoming a vast one, and while I try to keep up with all of the ins and outs it has to offer, it takes dedication and some serious research sometimes to keep on top of the competitors in your industry. This week I thought it would be a good idea to compile a short list of dos and don’ts that every law firm should understand about online marketing techniques. Some might be straightforward, others I may have touched on before, and still more may be new to you.
What I really want for my readers is to know that they have come away with a sense of new knowledge on the subjects about which I write. This article proves no different, and I hope that it inspires you to stay on track and take a few chances with the newer tips and tricks offered.
Do Stay Focused
Staying focused is nothing new to a lawyer or law firm, as every case requires your utmost attention and some deep digging for facts, but what I am talking about here is staying focused on long term marketing goals. Many companies, not just law firms take on a one-time event, activity, or marketing concept in the hopes that it will pay off forever, but the truth is that just like anything else, in order for marketing to work on a constant basis, it must be used consistently. Olmstead & Associates suggest:
Frequently law firms experiment with marketing and engage in isolated promotional activities not integrated with the firm’s business plan with the expectation of immediate results after the one-shot activity. The firm engages in fits-and-start activities that are completely unfocused, unrelated to an overall plan, unmeasured, inconsistent and often inappropriate.
It is still a great idea to interact in community activities, take on projects that are local and may bring in some additional brand recognition, but you also want to branch out with a few long term marketing techniques as well. Sometimes the addition of a one-time event can make a big difference to a long term campaign if you know how to correspond the two. An example of this is when law firms use social media as a promotional tool, a community fundraiser can be advertised through your social media feed, and your involvement may gain you some additional recognition from new potential clients.
Don’t Disregard Video As A Sincere Form Of Marketing
It can be tricky to incorporate videos in your day to day marketing without feeling like a bit of a phony, but here is the thing: your videos don’t need to be commercials for your firm. The videos that you create can be promotional without sounding promotional, you just need to show potential future clients that your team is approachable, human, and caring. Use videos from the above-mentioned public events, make a short video diary of daily life at the firm, or post up one tip from your niche of law for viewers each week. Web Marketing Today states:
Two sites started to change the value and importance of videos as an effective marketing tool. First is the growth of YouTube into a powerful search engine that’s now owned by Google. That combination started giving increased significance to video as a better form of content than the written word. The second site is Facebook.
The world has become a very visual being, which means that we all love to see what’s going on, rather than just read about it. If you can show viewers what it means to use your firm’s services as opposed to a competitor, you could find yourself with some much higher levels of website traffic.
Do Use Marketing With Visible Results
While all traditional marketing methods shouldn’t necessarily be off the table in favor of internet marketing, you do want to minimize some of the strategies that increase spending, but give you no sign of success. Larry Bodine suggests:
Don’t waste any money on marketing that is not measurable. If you can’t measure it, don’t do it. For instance, advertising and public relations are widely used, but after you’ve spent $20,000 on it, do you have any way that you can check to see if it actually generated any results? I don’t think so.
Try to keep your focus primarily on processes that can be measured, as this will give you a better overall ability to stay on track, plan, and organize. Success comes in many ways, and in the marketing world, it is the little things like being able to monitor traffic that can really let you understand whether you’re wasting money or making a worthwhile effort.
Don’t Ignore The Power of Communication With Your Clients
Finally, don’t give up on the power of communication, or just sit around waiting for all of those potential clients to contact you. Make an effort to get out there, speak to people who are interested and make them believe that you are the right man or woman for the job. Many cases that require a lawyer are very personal, whether they are based on family law, criminal law, injury claims, or any other field, you will find that if a person can see you as dependable and approachable, they will be much more willing to trust you with their personal issues. ABA Journal says:
Contact three to five potential referral sources a week—every week, regardless of how busy you are—and arrange to meet for coffee, drinks or a meal. That works much better than reaching out only when business is slow.
This can be through e-mail, social media, or telephone, although the more personal method of a phone call is often the most successful, even in today’s world of modern communication methods. If you call and the response comes back in email, it is fine to switch to this more low key method of talking, but making the first move in a firm, self-assured, and confident way will set the tone for your first impression on a client.
Previously, I provided more tips on SEO. Meanwhile, as a lawyer, it’s important to show authority in your field of law, and although I have talked about blogging in the past as a general subject, I really want to get into how blogging can do more than compliment your website. It can also build authority for your firm. Gaining credit where credit is due can be difficult through word of mouth alone, but by implementing a few tips and tricks you can turn your blog into the perfect brand builder and put your firm on the map locally and within your legal niche.
