2014 Legal Marketing Year in Review

2014 was a big year in Internet marketing. Some of the hottest trends – the rise of mobile and the explosion of apps – were plain to see. But many of the biggest changes happened behind the scenes. These affected Internet marketing dramatically but were invisible to the average Internet user. Staying up to date in this evolving landscape is a challenge. In this issue, find out about the big changes in 2014, five lessons for 2015, and how we work very hard to keep you safe, secure, and visible.

5 Factors That Influenced Your Online Visibility in 2014

It seems like every year there is big news in Internet marketing. The tools and techniques continue to evolve. This forces attorneys who market themselves online to get more sophisticated and to step up their game – or get a good partner who can help them.

2014 kept this streak rolling. There were many important events from Google algorithm updates like Panda, Penguin, Pigeon to natural language searches, the impact of client reviews, the retirement of Google authorship, and malware attacks on big-name companies as well as millions of websites just like yours.

Let’s take a look back at the biggest changes last year and see how these “behind the scenes” factors will impact your Internet marketing in 2015.

Factor #1: Google Algorithm Updates

Search engine marketing is becoming more important every year. Having your website listed at or near the top of Google, Yahoo, and other search engines boosts your visibility, differentiates you from competitors, and enables prospects and clients to find you more easily.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) must be constantly refined to keep up with changing Google guidelines and savvier searchers. Each year, Google changes its search algorithm around 500–600 times. While most of these changes are minor, Google occasionally rolls out a “major” algorithmic update (such as Google Panda and Google Penguin) that affects search results in significant ways. [Read more…]

5 Things To Consider When Creating Your FindLaw Exit Plan

Internet marketing for attorneys is a well-established practice. As more of us spend more time online, using Google to find any kind of professional service has become second nature.

Which means it’s more important than ever to have a great website that’s easy to find and promotes your firm well. If you’re like most attorneys, you turned to a professional agency to create and manage your site instead of doing it yourself. Some of you choose FindLaw, one of the biggest, for its reputation and resources.

But Internet marketing is more than just a listing in an online directory and a website, and over time, many clients of big companies like FindLaw become dissatisfied, not only by the level of service but more importantly, the results they get and the premium price they pay month over month, year over year.

If you don’t have a website already, FindLaw might be a good option to help you get started. But working with FindLaw is a case of diminishing returns. While it may be worth a premium rate the first year to get a well designed website introduced to the search engines, it’s definitely not worth this much in the third year, never mind year four … or ten.

Plus, upon entering an agreement with FindLaw, most attorneys aren’t sure who owns their website, the domain, the design, and the content upon termination. They are surprised to learn, when they dig into the terms and conditions, how much leverage FindLaw maintains. [Read more…]

Is Your Law Firm Ready for Digital Natives?

Younger consumers, especially those under the age of 35, have grown up in a world in which digital technology is ubiquitous. Also called “millennials,” this is a generation that sleeps with their smartphones and multitasks so much they don’t even realize they’re doing it: texting friends, downloading music, uploading videos, watching a movie on a phone or tablet, and posting on Facebook and Instagram and Vine and Twitter and more.

Digital immigrants, on the other hand, are those older than 35. They have a lesser degree of digital fluency as a result of being introduced to technology at a later age. While digital immigrants understand social media, smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices, and can also be avid users, their immersion is learned rather than innate.

Each of these consumers has distinctive behavior patterns when it comes to using digital technology, from devices and social networks to the Internet and apps. This influences all types of activities: how they shop, connect with friends and family, watch videos, do their banking and even choose a doctor, a real estate agent, or an attorney. According to a recent report, U.S. consumers between the ages of 18-36 check their smartphones an average of 43 times a day.

While the average baby boomer client doesn’t want to create a will or trust online or do research on how to incorporate a business, younger clients prefer it. These young people are moving into the world of work, getting married, and starting families. They are soon to become the typical legal consumers. They are used to conducting their business on the Internet and that’s also how they’ll choose their legal services. [Read more…]

You’ve Earned Your Rank, Now Keep It!

