Category Archives: Marketing

Cheap web design on the side of the road is NOT the way to go.

How Much Should A Law Firm Website Cost?

It can be pretty daunting trying to figure out how much to spend on a law firm website these days.  There are companies charging tens of thousands of dollars and promising the moon, and there’s always your cousin’s friend from college who would do it for a case of beer and a bucket of chicken.

Sometimes it helps to just set some expectations.  Your mileage may vary according to your goals, your geographic region etc, but here are some ballpark figures that will give you a good sense for what you should get for your dollar, and help you figure out just how much you can afford to spend.

So let’s kick this off at the bottom.

Less than $500

The old adage goes, you get what you pay for.  This bucket usually contains either family friend discounts, students doing the work, or your run of the mill website builder like GoDaddy or Wix.

If your goal is just to have a site that you can point people to, and don’t intend to do online marketing, blogging, lead collection etc, this might be the way to go.  Be careful here though.  A lot of times the website builders are loss-leaders for the business.  For example, GoDaddy makes the website builder cheap to get you to do your web, email and domain hosting with them, which often ends up being a more expensive and lower quality offering than going out and getting decent options separately.

For example, I use DNSimple for domain and DNS hosting. I can’t recommend them enough. And for email hosting, $50/year for Google Apps is an absolute steal.

$500 – $1500

This is a tough range.  It’s tough because it’s likely that you could find someone to do the work for the price, but it’s going to be very difficult to judge the quality beforehand.  A developer that’s worth their salt will be able to charge A LOT more than this, so here, you’re typically dealing with local developers that might not be around very long. You want someone that will be around 2 or 3 years from now and who can answer an email at the drop of a hat if there’s a problem.  Now, if you’re willing to take a bit of the management tasks on, you could probably find a very talented international developer on oDesk that could do a great job for this price.

$1500 – $5000

This is what I would consider the sweet spot for most solos.  In this range you can get a good developer to do a basic site that’ll cover the bases for most of you.

When I say “cover the bases” I mean:

  • Uses a nice responsive theme (looks great on mobile devices)
  • Uses a Content Management System like WordPress or Drupal. Avoid hard-coded sites as you’ll need to contact your developer any time you need a change.
  • Has a BUILT-IN blog (I saw a recent post that suggested attorneys should have a separately branded blog. That is such terrible advice that I would consider it dangerous.)
  • Uses best-practices like semantic markup to make your site more easily parseable by search engines.
  • Basic setup with Google (Google Analytics, Google Authorship)
  • Can offer limited tech support for the foreseeable future.
  • A classic looking, basic typographic logo if you don’t have one yet.
  • Redirects from your existing site if you have one. Basically, make sure that anyone linking to your existing site ends up on a relevant page on your new site.  Without this, any SEO clout you’ve built up will disappear.
  • And the ability to walk you through how to do basic edits (like writing blog posts) yourself.

What you likely won’t get at this price point:

  • Custom photography
  • Custom graphic design (the theme you use will be the “web designer”)
  • Custom copy
  • Comprehensive branding

$5000+

Once you go over $5k, the sky really is the limit.  You could get a custom graphic designer to do a completely custom design just for you.  You could get a marketing consultant to do your bidding.  Really, at this price range, it’ll be really confusing because it’ll likely be a much larger to-do.  There might be an law firm SEO consultant or an AdWords consultant.  All of these things can be positives, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed and there’s a lot of sharks at that price point that’ll promise you the world and never deliver.  If you’re spending that kind of money, make sure you get references and demand quantifiable proof that the investment was worth it.  If they’re good, it’ll be more than evident.

Whatever you decide make sure the following:

Make sure that your domain name is registered under an account you can access yourself and that it’s registered TO YOU.  As I mentioned, I really like DNSimple for this.  They’re great people and they make managing domains really simple without some of the spammier upsell practices of companies like GoDaddy.  Also, don’t let your developer own this account.  If he’s out of business in 2 years, you’ll have a really hard time getting control of your domain (if you can at all).

Be wary of SEO sharks that mention link-building or keyword density when pitching SEO services.  SEO is almost entirely based on writing good content that answers questions that people want answered.  There is very little left that can “game” the system.  Anyone that tells you they can get to the first page of Google for something like “DUI attorney Nashville, TN” and doesn’t immediately follow it up with a year-long content strategy is selling you a bag of goods.