If you aren’t already a well-recognized lawyer in your industry, whether you’re new to the field, or simply haven’t had the time to get online and start promoting, starting with a strong foundation is the best way to begin. Your clients need to find you interesting, but also want to know that you are the best at what you do, which is why your prices are worth the extra pennies.
Celebrity Guest Bloggers Build Confidence
This isn’t absolutely necessary, but if you have the connections, it might not be a bad idea to have a guest blogger type up something for your blog. The article doesn’t even need to be brand new, so long as the author has given you permission, and will promote the article through their own signature and additional tidbits of information.
Getting a celebrity involved, even if it is only a celebrity in the world of law can give your blog an air of authority, because somebody whom potential clients have heard of before is promoting your firm. You may need to offer your own promotion in response by linking the guest blogger’s website or firm in the process, but as long as it isn’t direct local competition, this shouldn’t be a problem as far as business is concerned.
Get Your Press Involved
When you write a press release, or have any kind of publication delivered to the public, it gives you the perfect opportunity to pad your blog with relevant information that is honest, trustworthy, and interesting without the need for typing up a new blog on your own. It also helps promote the firm by linking back to an original press release which may promote authority of your firm as well. Legal Marketing Review says:
When you do a press release for your law firm you can make a shorter version of the release as a blog post. That way after the search engines dropped the post in terms of visibility the blog will provide the Evergreen version.
By keeping the release fresh, rather than posting it word for word, you can encourage new readers who may have already seen the release but are interested in additional information on the publication and its contents.
Make Your Blog Personal
Authority usually means keeping things professional, but it can also mean connecting with your client base, which is why I suggest mixing it up a little bit by adding personal opinions and updates as well as business content. Business Of Law Blog reports:
Should your website strictly contain legal-oriented content? No, said the panel. While this idea may surprise some attorneys, adding personal touches to a website such as including a personal hobby or family connection can help prospective clients get a flavor for you as an individual and broaden your firm’s appeal.
If you post one blog update a week, make one out of each month a personal interest piece on the members of the firm, extracurricular activities enjoyed by the firm, or content regarding the community and how the firm has helped further the local economy.
Finally, being an authority in your field of law means being able to teach clients something new that competitor firms may not be talking much about. To do this, a little research may be necessary, but making an update regarding specifics of your niche, question and answer posts, and other content that can prove your ability to not only practice but teach your field of law can make you seem like an expert in your industry.
Last time, I discussed how firms can use Pinterest to their advantage. Meanwhile, I have talked a lot about SEO and how it can ultimately impact your firm as a whole, but SEO doesn’t have to be some scary marketing tactic that you find intimidating as a lawyer rather than an advertising exec. Taking the time to research what you need to know and implement it into your website layout, blog, press releases, and various other forms of marketing can easily bring your firm into the information and technology age and have individuals converting from site visitors to clients in no time.
There are many ways that you can do to improve the overall SEO of your law practice, and I have talked about many of these in great detail, but today I want to go over a few methods in particular that seem to be making waves in the marketing world of 2015. This includes getting to know what your client wants, improving on content quality, and making a more interesting website overall.
Know Your Client Search Methods
Before you can begin building a more search engine optimized website, you need to know what it is that your clients are looking for in particular. Knowing which keywords are being used to seek out local legal help is certainly one way to do this, but you can also be more direct with clients and ask them outright how they found you, and what they search for when seeking for professionals in your niche of law. Jurispage.com says:
Ask them point-blank – “after you were referred to us, did you look us up on Google?” Chances are they did. And, based on your search presence, it is quite possible that you may have missed out on a prospective referral client because of your lack of a web presence.
Following this you should take the time to see what it is exactly that searchers see when they look for your firm. Try typing in various keywords and phrases, starting with the name of your firm, different variations of this name, names of attorneys that work with you, and your location. This gives you a better idea of how easy it is to seek out your firm, what your current rank is on Google and other search engines, and whether or not you need to make a few changes to your site and the search process.
Make Content Length Count
Another area that you probably are already aware of that I’m going to touch on is content, but not for the reason that you think. Rather than talking about content quality, today I really want to focus on how the length of your content can affect readability. Clients, potential or current, don’t want to skim your blog of website and see nothing of interest but a few short uninformative sentences, but similarly if your content is too long, you’re going to find people leaving before they even get started. Total Attorneys suggests:
Length is not set in stone, but 400-700 words is a common target that attracts the attention of search engines without scaring away modern audiences who have shorter attention spans. Avoid repetitive content in which virtually the same article is used with only superficial SEO changes. Search engines recognize and reward original content.
