When creating a highly optimized website for a legal practice, most professionals dedicate a considerable amount of money to the investment. A lot of this investment may go into making the site look attractive, but if the site is not found in the search engines, it fails to meet its full potential.
Beautiful looking websites that result in little search engine exposure are often the result of improper optimization and/or having a non-SEO friendly web design. Some web design elements may inhibit search engines from effectively crawling and indexing the website. In addition, a properly optimized website must include the right keyword placement and optimized content throughout the various elements of the site.
Whether you have a small legal practice or large law firm, it is important to make sure that your web design and SEO investment is for the right services and achievements. Below we highlight 6 tips to create a more SEO-friendly web presence. You can use this as checklist or questionnaire for your future SEO provider, or as means to better optimize your legal site yourself.
Many SEO providers will choose the keyword targets that will drive them traffic. However, what is more important than traffic, is obtaining conversions for that traffic. Before choosing a keyword target, ask yourself "will this keyword result in an actual case?"
A highly relevant, conversion-oriented keyword phrase will often include a specific practice area of law as well as geographic modifier, such as "family divorce lawyer Austin" or "criminal defense attorney Peoria".
A very necessary and integral element of any optimized website is the title tag. An optimized title tag for a webpage will always contain the exact phrase match of the keyword target. Because Google and other engines weigh the title tag heavily on the keyword relevancy of a page, including the keyword target once (and perhaps a variation) will ensure that your site is better search engine optimized.
Since only contextual content can be read and indexed by search engines, if a website has any Flash content (animation, images, videos), an HTML version should be simultaneously provided. Flash will cause a search engine spider to choke while crawling your page, and slow the optimization process of your site.
The second most important page to a website is the sitemap (with the homepage being number one.) Search engine consider this page the index of the book, and reference this page to find all of the links that make up your website. Always take the time to build out a sitemap, and always be sure to submit a XML version of the sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools.
The page copy of your website is not only important for search engines and keyword relevancy, but also converting users and traffic to your website. Avoid generic content and focus on unique copy which talks about your legal practice. In addition to including keyword phrases, convey value and meaning to your audience.
Next to the Title Tag, the URL string is another key opportunity optimize a webpage. Always include the core two or three keywords of the webpage in the URL. Using the examples above, an optimized URL might look like "/family-divorce-laweyers.html" or "/crimimal-defense-attorneys-peoria-il.html”.
By following these basic tips you can surely progress the SEO-friendliness of you website. Also, if you see any of these elements missing after your SEO provider as "optimized" your website, you may want to ask them about it.continue...
If you or your law firm are not utilizing Facebook, you may be missing out on serious opportunities to connect with one of the largest online audiences. Facebook accounts are free to create, and Facebook marketing can be one of the best ways to get the word out about your firm or your personal law practice.
Below are eight Facebook marketing tips for attorneys. These ideas can assist you in establishing your firm's Facebook presence, and offers insights about the type of content you should consider posting to make the greatest impact.
If you have a personal Facebook page, be extremely careful to keep that separate from your business or company page. Many attorneys with small, personal practices make this initial mistake when establishing their Facebook presence. Business pages allow for additional features, such as creating forms that potential clients can fill out, as well as standard features like uploading videos, images, and other forms of content
Start a simple discussion by asking a question, and then when people start to post replies, you can respond and provide valuable feedback or advice. Keep in mind to never cross the line between networking and solicitation. Certain states have specific rules regarding the issue of solicitation within electronic communications, so inform yourself and adhere to the guidelines of your state.
Most attorneys are not going to be able to provide specific numbers, but it is entirely possible to explain the difference between hourly billing and contingency fee agreements, for example. Most people are not aware of the difference, and they fail to take into account the expense of additional taxes and disbursements.
General answers are acceptable to user questions, but giving legal advice can be risky. Advice can be misinterpreted, and some advice may be perceived as attorney-client relationship. Protect yourself by adding a disclaimer to your page or by adding the disclaimer into the bottom of any post that can be construed as legal advice.
Polls can be extremely serious, or they can be light. Nonetheless, Facebook polls are a great way to engage your audience and learn about what others believe on a certain topic. You can ask just about any question you like, but try to keep it the poll very related to your practice, and use the results as a tool to help you understand what your audience is looking for.
