Lawyers: Boost Your Online Presence
Lawyers aren’t the most tech-savvy. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of lawyers out there who enjoy learning how to incorporate the latest software or app into their everyday office management routine. But lawyers don’t want to spend time figuring out technology, they want to practice law. Fortunately, for those behind the technology curve, a basic online marketing plan doesn’t require tech-savviness. But what it does require is personal time for building an online presence. To have a profitable law practice, lawyers need to go where today’s clients are.
Google is no longer just a search engine, it’s a way of life. Many people Google a legal issue before even thinking of calling a lawyer. There is so much information at their disposal online—with articles, blogs, books, and white papers written by lawyers on myriad topics. If you’re not one of these lawyers who has seized the day by offering education and information via the web, you’re way behind. Now’s the time to catch up.
Start by Googling yourself or your firm. Does any relevant information appear on the first page above the scroll? Below the scroll? Or are you on page 2? I won’t get into how Google’s ranking system works nor will I drone on about algorithms; suffice to say, if you don’t see yourself or your firm on the first page, you have some work to do.
What’s Your Online Face Look Like?
With a critical eye, look over your website. This is your online face. Is it helpful to someone looking for an attorney? Does it offer information to educate the visitors? Is the information riddled with typos or poor grammar? Would someone have a reason to return to your website? Is there a blog? Is the blog up to date?
Nowadays, people are looking for more than just a synopsis of your firm and its practice areas—people want to get to know you first to decide whether they can trust you with their problem. At a minimum, your firm should:
Display testimonials (without running afoul of ethics rules).
Start a blog: when writing a blog, use laymen’s terms, no legalese. Keep it simple and informative. Include keywords for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. And, remember, blogs require constant updates, preferably weekly, so bear in mind the time needed to keep your blog relevant. You can always rotate the writing between associates in your firm, or ask other attorneys to guest blog. Another idea would be to outsource the blog writing to capable freelancers.
Consider posting photos of yourself and your employees. Photos are a great way to help visitors get to know you.
Rewrite your bio to make it more interesting to read by offering more than just a summarized résumé. If you’ve been out of law school for more than two years, don’t lead with the law school from which you graduated or whether you made law review. This carries little to no weight with potential clients. Instead, discuss the nuances of a particular case you handled; list the names of some of your clients (with permission); mention accomplishments such as speaking engagements or published articles; add your hobbies and interests; tell why you chose law practice as a profession. Make it meaningful and let your personality show through.
Free Online Directories
Are you listed on Avvo, Lawyers.com, FindLaw, or Justia, to name just a few? These are free online directories where lawyers can build a profile and direct potential clients to their firm’s website. Consider this an important step toward marketing your law practice and boosting your SEO. Be sure to include your contact information, a description of your firm using keywords to describe your practice areas, your web address, and links to other profiles, such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
Share and Share, Alike!
What social media sites do you frequent for business purposes? Are you tweeting or sharing information about your firm? Even introverts find it easier to engage with others online than in person, so if you’re not on social media sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn, you’ll need to take the time to build your business profile and join in the conversations. Remember, you don’t need to be on all social media sites—and there are many. If you have the sense that your target audience might be on LinkedIn, then by all means learn as much as you can about that site and start participating. If Facebook is where you believe a percentage of your clientele will be, then get involved. But don’t succumb to the overwhelming draw of these sites. You may find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time socializing rather than attending to your blog or other marketing efforts.
Lights, Camera, Action!
Have you considered video, podcasts, or other outside-the-box ways to raise your website’s SEO? Video can help boost your online presence and get you closer to the goal of appearing on that first page in the search engine. It also allows you to connect with your audience to build that know, like, and trust factor. A 30– to 60-second video about your firm would be an excellent way to begin. And don’t discount the power of YouTube. It is probably still the most viewed site for self-education. If you have a knack for breaking down complicated case law or concepts into bite-size, easy-to-swallow chunks of useful information, then YouTube might be something to pursue. Also, podcasts are easier now to get started, and with a weekly or biweekly guest, you could have numerous topics at your disposal.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, just food for thought while you’re planning how to move your practice to the next level. In a world where many experienced lawyers are losing clients due to the influx of DIY websites like Legalzoom, today’s lawyer has no choice but to devote precious time each week to cultivating clients through social media while putting their writing skills to good use through blog posts and articles.