In my last blog, I discussed how important it is to have an online marketing plan that goes beyond the basics. Meanwhile, search engine optimizers cannot work on their own, separate from the rest of the business world; to achieve the best success, it should be a team effort. Part of the reason for this is because the Internet is constantly evolving and there is much work involved in keeping up with the changing trends.
This can be a challenge for new business start-ups that often have to play a game of catch-up with those who have been controlling the top spots in ranking order in the search engines. But that seems about to change with the new strategies being implemented online today.
It seems that there are two trends that are appearing in the search engines. The first is the array of Google algorithms that are used to determine where each business ranks in the search engines. With these algorithms, sites can be carefully analyzed to see how well they meet with popular demand. Those that rate high enough on Google’s charts get to land higher up in the rankings.
The Social Search
One new alternative for improving rankings is through utilizing social networking strategies. According to SearchEngineWatch.com, these networking sites have successfully developed their own trends,
Social networking has created its own search language: the #hashtag. Rather than relying on search engines, people in the social sphere decide what’s not and throw a hashtag in front of it. If it clicks, more people put the hashtag in front of it, and then it becomes a trend and a way to search or get noticed on social networks.
This strategy is called the ‘social search’ and as they explain, while it may take months for a business to be identified through Google algorithms, when social search is applied, the recognition could happen instantaneously. This can be a major windfall for new businesses trying to get their foot in the door of Internet marketing.
New Domain Extensions
Another new option to help start-ups move further up the ranking is the new domain extensions. While there is little chance that the .com domain is going to fade into the sunset, new businesses can now choose a domain extension that could be based on their location, industry, or even their own personal interests.
These new extensions give businesses even more of an opportunity to be noticed by adding a completely new way to be identified by the consumer. If these new extensions take off, businesses will no longer be grouped together with other unrelated businesses simply because of their domain extension. Those in the construction industry could share a .build extension while another business may prefer to be identified by its location, .NYC for example.
This new strategy will give new start-ups a fighting chance when it comes to getting noticed online. Some experts say it will help to clear away much of the clutter and trim search results down to those businesses that are in a position to meet the consumer’s unique needs. As they explain in Bloomberg Business,
Small businesses that settled for long, hyphenated, or otherwise cumbersome .com addresses because their first choices were already taken might want to reserve their business name followed by their city, for instance, like johnsplumbing.nyc. Or their business name plus their industry, like tennispro.sports.
As the online world continues to expand at such an exponential rate, it can be difficult for new businesses to find their footing. But with these new strategies for getting noticed online, they no longer have to feel as if they’re constantly on an uphill climb in order to just reach the playing field with other more established businesses.
Last week, we discussed how important it is to build up your problem solving skills so you can get the most out of your search engine optimization. Being able to identify problems and issues and respond accordingly will help you to avoid losing valuable business while you’re trying to figure out what’s wrong.
Today, we’re going to go back to the basics of building up your online presence and getting recognized as a credible entity within your industry. This can end up being a pretty tall order for most businesses. With the millions of businesses online vying for the consumer’s attention, without a definable plan in place to push your business higher up in the rankings it’ll be like shooting at a target in the dark; you may hit your mark if you’re lucky but most likely not.
Most businesses understand the importance of having a marketing plan to boost their company’s image. Without a plan it could be difficult if not impossible to connect with new customers or to maintain a relationship with old ones. You need to develop some type of approach to help you build up a loyal following of your business. However, that may not be enough for you to attain to the goals you’ve set out for your company. As they explain at SearchEngineWatch.com,
You may already have some type of marketing program in place, but are you limiting yourself to the traditional platforms that include TV, print and radio?
One of the most common mistakes businesses make when it comes to building a marketing plan is failing to look for alternative options when it comes to creating a marketing plan. There are 4 specific elements you should consider implementing in order to get the most out of your plan.
It is a given, and most businesses will agree that without an online presence you won’t see much success in this modern technological age. Still, there are countless people out there who have a website but are still not able to drum up any new customers for their efforts. So, when all your hard work pays off and a prospective customer lands on your website, you must also consider what you have done to make sure he stays put until he does what you want him to do. This means ensuring that your website design is user-friendly, and is attractive enough to make visitors want to stay and see more.
With Google’s new algorithm that incorporates mobile devices, having a design that incorporates mobile response will be extremely beneficial. These will play a major role in following through on all your SEO efforts.
The purpose of search engine optimization is to push your business higher in the search engine rankings. Most consumers do not have the luxury of spending countless hours perusing a bunch of websites that are unrelated to their needs so it’s important to get your business to a place in the search engine where it can be found. With a solid SEO plan in place, you can make sure that your business stays at the top of your game. This will require you to keep up with the constantly changing algorithms that determine how your business is ranked.