If you have an opinion on a recent decision or an ongoing case, Facebook is a great place to provide your insight. This can also attract readers who are interested in the topic of the post. New laws can be confusing, and posting an interpretation of a new law in terms that everyday people can understand is extremely helpful.
If people start to read your page, and find your tips useful, they will continue to return to the page to see what else you have to say. Sharing your knowledge with people will increase the likelihood of them retaining you or your firm in the future over your competitors. This is because they feel a connection to you and you have positioned yourself as an expert in the field based on your tips.
For example, if you want to let people know you are moving your office, you can announce that on Facebook. If you are interested in new business, you may create an event inviting people to a seminar or some similar event that will encourage clients to do business with you or your firm.
Facebook is an extremely flexible platform and can be used as the leverage your practice. You can better position yourself as honest professional in you area of law, and share ideas, knowledge, and other bits of value with a relevant online audience.continue...
Twitter is one of the best platforms for social and professional growth. Tweeting can help to expose legal professionals to new clients as well as fellow attorneys for networking and referring cases. It is one of the easiest and most cost-effective portals for attorneys to build their online reputation and connect with a wide and relevant audience.
Twitter can be the ideal place to promote your practice; however, the way you use Twitter and other social networking sites can be either triumphant or disastrous. Below we have outlined some basic Twitter tips for lawyers and legal professionals.
When posting tweets, it is advisable for professionals to maintain a moderate level of use (many will agree that 3-5 tweets per week is a good number.) When giving an opinion or suggestion, let it be known but do not let people judge you from what you post. Leave your followers some space to reason and some blanks to fill especially if the subject is controversial.
Attribution shows that you understand your profession and that your care about your audience. Whether it is a quote from your favorite book, a poem or retweet, always attribute borrowed information to the source author. Twitter is very specific about retweeting, and even makes the process simpler for retweets.
Remember that not all of your followers understand legalese - or legal speak. Most of your Twitter audience are consumers sourcing for information. Use simple language to reach out to your followers.
It is good to be professional with tweets, but avoid tweeting about an experience with a certain client. Your current and past cases should be kept offline, regardless of how valuable or grave they may be. Do not give examples with the cases you have handled, as this might turn potential clients away.
When tweeting, remember that you may have followers from all walks of life. Avoid posting something that may hurt someone's feelings. Imagine yourself in the shoes of your reader, and observe your reaction. Avoid negative tweets about any group of people; and always consider all your followers as potential clients.
Always be polite regardless of the situation. Some of your followers might attack you, but this is not reason enough to attack them back. If any of your followers has personal issues with you or your profession, respond to their tweets diplomatically. If you encounter a bully, it is better for you to make use of the unfollow button than to engage in bitter exchanges. Remember that your posts may be used against you, and so refrain from any questionable conduct.
In conclusion, remember that Twitter is a place for fun as well as a place for business. Your conduct may affect your profession in irreversible ways, if you are not keen. Be polite, but you are not obliged to follow anyone. If a person within your network becomes unbearable, do not allow them to destroy your reputation. Be of value to your followers, and then business will follow.continue...
Organic search engine optimization is a significant aspect of most website marketing strategies. Many SEO experts will agree that the efforts performed off from the website (off-site SEO) have the heaviest impact on search engine rankings; however there are some aspects of on-site SEO that are often overlook.
One of those on-site techniques is internal linking - or the linking between pages of the same web domain. In essence, internal linking (or "cross linking") is favored by search engines and displays good on-site navigation and usability. And when strategically implemented, internal linking is a way to get multiple rankings for one keyword search (also known as "double stacks".)
It is very easy to build internal cross links within your website. There are two very important variables to keep in mind:
For instance, if you have a page on your website all about "men's hair loss treatments," and another page all about "men's hair loss products," these two pages share relevancy to one another (both about men's hair loss) and are worthy of being cross linked.
More specifically, if the anchor text of the link reads "men's hair loss products," and the link points to that page about products, the search engines will only deem that page more relevant the keyword search: men's hair loss products. You dig?
