All posts by Jo

Guide To Law Firm SEO Strategy

Having an effective SEO strategy for your law firm will not only keep you competitive but also give you access to more prospective clients. If you already reviewed our SEO Tips for Lawyers and advanced SEO methods, we put together any missing pieces to the SEO puzzle right here.

Understanding SEO

Ever wondered why certain websites appear on the front page of Google when you search, “Criminal Defense Lawyer in Florida”?

This is made possible by SEO.

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is simply increasing your visibility in search results. There are many different ways to improve your search rankings such as backlink building, decreasing website load time, and more.

If your website is currently found on the 27th page of Google’s search results implementing just a few of the ideas in this article could see a significant increase in your search rankings.

Keep in mind, getting your website ranked on the top pages takes consistent effort because there are likely other law firms competing for the same position. However, by implementing an SEO strategy for your law firm you can take advantage of getting free traffic from search engines.

SEO Strategy #1: Know Your Search Words

The first step to improve your website rankings in the search engines is to understand the words people are using in Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines.

In a Google Consumer Survey, it was found that 96% of people use search engines to find legal advice. They also found that 74% of them would go to a lawyer’s website and take action.

This makes search words extremely important so that your law firm is discovered by people looking for your legal services.

How to Find Your Keywords

There are a few free and simple tools you can use to find the keywords being used in the search engines.

Tool #1: Google Keyword Planner

Google’s Keyword Planner allows you to find all the keywords people use which are related to your law firm. The insights you get from this tool includes keywords, ad group ideas, historical statistics, competition, keyword, trends, bidding and much more.

To use Google’s Keyword Planner, you need an AdWords account. Don’t worry, you won’t have to add your credit card or purchase any ads to use their free keyword planner.

If you’re unfamiliar with Google Keyword Planner, follow these steps to get started.

Step 1: After you sign in or sign up, you’ll arrive at the AdWord dashboard.

Step 2: Click on the tool icon in the top right corner.

Step 3: Select “Keyword Planner”.

Step 4: Enter your search terms.

Example:

Let’s use “Divorce Lawyer California” for our example.

The results show some important stats like Avg. Monthly Searches, Competition, and ad-related details.

You can use these results to put together keywords your web pages and blog content.

To improve the effectiveness and accuracy of your law firm’s keyword research, be sure to adjust the location and the date.

Adjusting the Location

Your law firm SEO strategy may be to attract more clients from your local area. To do this, you can use the location settings to find all the keywords being used from within your city or town.

Use the location search to be as specific or as general as you want.

Adjusting the Date

What if there were higher rates or accidents at certain times of the year? Or you’re a tax attorney and caseloads tend to increase at certain times of the year?

If adjust the date settings, you can see keywords that are used during certain seasons, recent searches, or an overview of keywords used throughout the year.

Even though Google’s Keyword Planner is meant as a guide for setting up your Google AdWords PPC, you can take advantage of the statistic for planning the keywords for your law firm’s SEO.

Tool #2: Keyword.io

Keyword.io allows you to find longtail and other related keywords. Longtail keywords are more detailed phrases (up to 3 words) which can be used to target a smaller demographic of people.

Instead of focusing all your effort on popular and competitive search terms, longtail keywords can be used to find prospective clients your competitors might be ignoring.

With Keyword.io, you can create a strategic list of keywords for any search engine including Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo.

You can use Keyword.io to research keywords for a PPC Campaign, SEO, or article writing (more about this later).

Example:

Let’s use the same search term from before, “Divorce Lawyer in California”:

With Keyword.io, you can see variations of how the keyword is being used in the search engines.

Combining these results with Google’s Keyword Planner, you can come up with a strong set of keywords to use for your law firm’s SEO strategy.

SEO Strategy #2: Write and Publish Quality Content

The purpose of your law firm’s website is to attract prospective clients. To achieve this, you should write and publish quality content.

Here are a few simple strategies to guide you toward effective SEO Content Strategy:

  1. Publish only compelling and quality content. You want to make sure that what you publish is both unique and useful to the people reading it. Ask yourself this, what value does your content give readers?
  2. Use keywords. You now know how to search for relevant and current keywords so put them into your content. Use different keywords for each piece of content you publish. This not only expands your reach but also prevents SEO issues with Google and other search engines.
  3. Share on social media. You’ll soon learn how popularity is important to improve your SEO. Start by sharing your posts after they are published and encourage others to share them as well.
  4. Keep your content fresh. When you are writing and publishing new content on your law firm’s blog, keep it fresh and up to date. Spend a few minutes researching current events and try to write something related to today’s trends.
  5. Obtain backlinks. You’ll learn all about this in SEO Strategy #3.
  6. Publish frequently. Don’t just publish one or two articles and think that’s enough. You have to publish frequently to remind the search engines that your site is live and your content is important.

To get started on your law firm’s SEO content strategy, you want to be optimizing content for discovery and conversion. This means using the keywords you found and writing in a way that turns website visitors into new clients.

Also, you also understand the intent of the search words being used in Google. If someone searches, “Divorce Lawyer Fees,” they are likely shopping around for the best prices. If that person chooses your website, which do you think would be more compelling?

Sample Content #1:

Our divorce lawyers fees start at $100 per hour. Contact us today for a consultation.

Sample Content #2:

We offer some of the lowest divorce lawyer fees in town. Contact us for a free consultation to get started.

Another example of keyword intent could be someone searching for, “My wife wants a divorce.” Here, the intent is for information, both emotionally and legally, that will help them handle their divorce. In this situation, you may not want to sell your service but instead, come across as a warm friend with helpful advice.