There may be times when you feel like keeping up with Google’s constant changes are just too much, but as they explain at 360psg.com,
Although these changes may seem overwhelming, savvy web marketers know that if you understand the history and trends, you are better able to anticipate where the future of search engine marketing is heading.
By incorporating a few simple strategies for adapting to these changes, you can better manage the constant fluctuations of SEO with less stress.
Take Advantage of Your Freebies
Most businesses are marketing on a budget. Unless they are a major corporation shoveling billions of dollars around every year, it can be very difficult to keep marketing dollars under control. However, by utilizing the many social media outlets you can do wonders for getting your business name in front of the public eye without spending thousands of dollars. Simply by keeping up your business profile and interacting with your consumers, you have the opportunity to build a positive bond with your site’s visitors. According to the OnlineMarketingInstitute.org,
Google looks at social media as one of the ways to assign value to your site. How many people are talking about it? Are they talking positively or negatively? More importantly, who is talking about it – are the people considered experts or gurus in your field? Are these comments one-offs, or do conversations continue over time.
The answer to these questions can make a huge difference in how Google sees you and moves you up or down in the rankings.
Make Sure Your Advertising Efforts Are Aligned With Search Engines
To do this, it is important for you to take advantage of PPC and Banner advertising strategies. When your company name continues to appear on search engines and on various websites, your image will soon be readily recognized. Keeping your name in front of the public eye is one of the most important strategies you can implement when it comes to search engine optimization. This way, when consumers are actively looking for what your business offers, you won’t be so hard to find. This will not only move you up in the search engine rankings but will be an important tool in boosting your conversion rates as well.
While practicing law may be your key focus for being online, attracting consumers who need your legal expertise is your primary goal. There is an inherent need to master the game of search engine optimization to see the success rates you hope to accomplish. The web is a highly competitive place and the days are gone when just having an online presence was enough. You need to actively market your industry and put your business in a position where it can be readily recognized in the search engines.
By having an online marketing plan that goes beyond the basics, you’re building up your reputation in a way that will attract more business to your site and put you ahead of the competition.
Last Friday, I talked about Google’s addition of mobile app data to its Search Console, which was another development for mobile-friendly websites. Meanwhile, I usually have something specific to touch on when updating my marketing concepts for law firms to follow but this week there are a number of things I want to discuss that are becoming really crucial this year. 2015 has brought about a few changes in Google algorithms already, which I have discussed in length in other posts, and with these changes, the online marketing world is beginning to shift as well.
As you grow and evolve as a firm, you must remember to share that evolution with your website and marketing tools and processes. This is the only way to stay ahead of the competition and make a real name for your brand in the future. Check out a few of these 2015 marketing musts that have made this year’s list of online law firm marketing trends to comply to.
Automated News Letters Have Become A Must
E-mail marketing may not be focused on as much as it was when the e-mail was the standard form of internet communication, but it is still very important in terms of keeping in touch with past clients, current clients, and building a relationship with potential new clients. Obviously, these e-mails should only go out to those who have registered for them or they could come off as pushy, but making this an option keeps your firm’s name in the forefront of these clients’ minds when they see it appear in their inbox. The Business of Law Blog explains:
Lawyers should send an automatic newsletter to contacts on the firm mailing list and to visitors who opt-in. Mailchimp has a plug-in for WordPress that will automatically compose, illustrate and send the newsletter on a specified schedule. For example, the Law Practice Advisor newsletter goes out beautifully every week without any manual input.
Whether people skim past your e-mail, delete it, store it for later, or read it as soon as it appears in their inbox, simply seeing the name of your law firm will register with them when they think about obtaining legal aid later on. This can go a long way to bring in new business over time.
Social Media Is A Regular Part Of Your Clients’ Everyday Life
This is no surprise as the above-mentioned e-mail has definitely been replaced by social media interaction. While many law firms are finally getting on board with this consumer communication method, it’s really important that lawyers remember that once you start utilizing social media it needs to be updated, checked, and replied to continuously. For some firms, this means hiring outside help or delegating these responsibilities to somebody within the practice.
People skim their social media in school, on their way to work, at home, at the dentist’s clinic, and just about anywhere else you can think that a mobile phone, tablet, laptop, or PC might lurk. This means that having your firm in front and present on a Facebook or Twitter news feed each day is absolutely crucial if you want to stay fresh within the minds of those whom you have worked with or would like to work with legally in the future.
