As a law firm you may not be completely in tune with the ins and outs of SEO, and while I do try to include all of the important factors for you to follow up on, you may find yourself reaching out to an SEO consultant while building or reorganizing your website. I do offer services of this nature which can be seen on the site, and there are various packages to choose from if you do subscribe to my style of SEO management. With that being said, there are a few things you should know about an SEO consultant before you begin the hiring process. Forbes.com explains:
Bigger is not better. Less sometimes, but not always, is more. The right SEO firm for you might have one or two employees working from a basement. Or it might be the SEO firm with 500 employees. Don’t write either one off automatically.
Lawyers are well-known for being critical thinkers, so it should come as no surprise that when selecting a professional to work on your site in terms of search engine optimization, you will need to give it the same level of thought as you did when choosing a web developer. In my last post I talked about selecting a web developer, and all of the steps you should follow when selecting someone for your firm. This included getting an estimate, checking customer reviews, and looking at previous work. Unfortunately, SEO consultants aren’t quite so cut and dry, so you may want to take a look at the following tips.
Be Direct In Your Questions
You have a right to know what SEO consultants are bringing to your firm, so don’t let them get away with giving you the run around on what changes they are going to make. Many SEO specialists worry that if they explain their tactics to clients, clients may go on to use these methods for themselves. If this is the case then you don’t want to be hiring those particular consultants to begin with. Entrepreneur.com says:
Make sure the candidate’s proposal includes an initial technical review of your website to weed out any problems that could lower your search engine ranking, including broken links and error pages. Consultants also should provide “on page” optimization, a process to make your website as search engine friendly as possible.
What you should be looking for as a lawyer are clear-cut strategies that could be utilized to increase traffic to your website, correct mistakes you have made throughout coding and layout, and improve linking structure. They should also be able to give you a fairly accurate estimate on how much money they will charge for services, and how long it will take them to completely optimize your site for search engine purposes.
Don’t Hire A Rule Breaker
This should be a no-brainer for a lawyer, but I still need to be clear in the fact that your hired consultants should be firm about following the guidelines set out by Google and other search engines. It can be easy to cut corners and use sneaky tactics for a quick SEO boost, but the problem with these methods is that they won’t last. Eventually Google will catch on to these tricks and penalties can be pretty hefty. You could find yourself loosing rank altogether or being banned from future rankings.
To avoid these issues with SEO consultants, be clear in asking them what methods of practice they subscribe to in terms of matching up with the public guidelines Google has set forth in their webmaster best practices page. This page gives a strict list of 12 rules that should not be broken, and this includes generating spam and other no-nos.
Keep It Local
While it is impressive to find a consultant who boasts skills in many areas of SEO, one area in particular that will benefit your firm is that of local results. I have touched on local search results in many of my previous posts and I have been pretty frank with how important it is to rank in these regions, so you should ask any man or woman you might hire for SEO consulting, how he or she can improve on this for your firm. SEO Works suggests:
Not easy during an initial discussion but they should be able to identify the core keywords for your industry and let you know how competitive the segment is. They should discuss geographic considerations and talk about the “money” keywords such as buy, find, deals, get, compare, best, cheap or luxury.
Local search results may not be totally beneficial for e-commerce businesses, but for brick and mortar locations like a local law firm, this will direct more traffic your way. If you’re trying to encourage potential clients to choose you over a competitor firm, having your firm appear first in local results will certainly do the trick.
Sometimes to be confident in your choice you must first be comfortable with your choice, and this means building rapport and getting to know the individual or group that will be working for your firm. You wouldn’t hire new lawyers without getting a feel for the way that they work, so why would you do the same for a consultant? Moz.com suggests:
In the phone call/meeting, be sure to establish a rapport. If you can’t feel comfortable on a personal level, don’t dismiss it – brilliant SEOs are great, but if you can’t work well together, the project’s unlikely to succeed.
You may find that many of the firms that you interview are great with most of the above written information. Following rules, giving you clear answers on problem solving, and helping with local search results; if this is true then the deciding factor could come down to a feeling, and the best way to get a sense of who somebody is or how they will work is by speaking with them directly.
If you aren’t an over the phone kind of person, a one on one coffee meeting or a video call could be the right way to get your questions answered and find out if you could work with a certain agency.