Remember this: when you write content for your law firm’s website, you should always put your audience first. Writing to satisfy the ever-changing algorithms of Google and other search engines could lead to a negative SEO. Instead, focus on providing quality content that comes from you and resonates with your current and prospective clients.

Implementing Longtail Keywords

Let’s take another look at the list of longtail keywords from before:

You’ll notice quite a few keyword phrases found that can be used to shape the type of content you create. Alternatively, if you’re out of ideas you can use this list of longtail keywords to write articles like:

  • 7 Reasons Not To Get a Divorce in California Without a Lawyer
  • Low-Cost Divorce Lawyer in California | YourLawFirm.com
  • 3 Simples Steps for Filing for Divorce Without a Lawyer

Creating Quality Content

You could have a blog talking about your thoughts and experiences as a lawyer or you could create content with a strategic plan and a specific goal.

Again, using the list of keywords you researched related to your law firm, you can create a long-term strategy to publish and share content related to the needs of your prospective clients.

For example, during the Christmas season, you may want to write a series on the consequences and outcomes of drinking and driving. Or, if you’re that divorce lawyer from California, you can write about divorce rates and actions to take if they’re considering divorce.

Take note of what Matt Cutts, Google’s software engineer, has said about creating content:

“You need to find some way to pull people in, to get them interested, to get them enticed to try to pick up whatever concept it is you want to explain. So I would argue, first and foremost, you need to explain it well, and then if you can manage to do that while talking about the science or being scientific, that’s great.”

SEO Content Calendar

Planning out your content in advance can make your marketing efforts significantly easier.

You should plan for one to two months in advance and prepare content that can be interlinked with each other. Interlinked content are pages linking to another page on your website (this adds SEO benefits and also keeps visitors on your website longer).

Once you have created an SEO content calendar, you can start to publish on your social media accounts, email newsletter and any other places you can think of. However, before you do, you should consider the best times to publish your content. Here’s what Hubspot recommends:

  • Facebook: 9 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm (with 1 pm getting the most shares) on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
  • LinkedIn: 7-8 am, 12 pm, 5-6 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
  • Instagram: 2 am, 8-9 am, and 5 pm on any day.

You’ll have to test your own content to see which times get you the most traffic and the best results. Ultimately, here’s a few tips to follow for your law firm’s SEO content calendar:

  1. Post consistently (i.e. three times a week)
  2. Use multiple social channels
  3. Choose times that get the most engagement with your target audience

SEO Strategy #3: Build Your Backlinks

By now, you may notice that your law firm’s SEO strategy is quite complex. However, to keep things simple, the ultimate goal of SEO is to improve your popularity.

In order to boost your law firm’s “popularity” and get prospective clients coming to your website, you have to build backlinks from various online sources.

Search engines like google are looking for law firms with relevant and authority links pointing to its website. The way authority websites are measured is also based on the amount of traffic coming to that website.

Steps for Build More Backlinks

Building backlinks to your law firm’s website can be challenging. There are some methods you can try, but they could get you in a lot of trouble. For example, if you decided to purchase backlinks from an unreputable source, Google may put a penalty on your website which can block you from the search results.

To ensure your website doesn’t get blocked, here’s a few steps for building quality backlinks:

1. Publish quality content. If you’re producing great content that connects with the people who read it, there’s a great chance that they will share it with their friends and family. This is the best way to introduce your legal services to new people.

Take note of these blogs rated by the American Bar Association to be the best law blogs:

Clio offers incredible law firm management software and they use their blog effectively to share their knowledge and expertise.

Verdict is a magazine blog provided by Justia (an online resource where you can sign up, add your website, and find prospective clients) which has a blog full of content on every aspect of the law.

Overlawyered is one of the oldest law blogs exploring the American legal system. Take a look at the bottom of this blog, notice the comment section? Here is a great way to contribute to the discussion and sometimes share a link your website:


2. Network and help others. Expecting people to link to you is unthinkable. You have to reach out to others and show off your expertise. You should join various forums and online groups to meet new people and offer help when you can. Here are some examples:

Quora is an active community of people asking and answering questions. After you set up an account for your law firm, you can search for relevant questions related to your legal services. Here’s an example using our California Divorce Lawyer:

If you had an article titled “Low-Cost Divorce Lawyer in California | YourLawFirm.com” you could insert a link into your answer. Quora is an authority website and not only can you use it to send new visitors to your website but it’s also effective for your backlinking efforts.

Reddit is a community of news enthusiast sharing and reading the top stories in America. Before you start sharing your content here, you should know that direct marketing is often frowned upon by its community members. There are various discussion boards where people are seeking answers to their problems, however, the website uses a rating system to rate anything posted and commented. So, be careful.

In this example, you can see that people are sharing their experiences getting or considering divorce in California. Here’s your chance to make direct connections with a potential client by offering content related to their situation and sharing your insights in a response.

When selecting which posts to comment, choose the ones with more points as these are receiving active engagement and interest.

LinkedIn Pulse is one of many social channels you can use to publish your content related to law firm’s blog. Here’s an example of a law firm using LinkedIn to share direct links to their blog:

LinkedIn may not be best place to find new clients but it’s a great way to build links and increase your website’s authority.

Want more ideas for marketing your content? Read 30 Law Firm Content Marketing Ideas

3. Become an online authority. If you’re publishing great content consistently, you can expect people to start writing and linking back to your website. You can’t expect your online authority to change overnight. By following the previous two steps and consistently engaging with people online, you can start to see more of your links getting shared online and you may even get featured on top news channels (links from these sources carry a significant authority that can boost your website’s search rankings).

