All posts by Jo

Local SEO 101: What You Need To Know To Dominate the Listings

Chances are, you’ve heard of SEO. SEO is short for search engine optimization, and it’s the practice of doing everything you can to get as high up in the search engine results page (SERP, for short) as possible.

You see, landing on the first page of Google (or Bing) is not an accident. It takes deliberate effort to catapult your lawyer website (and by extension, your law firm) to the first few results, and there’s a lot of stiff competition vying for that coveted spot.

Here’s a free checklist to help you boost your SEO. Subscribe to receive this extra checklist.

Being on the first page of Google (or Bing) is absolutely crucial to grabbing potential clients. These people are on the Internet right now looking for the very legal services you offer, but studies show that most people never click beyond the first page of the search results. If you want to reach them, you’ve got to be on that first page, too.

What is local seo?

Local SEO is slightly different from normal SEO. Local SEO is about getting your website to hit the front page for a specific location, i.e. your city or state.

For example, the results that pop up when someone searches for “law firms Tucson” have all been optimized for a local search.

Local SEO is important for businesses with physical locations. When Internet users search for a law firm online, they usually want to make contact immediately. They’re not going to spend an hour searching through hundreds of listings to find your contact information that’s nestled somewhere on page seven. They’ll likely go with one of the first few listings on the first page.

So, how do you dominate the local results? Let’s take a look at a few proven strategies.

A Word About Keywords

Before we go any further, let’s talk about keywords.

Keywords are words that you type into a search box to call up a particular topic.

To dominate local results, you need to use relevant and local keywords on your website. If your law firm specializes in family law in Birmingham, AL that’s exactly what phrase you should use to describe yourself on your website. An example of this would be in your About Us page where you describe your practice as “family law Birmingham, AL.”

This small effort makes it much more likely for you to show up in the search results when someone searches in Google for that very phrase.

key-words

Image Courtesy of Google

It would be a mistake to overlook your city name here and go generic. There are hundreds, thousands, or even millions of other websites that could turn up for a generic keyword like “legal advice.”

While Google can put together a list of local law firms, if you haven’t optimized your content to indicate that you’re local to that specific area, you’ll get overlooked in favor of your competitors.

The moral of the story? Make all of your websites optimized for local keyword search inquiries by adding your city name.

By the way, don’t go crazy with keywords. Your site’s ranking on the search engine won’t improve from keyword stuffing.

Keyword stuffing is when you list a whole bunch of keywords (usually at the bottom of your page) in hopes that the search engine will select your site when a specific keyword is searched for. While this was a common practice once upon a time, you can’t trick the search engine crawlers this way anymore.

The good news is there are plenty of ways to still optimize your online presence, and we’re going to delve directly into them right now.

Pay for Ads

You need a paid ad strategy if you’d like to dominate local search engine results. That’s because the very first search results on Google happen to be advertisements.

The ads look similar to regular listings except for the telltale orange “ad” icon. They get a lot of clicks. These ads compete with regular “organic” search results and usually win.

A round of ads are also displayed near the bottom of the page, too.

Paid advertising doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Here’s a simple overview of how Google’s paid advertising works:

  • You choose a keyword phrase you’d like to rank for. This means when someone types in this phrase in the search bar, your ad will return along with the search results, hopefully at the top of the page.
  • You decide how much you’re willing to pay. Google ads are pay per click. Every time someone clicks on your ad, your account will be debited the specific amount you agreed to pay.
  • You can determine how much you’re willing to pay each day. If your limit is $5.00 per day, your ad will disappear after meeting that quota until the next day.
  • You create an ad, paying special attention to making it relevant for the keyword phrase you’re bidding on. Be sure you link to a relevant page on your website that discusses that very keyword, or else visitors will feel like you’ve tricked them. (This will negatively impact your ad campaign and cause your ad to disappear from search results.)
  • You then bid on the ad. You’re not guaranteed to win the bid. Sometimes, other competitors are also bidding for that same keyword phrase. Google doesn’t automatically choose the highest bidder, either. Instead, Google uses a quality score to decide who should receive the coveted spot.

Bing works similarly to Google.

While you’re never guaranteed a spot in the top results, optimizing your content and making sure the ad links to a relevant location will increase your chances.

Utilize Google My Business

We’ve talked extensively about Google My Business in this post: Pick Me! Your Beginner’s Guide on How to Attract Local Clients via the Internet. If you’d like to really understand how to list your law firm with Google, definitely check it out.

While I won’t rehash what we discussed there, I will say that getting listed on Google My Business is one of the smartest things you can do to influence where you land in the local search results.

Studies show that clients are more likely to visit a business with a completed Google My Business page.

google-my-business

Image Courtesy of Greg Gifford, DealerOn

Make it a priority to list your business on Google My Business today. In fact, you can do it right now. I’ll wait. It’s that important.

Get Reviewed

In that previous post on attracting local clients, we also talked about the importance of getting reviews, with heavy emphasis on Yelp. Be sure to check that post out, too.

While reviews on third party sites like Yelp are important, you should also actively seek reviews on Google.

These reviews help Google determine whether to display your listing in its Google My Business local results. Because an initial trio of listings feature prominently on the search results page (it’s located right underneath the ads and before the organic search results), you need to do whatever it takes to get a spot on this list.

get-reviewed

Image Courtesy of Google

Encourage your clients to leave a review of your law firm with Google. Unfortunately, there isn’t a straight link you can give them, but you can provide a series of short instructions along with a visual reference like this:

get-reviewd2

Image Courtesy of Google

Create a Blog

If you don’t have a blog already, consider creating one. Websites with active blogs rank higher in search results. Why?

Search engines love to see a freshly updated website. While you’re probably not going to change the core information on your website very often (this includes the content on your About page, your Contact Us page, and your Services page), you can provide fresh content on a blog.

