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.
Just a few shocking but 100% true statistics about online reviews.
You know that local SEO is hugely important to your law firm, and you know sites like Yelp and Facebook (including Facebook’s review feature) are important to that – but how much do reviews matter for law firms? It’s not like you’re a restaurant and your clients are making snap decisions about which firm is better than another, right?
That’s right to an extent – but wrong in that it assumes reviews don’t matter. The simple fact of the matter is, online reviews matter for lawyers and virtually every other type of business that deals directly with an end consumer.
In fact, because hiring a lawyer is such a big decision, customers may even put more time into reading lawyer and law firm reviews online than they would into reading shopping or restaurant reviews. Your potential clients know that they’ll be spending a good deal of money on and time with a lawyer, and they want to be sure it’s worth it.
What’s the upshot of all this?
It’s simple – but often harder to implement than it sounds: you need reviews. You need a lot of them, and they need to be overwhelmingly positive.
There are a lot of quick, unethical ways to get reviews for your law firm, but the fact is that those methods very rarely pan out very well in the long term, and can often get you in big trouble with Google and/or the site hosting the reviews.
The best way to honestly and effectively get good reviews is to provide excellent service to each and every one of your clients and to make clients aware of your presence on review sites and how important reviews are to you.
You should particularly let clients know that you’re on Google Reviews, Yelp, and Facebook, as those are the three most frequently used and widely trusted review sites. Also, Google Reviews’ relationship with the rest of Google’s web properties may help boost your ranking in the SERPs directly, though there’s no way to definitively prove that Google prioritizes its own content. The evidence is there, though.
What if I lose a client’s case?
This is a particularly problematic situation that obviously affects lawyers and not the rest of the business owner population. However, here’s a quick and handy guide as to how to make sure you don’t get negative reviews when your firm inevitably loses cases.
Always do your best for your clients and establish a meaningful personal connection with each of them.
Do not overinflate client expectations or use unethical sales techniques to get clients to purchase your services if there is little hope you’ll win their case.
Be sure to educate customers about the ins and outs of the legal system and the possibility of failure.
Respond courteously to negative reviews on forums that allow you to do so – never defensively. Let your former clients know you’re fixing any problems they may have with your firm.
Consider working with a reputation enhancement service if negative reviews get out of hand or start to impact your bottom line.
When you think of things the average person is more likely, or at least equally as likely, to do on a mobile device as on her laptop or desktop, “get a lawyer” is probably not in the top ten – it is, after all, a bit more complicated and important than ordering a pizza or finding an Uber.
However, a website’s mobile friendliness, or its ability to load quickly and be easily navigated on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet, is hugely important to its success for two closely related reasons:
Because of the virtual ubiquity and growing processing power of these devices, people are starting to do everything on their devices – and that includes getting a lawyer – and expect the same seamless experiences from every site that they’d get on a computer.
Because Google and the other search engine giants recognize this trend, mobile friendliness is hugely important to a site’s SEO.
So the long and short of it is this: if your site is mobile friendly, it will rank higher in the SERPs (meaning it will bring in more clients), and site visitors will have a better experience – meaning they’re more likely to choose your law firm because of the professionalism and polish of your site, whatever device it’s accessed with.
Mobile devices get more powerful and more popular over time, meaning that more people are using them to complete more complex tasks – when Google and its competitors in the search engine industry recognize this, they use their clout in the world of the internet to force webmasters to make sites mobile friendly, which in turn goes on to make mobile devices more capable, and more popular.
This cycle will likely increase the importance of mobile friendliness to SEO even more over time than it is doing right now as we pass from 2016 into 2017 – and that means that making your site mobile friendly now will not only win you more clients in the near future, but for countless years to come.
The advent of wearable technology has further increased the importance of mobile devices, as well – and who knows, soon we may have to make our sites wearable-friendly to get an SEO boost.
So, if your website isn’t already mobile friendly, you need to change that before you do anything else. Google has some basic instructions – if these are difficult for you, you may need to hire a programmer or web marketer.
You should also try to make sure that other sites you’re associated with are mobile friendly – something we’ll be sure to give you a post on in the near future.