Urgent vs. Important: Lawyer Marketing Tasks to Focus on Today
President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” The Eisenhower Decision Matrix is based upon this philosophy. It categorizes and prioritizes tasks based on their urgency (need for attention) and importance (level of significance). Sometimes it seems like there are a million legal marketing tasks that need your attention. Using the Eisenhower Decision Matrix and this accompanying analysis of the most common legal marketing to do items, you can hone in on only the most effective tasks. Quadrant 1: Important & Urgent Necessary action: do now Examples of Quadrant 1 tasks include:
- Resolving a crisis with a client
- Responding to live chat requests or a potential client’s consultation inquiry
- Repairing your law firm website’s server
- Inflexible deadlines like renewing your webpage domain or responding to a request for an interview before tonight’s local news
- A team member’s sudden resignation
Address these immediately to avoid consequences… but beware of labeling everything as “urgent.” This quadrant should be reserved for only the most crucial actions, the 9-1-1s like resetting the office circuit when electricity goes down so you can hop back on the computer and continue powering through your legal marketing to do list. Quadrant 2: Important & Not Urgent Necessary action: schedule to work on consistently This quadrant encompasses:
- Building your firm’s email list
- Producing and disseminating fresh content every week
- Posting, commenting, and sharing to build a social media presence
- Updating your website regularly for design and results page visibility (SEO)
- A/B split testing your law firm website to improve performance
- Keeping an eye on your marketing budget
Tasks in this quadrant are the most important to your firm’s overall marketing goals, and ones that should be regularly scheduled daily, weekly, and monthly. This not only prevents Important responsibilities from becoming Urgent, but also ensures that you make steady progress on the legal marketing items that will most heavily impact your brand and bottom line. Because these tasks are the most important in the long run, some or all may require your personal attention, at least at first. After spearheading these projects, you can delegate them to trustworthy team members and request weekly updates.
Quadrant 3: Not Important & Urgent Necessary action: delegate to others
- Answering everyday emails
- Taking and returning phone calls (those that aren’t requests for consultations from potential clients)
- Unimportant marketing meetings that could be accomplished via email instead
“Can this be delegated to someone else? Should this be delegated to someone else?” If you answer yes to both questions, then relegate that legal marketing task to quadrant 3 and assign it to someone else. Quadrant 4: Not Important & Not Urgent Necessary action: forget about them This quadrant includes time wasters like surfing the web. Forget about the items in this category and spend your time on more effective tasks. Google+ Local and SEO go hand in hand. Request more details about our Google+ Local optimization services!
Lawyer Marketing Webinar: Learning SEO
In case you missed it, here’s a recording of our recent Attorney Marketing Webinar: Learning SEO. http://vimeo.com/101743828 Most people will use search engines to find their next attorney. So, proper search engine optimization is a must if you want to keep up with the competition and get found online. Whether you’re currently investing in SEO or are just getting started, this comprehensive attorney marketing webinar will help you better understand all aspects of the SEO process. During the information-packed session, you will learn:
- The basic components of a solid optimization strategy
- On-site and off-site optimization strategies
- What you should be getting from your SEO vendor
- Vendor SEO myths and scams: What other vendors don’t want you to know
Like all James webinars, there is no sales pitch — just helpful tips, facts, and instructions.
Should Law Firms Invest in SEO or PPC?
If you are engaging in marketing online, you may possibly be wondering if SEO or PPC is better for your small-to-medium business. The quick answer is “both.” A strong online marketing foundation uses both SEO and PPC to develop dynamic campaigns that increase exposure and maximize conversions. However, your focus may possibly be different at various phases of your marketing process.
We recommend creating quarterly goals that you feel are obtainable and manageable for your firm. It’s important to consider your ability to manage the increased caseload without decreasing the clients overall experience. If you are interested in discussing how we work with our clients to create quarterly goals and help them build a strategy to meet or exceed their goals, please feel free to call us any time or use the link below to schedule an appointment with Travis or Garrett.
SEO and PPC For Your Unique Business
The two tools that make up search marketing are organic search marketing and paid search marketing. They work together well for the most part, guiding users to convert in different ways. However, using the two together is often a challenge for smaller brands, like small and medium-sized businesses.
In most cases, it’s best to focus on SEO improvements and then move on to PPC-focused approaches. Although it will be necessary to keep up a presence in organic search through SEO, once you build a solid organic base, you can engage in PPC effectively.
When algorithm updates impact the effectiveness of your SEO, you may have to go back to the drawing board. However, that will only be a brief jaunt while your PPC can continue to thrive.
For brands with limited budgets and big expectations, you should balance SEO and PPC to get results.
Using SEO Early in the Process
Organic SEO has significantly changed over the last 2 years and has become more of a local focused effort. Evolving from the traditional SEO process as we once knew it. Investing in SEO can be frustrating and requires a significant amount of patience, time and money. There is no question that SEO is a good investment and should be an area of focus for every law firm.
Understanding The Difference Between Local SEO and Standard Organic SEO
Local SEO also known as Google Maps, dominates the first page of Google along with paid ad results which are always at the top. Local SEO rankings are obtained (differently) than the traditional SEO rankings of the past. If your website as a high domain Authority with Google and you are not currently ranking well for local search results you should consult with your current marketing agency to make sure they are focused on a local SEO effort. Local rankings generate more than 60% of the phone calls law firms receive daily. Leads generated from local SEO typically convert more often than standard prospects generated from traditional SEO efforts.