This is also another opportunity to appear in local search results for a specific keyword phrase. You can write about topics that your potential clients are likely to search for. An example of this may be “applying for a K-1 visa in Portland, Oregon.” Your blog post can rank near the top because it contains relevant keywords.

create-a-blog

Image Courtesy of Google

This is the most important thing to remember when writing your blog:

Focus on local keywords (i.e. city, state) everywhere especially in:

  • Your blog post title
  • Your meta description
  • The alt tags on your images

Final Thoughts

Local SEO sounds a lot more complicated than it is. Your law firm can totally dominate the local search results if you follow this advice. Ask any questions you have in the comments below and we’ll be sure to help you.

Here’s a free checklist to help you boost your SEO. Subscribe to receive this extra checklist.

Why You Need An Email List For Your Law Firm & 7 Easy Strategies To Create One

Law firm website? Check!

Social media profiles? Check!

Email list? Huh?

Maybe you’ve heard of email lists but you don’t know where to start. Maybe you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about it, but it sounds like something you should know.

Wherever you are on the spectrum, this post will help. We’ll discuss everything you need to get started on building an email list for your law firm along with why you should build an email list to begin with.

Would you like a five step quick start guide to building your email list? Subscribe to receive this extra guide.

What’s an Email List?

An email list is a collection of people who’ve given you their email addresses so that they can stay in touch with your law firm.

Why Do You Need an Email List?

why-do-you-need-an-email-list

An email list is the most valuable marketing resource you have. Your email list represents people who want to have a relationship with your law firm – subscribers. These subscribers want to know what you have to say about hot topics and enjoy reading your advice.

Let’s take a look at the main benefits of creating an email list:

Top of mind awareness

An email list keeps your law firm at the top of subscribers’ minds. They may not need your legal services now or even six months from now. However, when the need arises, you’ll be the first (or only) law firm your subscriber will think of.

You own the list

You may be thinking, Isn’t my social media platform good enough? I already have a ton of fans and followers on social media.

Although a social media presence is important, it’s inferior to creating an email list. The main reason is that you don’t own that list of fans and followers. If Facebook or Twitter decides to delete your account tomorrow, everyone who follows you will go bye-bye, whether that’s 10 people or 10,000.

When you own an email list, you won’t ever have to worry about losing your subscribers.

Promote your services

Did you know that email is one of the best ways to market your law firm? That’s because your list contains people who actually want to be on it. It’s not just random people who stumbled onto your website via an ad or review site.

The people on your email list are highly interested in the services that you provide. It stands to reason that the people who took their time to sign up for your email newsletters actually want to hear from you.

In your email, discuss what you offer. Highlight key services. Describe these services in plain English.

You may think, why do I need an email list now? My site is brand new and I don’t have a lot of traffic.

Now is the perfect time to set up an email list. You want to have a method in place to catch any and every visitor who arrives on your site and wants to subscribe.

Think about people who visit your site and then leave. They’ll never return– not because they don’t want to, but because they’ve forgotten. They may love your site and want to receive more content from you, but you don’t have a way to ask for their email address.

So, now that you know why you need an email list, let’s talk about how to create a successful one.

Email Newsletter Best Practices

1. Choose your subject line carefully

The success of your email newsletter rests solely on your subject line. Choose a subject line that makes your subscribers want to click on it.

Get them interested

Why should the subscriber open this email? How will it benefit them? Using a subject like “Granger & Associates Newsletter: June 2016” won’t move the needle, I assure you. However, a subject like, “Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About PreNups” is interesting and makes your subscribers think, hmm… what don’t I know about prenups?

It’s all about getting your subscriber to actually open your email.

Keep it short

The ideal length for an email subject line is between 50 to 70 characters. Many email service providers cut off the subject line after 70 characters. This is approximately eight words. Eight words seems short, but there’s a lot you can do in that space when you’re creative.

Avoid certain words

Creativity in word choice is a must, but you’ll want to steer clear of certain overused or spammy words and phrases. These words make your email look like spam to humans, and can also trip an email service’s spam filters. If that happens, your email won’t even make it to the inbox.

avoid-certain-words

Here’s a partial list of words you should avoid in your subject line:

Free

Donate

% Off

$$$

Cheap

W o r d s  w i t h  g a p s

Help

Amanda MacArthur at Mequoda has a list of the most offensive spam trigger words.

2. Choose your sender email address and name carefully, too

Chose a sender name that reminds the subscriber who you are. You may choose to use the name of your law firm (P&R Law), your own name (Debra Smarts, esq.), or a combination of the two (Debra Smarts from P&R Law). I’m partial to the third option because it provides maximum identification.

You should also choose an email address that sounds welcoming. Instead of using a donotreply@your-email.com as your email address, choose something like holly@your-email.com.

3. Don’t get too wordy

dont-get-too-wordy

We’ve already discussed keeping it short on your subject line. You should also adopt this mentality in the body of your email.

Attention spans are short in inboxes. Your subscribers don’t want to spend 30 minutes reading your newsletter, and they won’t.

Instead of creating a lengthy email newsletter, provide short and easy-to-consume content. Direct them out of the inbox and onto your blog or website to get the full scoop. Email is a quick burst of information, but it shouldn’t attempt to tell the whole story.

4. Include a call to action for each email

Piggybacking off of the above practice, use a strong call to action in your emails to bring people back to your website. At the end of each section of your newsletter, include a button or a link that tells your subscriber what to do next, i.e. “Read the rest on my blog…” or “Sign up for my upcoming class here.”

5. Segment

Have you ever heard of segmenting? Segmenting is the process of taking one email list and grouping subscribers based on demographics or other criteria. For example, you can group everyone who signed up from your blog post about adoption law into one segment and everyone who signed up from your blog post about divorce law onto another segment.

What’s the value of segmenting? In the example above, you can see how a family hoping to learn more about adoption won’t necessarily be interested in advice to divorcees.

By segmenting, you can create specific newsletters for each group. Your subscribers win because they’ll get relevant content they can actually use.