In the past I have approached the subject of social media with an open mind, while still urging law firms to remember that staying professional is crucial to your brand. Last Friday, I discussed Google’s crack down on websites that are not mobile-friendly. Today, I would like to point out that there is a Google and Twitter collaboration that may make Tweeting a necessity for growing law firms. Mike O’Brien at Search Engine Watch says:
The early adopters mentioned in this report – Yahoo Japan and a social media aggregator, called Flipboard – aren’t really the ideal outlets for law firm digital marketing. However, if this is the start of a much wider distribution network for tweets, then Twitter could return to being a key marketing tool for US lawyers.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other “fun” social media sites that revolve around video clips, photos, and more of the silly and simple forms of sharing information don’t always reflect well on a law firm. In fact, it takes a certain kind of firm to insert themselves into these social media platforms successfully without losing their professional edge, which is why so many legal departments stick to LinkedIn and more business-related sites.
Tweeting isn’t exactly a new online sport but 2015 has certainly brought some changes to the way that this platform works for businesses and reputation management in particular. Google has made it clear that their latest algorithm change has made it easier for Tweets to appear on a Google feed directly after being posted. In the past, these changes wouldn’t take effect until a bot had crawled these pages and updated the information on the search engine results. Bestlegalpractices.com suggests:
The fact that tweets will show up in Google searches should have a considerable impact on your approach to social media marketing. If you haven’t used Twitter in the past, this change is undeniable proof that you should focus your attention on it.
Edging your firm into social media can seem challenging, but with a little account tweaking, a professional but bold image, and the right frame of mind, you can use Twitter as a tool to not only represent yourself and your firm, but also advertise for it without coming off too spammy.
Incorporating Twitter Into Your SEO Tactics
Now that you have this information, I encourage my clients to get involved and start working toward either renovating or inventing their Twitter accounts to work more efficiently for their firms. This is a great opportunity to come out ahead of any competitors who have yet to hear the news. One way that you can incorporate Twitter into SEO is by including your keywords in Tweets so that when they do appear on Google, you’ll still being ranked for phrases and words that are easily found on your website. Amy Campbell of Harvard University has posted on her legal marketing blog:
Once you’ve written great content, don’t be shy about sharing your content via social media such as your Linkedin profile, your Facebook page, and any other sharing platforms you may use.
This means Tweeting can actually help bring more traffic to your website, and increase the viewership of all that content I have been encouraging over the last few weeks. I stick to my prior messages that content is one of the most basic and crucial parts of a successful website, but if that content isn’t being seen, it isn’t going to make much of a difference to your website, blog, or business as a whole.
Making Twitter Work For Your Firm
Whether you’re a big Tweeter already, or this is completely new to you and your firm, you can easily create an account and get on board by following a few key steps.
1. Embrace The Hashtag: Try thinking of a hashtag like a keyword, in that it helps other users on Twitter find your site, posts, and links by following the tag that you have created. An example of this could be #SanDiegoLaw or #CompanyPicnic; anybody else who is interested in these subjects can follow your hashtag back to your Twitter account, and this may even help you gain a few extra followers.
2. Start Following: As a law firm, you want to be a leader in your industry, but when it comes to Twitter, being a follower often leads to being followed, and you want as many followers as you can get. Not only do more followers get you more recognition on the Twitter website and in turn Google, but it also means that more people are seeing your Tweets on a daily basis. Following other local companies aside from competition, and following individual associates in your firm are great places to start. If any of your personal clients have Twitter accounts, it can also be acceptable to follow them.
3. Get Researching: As a lawyer, you should be pretty open to the idea of doing research in the name of your craft, and you might be surprised by the number of great ideas you will get by visiting other law firm accounts on Twitter for some inspiration. Seeing what local events they participate in, the kind of images they post, and the different Tweets they send out can help you organize your own account to be more Twitter acceptable.
Find Your Own Balance
Every law firm is different, and have different views on what is an acceptable or unacceptable approach to marketing and SEO. If you feel like Twitter isn’t a good fit for your firm, I would definitely stand by the decision to simply use other platforms. If you do think the above information has been useful, however, you might want to take a closer look at Twitter and what it can do for your firm. Many professionals are opening up to this method of communication between other businesses, clients, and as simple tools for marketing and bringing in more website traffic. If you use it for nothing else, you might want to consider using it to Tweet links to new blog posts, public images being shared, or events that your firm is participating in.
After discussing last Tuesday about what SEO mistakes to avoid in 2015, let me now focus on Google’s new policy on non-mobile sites which has had many businesses and site owners in an uproar. Companies who have yet to switch over to a more mobile-friendly platform are scrambling to redesign pages and include better coding and easier accessed files. This may take some companies quite a bit of time, so if you have read any of my past updates regarding mobilizing your website, I hope you are among the many that have already begun the process. Fortunately, Google has released some information regarding the ranking protocol for these pages, and it is helping to calm users down quite a bit.