Content Takes A Front Seat In Online Marketing
I always talk about content, probably so much that you will skip right over this portion of my update, but I still think it is worth mentioning that genuine and interesting content is no longer just an option, it’s a necessity. It affects the way clients view your firm, the placement of your ranking on search engines like Google, and a number of other elements of your marketing and business that you may not realize. Legal Marketing Review suggests:
If you don’t have good content your SEO, social media and public relations strategies will suffer greatly. Be prepared to hire people to help you write blog posts, develop videos, infographics, e-books, podcasts, printed books and more. You also have to plan on a significant amount of time to share those pieces of content amongst the many new channels available.
Think of content the way that you think about a marketing ad in the newspaper, online, or a commercial on television. You want it to say what you can’t say in person to those who are viewing your site, and while you do want it to be attractive and bring in new business, you don’t want it to be too flashy or obvious. The best way to create unique and up to date content is to write it as though you are talking to a real client. It must be regular and genuine, or you will find yourself slipping down the list of local results in search engine rankings.
Know Who Is Visiting Your Site
Finally, one of the top priorities of this year is knowing your audience, and how frequently they are visiting your site. This means monitoring web traffic in one form or another, and staying on top of following up with as many potential clients as you can. This is when that automated newsletter is going to come in handy, or when small contests, community functions, and other events that can be shared through social media will take a front seat. HG.org writes:
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.
Of course, a counter on your main website will show you how many visitors you have each day, week, and month, but you can also use social media. Keep a count on how many people are sharing, liking, and commenting on tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos, and other forms of social media. This helps you see what is working and what is not, so that you can tweak your method of consumer interaction to be more beneficial for your firm.
All law firms should know by now that internet marketing will play a huge role in the success of your firm, even if you are well known and successful already. Remember to make updates, add new content, and stay on top of what the audience likes to keep your firm fresh and in the minds of those that you interact with.
Previously, I have focused on the use of keywords for a firm’s website. Meanwhile, I have discussed my stance on internet marketing for law firms time and again, and it never becomes less important, especially in this modern age of technology. While many firms still depend on word-of-mouth advertising, there is certainly something to be said for how affective online marketing can be.
Online marketing includes a large selection of various methods of communication and advertising such as e-mails, pay per click, web design, and of course, high quality content. All of these come together to pack quite a punch in the online market, but even individually you can see results for your firm.
Make An Effort To Reach Out
Reach out to your existing clients, and make it an option for new clients to receive interactions such as e-mails as well. Even if it is a simple newsletter from your firm wishing all of your clients a happy holiday, or letting them know that you will be involved in a local community event can bring your name back to the forefront of their minds and have them forwarding your message to friends and family. Legal Marketing Review explains:
Email marketing has the highest ROI of all the tactics. Keeping in constant contact with your customers is an essential part of getting the most out of each lead.
As mentioned by Legal Marketing Review, simply sending out these general e-mails may not always be enough to seal the deal on a new client. It can also be helpful to contact potential clients with specific detailed information on how you can help with a case that he or she seemed interested in when they first contacted you. This lets them know that they were memorable, and in turn keeps you memorable as well.
Simplify Your Client’s Process
The age of the internet means that a local law firm is just a click away, and if yours is too difficult to discern on the first try, the next one will do just as well for many. This is certainly a far cry from the days of client loyalty and legal research for a top notch firm, but that’s the way the online cookie crumbles and if another firm can give clients what they need, you may find yourself kicked to the curb. To avoid this, it may be time to brush up your website with some easy to navigate design and mobile friendly applications. CBA.org explains:
Since some prospective clients may be inexperienced and unsure about how to approach a lawyer, a firm’s website provides an excellent opportunity to simplify the process of searching for, and working with, a lawyer.
Another way to make it easier on your potential clients who are seeking a lawyer in your field of expertise is by making sure that your firm appears when they use keywords that pertain to you. Keyword research is crucial to ranking highly on search engines, but you have to know how to use them to your advantage.
Find Some Help
Don’t just rely on an aesthetically appealing website and a well-written blog to get your firm noticed. When it comes to ranking well on Google, there is no shame in getting help by entering your name into directories where you know people might search for a lawyer in your niche. Juris Page writes:
One great way to let the world know your firm’s website exists is to have your firm’s attorneys appear in attorney directory services. Sites like martindale.com, lawyers.com, and superlawyers.com, are the leading lawyer directory services.
Once you’ve listed with an attorney directory, be sure to enter your name into other local directories in your area where potential clients might be searching.
