Are You Advertising Online? Here is What You Need to Know Before You Spend Another Dollar on Facebook Ads

The Internet is the modern day wild west, and despite all the so-called "experts" out there, few have truly mastered the medium. Fortune 500 companies dominate the Internet easily, while small businesses struggle to show up and get a good return on investment. How can solo and small firm attorneys invest in the Internet smartly and find their perfect clients online?

Our frequently asked questions will guide you as you market on the Internet and help you find the best path to making more money. Learn how many attorneys like you have utilized online marketing, and what lawyers MUST avoid.

If you have a specific question about online marketing that you did not find in our FAQ library, fill out a contact form or download our 10-Step Program for Marketing Success.

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  • I received a terrible review on a leading attorney review website. Is my practice ruined? What should I do?

    First on all, you should understand that getting a negative review is not the end of the world: no business has ever had 100 percent positive feedback, there are tons of nuts on the Internet, and most people understand that no attorney they find will be perfect. Still, there are several steps you can take in the wake of a bad online review.

    Before anything else, respond to the negative review if possible. You may have the options to respond both publicly and privately, and you may wish to do both. A thoughtful, earnest, and professional response can ease the worries of anyone who has read the negative review. A private email to the reviewer may end with the reviewer removing or rewriting the post.

    Next, ask your other clients and fans to write a review on the lawyer review website. The more positive reviews you have, the more suspect the negative review becomes. Make it easy for former clients and supporters to review your website by adding a review page onto your website as well as buttons that send users directly to the review page.

    Finally, try not to go overboard or get personally offended. It’s easy to brood over a negative review or to go all out and attempt to threaten or sue. These issues are not worth that much time, effort, and money. Read the review. Process the review for any useful criticism. Respond to the review. Move on with your life.

  • I made sure my site has tons of keyword phrases on every page. Does this mean it has been optimized for search engines?

    Too many attorneys make the mistake of using the same keywords over and over, hoping the phrases will continue to point customers in the right direction—while others rely on over-linking each page, hoping to attract anyone to their pages by any means necessary.

    In order to optimize your website properly, you have to see your content as smaller parts of a comprehensive whole. If done correctly, these pages will work together, rather than just being forced together.

    When deciding on keyword placement for your personal injury attorney marketing, pay careful attention to:

    • Diversification. The search terms your customers use to find you will be as varied as the people themselves, so you’ll have to think carefully about what a prospective client might search for.
       
    • Grouping. Always keep the bigger picture in mind when writing content. Where would your piece best fit on your site? Which link would best provoke the visitor to continue reading? Always group similar content together and provide easy, one-click routes for customers to keep moving through your site.
       
    • Flow. You should always reread your copy to make sure it feels natural and that keywords have been well-integrated. Is the most important information given first? Does your linked copy lead to a page that fits the keywords used? If not, rewrite it so that your information builds and reads organically.

  • I’m a personal injury attorney, so most of my keywords revolve around “injured in a car accident,” or “injured on someone’s property.” Won’t a lot of other attorneys be using these keywords, too?

    Sure, but that’s not all bad. If there are several popular terms that are being used to find your competitors, you would be wise to let your customers know that your services are available in this area, too.

    Remember: your keywords must be both popular and competitive to draw in your ideal clients. Popularity refers to the number of times your potential clients search for a particular a key phrase during a specific period of time. Competitiveness is a term used to describe the number of webpages that are optimized for that particular key phrase.

    This does not mean you should seek out the top five most popular terms and use them repeatedly throughout your site. If 100,000 people are searching for “personal injury attorney in Atlanta,” you probably aren’t going to be on the first page of search results using that term.

    Whether you just started your online campaign or you’re trying to improve your firm’s personal injury attorney marketing, the best rule of thumb is to strike a balance between popularity and competitiveness. You will have more success finding a less popular keyword phrase that has a lesser amount of competition.

    So how do you find your perfect keyword phrases? There are many different search engine optimization firms that can help you choose and implement keywords effectively. If you want to go it alone, there are a few online programs (such as Google Analytics) that can help you discover which phrases are being used to find your site everyday, helping you hone your marketing campaign.

  • How can I tell if my keywords will give me a high Google ranking AND attract my ideal clients?

    Many attorneys find it difficult to find the “sweet spot” of advertising for humans and search engine robots. If you haven’t had much experience using keywords before, here are a few must-have guidelines to remember:

    • Practice the 5 W’s. Most of the keywords you will use to attract your ideal clients will be local search terms. Think like a reporter: your keywords should cover the who, what, where, when and why of your ideal customer. “Who” is you (attorney, law firm, etc.); “what” is your practice area (divorce, bankruptcy), “where” is your area (to avoid using your home city and state over and over again, pick five or six towns near you where your ideal client is likely to live, work, or shop). “Why” is a mix of long-tail keywords (“died while in surgery in TX”) that produce a set of small, specific results. “When” is always now.
    • Make your content match your keywords. The goal of your marketing should be to provide organic keyword placement so that your content is highly searchable and reads naturally. If your headline contains the term “Texas birth defects,” your supporting content must relate to these keywords in a direct and natural way.
    • Do your research. If you’re really at a loss, you can always visit your competition’s websites to find out which terms are being used for your services in your area. After you have narrowed down which terms you want to use, you can visit your website’s backstage area to discover which phrases your customers used to find you, helping you identify and expand on the most effective key phrases for your website.

