Law Firm Web Marketing

    

The Risks of Microsites for Law Firm Web Marketing

Although it is true that more online exposure will increase your chances of acquiring new business, this general concept has resulted in some risky Internet marketing practices.

With respect to the classic phrase “quality over quantity,” it is unfortunate to hear of SEO and Internet marketing companies promoting the use keyword targeted microsites. But it’s not just the concept of using microsites that muddy up brands, it is how each microsite is executed.

So what exactly is a microsite? A microsite is a separate domain that consists of a page, or a group of pages, with the purpose of supplementing a larger domain. The idea of microsite is not all that bad. However often times, businesses are duped into buying several microsites to better their search exposure. This easy outlet for SEO’s typically results in diminishes quality of content and questionable online advertising practices.

One group of professionals that are a popular target for the microsite Internet marketing pitch is lawyers that offer a number of practice areas. Countless firms are convinced by shady SEO companies that building a microsite per practice area is the best way to obtain keyword dominance. Yet many do not realize the risks and implications when rolling out many microsites, especially when the content of each microsite is repurposed over and over.

Obsolete microsites can easily damage a law firm's rankings and online reputation. The reason behind this is simple. Many law firm marketing companies fail to provide copywriting services, let alone understand the importance of unique, optimized content. This results in the same blocks of content being published on many domains, and often times these domains link back to the house, or the main website of the law firm. That’s pretty much telling a Google spider, “Hey, we’ve got duplicate content here. And it is all stemming from this particular source.”

Putting out a bunch of microsites with similar content can spell disaster. You may have heard of a little nuisance (or quality control measure) called Panda. This search engine algorithm change was an effort to pinpoint and penalize websites with duplicate content. Even websites with common phrasing and slightly related content have been punished.

In addition to risking search engine rankings, creating a bunch of microsites can be deceptive to online users. Unless ethically branded and uniquely developed, microsites often take on a different image. Some act as “legal resources,” but ever resource links back to the same law firm website. Other microsites might solely be a landing page, offering no value at all to the user.

If your SEO company proposes the idea of microsite optimization, it may be time to shop around. Strong Internet marketing companies have the capabilities and resources to optimize a website as it is, without resorting to these “gray hat” practices. They understand that duplicate content reduces credibility among search engines and their users. For a service oriented law firm, the repercussions can cripple a brand. 

In summary, we recommend consulting with a website marketing firm with experience handling SEO campaigns for law firms. These SEO providers typically offer powerful link building resources and professional SEO copywriting services. This can bring the most impact to your SEO efforts, and ensure that your content is unique and credible.

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Significance of Google PageRank for Law Firms

Google is the Goliath of search engines, and when it comes to law firm web marketing, search engine optimization is the bee’s knees.

Along with relevant content, Google determines its search results based on the PageRank algorithm. Both of these factors are huge when it comes to search engine rankings, which implies a need to address both to achieve the best outcomes. 

The significance of search engine optimization to law firms is crystal clear. High rankings through organic search can be result in cost-efficient advertising. The answer to the question of how to achieve this goal lies in getting a good grasp of how the Google algorithm works. 

The Google Search Algorithm

Google's search algorithm is complex and difficult for marketers to gauge. However there is one major theme that supports any search engine marketing campaign – and that is relevance.

Relevance is simply a measure of how well your website’s content matches the search words or phrases used by the targeted searcher (or potential client.) Relevance is usually determined based on the website’s content which includes the Title of the page, the meta data, and the page copy.

The Google algorithm then ranks your page according to relevance, along with the many other law firms and legal practitioners. Google determines what your website is about by looking at its content as well as looking at other sites that are both linking from and to your site. Google uses this data to determine the relevance of your website to keywords and phrases entered by a user.  

Google PageRank

PageRank is an independent means of measurement which relies on Google's perception as to the authority, quality and credibility of a web page. It does not depend on any search words or phrases as these are taken cared of by relevance. If yours and a competing law firm have the same relevance, the one with the higher PageRank gets the higher ranking. Google scores PageRank from 0 to 10, with 10 as the highest

Generally, Google considers inbound links a confirmation of authority, quality, and credibility; however not all inbound links have the same value. Websites that are considered to have more credibility are valued higher than those that have less credibility. In turn, this credibility is measured by their PageRank which means that your inbound links should come from websites that are also ranked high.

For instance, if your law firm has inbound links from a website that has a PageRank of 3, it can still help you but you'll need a lot more of them to get a higher PageRank. On the other hand, if your inbound links are from websites with PageRanks of 5 and up, then, you'll have better chances of scoring a higher PageRank with just a handful.

As PageRank is calculated on a logarithmic scale, there are wide gaps with say, PageRanks of 4 and 5 and PageRanks of 3 and 4. The difference between PageRanks 4 and 5 will have 5 to 10 times the difference as compared to PageRanks 3 and 4. Expectedly, websites with lower PageRanks are more prevalent, and if your website is ranked 6 or higher, this means that you are among the elite. 

Determining Your PageRank

You can determine your PageRank using two methods:
• You can download the Google Toolbar and activate the PageRank feature upon installation.
• Use the Website Grader tool which, aside from determining PageRank, offers other relative information as well.

Find out where to download and enable the PageRank feature by visiting this page about Google PageRank Toolbar.

In summary, there are two essential steps your law firm website needs to accomplish to get high rankings particularly in Google. One is to work on the relevance of your content. The other is to aim for the highest PageRank possible by developing a SEO link building strategy from related websites with high domain authority (PagRank.)

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Top 3 Tips for Law Firm Internet Marketing

Law firm web marketing is one of the greatest channels to gain a competitive advantage in the legal profession.