You should also bolster your content with interesting headings and subheadings to break up the monotony of text that many online users just can’t stand. If you think about your own preferences for website reading material you will probably find that long winded articles don’t appeal to you unless they are broken up by photos, titles, quotes, or videos to take away from the message being shared.
Keep Up The Research
I have already mentioned research above, but this research is in regards to SEO more so than customer wants and needs. Many law firms and other businesses believe that once they have paid for a web redesign and outfitted their site for mobile viewing, their SEO process is complete. However, search engine optimization is a constantly growing organism that changes every day based on the different algorithms and search engine initiatives which must be caught up on from time to time. Mainstreet ROI states:
Typically we recommend that attorneys prepare to invest a minimum of 3 months and preferably 6 months into an SEO campaign in order to catch up and start moving up in the search engine results.
Once your campaign is complete, you should follow algorithm changes or hire an SEO expert to assist you twice a year in reformatting your search engine optimization efforts so that they better match the current guidelines being used. There’s no point in using this form of marketing if you don’t keep up with the expectations or it may work against you.
Engage Your Audience
Finally, there is always a need for engagement with your audience, and this is something I have definitely talked about before, but I feel that it is worth mentioning again, simply because it can make such a difference to your firm reputation overall. Client engagement comes in many forms, but ultimately it means creating a cause for interest so great that readers will return to your website for more, or better yet, contact you for a consultation on your services. Blue Big Foot suggests:
This doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it can be as simple as having a YouTube video of a representative of your firm speaking about your services. Any time someone hits “play”, it’s engagement. Adding podcast episodes, interactive surveys, and anything else that requires people to click a button equals engagement for your site and higher SEO.
Whether you choose to go with videos, pictures of company events, humorous legal anecdotes that paint you as a human being rather than just a legal representative working out of a firm in the hopes of making big money, or interesting guest bloggers or content creators who can cause more interest, engaging your audience will make a big difference. An engaged reader can become a potential client, and an engaged client can become return business.
Last time, I focused on an important Google algorithm update that determines the truth score of websites. Meanwhile, I have talked about nearly every social networking website on the internet in an effort to educate my readers on how important it is to connect with your clients outside of the office space, but Pinterest is something I haven’t really had the chance to share too much about. Pinterest is a tough one for many law firms to approach, even more so than Twitter or Instagram, because it tends to appear in the form of a more artsy crafty sharing platform, but this isn’t always the case. LexBlog.com notes that:
Networking that allows us to build relationships and establish a word of reputation that we’re a good person who can be trusted. If business owners, including attorneys, discover how Pinterest can be used for networking and have fun in the process, more power to them.
Businesses, including law firms, can create company accounts to draw in new customers and clients, and make their work more accessible to those they supply services or products to. For your firm, Pinterest is a way that you can share interesting articles, photos, and advice to those who might be looking for a lawyer in your area of study. It can also serve as a way to create a less professional atmosphere and a more human personality to those that are nervous about the stuffiness of your firm.
When you make a Pinterest account you are then able to create areas for sharing and these are called pinboards. A pinboard allows you to add different images, videos, and interesting articles or tutorials that you find on other boards and across the internet. Legal Marketing Review suggests:
It is also a good idea to use local content if you want to be associated with a particular area. Since there are a lot of different types of people/personas, it can help to have a few different people in your firm come up with ideas and content.
Each board can have its own title and unique pins that offer clients insight into your office, your area of law, and other interests that your firm has outside of the industry in which you work.
Promote Your Pinterest
Just as you would promote your website through social media to create more traffic and in return more revenue, you can promote your Pinterest through your website by making it accessible for visitors to pin things from your website to their own boards. Mavenagency.com explains:
The Pin It bookmarklet is also a useful tool that allows you to take an image from any website and add it to one of your boards. Get your followers on other social media platforms to also follow your firm on Pinterest by connecting your Pinterest to your Facebook and Twitter profiles.
The more links that are created between different platforms and websites that eventually lead clients back to your main site, and to your firm, the better. Think about this as something like word of mouth, only on a much more accessible level. The most times your content is pinned, the more people, local and otherwise, who will see it.
Whether you choose to use Pinterest as a constant effort in your marketing plan for the company, or you use it as a personal tool, which includes firm content, you will find that there is much to be gained by opening yourself up to this and other networking platforms. This is the future of marketing, and although I still recommend various other methods of advertising your firm, this style of promotion won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Worst case scenario, you find that Pinterest isn’t your favorite method of social media, and you can move onto something different. The key is to keep an open mind.