Last Tuesday, I explored the value of niche blogging for online marketing. Now, with all of the hustle and bustle of big business, especially in the field of law, it can be easy to get lost in the work flow and forget about how important marketing is. Not only is it easy to lose track of the marketing initiative, it can also be difficult to get motivated and to motivate your team.
I have given advice in the past on marketing tips and tricks, but what I want to talk about today is how you can increase your online potential and also get your firm more involved in the process.
Make Marketing Tangible
Making your SEO tactics and marketing ventures more enticing to your staff might be easier than you think. By getting more involved in marketing efforts in a tangible way, you can let your firm see the success as it comes in. Mannix Marketing states:
Sponsor Events, Not only are you helping your community and getting your brand out in the public, there is also an opportunity to get link backs form the organizations you are helping. If you or anyone on your Board is supporting a local charity or event, ask for a link on their site. This could be a very valuable backlink.
Sponsoring events in your neighborhood will help with local potential clients and also help get the word out in a big way through multiple word-of-mouth opportunities. You can tie this kind of advertising into your website by adding website links to signs and other ads being offered to support the event. You can also advertise the event on your website, through your blog, and on social networking resources.
Finding The Right Person For The Job
Not all of your firm may be interested in SEO or the tasks associated with it. Many people have trouble coming up with entertaining blog subjects, or keeping up with social media accounts, but one huge part of good SEO is monitoring your traffic, and this is something that anybody can do from the comfort of their office, with little to no real mental effort or time constraints. 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.
Collecting data like this is fairly easy, even if you have a few different resources to monitor, and it is one way that you can motivate other lawyers to get involved when they are nervous about SEO taking up too much of their time or effort.
Give Some Incentive
It is easy to be motivated in any marketing venture if there is an incentive on the line. Your law firm could be looking at a higher rate of productivity in terms of increased SEO by simply recruiting the members of your firm in a blogging, social media, or e-mail contest. The most client interest gathered, most comments or likes, or most shares of a certain blog idea could provide your firm with a winner.
You could also have each member weigh in with a niche article from their field of law. All of these can be used at one time or another, making it easier to stay on track with posting content, but in the meantime, the best article could be given an incentive or an extra vacation day, a free lunch, or a coffee card for a local company. You might find that local businesses would get on board with this type of company contest and provide gift cards or free products in return for a mention on the blog or a link on the website, making it a win/win for everybody involved.
I’ve written a lot about how to get your website ranked higher on Google and other search engines, as well as what types of alternative web marketing law firms should be getting involved with including the use of blogging, which I discussed last week. But today I really want to touch on how you can motivate new clients simply by having a user-friendly website. By “user-friendly,” I mean a lot of things, and this is where some people might get confused, but bear with me. Of course, you want your website to rank well and so there are certain rules and regulations that you must stick with for the sake of all the search engines out there, but outside of building links appropriately and keeping content genuine to appease Google, you also have to think about what viewers want.
Keep It Interesting
Spend some time getting organized and creating a concise strategy that includes scheduled updates of articles, interactive media, photos, videos, and interesting subjects that potential clients will be eager to converse about. One thing that I like to suggest to my own clients is that they really take some time to create a call to action that will urge visitors to contact their firm rather than just viewing the site and bookmarking it for later. Studies have shown that consumers who speak directly to a law firm are far more likely to follow through with their business, while those who skim with plans of calling later may never get around to it. You have to really motivate your visitors with inviting phrases and inspiring suggestions that make them want to email or call. Law Practice Today writes,
A new study by Touchpoint Metrics of San Rafael, CA, proved that law firms are getting new business from their Web sites. The report found that articles and white papers written by the firms’ lawyers generate visitors who become new clients.
To take this contact availability to the next level you can add web forms and other convenient ways for visitors to send messages, chat live, or leave feedback to your practice about the site, possible services they may be interested in, or anything else that they want to ask or say. This isn’t to say that you should be offering free legal advice via web form, but you could certainly take each question in turn and advise potential clients that you would be more than happy to help them and ask when they could come in for a consultation.
Make It Visually Appealing
So you have some unique and interesting content, you’re planning a strategy as far as when to post that content goes, but the site is still looking kind of bland. People seeking a great law firm are looking for the most professional materials available. They want somebody who can represent them in court, or assist them with legal paperwork, or any number of other specialized services, and they want an expert. To make yourself look more professional sometimes you have to hire a professional. If you have the funds available, I suggest that law firms utilize the services of a photographer or a photography service to take photographs of real lawyers and other staff at your firm for the website. You want to give the appearance that your practice is personal but still professional enough to handle any issue. Don’t mess around with cheap shots with a digital camera unless you absolutely have to. Olmstead and Associates recommends:
In a large firms a marketing director and a team of marketing professionals are typically employed. In small firms appoint a focal person such as the administrator or office manager, or a responsible attorney or secretary.