Google, the big kahuna of search engines, has a challenge for everyone with a website. It updates its search algorithm 500 to 600 times a year, almost twice a day, every day. [http://moz.com/google-algorithm-change] Most of these changes are minor, but some are major updates that significantly affect how your website ranks and the visibility it has earned compared to all the other sites online.

For anyone marketing their business online, this is big news. It means that Google is constantly tweaking how it ranks your website and that a site with strong visibility and a page one ranking today might not have the same visibility and ranking tomorrow. This makes it a challenge to maintain your firm’s visibility month over month. But there’s one straightforward way that attorneys who are marketing themselves online can ride out this rollercoaster – by consistently adding quality content to their websites.

“Quality content” is information that is new, useful and relevant to your visitors. Publishing content that is meaningful to your prospects and clients and updating it regularly will improve your visibility in the highly competitive search engine market.

Maintain Your Rank

Did your website obtain strong visibility in the search engines but now you find your website slipping to page two, three, or even four? This may be because your website has been determined to be stagnant since it hasn’t been updated recently or worse, you’ve been penalized for lousy content (irrelevant, spam, duplicate, sparse, illegible, etc.). Remember, your website is being compared to all the other attorney sites – your online competition.

Think of Google as a marketplace. Unlike a directory in which you can claim a profile once and be done, Google search results are dynamic and constantly changing. Keeping up with the marketplace is an on-going effort that requires regular attention. There’s always someone who is trying to obtain better visibility than you and who is willing to put more resources into it. Once you’ve earned your ranking you need to keep working to maintain it. [Read more…]

How to Manage Your Online Reputation

These days an individual’s or law firm’s reputation can be enhanced or tarnished by what appears in search engine results. This is because so many people rely on online reviews. Check out these recent statistics from at 2013 ReviewTracker article:

  • 85 percent of consumers say that they read online reviews for local businesses to determine whether these businesses are good or not. (This is up from last year’s 76 percent.)
  • 67 percent of consumers read six reviews or less before they feel that they can trust the local business. Meanwhile, only 22 percent read more than seven reviews.
  • 73 percent say that high ratings and positive online reviews make them trust a local business more, while only 12 percent said that they take no notice of online reviews.
  • Asked if they trust online customer reviews as much as personal recommendations (from friends and family), 79 percent of the respondents said that reviews were as trustworthy as personal recommendations.

Your reputation is public.

Your reputation, and the reputation of your firm, is more public and more accessible than ever before. To stay competitive, attorneys need to act swiftly and positively to show they listen and care about what their clients think about them.

Whether someone is searching for a restaurant for a special occasion, a new desk for their office, or a doctor, dentist, or attorney, they read the reviews. By reading about the experiences that other customers or clients have had, people can judge a business before they ever set foot in the office or meet you.

[Read more…]

Online Lead Generation: Seven Tactics To Grow Your Law Practice

The Internet has transformed the way we live our lives. The average person consults the Internet to find everything from recipes to yesterday’s game highlights and, of course, legal services. The typical consumer will search Google first, then proceed to the firm’s website or a review site. He or she may watch a YouTube video, “like” the firm on Facebook, or follow it on Twitter.

The challenge for today’s attorneys is to understand how these activities work together and how to use them to connect with potential clients. Having a well-defined Internet marketing strategy is crucial for many businesses, but is especially important for attorneys whose main source of business is their local communities. Here are the seven tools and techniques of an effective online lead generation campaign.

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
When someone needs legal representation, the first place most turn is Google. They typically search by geographic location and practice specialty. For example, “Boston bankruptcy attorneys.” Search engine marketing allows you to reach and engage the searchers who are looking for you. The process of creating the most relevant site that is also the most search engine friendly is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO. If you’ve optimized your site properly, you’ll appear in the search engine results, making it easier for potential clients to find you and generating a flow of inquiries.