Last time, I discussed the importance of building your links slowly but steadily. Also, in the last few weeks I’ve covered a lot of different subjects, including one change in Google’s algorithm which will take all websites into the mobile era if companies looking to rank well. Now it looks as though Google is changing things up again, with last month’s announcement through Knowledge-Based Trust, which presented a new way of scoring documents online. Rather than rating sites for the number of links that they have, this latest algorithm change will affect those that have accurate content. RT.com says:
The web giant would rank search results based on each site’s ‘truth score’ instead of its popularity level. The search engine currently relies on a system that ranks websites based on how many times the page has been linked to – which means that even fake information has a way of making it up the chain of search results.
The latest change will score websites on accuracy and honesty of information in a way that hasn’t been made a priority in the past. It could have the power to boost the rankings of pages which haven’t been taken notice of in the past, but unlike other changes to the algorithm, it won’t be penalizing those sites that have inaccurate data.
From Popularity To Purpose
This change in ranking system will initiate a new way to establish purpose and brand awareness as a website and an online business. There are many companies that haven’t been noticed by Google, or have been left low in their ranking due to unpopularity throughout their industry. Being ranked on truth rather than celebrity endorsement will give a chance to the underdogs who are working to bring real knowledge to the world. This is extremely positive information for law firms in particular, because as I have made clear in the past, you are known leaders in the field of research and integrity. This makes your firm website a prime candidate for a ranking boost without needing to change too much of the content that you have hopefully already been posting. Search Engine Journal explains:
Many research papers whose algorithms eventually make it into an algorithm usually demonstrate a vast improvement over previous efforts. That is not the case with Knowledge-Based Trust. While a Truth Algorithm makes an alarming headline, the truth is there are five important issues that need to be solved before it makes it to an algorithm near you.
The way that the new system will process information is through an artificial intelligence, which will be used to determine how honest facts are in their statements. This is being designed by the Director of Engineering of Google, Ray Kurzweil.
Pinpointing Relevant Changes
Before website owners begin making alterations, deleting content and searching for new, more straightforward data to supply in their industries, there are things to consider. Tidbits of information that count as trivial facts will not be counted toward the quality and trustworthiness of a site. This means that repeating things that don’t really matter to the content being posted, whether these things are true or false, will not increase rankings. At the moment, the method being utilized will not be able to signify duplicated content, which could be a problem to Google and the companies which will undoubtedly try to impress this latest algorithm. This means that spam might make a comeback and could increase ranking. As a law firm, I would highly recommend not trying to get caught up in sneaky tactics involving spam, because Google does have other ways to track this information and it tends to impact overall rankings in a very negative way.
Finding Your Truth Score
The most recent documentation on this algorithm change suggests that each page of a website will obtain its own ranking on the basis of truth. This could eventually discredit the reputation of some websites whose information has a high level of untrustworthy data. CNN reports:
By checking pages against that database, and cross-referencing related facts, the research team believes the algorithm could assign each page a truth score. Pages with a high proportion of false claims would be bumped down in the search results.
One thing that I’m positive about is that there’s no downside to too much honesty, so long as it flows with the content that you’re posting. In other words, this algorithm change shouldn’t affect the overall quality of your content, or how relevant it is to your industry. It’s important to stay on the subject, include information that your clients want to read, and also keep spam to a minimum. In fact, if you can completely negate spam from your website, you have a much better chance of coming out on top, whether your honesty ranking is low or through the roof.
Checking Your Facts
Google will be using their own tool for fact checking, as mentioned above, but believe it or not, this is not the only fact checker available on the internet and you can use a variety of different applications that can do the same thing if you’re willing to look for them. NewScientist.com says:
The software works by tapping into the Knowledge Vault, the vast store of facts that Google has pulled off the internet. Facts the web unanimously agrees on are considered a reasonable proxy for truth. Web pages that contain contradictory information are bumped down the rankings.
Different software functions in different ways and may not account for certain aspects of a website, but if you search the net you’ll find many different sites and applications that you can use as a business to weed out misinformation and test what your ranking might climb to.
Whether or not you decide to take advantage of this latest change in the algorithm, it’s important to follow along each time that you see something has changed. The more that you know about Google rankings and search engine optimization, the higher your chance for success will be in your industry through better brand recognition and a higher rate of financial success. Growing a business or maintaining the traffic of a law firm is much easier with the power of the internet working with you rather than against you.
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