Summary

Creating the perfect SEO strategy for your law firm starts with knowing which words prospective clients are searching online. Once you research these terms and create incredible content, you can start to share links to authority websites to grow your online presence and increase exposure to your legal services.

Your Guide to Finding the Best Topics For Your Law Firm Blog

One of the hardest things about law blogging is consistently coming up with topics that resonate with your audience.

Are you struggling to find decent topics for your blog?

Does it feel a bit like reading the tea leaves?

It doesn’t have to. In fact, today I’m going to share with you several ways to find the best topics for your blog, no divination necessary.

Would you like a list of potential topics for your legal blog? Check this out!

Know Your Clients

Understanding who your clients are and what they want most is the first step to finding relevant topics for your law blog. Your blog should serve as a resource of information for your target client. So, the first question to answer is:

Who is your target client?

You may specialize in real estate law, and more specifically landlord tenant law. If you do, come up with housing law topics that these types of clients would be most interested in. These topics may include posts on landlord rights, tenant rights, how to terminate a lease in your state, the eviction process, and/or privacy laws.

It’s tempting to make general and superficial posts that only parrot state law and not much else. However, I recommend that you challenge yourself to give a thorough treatment of each topic that you tackle in your blog. The reason is that your blog will serve as a marketer for your services. If a prospective client comes to your blog via a Google search and finds it useful and authoritative, he or she will view you as someone who:

  • Knows the law
  • Knows the problem the client is facing
  • Knows the solution

You need all of these three components to build trust with your prospective clients. By creating in depth blog posts that appeal to what your specific clients need at the moment, you’re showing them that you know who they are and what they’re going through. That’s the beauty of a blog post done right.

Not sure what type of content your target clients want to know about? Here are a few questions to help you figure it out:

  • What is the most important concern for your clients?
  • What law-related questions do they search on the Internet?
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • What are the most common questions you get from your clients asked over and over again?

Make a list of the answers to these questions, and you’ll start to see a list of potential blog topics develop. Then, start generating blog post idea around each topic. It may help you to break each blog topic down into a series of questions. Keeping with the landlord tenant example earlier, here’s what the process may look like:

Topic:
Security Deposit

Potential Blog Posts:
Is a security deposit the same as last month’s rent?
How much can a landlord deduct from my security deposit for cleaning?
How can I dispute a security deposit deduction?
When should I expect my security deposit?

Ask Your Clients

If you already have an established audience, don’t miss the opportunity to ask them what type of content they’re most interested in. Periodically poll them to research future blog topics from the exact audience you’re hoping to reach. Use all the channels available to you to discover the learn about the topics your audience wants to learn about.

Let’s discuss where you can survey your clients, and how.

Survey Your Site Visitors

Did you know that you can ask for blog post feedback right on your site? My favorite way to do this is with a tool called SurveyMonkey, although there are plenty of other great options available. I like SurveyMonkey because the first 10 questions and 100 responses are free, and if you need more, they have an affordable monthly pricing plan, too.

With SurveyMonkey, you have the option to embed the survey on your blog, show a quick popup survey, or invite readers to participate in a longer survey.

For the purposes of idea generation, I’d recommend keeping it short. Go with the embed survey or quick popup survey.

Survey Your Email Subscribers

If you have an email list, let’s put them to work. You can send surveys along with your newsletter. Directions vary depending on your email newsletter service provider. However, if you use MailChimp, SurveyMonkey integrates perfectly.

Follow the instructions here to create and send your email subscribers a link to your survey.

Ask Your Followers on Social Media

SurveyMonkey to the rescue again!

In your survey creation dashboard, select the “Collect Responses” tab to determine how you’ll gather answers to your survey. In this case, select “Post on Social Media”. This option will give you a short link that you can post across all of your social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter.

surveymonkey collect responsesImage Courtesy of SurveyMonkey

What Should You Ask?

The next step is deciding what to ask. I suggest you go with a multiple choice. Ask something like, “What type of blog posts would you like to read from us in the future? We’d love to hear your thoughts!” Then, give them a choice list of between three to five blog post topics.

Analyze Which Blog Posts Do Best

Another way you can find out which blog posts resonate best with your audience is to look at the data. There are two ways to do this:

If you already have content on your blog, take a look at your blog’s analytics. Which posts are the most popular?

The second option is to discover which blog posts do well for your competitors. Use a tool like BuzzSumo to find out which posts are the most shared. Search for a keyword phrase related to the topics you feel most qualified to write about. In this example, I’ll use the phrase “landlord tenant law”.

buzzsumo landlord tenantImage Courtesy of BuzzSumo

With BuzzSumo, you can narrow the search field by date, such as past year, week, or within the last 24 hours. You can also find out the latest news surrounding a topic (more on this below).

Other Ways to Source Blog Topics

Let’s discuss other ways to generate topics for your blog.

Let the News Guide You

Is there some interesting case that’s popular in the news right now? Analyze a hot topic case for your blog. You can highlight it as a cautionary tale, add your expert opinion on the facts of the case, or attach a do and don’t guide to help readers who may be in a similar circumstance.

Another idea is to discuss new laws or trends that affect your clients that they may not be aware of. Consider yourself a teacher who simplifies the often complex issues in the law by using stories to illustrate your point.

Create a Regular Series

You can create a regular post series on your blog such as “Ask a Lawyer” or “Your Legal Questions Answered.” Once a month, answer a commonly asked question. Hey, when you think about it– it’s only 12 questions a year, but you can cover a lot of ground.