  • After investing tens of thousands of dollars into a complete overhaul of our law firm's website, and implementing SEO best practices, we've rocketed from the 20th to the second page of Google results for our key search term. What can we do to make it onto the first page?

    It's probably not the answer you or your partners want to hear, but your best option is to simply wait and pursue other marketing initiatives in the meantime.

    No doubt, it's a major accomplishment to climb from the 20th page of Google search results to the second page, especially if this happened over the course of a few weeks. The problem is that potential clients who search on your main key phrase (say, “San Diego car accident lawyer”) won't be inclined to click through to the second page of results; they'll either choose a firm on the first page or type in a different search term. Also, it will be extremely hard to dislodge the firms on the first page of results, which have had a significant head start and are probably using equally cutting-edge SEO techniques.

    The good news is that, over the next few months, you may well see your site lifted up to the first page of results. This is a common Google effect; sites that have “staying power” and that have built up a large library of internal links and quality content tend to rise in the rankings over time, though not as quickly as most webmasters would like. This is just more evidence that the best marketing for lawyers is self-reinforcing over time.

    Once you've made it to the #9 slot on the first page, your next target will be to get “above the fold”; believe it or not, many impatient searchers are too lazy even to scroll down to the bottom five results! (It's also possible that you may find your placement improved by a change in Google's search algorithm; these rollouts tend to have unpredictable effects, though, and you may just as well find yourself demoted to the third page as promoted to the first.)

  • I bought a trackable 800 number for my law firm, and I included it on my website and marketing materials. Do I need to spend money on other ways to contact us?

    You should definitely give your customers more than one way to initiate contact, but many of these cost nothing for you or the customer—with the added bonus that the customer can get an instantaneous response.

    Here are a few contact options you may wish to consider:

    • Instant email. You should already be using email as a way to communicate with your clients. However, keep in mind that you can create as many email addresses as you want, filling a number of different marketing uses. A specific email address for inquiries can be programmed to send out automatic responses for free.
       
    • Contact us now! widget. A contact box can be written into the code of your website, making it easy for your customer to get in touch with just a few easily-typed lines.
       
    • Irresistible offer. Your irresistible offer is not only the most compelling reason to contact your firm, but it is also something that will give you the biggest return on your investment. If you offer it only as an e-book, than your only investment is time.
       
    • Live Chat. Many customer service sites now offer a Live Chat box that pops up while the customer is visiting the site. You must pay for a live operator to be available day and night, but it may be worth the monthly fees.

  • Do I really need to track my advertising campaign? I can tell when business is picking up, and it’s obviously because of my marketing efforts. Why should I spend money on tracking software?

    There may be no greater indicator of where the market is going than tracking your advertising efforts. Think of your marketing campaign as a finely-tuned sports car: tracking is the compass that tells you where the best roads are.

    A few things to keep in mind when it comes to tracking the effects of your marketing for personal injury lawyers:

    • Correlation is not causation. You may have gotten an influx of clients because of your new marketing campaign, but it also could be because a competitor went out of business, or a recent client gave your business cards out at a conference. Knowing why your business is successful is key to keeping it successful for years to come.
       
    • You may have multiple balls in the air. Effective marketing is a juggling act. You may have several commercials, multiple practice areas, and four or five specific marketing materials out to the public at once. Think of how much money you will save by knowing which one is bringing in all the new business (and which ones you need not pursue in the future).
       
    • You may not need to spend much. There are some software options that will evaluate your marketing for free. For example, Google Analytics is a free online tool that can tell you basic statistics, such as the search terms people used to find your site, how long they stayed on your pages, and which search terms are the most popular—all invaluable to your marketing campaign.

    Of course, there is more to tracking than just identifying popular keywords. You must also set up individual phone numbers or websites for each piece of your marketing pie, pinpointing exactly where your customers are coming from.

  • After all the effort I've put into my law firm's website, we're still not ranking highly in Google for our targeted search term, “New York personal injury lawyer.” Can't I put together a pay-per-click advertising campaign so we can finally appear on the first page of Google results?

    Yes, you can, but you'd better have deep pockets! First off, it's no surprise that your firm is not ranking highly for the phrase “New York personal injury lawyer,” for the simple fact that this is one of the most competitive search strings in the American legal system—and there are only 10 slots available on the first page of Google results. Even if you do absolutely everything right, it might take years for your law firm's website to claw its way near the top—and even then, you could be taken right down again by the next Google algorithm change.

