Law firm SEO is not for the faint of heart. It’s complicated, competitive, and (like political marketing) downright exhilarating! It takes a strong stomach to take on SEO for lawyers, and to do it right requires an accomplished search marketing team with a data driven, competitive appetite for winning. Along with getting a firm more traffic or leads, when done right an aggressive, future proof search marketing strategy can dominate competitors, sway opinions, increase bottom lines, and lower customer acquisition costs. So, how does a law firm go about creating, implementing, and executing an SEO strategy that includes every component necessary to win and continue winning? Well, for starters they hire an agency that kicks ass, understands execution and spends day and night in the algorithms. Next, they must understand that you can either pay to get in the game, control the game, or win the game. The legal industry is one of the most competitive industries in search and just like a well-represented case, it isn’t cheap. If you want to know what your competitors are spending each month, just send us a quick request and we can generate that information (yes, it’s available to see!). So what can a firm do to start the process of laying the groundwork for good, complete SEO? Let’s focus on 7 critical pieces of the search marketing pie to get the ball rolling.
Control your reputation
Online reviews are a powerful component in a consumer’s decision making process. Throw in the emotions circling around any legal issues one is facing and this becomes maybe the most critical element in how a firm is perceived publicly. Since consumers have multitudes of choices at their fingertips, reading negative reviews about a firm will almost certainly result in clicking elsewhere. So, what can be done to ensure people are seeing positive experiences above negative ones? While there are many expert strategies and tactics we keep close to vest regarding how we ensure an ongoing positive feedback cycle, I will say that it all starts with communicating with your clients, keeping your promises and caring for the situation. All of the expert strategies in the world won’t help if there isn’t dedication to the client, win or lose. Every single client should be asked to review their experience with the firm. Each positive review that is submitted should be pushed out and shared via social networks and review sites. While negative experiences get buffered to allow time to rectify the situation and foster a happy viewpoint. Negative reviews are hard to swallow sometimes and may even be incorrect, don’t be afraid of them as it’s an opportunity to get valuable feedback for growth, and a chance to provide another side of the story for others to read. Controlling your online reputation is critical and a huge undertaking. If you need some assistance in this area, let’s chat sometime.
Provide authoritative content
Every firm should be aiming to be the authority in their perspective areas of practice. The one surefire way to become an authority in your space is to provide compelling, relevant, easily digestible content to people searching for legal help advice. Remember, content can be in the form of articles, whitepapers, case studies, videos, etc. Any information that can educate or solve a problem for a consumer is a winning piece, regardless of its delivery vehicle. Don’t try to rehash what others are saying. Be original, have a unique perspective and remember, content that gets shared and creates loyalty is content that broadens the conversation. Generating and marketing content is an acquired skill-set. The reality is that most businesses are either ill equipped to produce the amount of content necessary to create an authoritative voice and/or incredibly under connected to properly market any content that is delivered. There needs to be a consensus to either hire the hands necessary to get the job done (i.e. writers, SEO manager etc.) in-house or bring in an agency that can control the beast, produce the content, and leverage its connections to make everything come together. Content marketing is a key cog in any winning strategy and must be implemented and executed correctly to maximize its effectiveness. If you want more info on becoming an authority in your space contact us anytime.
Get listed locally
As in real estate, when it comes to search, location is everything. The more focused and detailed a business is regarding its location information (i.e. address, name, phone number, distance etc.), the more consistently that business is shown in search results. Law firms must know their markets and their behaviors in order to create a more consistent image in the eyes of search engines. A firm should be listed and verified in all of the major listing sites (i.e. Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Local etc.). Your listings should be the same across the board, meaning if you are located at “123 Anywhere St.” then each listing you have should read that way. Don’t have “St.” on one listing and “Street” on another. Your name, address, and phone number (otherwise known as a “NAP Format”) should be identical across all of your local listings. Directory listings should also include hours of operation, photos, manager’s name, title, contact info, as well as any other pertinent information deemed to be valuable to someone trying to find a specific business. Ensuring all local listings are consistent and stay that way can be a bit labor intensive as there needs to be a sharp eye kept on each directory and updates need to happen as changes within a business occurs. If a firm doesn’t have the hands necessary to keep this process updated and running, then finding an agency to monitor, update and optimize the listings would be the recommended avenue to take.
Have a voice
Law firms should be voicing their opinions and insights on political, social, and economic matters that are relevant to their perspective cities. Lawyers should be commenting, writing about, and/or socially posting their thoughts on matters that garner attention. A chance to add valuable information to a conversation, or educating people for the better, is a priceless one and should be sought out. The old saying “there is no such thing as bad publicity” rings true here and whether people agree or disagree with the firms opinions or insights is irrelevant to the overall goal of creating conversation surrounding a firm and its authors. Firms should regularly post advice and information to Linkedin groups, Facebook groups, Google+ Circles etc. Don’t be afraid to have a voice, you will be better off no matter the outcome.
Build your lists
Every person who visits a firm’s website should be invited to leave their email address in order to receive valuable information and updates. Building an email list offers firm’s a valuable resource for future client opportunities. Email marketing is still very much alive and well in marketing and anyone speaking to the contrary is ignoring the data. A firm that focuses on harvesting and nurturing an email list via their website, events, seminars etc. will be better off than their competitors. When the well dries up, as it always eventually does at some point, a firm with an email marketing database will not miss a beat.
Develop quality, relevant, links
Search engines look at links from site “A” to site “B” as a sort of “vote” from site “A” for site “B”. The more links one has from relevant, topical, trustworthy sites, the more likely it is that search engines want to show that site in its search queries. What this means is a firm should look to build relationships with quality potential linking partners in and around their industry. Link building is about quality and not quantity. Don’t try to build hundreds of links at once as this will be noticed by Google in an instant and will almost certainly result in a manual penalty, causing a site to lose rankings and ultimately money. Developing a healthy link profile and detoxing an old, outdated one is a lengthy process that like a legal matter, should be done by professionals who understand its mechanics. A firm should always look out for any service claiming to build links fast and ignore them on the spot.
Use Case Studies
Just as with reviews, people trust the experiences of others whom they relate to and having good reviews coupled with verified case studies is a win-win for any firm. Every case won should have a case study written about it and posted online as soon as possible. A good case study can be simple or very detailed but overall should cover a few main areas. The folks over at Laws.com have a great read on case study formats. If that isn’t enough of a read, then a simple Google search on “case study examples” should give all the details needed to create valuable, informative case studies.