2. Mobile Marketing
A customized mobile app is a great way to tap into your client base — your best source of repeat business and referrals. The AttorneyConnect mobile app keeps your clients engaged with you and your law practice through the privacy of their personal mobile phone. “Go mobile” to stay connected with your clients and grow your business.

3. Blogging
Having your own blog not only helps establish credibility and protect your online reputation but will also help potential clients get to know you and your expertise and build trust and rapport. A blog also improves the search engine rankings of your website and increases website traffic, driving more prospects to your site.

[Read more…]

Take Your Referral Network Mobile

Growing your practice through referrals is a must. In addition to providing knowledgeable legal advice and excellent service, asking your clients to share your name with their friends, family and colleagues is invaluable. Yet it is one aspect of marketing that many attorneys are uncomfortable with. Even though you have provided good service, you may wonder whether it was good enough, whether the client is truly satisfied, and whether asking for a referral makes you seem salesy or desperate for new business.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. People would rather do business with someone they know than with a stranger, and getting a name from a friend is the next best thing.  Clients that you have good relationships with do not mind passing along your information to others in need. The challenge is to make it simple and easy for them.

Online reviews and mobile applications are two stress-free ways to get referrals. Online reviews allow your current clients to write about their experience as your client quickly and easily. Mobile apps like “AttorneyConnect” not only include a  “write a review” feature but also a referral button that lets a client forward your contact information to a friend in one touch. [Read more…]

Five Things Attorneys Need To Know About Mobile Marketing

Marketing a product or service on a mobile phone is a new and growing practice. There have been several big turning points in marketing history, and we’re living through another one. Beginning with the first newspaper ads in the 1700s, the first radio ads in the ‘20s, the first TV ads in the ‘40s, and the first Internet ads in the 1990s we’re now seeing the first mobile phone ads, apps, and more. It’s the beginning of a new opportunity for businesses of all types and attorneys would be wise to get on-board.

That’s because it’s where your clients and prospects are. Smartphone use is booming in all demographics, not just teens. In fact, 37 percent of smartphone owners are over age 35 (Google). Mobile phones now outnumber TV sets by over 3 to 1,and laptop and desktop PC users by nearly 5 to 1 (CBS News). [Read more…]

Question: Should I add video to my law firm website?

Yes! Video has many benefits for attorneys. Website visitors in general are getting more visual and enjoy viewing video online. It’s a great way for prospects and clients to get to know you quickly and easily. You can share your expertise on a particular topic without having to write a long article. And according to a new study, having video on your website can improve your search engine rankings. In fact, according to Forrester Research, an indexed video has a 50 times greater chance of ranking on the first page of Google results than a text page. Videos can be hosted on YouTube and link to your website, and other online profiles like LinkedIn, AttorneyConnect, Avvo, and Justia. Adding video to your marketing mix is a smart move.

Why Your Law Practice Needs a Mobile App

The mobile phone is the most widespread and most rapidly adopted technology of all time. In the past few years, usage has grown dramatically. There are now almost 6 billion active mobile phone subscriptions around the world – almost 84% of the people on Earth have a mobile phone! In 2011 more smartphones were sold than all types of personal computers added together including desktops, laptops, and tablets like the iPad.

Contact pageMobile Apps for Attorneys
One way for individual attorneys and small law firms to take advantage of the boom in mobile phones is by offering their clients a mobile app. A mobile application (or mobile app) is software designed to run on smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile devices.

Most importantly, a mobile app for solo practitioners and small firms can help you increase client loyalty, generate referrals, differentiate your law practice from the competition, and stay on the forefront of this exciting new technology. [Read more…]

Today’s Seasoned Solo Practitioner: How to Market Your Experience, Reputation and Value

The business of law is at a turning point. A recent article in the ABA Journal reported, “The legal profession is undergoing a massive structural shift—one that will leave it dramatically transformed in the coming years.” The shift stems from a combination of events including new laws and changes in enforcement, the mobility of businesses and individuals, as well as new competition from non-legal firms such as accounting and real estate and the availability of legal documents online.  The average person today requires more legal representation than ever before and how they choose their legal representation has changed too. The attorneys who have the most to gain are probably those like you: a mid-career solo practitioner or a lawyer at a small firm. Why? Because consumers want you!