    Now on to your question about a pay-per-click campaign. The way this kind of advertising works, you will pay more when prospective clients click on more general key phrases—and “New York personal injury lawyer” is about as general as it gets. Don't be surprised if chasing this phrase costs you hundreds of thousands of dollars, which might be better spent on a different kind of web advertising or a redirection of your marketing efforts toward TV, radio or print media.

    However, if you're feeling less ambitious, you can spend a fraction of that amount on more highly targeted phrases with lesser search volume. If “New York personal injury attorney” is out of the question, you might want to consider something like “Brooklyn car accident lawyer”—or even get more specific (“Flatbush fender-bender attorney” probably won't set you back all that much). Better still, you can purchase a wide assortment of less popular key phrases for a fraction of the cost of “New York personal injury lawyer.”

  • I've done everything right with my law firm's website—writing tons of copy, adhering to best SEO practices, using crisp images and compelling headlines—yet I still can't make it onto the first page of Google results for my key search phrases. What do I do next?

    There is nothing more frustrating than “playing by the rules” when building your law firm's website, and not being able to reap the desired results—a spot in the top five search results when a prospective client types in one of your key phrases (such as “Minneapolis car accident lawyer.”) This isn't necessarily your fault; there's a lot of competition out there, and if other law firms in your area have gotten a head start, it may be very hard indeed to claw your way onto the first page of Google results.

    But don't despair—all hope is not lost. As you've surely noticed in your adventures on the web, “traditional” search results in Google are increasingly accompanied by all sorts of paid ads, to the extent that many people in search of a lawyer have a hard time telling these ads from the actual results!

    If you invest in a pay-per-click marketing campaign, you can guarantee that a text ad will pop up somewhere on the first page of Google results when a user types in your desired search term. You may be buried on the fifth page of results for “Minneapolis car accident lawyer,” but your text ad will still be there, waiting to be clicked on. Even better, the way this kind of advertising works, you don't have to pay a dime if that searcher does not click on your ad—and if he does click on your ad, you're already well on your way to signing him on as a client!

  • I'm a personal injury lawyer in Dayton, Ohio. I'm currently building my practice's website, but I see that the phrase “Dayton personal injury lawyer” is dominated by one of my competitors. Am I ethically bound not to use this phrase myself?

    Not at all! Let's say you're not a lawyer, but the owner of a bicycle repair shop. When you launch your shop's website, are you ethically and legally bound not to use the key phrase “Dayton bicycle repair shop” because it's also being used by your competitor down the street? The fact is that “Dayton bicycle repair shop” is a simple description of your business, not a phrase that can be copyrighted or legally protected.

    For this reason, it is perfectly legal, and ethical, to build your site around the phrase “Dayton personal injury lawyer” and give your competition a run for its money. In fact, if you have been wondering how to get personal injury clients, targeting the most obvious key phrase may be essential

    Of course, what you also need to consider is just how firmly entrenched that competing firm is for that particularly search phrase, and whether you can use cutting-edge SEO tactics to dislodge them from their #1 position in Google search results. It may be that the competing firm has been coasting for quite a while, and the reason they're showing high up in Google results for “Dayton personal injury lawyer” isn't because they have particularly good SEO, but because no one else has targeted that phrase. In that case, you may very well succeed in beating them at their own game, and placing higher in results for that phrase.

    On the other hand, if you examine your competitor's site and determine that their SEO practices are rock-solid, you need to make a decision. You can either launch a full frontal assault by building your site around “Dayton personal injury lawyer,” or you can do an end-run around the perimeter and concentrate on less competitive phrases like “Dayton car accident lawyer” or “Dayton work accident lawyer.”

  • I've been in charge of my law firm's blog for a few months now, and my partners are concerned that no one has yet left a comment on any of my entries. Is there something I can do about this?

    Probably not, unless you're willing to be slightly devious. The fact is that the vast majority of posts in the blogosphere, legal or otherwise, don't garner any comments, for one of two reasons: either no one is actually reading the blog (which is a more common occurrence than you might think), or people are actually reading the blog, but aren't inspired to leave a comment.

    You and your partners shouldn't necessarily be concerned about this, unless you can establish, using your webmaster tools, that the blog is going completely unread—in which case you may need to reconsider your blogging strategy and your SEO practices.

    If it turns out that a healthy number of people are reading your blogs, but not leaving any comments, you might be able to prime the pump by inviting comments at the end of your posts (“What do you think about this news story? Post your comment below!”) If this still doesn't work, you can ask a friend, colleague or family member to “plant” a comment, which isn't in any way unethical. The fact is that people are more likely to comment on blog posts that already have one or two comments, since they feel that an active discussion is going on—whereas they're afraid their insights will go unread on a blog that has zero comments!

