Law Firm Internet Marketing
Internet marketing is exactly what it sounds like: the process of marketing your law firm on the Internet. Law firm Internet marketing is more than just having a law firm website, although that’s a start. It’s about building your law firm’s brand online, helping to draw potential clients to your firm to check out what you have to offer, and getting those potential clients to turn into actual clients once they find their way to your site.
One of the most basic principles of Internet marketing is search engine optimization (SEO), which is a process by which you drive traffic to your company’s website through using targeted keywords and building links to your site. Social Media Marketing, another subset of Internet marketing, involves using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks to connect with potential clients and drive even more traffic to your firm’s website. Finally, other options including Search Engine Marketing (SEM), which uses pay-per-click to place links to your firm on relevant sites (you pay when someone clicks the link); and affiliate marketing, where you pay a third party for every referral to your site.
Once you get clients to your site, of course, the key to successful law firm Internet marketing is to convert them into customers. By providing an informative site and making it easy for them to get in touch, your law firm Internet marketing can translate into a great potential source of business.
At a very minimum, your law firm should have a website. Since people need to find your website, you should also make sure you use search engine optimization to help your site rank highly on Google and other search engines. While a referral is still the top method for consumers to find a lawyer, a May 2011 ABA Journal article indicated that a full 49 percent of potential clients are likely to consult websites where people ask lawyers questions in order to find an attorney. Another 47 percent of respondents indicated they were likely to look at lawyer rating websites when searching for an attorney and 44 percent looked to an attorney’s own website when searching for a lawyer.
While the ABA Journal article, entitled How People Find Lawyers, revealed that only 9 percent of people would look to Twitter, 15 percent to Facebook and 20 percent to lawyer blogs, it is important to remember that a part of the purpose of Twitter, Facebook and blogs is to drive people to your website. This means that even when your clients don’t find you through your blog or Facebook, your links and networking on those sites may have been the thing that helped your site rank high enough on Google that the client was able to find you in the first place.
Based on this information the better question may be “How can you afford not to do internet marketing?”
An autoresponder is computer program or computer software that responds automatically to emails. There are three types of auto responders: self hosted responders where you install a computer script on your web server; hosted responders where a script is used but installed on someone else’s web server and where you pay a subscription fee; and mailer servers that run right off of your own personal work station.
Each of these different types of auto responders serves a similar purpose in law firm Internet marketing: when an email is sent to your firm, someone fills out a form on a website or someone contacts you through any online means, you can set your auto responder to send a designated reply. Your reply can, for example, thank the potential client for the inquiry and let them know you will get back to them within a certain period of time. Better yet, your auto responder can respond when a potential new client sends an email and give them some relevant information about your firm and what you can to help meet their needs.
Using an auto responder to acknowledge emails sent to your law firm, to welcome people who subscribe to your blog, or to give more information in response to an inquiry, can help make your firm seem more professional and stand out more in a potential client’s mind since it shows your client you have anticipated his or her needs. An auto responder can also help you to obtain your potential client’s contact information so you can follow up with future details about how you can meet their needs.
Search Engine Optimization
As any Internet user knows, search engines such as Google are necessary to find relevant information in the vast network of data on the World Wide Web. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of helping those search engines to find your law firm’s website and, more importantly, getting search engines to rank your law firm’s website higher than other sites.
Search engines find websites using a “spider” that crawls the web to see what’s on different web pages. Spiders slowly comb through the more than 20 billion pages of web data, visiting periodically to see what they find. As they visit, they identify words and expressions on each page in order to index its content. The index created is stored in a massive database and, when someone searches the web, the search engine compares the searched words with its database to find the most relevant match.
Search engine optimization is the process of making sure your site is indexed correctly and given a high relevance ranking so it comes up when someone enters an appropriate search term. For instance, if you are running a family law firm in Florida, you want to make sure the spider indexes you as a Florida family law firm and that the search engines believe your site is the most relevant and useful to people looking for a page about Florida family law attorneys.
Search engine optimization involves a number of different tasks, from using the right keywords to increasing the number of other quality websites that link to your site in order to help the search engine to recognize your content and consider it useful enough to offer up to searchers.