6. Come Up with an Interesting Topic

come-up-with-an-interesting-topic

There are so many great ideas that you can use to create content for your email newsletter. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Answer frequently asked questions
  • Highlight success stories (with your client’s permission, of course)
  • Discuss hot topics/current news
  • Tease your most recent blog post
  • Ask for feedback and reviews
  • Share company news
  • Highlight a member of your staff
  • Share the details of upcoming events (webinars, clinics, meet and greets)
  • Write a newsletter about past events you’ve hosted (charity drives, classes, etc)

Set up an editorial calendar on a spreadsheet and list all the ideas you have for your newsletters. Choose a frequency (once a week, bi-weekly, or once a month). Then, come up with an idea for each newsletter. By working in batches, it’s easier to brainstorm ideas.

7. Remember Your Audience

Who are your subscribers? Speak directly to them. Tone down any legalese because they won’t understand all the fancy lawyer-speak (unless they are lawyers also).

Along these same lines, choose subjects that matter to your subscribers. They may not care to know the finer details of the law. They simply want to know how a law will affect them.

Final Thoughts

Remember that an email list is a crucial part of your ongoing marketing efforts. It’s never too soon to start capturing email addresses from your site’s visitors.

Would you like a five step quick start guide to building your email list? Subscribe to receive this extra guide.

8 Steps To Creating A Law Firm Blog That People Want to Read

Thinking of starting a blog on your law firm’s website? That’s great. Not sure where to start? You’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’re going to share eight easy steps to creating a useful and popular blog. Let’s go!

Would you like a list of blog topics to get you started? Subscribe to receive this free resource.

Don’t Speak in Legalese

dont-speak-legaliseImage Courtesy of CT Employment Law Blog

Depositions, adjudications, affidavits, oh my! Unless fellow lawyers are your intended audience, tone down the law speak. Your clients will quickly feel overwhelmed by legal terms that they don’t understand.

Here’s the caveat: you should use it as a relevant keyword initially– somewhere in the first couple of paragraphs in your blog post. Then, define the keyword and break it down so that your audience understands what it means.

Here’s an example:

A prospective client arrives on your blog after searching for the term “expungement dallas, tx.” This person has a fuzzy idea of what expungement means. They only happened upon the term when asking around about removing a youthful indiscretion from their permanent criminal record. Your site needs to educate them on the bare basics of expungement and then provide relevant insight you’d like to include, based on what a prospective client will understand.

Always keep your intended audience in mind. Adjust your conversation accordingly.

Focus on Only a Few Topics

focus-on-onlyfew-tipsImage Courtesy of California Labor and Employment Law

You may be multi-passionate, but you might excel at one specific area of law. This is where you probably focus your practice and where you should also focus your blog.

Instead of trying to be all things to all people, zoom in on the one topic (or handful of topics) that your audience wants to know more about.

How do you determine the best topics to tackle in your law blog?

Consider what your clients or colleagues (depending on your audience) ask you about the most. There has to be recurring questions that you get asked frequently: that’s the place to start. As you fill up your blog with content, people will ask you more questions. Of course, that can also inspire new posts.

The bottom line: start by the answering the questions people ask you most, no matter how basic.

Add Images

add-imagesImage courtesy of China Law Blog

No one wants to look at a wall of text, no matter how engaging. You’ve got to break it up with imagery to keep your audience’s attention. Imagery also helps illustrate ideas and convey your tone– whether it’s funny, pensive, or artsy.

I have a secret source of free images– actually, it’s not secret at all, and of course it’s legal. There are hundreds of amazing stock libraries available with 100% free images to spruce up your site.

All you have to do is visit one of the sites below, save the image you like, and then upload it into the body of your post when you’re ready to add it.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t add this note: check copyright usage. Most of the images in these stock libraries are under the Creative Commons license, which allows you to use the images for free. Some photographers or websites require a link back (attribution). The usage requirements are always listed, but are subject to change.

So, here are my favorite stock libraries:

  1. Foter
  2. Gratisography
  3. Pixabay
  4. Magdeleine
  5. Unsplash

And if you’re looking for something a little more local, a little more personal, check out Flickr as well. It’s a little murkier when it comes to licensing, but here’s a guide to finding free blog post images for your firm.

Make it More Readable

make-it-more-readableImage Courtesy of Richard Harris Law

Images aren’t the only way to add visual interest to your blog. There’s yet another way to increase the readability of your blog: white space. Instead of lengthy, five-to-seven-sentence paragraphs, chop it up into bite-sized nuggets.

Now, I know this goes against everything you learned in grammar class, but remember this: you’re not writing a dissertation, you’re writing a blog post. Unlike your college professor, website visitors don’t have any incentive to read your entire blog post. If it looks long and tedious, it’s going to get passed up.

Take a look at how I’ve structured this blog, for an example. You may notice that there are no large clumps of text. Most paragraphs are three or four sentences long, but I may throw in a one sentence “paragraph” for emphasis and variety.

Like so.

Breaking up your text in this way makes it easier for visitors to read your content.

Post Frequently

post-frequentlyImage Courtesy of Ohio Employer’s Law Blog

There’s nothing worse than coming to a blog, loving it, and then realizing it hasn’t been updated since 2009. Helloooo… Where did you go? It’s lonely in here.

You don’t want your visitors to feel that way.

Your visitors rely on you to keep your blog current and relevant to their needs. Once you start a blog, commit to regular posting, even if you don’t have many (or any) visitors at first. If you post regularly and follow the other steps in this guide, they will come.

Plus, a regular posting schedule will entice visitors to subscribe to your blog, and return often.

Choose Clever Titles

choose-clever-titlesImage Courtesy of Lowering the Bar

Before people actually read your post, they’re going to read your title. Does it draw them in?

Your title doesn’t need to be packed with keywords to grab attention. Funny phrases, interesting questions, and controversial statements can all engage the reader. Here are a few considerations for a great title:

  • Create a list post (i.e. 10 Reasons Why, 7 Things to Consider…)
  • Create a how-to post (i.e. How to Hire a…, How to Find…)
  • Add a benefit to your post (i.e. Here’s What You Need to Know About X…)
  • Keep it simple but catchy. The reader should be know what the topic is about before clicking.
  • Keep it short. Nothing longer than 60 characters, or under 10 words.

