More attorneys are using advertising to expand their practice in the face of increased competition in the legal profession. Additionally, there is now heavy emphasis of marketing through the Web, challenging attorneys to find effective marketing tools that allow customers to find their firm over others. This article provides you with top tips and techniques for attorneys to market through the Web, including through their website, SEO, directories, and PPC advertising.
Since the website is one of the first impressions people will get of the firm, it’s important to develop a professional website. When planning on a design, determine the message you want your website to communicate about the firm, the audience you are trying to reach with it, and your budget. A strong site could include the following sample elements:
- Firm overview
- Areas of practice
- Frequently asked questions/requests for more information
- Client lists
- Client testimonials
- Publications page
- Calendar of events
- Photo gallery
- Resources and related links pages
- Question of the week/submit questions
- Multimedia and video
- Flash video is nice, but not search engine-friendly
- Firm overviews
- Practice overviews
Integrating a blog, which can have its own domain, into the firm’s website is a driving factor of additional traffic and increased page rank value of the master domain. Blogging, article writing and utilizing case studies correctly online can have a positive impact on your site’s ranking position. Since search engines place heavy emphasis on new, current and quality content, a blog is a great vehicle to ensure that your site is fresh. Attorneys should routinely generate weekly and monthly blog content on their practice areas as part of an ongoing strategy.
Blogs also increase communication with the firm and its customers, providing added value for its services. They raise the organization’s profile online, and engage and influence debates and opinions about your market, presenting yourself as a leading attorney in the field.
Social Media Sites
The most popular examples of social media sites are Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, MySpace, and YouTube. Use of these sites can, most importantly, increase the number of quality organic links to your firm’s website. Social media sites serve as a quick, layman’s vehicle to tell people what is happening in your firm as compared to regular e-mail and snail mail campaigns. Ads are now even available on Facebook, MySpace and YouTube, which provide an opportunity to micro-target demographics. For example, Facebook captures postings to create analytical data on what people are talking about, which can then be used to target market certain keywords.
Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Once the firm’s website is developed with SEO in mind, Google Analytics or another program such as Web Position Gold should be used to measure the site’s performance. In order to achieve good SEO rankings, a comprehensive program that includes on-page and off-page SEO strategies should be put in place to maximize ranking. Building rank power for the firm’s website begins with providing quality, relevant content, then optimizing the visibility of the content using standard on-page optimization techniques. Once on-page optimization has been performed, the growth of the site’s rank power can be fostered through a good link-building program that also includes social media. These techniques can help SEO grow exponentially.
Referral Websites and Directories
Referral websites such as FindLaw and Lawyers.com provide public information about lawyers, and allow customers to find an attorney based on practice areas and geographic areas. Of the two sites, Lawyers.com appears to provide better branding, while FindLaw generally creates more appealing sites and achieves better search engine results for its directory. Both referral sites are relatively expensive, though, with the price depending on the attorneys’ practice areas, geographic areas, and type of listing. An alternative to using these two pricey directories is to develop and maintain your firm’s own website with SEO.
There are numerous attorney directories, such as attorneypages.com and others that are specific to areas of practice, which provide listings and charge based on the geographic and practice areas. Local directories, such as lilawyerpages.com and nylawyerpages.com, to be developed by PRMG, are also available.
Though unsolicited faxes are illegal, unsolicited e-mails are not. One requirement is that the e-mails must allow readers to opt out. E-newsletters are a useful tool for generating leads, organizations are able to identify and track recipients who click through. The firm can then follow up with those who click through by sending a brochure and making a follow-up call, for example.
A number of programs can be used to send out e-newsletters, with popular ones being Microsoft Outlook, StreamSend, and Constant Contact. Through these programs, e-mails can be sent in HTML format or as attachments in PDF format. However, there are limits on the number of e-mails that can be sent out through the programs. Third-party vendors like StreamSend and Constant Contact increase the likelihood that e-mails will reach the intended recipients by integrating with sales force automated programs. StreamSend and Constant Contact also provide HTML and text options and can decipher which format to deliver to recipients, such as sending a text version to a BlackBerry.
AdWords and PPC Advertising
Google, Yahoo, MSN, Facebook, SuperPages and phone directories all use AdWords or another form of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Taking advantage of AdWords allows you to control your budget by only paying for the ads that have been clicked through. In order to maximize your PPC budget, use long-tail keywords with high search volume and low competition.
Using AdWords can increase the traffic driven to your firm’s page, especially when the topic is in the news. Track which keywords are working for your firm, and use them in the website’s SEO. Using these techniques to drive customers to the firm’s website is important since search engine placement and paid searches have largely replaced phone books, especially in today’s “green” era.
If you have any questions or need advice about the kind of site you need for your new business, get in touch for a free consultation.