Internet marketing for law firms places significant focus on search engine optimization, which is essential to be found on Google, Bing, and other major search engines.

Implementing the best practices of law firm web marketing and SEO is one of the best ways capture prospective customers. A high ranking website that is visible on many relevant search phrases can provide incredible opportunities.

Below we've outline the top 3 tips for law firm Internet marketing, and how to get the most SEO benefit from a legal website.

Keyword-Focused Content

The content of a website is an essential element to SEO. By intricately weaving relevant keywords into the copy of your website, you help search engine spiders (or crawlers) index your site according to those keywords. As a result, your website will have more relevance to the targeted keyword phrases that drive you business.

In today's competitive SEO game, it is important to choose keywords that are very specific to your legal practice. Generic keywords, such as "business lawyer," can be too broad and too competitive.

Not only should you consider highly specific keyword targets, such as “business tax attorney,” but also consider local variations, like “Atlanta business lawyer.”

This leads us into our next point about geo-local SEO.

Localized Law Firm SEO

The local search results, such as Google Places, are becoming increasingly important for SEO. Because most law firms represent clients in specific regions, it is wise to reference geo-specific keywords in your SEO efforts.

Be sure to include the local information about your law firm on your website. A solid tip here is to include the firm’s address in the footer of the website. It also doesn't hurt to mention your city or local service areas within the content of the site, such as "contact your trusted family lawyers in Chicago, IL."

Additionally, you can really maximize your local SEO strategy by including geo-references in your link building efforts, which is described in more detail below.

Build Backlinks

Inbound links, or backlinks, are the powerhouse to higher organic search engine rankings. Link building has become very important to compete in SEO, and now there are a number of platforms available to build backlinks.

Some of the most effective resources to build links to you law firm's website are legal directories, forums, and blogs. Whether you want to start your own blog, or surf other related blogs to write comments (and add links to those comments,) the channels are almost endless. They just require a little creativity.

Legal directories are often times the easiest way to earn backlinks. This task demands finding the proper online directories that will allow you to place (or buy) a listing on their directory. Your listing will contain a link back to your law firm website, and thus deem it more credible and trustworthy in the search engines.

Where real strategy comes into play is the link's anchor text, or link name. If the anchor text of the link reads your specific keyword target (e.g. “Grand Rapids personal injury lawyers”) then the webpage being linked to will have greater relevancy to that particular phrase. You can even take this link building practice deeper by executing partial linking strategies.

We hope these 3 law firm Internet marketing & SEO tips will help you on your way to better success in the search engines. Thanks for visiting the Law Firm Web Marketing Blog!

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Local SEO for Lawyers: Part I (On-Page SEO)

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.

Local SEO Copywriting for the Legal Profession

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.

Off-Page Local SEO Elements

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.

On-Page Local SEO Elements

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.

The Attorney Takeaway

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.

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3 Ways to Effectively Optimize Your Website for 2015

OptimizationIf your firm is struggling to see top search engine rankings, it might be a result of inadequate use of the most basic website optimization strategies (which your competitors are probably using.) So in this Law Firm Web Marketing post, we delve into 3 highly-effective and fail-proof strategies to optimize your law firm website for success in 2015.

1. Integrate Schema Markup

Schema mark up has been in existence for several years although very few law firm SEO campaigns use it. Schema is a form of micro data that makes it easier for search engines to interpret and parse your web pages' content, and therefore serve more relevant results to any user based on the search query.

You will need to apply Schema markup to the content of a page to define pieces of content (i.e. business address, description, phone number, etc.) and how the search engine should treat it. You may apply Schema attributes and element directly to the HTML code of the webpage to present additional information to the search engine crawlers.

The form of Schema markup of law firm SEO and web marketing is LocalBusiness Schema. Because this is the most relevant form of markup related to local search, using this form of Schema better defines your firm's location. 

Apart from making the search engine easily categorize your website content. Marking your pages with schema can assist in displaying rich snippets of your web contents in SERPS. An example would be an author listing on a blog post or article ranking in Google.

2. Create Sitemap & Internal Links

Another simple yet effective website optimization technique is to ensure that your website has inter-linked content (or pages), and at least every page have one clickable link to it, preferably from the homepage and several other pages on the site. Doing this will make your website more user friendly, as well as easier to crawl and index. In addition, it is also good to have your pages linked at the footer as well as a sitemap. If you site is still growing, you should ensure that your key pages or the categories are having the sitemap.

Expanding your website mostly leads to losing track of some of your key money pages. It is important to generate a sufficient XML sitemap for the whole website. The sitemap will list any page in the website. Then you should submit the sitemap to the search engine to ensure that they index every page.

The sitemap is useful for SEO and fluid crawling and indexing (from a search engine perspective). In essence, it's important in ensuring that you have properly interlinked all your site's pages, almost like the index of a book. With the sitemap, search engine spiders get a clear roadmap to access your site's pages and content.

3. Revamp Page Copy

Regularly keep updating your site's money pages to keep them fresh and rank worthy (helping to achieve a higher ranking.) In short, ensure that the copy's clear, unique, informative and conversion-oriented. In short, this is a the foundation to establishing an on-site optimization strategy to improve the web presence of your brand and image it seeks to portray. For more about web presence optimization, click here.

Without good content your website may never been seen. Write for your target audience. You will have to make the information appealing to the need of your visitors at that particular time. For instance, write creative and effective headlines to establish your brand's impression. You should at least write headlines that are interesting clear, but for SEO, it helps to include keywords and geographic targets. For example, "Locally-Trusted Divorce Lawyers in Oakland".

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but definitely some easy SEO wins for 2015 that you may or may not be taking advantage of. We left out about 100 other on-page SEO strategies, so let us know your favorites in the comments section below.

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