Create Categories

create-categoriesImage Courtesy of Cruise Law News

People come onto your law blog for very specific reasons. Let’s say you have a family law practice. Some visitors may want to learn about adoption, and others about child support. You specialize in both.

To accommodate visitors, create categories that make it easy for them to isolate posts of one topic. They should be able to find more of what they’re looking for by clicking on the category section and selecting a topic.

When you’re creating your blog posts, make sure that you’ve created and then selected specific categories.

Consider creating at least three categories for your blog. If you’re stuck, I’d start out with: advice, opinions, and news.

Be a Source of News

be-a-source-of-newsImage Courtesy of Overlawyered

As a lawyer, it’s your job to stay up-to-date on the most relevant news stories. If you work as an immigration attorney, you’ll probably have an opinion on the current political discourse about refugees.

Bring it on. That’s what a blog is for– it’s a place to add your commentary and unique perspective to the conversation.

Don’t be afraid to insert your take on hot topics.

Would you like a list of blog topics to get you started? Subscribe to receive this free resource.

 

Pick Me! Your Beginner’s Guide On How To Attract Local Clients Via The Internet

I know what you’re wondering: How do I attract local clients who do a Google search for law firms in my area?

In this post, I’m going to give you two ways to attract local clients – and both are free and easy enough to do in an afternoon. Let’s get to it:

First Things First

A word of consideration: As you read this article, keep in mind that there may be some ethical do’s and don’ts when it comes to soliciting or promoting online reviews of you or your law practice. Always check with your state bar association’s guidelines on what action is permissible.

You need an online presence. Forget Yellow Pages and billboards to reach local audiences. Did you know that 83% of your prospective clients will perform an online search first to find local lawyers?

You need a website and completed social media profiles. You also need to set up shop on review sites like Google My Business and Yelp. We’ll discuss this in greater detail later in this post.

You must have a responsive website. People aren’t searching the Internet strictly from their desktop computers anymore, especially when finding out information about law offices. When a client wants to find hours and directions to your office, they’re going to do so via their smartphones. Google found that 88% of local searches come from a smartphone. That’s 4% more than desktop computers.

What does this mean for you? It means that you need a website that looks great on smartphones and quickly gives your clients exactly what they need.

The best way to do that is with a well-designed website that responds to whatever device your client uses to access your information. We can help with that.

Make client testimonials a priority. Your law firm will grow based on word of mouth, both offline and online, too. Make it a part of your client outtake process to ask that they share their experience through an online review, or provide your information to others.

That said, be sure to follow the guidelines of each online review site to make sure you’re complying with the rules (more on that a little later).

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of designing your local marketing strategy:

Where Do Your Clients Search?

Let’s get real for a moment. Do your clients know anything about Martindale or even Lawyers.com? Probably not. And you may not either. But everyone knows about Google and Yelp. That’s exactly where you need to be right now if you’d like to attract local clients.
Take a look at these two graphs from the guys at SoftwareAdvice.com:

software-advice

Image Courtesy of SoftwareAdvice.com

In fact, Yelp is the most trusted review site for lawyers, by far. More than twice the amount of people go to Yelp to find a lawyer than its’ nearest competitor, Super Lawyers.

legal-servicesImage Courtesy of Yelp

The other big influencer for your law office is Google. A completely new prospective client who has never heard of you will most likely begin their search for representation with Google. Someone who’s familiar with Yelp (and who isn’t these days?) will likely head to Yelp for recommendations and reviews.

We’ll explore both sites in detail, but remember that you should also get listed on each and every site that speaks to your prospective clients. Although we’re going to focus on Google and Yelp in this post, you shouldn’t exclude Avvo.comMartindale, and Super Lawyers. They rock, too, just not as loudly (yet) as Google and Yelp. In fact, we recommend that you focus your marketing efforts on Google (60%), Yelp (20%), and Avvo (20%).

But, since you’re just beginning your local marketing, let’s tackle the two with the biggest ROI now and then focus on the others afterwards.

Would you like a checklist for optimizing your Google My Business and Yelp profiles? Subscribe to receive this free resource.

Google My Business

Let’s do an exercise right now. In your browser, do a quick Google search for “law firms in insert your city, your state” (for example, law firms in Phoenix, AZ). What comes up? Does your website show in the premium space affectionately known as Google’s local snack pack?

law-firms

Screenshot of snack pack of law firms in Phoenix, AZ

If so, fantastic! Move on to the Yelp section below. If not, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to dominating.

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business is a free feature created by Google for any local business that would like to market and promote themselves online.

This feature increases your exposure online. How? When people do a basic search for law firms in your area, your Google My Business listing will show up before the regular search engine results. For this reason alone, Google My Business can be even more powerful than SEO (search engine optimization).

As a local law office, you can’t afford not to be listed through Google My Business. If you’re not on that top three list, your competitors are.

I already have a website. Do I need Google My Business, too?

Yes. While your website should be the central hub of your online activity (i.e. your services, blog posts, bios, and contact information), you also need a Google My Business listing. Google uses the information you provide to better construct their search engine results.

Google is a business too, and they want to provide the best and most accurate information to their customers. Google wants to make it easy for customers to find exactly what they need as quickly as possible.

That’s why they created Google My Business, which distills all of your information into an orderly, easy-to-scan structure. This feature empowers your prospective clients with the following information:

Your Business Name

Address

Phone Number

Website Link

Area of Law Expertise

Directions

Physical Location on a Local Map

Rating and Reviews

Hours of Operation

Photos of Your Practice

Top 5 Related Web Results

zachar-lawScreenshot of Zachar Law Firm in Phoenix, AZ

What is a snack pack?

Google My Business selects three local listings to showcase. We call this the snack pack. They get prime listing above other law firms.

So, why do only three listings make it? It all goes back to mobile. It turns out that the three listing snack pack looks best on smartphones and smaller screens.

How do I make it into the Google snack pack?

There are two strategies you can implement to influence your Google My Business listing and hopefully make it to the coveted three within the snack pack. They are:

Position yourself as an authority. What type of law do you practice? Be sure to get as specific as possible in your Google My Business listing. Indicate if you practice family law, personal injury, bankruptcy, and so on. This will help Google determine where to rank you on their list.

bankcruptcyA Google Search for “bankruptcy lawyer phoenix az”

Get reviewed. Do you have a happy client? Direct them to your Google My Business listing. How? Here comes the creative part.

