If your law firm doesn’t have a dedicated marketing department, there are a few things your business probably isn’t doing right when it comes to selling your legal services. However, with a few simple tips and a little knowledge of SEO, your law firm too can do the same kinds of marketing as a larger firm with the resources required to keep an in house marketing department.
A basic knowledge of SEO is hugely important to marketing your firm. Why? Because SEO can bring your law firm clients on autopilot.
What is SEO?
SEO means “Search Engine Optimization.” It is the art and science of making a website appealing to search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing so that it ranks higher in searches for important keywords (such as “Divorce Lawyer in Topeka”) in those engines’ search bars.
SEO marketing can have a huge impact on any type of business, but is especially important for lawyers. This is because many consumers research businesses they’re going to either spend a lot of time with or spend a lot of money on, such as law firms, a lot more thoroughly than they’re going to research where they get their next $10 pizza.
That means that your potential clients will likely be using search engines a lot to find lawyers and get information on those lawyers. If there’s more content about you and/or generated by you higher in the SERPs (industry abbreviation for Search Engine Results Pages, the pages that appear after a search term is entered), that means that potential clients will be reading about your law firm more than about your competitors.
How to Make SEO Work for Your Law Firm
There are several things you can do to make SEO work for you. You have two main options: do SEO yourself or hire a professional SEO marketer.
A professional SEO marketer will cost money, but will do almost all of the relevant work for you when it comes to SEO. The best SEO marketers will spend a good bit of time getting to know you and coming to understand your needs, and will use that knowledge to get you the types of clients you want and to increase your web traffic (the number of people that come to your site).
Of course, you can also choose to put the SEO work in yourself. This will save you money, but will likely take a bit more time. Also, there is a steep learning curve when it comes to SEO, and the SEO industry is always changing (as are Google’s and the other search engines’ regulations and rules). Reading our blog is a good place to start, and there are other great SEO resources such as the Moz blog.
If you can read and understand the content these and other important SEO blogs regularly, you might be able to learn many of the most important SEO skills yourself.
As we near the end of November and the weather starts to get colder, it’s time to start thinking about how your firm will survive and thrive in 2017 and beyond. There’s a lot of advice on keeping your SEO up to date out there on the internet, but we’ve got the best of it for you here.
Be Aware of Google’s Semantic Search
What is semantic search? It’s changes to search engines’ algorithms that allow the engines to understand more of the context and intent behind searches, as explained by Search Engine Journal’s Sergio Redondo in his article on semantic search. This type of search gets away from using just keywords, and instead considers synonyms, the phrasing of the search query, common searches, and the ways potential answers to searches are phrased and presented on websites.
Although semantic search was first debuted in 2013 with the launch of Hummingbird, an update to Google’s algorithm, semantic search has spread to other search engines and been refined on Google slowly over the past couple of years – and semantic search is set to become more important than ever in 2017 and beyond.
Although all the changes, challenges, and opportunities presented by semantic search aren’t fully understood by any SEO experts yet, there’s a lot of information out there already, and we’ll be sure to do a post regarding semantic search for lawyers in the near future.
For now, it’s enough for you to be aware, and to check up on your SEO more often than ever before to make sure your site hasn’t lost its ranking on Google due to algorithm changes.
Keep Blogging – and Start Soon If You’re Not Already!
Keeping a blog can be time consuming and involve a lot of hard work, but it’s usually worth it – the top site in almost any field or geographical area almost certainly has a blog.
Why is it so important? A blog is one of the biggest opportunities you have to engage with customers and potential customers, and to bring web browsers your way. It’s much easier to blog with lots of relevant search terms than it is to construct the main pages of your site that way, and blogging regularly and consistently also engages your customers and shows browsers on your site that you care and are involved in your work.
Be Aware of External Properties Related to Your Site
External properties related to your site include your business’ social media accounts, reviews on sites like Yelp, and your business’ presence on Google Maps.
When it comes to social media, make sure you have social media set up and are running it properly, keeping things professional, relevant, and consistent.
As far as other companies’ properties go (Google Maps and Yelp, among others), it’s important to claim your business on those sites so you can have control over the information they’re putting out about you. Each site has a feature allowing you to do this.
With Google Maps, you’ll only need to check that basic information such as your hours and location are correct. Yelp can be more complicated, but also a great deal more rewarding, as it gives you a chance to directly engage with your current and former clients.
Yelp reviews can have a huge impact, positive or negative, on the way your firm appears to the world. First, you’ll need to provide excellent service to all existing clients. Second, encourage them to write positive reviews for you.
When negative reviews do come up, you should respond, but not aggressively or defensively – responding with contrition and professionalism, and showing that you are working on fixing any real problems a customer has brought up, will make your firm look good even to people reading its bad reviews – and may change the initial reviewer’s mind about things.