Another benefit to creating a series around commonly asked questions is now you’ll have a place to direct those questions when they come through your email and social media. You can even link to them on forums, too.

Visit Legal Forums

Another great way to find topics for your blog is to scour legal forums. Look for popular questions that are asked (even if they’ve already been answered). To determine the popularity of a particular question, look at the amount of views it has received. This indicates that a lot of people have a vested interest in the same topic.

expertlaw viewsImage Courtesy of ExpertLaw

You probably know quite a few legal forums already, but these are among the most active:

If you’d like more information on creating an engaging blog, check out this post here: 8 Steps to Creating a Law Firm Blog that People Want to Read.

Remember to download our list of potential topics for your legal blog!

How To Craft An Email Newsletter Your Clients Will Actually Want To Read

Are you subscribed to an email newsletter?

If you’re like most folks, the answer is yes. In fact, you probably have several newsletters sitting in your inbox right now. Some you may find useful, while others are destined for that great “unsubscribe” button in the sky.

So, what makes one newsletter interesting and the other one blah? Why do you read one, and discard the other? You subscribed to every newsletter in your inbox, but some of them are just not worth the click.

We’re not going to allow that to happen to your newsletter. Your newsletter will be worth the click every time, and you’ll earn that distinction by following the tips below.

Since you’re here, I bet you already know the value of an email newsletter. If not, check out this primer: Why You Need an Email List for Your Law Firm & 7 Easy Strategies to Create One. In the above post, I also discussed a few of the very best practices for creating an email newsletter.

Below, let’s expand on some of the ideas introduced in the previous post, and also discuss advanced strategies to take your newsletters from “oh, not them again” to “yay, I love their emails.”

Start with an Email Newsletter Service

I have some good news for you– you don’t have to send email newsletters from your inbox. That would take a lot of time, and it may even get you in hot water with your email provider.

Instead of sending emails from your inbox, you can send them through an email newsletter service provider. There’s plenty to choose from, but I highly recommend MailChimp.

MailChimp is easy to use for complete beginners. It’s free up to 12,000 emails a month and 2,000 users.

mailchimpImage Courtesy of MailChimp

MailChimp also integrates beautifully with AmazeLaw.

Because it’s free, easy to use, and works great with sites built by AmazeLaw, I recommend that you start with MailChimp. Setup takes less than five minutes. We’ve actually created a detailed guide to help you through the setup process here.

Don’t forget to create a signup incentive!

Also known as a lead magnet, a signup incentive persuades your website visitors into subscribing to your list. In exchange for their email address, you’ll give away a free gift, generally in digital form (an ebook or a resource guide). But you’re not limited to digital goods. You may also offer something service related, such as a free 10 minute phone consultation.

Would you like more signup incentive ideas? Check out this post: The One Thing You Need to Do to Grow Your Email List.

Have a Purpose for Your Newsletter Other than Updates

Here’s the thing: Boring company updates are just that– boring. Your clients (both current and prospective) aren’t on your list to hear about you. They’re on your list to hear about them, specifically what you can do for them. It’s all about them.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t share information about your law firm. Just remember to present the information in a beneficial way.

For example, introduce the new paralegal on your team by explaining how he or she helps your practice provide better service: “Mindy, our newest paralegal, specializes in real estate law, and brings her extensive knowledge and research skills to our law firm.”

It’s a matter of shifting your perspective (and wording) to engage your readers and make the information relevant to them.

Now, let’s take a look at the different categories of email newsletters.

Newsletters fall into three categories:

Educational

Use your newsletter to answer questions and educate your clients about the law.

Promotional

Use your newsletter to announce upcoming events, advertise new services, and share coupons.

Nurture and Build Trust

Use your newsletter to stay at the top of mind and turn prospects into clients.

Segment Your Newsletter

Segmenting is one of the best things you can do for your newsletter, but if you haven’t heard of it, don’t feel too bad. Most law firms haven’t heard of email segmenting at all, but it’s a proven strategy that will help you create more relevant emails for your subscribers.

Would you like a list of easy ways to segment your email list? Check this out!

Segmenting is when you group people together based on behaviors or demographics.

Let’s say your law firm specializes in family law. You provide services in the areas of child support, divorce, and adoption. Your clientele is varied, and those who sign up to your newsletter will naturally want different things. Some may want ongoing advice about child support, others may want to know the laws surrounding adoption, and others still may want to know what to expect during divorce proceedings.

While there may be some overlap, your audience is likely to need different content. In this case, one size doesn’t fit all.

Enter segmentation.

You can separate each group in your email newsletter service provider and then send relevant emails based on the needs of that group. If there’s a new law that affects adoptions in your state, you may only wish to send a newsletter to the group that’s most interested in adoption.

Start the segmentation process immediately upon signup. You can have a general signup segment for everyone who subscribes on your home page. Then, create another signup segment for those who subscribe on your adoption information page, or your divorce information page.

If you already have an active email list, you can easily send out a survey via email, asking each subscriber what type of content they’d like to receive more of from you in the future. Armed with this information, you can go to your email newsletter service provider and group your subscribers based on each individual answer.

Get to the Point As Quickly As Possible

Email is no place for long, sweeping content. Make your point immediately and then give your audience direction on what to do next.

Ask yourself: What does the subscriber want to get or learn from my emails? Then, set about delivering that type of content every time.

The average email newsletter should be way shorter than the average blog post. Shoot for three paragraphs, maybe four. If that seems too restrictive for you, consider increasing the amount of email newsletters you send out from once every month to twice a month, or even twice a week, if both you and your subscribers are up to it.

This way, you can share more information without forcing your subscribers to read too much at one time (they won’t anyway).