Updates Will Take Effect Immediately
One bit of good news regarding this latest change is that Google has stated that once they search a page and recognize that it is mobile-friendly, this will be automatically updated in their system, affecting your ranking immediately. This is especially good news for those companies who have already completely switched over to mobile-friendly usage. Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land tells us:
By real-time, I believe this means that once Google crawls the page again, it will immediately be labeled as mobile-friendly and immediately benefit from the algorithm. If your pages are slow to be indexed because they are rarely updated, then it is important to go mobile-friendly sooner.
This will make a big difference to many law firms, and will begin taking effect during the April 21st update. Many experts are calling it real-time updating, and it could be highly beneficial for many website owners.
Not All Pages Will Benefit
So, what some websites tend to do is take their most important or useful pages and transfer these into mobile-friendly pages in the hope that this will appease Google’s new guidelines. While it certainly will help their ranking factor, one problem with this sort of thinking is that Google has made it clear that only the mobile-friendly pages will be counted among those gaining higher ranking rights. Business2Community.com quotes Google in saying:
Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.
I highly recommend formatting all pages for mobile access, and if you do have pages that just aren’t relevant enough to worry about making mobile, then perhaps you should take a look into whether or not they are relevant enough to be included in your site at all. Remember that while this new change in algorithm will be causing Google to focus more on mobile-ready pages for the moment, they still rank on quality of content, so keeping anything that could be considered outdated, or spam will work against you.
But before you start panicking, don’t. This absolutely does not mean that non-mobile-friendly websites will be stricken from the Google search engine; it simply means that if a competitor firm does take advantage of this change in the Google algorithm and your firm has not, then competitors could rank more highly in importance. This might help you rest easier in terms of potential clients finding you online, but it should jump start your motivation to get moving on mobilizing your site.
The process of making pages more mobile-friendly is not as daunting as it may seem at first glance. Many websites offer insight into how to do this cheaply and efficiently, and I have even touched on this topic a few times throughout my posts as well.
I often write about how to be better at SEO, where you edit your site to better suit the current algorithms, and give tips and tricks to help increase traffic, but today I would like to touch on all of the mistakes that law firms must avoid this year. The year 2015 has already brought some exciting game changers with the Google Pigeon update and other creative introductions to the world of search engine optimization, and while things have been freshened up considerably, there are many firms who might think that now is the time to get slack. To avoid falling into pit traps introduced during any future Panda upgrades over this year, you need to monitor what you have been doing wrong and try your best to rectify those mistakes before Google spots them.
Don’t Ignore Lean Content
Every website has moments where a blog update or page content comes out too lean; this means that there isn’t anything thick and juicy in what has been written. Flat, thin, lean content is not what Google wants to see, and whether you realize it or not, they are reading content, sometimes even the articles that have been uploaded in the past. For this reason, I like to make the suggestion that my clients go back through all content once or twice a year and check for any lean or poorly written, spammy content. Every company has one or two of these in their online repertoire, but what is important is what you do with them. Option one, of course, is to delete it entirely, but this means losing some content that has built up your quantity over the months, so rather than ditching it entirely, option two is that you reword or add to it to create a thicker, more interesting piece.
Never Duplicate Content
Yes, I’m still talking about content, but what else is new? Your content is what really sets you apart from competitors in your industry, and just like it can be easy to forget about outdated or lean content, it can be easy to duplicate older posts as well if you’re not careful. Ciceron.com says:
Duplicate content is when identical content exists on multiple pages of your website. Thus, making it very confusing for search engines to decide which page is more relevant to a user’s search query.
As many online companies begin hiring third party writers, this can be a common problem, especially if more than one writer is adding to your site content or blog. When writers don’t research what has been previously written, or a lawyer on your team doesn’t realize that another lawyer has already written about a particular subject, updates can be duplicated, and this can cancel out both pieces of writing in Google’s eyes, making them obsolete.
