6 Things Every Attorney Should Know To Rank Well On Google

Have you ever “Googled” yourself? What did you see? If you searched specifically for your name, your website is probably listed right at the top of the results page. But if you typed in a more general term related to your practice, you may find your website on the second page or even lower.

That’s because Google – the search engine giant – rank results according to a complex algorithm. This mathematical formula takes into account hundreds of different criteria when deciding which websites are the best match for a searcher’s query. There are many factors, but in general, Google is looking for credible websites with high quality, relevant and recent content. But ranking well is challenging so it’s important to have reasonable expectations and understand how to get the best overall visibility.

Understanding how Google ranks websites isn’t easy. The company does not readily disclose the parameters of its algorithm. Even professional search engine experts don’t know exactly how it works. And Google changes its formula 300 to 500 times a year, sometimes with a major release that can have a significant impact on your rankings. [Read more…]

What to Look For When Hiring a Marketing Firm For Your Law Practice

To survive and thrive in this competitive economy, your firm needs a well-designed and well-executed marketing plan. An effective marketing plan will raise your profile, establish your reputation, and generate leads that can be turned into new clients. Most attorneys understand the need for a strategic marketing plan, but few have the time or expertise to implement one.

The rise of the Internet, Google search, social media and mobile phones have changed the way attorneys reach and engage their clients. Traditional tactics such as yellow page ads and face-to-face networking used to drive prospects. Now people expect real-time access to information about your firm on their phones and make decisions by reading reviews – the online equivalent of word of mouth. This means that attorneys need to ensure that their message is well crafted and that it can be found on the web easily.

Because the stakes are so high, more attorneys than ever before are outsourcing marketing to firms of all sizes and abilities. Many of my clients find us after a disappointing experience with FindLaw or Martindale-Hubbell. They are looking for alternatives to the big firms’ high prices, poor customer service, and lackluster results. [Read more…]

Using the Law to Protect Your Online Reputation

Reviews are very important these days. Eighty-five percent of consumers say that they read online reviews for local businesses to determine whether these businesses are good or not. But with more people reading and posting reviews, you need to make sure you are protecting your good reputation.

Part of reputation management is monitoring review sites and your search engine ranking. You want to make sure that when someone searches for “your name” that the positive reviews outweigh any negative ones.

We encourage our clients to be proactive and obtain favorable reviews on selective review sites. But more and more we are hearing from clients who get inaccurate, misleading, or defamatory reviews and are unable to get them corrected or removed entirely from online properties, namely Yelp, Google, and Yahoo.

The good news is that there are additional steps you can take to get illegitimate reviews removed from these sites. Many businesses and professionals have turned to legal action to combat defamatory reviews and get resolution. As an attorney, you can use your legal expertise to expedite the process and see it through completion. [Read more…]

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…]

Yelp For Attorneys: Marketing Opportunity or Reputation Nightmare?

Good reviews are a great way to connect with new clients and build your business. Avvo and LinkedIn are preferred places for attorneys to share reviews. But last spring, an online survey claimed that Yelp is the most popular and trusted website for legal reviews. I read the report shortly after it was published and didn’t give it much merit. However, it received recognition from industry influencers who re-published the findings on their blogs. Yelp starting pushing the positive claims to my clients who in turn asked me about the benefits of advertising their legal services on Yelp.

Yelp is undoubtedly a well-liked site, with reviews on everything from hotels and restaurants to barbers and mechanics, and even some attorneys. But is Yelp really the go-to site for consumers in search of legal representation and, more importantly, is it a good venue for attorneys to market their services?

Read this month’s newsletter to learn whether Yelp carries its weight in the legal market. [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…]

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…]

Mobile Apps Keep Your Clients Connected

There are more than 6.5 billion mobile devices in use worldwide today, significantly more than the number of Internet users. Consumers are adopting new technology as fast as it becomes available and expect to be connected at all times in order to find the products and services they need. Today’s multi-tasking consumers depend on their trusty smartphones for so many important activities. And to stay in front of these phone-dependent clients, savvy attorneys who want to advance their businesses and leverage technology are jumping into mobile. It’s like the first days of the Internet when early adopters launched websites for their law practices – got ahead of their competitors – and have reaped the benefits ever since.

