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.”