Not Including a Sitemap Through XML
This is a pretty important part of your website because it gives search engine crawlers the opportunity to access all the pages of your website more easily. This will serve as a list of all the different files on your pages, and while it might seem like keeping crawlers out would benefit in some ways, this couldn’t be more wrong. Page cloaking and restricting crawlers with certain robot.txt files are also a bad idea. Google is not going to rank your page, or at least not rank it well if they can’t access it properly. Not only that but if you have been following all the other advices I have laid out in previous posts, you should have nothing to hide or worry about when it comes to being audited by search engines. Displaying all of the good changes that you’ve made can have a highly positive impact on your ranking. Blogging Heat explains:
Crawlers read the set of URL’s to determine the indexing of the pages to stay up to date regarding any kind of a change that we make on our website.
If you aren’t sure whether you have an XML sitemap in place or not, it might be a good idea to check with your site developer or designer for more information on what you do and don’t have in place at the moment. Whether you are tech savvy or not, knowing what your website is working with will give you the information you need to come out on top.
Using Vague Anchor Text For Links
Every time you insert a link on your website, it is going to be reflected when people search for you as well. I have talked about the significance of keywords before, and so this bit of advice should speak for itself. If you want keywords to work you have to use them, and this means including them in anchor texts for links. So many websites simply add a simple “click here for more info,” or “next page.” If you want to make each keyword count, include them in your anchors; for example, if you’re supplying a link to your firm’s Facebook account, then be sure to label the link as such. Maine Host suggests:
You probably see this a lot where people use “Click here” or “Learn more” as the linking text. This is great if you want to be ranked high for “Click Here”. But, if you want to tell the search engine that your page is important for a topic, then use, that topic/keyword in your link anchor text.
This also helps potential clients recognize what exactly it is that they are clicking on, which can make it easier for them to navigate your website. Using more straightforward and relevant anchors will encourage users to return to your site, and also get them to the pages that you want them to see without confusion.
Whether you’re building a new site from the bottom up, or you have a fully functional website at your fingertips, your firm should consider all of these SEO mistakes, especially as the latest updates begin releasing for the latest Google software. Remember that while your website is probably just fine, it takes a great site, not a fine site, to rise above your competitors.
Every great structure starts with a strong foundation, and this includes the structural integrity of your firm’s website. In the previous article, I focused on link building and SEO, but today I would like to delve further into this subject by helping you build a better foundation, which in turn will build you better results from search engine queries, and eventually increase traffic and overall profit.
Starting With The Basics
I won’t go so far as to say that you should toss out your old website layout and start from scratch, but many companies (law firms included), tend to have a site created, begin building on that site, and then leave things as is as time goes on. Unfortunately, the internet is a constantly growing and evolving cyber-being, which means that you can’t rely on old infrastructure and sales tactics to get you through every year. Eventually, you need to update everything from the links that you use, which can eventually die and negatively affect your search engine optimization, to the overall design of your landing page.
If you’re considering catching up with modern web design, you should start by looking at the page that you are currently using, particularly the basics. Remember that your landing page is the first impression that you make on potential clients who visit your site, so make it reflect your firm’s values and advantages. This means focusing on the images being used, the overall layout of links and accessibility.
Content Is Crucial
I have said this before, but it is so important to a well-functioning website that I am going to stress this again; the content on your website is absolutely crucial. This may seem like a small insignificant part of the overall appearance of your site, and while it’s true that content certainly doesn’t affect how prestigious your firm looks at first glance, the same way that color, graphics, and font will, once your potential client begins reading through your company blog, About Us page, FAQs and even your contact information, they may be completely turned off due to improper grammar, irrelevant information, and outdated data. Law Firm Authority suggests:
The search engines reward quality content that provides a value to their users, while they penalize low quality content that is placed on a website in order to attempt to manipulate the search rankings.
This can be a bit of a big job if you have a lot of content already on your website, but once every six months or so a review of past updates, posts, photos, and any other content on your site can greatly increase your chances at ranking higher on Google and other search engines. These engines are seeking out creativity, integrity, and genuine information to share with those performing search queries, so don’t let an outdated post bring you down.
Making Relationships That Count
Just as you began networking to expand knowledge of your brand within your industry and other relevant fields, your website must also be networked. This doesn’t necessarily mean handing out business cards with your website printed neatly in blank font along the top, although that might not hurt, it means making an effort to connect and built a reputation online through other local companies, swapping links with local publications, writing guest blogs and guest articles to become better known as an expert in your niche, and sometimes even utilizing social media.
Now, I know that I have touched on social media many times throughout these posts, but this is one of the most basic facets of a successful website, no matter what industry you are in. Word Stream states:
People love these mini-infographics on Twitter because they can see the information without having to click through.