Internal linking is a must-do strategy for thorough optimization of a website. Not only does it contribute to greater SEO performance, but also better navigation when users visit your site. If you follow these internal linking tips, you might be able to see multiple stacks of your website listing in the search engines rankings.
Do you have any additional internal linking tips that you use? Please add them in the comments section below.continue...
Mobile marketing is gaining immense popularity, and in almost any professional context. Mobile marketing for lawyers and law firms is projected to be one of the most efficient channels for branding and advertising, especially for those legal professionals who handle plaintiff-consumer cases.
However, if carried out inaccurately, mobile marketing could offer minimum returns and could even pose detrimental risks if not monitored correctly. Lawyers in particular will want to focus on mobile marketing campaigns that target very specific markets and areas of law. And with the various opportunities for mobile marketing, legal professionals will want to exploit only those techniques that will aid their marketing efforts, not hinder them.
Below are considerations and tips to help you and your practice develop the optimal mobile marketing strategy.
The first and most important step to implementing mobile marketing for your law firm is to set goals and objectives. This may require an extensive evaluation of your services and your firm's position in the market, but in essence, this phase of incubation and planning will help you figure out exactly how mobile marketing may help your firm.
Some questions you may what to ask yourself are:
Start getting your creative juices flowing, and conjuring up some innovative, yet intuitive ideas that flow with the services and brand of your firm.
Some law firm websites are complex and deep with tons of webpages. If a prospective user is looking for help from a mobile browser, you will want to make sure the content of your website is clearly viewable. More importantly, you will definitely want to ensure that you have a legitimate call to action so they can contact your firm.
In some cases, a dedicated website, such as .mobi, may need to be developed in order to cater to your mobile market. If this investment seems overkill, you can reduce the size of the mobile website to only a few key pages, or perhaps create a simple landing page that includes only basic information about your firm. And of course, don't forget about a prominent call to action.
There are plenty of mobile advertising channels to choose from, but the most powerful come in the form of search engine marketing.
Being found in the search engines, whether on a PC or smartphone, can be a complete marketing game-changer. There are two methods to obtain better search exposure: organic SEO and Pay Per Click advertising.
Organic SEO for lawyer websites requires a more long-term investment of optimizing the content on the site, as well as executing link building campaigns and other off-site strategies. This process is a bit more time consuming, however it can offer great returns and cost-efficient marketing spend.
In Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, the opportunities are a bit more immediate. A firm can bid for top search engine placement on the keywords that drive the best traffic. And with mobile search, attorneys can take advantage of "click to call" - when a user clicks on a paid (PPC) ad, his or her phone immediately starts calling the firm. What's nice about "click to call" is that a mobile-friendly website is not needed.
First, have your goals, objectives, and overall game plan laid out. Don't be afraid to ask for insights from other marketers or even future prospects. Perhaps try surveying a few of your trusted clients to get feedback as to which mobile marketing strategies might work the best.
Mobile marketing is growing fast, so make sure your legal practice is ahead of the game.
If you have any questions or comments about mobile marketing for lawyers and law firm, please add them in the comments section below.continue...
In Part I of Local SEO for Lawyers we discussed the importance of well-optimized content on the website. In Part II, we move into the most significant contributor to higher search engine rankings: off-site link popularity.
Generating links to your website is ever critical for local SEO, especially if your geographic target and/or practice area is highly competitive. Links pointing to your site displays credibility and trust, which is something search engines highly value while determining rankings.
The process of link building must respect two important factors: how the links are build (such as the link name or anchor text is used) as well as where the link are built (on related, high authority websites or unrelated, low authority websites?)
When building links to your site, it is very important to understand the concept of link names or anchor text. The anchor text is the clickable words that represent a link. For example, read this Wikipedia page for more information on anchor text (note, the word "anchor text" is the anchor text of that link.)
Search engine spiders crawl and interpret the content and links of a webpage. Once a spider hits a link, it reads the anchor text of the link and then takes the link to its respective URL destination. In short, the spider knows whether or not the anchor text of the link (and the surrounding content of that link) is related to link's URL destination.
If a link has the anchor text "Chicago business lawyer," the page being linked to is most likely about (and most likely optimized for) a business lawyer in Chicago. Assuming that is the case, the spider will credit the page with not only greater search engine value, but also greater keyword relevancy to phrase "Chicago business lawyer."