As of now, the best way to get them to your Google listing is to provide a URL that looks something like this:

https://www.google.com/#q=Zachar+Law+Firm

You’ll create a URL like this by searching for your specific law office name in Google. In the above case “Zachar Law Firm.” If your law office name sounds similar to others, specify by adding your city and state or even zipcode.

zachar2

To solicit reviews, simply ask. Make sure you direct your potential reviewers to your Google search URL (for example https://www.google.com/#q=Zachar+Law+Firm). You can ask in the emails you send out, under your signature, with a sentence like:

Leave Us a Review on Google Here: (provide a link to your Google search URL)

Every so often, you should ask your social media followers for a review. Be sure never to incentivize the reviews you ask for on Google.

Yelp

As we mentioned before, Yelp is a necessary component of your local marketing strategy. One thing you need to know about Yelp is they don’t allow you to ask for reviews. But there are still ways to win on Yelp. Let’s check it out:

What is Yelp?

Yelp is an online review site for local businesses. It’s second only to Google in terms of influence for local recommendations. They average 142 million visits every month. That’s huge.

yelpA Yelp search for “law firms in Phoenix, AZ”

Why do I need to be on Yelp?

You need to be there because your clients are there. More people use Yelp to search for law firms than they do any other review site.

What information does Yelp give potential clients?

Yelp provides the following information in the main listing:

Your Name

Address

Phone Number

Ratings and Reviews

Area of Specialization

Hero Image of You or Your Law Office

One Top Review

In the full page listing, you can add more such as:

Your Website

A Map of Your Location

An Overview of Your Practice that You Write

Does Yelp filter reviews?

It sure does. It’s been said that Yelp eliminates the best and the worst reviews. Yelp also may slash reviews from those without friends, incomplete profiles, or no other reviews. This is why it’s so important to reach active Yelp users who can positively (fingers crossed) promote your law practice.

Wait, I thought I couldn’t ask for reviews

You can’t. But you can ask your clients to visit your Yelp page. It’s a small matter of semantics but you’re a lawyer, so you should be okay with that.

The bottom line is you can encourage visitors to find you on Yelp and hope that they feel inspired to write a review about your wonderful work. You can also place a Yelp badge on your website to further promote your Yelp page. Likewise, add a link to your Yelp page under your email signature with the text, “Check us out on Yelp.”

Final Thoughts

Google My Business and Yelp can positively impact your law firm. Take an hour or two out of your day to set up your profile on these sites. Not sure how to do that? Subscribe to receive a checklist for optimizing your Google My Business and Yelp profiles.

Would you like a checklist for optimizing your Google My Business and Yelp profiles? Subscribe to receive this free resource.

The One Thing You Need To Do To Grow Your Email List

You’ve heard of email lists and how you need to build one, right? Or maybe you haven’t.

Not to worry. In today’s post, we’re going to delve right into what an email list is, why you need to build one, and how to get people to subscribe to your list.

What is an email list?

An email list is a catalog of email addresses that you’ve collected. You may collect these email addresses from your website visitors, social media followers, or the prospects who’ve stopped by your law firm to inquire about your services.

An email list should always consist of those who’ve willingly volunteered their email address. It’s never a good idea to purchase or rent email addresses, for more than one reason.

email-lists

Image Courtesy of HubSpot

Why do I need an email list?

These days, having a website isn’t enough. An estimated 500 websites are created every minute. That means that a site visitor can easily leave your website, never to return again. That’s not because they don’t want to return– maybe they’ve simply forgotten how to find you.

That’s why an email list is crucial. When a visitor loves the information on your site and signs up to receive regular emails from you, you don’t have to worry about them getting lost ever again.

Here are a few other reasons you need an email list:

It helps you stay top of mind. Your email subscribers may not need your services yet, but if you keep in contact with them on a regular basis, they’ll know where to turn when the time arises.

It provides valuable information to your email subscribers. You can educate your email subscribers and keep them in the know about things going on in your practice.

You own your email list. You may have a lot of fans and followers on social media, but at any moment, a social platform could deactivate your account and poof! goes all of your hard work. With an email list, you’ll always have access to your subscribers.

Email is better than social media. A post on a social media timeline or profile only lasts for a few moments before new posts take their place. With email, you have a permanent spot in a subscriber’s inbox until they manually delete you.

Need a step by step checklist for growing your email list? Subscribe to resource our free checklist.

How do I get people to subscribe to my email list?

To get people to subscribe to your email list, you need to present it as an option. People won’t subscribe if they don’t know about your email list. They won’t go searching for it, either.

Here’s how to get people to join your email list:

Ask them. It may seem obvious to you, but it’s not obvious to visitors. They may not notice your email list unless you tell them it’s there. Ask in your blog posts, on your website (have a permanent spot for email signups– we’ll help you with this), and on your social media pages.

Give them a reason. Sometimes, asking isn’t enough. You may also need to encourage them with a lead magnet. This lead magnet will draw subscribers in and give them an instant reward for signing up to your email list.

Wait, what’s a lead magnet?

You’ve seen lead magnets before, but probably didn’t know them by name. A lead magnet is an incentive offered to site visitors in exchange for their email addresses.

A lead magnet should be valuable and relevant for site visitors. It’s not about stroking your ego (i.e. ‘check out why we’re so great’). It should be about helping, informing, or entertaining your audience.

We have our very own lead magnet right here on our site. By entering your first name and email address here, you’ll receive a weekly marketing plan delivered straight to your inbox.

weekly-marketing-plan

Join our weekly marketing plan here

Here are a few takeaways from our lead magnet:

It’s not smarmy. We’re not trying to trick you into joining our email list with smoke and mirrors. You know that by giving us your email address, we’re going to email you.

It’s valuable. It gives something in exchange for joining. We tell you how you’ll benefit from joining our email list (you’ll receive a free actionable plan every week).