The world has become a variety of frenzied online accounts and short anecdotal updates, and in order to stay at the top of your game and beat out your competition, you need to take part in this organized online fraternization.
Last time, I discussed various SEO techniques like email marketing, uploading videos, and seminars and surveys. I link, you link, we all link, but successful link building is less about quantity and more about quality. I enjoy talking about links because they’re one of the most basic fundamentals of better SEO, and honestly, it’s one of the easier subjects to grasp even if you’re completely new to marketing your firm online.
Having a website isn’t enough to boost your brand on search engines, like Google; you have to outsmart your competition, but do so in a way that is genuine and within the guidelines of the algorithms which Google has set forth. That might sound like a lot of mumbo jumbo to you as a lawyer, but just as your law jargon may go right over the heads of some of your clients, it still has a strong meaning in your field, and if you want better search engine optimization, then learning the basics of link building is definitely important.
Authority Always Beats Aesthetics
While getting linked by websites with legal sounding domains might seem like the most beneficial way to build your brand and increase traffic, you could be doing more damage than good in terms of search engine rankings. When Google and other engines look into links, they will rank you not only on how many sites lead back to you, but by whether or not those websites are relevant and real. It’s too easy to set up a spam site with a classy looking domain name, and internet giants like Google know this. Word Stream provides the following in regards to link building:
A link from an authoritative website like the Wall Street Journal will make a greater impact on a SERP than a link from a newly built website, but high quality links are hard to come by. This guide will teach you how to build quality links.
If you want to get ahead in the linking world, you need to find ways to associate your firm and brand with other well-known brands. Yes, you still want those brands to relate to law in some form or another, but they don’t need to have a legal sounding domain, they just need to be trusted by the public.
Don’t Go Crazy With Spring Cleaning
In the world of SEO, staying on top of old links, and throwing out the old to make way for the new is definitely important, but don’t be fooled into thinking that any non-authority link is bad. Law Firm Authority says:
Not all links that you might classify as suspicious are going to ruin your website if you just leave them alone. What you don’t want to do is build NEW spammy and low quality links.
It’s better to have links that are trusted and well-known by potential clients and search engines than those that could be counted as spam, but it’s also better to have a few links that lead to genuine websites that aren’t exactly the New York Post, than have no links at all. When your firm is mentioned by a high profile website, or linked to by a small local business, these all can add to your ranking online, so try not to spring clean your links into oblivion. Be choosy about who you affiliate your firm website with, but also be open to the opportunity for more awareness in whatever form it may come in, so long as it isn’t fake.
Start With Your Content
I have gone over the importance of content so many times, but this is because it is so very important that you continue to create genuine content. It isn’t enough to begin with posts that are up-to-date and relevant and then sprinkle in a few fluff pieces; your clients and search engine crawlers WILL notice this behavior. Making fresh content and keeping your website genuine and up-to-date will not only attract better ranking, it will also attract better links. iLawyermarketing.com states:
Ideally websites will build credibility through an abundance of naturally built contextual links, meaning links that occur without ever having to ask for a link to your site. In order to develop these links however, a website must be aligned with other sites and provide exceptional content that other sites want to be reference.
Don’t panic if you aren’t being offered various authority links right away; you may have to work your way there, just like you worked your way to the top of your firm. Everything in business takes time, but the biggest payoffs often come with hard work and patience, so stick to it and stay true to your site rather than opting for store bought links that could land you in trouble later.
Research Links Before Using Them
You might have an idea as to which sites you would want to be affiliated with and this is great, but before you go digging for recognition, you had better do your homework. Not all links are created equal, and sometimes you’ll find that the competition is getting more appropriate links based on something your firm is lacking. By doing a little research you could completely revitalize your brand as far as links and SEO go with a little keyword updating and new content. Laywernomics suggests:
If you’re trying to rank for “Miami criminal defense attorney,” then you obviously want to take a look at what some of the websites that rank well for that search term are getting for backlinks, but also take a look at websites which rank for other practice areas in the same city/state as you’re more likely to find websites relevant to your area.
Remember that while your greatest goal might be to outrank the law firm on the other side of town that specializes in the same field as you, that competition may also be your greatest asset in reaching those goals. Always check out your competitors’ websites to see what you could be doing differently. This doesn’t mean that you should be copying content or including similar photographs, just that there might be a reason they have more genuine links than you do, and it can often be simple to gain access to the same or better links.