Conflicting with this message, though, is the fact that PPC visitors are more likely to convert. Thus, your PPC traffic is higher quality and may possibly be a better investment in the long run. PPC ads can target specific audiences and reel in the people you want as clients.
The Importance Of A High Quality Website
It is important to understand that a quality website with strong domain Authority plays an important role in SEO and with your PPC campaigns. Google prefers to show the results from websites that have implemented the best practices recommended from the Google team. We commonly find most agencies do not practice the basics or implement Google suggestions in order to cut corners and save money which ultimately impacts the client’s overall exposure online.
Seeking Immediate Impact through SEO and PPC
You may wonder what is right for your brand currently — SEO or PPC. The answer depends on where you’re at in the marketing process and development of your business.
If you had asked me a year-and-a-half ago what my response to this question would be, I would have told you that SEO is certainly the best investment for nearly all law firms. But, over the last year it has become clear that changes are required to be made in the way that we view things from our agency to generate the best results for our clients. PPC generates a significantly higher return on investment to all firms today, and is our number one recommendation for nearly every law firm looking to increase their lead flow.
Does SEO or PPC Yield Better ROI?
You’ll get more ROI if your money is invested in improving your organic presence as well as pushing a PPC campaign that targets a specific audience. Google has recently introduced new tools that have enhanced the Google Ads experience and improved the return on investment for law firms investing in PPC. Understanding the new changes Google has implemented is important to successfully generate quality results from a Google Ads campaign. Partnering with an agency that has the ability and willingness to change their approach and introduce new ideas to clients is critical when investing in PPC. Larger companies are less agile and usually do not like to change their processes when updates are made by Google.
The ability to make quick changes to PPC campaigns is a key strength our agency utilizes effectively with each of our clients. Google’s introduction of AdWords extensions has allowed our clients to generate higher quality leads at a lower conversion cost. Searchers today expect alternative ways to communicate with law firms. It is critical that your firm understands the necessity to implement tools such as live chat, texting, and various others that prospects may want to utilize. Our team works with our clients to ensure they are using the latest and greatest tools. While also making sure that they are all integrated with the appropriate systems when possible. If you’re interested in learning more about how our team can help you, please reach out to us. We are always happy to answer your questions.
Large Brands Managing SEO and PPC
The answers to the aforementioned questions may possibly be very different for large brands. Enterprise-level brands would see a large dip in their website performance if they ended PPC ads. These brands often have an internal team of marketers that closely monitor organic and PPC traffic.
Most enterprises have already built a solid organic presence, so they don’t need as much focus on SEO. Instead, they put their eggs in the PPC basket, hoping to generate traffic and conversions in that manner.
Determining the Right Path for You
It’s pretty clear that SEO and PPC are both important to all businesses. However, you may wonder which is right for your law firm in the current time. You should consider the following factors:
- What is the current status of your website?
- Does your site rank well for organic search terms?
- Does your site rank well for local search results?
- Are you currently using paid search?
- What is your current cost per lead and cost per client?
- Where does the majority of your traffic come from?
- What are your growth goals for the next three quarters?
Your next steps will depend on your answers to these questions. If you are at the beginning of your online marketing journey, you may want to focus more on organic SEO. However, do not fail to pay attention to PPC entirely. Once you build a strong organic presence, invest heavily in PPC and assess your traffic.
3 Telltale Signs Your Lawyer Marketing is off Track
When you’re focused on day-to-day marketing activities, it’s easy to get tunnel vision and overlook red flags that indicate declining marketing health. The following three signs are telltale indicators that your attorney marketing has gone off track. If they sound familiar, it’s time to make some changes. Sign #1: Content that only reaches a small audience Does your law firm have an established blog and/or news page but hear crickets after posting an article? That means you’ve got some work to do on your attorney marketing. Content that doesn’t receive many views, shares, and likes fails to spread your law firm’s name, display your expertise, attract new potential clients, and provide value to readers… all while wasting valuable time and money. How to get back on track: If your content strategy is falling flat, experiment to assess which of the following factors is holding you back:
- Uninteresting or valueless topics
- Poorly written content
- An infrequent posting schedule
- A small audience
- A large but poorly targeted audience
If you only post one article per month on your personal injury firm’s blog and believe that posting more often would increase readership, try posting once a week for the next month and compare data to determine if your hunch is correct. Or, your practice can use a brief form or pop-up to survey website visitors about which topics they would like to learn more about: workers’ compensation, Social Security disability, auto accidents, wrongful death, defective products, etc. Then, use the feedback to guide your content plan. Sign #2: A shrinking or disengaged email list A well-built email list results in several attorney marketing benefits. It can help to:
- Spread content and increase readership
- Keep in touch with past and current clients
- Move potential clients down the sales funnel
- Survey recipients about their satisfaction with your services as well as ideas for improvement