Effective SEO is essential because unless your law firm’s website is ranked highly by a search engine, it will be much more difficult, if not impossible, for you to obtain “organic” Internet traffic. Organic traffic refers to people who find your website on a search engine, rather than people who come to your site after following a paid link or by typing your web address directly into the address bar. Since many people who are looking for a lawyer will start by going to a search engine and typing in a search term, getting organic traffic is key to attracting the largest client base. This is especially true if you don’t have a fortune to spend on advertising or attorney referral sites.
Chitika, a company that specializes in data analytics and online advertising, reports that a top spot on Google will get you double the amount of traffic than even being in the #2 spot. As many as 34.35 percent of Internet searchers visited the top spot down after they had conducted a search. This meant that the person whose site was in number one received almost as much traffic as all of the websites in the second through fifth spots, and more than the amount of traffic in all of the people in spots 5-20 put together. Once you get beyond the first or second page, your organic traffic becomes almost non-existent.
When you employ search engine optimization principles on your law firm’s website, you can earn one of the coveted top spots on Google, getting you exposure to hundreds, thousands or perhaps even millions more clients.
Absolutely! In the past, attorneys didn’t really have to worry about those things because law firms offered a unique service that clients couldn’t get anywhere else… If you had a legal problem, you needed an attorney, plain and simple.
But in today’s digital world, that’s not really the case. Potential clients can access an endless supply of legal wisdom on the Internet and in many cases, even download do-it-yourself forms to address their problem! That means that attorneys need to find new ways to connect with those potential clients and demonstrate the benefits of hiring a professional instead of trying to handle the matter on their own.
Fortunately, this same technology provides us with a number of effective tools that can keep you in front of your target market and convey the benefits of working with your firm.
And that’s where Best Legal Practices comes in. We’ve created an exclusive program that utilizes all those nifty little tools and maximizes your online marketing efforts.
Search engine optimization is all about the optimization, and there are a number of different things you can do as part of your law firm Internet marketing to optimize your website and help search engine’s to rank it more highly. Some of the most important things you can do include:
- Building a strong library of content that uses keywords appropriately. Keywords allow a search engine to properly index your site and help people who enter a specific search term to find your site. Keyword usage is a fine line though. You don’t want to fill your content with only target words (or “keyword stuff” as it is called in the business) because search engines will penalize you for that. Your content should sound readable and natural and should include key phrases in moderation.
- Keeping your content fresh and up-to-date. Search engine spiders know how frequently you post new information and when you never do, search engines assume your content has become old and stale and that you are no longer as relevant as you used to be.
- Building good links. When well-respected websites link to your firm, it is like an endorsement of your website. Search engines take notice of this and you improve your page rank simply by having other quality sites link to you. This doesn’t necessarily mean purchasing links either, as sometimes you can actually be penalized for that. Instead, consider posting in legal article directories and always provide relevant content that people will want to link to.
Search engine optimization is a constantly changing art form, so keeping up to date on changes in law firm Internet marketing strategies is essential to getting your website to the top of Google and keeping it there.
Social media is a term used a lot and one that doesn’t necessarily have a clearly defined meaning. In its most basic form, social media is a tool used for communication and connection. Today, social media has come to encompass a wide range of websites and products that allow you to interact with a network or friends, clients, associates and strangers in real time. Social media allows people and businesses to share information and updates, talk to others one-on-one or in groups, and get regular feedback and responses.
There are many different social media tools and websites that exist that allow for different means of making connections. Facebook, for example, allows you to have friends who receive updates, view photographs and albums, leave comments on your “wall” and interact not only with you but also with others who are following your company. Twitter, on the other hand, allows you to send short, snappy bulletins out to “followers,” while a blog- which some people consider to be social media- allows you to build up a following on your very own website where you share stories, news and topical information.
Not only can social media for lawyers help you to make a more personal connection with clients, but posting interesting stories to your blog and taking advantage of other social media outlets to link to relevant information on your website can also help to increase your page’s rank with search engines, driving more traffic to your site.
Law firm marketing has become pervasive on television and the Internet and almost every firm today has a website to connect with customers and provide relevant information. With all the marketing efforts you may already be engaged in, it’s natural to wonder if you need another one. The reality, however, is that if you do not have a social media profile, you are losing out on an important opportunity to build a network not only of clients, but also of referrals and word of mouth advertising.
Social media is pervasive in today’s world, and according to a 2008 Business in Social Media Study conducted by Cone Communications , a full 93 percent of Americans indicated that they believe companies should have a social media presence. Eighty-five percent of those responding also indicated they believe that businesses should use their social media accounts to connect with customers.
