Everything changes over time — lawyer marketing is certainly no exception. In this article, we’ll look at recent changes and how your law firm can stay competitive. First: a bit of history.
The modern age of law firm marketing and advertising in the United States arguably started with Bates v. State Bar of Arizona. The Court’s decision that lawyers could advertise opened the doors for newspaper classifieds, billboards, and, eventually, internet ads.
That decision was in the late 1970s. We’re going to fast-forward here and start with internet marketing — more specifically, search engine marketing. Here’s what we’ll cover:
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It’s no secret that search engines do more than connect people with information: they’re in the advertising business. In fact, they’ve become the most important sources of publicity for many law offices. This wasn’t always the case.
Popular search engines used to pay to get exposure. Then, in the late 90s, Google decided to start selling search terms. This led to the launch of Google Adwords in 2000, now known as Google Ads.
With an inflow of companies buying search terms (a.k.a. keywords), the internet quickly became more commercial. Searchers started looking for and even buying products and services online. Getting to the top of the search results became a high priority.
Search engine technology delivers information to anyone who has an internet connection. Unfortunately, search engines don’t publish the exact method for delivering that information.
It would be easier if search engines would tell us exactly how rankings work. It’s probably for the best that we don’t know, though.
Keeping exact details obscured is in the interest of serving good information to the public. There’s also the issue that Google updates and modifies its methods every day.
Search engines publish previews and recommendations in advance of big changes. They’re clear about their principles. Creating quality websites and being authoritative in your field should improve your rank.
Still, the constantly shifting ranking system makes it a challenge to get the attention you deserve for your firm. The solution is data-driven SEO — search engine analytics and marketing.
Analytics-based SEO uses information about how search engines perform. This information lets us infer the details of the ranking system. Building on that foundation, we then use specific information about the performance of pages on your site to increase your rank, improve conversion rates, and accomplish various other online marketing goals.
Whether you’re starting out or trying to maintain a rank, you need the latest in SEO. Legal marketing is held to a higher standard, and the competition is tight.
If your rank is slipping, it could be because your page quality isn’t living up to contemporary standards. Law falls into a category called “Your Money or Your Life”, which contains topics that could potentially impact someone’s financial or personal well-being. Google is stricter with quality scores for these types of pages.
There’s also increasing competition in the profession. Older marketing and SEO techniques are becoming saturated. This could slow your rank increase rate or even push you down the results page.
Older tactics don’t cut it anymore for lawyers. If you are ready to talk about what exactly you need to update, give us a call at (888) 590-9687. We can take a look at your website and recommend the most impactful changes available. We also build and rework websites, if you need a fresh start.
One of the most important features of the Internet is the ability to link to other websites. It is so important that search engines read this network of links and use it when determining your ranking in the search results.
The idea is that authoritative content should have a healthy link structure. A quality page ideally links out to authoritative sources and has other pages linking to it.
If your old strategy did not focus on links, it’s time to start. By the same token, you could be hurting your search rank by linking to disreputable sites or failing to maintain your current links. We can check out your link health as part of our initial analysis of your website and review any opportunities you might have to improve there.
Another part of the ongoing evolution of internet marketing is an increasing focus on content. In general, you want web pages that are:
For example, you could want a 1500-word page about divorce on your website if you run a family law practice. This page would be divided into easy-to-navigate sections discussing various aspects of divorce cases, such as custody, property division, dissolution of marriage, and spousal support.
Each section would introduce key concepts and prepare potential clients to speak with one of your lawyers. You would also want to create pages for each specific type of case that was most important for your firm. For example, a divorce practice that focused on ADR would want a page on mediation.
This content marketing approach is important because it establishes you as an authority. Beyond the obvious benefits of a potentially higher conversion rate for page visitors, posting authoritative content should also improve your search rank.
Up until now in this post, we have focused mostly on what is called organic SEO — climbing the search ranks by publishing quality content. Let’s change gears and talk about paid ads.
Paid advertisements online have evolved from simply buying banner space on specific websites to a complex bidding and auction system for space in search engine results pages. This is a direct result of Google’s move in the late 90s to sell search terms.
Buying keywords for law firms can be a challenge due to the competitive nature of the profession. General keywords are prohibitively expensive for most attorneys.
Only those with highly aggressive strategies and extensive resources have reliable success with broad-spectrum pay-per-click ads. By way of an analogy: if you wouldn’t rent a billboard or air a cable commercial, you probably would not run a generic blast campaign on a search engine.
With a limited budget, the solution is to get specific. The more focused you are on the audience, timing, and terms of your advertisement, the more likely you are to see results.
Apart from organizing your campaign to be as efficient as possible, the new priority is to create high-quality landing pages. These pages are what people see if they click on your advertisement when it displays in the search engine results.
We can presume that pay-per-click landing page visitors are actively seeking legal services, so these pages are often more motivational and promotional than other types of website content. The general goals of a landing page are to:
These general goals would apply to an advertisement about a specific practice area, such as asset division, ADA claims defense or Social Security Disability Income appeals. These are typically the most efficient types of PPC ads.
Depending on your strategy, a more general, promotional article might be appropriate. Feel free to contact us directly to discuss how to pursue your unique goals for your online ads.
We are going to end here with one of the more recent developments in lawyer marketing — local search. There are various specific approaches, but the general idea is that you have to put your firm on the map both literally and figuratively.
In a literal sense, you need to list your firm on an online listing. Google My Business is one example. After you fill out all of your information and go through the confirmation process, you should be able to find your business on the map when searching for lawyers.
In a figurative sense, you could benefit by including sections about your geographic location in your website content. This helps search engines match you with people searching for lawyers in your area. It also helps people who are reading your website to confirm that you are in a position to help them.
At FORWARD Lawyer Marketing we believe in taking a “leave no stone unturned” approach when it comes to our legal clients. With that in mind, we employ extremely experienced people in the industry. Our SEO Director has been marketing online for well over two decades and oversees all SEO tasks including editing content and performing on-page optimization as well as internal and external linking.
Our specialty is law firm marketing and SEO for lawyers at FORWARD Lawyer Marketing, call us at (888) 590-9687 to discuss how we can increase the revenue of your law firm.