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.
We promised in our last post to give you a more detailed rundown of what semantic search is and how to use it – so here’s a basic primer for using this new and highly important Google feature to the advantage of your law firm.
But here are the basics: semantic search is the “ability to put typed searches into context,” according to that SEJ article. What that means is that Google – since 2013 – has been making changes to its algorithm to make it better understand exactly what its users mean when typing things into the famous Google search bar, instead of just matching words and phrases while prioritizing more popular and respected sites.
This was a major game changer in the search engine industry – it’s essentially like giving Google’s algorithm a sort of artificial intelligence. It also completely changed SERPs when it was introduced – and since its big successes at Google, other search engine companies (Yahoo!, Bing) have been looking into semantic search as well.
How can I use it to benefit my law firm SEO?
The main thing that you need to know is that Google will now look at the phrasing of items typed into its search bar and that it will have deeper knowledge of keywords used in searches.
Here’s how the phrasing bit is a game changer – Google will try to answer questions or reply to statements its users type into search bars (or say with Google Voice Search). Searching on Google is now a bit like asking a friend a question, as opposed to punching buttons on a machine.
Your law firm can benefit from this in several ways: first, try to answer a lot of common legal questions on your site’s blog (“how can I get a divorce?” or “what do I do if I’m injured at work?”). Posts and pages answering these frequently asked questions could be more likely to appear on higher SERPs for Google and other engines.
You’ll also want to heavily emphasize your geographic location and the type of law you practice on your site – this is good advice to follow regardless of semantic search, but can be doubly important if someone tells Siri or Cortana to “find me an insurance lawyer in Chicago.”
Google’s deeper knowledge of keywords means that traditional SEO keyword stuffing will not work, though keywords have certainly still been a big part of the game since 2013 (and will continue to be in 2017). It also means that using synonyms of major keywords could help your site get even more recognition.