You, the mid-career solo practitioner, are quite literally the core of the legal profession. On one side are those young attorneys who have recently passed the bar and are trying to make their way. What they lack in experience they make up for with web savvy, technology skills, and aggressive online marketing tactics, but it is your experience the consumer wants. On the other side are large firms with significant marketing and advertising budgets, a small army of junior attorneys and paralegals pushing a high volume of work, and a team of technical experts to help them advance online, but consumers are wary of high costs, inattentive or indifferent care, and marginal results.

So why do consumers want you? Here are a few reasons why today’s consumer seeks the seasoned solo practitioner.

Experience

At this point in your career you have a solid base of experience in your area of expertise. You have over twenty years dedicated to the practice of law, both at big firms and as a solo practitioner. You are as accomplished and seasoned as the big firm partners with a proven track record and a solid reputation to bank on.

[Read more…]

Legal Search Marketing – The Rise of Local Search for Attorneys

The way consumers look for anything and everything has changed in the last ten years, including how we find an attorney. While we used to rely on the recommendation of a friend or relative, or start our search in the Yellow Pages, now we head to our computers. Search engines, social media, and smart phones have dramatically affected the way consumers find legal representation. According to a recent study, last year most people looking for an attorney — three out of four — used online resources at some point in the process, according to The Research Intelligence Group.

It just makes sense. Not only are we used to “Googling” for information, advice, products and services, but also when someone needs an attorney, it’s usually a sensitive matter that they’re less likely to ask a friend about. If you are selling a business, divorcing, injured, or accused of a crime, it’s much easier to spend time researching online in the privacy of your home or on your phone than it is to dig through the Yellow Pages or ask a neighbor or relative.

The Rise of Local Search

When people search for an attorney, they tend to look for one that’s close to them, generally within thirty miles. Along with the rise in Internet use, searches are becoming increasingly more location-specific as people become more sophisticated search engine users, with 73 percent of online activity related to local information (according to Google).

Over the past five years we have seen dramatic shifts in how consumers select businesses in the local marketplace. For example, as recently as 2007 the printed Yellow Pages were the number one source of information used by consumers to select businesses, but no longer. In April, AT&T sold its Yellow Page division “as part of an effort to dispose of units that are holding back revenue growth” in the face of increasing competition from online rivals Google, Groupon, and Yelp.

Local searching – searches that contain a geographic term – delivers highly relevant search results to the consumer. Relevancy means users can find the products and services they seek in a specific location and businesses gain consumers who are ready to buy. [Read more…]

Get Found! Search Engine Optimization Demystified

Excellent article by John Kruger of Initiate Demand  in this month’s GPSolo, the American Bar Association’s journal geared for General Practice solo practitioners and small law firms. The article is John’s take on SEO (search engine optimization) and how attorneys can leverage it. Read John’s article and learn!

By John M. Kruger

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the effort to modify a website or web page so that it will appear on the first page of results from search engines such as Google and Bing. Why would a law firm want to perform SEO on its website? For the same reason that a car mechanic in the days of the Yellow Pages might have named his shop “AAA Auto Repair”: to be listed first.

SEO is not complicated. It relies on common sense and simplicity. You do not need to know programming, search algorithms, or taxonomy—you only need a basic understanding of how a search engine works.

For search engines to be useful, they must provide good results. The basic premise is to reveal links that have provided quality content with past clicks and that are considered relevant. So, if you click on a link, consider it a vote for that content as being relevant. [Read more…]

Legal Search Marketing – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn for Attorneys? You Better Believe It!