    All in all, you shouldn't let yourself, or your partners, get too worked up about the comments on your blog posts—especially if the numbers seem paltry compared to Gawker or the Huffington Post.

  • What is viral marketing, and can I use it to promote my law firm?

    You’ve probably heard of “viral videos”: short video clips that spread through the Internet via YouTube or other sharing sites. Viral marketing works basically the same way: people voluntarily share your marketing materials (such as your articles, videos, or website) from person-to-person. This is considered the brass ring of marketing: people are spreading your message without your lifting a finger or spending any additional money.

    Here are a few ways you can facilitate viral marketing for your law firm:

    • Sharing widgets. Every post and page of your website should have a button to “share” the story with others with only one click. The easier it is to promote an item, the likelier it is your readers will do so. Most of these widgets also have running tabulators, telling readers how trusted you are as a source.
    • Encourage “likes.” You should already have a Facebook page for your business, and you must also encourage interaction. Post a link to a controversial blog post or news item, and encourage people to comment. Counting your “likes” will help you track the popularity of the post.
    • Email it. Even those readers who are not on any social media sites will have email addresses. Catering to them is as easy as having a “send by email” button on your pages, with the added bonus that emails are easily forwarded (and accounts are usually checked several times per day).

    You should keep in mind that it’s not enough to present the option of sharing; people won’t forward your materials to their friends unless they want to. An overt advertisement is unlikely to get passed on, but a current news story, local event information, a funny quote or a cute picture will circle the Internet several times. In order for you to be shared, you have to stay interesting.

  • One of my past clients said that she read something negative about my firm online. I checked my website’s comments and my social networks, but I couldn’t find anything. What can I do?

    You’ve got ads online, in the phone book, and in a local circular—and of course, you’ve got an involved social media campaign to interact with past customers and anyone in their circles. But what about other places people are talking about you—places where you cannot control the content, or even be aware what is being said about you?

    Here are a few places you may not have considered people sharing information about you.

    • Forums. A forum “thread” may be started on any website, and allows users to exchange information. Although it is meant to be helpful, much of the information in forums is opinion rather than fact.
    • Business review sites. You have probably heard of the Better Business Bureau, but there are many other online business rating sites that are not as well-moderated.

    You should regularly do a web search of your own name and your firm’s name to make sure there is no outstanding “bad press.” If someone does leave a less-than-satisfied review, always contact him quickly to address the problem. If the conversation takes place on your website, leave the comments up once it is resolved; responding well to opposition shows your customers the strength of your character.

    Remember: the best marketing for lawyers is essentially a series of signs pointing people to your front door. What you write on those signs is important, but it’s equally important to know where to place them.

  • I want to track my customer responses to make sure my marketing is working. I have a website, mailers, and a free book—which one should I track?

    All of them. In this economy, many business owners are quick to stop investing in any costly marketing tactic if they feel that it isn’t working. However, without any concrete information about which media are bringing in customers, business owners are just making blind decisions.

    For example, imagine you send out a flyer to your entire contact list with a specific trackable phone number or web page at the bottom—one that is only used for this mailing. By tracking the customers that call the number or visit the site, you will be able to determine:

    • How many total leads the flyer gained (and whether it offset the cost of printing)
    • How many of those leads became clients
    • The percentage of customers brought in by a specific type of marketing
    • The reliability of this type of marketing
    • Whether this tactic is right for you, and how best to apply it

    By tracking all of your marketing materials separately, you be able to tell at a glance which of your marketing outlets is the most valuable. Comparing information on your customer sources will not only tell you exactly where your business is coming from, but how long it takes customers from that media to become clients, and which ones have the most potential to turn into leads for future business.

  • Will I benefit from a paid Google search ad for my law firm?

    It depends on who you are and which keywords you buy. Consider the recent study done by eBay researchers, who disabled their paid Google search advertising to track the benefits of buying branded keywords—and found that they were wasting a great deal of money.

    The researchers discovered that many of their customers were loyal buyers, people who had used the site before, or people who were familiar with eBay’s products and services. Put together, this left very few customers who were new and needed the website suggested to them—the very group of people paid search ads are meant to target.

    The only real benefit paid search ads generated was a slight increase in eBay customers who were looking for a particular item that they did not know was available on eBay, such as musical instruments or wholesale items—and even then, profit was minimal.

    Simply put, eBay’s paid searches were ineffective because they were too well-known. Customers who had previously purchased items on eBay were likely to do it again, and those who had sold items on eBay were well versed in using the website.

    As the eBay study proves, paid search ads are only effective for certain businesses—and only then, if used correctly. For example, there’s no need to purchase keywords containing your law firm’s name. As long as you are the only firm operating in your area with that name, your name will appear in a “natural” (unpaid) listing, which will appear at the top of the search anyway, without your wasting money to have it placed there.