Last Tuesday, I tackled on search engine optimization (SEO) for law firms. I like to think that all of my readers have the ability to increase traffic and therefore increase revenue from their websites; sometimes it just takes a little extra elbow grease to get there. Today, I want to make a few suggestions about SEO techniques that you firm should know about, and consider for your own website.
If you aren’t already implementing e-mail marketing as a strategy, it’s time to get with the program and start sending clients some mail. While it’s true that e-mail marketing is not a new idea, it is something that many businesses have pushed aside in exchange for more modern methods of marketing such as blogging or social media sites. Unfortunately, what some people don’t realize is how critical this tool still is in the world of online marketing. Most people check their e-mail every day, and what’s more, many of them get e-mail messages directly to their mobile devices and smart phones, making it almost impossible to escape them.
By taking advantage of the number of mobile users with direct e-mail, you can be sure that your law firm will stay in the forefront of potential clients’ minds when selecting a lawyer in the future. This is also beneficial in terms of word-of-mouth advertising, as friends of previous clients could get your name through a forward.
YouTube has quickly replaced many of the pastimes that people have built up over the years, and is a force in the marketing industry, whether your firm realizes it or not. Utilizing this video publishing website to your advantage can mean the difference between a boring, run-of-the-mill company image, and a brand that stands apart from the competition in a big way. Larry Bodine of larrybodine.com suggests that:
All of these people – the 30 percent of the population that has always had the internet – are looking for video. That’s what they expect. It’s very easy to record a video and put it online. If you don’t have any video on your site, you’re really missing a good trick.
A video on your website or a YouTube channel for your firm can show clients and potential new clients who you are, what you can do for them, and shed a little light on what it might be like to speak with you and be in your company. You want to appeal to those who are in need of your services, and sometimes the best way to do this is to give them tangible evidence that you are among the best.
Seminars And Surveys
One tactic that more businesses need to implement, whether it’s a law firm or a financial planning group, is obtaining customer and client feedback. What people sometimes fail to realize in business is that although the customer may not always be right, they are still the main focus of your company, and without them you won’t be very successful. Olmsteadassoc.com writes:
Launch a program to obtain client feedback on client needs, opportunities, and quality of law firm services. A follow-up/problem resolution system must be part of the program.
Using surveys online you can poll clients to see what they like and dislike about your firm. You can also create seminars, both online and in person, to give potential clients a taste of what is to come if they choose to work with your firm. Sometimes the hardest thing in the field of law can be taking criticism, but if that criticism helps to build a better website and a better business, it’s certainly worth it.
Previously, I focused on how to motivate your firm for better marketing. Marketing and law go hand in hand better than most law firms tend to realize, and something that I always try to get across in all of my updates is just how big of an impact good SEO and online marketing strategy can have on your influx of clientele. In 2015, many firms are looking to get on board with the internet and some are even creating virtual law firms, although the jury is still out on how successful these firms will be in comparison to brick and mortar firms.
Reinforcing Your Brand
The important thing to remember when dealing with SEO is that you are building more than a website; you are building a better brand. What people see online in regards to your website is what they will take away as the truth about your business and firm. TrebuchetLegal.com states:
Contrary to the conformist mindset in the law — which says you have to be exactly like everyone else to succeed — the most effective marketing comes from a place of authenticity. You are who you are, and the trick, to the extent there is one, is to find the people who will respond to that and pay you for your work.
In order to get contacted, build interest, and eventually be hired by potential new clients, you must become something and someone that locals like, trust, and get to know. This can all be done through your website if you use the proper tools and terminology. Building your brand is about being genuine, straightforward, and of course, a leader in your niche. Oftentimes, what works for one firm won’t work for another, because every firm is a little bit different, and the lawyers who work with you may lean toward a different form of marketing, be it social media, blogging, or getting out into the community and participating in local events.
Avoiding The Fault Lines
In online marketing, I often talk about what you should be focusing on, but it can be easy to get sucked into the things that should be left to their own devices as well. As a law firm, you do want to seem modern and able to take on any new case that comes your way, but you must also appear strong, committed, and unbeatable. It might seem like a good idea to promote your firm as being fun, hip, and with the times by posting photos through Facebook and tweeting about other local businesses, but you must remember that the client base you are trying to attract are in need of legal help. This means that they require a firm leader in the field of law through which they can get help, and a fun and modern lawyer won’t always do the trick.
Does this mean you should avoid Facebook? No, of course not; I have said more than once that Lawyers should delve more into the world of social media and spread out by utilizing these tools to your advantage. It isn’t the tool that creates a problem; it is how these websites are being used. You want to be modern, but you don’t want to look like a pushover.