The past few years have seen a dramatic increase in new web sites, directories, and social networks for attorneys. From LinkedIn to Avvo to Facebook to Twitter, it seems like there’s always a new opportunity to promote your business. Faced with finite budgets and resources, many wonder whether or not to implement these new tools at the expense of more time-tested tactics.

Happily it’s not an either/or situation – online marketing techniques can reinforce the effectiveness of relationship building, traditional networking, and lead generation. And as more consumers turn to the Internet, having a strong, complete online presence is more important than ever.

Consider these statistics:

•    Most people (97%) search online before making a purchase — anyone seeking an attorney will head to Google first (BIA/Kelsey).
•    66% of American use online local search, like Google local search, to locate local businesses (TMP/comScore/proprietary average).
•    54% of Americans prefer the Internet and local search to phone books (comScore networks).
•    When researching products or services in their local area, 90 percent of consumers use search engines, 48 percent use Internet Yellow Pages, and 42 percent use comparison shopping sites.
•    63% of social networkers are more likely to use a local business if the business has information available on a social networking site (Localeze/15miles). [Read more…]

Question – What is Google+ and do I need it?

Google+ (pronounced and sometimes written as Google Plus, sometimes abbreviated as G+) is one of the newest social networking sites. Launched as a test in June 2011, the site became available to all in September. The New York Times declared it Google’s attempt to rival Facebook, which has over 800 million users.

In January 2012, Google+ had surpassed 90 million users. However, these users are reportedly only spending 3.3 minutes a month on Google+ compared to Facebook users who spend 7.5 hours a month using Facebook.

Google+ integrates previous social services such as Google Profiles and Google Buzz and introduces new services such as the Stream, Circles, Hangouts and Games. Circles enable users to organize people into groups (Friends, Family, Acquaintances, Following) for sharing across various Google products like Gmail. Hangouts are used for group video chat. In the Stream, users see updates from those in their Circles.

I have trialed Google+ on a few attorney websites with mixed results. Although it offers more flexibility in terms of grouping contacts, both the attorney and his or her contacts need to be Google users to engage with the service. It’s a cool feature, but the verdict is still out whether it will have practical use for business development.

Legal Search Marketing – How to Protect Your Online Reputation

By Ian Bardorf

What do prospects find when they look for you online? They may find your firm’s website, your LinkedIn and Avvo profiles, blog posts or videos, your Facebook business page, and glowing reviews of your services. But what if your website is listed last or, even worse, not listed at all on the first page of results? Instead the top links lead to a client’s bad review, a disgruntled employee’s comments, or a competitor’s website.

This situation is becoming all too common on the results pages of Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines. Attorneys who have spent years growing their businesses can find their work tarnished by lackluster search results or bad reviews. Many are turning to online reputation management to protect, strengthen and occasionally repair their standing on the Internet. Online reputation management can fortify and preserve an attorney’s reputation in the search results and repair any damage that may have been caused by negative results.

For many attorneys, it’s the nature of their business to be caught in the crossfire between clients and the opposing party. You are there to represent your client, not to make both sides happy. This means attorneys have a greater risk of receiving unfavorable reviews online, possibly from an unhappy client, but more likely from the other side’s client. Unfortunately, these negative reviews may appear first when someone searches for an attorney with your area of expertise.

[Read more…]

Question – I just got a Twitter account for my firm — what should I tweet?

Congrats on setting up a Twitter account – you’ve taken the first step. Social media like Facebook and Twitter let you stay connected with clients, share information, gather feedback, and obtain more visibility in the search rankings.

Imagine your Twitter account as a friendly information booth or place for people to ask questions and share information. You can also share links to interesting articles; post updates on the law, announce upcoming seminars or events; ask questions; solicit feedback; and ask followers what they think. Experts recommend that business tweets are two-thirds conversational and one-third promotional. Research has shown that conversational tweets produce 8 to 12 times the response of company-oriented ones. An example of a conversational tweet is, “Are Massachusetts family courts over-worked and understaffed?” A promotional tweet is, “We’ll be hosting a seminar tomorrow on Estate Planning strategies. Contact us to reserve your spot.”