It doesn’t ask for too much. Anytime you’re asking your site visitors for more than a name and email address, you’re scaring them away. Keep a simple form for your email signup.

How to create an amazing lead magnet

Now that we’ve gone over what a lead magnet is, it’s time to figure out how to make one that your site visitors will actually want.

First, settle on an idea for your lead magnet. As you can imagine, your lead magnet will vary depending on your area of practice and the needs of your client.

Here’s a few examples for different practice areas:

Bankruptcy – An ebook, Which Chapter of Bankruptcy is Right for Me?

Business – A guide, LLC, Corporation, Sole Proprietorship, Oh My! Which One Should You Choose?

Criminal – A guide, Is Marijuana Still Illegal? A List of States and Their Laws Concerning Marijuana

Entertainment – A video series, How Do I Know If I Need An Entertainment Lawyer?

Family – A guide, A Guide to Calculating Child Support in Your State

Immigration – An ebook, Understanding the Rules of a K-1 Visa

Intellectual Property – A guide, A Step by Step Guide to Copyrighting and Protecting Your Ideas

Labor – A printable, A Printable List of State Labor Laws

Medical – A guide, Medical Malpractice: Should You Settle or Go to Court?

Personal Injury – A checklist, What Should You Do Immediately After Getting Injured on the Job?

Second, create your lead magnet. Don’t worry– it doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be simply created and formatted with a program like Microsoft Word or Pages for Mac. If you don’t have either of those, you can create a lead magnet with the free web-based option Google Docs.

Start by creating an outline of what you’d like to talk about within your lead magnet. Don’t hold back. The more content you can add, the better. Next, type it all out and don’t edit yourself until you’re done. After you’ve written a rough draft, you can come back and edit for clarity and cohesion. Finally, add graphics to your lead magnet to spice it up and inject visual interest. Here’s a list of free stock libraries that you can check out.

Third and finally, set up an account with MailChimp, if you haven’t already. MailChimp is an email marketing service that allows you to send out your lead magnets to new subscribers automatically. Even better– AmazeLaw seamlessly integrates with MailChimp. Set up is easy, but if you have any questions, let us know.

Final Thoughts

Voilà! You’re done. A lead magnet will draw your clients in and grow your email list. You’ll wonder why you didn’t do this sooner.

Need a step-by-step checklist for growing your email list? Subscribe to resource our free checklist.

Choosing The Best Social Media Platform For Your Brand

Here’s a question that’ll give you a deer-in-the-headlights look: what social media platform should you focus on?

You’ve heard a little bit about Twitter, you use Facebook to keep up with your friends and family, and you watch YouTube everyday, but how can you use any of these platforms to advertise your legal services?

That’s not the only question you have about social media. I’m sure you’ve asked yourself one or more of the following:

  • Can I be on more than one platform?
  • How do I get more people to follow me on this platforms?
  • What if I don’t do it right?
  • How do I find time to post on social media when I’m already busy as it is?

If you’ve asked any of the above questions, this post is tailor-made for you. We’ll tackle all of them (and more). By the end of this post, you’ll be confident in which social media platform to choose and how to work it like a boss. Are you ready? Let’s do this!

Would you like an example of law-related brands that get it right on social media? Subscribe to receive this extra resource.

Here’s some totally non-creepy advice: find out where your ideal client lives (online) and set up shop there.

If you’re focused on corporate, tax, or labor law, your clients are probably on the social platform LinkedIn. LinkedIn is for professionals who are looking to hire for their companies. That’s why it would make sense to be there if your law firm services businesses and not individuals.

On the other hand, if you’re focused on individuals and not businesses, you’ll find more success on platforms like Facebook. Family law, personal injury, and bankruptcy lawyers can do well with a representation on Facebook.

We’ll go into more detail a little further down below.

Can I be on more than one platform?

Absolutely. You can be on one or five. That said, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. It takes time and effort to make posts for each platform. If your target client doesn’t exist on a specific platform, there’s no need to be there, no matter how popular that site is.

For example, if your client is all corporate all the time, there’s no need to be on a personal-leaning platform like Instagram.

How do I grow my list of fans and followers?

You’ll grow your list of people who follow you by posting valuable information and doing so consistently.

Don’t post sporadically. If you post multiple times per day every day for two weeks and then go dark for two months, you’ll lose a lot of subscribers when you decide to post again. Why? Because they’ll forget who you are and wonder why you’re posting in their feed—or they’ll just unsubscribe after your lengthy absence because they figure you’ve left for good.

Also, engagement matters. You can’t just post a bunch of self-promotion about you and your law firm. You should take the time to interact with your followers. Answer their questions, even if they’re not directed directly at you.

What if I don’t do it right?

Unless you infuse politics, religion, and too many cat pictures in your social updates, you’re going to be fine. Scratch that last part—there’s never enough cat pictures on the Internet.

bullet-cats

Image Courtesy of Know Your Meme

The most important thing to remember in your social strategy is to provide value to your fans and followers.

What does this mean for a law firm? Discuss current topics, especially those related to your area of practice. Are you an immigration attorney? Highlight human interest stories in the media that may inform or entertain your followers. Are you a labor attorney? Your audience may enjoy a series of visual infographics that illustrate (and make plain) current labor laws.

Remember: Don’t aggressively tout your services. Give as much information as you can. They’ll crave more.

How do I find time to post when I’m already busy as it is?

For just about every social media platform, there’s a scheduling service that can help you automate your posts. We’ll highlight them below.

Twitter

You have 140 characters or less to say something epic. The average Twitter user is between the ages of 18-49 with a college degree. Slightly more men are on Twitter.

Types of lawyers who should consider this medium:
Bankruptcy, Business (Corporate), Civil Rights, Criminal, Entertainment, Environmental, Family, Health, Immigration, Intellectual Property, Labor, Personal Injury, Real Estate, Tax

Why you should consider this medium:
Twitter is great for connecting with other lawyers, sharing inspiration with your followers, and providing quick bursts of useful information.