In essence, the best practices of building links is using keyword targeted anchor text. It is also a good approach to mix up your anchor text by using partial linking strategies. An example of partial linking would be to use only select keyword targets as the anchor text, such as "Chicago lawyer" or "business law firm."
Where a link is built determines how powerful the link is. Google offers a measure of "webpage authority" called PageRank (PR.) Webpages have a PageRanks ranging from PR0 to PR10, however even a PR5-6 is considered high for link building purposes.
Ideally, you want to build links from sources that have high PageRanks, although that is easier said than done. Find high PR linking sources has become a hot commodity for local SEO. So much so that the business of buying and selling high PR link placements has become major sub-industry to SEO.
There are a number of resources available to build links from a variety of sources. For local SEO, using a blend of locally-focused directories and information sites can be a simple source to establish a few links. In addition, we recommend:
You can also take advantage of other attorney websites in which you may be affiliated or friends with. In many cases, the most powerful PR links come from friends with a high PR websites who are willing to lend you an optimized link. Just be sure to let them know the specific anchor text and URL destination to get the greatest benefit.
That completes our series on Local SEO for Lawyers. We hope that these points of both on-site and off-site SEO have enlightened you, and that you can now hone in on your local SEO efforts independently. To learn more check out this very insightful 2013 local SEO guide created by one of our writers of the Law Firm Web Marketing blog.continue...
Local SEO for lawyers is all about geographic relevancy (city, state, county, etc) as well as keyword relevancy (practice area, type of lawyer, legal service, etc.) Making a website relevant on these two factors is not rocket science. In fact, all it takes is the proper balance of keyword inclusion throughout the content, and right link building techniques.
Many attorneys take pride in the their content and ability to convey ideas through words. As a result, many of them take the task of SEO copywriting into their own hands.
In part II of Local SEO for Lawyers, we will focus more on the link building aspects of a website, but for now, the on-site content is the primary focus.
Once a lawyer has determined the geographic target (e.g. Chicago, IL) and the keyword target of the site (e.g. Business Lawyer,) the task of copywriting begins. The first and perhaps most important rule is to optimize a webpage only for one or maybe two closely related keywords. For instances, one page might be optimized for "Chicago Business Lawyer/Law Firm" and another page "Chicago Employment Lawyer/Law Firm." The main idea is having focused, dedicated pages.
In addition to having keyword focused pages, each page must contain the SEO-targeted keywords, and in the right areas throughout the page. There are several on-page (visible to the user) and off-page elements (visible in code and search results) that search engine take into consideration. We will discuss each below.
URL Name: URL naming is huge factor to any local SEO strategy. Typically the more inclusion of keywords in a URL, the better. A good URL name for latter example would be something like “/Chicago-business-lawyers.html.” Just remember to keep your URL’s short and tight, and never keyword stuff URL’s (e.g. “/Chicago-business-commercial-attorneys-lawyers-law-firms-chicagoo-illinois-il.html”.)
Page Title: As perhaps the most important element in the SEO process, the page title should always include the targeted keywords of the page, and in exact phrase match. The page title is also the main link or headline for the pages listing in the search results. Most search engines only display 72 characters of the page title in the results page.
Meta Description: Also shown in the webpage's listing of the search results (just below the title) is the meta description. For local SEO optimization practices, include the keyword target in exact phrase match at least once, and perhaps a variation later in the description (e.g. flip the keyword from "lawyer" to the "law firm" variation.) Most search engines only display 160 characters of the meta description in the results page.
Meta Keywords: It's argued that meta keywords have no role for local SEO, but some professionals still include them. Matt Cutts of Google has stated and posted so on his blog, but some SEO's believe the more keywords included in a page, the better.
Image Alt Tags: Search engine spiders cannot crawl and place local SEO value on images. That is why there is image "alt tags" that serve as alternative text for users who cannot view the images. Here is another opportunity to include keywords in the page. However for best practices, ensure your copy is relevant to the image and do not keyword stuff - include with cohesion and moderation.
In addition to the off-page elements, there are a few on-page elements that should be clearly stated and aligned. Alignment is key, meaning the keyword inclusion of the off-page elements must directly coincide the on-page SEO elements. Also important is having a fair amount of content, such as at least 100 words of relevant copy.