A growing list is considered a strong sign that your firm’s marketing strategy is effective. A shrinking list, on the other hand, means that contacts are unsubscribing, possibly because they are receiving emails too often or not frequently enough. Aside from small email lists, another common complaint among attorneys is low engagement among email recipients, such as dismal open or clickthrough rates. If this is the case for your practice, there may be several culprits. For example, your list may contain people who don’t fit your ideal client profile, the email subject lines you’re whipping up are not strong enough to garner attention, or poor email design is turning off mobile viewers. How to get back on track: First and foremost, the best way to keep email subscribers is to consistently provide them with relevant information such as enlightening blog articles, interesting news like recent laws that may affect them, and updates about your firm and services. People receive hundreds of emails a day but if your communications are always full of great information, recipients will be more likely to take a few minutes to read them. And it’s not just the internal content that matters. A good email subject line piques readers’ interest and promises value in just a few words. Instead of utilizing a generic subject line like “ABC Law Firm’s Monthly Newsletter,” for instance, try teasing an article included in the newsletter, such as “5 Bankruptcy Laws You Need to Know Now.” Finally, ensure that all emails are optimized for mobile viewing. With more people turning to their smartphones and tablets to check email, failing to make your mobile viewing experience seamless is a nail in the coffin of your attorney email marketing strategy. Be sure to:
- Use a responsive template that adapts to the size of the screen it is being viewed on
- Ensure that all images look great on compact screens, and that files are small enough to load quickly and easily
- Be concise
- Utilize buttons to route to pages on your law firm’s website rather than URLs (and ensure that all pages on your law firm website are also mobile optimized)
Sign #3: Few interactions per website visit Examples of website visitor interactions include:
- Viewing pages on your website
- Subscribing to your firm’s email list
- Reading blog articles
- Commenting on posts
- Downloading materials like white papers or e-books
Fewer interactions per visit to your law firm’s website means a lower average value per visitor and a lower conversion rate from visitor to client. Conversely, a large number of interactions per visit leads to a greater chance of conversion and more business coming into your firm. How to get back on track: Check your firm’s website statistics to see where things are going awry. For example, if a large number of visitors are landing on your homepage for a few seconds and then leaving for good, that’s a good sign that your homepage:
- Loads too slowly;
- Is not optimized for mobile;
- Is confusing and difficult to navigate;
- Or does not have appealing copy or images above the fold (the area of the page that you immediately see without scrolling down).
At that point, it may be best to reach out for professional attorney marketing help to redesign your law firm website. A web design team that specializes in the legal industry like James Attorney Marketing & Attorney Marketing can help to create a professional website that appropriately represents your firm and appeals to potential clients.
Case Study: Some progress initially, then boom, call volume climbs 80% in 3 months
Results from search engine optimization work typically take a couple months to begin showing. But when results do arrive, they can be stunningly large. That is what happened with this multi-office bankruptcy firm. We began working with them 5 months ago, saw some initial improvements and then in 3 short months:
- Organic traffic doubled
- Calls from their website nearly tripled
- Calls from Google My Business climbed 50%
- Total monthly calls jumped from 202 to 364 — an 80% increase
An art, but not voodoo
Sometimes lawyers feel like search engine optimization work is alchemy. Instead, SEO is more akin to cooking. The strategic part is an art taking many years to learn, like recipe development, but implementation is far more elementary, like chopping and mixing. For organic rankings, we select high-opportunity keywords, create content using those keywords, and build inbound links, which is the most challenging task. For Google My Business rankings, we create large numbers of citations on the most important directories and solicit online reviews from your past clients. To improve both types of rankings, we audit your site for errors and omissions and one-by-one correct them – URLs, title tags, meta descriptions, internal linking, and more. We also add schema so your review ranking (1-5 stars) shows on your Google listing.
Our team has been doing this work for law firms for many years, and has acquired a strong command of what works. We don’t always receive results like those described above, but we nearly always deliver meaningful improvements in rankings, website visitors, and call volume. Click below if you would like us to review your marketing efforts and results, and suggest possible improvements.
On Page SEO Tips for Attorney Websites
If you are attempting to manage your own law firms site or just looking for some good information about SEO and some common on page SEO tricks than this post is for you. Below are good tips to helping you manage your attorney website. If you have more questions feel free to give us a call. Good Luck!
On Page SEO Overview for Attorney Websites
Site wide changes (TITLE tags, for example) can be tricky, but they’re generally a lot easier than a complete redesign or a switch to a new platform. One area I won’t mention in this list is improving your URLs. Although that can be a powerful tactic, I’m seeing too many people who want to make relatively minor changes to URLs for SEO purposes. Site wide URL changes are risky and often difficult to do correctly – they aren’t worth it to go from “good” to “slightly better”. The changes I’m proposing here are generally low-risk.
1. Write Unique TITLE Tags
The TITLE tag is still a powerful ranking factor, and it’s still far too often either abused or neglected. Pages that you want to rank need unique, descriptive, and keyword-targeted TITLE tags, plain and simple. You can track exact duplicates in Google Webmaster Tools. You can find it under “Diagnostics” > “HTML Suggestions”.
2. Write Unique META Descriptions
While the META Description tag has little or no direct impact on ranking these days, it does have 2 important indirect impacts: It (usually) determines your search snippet and impacts click-through rate (CTR). It’s another uniqueness factor that makes pages look more valuable. Again, there are plenty of ways to generate META descriptions from data, including just using snippets of product descriptions. Try to make descriptions meaningful and attractive to visitors, not just pseudo-sentences loaded with keywords.