  • I was thinking about putting a video on our law firm's home page, in which I explain the services we offer to clients. But won't this just be duplicating what we already say elsewhere on the site?

    Yes, it will—but that's not a bad thing!

    You have to remember that some of the potential clients who land on your site will be more comfortable reading text, and others will prefer to sit back in their chairs and watch you explain your expertise.

    If they're especially interested, they'll probably do both, watching the video after they've already gleaned from your home page whether you're a good fit for them or not. For this reason, there's no problem with repeating in your video what you already say on your site.

    If you're worried about a potential Google search penalty, put your mind at ease—that only applies to pages of your site that repeat (in text) the same information over and over again.

    Of course, you need to make sure that what you say in your video reinforces, rather than contradicts, what is written elsewhere on your site, or even on the same page. It will do you no good to plunk a video in which you discuss your divorce-law expertise in the middle of a page devoted to personal injury lawsuits, and you also need to annotate the video in a way that's consistent with the rest of your site.

    At the very least, you must give your video a written headline, and provide a brief description underneath telling visitors what the video is about. This will also help the placement of your video in YouTube search results.

  • I sank nearly all of my ad budget into my legal website, but I’m planning to name-drop my site on as many free websites as possible to increase my reach. Will this work?

    Even if you have built the most beautiful and keyword-rich site ever, you’ve got all of your eggs in one basket, which is not a very good idea when it comes to attracting different people. It’s true, you do need to get your name out there—but how you do that will directly affect that name’s reputation.

    There are millions of sites that allow you to comment or add content freely, and links to and from these sites can be useful. However, you must be careful which sites you choose—and of course, what you say.

    Here are a few common pitfalls when posting online to:

    • Blogs and websites. Posting on your own site is very low-risk, since you have control of what your viewers read—but a response on a public site is not easy to erase or withdraw.
    • Social media. Legal marketing with social networks can be very effective, but many attorneys have been unfriended due to posting too often or posting irrelevant content.
    • Forums and wiki sites. Some attorneys believe that offering free advice via forums and information-sharing sites will impress their clients; but many have gained a bad reputation by participating in a “flame war” when the conversation doesn’t go their way.

    Remember: your advertising strategy is an investment—and just as with investing money, it helps to diversify your portfolio. Having a finger in every pie will ensure that readers find you wherever they look, not just in the place they hoped to find you.

  • We launched our law firm's new website a couple of weeks ago, and we're showing up on the tenth page of Google search results for our primary search term. What are we doing wrong?

    Probably nothing—and if you are doing something wrong, it'll probably take you at least a few months to figure out what! The fact is that, in today's intensely competitive marketplace, it's virtually impossible to launch a new site and have it dominate search results within a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months. Why?

    • You have plenty of competition, and they have had a substantial head start (that law firm down the block may have had a web presence for 10 years!)
    • Google wants to wait and see how you perform according to its “quality” algorithms, and how “sticky” your site is when visitors land on it. That takes weeks to establish.
    • You may have targeted an extremely competitive search term (say, “New York personal injury lawyer”), and you'll have to lower your sights to something more reasonable.
    • Adding new content on a regular basis is one way to improve your site's rank, and that's a process that takes a lot of time and effort.

    Of course, it's possible that you did do something wrong when launching your site—so there's no harm in checking and re-checking your SEO practices (did you “overstuff” key phrases on each page? Is each page of your site distinctive and original, or did you use the “cookie-cutter” approach whereby each article is substantially the same, but targeted to a different geographic area or key phrase?)

  • There Is An Argument Going On In The Comments Section Of My Legal Blog. Should I Delete The Posts That Don’t Agree With My Position?

    The whole goal of your blog is to attract lots of traffic to your site, and with traffic comes negative comments. But just because you’ve gotten negative feedback doesn’t mean your reputation is in jeopardy; in fact, it is a great opportunity to change someone’s mind about you.

    If you delete a negative comment, you’re telling your readers that you don’t have an answer to that question, or worse, that you don’t think the comment is worth your response. This is hardly an impressive attitude for someone who is supposed to offer help to those in need (and expects to make a living at it).

    There are only three kinds of comments that should be deleted from your legal website:

    • Obscenities. If someone uses obscene language or makes threats, his comments may be deleted and he can be blocked from commenting further.
    • Defamatory remarks. You should not permit any slander in your comments section. However, it is best to warn the commenter on first offense that his remarks will be deleted if he continues.
    • Spam. Spam is not necessarily inflammatory, but it will quickly flood any available areas on your website and is distracting for human readers.

    Other than those types of comments, you should welcome all other feedback on your site. After all, people who stay on your site are improving your law firm’s Google ranking just by being there, and prolonging the conversation will get you even more hits. You must allow others to be critical of your positions, but how you say something is just as important as what you say. Stand your ground politely and encourage the debate!