Make sure you understand the ins and outs of your Content Management System before you sign off on the project.  If you’re not completely comfortable with the process of updating your practice area pages or writing a blog post, you never will, and that’s the quickest way to make your investment depreciate like an abandoned house.

When in doubt, feel free to ask for help. I see all of the shady stuff targeting my wife’s practice and I want to scream, so I’m happy to share unbiased advice.

I hope that clears up some of the confusion in the space.  If you have any questions, feel free to let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them…

 

Photo Credit: Mario Carvajal used under CC

Should A Lawyer Have A Blog?

If you already own a website, why should a lawyer have a blog?

Nowadays, when people have a problem they immediately turn to Google and other search engines to find the answer. The way things work online, a few words or phrases are typed into the search bar and websites that best match it will show up.

For certain legal concerns, you may see searches like this:

  • Wife wants divorce
  • Can my brother sue me
  • What do I do if I get arrested?

In these situations, having a blog and writing about the legal perspective can bring more visitors to your website and potentially lead to new clients.

To achieve this, you will need to write articles with headlines like the following:

  • 7 Things You Must Do When Your Wife Wants A Divorce
  • What To Do When Your Brother (Or Family) Wants To Sue You
  • How Your Arrest Will Affect You And Your Family

Blogging is a powerful tool that takes time, commitment and a little online knowledge to make it work. Here’s a few things lawyers starting a blog should know.

Guidelines For A Lawyer’s Blog

You may not be a web designer, but there are a few things you should know if you intend to provide your thoughts, ideas, and professional advice online. A website is just like your office space: the way it is organized, the overall aesthetic, and the level of professionalism all play a part in whether people will stick around or click away.

Here are a few guidelines to consider when it comes to lawyer’s having an online blog:

  1. Create a responsive website. Many people are navigating the online world from a smart device. This means that your lawyer website has to be 100% responsive and mobile friendly. When it comes to the design elements on the page, keep it simple and keep it clean. And, don’t over complicate the language. People from all kinds of backgrounds will be reaching out to your online. Using simple, everyday language will be the best way to connect with potential clients.
  2. Have a clear way to contact you. There is a purpose to providing a website and this is amplified by adding a blog. Whenever you have visitors coming to your site, your contact information should be clear and distinct. Visitors should be able to send an email with ease or touch your number causing it to instantly dial. Reducing the level of frustrations on your website and in your blog will make the experience that much better in the palm of their hand.
  3. Educate your prospective clients. The main purpose of blogging is to exemplify your professional and answer any questions they may have. The information you provide is often the best place to begin a relationship with you. They can get to know who you are, what you offer, and how you think. Your blog is the place to build trust so that the consultation can happen without any doubts and uncertainties.
  4. Answer questions and solve problems. You might think that there is already a lot of information on the web and as a lawyer, it may be a waste of time to be blogging about it. Your competitors may be hundreds of articles ahead of you and you keep wondering why they continue to get more and more clients. Start blogging. This is an investment in your services and the easiest way to get started is by answering the most common questions your previous clients have asked you before. When people are coming to you online, they are hoping you have the answers to your problems, which the only way you can prove to them that you have it is by writing a blog.
  5. Add special offers. As a lawyer with a blog, this is a great opportunity to attract new clients. One of the best way to do this can be done by offering a free initial consultation. Inside your blog as well as on the side, you can create banners and advertisements that tell your visitors they can sign up for a risk-free, no obligation and no money consultation. Or, perhaps you are doing something special and offer flexible phone consultations.

 SEO Benefits Of Blogging

There’s a few things behind the scenes that lawyers should know about blogging. If you’re unfamiliar with how websites work and how Google shows your website to people searching you could be wasting your time blogging online.

Here’s a little summary of lawyer SEO and how a lawyer that blogs can benefit from it.

