The digital marketing landscape is always changing. Tactics from years ago, like stuffing your site full of poor quality content and collecting shady links from link farms, are now good ways to get your site penalized in the rankings, if not blacklisted completely. In its quest to deliver the most accurate and relevant search results, Google frequently updates its algorithm (sometimes under a specific guise like Panda, Penguin, or Venice) to account for new factors it deems to be important.
One of the new factors that all attorneys need to be aware of is branding. When you imagine an online “brand,” you may immediately think of Amazon or even Google. However, your law firm is a brand in and of itself, and you need to treat it as such.
What Is Branding?
In an age where there are millions of optimized websites all competing against each other, Google has started to look for a more complete presence online, one not solely dependent on a website and general optimization. The days of launching a new website, gaining a few links, writing up a half-dozen pieces of content, and then waiting to get to the top of the search results are gone.
In order to be successful in any competitive industry nowadays, you need to build your online brand. Take your firm’s marketing seriously and build your name wherever you can. Google wants to see that you not only have a great website, but also that you are active on social media sites, uploading videos to YouTube or Vimeo, giving webinars, publishing PDFs and podcasts, and more.
Essentially, you should worry less about the number of backlinks to your site and instead focus more on diversifying your online presence, ensuring that potential clients can find you in various places on the digital landscape, and providing valuable information that they may want to share with others.
Why Is Google Focusing On Branding?
The shift from website-centric thinking to branding actually makes a great deal of sense. When you think of a brand in your local community (the oft-neglected “real world”), what do you think of? A store that merely exists and does nothing to promote itself, or a company that gets its name out in any way possible, always striving to reach new eyes and keep people thinking about its services at all times?
Google is attempting to replicate real-world marketing by focusing on branding. If your local donut store sponsors a 5K race, appears in the city newspaper, and runs a radio ad during a single month, odds are good that people are going to recognize the brand and think of its products frequently.
This is exactly what Google wants to see online. The most authentic, trusted, and reputable brands are going to be those that have a diverse presence across multiple platforms and that have excellent methods of content variety and distribution.
What Can Attorneys Do to Build Their Brands?
The best advice we can give attorneys regarding branding is this: don’t put all of your eggs into one basket. Don’t be the attorney that assumes he or she can build a new website, spend a couple of hundred dollars on basic search engine optimization, and magically bounce to the top of the search results in a year. It isn’t going to happen. The market is saturated with hundreds (or thousands) of lawyers in even mildly competitive areas, so you need to stand out.
Developing a great website is step one. However, don’t stop there. Develop your social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Ensure that you are set up on Google+ Local and build citations each month. Post relevant and interesting content (not just the written word, but also videos, infographics, and presentations) to your site and social profiles. Think about mobile users and whether your website is set up to handle their inquiries.
The more you do, the better off you will be. Diversify your brand presence and you will see results as Google adapts to the changing online landscape.