3. Shorten Your TITLE Tags
Long TITLE tags tend to weaken the SEO impact of any given keyword, and can also turn off search visitors (who tend to skim results). The most common culprit I see is when someone adds their home-page TITLE to the end of every other page. Let’s say your home-page TITLE is: “Best Attorney In Orange County| Attorney John Doe” Then, for every page, you have something like this: “Orange County DUI Attorney | Best Attorney in Orange County| Attorney John Doe” It may not look excessive, but you’re diluting the first few (and most important) keywords for the page, and you’re making every page on the site compete with your home-page unnecessarily. Its fine to use your company name (or a shortened version, like “Attorney John Doe”) at the end of all of your TITLE tags, but don’t repeat core keywords on a massive scale. I’ve seen this go to extreme, once you factor in long names, categories, and sub-categories.
4. Re-order Your TITLE Tags
On larger sites, it’s common to list category and sub-category information in TITLE tags. That’s fine up to a point, but I often see a configuration that looks something like this: “Contact Us | Office Locations|Orange County DUI Attorney | Best Attorney In Orange County” Not only does every TITLE tag on the site end up looking very similar, but the most important and unique keywords for the page are pushed to the very back. This is an issue for search usability, too, as research has demonstrated that the first few words in a title or headline are the most critical (possibly as few as the first two). If you’ve got a structure like the one above, flip it around: “Orange County DUI Attorney | Office Locations | Contact | Best Attorney In Orange County” It’s a relatively easy change, and it’ll put the most important keywords up front, where they belong. It will very likely also increase your search CTR.
5. Re-write Internal Anchor Text
I’m amazed how often I see internal links, even main navigation links, given cryptic, vague, or jargon-loaded labels. If you’re trying to rank your category page for “DUI Attorney”, don’t label the button “John Doe” – it’s a bad signal to search engines, and it probably doesn’t make much sense to visitors. Your internal anchor text should reflect your keyword strategy, and your keyword strategy should reflect common usage. Use labels people understand and don’t be afraid to be specific.
6. Remove 10 Low-Value Links
There’s an old adage in copywriting – say what you need to say in as few words as possible, and then, when you’re done, try to say it in half that many words. I think the same goes for internal linking. If most of your inbound links are coming to the home-page, then your site architecture is the single biggest factor in flowing link-juice to deeper pages. It’s natural to want to link to everything, but if you prioritize everything, you effectively prioritize nothing. Find 10 links on your home-page that are either low priority for search or that visitors never click on (a click-mapping tool like Crazy Egg is a great way to test this), and remove them. Focusing your remaining link-juice is an easy way to boost your most important pages.
SEO Trends: Keeping Them on the Site
Much of your SEO effort for your law office’s website is probably focused on search engine rankings … and rightly so. If you know about the marketing funnel, you know that it doesn’t matter how great your services are and how slick your website is, if the people looking for your services can’t find you. However, the next stage in the funnel is to convince visitors to the site that you can help them, and in order to do that your first task is to direct people who arrive at your site towards the information that is most likely to entice them to make an appointment. Getting potential clients from the search engine results page into a seat on the other side of your desk is the task of website design. Issues such as path flow and user experience are key to converting a page hit into a consultation. Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, the Quicksprout Blog and Search Engine Watch have advice to help you keep visitors on your site long enough to make your pitch. 14 ways to reduce your site’s bounce rates A big statistic you should keep your eye on for your law firm’s website performance is its bounce rate. “Bounce rate” has several different definitions, but they are all important. In this article, the author uses the term to mean the percentage of visits to a site that do not progress beyond the first page. Others think the term means the amount of time visitors spend, with a short time being a high bounce rate. Another definition of bounce rate is time limited – the number of people that leave your site within 5 or 10 minutes of first arriving. You need to judge which of these definitions could monitor potential failure of your site. For example, if you have contact details on your Home page, it might not necessarily denote failure if busy mobile surfers just looked at that page. You need to look at where you keep the convincing information on your site and follow the user experience to make sure people are getting to the page that has it. Eight essentials for landing page optimization People arrive at your law firm’s website either by typing in an address that they got off an advert, a brochure or your firm’s stationary, or by following a link from another site or a search engine. The page that address points to is the “landing page” and you need to make sure that page either has all the convincing information on it, or that links through to the vital page are easy to find and quick to follow. Therefore, you should have shortcut links through to key explanations about your legal specializations right on the landing page (which is usually the Home page) rather than expecting visitors to navigate through the menu system to find it for themselves. The Most Important Thing SEOs Overlook: Internal Links The title of this article says it all, and reiterates the points made in the description of the previous article in today’s review. That is, if it takes a few pages to filter people through to exactly the right information for them, make sure the menu structure is easy to follow, or, even better, redundant. If you have a busy practice with diverse specializations, you can’t expect to crowd answers to everyone’s fears all on one page. However, you should make it childishly simple for people to spot a link and get to that page. Don’t make them work, otherwise they will bounce out. How to Make People Stay and Read Your Blog Posts Once your website visitors have glided effortlessly to the perfect page to meet their legal needs, don’t beat about the bush, bore them or scare them away. The issue of the content that you post on your law firm’s website is slightly tangential to the main theme of this week’s SEO Trend’s topic. However, structuring the content properly is a website design issue and it has more downside risks than positive influences. Length of post is a hot topic in SEO these days, and there are lots of arguments in favor of “shortform” and “longform.” This writer takes her own advice – “limit the length of your posts” — and keeps it short. A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a High Converting Webinar The longform advocates of SEO are led by championship long-distance blogger, Neil Patel. In this article you can see him practicing his art at great length. However, the reason this article is in our pick of top advice to keep your visitors onsite is its subject – webinars. Varying the media you use can break up the monotony of looking for services. If you can put in a video of yourself displaying your legal expertise, you will grab people’s attention and stop them bouncing off to a competitor’s website. Also, note how Patel breaks up his extraordinarily long article with visuals. He creates plenty of white space on the page to make his very longform content digestible.