Once you set up your firm’s account, commit to engaging and replying quickly. Twitter and Facebook users expect you to respond to questions and complaints quickly. To connect with followers, be real. Use an authentic, personal voice. Post your photo and business phone number. More than any other format, tweets can be casual, friendly, and transparent.

Question – I’ve noticed that Google’s layout has changed. Are there fewer paid listings now?

You’re right! On November 2, Google announced a major change to how sponsored listings would appear on their results pages. In some cases — but not all – ads no longer appear on the top and side rail, but only on the top and bottom of the page. There has never been a layout change as significant as this one and the shift poses many new challenges for advertisers.

Before 11/2/11, results pages included three listings at the top of the page and up to ten listings on the right rail. Advertisers are now competing for fewer spots in the new layout. Based on examples provided by Google, the ad placement shift to the bottom decreases the number of positions to three at the top and two to four at the bottom, a potential fifty percent reduction in listings on the first page of results. Google reports that this change is designed to improve the search experience for users and that it is based on data that ties navigation and click rates to search term and indicates where users are more likely to click based on what they’re looking for. We’ll have to wait and see what the long-term impact is.

Read Google’s official announcement

Question – Who should use FindLaw and Martindale-Hubbell?

If you don’t have a website or your website is simply a business card online without video, testimonials, articles, or Q&As, you may benefit from investing in these services for a year or two to jump start your marketing efforts.

Then you should harvest your investment by transitioning your site to a more affordable option and invest the money you saved in even more marketing opportunities.

The point is that you don’t have to pay just one company a premium rate year over year. Once you decide to take your Internet marketing to the next level, it’s time to move on to an agency that knows your local market and that’s dedicated to your success.

Legal Search Marketing – 6 SEO Tactics to Avoid

By Ian M. Bardorf

Search Engine Marketing is one of the most effective tactics to generate leads, help you promote your expertise, reach prospects and stay connected with clients. A good ranking on Google’s results pages is a measurable gateway for new business. Enhancing your website so that it’s listed at or near the top of Google, Yahoo or any other search engine is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

But along with the growing focus on search marketing has come a proliferation of agencies that claim they provide Search Engine Optimization. Many of these are website design firms or ad agencies that have simply added “search engine optimization” to their websites and have no in-depth experience. They often over-promise and under-deliver. Even worse, some of them can hurt your business in the long run.

Search engine optimization, if done well, is not a product or a commodity, but a sophisticated process that requires well trained and experienced individuals with up-to-date insight on the business.

In a tight economy, you simply can’t afford to spend valuable resources on an effort that may or may not deliver the results you need. Here are six tactics to avoid when considering SEO.

[Read more…]

Question – How can I attract local clients to my website?

Since most people (97%) search online before making a purchase, it’s logical that anyone seeking an attorney will head to Google first.

The most important thing you can do to be found in a “local search” is to claim your Google Places page and verify that the basic information is accurate. I wrote an article about Google Places that explains how in more detail.

The second most important thing to attract local searchers is to gather testimonials and ratings for your business. Client reviews are critical for local attorneys to gain visibility on search engines and social directories like Yelp that people turn to for referrals. Reviews and ratings offer two benefits: differentiating your firm from the competition and improving your rankings on the search engine results pages.

Encourage your current clients to write testimonials. Once you have obtained their reviews, submit them to relevant websites and feature them in an easy-to-use and easy-to-find section on your site and LinkedIn profile.

Legal Search Marketing – Why Content is King

By Ian M. Bardorf

You’ve heard the phrase “content is king” but what does that mean when it comes to your website? It means that good content – news, testimonials, articles, blog posts and more — is the most important element of a successful website.

In fact, last April Google released its latest algorithmic change, called Panda, specifically designed to weed out low quality sites and give priority to good ones on the search engine results page. On its blog, Google urges website owners to “focus on delivering the best possible user experience” by asking themselves if their content is trustworthy, appropriate and well written.