When to post: 1pm – 3pm Monday through Thursday and Sunday

post-planner

Image Courtesy of Post Planner

When not to post: 8pm – 9am everyday and Fridays after 3pm

How often: three times a day to as much as you’d like

Best practices:
+Use Buffer or Hootsuite to automatically post, even when you’re away from your computer.
+Ask questions and post polls to encourage interaction.
+Use a lot of #hashtags (around five is the sweet spot).
+Follow new people every day to grow your potential followers. Use Twitter’s “who to follow” recommendations to find more people who’ll love your content.
+Favorite retweets to show your gratitude.

Facebook

Approximately one out of every seven people on earth have a Facebook profile. That’s reason enough to create a business profile here.

Types of lawyers who should consider this medium:
Bankruptcy, Civil Rights, Criminal, Entertainment, Environmental, Family, Health, Immigration, Intellectual Property, Labor, Personal Injury, Real Estate, Tax

Why you should consider this medium:
Use Facebook to grow your community, promote events, and help explain complicated subject matter. There are a lot of people on Facebook, so it’s a good place to start no matter what type of law you practice.

When to post: 1pm – 4pm Mondays through Thursday

When not to post: 8pm – 8am or on Saturdays

optimizely

Image Courtesy of Optimizely

How often: No more than five times per day

Best practices:
+Ask questions.
+Include photos with every post to grab people’s attention.
+Upload a cover photo that shows off who you are.
+Keep your posts to 40 characters or less.

sumall

Image Courtesy of Sumall

Instagram

This visual medium appeals to the young crowd (under 30). It’s used mostly by women in urban areas.

Types of lawyers who should consider this medium:
Criminal, Entertainment, Family, Immigration, Intellectual Property, Personal Injury

Why you should consider this medium:
Instagram is all about visual stimulation. Use this platform to share daily inspirational quotes, post behind-the-scenes images, and share a day in your life. You can also post graphics that illustrate a complicated law or idea.

When to post: Daily

When not to post: n/a

How often: Two times per day

Best practices:
+Hashtags are your friend. Use them to get discovered in organic search.
+Follow hashtag trends and engage in the conversation.
+Encourage user-generated content by asking your followers to post under specific themes with your personalized hashtag.
+Use captions for clarity.
+Follow those who follow you and like your posts.
+Use high quality images.
+Use services like Schedugram, Onlypult, and Latergram to schedule out your Instagram posts.

YouTube

The largest demographic on YouTube is between the ages of 25 to 44. It’s highly targeted to millennials, though.

Types of lawyers who should consider this medium:
Bankruptcy, Business (Corporate), Civil Rights, Criminal, Entertainment, Environmental, Family, Health, Immigration, Intellectual Property, Labor, Personal Injury, Real Estate, Tax

Why you should consider this medium:
YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world. It also serves as a wonderful discovery engine. Your client can reach you simply by typing in keywords like “bankruptcy law for Florida.” As long as you’ve added this term to your video, you’ll pop up in the search results.

When to post: Monday-Wednesday: 2pm-4pm EST

Thursday-Friday: Noon-3pm EST

Saturday-Sunday:  9am-11am EST

trackmaven

Image Courtesy of TrackMaven

When not to post:

Over the holidays (July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas, end of December and beginning of January)

hypebot

Image Courtesy of Hypebot

How often: It’s more about consistency than how many per week

Best practices:
+Keep your videos under three minutes long.
+Unless your law firm is moonlighting as a sitcom, don’t include a long intro with a theme song. It’s a waste of your three minutes.
+Post on a regular schedule, whether that’s once per week or specific days each week.
+Respond to comments.
+Film your video in landscape mode, not portrait.

Pinterest

Approximately 69% of Pinterest users are women. Sorry James Brown: on Pinterest, it’s a woman’s world.

Types of lawyers who should consider this medium:
Bankruptcy, Family

Why you should consider this medium:

If most of your clients are women or families, you should definitely consider creating a profile on Pinterest. It may even be a good idea to pay for promoted pins (this is a paid ad on Pinterest).

When to post: 2pm – 4pm and 8pm – 1am

When not to post: 5pm – 7pm

How often: Five posts per day

Best practices:
+Add a thorough description on your pins (this is what they call a post on Pinterest) to make it easy for people to find you.
+Vertical images are better than horizontal.
+Use Tailwind, Viraltag, and Viralwoot to schedule your pins on Pinterest.

tailwind

Image Courtesy of Tailwind

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the social platform for professionals, most between the ages of 30-64. It’s strictly business here.

Types of lawyers who should consider this medium:
Business (Corporate), Entertainment, Intellectual Property, International, Labor, Real Estate, Tax

Why you should consider this medium:
LinkedIn is the best place to reach businesses who may need your service.

When to post: 7am to 9am and 5pm to 6pm Tuesday through Thursday

When not to post: 10pm to 6am and the weekends

coschedule

Image Courtesy of Coschedule

How often: One post per day Monday through Friday

Best practices:
+Give endorsements and get endorsements.
+Write posts on your legal discipline to increase your expert status. +Focus on writing how-to and list-based articles.
+Add photos and videos to spice up your posts.
+Join legal groups.
+Don’t include #hashtags (it’s not useful).

Overall Tips

+Interact with your audience whenever possible. Respond to comments.
+Use the 80/20 rule. Post helpful content 80% of the time, and market yourself 20% of the time.
+Only focus on the social platforms that provide you with the most engagement.
+Create a consistent visual brand on your social media platforms. Check out this post for more details on how to build a visual identity.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the perfect social media platform isn’t so hard now that you’ve got this guide to help you out. Remember that there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for your legal practice, and you may have to experiment with different platforms to see which one gives you the best results. If you need extra guidance, we’re here to help you every step of the way.

Would you like an example of law-related brands that get it right on social media? Subscribe to receive this extra resource.

How To Build A Visual Identity For Your Law Firm

It may be unfair and hopelessly shallow, but clients will judge you based on how you look. You know to dress the part in the courtroom, but what about your website and social media presence? Does it look like you: polished, professional, and worthy of a client’s trust?

