Any great team has game plan, a strategy for success, a concrete vision for the future. It’s time to get in the game!
Setting Up Your Offensive Line
Whether you are new to online marketing or a seasoned professional, these plays will help to set your 2013 online marketing strategies in motion. Before jumping into more complex strategies it is important to set the foundation that will bring you to the goal line and beyond. Understanding the basics of internet marketing and the unique business climate of your firm will help you to take advantage of opportunities provided by marketing your firm online.
- Review the Latest Google Best Practices Guide by Jerry West – As a first step, or as a refresher course, this guide will benefit anyone trying to gain an online presence. Jerry West is recognized as one of the top online marketing experts and his guide provides insight and strategies for getting maximum “Google Love.” I highly recommend a look at this book.
- Refine and Communicate Your Competitive Advantage – Warren Buffett, the well-known, highly successful investor always provides the same answer when asked what he looks for when buying a business. He looks for, “a long-term competitive advantage.” He is only interested in those companies that are able to separate themselves from the competition with best in class products and services, and most importantly, companies who know how to communicate these differences to their prospective clients.
- Little Things Matter – In his 2010 highly successful book entitled, Little Things Matter, author and successful entrepreneur Todd Smith points out that success is based on the little things we do each day. Smith maintains that everything you do either leads you to greater success or leads you away from success. Your small choices either lead you closer to the sale or further away. I believe that everything makes an impression. From the copy on your website, to the images you post, to your responsiveness with a prospective client and their concerns, now is a great time to think about what will make your service better and different from the competition in 2013.
Push to the Fifty Yard Line
Once you understand the basics and are clear about your firm and its unique advantages you can begin to move the ball up the field. Quick yardage can be gained by simply updating existing sites with improved marketing tactics and by clarifying for potential clients why it is that your firm is the best.
Improved Copy – Legal copy in general tends to be very boring and technical. Simply updating your pages to be more conversational and personable can go a long way towards showing prospective clients that you are easy to talk to and that you will understand their situation.
Link Building – This is the fuel that boosts your website to the top of Google. Without quality links, your website will never rank. Because this is our forte, I’m not going to spill our secrets. But I will say that you need to focus your efforts in two areas:
- Link diversity: You need to acquire as many different types of quality links as possible. If you just focus on one or two types of links, you have a higher likelihood of not ranking or even being penalized.
- High PR links: PageRank (PR) is still king. You need to focus your efforts on acquiring great links from high PR pages.
- A split of followed and nofollow links.
Use a Wide Range of Branded Anchors – For maximum gain, focus more on branded terms (e.g. Law Firm of John Doe) as opposed to just keywords (e.g. Chicago personal injury lawyer). Stay away from naked links, links without anchor text, and completely unrelated links, such as the “more here” link. However, diversity is still the key. Use a wide range of branded anchors. For example:
- Law Offices of John Doe
- John Doe Attorney at Law
- City Attorney John W. Doe
- City Injury Lawyer John Doe
- John Doe’s Web Page on Auto Accidents
Toot Your Own Horn – You should have previously defined your unique selling proposition/competitive advantages and now is the time to proudly communicate them on your website. On the very first page, and again throughout the site, clearly communicate to your prospects what makes you different than all the other competing lawyers. Why should they use you? Consumers shop around for lawyers now more than ever before. When a visitor comes to your site, you want to be the obvious choice and leave them thinking they would be crazy to go anywhere else.
Putting Your Firm in Field Goal Range
Increasing your online presence and knowing where your traffic is coming from will aid you in marching down the field and breaking through the competition’s defenses. Get ahead by taking advantage of the newer technologies and connecting with clients using 2013 technology.
- Trackable Phone Numbers – Tracking calls from your website will allow you to gauge whether or not your online marketing activities are effective. You can setup unique numbers for SEO, PPC, Mobile or any other activity you want to track!
- Mobile Content – I’m not a fan of legal apps as they stand today. Download rates are poor. Also, I haven’t seen the effectiveness or ROI of “mobile sites” for law firms. However, as the percentage of mobile searches increases I do think it’s important to have mobile responsive designs for your website. A mobile responsive design simply makes your website friendly for a mobile user without the expense of a separate site.