Mobile Apps Are Exploding

Contact pageOne way to connect with on-the-go clients is through a mobile app. A mobile application (or mobile app) is software designed to run on smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile devices. The term “app” has become so popular that it was listed as “Word of the Year” in 2010. Mobile applications are the next frontier and the industry is predicted to skyrocket over 1,000% in the next three years to a $56 billion market (Gartner Group).

The popularity of mobile applications has continued to rise, as their usage has become increasingly prevalent across mobile phone users. Last year, comScore, an Internet analytics company, reported that more mobile subscribers used apps than browsed the web on their devices. [Read more…]

Is Your Legal Directory Profile & Advertising Worth the Cost?

A directory listing is one of the most traditional ways to promote your services. It used to be that attorneys would be listed so that other attorneys could find them for referrals. Now that most directories have moved online, more and more consumers are using them to find the legal representation they need. Some of the biggest providers include FindLaw (a part of Westlaw) and Martindale-Hubbell. These are established companies that once produced only print directories and have since moved into the world of online attorney directories and marketing. Many of you have paid to appear in their listings and have hired these venerable firms to create and host your websites, and advertise your practice in their online directories.

[Read more…]

Google Authorship – Personalizing Your Online Image

Just a few months ago the search engine giant Google launched a new feature called Google Authorship. Google Authorship lets you link any content you publish on a specific domain (such as www.yourwebsite.com) to your Google+ profile.

This means that every time someone searches for your name or someone with your expertise, anything you have written with your byline (by Jack Smith, for example) will show up on the Google results page with your name and your photo. It will also include a link to a page with any other articles, blog posts, or even Q&As with your name on them!

For example, Googling the phrase “Greater Boston litigation attorneys” produces:

Appearing on the results page with a photo and byline adds credibility, which builds up your reputation as an authoritative source on the topics you cover. Plus, search results with profile images attract a higher click through rate than those that do not have an image. Remember, three out of four people seeking an attorney search online and almost 70% of all searchers use Google. [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…]

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…]

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…]

Legal Search Marketing – Six Steps for Successful Local Marketing

Clients come from all walks of life, they go online at all hours of the day, they point, they click, they research and buy online. In fact, 97% of consumers research online before they make a purchase. This means prospects may be looking for your particular area of expertise right now. Yet you could be one of many attorneys who lose revenue each year by neglecting to maximize your firm’s online visibility in your area.

Internet searches are becoming increasingly more localized and specific to geographic locations. Local search is on the rise as people become more sophisticated search engine users. Because most people seeking legal assistance start their search on Google by entering their location and the specialty they need, local search should be considered part of a firm’s online marketing strategy.

Consider these statistics regarding local search:

  • 82% of local searchers follow up offline via an in-store visit, phone call or purchase (comScore)
  • 73% of online activity is related to local content (Google)
  • 66% of Americans 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 over phone books (comScore networks)

Clearly, having a well-defined local Internet marketing strategy can be crucial to certain businesses, particularly attorneys whose main source of business is their communities. [Read more…]

Legal Search Marketing – Why FindLaw and Martindale-Hubbell Miss the Mark

By Ian M. Bardorf

If you’re like many busy attorneys, you don’t have the time to stay up-to-date on the latest advances in Internet marketing. Your expertise is in helping your clients and providing high-quality legal services. You need a savvy partner that will design and implement a results-driven, cost-effective online marketing strategy.

Most attorneys sign up with a company they believe will take care of their Internet marketing needs and help them stay current. Some of the biggest providers include FindLaw (a part of Westlaw) and Martindale-Hubbell. These are established companies that were founded to produce legal research in the form of print directories and have since moved into the world of online publications and marketing. Many of you have paid to appear in their listings, both in print and online, and have hired these venerable firms to create and host your websites, and market your practice.