Be honest. Be brutal. Your clients will be.

A strong brand identity relies on the fine balance of cohesion, presentation, and personality.

There’s a sea of law firms out there that look either out of touch or overly generic. In fact, I’m pretty sure some of these law firms just copy and paste their entire visual identity from other brands. Yikes.

That may be okay (it’s not okay) for fly by night, side-eye worthy amateurs, but not you. You’re the best, and you’ve got to look the best, or no one else will know it, except for me and your mother.

By the end of this post, you’ll learn exactly how to create a visual identity that looks smart, savvy, and purposeful. This visual identity will make your brand more memorable and more trustworthy. Ready to get started? Let’s go!

Psst… Would you like to get 12 tools for creating a stunning visual brand? Subscribe to receive this free resource.

What message would you like to convey?

Here is the best place to start. Would you live to cultivate a friendly persona or an intellectual one? They aren’t mutually exclusive, however you’re looking for the dominant tone in your visual identity.

Perhaps it’s best to think of your ideal client. Are you in family law? Are you an entertainment attorney? Do you work primarily in real estate? Your target clientele shifts depending on what type of law you specialize in. Keeping that client in mind, you can create a brand identity that reaches and relates to them.

How can a law firm that specializes in entertainment be satisfied with a dated and bland visual identity? Or, how can a firm that focuses on family law create a visual identity that’s aloof and unsympathetic?

Actually, it’s easy and a lot of brands do it unintentionally. However, it’s also easy to create a visual identity that deliberately gives off the vibe you wish to present. Let’s take a look at the components that create your visual identity.

The Components of Your Visual Identity:

Color

Color has a profound impact on us. One color can make us feel calm, another can make us feel creative. Studies show that the color called drunk tank pink can actually reduce violent and hostile behavior. There’s little doubt that color influences our psychology.

This is why you need to think about what colors to use in your visual branding. Each color affects us differently. Depending on the message you’d like to convey, use a corresponding color to subtly but effectively echo it.

Here’s a breakdown of each color and how the brain interprets it:

Green – Fresh, Organic, Natural, Eco-friendly, Gentle

Blue – Trustworthy, Secure, Peaceful, Calm, Loyal

Purple – Creative, Unique, Vibrant, Luxurious, Royal

Yellow – Friendly, Excited, Positive, Joyful, Energetic

Orange – Playful, Warm, Cheerful, Social, Confident

Red – Passionate, Bold, Strong, Dynamic, Brave

Pink – Feminine, Sweet, Compassionate, Affectionate, Caring

Brown – Reliable, Approachable, Stable, Dependable, Practical

Gray – Modern, Neutral, Conservative, Futuristic, Advanced

Black – Sophisticated, Traditional, Classic, Powerful, Elegant

White – Pure, Good, Clean, Honest, Open

You’ll probably want a combination of two or three colors to create a unique and intentional visual identity. For example, the color combinations of blue and gray say modern yet trustworthy, while brown and pink say dependable and compassionate.

Do you need help deciding which colors should represent you? Browse the most loved color palettes of all time over at ColourLovers. Pick up inspiration by the user-submitted color palettes and use it to jump-start your brand identity.

Graphics

Graphics are a huge part of visual branding. Along with color, graphics are an immediate way to communicate your brand’s unique identity. This includes images, photos, icons, infographics, and other visual elements.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. If you want to immediately impress your firm’s identity, personality, and tone, you need to intersperse graphical elements into your online content.

On your general website, your blog, and your social media accounts, use graphics to craft a uniquely identifiable visual brand.

When you post an image on your blog or social media accounts, make sure that it:

  • includes your brand logo. In case your image goes viral, you want to leave your calling card.
  • continues the same look and feel as the rest of your brand. Consistency is important for developing a strong visual identity.
  • supports the text if on your blog. Your image should make sense and emphasize the blog post.
  • is high quality. There’s nothing worse than a tiny image that your visitors have to squint to see.

Where to Find Images

Speaking of high quality, there’s no reason to settle for cheesy images when there’s plenty of free and amazing stock libraries on the web. Check out this list of my favorite stock images (and subscribe for even more resources).

Be sure to check the license and usage requirements. Most of these sites require no attribution, but terms can change at any moment.

Logo

Your logo is the best way to instantly impress who you are as a brand. Think of your logo as a first introduction. It can immediately convey the tone and personality of your brand before your client has an opportunity to look at your services, testimonials, or blog posts.

Because your logo represents your brand, don’t go ordinary and buy a template that every other law firm uses. To really stand out, commission an original logo from a reputable logo designer. Find designers, and their portfolios, on Dribbble or Logopond.

Fonts

Last, but not least, is your font choice. Your font says a lot about your brand identity. It can say that you’re fun and hip or serious and staid.
Font libraries like Fontspace and 1001 Fonts let you search for fonts based on the type of mood you’d like to convey. Simply type in “classic” or “modern” to find the perfect font for your brand.

Put it to Work

Now that you’ve been introduced to the four components to your visual identity, it’s time to put it to work on your blog and social media platforms. Here’s how:

Your blog

Be sure to include an image on each and every blog post you write. Not only will it provide visual interest to your post, it will subtly reiterate your brand identity.

Facebook

One in seven people on earth use Facebook. No doubt some of your clients use this popular platform. Take advantage of the cover photo as a prime opportunity to reinforce your brand message.

LinkedIn

With 300 million monthly users, LinkedIn is a powerful marketing tool. Use a professional image here to represent your brand.

Twitter

On Twitter, use the header photo as another opportunity to brand just like on Facebook.

Pinterest

Not on Pinterest? Pins last longer than Facebook posts, and can greatly expand your marketing reach. On Pinterest, use similar cover images to create a consistent visual branding.

Psst… Would you like to get 12 tools for creating a stunning visual brand? Subscribe to receive this free resource.

Final Thoughts

To create a visual identity that mirrors your brand message, remember to ask yourself what your clients need and expect from you. Once you understand what that is, use these tips to build your visual identity.

Don’t forget to download our extra set of recommended tools to help you create a winning visual brand identity for your law firm.