It can also really pay off to seek professionals in other areas of online web marketing as well, and this doesn’t just mean using services like mine, but contacting professional writers to build you some appropriate articles, blog updates, and even landing page content. The more organized and expert your site appears, the more likely clients are to choose you to represent them.
Keep It New And Imaginative
It can be tempting to stick to old legal images like the scales of justice or animated gavels, but these are not funny or inviting, they are cheesy, and have well outlived their shelf life for use by any modern legal team. To bring in new clients you have to show them that you’re part of this century, and that means getting inventing with your images, videos, and even the articles that you post. You need to have a new spin on things to outwit your competition, and also to impress viewers of the website. You also want to steer away from images or terms that seem like a form of advertising; internet users are smart, and they know when they’re being lulled into a possible marketing ploy. Lawyernomics explains:
Do you like advertisements? Do you fast-forward through your favorite DVR’d shows in eager anticipation of hearing about the side effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs? Do you click the next button on Pandora to prompt another ad? Do you click refresh on your browser to stare in awe of the creativity of banner ads? Neither do your potential clients.
I usually suggest that you not only try to think like a potential client, but also think about what you would look for in a law firm, and what you might appreciate on a website from an outside point of view. If you’re sitting back staring at your webpage and thinking that the phrasing, images, or calls to action are fake, cheesy, or too much, then you’re probably right and you should consider changing them.
While it’s true that mistakes happen when you’re building the content for your webpage, and most of them are easily fixed, if you can avoid them in the first place you can also avoid the possibility of turning away potential business. Remember that every flaw in your marketing plan could lead to the loss of a customer, so dig deep and motivate new clientele to contact your firm.
In my previous post, I talked about link building as part of the SEO strategy of a law firm, and offered some helpful tips to make this happen. Now, I’m going to touch base on something that many of my clients overlook as a serious method of increasing their clientele; a well-written blog can actually be a big motivator for website traffic and this is what will attract new consumers to your firm. Of course, not all of your readers will be converts, but if you can interest even a few people to read your firm updates, and you have something worthwhile to say, it can make a big impact on who those readers will hire when they need a lawyer in their area.
Staying Local and Narrow
Of course, every law firm wants to grow to their maximum potential and be considered the best firm in the state, or maybe even the country, but before you can reach these heights you have to take each step on the ladder rungs on the way up. The first step in terms of setting up a successful legal blog is to focus on your niche market, and this is going to be local clients who are looking for legal aid in your field of expertise. If you specialize in family law then make sure that your writing reflects not only this area of law, but also the particulars that you focus on. Go Black Fin explains:
For example, instead of writing a blog about the grounds for divorce in your state, write about how a person who is suddenly unemployed might be able to get a judge to modify a child support order. Chances are your blog will attract the attention of people in need of your services to help them to modify a support order.
Sure, staying narrow in your subject matter might mean that you’re pulling in fewer potential consumers at first, but if these potential consumers turn into clients then you’ve been successful in your endeavor.
Make Yourself Into an Expert
Focusing on a niche area of law not only brings in more serious clientele who actually require your expertise, but it also helps to make a firm name for your brand. Writing about one area of law with confidence and insight can make your firm’s name synonymous with being an expert in that particular field. Try to keep your posts regulated to a particular day each week so that the blog has a more professional feel to it. Make sure that the content you write about is always relevant to your city, field of practice, and particular case types that you have covered before and are confident in pursuing again. If there are many different practices of law in your firm, you must be careful in labeling so that you don’t confuse potential clients.
Use Your Blog to Your Advantage
Marketing can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but let’s face it a law firm is in need of a little advertising because word of mouth isn’t always going to cut it. This is where I think a blog makes an excellent tool because not only is it a form of marketing, but it’s a measurable form of marketing, which means you get feedback from these efforts that tell you how many people have viewed, rated or commented on your posts. Larry Bodine says:
What I would suggest you do is pursue the techniques that you can measure. That would include blogs. You can publish up a blog and see how many people visited. On a blog, you can also see how many people commented.
Thus, blogging is one tool that every law firm can reap benefits from. Even if you don’t find a huge response from readers, the fact that you have a blog on your website shows clients that you are up-to-date and advancing with the times. Nobody wants a lawyer who seems unknowledgeable or out of touch with the times.
Enter any landing page or website URL.