3 Tricks for Making Law Firm Website Visitors Stay for Longer Than 15 Seconds
Research shows that the average website visitor spends 15 seconds or less looking at or engaging with a webpage after landing on it. A quarter of one minute isn’t a lot of time to catch a reader’s attention, but there are a few things your law firm website can do to increase the odds of visitors staying for longer, engaging with content, and converting to another stage of the sales cycle. Below, find three tricks to help make your law firm website visitors stay longer than 15 seconds.
1. Improve the loading speed
If your website takes ages to load, Internet users aren’t even going to wait for it to finish. Therefore, do a quick experiment to ensure that your website is loading quickly enough to retain a visitor’s attention: visit your law firm website from several different devices such as tablets, smartphones, desktop computers, and through search engines like Google and Bing. There is also a myriad of tools to help analyze how quickly your webpage loads, from Google Analytics to websites like webpagetest.org. If you notice any problems with loading speed after utilizing these resources and experimenting on your own, make it a priority fix.
2. Display an enticing offer
Since most web users are looking for something very specific on your site or maybe just assessing if something catches their eye, an enticing and well-placed offer can appeal to enough visitors to consistently increase your online traffic and visitor engagement. Try featuring a Hello bar at the top of your law firm website; it’s a full-width bar spanning the top of a webpage that displays an offer or promising call to action. For example, a bankruptcy law firm could implement a Hello bar that reads “Download your free copy of our ‘How to Manage Crippling Debt’ e-Book. Click here.” Web users click on the bar and must enter their email address to receive the free e-Book, which accomplishes two things:
- Accrues email subscribers for your email marketing list
- Engages website visitors with your brand instead of allowing them to hop off your page after 15 seconds, never to return
3. Vary newsworthy and evergreen content
Evergreen content—content that is continually relevant—should be a staple of your law firm website’s blog, however, catchy newsworthy content should also make a regular appearance. For example, the same bankruptcy law firm that utilized a Hello bar to accrue email subscribers above could also appeal to visitors with content like “ files bankruptcy. What He Did Wrong and Where He’ll Go From Here.” While the content shouldn’t be gimmicky (no click-baiting!), it should capitalize on recent news that your law firm website visitors may have heard of. If a topic catches their interest, they’re most likely going to stay on your site to read the article and browse around instead of leaving after just a few seconds.
Familiar lawyers edged out by expert lawyers
Google has made it easy to find authoritative content on most any question – especially legal questions. That ready availability of answers makes it easier for legal consumers to find attorneys with relevant expertise. For attorneys, that ready availability has reduced the marketing value of prior relationships and geographic proximity while it has increased the value of specialization, writing, videos, and search engine optimization. Experienced web searchers want to see expertise demonstrated BEFORE they contact you. And they want it immediately. They aren’t going to wait for your next presentation or client alert. Your proof of expertise needs to be within a click or two. To stay ahead of this new marketing curve, you need to devote time or retain someone to generate, optimize, and post proof of your expertise – whether in article or video format. Despite there currently being more lawyers than work, the attorneys who have mastered the new digital marketing methods are thriving. They are no longer weighed down by the old restrictions of relationships and geographic proximity.
Does you law firm have an advertising budget? Do you place ads for your practice in local newspapers and magazines? Have you ever considered paying for an advertisement on your local TV station? If you are an advertising spender, you have probably heard about paid advertisements on search engines like Google and Bing. If this is a topic that might interest you, you could start to get a feel for the topic by reading a few industry news articles rather than paying for a course or hiring consultants. You can get a feel about where to direct your online advertising budget by reading the articles highlighted in this SEO roundup. As with anything concerning Web technology, the freshness of the information you study is key. The SEO industry is constantly changing, driven forward by advances in techniques and technology. The second week in March 2014 brought forth a lot of articles on the issue of paid search engine marketing. This week’s roundup features news stories from Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal.
An initial glance at this item’s title might give you the idea that online advertising has had its day. In fact, this is one important link in a chain of news about the growth of mobile technology. Google is pouring its resources into reformatting its services for mobile users and this indicates a trend away from the Web’s use as an online library towards it being used more for quick bites of information that can be presented on a smartphone. As Google relies on paid advertising for its income, it is preparing Web advertisers for the shape of things to come. This article spells out some of the factors in this trend. This will direct you more towards the possible format of any online advertising you invest in for your legal practice.
A key benefit of online advertising is the opportunity to really target your spend towards only those members of the public looking you’re your practice’s services. For example, there is no point getting your firm noticed by people looking for a divorce lawyer if you specialize in finance law. This leads towards the search engine marketing specialization of “contextual advertising.” This article in Search Engine Journal will give you a good introduction to that topic.