  • We Just Relaunched Our Website, And Our Webmaster Tools Are Showing Such Sparse Traffic That It's Nearly Impossible To Identify Any Trends Or Tweak The Website In Response To The Traffic. What Can We Do?

    This is a common problem encountered by new or relaunched websites: how can you infer any larger trends from traffic numbers that can be counted on two hands? You've put your content out there, and done your best with the SEO; now you have to sit back and be patient as potential clients find their way to your site. You website may weeks or months to climb back up the Google rankings, so be patient.

    As a rule, you don't want to make too many changes to your site, too quickly, based on limited data. If you've done due diligence while building your site, adhering to all the best-practices SEO guidelines and writing clear and comprehensible copy, then you need to sit back for a few weeks and see what happens—after all, you don't want to fix something that isn't broken!

    Your best strategy is to create new content and distribute that content on your social media sites. You can learn a lot about your audience by the articles they are clicking on from Facebook. Using that data, you can predict what content your target audience is most likely to respond to.

    This is also a good time to work on your website's organization. Build a structure for your website, and work on your internal link structure as well. Create categories and tags that group your content together, and revisit some old content and find out how it can be improved. This is something that is easier to do when a website is young, so seize the opportunity!

    Do some keyword research and learn what you can about search trends around your particular practice area. Focus on long-tail search phrases as well as short-tail keywords. View the content that your competitors are creating and write something that is better, longer, and more comprehensive.

    If you do the work while your website is young, it will help your website "boom" later. Remember, SEO is a long-term strategy, and nothing ever happens overnight. Put in the ground work now, and watch your website trends, and you can reap the benefits later.

  • Are pictures more effective than words on a website?

    It depends on what you consider effective. Your law firm’s online customers are definitely going to be affected by the look and feel of your website first, and that includes the images you put on your pages.

    However, search engine robots can’t see the graphics on your website. If you have little copy and tons of images, you’re not going to be ranked very highly—meaning your site won’t be “effective” at all.

    Here are a few things to consider about the non-text content on your legal website:

    • Animations. Scrolling or animated text (such as flash graphics) will get your human readers’ attention, but robots won’t see it at all.
    • Graphics. Even if you have text written over the image on your site, the text is not searchable by web engines.
    • Video. Videos appeal greatly to your legal customers, but only the written portion of the video content (titles and description) will be searchable.

    While you may think that you can either use graphics to appeal to a human reader or copy for a search robot, there is a way to appeal to both. Every piece of multimedia content on your site has a description, such as an image file name or a text tag. You can edit these filenames and descriptions to include keywords, giving your robots something to read—and your readers something to look at.

  • I'm too busy with my practice to sit down and design my own Yellow Pages display ad. Why can't I let the phone company deal with this and concentrate on what I do best?

    Maybe you should ask this question instead: Does the phone company know your law practice as well as you do? Unless Ma Bell has been eavesdropping on your conversations, the answer is a definite “no”—which means it's up to you, and not the person who sold you the ad, to communicate what your firm does best.

    Your advertisement defines your legal practice in the minds of consumers who still use the Yellow Pages to research businesses. Those consumers don’t give their trust easily. If you anticipate your ad bringing in even one client over the course of the year, you owe it to yourself to promote your legal practice in a way that will attract the clients you most want to serve.

    The good news is that designing your own Yellow Pages ad isn't nearly as burdensome a task as you think it is. You probably already have a basic marketing “pitch” that you use on your website, so you don't have to write the copy from scratch. Word-processing programs are so intuitive that you can probably design your ad in half an hour (maybe an hour, if you haven't yet explored the capabilities of your Word software). If you have staff members, they would probably be delighted to take the file you give them and turn it into a bright, distinctive, attention-getting ad.

    What will happen if you do, allow the Yellow Pages publisher to design your ad? Well, you may wind up with a lot of “white space” and a minimum of copy—often just the name of your firm, your slogan, and your phone number. The fact is that your ad rep has better things to do than worry about the layout of your display ad, and he/she won't be motivated to hit the ball out of the park, since she has probably already received her commission and has gone on to the next prospective customer.

  • How can I tell if people are actually reading my website?

    After you’ve spent so much time redesigning your law firm’s website, it’s natural to wonder if it has made a difference. There are many ways you can tell if someone has visited your site, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg for your marketing campaign.

    Your web administrator can help you make use of the following tools to track your website:

    • Tracking software. Many free website providers include ways of tracking your visitors, such as hit counts and geographic information. All of this is valuable marketing information—and not taking advantage of it is one of the biggest legal marketing mistakes you can make.
    • Comments and Forms. You don’t want to seem unreachable to your readers, so give them plenty of opportunity to respond. Every page of your website should be focused on getting your target audience to interact with you—and if you require an email address to leave a comment, you will have gained another contact.

