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.

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Question – I’ve been a LinkedIn member for a while. What new LinkedIn apps should I use?

LinkedIn offers a number of applications (apps) for members to connect with other members and promote their expertise. Four that I think are especially valuable for attorneys are:

Events
The Events application adds a box to your profile that shows what events people in your network are attending. This helps you find events based on your industry and job function. You can sort by most popular events, search for events, and create new ones.

Answers
LinkedIn Answers is a tool that allows you to ask questions and answer inquiries posed by other members. It is a valuable place to share knowledge and expertise. To try it, click on the “Answers” tab.

Groups
Nearly 18 million members are a part of LinkedIn Groups, with 1.5 million joining groups every week. Groups are an opportunity to participate in conversations that are relevant to your firm’s practice areas and to answer questions that match your expertise.

SlideShare
With this app, you can share presentations and documents with your LinkedIn network and upload PDFs, presentations, video or more. You can also browse and comment on the presentations of others in your network, and see the latest presentations from your network on your homepage.

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.

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Question – I’ve had success networking at local events. Do I need to use Google too?

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.

By completing a profile on mainstream and legal social networks and optimizing properly you can dominate the search engine results pages and make it easier for potential clients to find you. This consistently strong online presence will build awareness of your expertise, generate traffic to your website, and create a flow of inquiries that will grow your business.

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…]

Question – I’m getting a lot of spam email. How can I tell which ones are real?

Our email inboxes fill up quickly these days, often with unwanted junk mail, solicitations, ads and special offers. Although most email providers are working diligently to filter out this spam, some get through and it’s not always easy to identify a legitimate inquiry. Attorneys are especially prone to receiving this type of email.

Many of these spam emails are intended to get you to give them your email address (by replying) so they can spam you with other solicitations or for more elaborate schemes. For example, one scheme involves sending you a fake check for an agreed upon amount. The check arrives $1,000 too much and they request you wire or send a check for the overpayment.

Here are some strong signals, usually in combination, that can help you identify and filter out spam quickly:

1. Country of origin.
Emails from another country can be a sign of spam. Look at the address extension to see if it ends in .org, .com, .edu or .net, the four standard American extensions. If it ends in .co.uk (United Kingdom) or another country it may be spam.

2. Lack of specifics.
Using general terms like “Dear Counsel” in the greeting and “your jurisdiction” etc. show that they don’t know you and are fishing for more specifics. [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…]

Question – Should I reduce my advertising with the Yellow Pages?

We all grew up with the familiar yellow book. Now there are many variations on the original and it’s still on the shelf in my house. But when was the last time you opened it up to look for something – a vendor, restaurant, or service?

If you’re like most people, you haven’t done that in a while, and I suspect most of your clients haven’t either. With more than one billion searches a day, most questions are answered with a quick trip to Google. Even more importantly, one study says almost 70% of people search online before making a purchase.

Because of this shift, companies that manage Yellow Pages are trying to maintain revenues while pitching advertisers to appear on increasingly popular online sites. These companies try to convince advertisers like you that their prospects don’t have access to computers or aren’t likely to search online for an attorney.

Advertising in Yellow Pages can be expensive, with many attorneys spending thousands of dollars each year for print listings or display ads and even more for online listings.

Most attorneys can avoid this expense. Depending on your particular practice area, geographic location, and client base, I recommend cutting back or eliminating Yellow Pages ads entirely. Do a two-month test. Track your incoming leads to find out how many are coming from yellow pages. Reduce your annual spend and see if you see a variation in lead type or volume. Or reallocate a portion of your advertising budget to online advertising and track it. You may want to move completely online.

Bear in mind not only the number of prospects and clients your advertising is generating, but the type and consider the source. You may want a certain kind of clientele that you just won’t reach from the phone book.

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…]

Legal Search Marketing Newsletter

You will find a lot of helpful information and tips regarding Internet marketing for attorneys in our newsletters. We’ve provided an archive of past editions as a resource. We encourage your to subscribe to our Legal Search Marketing Newsletter and get the information you need to effectively market your firm on the web.

Past feature articles of Legal Search Marketing. Enjoy the knowledge!

 

  • What Attorneys Need To Know About Upgrading to SSL

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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…]

Search Marketing Tip – Check if your site is indexed

A quick and easy way to determine if your website has been indexed or is even being recognized by the search engines is to do a simple search engine index check.

Here’s how:

To determine how many of your web pages the search engines have discovered and indexed use the following techniques. If your website has 50 pages and you see that the search engines have only indexed 25, then you know that half of your web pages are not appearing on any search engine result pages (SERPs).

Yahoo! To determine if your site has been indexed by Yahoo! you will use Site Explorer.  This allows you to explore all the web pages indexed by Yahoo! Search.

Google: To determine if your site has been indexed by Google, you can simply type “site:yourdomain.com” in Google’s search box. Be sure to enter your website’s domain, and not ‘yourdomain’ :)

Got a question? Let me know if you have any questions about your search marketing strategy.

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 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.