The standard charging method for online advertising is that you will be billed for each click your banner or link receives to direct that person through to your site. This concept is summarized as “pay per click” and you will see the acronym PPC many times when researching search engine marketing. This Search Engine Journal article will give you an understanding of some of the key issues in PPC for your law firm’s online campaign.
The chances are that your practice gets most of its clients from within a few miles of its offices. This SEJ piece lists a number of conferences and events you might consider attending in order to learn how to focus your advertising on your locale.
If you are in charge of the Internet strategy of a large legal practice you might benefit from this Search Engine Land article about how large businesses go about implementing their PPC strategies.
On-Site Factors You May Be Overlooking
A website’s backlink profile and the keywords it contains, in the guise of content, are by far the two biggest ranking factors that Google uses when ordering results for searches. There are, however, many other factors involved in the ranking algorithm, and each can add just a small number of points to any of the pages in your law firm’s website. Many of these factors are technical issues and they can push your ranking up by just enough to get your pages up one or two places on search results pages. This week, SEO Trends looks at some of those on-site factors that you may have overlooked. If all of your competitors are working as hard as you are with content and link building, fixing technical problems with your site, and tinkering a little with the HTML behind the scenes could give you the edge you need to rise above the pack and get noticed. Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Journal, the Moz Blog, and Search Engine Land have advice on these factors this week. Local businesses trump big businesses when it comes to delivering on-site updates Local SEO is a top priority for US lawyers because you are more likely to get clients from your immediate neighborhood than from the other side of the country. This report from Search Engine Land explains that technical changes in the code on your site can actually have a bigger influence on your local SEO rankings than the usual channels such as map presence and reviews. The survey featured in the article found that not only do the topics of title tags and metadata give websites a boost in local search, but the changes you make to those factors get picked up very quickly by search engines. That will give your site a much quicker ranking boost than much of the other SEO work that might occupy your time. What are the most common on-page SEO issues and how to fix them? Search Engine Watch made this useful contribution to the topic of on-site and on-page signals this week. This guide highlights the errors that may exist on the pages of your site and how fixing those mistakes can be enough to boost your rankings. SEMrush is an SEO tools provider and they have analyzed 450 million Web pages looking for ranking-clobbering errors. These are factors that are overlooked by many website owners. Hopefully, if you can fix these problems in your site and the other lawyers in your area don’t, you can rise above the competition on the search results pages. Here again, title tags and metadata are among the most important factors that you need to look into.
5 Steps to Boost Your Site’s Indexability Here are some tips on site-wide factors that can boost your rankings. Making your pages easier to reach by Googlebots will get them indexed faster, and so they will appear in search engine results pages much sooner. Flattening your site hierarchy is a good trick that should also improve the circulation of ranking points around your website and amplify any points you get in from your back links. This is a factor that we covered at SEO Trends a couple of weeks ago in our Internal Linking issue. The complete beginner’s guide to Schema.org markup Structured data and schema markup can give your site an edge in rankings, ensure that search engines pick up the right information about your law firm to show as a description of your site, and can get you that prized quick answer slot that appears at the top of the results page. Unfortunately, this topic is very technical. It forms a part of the metadata that is embedded in the code that generates your page. It is a difficult topic, and you may find you do not want to be diverted away from your case load in order to properly master this subject. However, this report explains schema markup in a very digestible manner. Even if you don’t intend to add these codes to your site yourself, understanding what the terms mean can arm you with enough knowledge to negotiate a contract with a programmer. The Search Marketer’s Guide to ItemRef & ItemID If you managed to make it through the schema markup guide, here is a little more information on structured data that can help you boost your rankings. This Moz Blog article would be difficult to understand without first studying the guide above. Here in the Moz Blog guide you can learn how the attributes ItemRef and ItemID can improve the power of your law firm’s website schema markup.
If you page back through the Attorney Digital Marketing Blog you will notice that we have been detecting twitchiness at Google since January. Signals of discontent have been steadily transmitted by Google HQ, but the company seemed strangely egg-bound until mid-March, when Matt Cutts came out with it and admitted there was a major algorithm shift on the cards. The sounds emitting from the examination room suggest that delivery is expected sometime around the end of May, so the SEO industry is currently preoccupied with pacing up and down the corridor wondering what color to paint the spare bedroom. However, we can’t all mark time and there is work to do for US lawyers to prepare for the big event. The new algorithm update will greatly benefit those who possess authority and credibility. Lawyers need these qualities to compete, so you should be brushing up your web presence to portray these attributes. Any marketer will tell you that attracting attention is half the battle won. The other half is conversion. You need to get people to visit your website and then you need them to pick up the phone, come into the office and sign a contract. The best tool you can use to score conversions is engagement. You need the public to believe you know the law, but then you also need them to believe they can trust you. Engagement converts authority to trust, so let’s have a look at what Bruce Clay, Search Engine Journal, the Moz Blog and Search Engine Roundtable have to say on this topic.
Before we look into engagement, here is a very brief article from Search Engine Roundtable indicating that Webmasters all over the world have noticed that Google is playing around with the parameters. This shows that they are probably in the final phase of testing their new algorithm and so it’s fair to conclude that it won’t be long now.