    Once you get the data, you should understand how to interpret it. There are many types of web traffic, and some visitors mean more to your bottom line than others. If you are looking at your website data, you should be looking at two metrics to determine if you are getting good traffic or meaningless traffic:

    • Bounce rate. Are people visiting your website, and leaving without clicking a link? If that is the case, you could have an issue. You should want people to visit many pages on your website, fill out contact forms, and interact with your content. If your bounce rate is high, this is an indication your web traffic is mostly junk.
    • Average Visit Duration. Visit duration measures the time people are spending on your website. This is measured by calculating the time between actions, like link clicks or page visits. If your average visit duration is between 1 and 3 minutes, most of your visitors are reading your content.

    If you have a problem with "junk" web traffic, it is time to talk to your web developer. There could be an issue with the coding of your website that is preventing it from being indexed correctly for the right audiences. For example, not having the right target language that is causing people from other countries to land on your website.

    More likely, your content needs some work. Focus on writing longer articles, with links to related content and your practice area pages. You should also have call to actions on your web pages encouraging users to take the next step with your law firm.

  • I love being online! I’ve got three Twitter accounts and two Facebook pages for my business. More is better, right?

    Not necessarily. After all, your social media efforts should be focused on getting your client to contact you. If you’re sending hourly “tweets” that don’t get any responses, you’re not doing much for your exposure—and you’re probably wasting a lot of your own precious time.

    Here are a few rules of thumb when it comes to controlling your online legal advertising accounts:

    • Websites. Multiple sites can be a good tactic if you have two drastically different (and equally lucrative) practice areas. If you’re new to the game or have one specialty, it’s best to stick to one website.
       
    • Blogs. One blog per site should be fine, with a minimum of one post every other day (unless a major case breaks or local news event happens that bears commenting on).
       
    • Facebook. Once a day minimum, five max. You don’t want readers think that you’re spending so much time updating your status that you won’t have any left to devote to their case.
       
    • Twitter. Resist the urge to tweet more than three times daily. While you’re going to give the impression of being tech-savvy to your readers, you don’t want them to think you don’t have other things to do.
       
    • YouTube. Your video account (just one!) can have as many informational videos as you want. The sky’s the limit! Just make sure the tags are optimized and the links are sharable.

    Remember: all of your social media and video sites should be designed to send traffic to your website. Think of all of those smaller accounts as spacecraft, taking all of your faithful readers to the mother ship: your homepage. That’s where they will find all the information tailor-made just for them, prompting them to make first contact.

  • Can I Use Syndicated Copy To Fill Up My Law Firm Website And Save Me Time?

    We understand that you are extremely busy and that your time is money. While you want to participate in attorney marketing, you do not have time to write every piece of content yourself that will be contained on your website. Because of this, it may sound tempting to you to hire a company that specializes in syndicated copy. After all, they pump out content and they generally charge a lot less than hiring a copywriter for your site.

    Before you do this, consider the fact that syndicated copy can kill your rankings. Although you may be able to fill up your site with more articles, blogs, and other online content faster, you also may not be getting the search results you would like. This is because if a search engine finds two or more of the same articles on the Internet, your site can be penalized.

    Google’s website evaluation algorithms want to see is fresh, original content that is unique. Duplicate text scores poorly. If you purchase syndicated legal marketing content—even if your attorney website and contact information is added to that content—it will still appear to the search engines as the same content across multiple sites.

    If you do not have the time to write content yourself, it is critical to hire a professional attorney web marketing company or a specific copywriter who is tasked with trying to make your site’s rankings improve.

  • I’m Writing A Blog to Promote My Law Practice, and I’ve Quickly Found the Limits to My Writing Skills. How Do I Find Great Law Firm Blog Topics?

    How do I find great topics for my law firm's blog?To make your law firm’s blog work as a marketing channel, you not only need powerful lawyer marketing ideas, but you also need results-oriented content. But what topics should you pick? How do you know which ones will work which ones won’t? Ideally, your blog should generate users interest and get people to call you. How you can attain these goals with your blog will depend on your strategy.

    Here are four points to keep in mind:

    1. You need to “throw a lot of stuff on the wall” and see what sticks. Theorize all you want. Until you start blogging or have someone blog for you, you can’t know what concepts will resonate with your marketplace and lead to action.
    2. Write about topics that provide value to potential clients. You may find it interesting to discuss the subtleties of a recent Supreme Court decision. That might be intellectually stimulating for you. But is that topic going to help drive business? Are your prospects going to learn anything or gain value from it? Focus on the content that’s going to enrich their lives and lead them closer to their goals.
    3. Don’t be afraid to give fantastic advice away. A lot of web marketers, lawyers and non-lawyers alike, hoard their best ideas because they worry that competitors will steal them. In general, don’t hold back.
    4. Your content should NOT be a complete solution, just part of it. If you give everything away to your clients for free—all of your advice—then there will be no reason why people should utilize your paid services. Your free content and your paid services should work together as an integrated whole. The free content should provide some unique value. But you want to structure the content in such a way that it compels the reader to want to connect with you to learn more.