Be Creative But Also Genuine
Keywords are a great asset to SEO and online marketing, especially for lawyers who can be overlooked if the first link in a search query shows a competitor company. To get your keywords to work for you, you have to use value rich content, significant terms, and do a little bit of research to get to the top. Business2Community.com suggests:
Promoting your reputation online translates to creating in-depth and valuable content that is meaningful and relevant to your target audience. Your website’s content may include helpful legal analysis, case studies, white papers, and FAQs. SEO for lawyers is founded on the idea of providing industry-specific knowledge.
The good news here is that there are many tools out there that can help you build better keywords, such as Google Keyword Planner, and an abundance of others like it. Ranking for keywords that are relevant to your niche is like finding buried gold on a treasure hunt; this is exactly what you want and need to get ahead. It helps to increase the visibility of your firm online and gives your clients an easier route to your website through the mass digital marketplace online.
Analyzing Your Opportunities
Something that works for all law firms, and something that you should definitely take advantage of in 2015 is better analysis of the marketplace in which you work. It is absolutely critical to know the internet, your competition, and the possibility of new keywords before delving into new marketing ventures on the internet. I touched on this briefly above, but it is an important enough element to deserve its own mention.
Tools like Google Analytics and even Moz can greatly increase your chances in this area, giving you data that you need to keep up with the algorithms currently in place, and to better customize your website to the needs of the online community as it changes. The internet is an ever growing, ever changing place, and to be on top, you need to change with it.
Posting Content Is A Science
Something that doesn’t work out so well for many firms is their inability to keep up with the need for constant content. This, of course, means genuine and relatable content to your field of law; something that consumers and potential clients will want to read and pass on to friends and family. It can seem like an ongoing task to pump out these articles, blog entries, and even small social media posts, but it is crucial that you keep posting, and keep posting well. TotalAttorneys.com says:
Web pages do not exist as entities in themselves. Search engines also rank content by the strength of the website as a whole. The longer your site has been around, the more power it will have. But search engines also give preference to sites that are continually publishing new content.
This can work to your advantage throughout 2015 as you increase, even a new website’s, ranking by keeping the flow of content going. Be diligent, and make this a priority as part of your business initiative to supply up-to-date and interesting information to your potential clients.
I have given various SEO tips in the past, and focused on specific areas such as keywords and linking, but now I would like to touch on a few important aspects of your website that could bring you above your competition this year. 2015 could be the year that your law firm gets to the top in search engine rankings above other firms in your area, but in order to do this there are a few things that you should recognize, such as how SEO works to your advantage, which avenues to take to get your content to the public, and how to bring in more traffic and stay true to your market.
Use Different Avenues To Get Content Out
One of the biggest mistakes that many law firms make in SEO is focusing on just one niche or avenue to distribute their content. Videos, pictures, blog posts, and other media can be distributed through more than one method to reach a wider range of online users. Remember that your clients may be local, but they do not all use the exact same search engine or news feed to source their information. While some consumers stick to YouTube, others enjoy Google videos, and still others go through blogs, local community sources, and other feeds for this kind of data. Search Engine Journal says:
Videos that show up in Google blended search results don’t just come from YouTube. Be sure to submit your videos to other quality video sites like Metacafe, AOL, MSN and Yahoo to name a few.
Search Engine Journal makes a good point there in that even if potential clients don’t use alternative video feeds to find their information, they may click on different Google links to find videos, images, and news feeds that are relevant to the content they are seeking. So, it would make sense to publish articles, videos, or other media for future clients to find, branch out and give these sources to different sites and video displays so that you don’t miss out on an opportunity for your content to be discovered.
Remember That SEO Is A Tool Not A Requirement
SEO is one of the biggest sources of online marketing in the business world, whether you realize it or not. But it isn’t a requirement, it’s a tool, and like any other tool it must be used correctly and respected. Remember that if you don’t go about search engine optimization the right way you could lose out on some really great opportunities for new clients. SEO Mark suggests:
No SEO means no visitors from search engines. If you don’t do it then search engines can’t categorize and rank your site for keywords relevant to your business.
If you don’t open your mind to SEO you are closing the door to future opportunities in online business. Law firms have been long recognized as benefiting from word-of-mouth when it comes to finding new clients and networking, but the internet age has made it impossible to gain any real footing in this industry without at least attempting to build new contacts through the online world.