Creating content that is meaningful to your prospects and clients and updating it regularly will improve your website’s rankings and help you promote your expertise, reach prospects and stay connected with clients. [Read more…]

Question – On my website I have a description of my firm, my bio, and some testimonials. What else can I include to beef up my site?

Website content is anything visitors can see on your site. It’s the “meat” in the website sandwich. Although there are many different types of content you can use to connect with website visitors and your clients, here’s a list of common formats that you may want to consider adding to your site as part of an integrated marketing strategy:

  • case summaries
  • whitepapers
  • podcasts
  • webinars
  • blogs
  • newsletters
  • research
  • tutorials
  • video
  • surveys and questionnaires
  • success stories
  • industry news
  • FAQs
  • how-to articles
  • did-you-knows

Legal Search Marketing – Video is an effective marketing resource for attorneys

Lets face it, hiring an attorney can be an intimidating task and when coupled with an often-stressful legal issue at hand, many prospects settle for the “friend of a friend” route, then find the best attorney for their needs and budget.

Video helps erase the intimidation factor that surrounds the process of contacting and hiring an attorney. Video allows prospects to see and hear from you. It makes a connection with your potential clients 24×7 from the comfort and safety of their own home – with no obligations, commitment, or passed judgment. It is an opportunity for prospects to meet you before they ever walk in your office or pick up the phone. It’s warm, personal and more “human” than written words and static images, and done right it can have the same powerful impact as a face to face meeting.

Considering the fact that Google has rapidly expanded their search results beyond just words and text, it becomes obvious why the use of online video as a meaningful marketing tool for attorneys has exploded over just the past few years. Instead of uploading your video to the standard video sites like YouTube, other sites dedicated to the legal profession, like LegalTube.com have emerged as effective marketing resources. In addition, legal directories like Avvo.com and Justia.com have made room to accommodate videos in their attorney profiles. [Read more…]

Legal Search Marketing – The value of your search rankings

By Ian M. Bardorf

Generally speaking, people who are in business are not inclined to give their company’s strategic assets away to the competition. However, many attorneys and law firms do exactly this and they don’t even realize it!

When it comes to online marketing, what many attorneys fail to realize is the actual value of their online presence.

All too often, “beach front property” in the form of a top website ranking on any search engine, is simply given away to a competitor because of what may be good, yet ill-conceived intentions. A typical scenario is when someone at the firm takes the initiative to update or re-write some content on the firm’s website. Without realizing it, their modifications have dropped the website from the search engines rankings, leaving the vacancy for Google to fill with a competitors website instead.

An even worse case scenario that happens quite a bit, is when a firm decides a sleek new website is in order and proceeds to simply replace the old site without consideration of how established that site has become with the search engines, losing every ranking they’ve ever achieved. Ouch! [Read more…]

Legal Search Marketing – Claims of 1st Page Google Rank

By Ian M. Bardorf

Many attorneys are looking for effective ways to market their legal services on the Internet. Done properly, Internet marketing is undoubtedly one of the most cost effective and productive ways of growing your firm. However, attorneys suffer from the relentless bombardment of inbound solicitations that claim will change their business, and drive highly qualified clients to the doorstep.

Claims like “Guaranteed 1st page Google ranking” and “We’ll put you on the top of Google“, and “Your firm will have an exclusive listing” will certainly lead one to believe that dominating the web in any particular practice and geographic area is only a credit card charge away. The reality of many of these offers is often only realized when the only noticeable increase are those appearing on your monthly credit card statement.

Determining which offers are worthwhile and which offers are scams may be nearly impossible to decipher unless you dig in and do your homework. Unfortunately for attorneys, there simply isn’t enough time in the day to practice law AND effectively manage a marketing strategy that produces results.

Thus, I am sharing my Golden Rule of Internet Marketing. Keeping this rule in mind will undoubtedly save you time, money and a boat-load of frustration: [Read more…]

Question: Why doesn’t my ad show first when I increase my budget?

