Previously, I discussed how law firms could have an online presence with the use of social media. This time, we’ll tackle the subject of search engine optimization (SEO). With the Internet now being such an integral part of everyday life, it’s no surprise that most people utilize a quick online search when seeking a specific product or service, and this includes those people who are seeking for legal aid. One thing that I always try to make clear to my clients is the importance of your online presence in the industry in which you work. In the legal world, there are still a lot of word-of-mouth referrals and local inquiries, but with a steadily growing number of online searches for law firms, you have to get in the game if you want to succeed, and this means embracing SEO to help your business grow.
Local Keywords Are the Key to Success
I know what you’re thinking: why aim for local business when you could be getting calls from communities all over the city or state? Well, when you’re just starting out with SEO, you’re not going to find immediate changes in a large market; this is a highly competitive form of marketing, especially for lawyers. For example, if you want to be recognized as a top law firm in New York, you’re better to start off by being known for your services in Brooklyn before attempting to take on the city as a whole. This helps minimize your current competitors, making it easier for you to work your way up. This also helps to secure your brand within your immediate area, and gets you on the road to larger opportunities in the coming months and years. Bruce Clay, Inc. states:
Legal Internet marketing is exceedingly competitive, so if you’re just starting out it’s important to establish your firm as a brand and market to your immediate location.
I don’t mean to say that you shouldn’t be aiming at capturing these larger markets, but this should be more of a long-term plan. For now, your goals should start out in your physical region, and then over time you can try ranking for more general placements.
Establish Yourself in Local Directories and With Google Places
Now that you have begun to think about your firm in terms of local business, you should get on board with securing your place in local directories. I usually suggest that my clients embrace the advantages offered through Google Plus and Google Places during this phase, as they can greatly increase their success in building their companies through SEO. Christopher Arnell of LinkedIn says:
For the foreseeable future, Google will continue calling the shots as far as search results go, so the first step in establishing a local presence is setting up a Google Plus local page. While this is separate from the Google Plus business page, it can be combined with that page.
This is the time where you should be working toward becoming included in all of the local law listings within your area so that you can rank in maps in your immediate area. The citations that you arrange with various listing sites can greatly increase your listing rank, and give your law firm credibility with Google.
Get Your Site Ready for Visitors
I have stated before that SEO can help ramp up traffic to your site, and in turn give you a greater probability of finding new clients, but getting visitors to your website isn’t always enough to convert them to clients. Your website is the online face for your company, and just as you wear a suit to the office every day to show your clients how professional and committed you are, your website shows online clients the same traits. If your site looks too basic, or not up-to-date, you’re far less likely to make a good impression. A high quality law firm website should include a variety of different information, such as press coverage, case results, testimonials, lawyer bio pages, and possibly a blog.
Enter any landing page or website URL.