If you aren’t sure about using SEO or what it can do for your firm, I urge you to get in contact with an SEO coach, or check out some of my more detailed updates regarding specific methods of SEO that can really benefit any law firm when it comes to trumping competition and getting in the game.
Use Content To Speak To Online Users
Finally, one of the top three pieces of advice that I can give to firms trying to make a mark online is that you should always use your content to speak to your clients. When you get a lot of FAQs and comments requiring attention from your firm, one way that you can up your SEO ranking and still deliver quality content and answers to your users is by delivering those answers through the information that you post to your site. CIO.com states:
Marcus Sheridan, owner of River Pools, who was profiled by The New York Times in March 2013. Sheridan claimed that a single online article he wrote to answer the question, ‘How much does a fiberglass pool cost?,’ can be linked to at least $1.7 million of his company’s sales.
You can easily use articles, blog updates, and site content to answer questions, address concerns, or better explain what your firm does and how you can help individual cases before they appeal to you. The more that your client base understands about your business the more they will want to get in touch.
This is also a truly beneficial way to make a mark with Google and other search engines because it is a prime opportunity to add more genuine content to your site. Crawlers that seek out information on your page will see this and report back that your site is serving clients properly, keeping to your niche, and delivering honest quality content. You can never have too much content if it is true to your business and offers quality information to your readers. The only content that you should steer clear of are garbage or spam content which are spun to give the appearance of more information without actually offering anything new or useful to those who are visiting your website.
Whether you choose to use the above tips to your advantage or not, I always encourage my clients to do their own research and delve into the world of SEO with an open mind. Just be careful about some of the information that you see, not all of the tips and tricks you see are accurate, but if you take the time to do your homework and find the facts you definitely have the ability to break through the ranking barrier this year and reach the top. Work locally, think globally, and always keep your content as honest as possible. Reach out to as many avenues as you can and always keep SEO in the back of your mind as you work, this will help you reach your goals this year.
Previously, I discussed the need to make link building top priority for a firm’s online marketing efforts. It isn’t uncommon in any of my blog posts to see me suggest that just as my clients come first, as a law firm, yours must also come before your usual SEO tactics. Certainly, the way that you increase your website traffic will ultimately bring in new clients, but if you don’t take care of them through your online methods you could lost them as quickly as they arrive. Search Engine Land explains:
“According to data from the 2014 B2B Web Usability report, 83% of people (B2B buyers, at least) will leave a site if they can’t find the information they are looking for.”
2015 is a new year and with this comes the ability to give your website a fresh look and a fresh start. This doesn’t mean that you need to start from scratch and revamp everything from top to bottom, but if your site doesn’t appear to be user-friendly, this is the best time to take advantage of the change in year and give your firm a fighting chance in the loyalty department.
Making Contact Easy
Okay, so you have your phone number posted in an obvious location and your e-mail address is easy to remember and accessible to those who visit your website, but this might not be enough to bring in new clients, make your firm seem trustworthy, and more importantly, prove to Google and other search engines that you are genuine and deserve a top spot in their results. Search Engine Land explains:
It costs you five times as much to win a new customer than to keep a current one. But, customers are not loyal by nature and research shows that emotion influences purchase decision six times more than rationale. Connecting to your customers on an emotional level is the key to establishing a lasting relationship with your brand.
Live chats are a huge promoter of the loyalty that your firm has to new and existing clients. It allows even those customers who can’t communicate through telephone or in person interview in a live, real-time method that helps promote an initial bond. This form of contact with consumers through your firm also proves that you care enough to take time out of your life to chat and answer questions directly, showing how your firm could be the best firm for any one client.
Knowing Your Clients
Knowing your existing clients, but also knowing what new clients might be searching for are a large part of how many firms find their stride and become successful. Utilizing online tools for law has been a tough niche to fill, but if you stick to what you do best, promote the skills of your specific practice, and help clients find what they need quickly and easily you can trump your competitors. Vision Interactive states:
If a client isn’t happy, then do results really matter? And if they aren’t happy but yet we are delivering results from our efforts, then our ability to translate that in a manner in which the client understands must be lacking. Results DO matter; but a client’s happiness trumps all.
SEO is about the way that search engines read your website and whether or not they believe that it benefits online users seeking information related to your site. For this reason, I usually promote links, keywords, and various other SEO tips that help get many businesses to the top of the ranking charts, but sometimes you have to look at how those tips are affecting your customers and whether or not they will help or hinder your score based on usability and how genuine your content is.
Enter any landing page or website URL.