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 – 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 – 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…]

Question: Isn’t SEO just adding keywords

Isn’t “optimizing” a website just the task of adding lots of targeted keywords?

Although adding appropriate keywords to any web page is a critical step in properly optimizing a site, it is just one task from various interdependent actions and processes required to effectively optimize any site.

Perhaps the most important factor regarding the “process” of adding appropriate keywords to your website is specifically ‘how its done’.

The most severe ramification for improperly optimizing your site is becoming “blacklisted” by the search engines. That means, your website will never be served in the search engine results. One would really have to be totally negligent or willing to take a tremendous chance for potential short term value to become blacklisted for improper implementation of keywords, but it does happen.

For a more complete answer regarding the optimization of your website, I would invite you to read my article title SEO 101.  Let me know what you think.

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.

Legal Search Marketing – Internet Marketing for Attorneys

The practice of search marketing has significantly progressed over the past few years and businesses from Fortune 100s to the two attorney law firm in South Boston, are reaping the benefits. However, still most businesses fail to embrace what is arguably the most cost effective means of marketing and advertising their services by continuing to believe that effective marketing on the Internet is simply having a website.

Search marketing is a continual process of integrating and optimizing various online components. The fact is, there is only so much real estate on the search engine result page (SERP) and we all know that Google is not going to present your website ten times as the only choice. The search engines look for variety. They select websites, blogs, directory listings, social profiles, videos, press releases, PDF files, and just about anything digital that they can index.

Effective search marketing converts searchers into clients by ensuring your brand appears within the SERPs in the right place, at the right time and with the right message. Your chances of obtaining optimal SERP real estate for highly appropriate and targeted search terms significantly diminishes if you simply rely on your website alone. [Read more…]

What about Pay for Performance marketing?

In an online world where just about everything can be tracked and measured, why do so many marketers have trouble putting ROI on any sort of online marketing, advertising or lead generation campaign?

There was a terrific post by Pat LaPointe on the measurement of Social Media where he adds his comments and insight to an interview with three experts from well-know companies who were asked about the best ways to measure the ROI of a social media campaign. [Read more…]

Is SEO advertising?

QUESTION: Given the distortions caused by SEO, can the results of Google be trusted?

Ah, the age ol question, “Is SEO ultimately advertising?”

Given that it is in the best interest of Google, and the other major search engines, to serve the most authentic results in the organic section of the SERPs, (they would lose significant share if everyone thought it was just a search engine of advertisment), I maintain that the results are credible – at least for now.

The results may not always be what you’re looking for or expect, but the various criteria, algorhytmic and otherwise, used to determine the results favor an authentic process.

The question suggests that perhaps organic results are obtained by underhanded methodology, i.e. the way to “distort” a result is to do something black hat. And yes, that happens, so that is a distortion caused by ‘black hat’ SEO. Otherwise, simply optimizing your web pages properly only helps the search engines identify and possibly serve your web page as an appropriate result.

So simply optimizing and playing by the rules in itself does not, in my opinion, lead to the distortion of the results and nor is it consider advertising. Good PR perhaps, but not advertising.

Ian M. Bardorf has over 15 years of sales and marketing experience in Internet technology, with a specific focus on Internet marketing and online advertising.

Companies that don’t see the value in search marketing

QUESTION: What are some of the consequence for mid to large sized companies who choose not to consider search engine marketing strategies?

For a mid to large sized company who relies on volume business in either BtoB or BtoC, to choose not to consider search engine marketing strategies because they don’t see the value is VERY hard to swallow. The consequences could be numerous but in my opinion the thought of alienating your audience by not being where they are is a certain slow death.

Many traditional marketers like to chalk up their lack of search marketing initiatives by stating emphatically “our audience doesn’t go online.” Which is the equivalent of stating that we’re going to give the online marketplace to our competitors, we believe in spending tons of money to “push” our message out to the masses, and we prefer to keep our COGS higher then necessary doing things the way we know how, the good ol fashion way.

When in doubt – invest in having professionals do a comprehensive opportunity analysis of your online marketplace. At least this way your CEO has the data to make a knowledgeable business decision.

Ian M. Bardorf has over 15 years of sales and marketing experience in Internet technology, with a specific focus on Internet marketing and online advertising.