Headers: H1's are one the strongest on page elements and should reflect the off-page title. Keyword inclusion in the first H1 is important, and variations should be strategically used in H2's and H3's down the page.
Body Copy: It doesn't hurt to include the exact phrase match of your keywords early in the body copy (the first couple sentences is ideal.) Use variations throughout the content, but in logical manner. If you're struggling for copywriting ideas, don't get too overwhelmed. Try something subtle like "As Chicago business lawyers with experience serving local companies, we..."
Strong Tags: Strong tagged copy is bolded in the text. Strong tag exact phrase keywords to help make the page more relevant on targeted phrases for local SEO.
Both the on and off-page elements of a webpage are significant for local SEO, and both must be aligned and parallel. The trick to being a good SEO copywriter is respecting both the user and the search engine spider while constructing optimized content.
One last point: legal professionals are good writers, but many of them like to write thoroughly. That can mean long, drawn-out sentences that are not friendly for web users. Keep sentences easy to read and understand, and always remember the true target audience of your message.
Keep reading the Law Firm Web Marketing blog for Local SEO for Lawyers part II.continue...
Legal professionals do not exactly need to spend a substantially large sum of money if they want to market their services and website on the Internet. By choosing the right channels, attorneys can promote their practice in a cost efficient manner.
Below we highlight three effective and affordable methods for lawyer web marketing on the Internet.
For lawyers who are just starting out in creating their website, buying and building the domain (or website) is key. Choosing a domain name that includes relevant keywords can be highly effective, particular for lawyer SEO. This can increase the relevancy of the website on target keyword phrases, and can excel the site's performance in the search engines.
In addition to the name of the domain, the content on the website is imperative. Always dedicate the homepage of the domain to the core keyword targets, and center the content on those core keyword targets (e.g. "Business Lawyer"). Other supportive web pages of the domain will be optimized for other areas of practices (e.g. "Business Bankruptcy Lawyer"). It is important keep pages dedicated and focused on only one or two related keywords.
Submitting articles and press releases is a very inexpensive way to market your legal services. Articles commonly pop up in the search results for related keyword queries. If you can write optimized, compelling articles that are found by your targeted market, you can obtain highly valuable advertising exposure.
A quality written article or press release can help position yourself as an expert in your area of practice. By providing people with quality, informative content that answers questions and addresses common issues, readers will respect your content and thus your practice.
A majority of attorneys and lawyers these days do not effectively apply social media to their Internet marketing mix. Lawyers can substantially increase their website traffic be exploring relevant social media sites.
Some attorneys will argue that social media has no value for them. These legal professionals are quick to assume that consumers are the only individuals using social media. Websites like LinkedIn offer a great way to connect with other attorneys who may be willing to refer cases and share legal expertise.
Another powerful social media tool for lawyers is video marketing via YouTube. Attorneys can highlight their legal services, address a major legal concern, or talk about unique aspects of the law. Whatever the topic of interest, videos are popular way to attract in-market leads.continue...
Being a lawyer is already a task in itself. There is an obvious a wealth of time handling a hectic work schedules and competing with a significant number of contemporaries who work equally hard. Add to that the need to keep one's legal cerebrum receptive enough to understand behavioral patterns of all the individuals involving any particular legal matter, since that is often a the key to empathizing what clients are dealing with.
The focus, however, in the initial as well as subsequent stages, for most lawyers today is twofold - while on one front, they have to deal with the aforementioned aspects; on the other front, there is a need to portray their superiority over others, by explaining to the potential customers, how their services differ from those offered by competing attorneys. In other words, lawyer web marketing has gained a pivotal position in aiding an attorney to build an impressive client portfolio.
Marketing has always been a highly dynamic process - continuously changing consumer perspectives and off course, a vast category of products and services to choose from. Such an environment has ensured that conveying the right message to one's potential customers through healthy marketing practices is highly essential. Interestingly, marketing over the Internet, is an even more dynamic and volatile process, owing to the changes made by the world's leading search engine: Google. The practices of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), developed to steer Google and other search engines into recognizing a website as credible, need to be professionally executed.