Of course, another option is to segment your subscribers so that you can send each group targeted information without getting too wordy.

Include a Call to Action

A call to action is a simple directive you offer to the reader, telling them what to do next.

Every email newsletter needs a call to action, preferably one that drives subscribers back to your website. Give them a reason to return by teasing the benefit to the subscriber, for example, “Learn more about X on the blog” or “Download this ebook now.”

End each email with a call that gets your subscriber to take the logical next step. It may be obvious to you, but not to them. Spell it out.

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Send on a Schedule

Humans like routine– this extends to the humans on your email list. Create a pattern of trust by showing up in their inbox every second Thursday (or whatever schedule you choose).

The last thing you should do is constantly switch up when you send your emails. Sending two email newsletters this month and then waiting six months to send a third is never going to work.

Instead, commit to a schedule that your subscribers can rely on. If you don’t, they’ll quickly forget who you are and may even hit “spam” on you.

Let’s pinky swear on this: set a schedule and stick to it.

Final Thoughts

When a client gives you their email address, it’s quite an honor. It’s also a mark that you’ve already impressed them. All you need to do now is follow the above tips to create a newsletter that clicks with your subscribers.

Oh, don’t forget to check out the Busy Attorney’s Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing. Pair that post with this one and you’ll be email marketing like a pro.

Check out our list of easy ways to segment your email list!

 

How To Use YouTube Video To Attract Clients

When given the opportunity, most people would rather watch a video than read a book. Is that a sad commentary on our society or a powerful opportunity to market your services to a wider crowd?

As an eternal optimist, I’m going for the latter. In fact, I don’t think it’s sad at all that most people prefer watching video. It just proves that most of us are visual thinkers.

While I’m a big champion of the written word, I’ll also argue for the use of video in your lawyer marketing strategy. Video can reel people in, help them “meet” your brand, and add tone and humanness to your online marketing efforts.

Together with written content, video can educate your prospective clients. It can also increase your brand’s trustworthiness. Let’s take a look at why you should consider video marketing in your ongoing effort to attract more clients:

Why Use Video Marketing

It’s easy to get people to trust you.

Prospective clients are much more likely to trust you if they can see you with their own eyes. This includes observing your body language and hearing the inflection of your voice as you speak. Without these social cues, clients must rely on the other content you’ve produced to gauge whether or not to trust you.

While it’s possible to do this through other types of content and visual branding (check out this post on building a visual brand identity that inspires trust), no other method is as direct and fast-acting. There’s a new level of trust you can establish just by showing your face, and you can do it in two minutes or less (more on this later).

Would you like a printable guideline for the do’s and don’ts of online video?

It’s easy to get started.

Thanks to smartphones and associated apps, producing a video doesn’t need to be a Hollywood-style endeavor. It’s you, a camera, and a microphone. If you want to get fancy, you can purchase an entire light kit for less than $200 on Amazon. This kit includes lights, stands, and three backdrops to add a professional look to your video.

limo-studioImage Courtesy of LimoStudio, Amazon

Some of us are better at speaking than writing.

For me, it’s vice versa. But for you, it may be easier to speak extemporaneously or with a very light outline. If you hate writing and find it easier to just start talking, you can use video to sell your services to potential clients.

It’s great for SEO.

We’re all fighting to dominate the search engine results page, but there’s one secret way that may push you to the top of the results: YouTube video.

Google actually owns YouTube. If you create a YouTube video and assign a relevant keyword, your video may rise above everyone else’s content to occupy a prominent spot in the search results. Observe:

great-seoGoogle Search: How to pay for an old ticket

great-seo2Google Search: Do I own my music if it isn’t registered

Some of these results are seven years old. In Internet years, that’s equivalent to 60. Pair this knowledge with the fact that Google’s search bots are constantly looking for relevant and updated information to give to its users. If you can create such a video, you’ll knock these ancient videos off their throne and become the new leader. The king is dead; long live the king.

Three Types of YouTube Video to Use

Now, let’s take a look at how you can use YouTube video to advertise your law firm and get more clients.

A Brand-Focused Commercial

Create a commercial for your law firm. This is your opportunity to connect with viewers and make them like you. No stiff body language and monotone voices, please. Rigid and robotic only work if you’re an animatronic character on stage at Chuck E. Cheese. Even then, it’s still creepy.

chuckecheese

Image Courtesy of Giphy

Here’s what you should do in your commercial:

  • Speak in everyday, relatable language. Odds are, your client isn’t a lawyer and doesn’t understand legalese. Talk to him or her in terms they can understand.
  • Make it about them, not you. Instead of listing what services you offer, discuss benefits. For example, don’t say, “We have 25 years of experience in helping folks file bankruptcy”. Instead say, “We’ll help you protect your assets, stop creditor harassment, and start over fresh.”
  • Inject personality into your video. Sure, you’d like to maintain a professional persona, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick to the same script everyone else is using. Spend time thinking of fresh and original ways to introduce your law firm to others. It doesn’t have to be gloomy and serious, especially if your area of expertise is on the more creative end of the spectrum (such as sports and entertainment law).

Testimonials

There is nothing more persuasive than watching a relatable person share his or her experience. It’s called social proof, and it’s the top way to get people to buy what you’re selling.

If you have a client who is happy with your work, don’t just rely on him to tell others about you. Put him on the spot and ask if he’d agree to do a video testimonial for you. The worst response is a “no,” but you may be surprised at how many people are willing to shoot a short testimonial.

The key there is short. Don’t try to slice and dice a 30 minute video in 30 seconds. Keep it short by asking a few specific, open-ended questions (not yes or no) to get the response you’re looking for.