But Internet marketing is more than just a listing and a website, and over time, many clients of these big companies become dissatisfied by not only the level of service but more importantly, the results they get for what they pay. If you’re a FindLaw or Martindale-Hubbell client, you may be spending more than you need to for inferior results and missing out on other opportunities to help your business succeed. Read on to find out how FindLaw and Martindale-Hubbell miss the mark.

Local Always Beats National.

Did you know that 97 percent of people conduct research online before buying locally? Or that 64 percent of consumers expect the business within their search results to be within 15 miles of their location? Clearly it’s important to appear in the search results for clients looking for an attorney close by and to work with a marketing partner that understands your area. [Read more…]

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…]

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…]

Legal Search Marketing – Build your Business using LinkedIn

By Ian M. Bardorf

LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) was launched in 2003 and is now the leading professional network on the Internet. LinkedIn is reportedly growing by roughly one million new members every week — more than one member each second.

Unlike other social networks like Facebook or MySpace, LinkedIn members are professionals, primarily in the service, finance, and high tech sectors. Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are members and one million companies have LinkedIn Company Pages. There were nearly two billion people searches on LinkedIn in 2010.

Most importantly for attorneys, LinkedIn represents a valuable opportunity to market your firm to an affluent and influential membership. Here are ten things that you can do today to start taking advantage of LinkedIn.

[Read more…]

Legal Search Marketing – Four Common SEO Myths

By Ian M. Bardorf

Do you Google? More and more people do. In fact, search engine use around the world is growing. Last year there were more than 131 billion searches worldwide, representing a 46-percent increase over the previous year according to comScore, a leading digital marketing intelligence provider. This number represents more than 4 billion searches per day, 175 million per hour, and 2.9 million per minute!

Search engine marketing allows you to reach and engage the searchers who are looking for you. And the process of creating the most relevant site that is also the most search engine friendly is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Because this is a sophisticated, on-going process, there are plenty of misunderstandings about how it all works. Read on to get the answers to four common myths about SEO.

[Read more…]

Legal Search Marketing – Building an Online Social Network

By Ian M. Bardorf

Most attorneys are fantastic natural networkers, connecting with current clients and prospects through colleagues, peers in other professions, trade and bar associations, and networking events. They know it’s a necessary part of generating leads and growing their practice.

Only a few attorneys have chosen to use this ability to attract and retain clients via the Internet. These early adopters are using Facebook, Twitter, Google Places, Avvo, Justia and other social media to gain a competitive advantage online. And they are reaping the benefits. Taking advantage of social media to build a network can help you improve online visibility, outrank your competition, get the most out of your digital assets, retain loyal customers, and generate leads efficiently and cost-effectively.

Improve online visibility.
The goal of an online social network is to allow you to use your arsenal of digital assets – online profiles, videos, blog posts, podcasts, and legal documents — to get as much visibility online as possible. By completing a profile on mainstream and legal social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Places, Avvo, and Justia and optimizing properly you can dominate the search engine results pages and make it easier for potential clients to find you.

Outrank the competition.
When someone needs legal representation, the first place most turn is Google. They typically search by geographic location and practice specialty. For example, “Massachusetts real estate attorney.” If that describes your firm, terrific! If you’ve optimized your site properly, you’ll appear in the search engine results. But what about all the other attorneys who match those terms? They’ll be right there beside you, unless you can claim more of that critical first page. One way to do it is by creating content that Google can serve up like videos, online profiles, blog posts, or podcasts. You’ll be listed more frequently and bump your competition lower in the results. [Read more…]

Legal Search Marketing – Local Search: Four Tips for Google Places

By Ian M. Bardorf

Google Places is an online directory of businesses around the world. Having a current listing in this directory is essential for all types of businesses, but is especially important for attorneys and small law firms.

Why? Because most people seeking legal assistance start their search on Google by entering their location and the specialty they need. For example, someone looking for help with a will in a Boston suburb may type “Needham Attorney Wills.”

Google then serves up relevant results based on that query. Frequently, businesses from Google Places are among the top ten listings on the critical first page of results.

Being listed in Google Places will help you be found online, differentiate yourself from the competition, and get insights about your clients. And best, of all, the listing is free.

There are four steps you can take to make sure your practice is among those top listings. [Read more…]

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…]