Bruce Clay, the grandpappy of SEO, puts his finger on it with this article. The law can seem very boring, very stressful or very alienating to members of the public. Putting some real life stories on your website would help engage potential customers. Go back through your case files and find the typical profiles of cases you can win. Write up the background of those cases in the simplest terms possible and conclude the story with you saving the day. People looking for representation will identify with those past clients even if they can’t identify with you and your working practices. This idea will win you clients.
So, you’ve got a blog, you’re on Twitter and Facebook and Google+: isn’t that enough? Rand Fishkin over at Moz Blog has some key advice, which I will quote here verbatim: “The more we engage our audience (both buyer and audience personas), the more we impress it with our content and the more we are able to empathically resonate with it, the more we are creating a memorable brand to which our audience will refer for products, knowledge and advice in our niche.” That’s engagement.
If you are struggling to write engaging content, this tip from Search Engine Journal will tell you why. You are forcing yourself to write at the wrong time of the day. Scientific research detailed in this report suggests you should be generating your content in the morning. Whatever you write, remember, be engaging.
How to Engage More Visitors to Your Law Firm’s Website
If your site is like that of most law firms, only 2% of your visitors provide their contact information. The percentage will be even lower for websites that talk about you instead of addressing your prospective clients’ problems. Your website should be focused 80% on moving prospects along the engagement funnel and 20% on explaining what your firm does and who does it. Instead, most firms are 80% what and who, and 20% engaging. Below are 8 ways to remedy that imbalance without redoing your whole site.
- Create lead magnets. The call-to-action on your automated webinar will pull better if a lead magnet is offered. And so will every other request for contact information on your site. The best lead magnets for lawyers are books, but booklets and FAQs will also work.
- Add exit pop-up. When a visitor clicks to exit, have a pop-up appear that offers one of the lead magnets explained above in #1. A meaningful percentage of visitors who would have departed without a trace will now provide contact information.
- Add live chat. Using an outside service, in the lower right-hand corner of your website place an unobtrusive live chat box. The 24/7 monitoring and ease of use will engage more visitors.
- Add automated webinar(s). Record an educational video. This is not the typical talking-head lawyer video. Instead, it should combine your voice with explanatory text boards, but you can also obtain a professional voice-over for less than $100. Finish with a call-to-action requesting contact information.
- Limit fields on your opt-in form. If you have a client intake person or team that is good with follow-up, trim the number of fields to three: name, email, and phone number. Alternatively, divide completion between two pages, with only name and email on the first page of the opt-in form.
- Feature your phone number. Move the firm’s 800 number to the upper right-hand corner of the home page. Use large type and a contrasting color.
- Add a pricing page. Cost is a big concern for nearly every prospective client, yet the number of lawyer websites which have a price page is miniscule. Be different! If you can’t be specific, provide a typical range of costs for commonly-encountered situations. This page will quickly become one of the most popular ones on your site.
- Add a USP page. Take the “I’m different” approach one step further. Write a page explaining how you differ from your competition. Back up your claims with details and examples. No matter what the profession or service, prospects want to know “why should I hire you?”
Free Advice Book
Want more suggestions like these? We have a free 9-page booklet that offers 32 solutions to the following law firm digital marketing problems: I. Your Website
- Problem: Few visitors to your website give you their contact information.
- Problem: The visitors to your website quickly leave.
- Problem: Your website receives few visitors.
- Problem: Your leads are low quality.
- Problem: Not enough leads set appointments.
- Problem: You need more leads.
- Problem: You receive few referrals from past clients.
Many website owners make the mistake of putting a lot of effort into creating their site and then not paying any attention to it thereafter. You probably tested your law firm’s site when it was first written, but you might have overlooked some errors in out of the way pages that you forgot to test. It is worth revisiting your site periodically to see it with fresh eyes and to try to find mistakes that you couldn’t see before. Apart from typos and broken links, your practice’s site might have tired content or include SEO tricks that are out of date. Search Engine Journal has some particularly good advice on this situation this week and this roundup also includes articles from Search Engine Watch and the Moz Blog.
You may have decided to put a blog on your law firm’s website, put a few posts on it and then forgot about it. You might have lots of short items about things going off in the office, or you might have seen an interesting legal point on some other site and copied it verbatim into a page on your website. All of these habits are big turn offs for potential customers, sites that you might want to get a link from, and, above all, Google. Thin and duplicated content will lose you points and prevent your site appearing on the first page of search engine results. So, if your firm’s site has any of these characteristics, you need to throw out the trash and put up some interesting information on your site.
Neil Patel has his own SEO consultancy and he also writes for Search Engine Journal. In this article, he displays uncharacteristic humility in admitting he got something wrong. However, he snatches victory from the jaws of defeat by turning his bad experience into good advice. This warning is about the perils of soliciting “user-generated content.” This category of content springs from comments sections and forums. Such strategies are a good idea if you administer and contribute to them yourself. A law firm, for example, could have a questions and answers sections for common legal problems. However, if you just ignore your site’s forum, it can get your firm into trouble.
A landing page is a page on your website that is pointed to by external links. It is the first page that a visitor following that external link sees on your law firm’s website. Having different landing pages on your site enables you to present different facts to different audiences. The advice of this article is that subtlety doesn’t work. Not only does it irritate and confuse visitors, but Google demands that the page pointed to by a link must contain all, or at least most of the promised information. So make sure that your landing pages deliver exactly what the links you attract bill them as containing.