Educational

Use videos to educate your clients, both current and prospective. Let’s take a look at two types of educational videos to use:

Answer frequently asked questions. I’m sure there are a few questions you’re asked time and time again. In addition to writing a frequently asked questions page, create a YouTube video for each.

Be sure to use the frequently asked question as the title of your video. For example, entitle a video, “How long does it take to finalize a domestic adoption?”

By creating a YouTube video to answer these questions, you’ll bring in people who have specifically searched for that question in YouTube and/ or Google.

While the prospects of them finding your FAQ page is hit or miss (so many other law firms may have similar questions/ answers), you can separate yourself from the pack with a video. Most likely you will rank higher in the search engine results because of your video, and that means more people will click on your link.

Discuss what to expect. Your prospective client probably has no idea of what to expect. He’ll be forever grateful if you can provide a cogent list of what to expect during the case, trial, procedure, hearing, you name it.

Be a guiding light and help your viewer figure his way through this previously uncharted path.

Best Practices

Get a clear idea of who you’re targeting with your videos.

Don’t set out to make viral videos or entertain everyone on YouTube. Get narrow with your focus. Only a small group of people on the Internet will pay for your services. That number is likely less than 1000 people in a pool of billions that could potentially stumble up on your video. Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to appeal to everyone – only those people who will retain you matter.

Select testimonials from those who represent the types of clients you’re actively seeking. These testimonials will attract and be much more relevant to those prospects.

Keep your videos short.

No longer than 2-3 minutes. After the two-minute mark, you’ll lose over half of your audience.

Be authentic.

Don’t stick to someone else’s script. Sound like yourself on your video, not like what you think people expect.

Invest time and money into editing your videos.

The average viewer will give you 10 seconds to get to the point. If you don’t engage your viewer quickly, they’re going to leave and never look back.

The smartest YouTube videos start with the end and then work their way back to the beginning.

Choose Keywords

A keyword is a word (or a collection of words) someone types into the Google search bar. Think like your prospective clients and consider which search term(s) he or she would most likely use to find your content. Next, use that exact search term to title your video. Support your video with other keywords that are related to that search term.

An example of this may be to title your video, “How to File for Divorce in Boulder, CO.” Your supporting keywords could be “divorce lawyer”, “Boulder law”, and “divorce Colorado.”

Add a Call to Action

End each video with a call to action. Ideally, you’ll want to send your clients back to your website to get even more information. But don’t just send them to your home page. Instead, send them to a specific landing page or contact page where you can encourage them to call you. Incentivize this page with freebies, such as a free ebook or a complimentary consultation.

Final Thoughts

Don’t overlook video as an effective way to build trust and appeal to a wider audience. You can dominate search results and be visible to more people than you would by just sticking to written content only. Fortunately, video is easy to produce thanks to the all-present smartphone, and it’s absolutely free. All you have to do is press record.

If you have a video, leave your link in the comments below.

Would you like a printable guideline for the do’s and don’ts of online video?

Use These Tips To Manage Your Law Firm’s Online Reputation

Have you Googled yourself lately?

I know it sounds silly, but it’s probably the single most important task you can do this week to learn about your online reputation. Armed with the knowledge you’ll receive, you can take control of your online image and turn prospects into clients and clients into superstar referrers.

Online reputation management always starts with a quick search on Google for your name and/ or your law firm’s name. What are the first results that show up when you do a Google search?

Go on. I’ll wait.

Your search results probably look a little bit like this:

YOUR-WEBSITEImage Courtesy of Google.com

You should see your own website, followed closely by review sites like Yelp, Avvo, and Yellowpages.com. You may even find a Google listing with star ratings by your name, indicating your clients’ satisfaction levels.

Some people do vanity searches on Google for kicks and giggles, but when it comes to your online reputation, there’s nothing more persuasive than the first few results that return on a Google search. For many of your prospective clients, this will be their first encounter with your brand.

Don’t believe me?

Let’s play a scenario. Let’s say you have a satisfied client who refers you to one of their friends. Your client can’t remember your website, so he tells his friend to Google you.

While the referred prospect trusts his friend, he may get scared away from choosing you due to negative one and two star ratings on the first page of Google results. And if you don’t have any strategy in place to counteract that negative rating, you may just lose a prospective client.

Another scenario is that you’re competing with every other lawyer in your area. A lot of prospects simply search “family lawyer in town, state”. People often make their decision based on who seems to have the most amount of positive information out there. This includes positive reviews, but also an active presence on these review sites. The final part of the puzzle is your own website that operates as your hub and a library of information.

Let’s take a look at some other best practices for managing your law firm’s online reputation.

Here’s a checklist for how to manage your law firm’s online reputation.

Set Yourself Up for Success

+Set up shop on Avvo

Claim Your Profile on Avvo. While Avvo populates the basics of your profile with information from your state’s Bar Association, you should also fill in the gaps. Here are a few things you should include:

Up-to-date information about your law firm, including your website, phone number, email, and physical address.

A professional headshot. People like seeing who they will be working with. Putting a face to the name humanizes your brand.

List awards you’ve won, publications that have featured you, and organizations you’re a member of. It can improve your Avvo ranking and boost your reputation in the eyes of potential clients.

Get Reviews

+Ask for Reviews*

You’re a great attorney who cares about your clients (or else you wouldn’t be here). Based on this, I know you have clients who care about you, too. Now, it’s time to get them to show it.

How are your powers of telepathy?