Connecting with your online audience

Its amazing how many offline campaigns still launch today without any consideration for the online audience. Yes, this was a common occurrence several years ago as traditional marketers just began to acknowledge that the Internet was an influential medium and not going away. But what about now? How do multi-million dollar offline campaigns ignore their online target audience? Is it still unreasonable to accept that someone watching television will swing their chair around and search Google for a product they just saw on tv or read in the newspaper?

Search marketing taps into a massive online audience that continues to increase every day. More then 225 million Americans have Internet access. Search Marketing can be the most cost effective way to market your business or brand, connect with consumers online, attract qualified visitors to your website, increase brand awareness, increase overall visibility and of course, increase revenue. I just don’t understand what some folks are thinking, and why they choose to continue to miss huge opportunity online.

What Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) leverages search engines like Google, Yahoo! and MSN’s Bing to obtain visibility and highly qualified traffic in the most cost-effective manner.

While most web sites reside passively on the Internet, a growing number of businesses (large and small) have been extremely successful at dynamically leveraging their sites to produce meaningful results and achieve specific business and marketing objectives.

What makes these individuals so successful at attracting customers online? What is it about their sites and their strategy that separate them from their competition? What are they doing right?

The most successful SEO strategies target two entirely different audiences: (1) The Customer and (2) The Search Engines!

Most websites neglect to consider the search engines and thus, their website obtains minimal visibility. That means potential customers will not find you. To optimize your website properly from a search engine’s perspective your site needs to excel in three critical areas.

Code refers to the search engines’ ability to access and index your web pages. The indexability of your site has a direct impact on your website’s overall search engine rankings. If the search engines can not read your code or index your site, then for all intents and purposes, your website simply does not exist.

Content is all about the search engines’ evaluation of the topic or subject of your web page. The importance of a targeted “keyphrase strategy” based on the most appropriate terminology used by your target audience is paramount. The proper integration of keyphrases into your website is critical and can be the difference between success or falling short.

Connections means keeping good company and is the search engines’ determination of your site’s credibility based on the number, type and quality of other sites pointing to it. In a competitive marketplace, without “authority” your website has little chance of obtaining significant visibility and attracting the quality and volume of potential clients you seek.

It is the continual management of these three key areas along with meaningful measurement and analysis that make for an effective SEO strategy. Optimizing a website properly requires a comprehensive knowledge of how search engines work and the ability to act quickly in an ever-changing landscape.

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.

What Is Search Marketing?

The practice of search marketing has significantly progressed over the past few years and businesses from Fortune 100s to the two attorney law firm in South Boston, are reaping the benefits. However, still most businesses fail to embrace what is arguably the most cost effective means of marketing and advertising their services with the continued belief that effective search marketing is simply having a website.

Search marketing is a continual process of integrating and optimizing various online components, including your website, done in an effort to obtain valuable online real estate and prominently appear in the search engine result pages (SERPs) of Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc. Search marketing is not an a single “item” like a website, or a one time “event” like launching your new website.

I always say to clients that effective search marketing converts searchers into clients by appearing within the SERPs in the right place, at the right time and with the right message.

Ultimately, one invests in search marketing, which is also often referred to as search engine marketing (SEM), to achieve a defined business goal like obtain new clients, increase visibility and brand awareness, drive qualified traffic, obtain a competitive advantage or integrate off-line marketing initiatives with an online target audience. Search marketing focuses on the organic and paid search listings of every SERP.

At the very basic level of search marketing, there are essentially two components to every search engine result page. They are; Organic Listings which are obtained through search engine optimization (SEO) as well as by establishing and optimizing an arsenal of other digital assets like directory listings, social profile listings, videos, press releases, etc.  and the Sponsored Listings which is paid advertising, like Google Adwords, where you pay for visitors who click on your advertisement and land on your website.

Paid Search is online advertising in the form of ads or text links, which can be found primarily on the top and on the right hand side of the SERPs. Also referred to as “pay per click” (PPC) or “sponsored placement”. This form of search engine advertising means that you can be guaranteed to appear in the paid search results section for the keywords you choose within a day or less. This does not mean you will appear in the organic search results.

Organic Search is the search engine results that are shown due to relevancy to the search terms, not by paid search. Also referred to as “natural” or “algorithmic” search. These are the results that are shown on the middle of the page in the Google, Yahoo!, and Bing search results. One obtains favorable organic search results by implementing an effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of enhancing a website’s code, content and connections in accordance to a search engine’s algorithmic criteria. SEO is the process of obtaining favorable organic search results for specific keyphrases used by your target audience.

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.