Your clients are your customers and having a social media profile gives them another source of information about your firm. You can establish yourself as an expert, drive traffic to your firm’s website, keep your firm on the forefront of your client’s mind, and help yourself stand out from the crowd of other firms simply by opening a free social media account. So, while the answer may be that your firm doesn’t need a social media profile, the bigger question is, why wouldn’t you want one?
Whether you want to use Facebook or Twitter to connect with potential clients and get your law firm noticed depends on what you are trying to achieve. Facebook allows you to connect in a very different way than Twitter, such as by building an ongoing public conversation on your wall or using Facebook’s new Timeline Feature so clients can see a history of what your firm has posted and done. When you post links to your Blog on Facebook, your blog is also more likely to be read. In fact, Mashable.com indicates that a blog publicized on Facebook is read 8.7 times more than the same article posted on Twitter.
Twitter, on the other hand, lets you send out short updates called Tweets. This can be a great way to quickly and easily share a link with followers, send a short bit of firm news, or otherwise connect with people who don’t want to take the time to read an entire post.
Because of their different aims, the basic rule is that if you have to choose just one, Facebook will typically allow you to make a more substantive connection than Twitter and may be a better choice for law firm Internet marketing. However, it’s a better choice to use both and to use them to achieve different aims.
Regularly posting to your social media accounts is important to find potential followers and to keep potential followers interested. Posting fresh content helps to keep you engaged with your clients and with potential clients, and helps to make sure that your name is on your client’s minds when they need legal services. At the same time, you don’t want to spam people with useless information that will annoy rather than inform and inspire them to use your firm.
Typically, this means that when using social media for lawyers, you should limit your postings to a few times per week and you should make sure that every post is relevant and has a point. You may, for example, let your friends and followers know of an exciting event in the firm- an attorney winning an award, an office move, or anything else that is notable and noteworthy. Posting links to interesting news articles about the area of law your firm deals with is also good practice, especially if you pose a question or thought about the article and get a discussion going using the interactive features available on social networks. When you write an interesting article on your blog or firm’s website, posting a link to it is an especially great idea since you can drive traffic to your blog. Posts of these types will all help to establish you as a legal expert in your field and will help build a positive mental picture of your firm’s brand.
Law Firm Online Mastery Program
Both programs include a buzz-building backlink strategy and basic SEO optimization, such as metatags and titles. But the Online Domination Program takes online marketing to the next level by adding a variety of traffic-generating services such as monthly press releases, regular blog postings, article marketing, videos and social media.
To learn more about both programs, visit our Law Firm Online Mastery Program page.
I signed up for your Online Domination Program. How do I access my account and monitor the work you’re doing on my behalf?
Our program includes regular reporting so that you can see not only what we’re doing on your behalf but also monitor how those efforts affect your ranking on the web. This report is delivered directly to your email inbox each month, so you don’t have to do a thing to get it – it will be sent to you automatically.
In addition, part of our program includes setting up a variety of social media accounts on your behalf and we encourage you to take advantage of these accounts by posting your own original content in addition to the regular updates we create on your behalf. To learn how to access these accounts, just visit the knowledgebase in our Members Support area.
Before you can figure out where you want to go, you need to know where you’re starting from.
The Online Impact Analysis is designed to do just that. Using a variety of algorithms and measurement tools, we evaluate your current impact in the online world. We look at things like search engine rankings, inbound links and social media followers to determine how your website ranks in your given niche.
Now, you might think that this analysis will cost and arm and a leg, but we’re actually giving it away for free! To find out how to claim your own free Online Impact Analysis (and download a free report on next generation marketing), go to .dominate/.
Best Legal Practices
Best Legal Practices is the vision of Robert Armstrong and Sanford M. Fisch, co-founders of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys and co-authors of The E-Myth Attorney: Why Most Legal Practices Don’t Work And What To Do About It and the upcoming Dominate Your Market! The Attorney’s Complete Guide to Online Marketing and Social Media.
Best Legal Practices was founded to provide a comprehensive selection of educational tools and resources to attorneys of all areas of practice. In addition, Best Legal Practices also offers an exclusive Law Firm Online Mastery Program, helping attorneys achieve online dominance in their preferred markets through strategic internet marketing practices and social media campaigns.