The days of simply spending more money to buy a top placement in Google’s sponsored ads section (not the natural listings) is long gone. Yet, there still remains a misconception among many that if you simply increase the amount you’re willing to spend on a keyword, you can buy top placement. Not true.

Google changed its criteria for serving ads several years ago as it became abundantly clear to Google that they could make more money. So the smart folks at Google asked themselves, “what will it take to make more people click on more ads?” Thus, the Adwords ‘Quality Score’ was implemented and Google did make a lot more money.

Here’s the scoop: the Google system calculates a ‘Quality Score’ for each of your keywords. It looks at a variety of factors to measure how relevant your keyword is to your ad text, to the landing page text and to a user’s search query. A keyword’s Quality Score updates frequently and is closely related to its performance. In general, a high Quality Score means that your keyword will trigger ads in a higher position and at a lower cost-per-click (CPC). [Read more…]

Legal Search Marketing – 2010 Best Practices for Lawyers and Law Firms

Competition among lawyers, especially in today’s business environment, is as fierce as ever. As a sole practitioner or small law firm, every little advantage that you can create against competitors is going to benefit you. Many attorneys put themselves at a distinct disadvantage without even realizing it. For those attorneys who are not Internet savvy, here are three simple online marketing suggestions that address common mistakes, are easily implemented, and will give you an advantage over the competition.

1. What’s with that email address?

Even something as small and as simple as an e-mail address can have a large impact on your business when it comes to determining whether or not you are going to earn a new client’s business over the competition.

When the internet was first taking off a few years ago, nearly everyone was signing up to utilize free web based email services such as AOL.com, Verizon.com, Gmail.com, Yahoo.com, etc. These free, or generic, web-based email services were very convenient and were primarily created for individuals that wanted email accounts. Even if the account was created for small business purposes, it was acceptable then, but this has changed significantly in recent years. [Read more…]

Question: How do I get the best rankings on Google?

Well, you’ve got to love the enthusiasm surrounding this question.

I’ll assume your asking about getting great rankings in the organic search listings as opposed to the Sponsored Listings or the local business listings which comes at the top of the search engine page when someone search with a geographic reference, like “Boston, MA divorce lawyer“.

This is referred to as SEO – Search Engine Optimization. Although there are many components to a well optimized web site, it basically comes down to this (according to Google):

  • In your site design, use text rather than images and Flash for important content
  • Have relevant and descriptive content on the specific topics you focus on.
  • Make your site work with JavaScript, Java and CSS disabled
  • Organize your site such that you have pages that focus on a particular topic
  • Avoid HTML frames and iframes
  • Use normal URLs, avoiding links that look like form queries (http://www.example.com/engine?id)
  • Market your site by having other relevant sites link to yours
  • Don’t try to cheat the system (by stuffing your pages of keywords, or attempting to target specific content at search engines, or using link farms)

Bardorf Legal Marketing is a Massachusetts Internet marketing and advertising firm working with lawyers and law firms on enhancing their online effectiveness in the areas of SEO, paid search, social media, affiliate marketing, blog and website development, and targeted local search marketing campaigns.

Search Marketing Tip – Building links for law firms

If your law firm sponsors an event make sure you ask the host to add a link to your website from the online description of the event.  Here’s why.

Many times an event coordinator will ask an attorney to speak at an upcoming event on an area of their specialty or focus. In their own marketing efforts the coordinator will publish the details of the events highlighting the speakers invited.

The value of publishing your website (and getting an active hyper-link to your site) in their online listing is significant. It’s significant not because people attending the event will see your site and click through to visit your website, but because a link from their site to your website serves as “a vote” in Google’s eyes. Even better, if the event is about Massachusetts real estate law, and the listing details topics about Massachusetts real estate law, then links to your website which also discuses Massachusetts real estate law, then you’ve potentially established a highly effective link. The more effective links you create, the more “authority” your site will earn in the eyes of the search engines. More authority equals more visibility. [Read more…]