  • How Do I Test My Landing Page For My Law Firm Marketing?

    How do you split test landing pages for your law firm?Once you have developed a landing page as part of your law firm marketing campaign, it is important to test its effectiveness and make changes where necessary. Fortunately, Google offers a free tool that allows lawyers to test various aspects of their landing page. The tool will allow tests on the effectiveness of many areas, including the following:

    • Color
    • Headlines
    • Calls to action
    • Buttons
    • Changes to the landing page

    What is this Google tool that can improve your attorney marketing landing page? It is known as Google Optimize, and its goal is to help your law firm convert more visitors into paying clients. The tool allows the attorney to assess which content, offers, and designs are most effective at converting visitors into clients. Because the tool is free for all Google users, there is virtually no downside to its use.

    Google Optimize offers:

    • Videos and web seminars about design and planning.
    • Tips for how to use the results of the testing.
    • Articles and information on website optimization.
    • Incremental learning, so you can master the basic functions of the tool before moving on to more sophisticated analysis.
    • Advanced testing strategies for those comfortable with the initial results produced by the tool.

    We recommend you spit test your landing page early in your marketing campaign. Typically, you need to collect data for about a month before you can truly understand which page is performing better. Don't just test to see which page converts more leads, you should also check to see which page gets you the most clients. There are many landing pages that will fill your list with leads, but those leads may not be valuable. The real test will be if those leads become clients, then you will really know if your landing page is helping your law firm.

  • What Resources in Google AdWords Can I Use to Refine My Marketing?

    What tools avaliable in Google Adwords can help you monitor your law firm's website?Google AdWords is one resource that can help you understand if your law firm marketing efforts are helping you attract the new clients that you want to attract with your website. It is worth the time to learn how Google AdWords works and what it can do for you.

    If you use a pay-per-click ad campaign to market your law firm, for example, Google AdWords can identify the parts of your ad that are working and that parts that need improvement. Some of the basic reports that you can access from Google include:

    • Placement/Keyword Report: This report will provide you with information about cost, conversion, and cost per conversion. You can see what each keyword is costing you and whether those keywords are converting for you.
    • Ad Performance Report: This report will look at the text of your ad to see how well it is performing.
    • URL Performance Report: This report allows you to determine how well your landing page is working.
    This is only the beginning of what Google AdWords can do for you. If you are interested in learning more about Google AdWords and other tips and tricks for evaluating your law firm website, then we encourage you to browse the resources available on our website.

  • How Can Meta Descriptions Improve My Law Firm's Website?

    Writing a little extra content for your articles and blog is important for the health of your website.Despite understanding the need for online marketing and search engine optimization, too many attorneys skip the important step of writing unique meta descriptions for each page of online content. Meta descriptions are valuable to an attorney marketing campaign because they provide a summary of the content and increase the likelihood that potential clients will click through to view the web page. When more potential clients click through to view the web page, the chances are raised that those potential clients go on to become paying clients.

    Crafting dynamic meta descriptions is more an art than a science, but there are strategies for strengthening your approach. Here are seven tips for writing effective meta descriptions:

    1. Keep the meta description to approximately 25 words, or 160 characters, or less.
    2. Address a need that a potential client is facing when conducting the web search.
    3. Offer a solution to the need or problem faced by the potential client.
    4. Write unique meta descriptions for every page.
    5. Encourage viewers to click through to learn more by including a call to action.
    6. Provide a compelling description of the content on the web page.
    7. Incorporate the most important keywords.

    Using these tips while drafting meta descriptions will improve the success of your legal web marketing strategy. Attorneys who skip this step are missing out on countless potential clients.

  • What Lawyers Should Know About PPC Campaigns

    Pay-per-click advertising is one way to get more clients into your legal marketing funnel.Pay-per-click advertising has become vitally important to effective law firm marketing programs. Because the advertisements appear only in response to the precise words the user types into his search request, you can tailor the landing page of your website to the exact needs of your potential client. Obviously, then, choosing the right keywords is essential.

    It is wise to recognize that the things to avoid putting in a pay-per-click advertisement are as important as the things that you do include in your ad. There are some things that are important to avoid:

    • Very general terms such as “personal injury attorney.” The competition is simply too fierce for those kinds of terms. Instead consider something more specific to your practice and to where you are located, such as “Columbus medical malpractice lawyer.”
    • Negative Keywords. These are words that you don’t want be associated with your practice. They may include terms like “job,” “joke,” “bad,” and “pictures.” You don’t want to attract people looking for a Columbus medical malpractice lawyer job, a medical malpractice lawyer joke, a bad attorney, or pictures of you. Anyone searching for those terms is probably not serious about finding a lawyer to hire.