Okay, so if mental communication doesn’t work, it’s time to go verbal or at least written. At the end of your case or legal preparation, ask your client to share a review about you or your law firm. You can ask face to face, if your client is in your office, or via email if you prefer.

When asking face to face, I recommend having a review-optimized business card handy. On your business card, point to the key places you’d like for your client to leave a review.

connect-with-us

Image Courtesy of Access Publishing

When asking via email, I recommend that you provide a mini-guide to make it as easy as possible for the client to leave a review for you. Ask for the review, leave a link to your profile (or directions on how to get to your profile), and provide guiding questions such as:

How was our service?

Would you recommend us to your friends and family?

Did we promptly respond to your questions and concerns?

Would you return to do business with us? If yes, why?

Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. That way, you’ll get a lot more people to leave reviews.

*You can’t actually ask for reviews for Yelp. Yelp specifically forbids it. What you can do is inform your clients that you are also on Yelp, and hopefully they’ll get the hint.

Alternatively, instead of asking for your clients to review you on third party websites, you can ask for good old fashioned testimonials. Then, you can put these testimonials on your own site.

While this may limit the amount of people who actually see your testimonials, you have a lot more control over what’s said on your own site. Review sites routinely delete reviews (both positive and negative, real and fake). This means a lot of your positive reviews may be lost forever because of a capricious algorithm.

That’s no fair.

Control the conversation by hosting all of your reviews (both good and bad) on your own website.

+Highlight Video Testimonials

If you can get your clients to leave video testimonials, do it! There are few things more persuasive and reputation boosting in the eyes of a prospective client than watching a relatable person tell his or her story.

You don’t have to hire a film crew and make a big production, unless you’re going to use this to create a commercial. If it’s strictly for your website or to market your law firm through Facebook or YouTube, you’ve got all the equipment you’ll need with your smartphone.

That’s right, a smartphone, a chair next to a window for good lighting, and (if you want better audio) a $15 lavalier microphone is all you’ll need to capture a compelling testimonial that will woo your prospects.

powers-law-groupImage Courtesy of Powers Law Group

Keep an Eye on Reviews

While you should make a habit of checking the top review sites regularly, it may be hard to catch every mention of you and your law firm on the Internet. That’s why I recommend setting up a Google Alert to get notified every time you’re mentioned.

Simply go here to set up a Google alert. You’ll need a Google account (if you have a Gmail address, that works). Then, enter any term you’d like to be notified of. This may include your name, your law firm’s name, or even a name of your competitors.

google-alertsImage Courtesy of Google Alerts

Then, set a notification schedule. You may wish to receive a daily email digest, or an email once a week. And you’re done. It’s easy, free, and a great way to monitor your online reputation.

Respond to All Reviews (Even Negative Ones)

So, now that you’re monitoring all mentions of your name, it’s time to make a commitment. Commit to responding to each and every review left about you and/or your law firm.

A lot of attorneys don’t do this, and the result ranges from appearing out of touch to just not seeming to care at all.

The fact is, if someone cares enough to leave a review on a website about you, you should care enough to respond.

Especially to negative reviews.

You may be thinking, why should I get down and dirty with a negative review? Don’t think of it that way.

Instead, think of it as an opportunity to show how much you’re invested in resolving problems. Plus, prospective clients are watching carefully to see how (or if) you respond to negative reviews. Your response also will indicate whether or not you’re argumentative (well, of course you are– you’re a lawyer!– but you’re also an advocate, and that’s the side you should show when interacting with online comments).

Last but not least, respond promptly. Responding a year later doesn’t have the same impact as responding a month after the fact. That’s why it’s a good idea to set up Google Alerts and implement a schedule for checking your reviews.

The First Step

The first step is to set up a website and control the conversation. AmazeLaw can help with that. Let’s talk.

Here’s a checklist for how to manage your law firm’s online reputation.

How to Find Qualified Clients

Whether you have a small or medium-size law firm, one need remains the same: clients. But not just any warm body will do. You need to find clients who are qualified and have a need for your services. That’s a tall order, but one that we’ll fill by the end of this post.

Stick around to find out how you can use the magic of the Internet to find qualified clients for your legal practice. Let’s discuss!

Would you like a worksheet for finding the perfect client? Subscribe to receive this extra resource.

Identify Your Ideal Client

The best way to start is by identifying your ideal client. To aid in this, I’ve provided a list of questions to help:

Who are they? Include basic demographics such as age, gender, location, and income.

What do they need from you? How likely are they to reach out to you?

Why do they need your service? If you offer more than one service, consider creating a client persona for each.

Where do they live online? Are they mostly on Facebook, Google (everyone’s on Google), Instagram, LinkedIn, Yelp, Avvo Law, or Pinterest? If you’d like to know which platform you’d be more likely to find clients, check out this post on Choosing the Best Social Media Platform for your Law Firm.

When do they research lawyers? Does your target client wait until the last minute? When they do reach out, what time do you get the majority of your calls? Is it 10 AM? 3 PM? This can indicate a lot about your average client.

Create a Website

Now that you’ve compiled a client persona, it’s time to create a marketing strategy to welcome those clients in.

When trying to find and nurture clients, always start with a website.

Remember, it’s not the 90s anymore. Folks use the Internet (not the Yellow Pages) to find everything from appliances to Zumba. As an attorney, you’ve got to make sure that your services are represented online, too. The way to do that is with a website.

A website is like an “always on” salesperson. Your website works for you even at midnight and on holidays. If you plan it right, your website can provide just as much information as your front office staff (but don’t tell them I said that).

On your website, be sure to create a blog that people actually want to read. Blogs are a powerful tool that can help you educate your site visitors and establish yourself as the knowledgeable pro that you are.