One of the recent changes made by Google to its search results display was the inclusion of personalized results - which may include a local influence. Moreover, alterations were made by the search engine to its Google Places results, which has a most definite local impact on lawyer web marketing.
The infamous Google Panda update in February 2011 further reinforced the priority that Google has always been known to place on quality written and well-structured content. Now, just a year later, in 2012, the news is that the company plans to place importance on a relatively technical measure in order to aid its spiders to reach to the various dimensions of content put up on a website - the search engine will now benchmark whether or not html tags which markup web pages (better known as schemas) have been included. Basically, these tags have always been in use by Google, Yahoo and Bing, while scanning web pages in response to user queries, in order to display the most accurate results.
Schemas are known to substantially aid DBMS (Database Management Systems.) When it comes to evaluating the current status of lawyer websites, data is meticulously structured in most cases, however, the process of retrieving the date from databases, in response to user search queries, and converting it to HTML, can be cumbersome. By aiding Google spiders in retrieving information more conveniently, through the usage of schemas, the benefits to an attorney's websites in terms of search engine rankings, will only be amplified. This being a technical dimension nonetheless, would be best if dealt with, by a webmaster or related technical specialist.
Care should be still taken to ensure that the vast number of other parameters taken into consideration by Google in presenting search results, will continue to hold importance. Some of them being
It is indeed true that such periodic small changes made by Google will alter the best practices of lawyer web marketing in the years to come. However, partnering with an authentic company, with a good track record, and one which offers a dedicated lawyer marketing program, will certainly ensure that an attorney reaps the benefits of uphill search engine rankings.continue...
What are the features of successful law firms that make them stand apart from ordinary firms?
A law firm that want to earn reputation and recognition in the market place can realize greater potential by developing well-nurtured institutional traits that can help a firm occupy a special place.
In essence, a law firm that inculcates habits of success through well-crafted business and marketing development principles stand a better chance to register long-term success with respect to client relations and revenue generation.
What are the 5 traits of a successful law firm?
Law firms that have earned acclaims from clients and from the market place have realized that they must do more than simply understand their clients’ cases. In effect, successful law firms are firms that have started to live with their clients.
Such firms find ways and means to get closer to their clients, where firms even go to the extent of sending lawyers to live at the client quarters for some time, and further their cause by using clients as sounding boards. In an attempt to live with a client, law firms have even started to send professionals to work at the client premises to know more about the client and his operations.
There is also a major shift in the way a law firm looks at its clients, and days when law firms looked upon specific rainmaking awards to define success of the firm is a thing of the past. Successful law firms have started to build subjective compensation schemes that stress the importance of team work, quality work product and client satisfaction.
The phrase ‘my client’ has lost sheen in law firms, and the mode which advocated lawyers to serve their own clients to reap rich rewards are becoming outmoded with passage of time. A successful law firm focuses on serving its clients better, as a firm now relies more on team work and not on a specific client lawyer to bring complete client satisfaction.
Law firms have realized that in order to cut through the clutter, and to gain an edge over competition, technology should get utilized in the best possible way to stand apart from competitors. Successful firms have started to use technology in many ways, where law firms make good use of client-management software to enhance relations with clients, and firms use proprietary knowledge to store the experience and knowledge to learn from experience and to allow lawyers gain expertise in a specific subject of law.
An institutional trait that allows a law firm to stand apart in a crowd is its tendency to share relevant information with employees who work for the betterment of the firm. Sowing seeds of transparency and trust begins right from recruiting a potential candidate, which gets strengthened through other trust-building themes introduced by a law firm. Some of the law firms share information by providing access to their files, a step taken to share and win the trust and confidence of employees and clients.
Gone are the days when a law firm took pride in its ability to provide legal solutions to all types of legal problems. Successful law firms have started to recognize the power of their core strengths, and have started to promote their strengths to attract the attention of clients.
In simple terms, law firms have moved away from wearing a boutique approach, and have started to identify their core strengths, nurture skills in these areas, and trumpet their success registered in these core areas to bring in more clients.
Law firms that stand apart from the crowd can be identified by some of these institutional traits. Not only can this help the firm gain recognition in the market place, but can set the firm off in how it handles it's client relations and overall perspective.continue...