- Google Plus Local – Google+ Local provides the marriage of the Google+ social media service and the local search platform. This can provide your law firm with greater opportunities for search engine visibility. It’s important to setup your listing properly and develop regular citations. A citation is a listing that includes your law firm’s name, phone number and address in a local directory and can be structured, as in a directory listing or unstructured as in a client review.
- Niche Sites – Niche sites are awesome for two reasons. First, they allow you to obtain multiple rankings for your primary keywords, one on each site. Second, because they act as insurance just in case something were to happen to your main site. Recently, I had a client who had some spammy links created from a competitor. Their rankings tanked. Thankfully this was a niche site and not their main site, but it’s never been more important to create insurance sites.
Now You’re in The Red Zone
You could settle for three points but why not push your firm downfield by providing fresh content and making your presence known where the people are; on social media sites.
- Provide Frequent Blog Posts – Google does look at how often your site is updated. I recommend you create 2-3 blog posts per week. These can be “news” related or provide general information like “5 Ways to Stay Safe this Holiday Season”. The reason I like those two topics is because they don’t require an attorney to write the article. You can have someone in your office setup a Google alert to find news stories (e.g. “car accident Phoenix”). Then anyone can come up with general information articles that may be useful to your visitors.
- Create a Team of Writers – Use a professional writers service such as TextBroker to create quality content at a reasonable price. Email me and I’ll tell you who to use at TextBroker.
- Link to Your Blog Posts to Social Media Accounts – I don’t recommend that lawyers get too involved with social media. This can lead to trouble with the state bar associations. Also, I just don’t see lawyers bringing in a positive ROI based upon their efforts in social media. With that being said, I do recommend that all lawyers create accounts for themselves at Facebook (Facebook Fan Page), Twitter (a personal account is fine) and Google+. As your blog posts go live on your website, you should have links to those posts go on your social media accounts. This is a simple task that can be automated with certain plugins, or you can have your assistant handle this.
Into the End Zone
These plays are a must if you want to score in the world of online marketing.
- Live Chat – Live chat is a must have nowadays for law firm websites. It’s more likely that a prospective client will start a live chat than call you. Potential clients feel that there is less of a commitment and with live chat you get the fish on the line right away. Website contact forms are useful however you may lose them if you are not able to respond fast enough. I can see live chat replacing contact forms in the near future.
- Videos – I highly recommend videos on your website for conversions. They are relatively easy to rank in Google if uploaded to YouTube. Providing appropriate descriptions and geo-tagging on videos is great for local ranking too!
- Google Authorship – I’m now recommending that might clients start using Google authorship on their websites. Basically, you link your email address and Google gives you extra listings for articles you have written. A quick and easy way to increase your presence in the search results.
Making the Conversion
In the big game, every point matters. Once you’ve scored and made your presence known, don’t stop there. Ongoing review of your conversion strategies and conversion rates is essential to maximize your ROI.
- Focus on Conversions – Conversion optimization, the art and science of improving your conversion rate, is one of the most difficult skills for any marketer to develop. There are many things that completely ruin your conversions. You could have great rankings, but only convert 10% of the prospects that visit your site into actual clients. You can do better. Implementing the plays listed above and measuring their effectiveness will allow to fine tune your strategy for maximum return on investment.
Just as in football, there are any number of plays you can make to outrun and outscore the competition. In order to be effective you must focus on your own strengths, opportunities and measure your results.
To get started, ask yourself these questions:
- How can you position your service so that you are the “obvious” choice?
- What will you do to make your competition irrelevant in 2013?
One thing is certain for 2013, challenges and opportunities await law firms who promote their services online. Game On!
- Jerry West’s Google Best Practices Guide:
- Todd Smith’s Little Things Matter:
- Primer on citations:
- Live Chat Resources:
http://www.websitealive.com/ will let you manage your live chat in house
http://www.ngagelive.com/ if you want to outsource your live chat