As small businesses, law firms are more likely to get their customers from their local area. Even large law firms need to have offices and staff close to their major clients. So, local marketing is very important for the legal profession and local search is an integral part of digital marketing. Although we have covered the topic of local search on SEO Trends before, the industry keeps moving forward with new ideas and techniques, so it is necessary to review your law firm’s local search strategy periodically, as with all other aspects of your digital marketing effort. This week, SEO Trends will show you useful tips on local marketing that are currently appearing in Search Engine Land, Moz Blog and Search Engine Journal.
The two central pillars of rankings are keywords and backlinks. As commercial strategies for getting links into your site (ie paying site owners) are frowned upon, content has become a tool for attracting links from other sites. Content is also the main vehicle for including keywords and key concepts on your sites, so content marketing is a major tool for local marketing. This article outlines how content marketing ties into the marketing funnel. As a lawyer, you might get excited about what’s happening in Washington, but try to avoid talking about national issues in your blog. If a new piece of legislation is going to bring you work, try to mention your local area when you write about it. Giving local organizations a name check in your blog posts is also a good idea for attracting links from the websites of those groups. This article includes a suggestion about guest blogging on other websites. A couple of years back, Google intimated that it was going to penalize guest blogging, so everyone stripped that out of their digital marketing strategy. However, the search engine got so diverted by its focus on local and mobile search that it completely forgot its dislike of guest blogging, so this is a good strategy to go back to and one that few people are using right now.
This article has a pretty interesting graph. The author tends to ignore the elephant in the graph, which is that search engines are still by far the most popular starting point for people looking for local services. Bernadette Coleman sees this as a reason to focus on all other channels of local search. It is true that some area of marketing that only gives a little boost can give you those few extra points you need to push your visibility ahead of your rivals. However, the real lesson of that graph is that if you mess up SEO, you have to do an awful lot of work on many other channels to make up for the loss. For example, if you don’t get the 36 per cent that look for services through search engines you have to ace all the other categories in the graph to make up for it. That says that you should focus your local digital marketing budget on getting rankings in search engines through content strategies, such as those outlined in the article above. If you have spare cash left over, you could add to that with effort in other channels.
One great channel for attracting customers is the recommendation. This category is divided into two sub-sections – influencers and reviews. In this article you will read about influencers. These are people who head organizations that cater to people who may need your legal services. Other types of influencers would be local celebrities, such as radio jocks. A mention from such people on their Twitter feed or Facebook page will help you attract visitors to your website and get potential clients into your law firm’s offices. Content marketing is one way to attract local influencers, but it is important to actually contact those people, establish a rapport, and notify them when you have content on your site that would interest them.
Loyalty is a difficult concept for many lawyers, because with a lot of legal specializations catering to the general public, you are unlikely to get repeat business. People don’t get divorced or run over by hit-and-run drivers on a weekly schedule. There isn’t much point in law firms running loyalty programs – which are the topic of the first part of this Moz Blog post. However, loyalty ties into the old word-of-mouth marketing strategy, which online translates to reviews. One piece of good news for the legal profession is that loyalty schemes don’t seem to attract many mentions on review sites. So you’re not missing out on good reviews by not running one. However, going back to Bernadette Coleman’s graph, 4 per cent of buyers first look at professional reviews and 5 per cent look at product and service reviews when they start searching for their needs, so that extra 9 per cent of the market available through reviews sites could be very lucrative.