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…]

I know I need to add content to my site but I don’t have a lot of time. How can I get started?

One great way to add useful content to your site is by collecting and sharing information that you come across during the course of your regular day. This is known as “content curation.” When you curate content from around the web, you choose the most relevant and interesting items that are related to your practice and the interests of your clients and prospects. These can be news stories, recent decisions, current events, or articles on another website. You can then simply add your comments or opinion, recap the article, and tell readers why you think this is helpful or important for them.

There are many ways to use curated content to build your reputation and attract more of your ideal clients. Here are three:

  • Blog. A blog is a great place to share your curated content. People expect to read your opinions on a blog. It’s a great way to show your expertise and add your interpretation.
  • Website. Google rewards high quality, shareable content. You can create a new page on your website with your comments and a link to the information that will give you an SEO boost.
  • Social media. Be sure to share any content that you find online with your friends and followers. This will drive people back to your website and improve your reputation as an expert.

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…]

Why are client reviews so important for attorneys?

With more consumers using the web to post reviews, you need to make sure you are protecting your good reputation. Avvo, LinkedIn, and your own website are the best places to have reviews. When someone searches for “your name and review” you want these websites to come up first. I can’t emphasize enough how important reviews have become, especially for attorneys. In fact, 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).

Yelp is a common review site for everything from restaurants to hair salons. They have recently started to expand in to professional services including attorneys and law firms.  It’s the least friendly to account holders in terms of managing your reviews compared with Avvo and LinkedIn.

Being proactive and having several good reviews is critical. Many times I see that the first review of an attorney is unfavorable, followed by a spurt of positive ones. I know that instead of asking clients for reviews regularly, he or she has had to scramble to get good reviews published so as to push the negative one down. Take the time now to get some good reviews before this happens to you. Remember, given the nature of your business one party usually is not pleased with the outcome.

You may learn more about client reviews in my blog post, “How to Manage Your Online Reputation.”

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…]

How can I keep tabs on my name online?

Monitoring your reputation online can be time-consuming. You want to make sure you’re visiting review sites and searching for your name every day. There are several tools that can make this a lot easier. One of the simplest is Google Alerts. This free service from Google allows you to type in any search term, such as your name or the name of your firm. Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your queries.

You can enter as many terms as you like. It’s a great way to see where your name is being mentioned and see any reviews as soon as they’re posted. You can also use Google Alerts to keep track of a developing news story, a competitor, an event or anything you want to stay up-to-date on. Check out Google Alerts here: http://www.google.com/alerts.

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…]

Question: Snapchat, Vine, Pinterest, oh my! Do I need to stay up to date with all the new online tools?

It depends. When in doubt, the most important thing to ask yourself is, “What are my clients using?” More and more of us are signing up for Facebook accounts every year, including users over 65. On the other hand, the only people I know using Snapchat (the photo sharing app) have an average age of 14. Vine (the 6-second video app) is being leveraged by businesses of all types and some consumers. Pinterest (the image sharing website) is huge among women age 35-44.

If any of those are your target audience, you might want to at least read the Wikipedia entry to find out more, in case it comes up in conversation. You don’t need to use every tool, but being up to date is a quality we all look for in an attorney, and that includes knowing a bit about what’s happening online. Spend a few minutes on Google and you could learn enough to weed out new tools you do, and don’t, need to know more about.

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…]

Question: Is it true that the more someone clicks on my website, the higher my website will rank in Google?

No. Search engine marketing — on Google, Yahoo, or Bing — is one of the most effective tactics to generate leads, help you promote your expertise, reach prospects and stay connected with clients. Search rankings are notoriously unstable, and subject to a variety of factors such as the location of the person searching and whether they’ve logged in to Google and are using personalized results. But one thing they do not depend on is the amount of traffic coming to your website.

Enhancing your website so that it’s listed at or near the top is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Higher rankings can boost your visibility and a drop in rankings can mean a loss of potential consumers. A good SEO project can take three to four months to begin showing a real impact, depending on a number of factors such as the age of your site, the number of quality inbound links you already have, and the competitiveness of specific relevant keywords. SEO is not a quick-fix marketing tactic that can deliver results in a matter of hours or days. Instead, it typically takes a diligent, ongoing process that gradually improves your site’s rankings.