Use Paid Advertising

We’ve discussed how to use paid advertising before, so I won’t rehash it here. Check out how to use paid advertising to dominate the local search listings. Be sure to click on that link because there we discuss what SEO and search advertising really means for your law firm. I also give you the exact formula for how to get on a first-page listing on Google’s search results.

Create a Call-Only Ad Campaign

Have you ever searched on the Internet with your smartphone? Chances are, you’ve seen a little call button to the right side of the top few listings. That’s little button is going to transform your online marketing campaign, and here’s how:

People who search for lawyers with their smartphones are motivated to go beyond “research mode” and into results mode. They want to speak to a live person. Instead of directing them to a webpage, you should offer a call button for quick access.

This is known as a call-only ad campaign.

It costs the same as a regular headline click, but you’ll have a much more engaged prospective client who wants to act now.

In the order of things:

website < phone call < consultation < representation

add-phone-number

Here’s how to create a call-only ad campaign with Google.

By the way, don’t forget about Bing. While Google is the undisputed giant in Internet search, Bing does have 20% of the market share. You can follow these same steps on Bing to find qualified clients there, too. And it may even be cheaper.

Provide Enhanced User Experience

Did you know that a bad first impression of your website can lower your chances of getting clients? It’s true that you can lose site visitors just by a slow website– and by slow, I mean a site that takes three seconds or longer to load.

Three seconds.

No one wants to wait for answers. You’ve got to make sure that your website is fast load and provides all of the answers your prospective clients need immediately.

Even worse than a slow-loading website is one that’s completely disorganized and hard to navigate. If your site visitors have to click a lot of links trying to find the answers they’re looking for, they’re going to give up and hit the back button.

Here’s how to prevent a disorganized website:

Get clear about what information you’d like to share on your website. Here’s a good idea of where to start:

On your Homepage: Discuss what services you offer and who would benefit most from them. Keep it short, simple, and clean.

On your About page: Discuss who you are but keep it client-focused. Craft your About page to help the prospect understand why they should choose you. It’s good to underscore the kind of cases and clients you often work with in this page.

On your Services page: Be very clear about what services you offer and then break it down even further. Remember, your prospective client probably doesn’t know much about law, they just know that they need a lawyer. Use language they would understand. Oftentimes, a layman doesn’t know exactly what something’s called. Here’s your chance to educate and empower them to figure out what service they need from you.

You may also find it helpful to create a separate page for each service that you offer.

Prepare a Thorough FAQ Page: A lot of folks head straight for the frequently asked questions page, if you have one, to decide whether they need your services. This is yet another golden opportunity to answer common questions that you’d normally discuss over the phone. It’ll free up your phone lines for more specific questions, and provide a valuable resource to online prospective customers who are searching for answers.

faq

Image Courtesy of Thurman Law

Follow Up Immediately on the Phone

There are times when you’re just not available. For example, maybe the caller left a message after hours. Perhaps you’re on another line. Whatever the case, don’t let that prospect fade– be sure to follow up immediately whenever possible.

Here’s the thing to keep in mind: a prospective client who doesn’t reach you will oftentimes go to the next attorney on the list. Boo. But, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re out. By calling that person back in a reasonable timeframe (by the end of the business day), you may be able to persuade them to choose you – especially if you’re presenting yourself as friendly and helpful.

Unlike emails and voicemails, phone calls are great for gauging interest.

Push the In-Office Consultation

Of course, you don’t want to give away everything in a phone call. It’s so crucial to get the caller into an in-office consultation. This is where you’ll be able to separate those who just want free legal advice from actual paying clients.

Should you offer free or paid consultations?

There’s compelling opinions on both sides. The benefit of offering:

A free consultation – You’ll definitely set more appointments because everyone loves “free”. You’ll also separate yourself from your competitors because they’re more likely to charge for consultations.

A paid consultation – You’ll get more motivated prospects. People who are willing to pay an initial consultation fee are more likely to sign a representation agreement.

A happy medium? Consider charging a consultation fee but then crediting it back to their account if they choose to retain your services.

You can also explain your process over the phone and on your website to help drive the in-office consultation.

Polish Your Profiles

By now, you know how important it is to have a website, but that’s not the only way to represent your law firm online. You also need to expand to social media networks, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter

We’ve actually covered this in-depth here: Choosing the Best Social Media Platform for Your Brand. If you need help figuring out which platform to use, be sure to check out that post.

Being on a social platforms helps you extend the reach of your online marketing. You can start amassing followers and then updating them through your social platforms. While they may not always come to your website, they can always be connected to you through your social media updates.

Also make sure you’re fully utilizing online review sites such as Google My Business, Yelp, and Avvo. We’ve also gone in depth on those topics here: Pick Me! Your Beginner’s Guide on How to Attract Local Clients Via the Internet.

Prospective clients may head to these review sites first before even starting a Google search. What will they find once they get there?

Negative reviews are one thing; negative reviews without a follow up from you are a death sentence. Don’t make that mistake. Follow up on all reviews, trying to resolve those that you can, but acknowledging everyone else with a heartfelt thanks for their feedback. No sarcasm, please. Remember– you’ve got an audience.

Final Thoughts

Remember how we discussed that a website is fundamental to finding qualified clients? We can help with that. Let’s talk about building you a site that you can be proud of.

Would you like a worksheet for finding the perfect client? Subscribe to receive this extra resource.

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.

Check out the free PDF: Advertising Tips for Lawyers to get some design ideas and easy-to-use tools to a powerful advertising message.

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.