The main advice of this article can be summarized as “don’t post meaningless drivel on your site.” That may seem an obvious strategy. However, if your law firm’s website was created by adapting an off-the-shelf package, it may contain a lot of vague platitudes. Another mistake many lawyers make is that they like to bamboozle the general public with legal terms to make themselves seem knowledgeable. Take a look at your site and ask yourself whether your Aunt Minnie could understand everything on it. Anything that seems overly technical, tone down. Replace vague pages with solid advice that Joe Public can use.
The previous article covers the concept of putting in place a process to ensure your new content is relevant. This article covers more or less the same concept, but goes into more detail with the outline of a methodology you could use to put that process into action. If you are managing your law firm’s website yourself, you may not have the specialist knowledge of a website content creator. This article explains steps and reasoning you could apply each time you intend to create new content for your site.
Digital Marketing Trends
Lawyers know that there are ethical ways of winning cases and unethical methods. Sometimes, the urge to win makes the unethical practices seem mighty tempting. However, the legal profession imposes a code of ethics on its members and most lawyers stick to it, for fear of losing their accreditation. Search engine marketing has similarly unethical tricks and Google’s constant algorithm changes attempt to stamp them out. The Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) proposes an SEM code of ethics to remove sneaky practices from the industry. Whether forced by Google, or self-imposed by the industry, the death of “black hat” SEO may well be the dominant theme of digital marketing in 2015. Search Engine Journal has two articles on the subject of the SEMPO Code of Ethics this week. This roundup also contains a few other pointers on how to prepare your digital marketing campaign for next year, and these mainly come from Search Engine Watch.
This is the first of the two Search Engine Journal articles on the SEMPO Code of Ethics and it presents the “anti” argument. The question of ethics is one that US lawyers should understand well. However, any code of conduct needs to be constantly monitored and adjusted to account for new technology and innovative thinking. The legal profession struggles to keep up with rapid change and the world of SEO evolves even faster than the law. Could a voluntary body with few powers ever hope to impose a code?
This is the “pro” article on the code of ethics. As a practitioner of the law you will probably read this article drawing parallel between the issues of self-imposed ethics in US legal practices and the current state of SEO. The key point this writer makes is that Google is arbitrarily introducing a code of ethics by itself. It’s advancements in this field come unannounced and can cause havoc. At least if digital marketers get ahead of the game, they can iron out any surprises on the long road towards an ethical structure for SEO.
Leaving aside the ethics issue, we now find some fairly easy reading on how to review your law firm’s current digital marketing strategy and what to plan for 2015. Keep on to the end of the article, because it contains reviews of three tools you can use to come up with new content for your site and assess its potential.
This is a very business-like article on the issue of assessing your law firm’s digital marketing plan. It includes a template you can use for assessing the value you are getting from your SEM spend. Back to the question of a code of conduct, the article includes a list of SEO tricksters to avoid, which sails pretty close to a self-imposed code of ethics.
The title of this piece may make you think that it contains some pretty unethical advice. However, this is not the case. If you pay for rankings on Google for your law firm’s website by bidding on keywords, you may benefit from the advice in this article.
SEO Roundup: Drawing Board Edition
If you are considering redesigning your law firm’s website, you would do well to read through the articles linked to in this week’s SEO roundup. This is the drawing board edition of the James Attorney Marketing Web trends monitor. The SEO news community has been a little unfocused over the past week and only two sites have been able to come up with anything useful: Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Journal. Fortunately, these two sites have posted tons of interesting articles over the week.
As you are running a law firm, you can’t be expected to know everything about website design and search engine marketing. However, you need to be able to understand what the people you contract your website building work out to are talking about. This Search Engine Watch article gives you an excellent run down on what issue are important in digital marketing today in respect to website design.
When you are in that meeting with the techies, you will be able to keep your head above the water if you read this low down on the recent Panda update from Search Engine Journal. Although you specialize in the law, you can make it clear you are up to speed in the world of SEO, by dropping quotes from this article.
You read in the previous article that Panda was all about knocking thin content. A law firm’s website has a lot of scope for providing authoritative professional advice and so there should be no excuse for your Web pages to earn Google’s disapproval of thin content. However, read this article with your own site in mind to make sure you avoid the thin content pitfall.
Not every page on your site needs to be packed with vital legal insights. For example, your “Contacts” page and “About Us” pages are likely to be lot “thinner” than the pages where you describe your practice specializations. The key content needs to be on your landing pages and this article explains this concept.
The recent Panda update pole axed sites that focused all their inbound links on the home page. This is a shame, because it was a very nice and cheap little trick to up your rankings. However, your new website will have to adjust those links to point to relevant pages on your law firm’s website, and those landing pages should be content fat.
User experience is a very important topic when defining your law firm’s website, but, unfortunately, the subject is a little vague. Obviously, you want people to find their way around the site so they can get to the relevant information, be suitably impressed and hire you. But is that all “UX” means? This article should get you UX-minded.
This article has a slightly annoying “you shouldn’t have done that” feel about it, but just as the “you missed a bit” advice can be annoying, it can also, sometimes, be right. The article provides you with a good checklist for putting things right on your law firm’s website. Our talented team has built more than 800 websites and generated 100,000 leads for attorneys like you. Let us redesign your site—request a quote now! Discover how our website design services can boost leads to your legal practice.