  1. More authority. There are elements of your website that determine your overall “web authority.” This is known as Domain Authority (DA) and is ranked on a 100-point-scale. Websites that provide more content will have a higher DA which boosts their rankings in the search engines.
  2. More web pages. Whenever you publish a new blog post, you are expanding the depth and details of your website. Each page URL gets indexed by Google and other search engines which increases your likelihood of being found and is supported by all other benefits found in this list.
  3. More Links. Links are an important variable that determines how well you are ranked. When you link out from your site to another authority site, Google recognizes this. However, when you link to other pages on your own website, this too is counted toward your overall ranking. Blogging gives you the chance to greatly enhance the quality of your site and give it that added boost.
  4. More trust. Many people are seeking solutions to their problems online. If you can position yourself in a way that provides online advice and trusted information, this too helps your ranking. Google tends to favor sites that give visitors trusted information that people actually need. Having a blog will provide that added trust that other websites lack.
  5. More traffic. Publishing regularly will allow you to generate significantly more traffic to your website, and ultimately, to your legal services. Google will often refer people using its search engine to sites that are active and consistently providing relevant and trusting content.
  6. More long tail keywords. Keyword stuffing (i.e. using a common keyword or phrase over and over again in an article) can lead to Google penalties. When you are blogging with quality, original content, you will end up with much more “long tail keywords” in on your website. Over time, this will increase your chances that you will be able to answer specific problems that prospective clients are seeking for online.
  7. More user experience. Google wants people to have the best user experience. To ensure this, Google expects websites to provide visitors with real answers and solutions to their problems. This will be measured by the amount of time people are spending on your website. If many people are leaving, you site is likely not the solution. However, that’s where blogging can help.
  8. More SEO. Blogging is content marketing. And, when you are blogging you are directing your content to a specific, target audience. In doing this, you are already creating the right SEO conditions to succeed online and the more you publish the more you can expect will return.

The Value Of Blogging As A Lawyer

Aside from the technical benefits your website receives with having a blog, there is considerable value when a lawyer blogs.

Take these into consideration:

  1. Save time and improves services. Imagine dealing with a client who didn’t do a background check and they continue to ask basic questions before even getting to a consultation. Having content in your blog is a quick and simple resource to redirect inquiries to the answers they are looking for. After they get the information they need, the next steps can be made with less hassle.
  2. You get noticed more. You already learned a little about the influence that Google has, however, if the information your provide is truly valuable, it’s going to be shared. When a lawyer has a blog and they can connect with the needs of people experiencing legal conflict, it’s quite common that they will share this advice with their friends and family.  Blogging allows you to share your experience and expertise as well as provide trust and support for those in a legal crisis.
  3. Perfect for advertising and announcements. Another great advantage for a lawyer to have a blog is that you can showcase your past successes. Perhaps your firm was featured in the news for a big case, or you were appointed an award in your community. Posting an update about this and sharing this online gives your website that dynamic edge and professional appeal.

There are all kinds of reasons for a lawyer to have a blog. However, as a final note, the most important reason for any lawyer to start blogging, whether you are a fresh our of law school, an experienced attorney, or a retired judge, is that you can continually develop and hone the legal skills as a lawyer.

Find Stunning Free Images For Your Next Law Firm Blog Post

Just about every law firm blog post needs an image. At the very least, it’s a nice visual introduction to your post. But finding high-quality photos that are free and not likely to get you busted for copyright infringement is tough.

After all, when you pull out Google Image search, besides the dubious quality, it’s hard to tell if you have the right to use the image. And it’s likely that you don’t.

Here’s how to find a high-quality, free-to-use image for your blog post.

The long story short is that we use Flickr’s Creative Commons image search to find photos that are licensed to be used for commercial use, providing you attribute the author. Then we show you how to correctly add that attribution to your blog post.

Here’s a quick video to see how to add a great looking image to a WordPress blog post in just a few minutes, and how to add the same image to an AmazeLaw blog post in just a few seconds 🙂

Not too shabby huh? It’s fairly easy and yields great results that aren’t likely to get you sued.

See how easy AmazeLaw makes it?

That’s our whole purpose, to make marketing your firm as dead-simple as possible.

If you want to spend more time being a lawyer, and less time tinkering in HTML…

Schedule a Free Demo Today

 

Rise Of The Machines? Will Lawyers Become Obsolete?

Let’s consider this for a moment: lawyers being replaced by robots.

It sounds like a farfetched, sci-fi movie featuring advanced robotics bringing clients to court with analytical judges determining the fate of humanity.

However, as crazy as it may sound, will lawyers become obsolete with the growing trends in technology and communication?

Since the dawn of industrialization, there have been numerous revolutions in robotics technology that has freed up labors for the blue collar workers. From the view of human progress, this is the step in the right direction. However, as more and more people are losing jobs to robots, how will this affect the legal world?

Advancements in technology allows for information to be stored and retrieved in an easily accessible and systematized way. If artificial intelligence can be designed to extract evidence useful for litigations, to collect details for contracts, and trigger red flags whenever companies are committing fraud or other illegal activities, would this eliminate the number of lawyers needed in the world?

Automatization of Legal Work

Automatization is an ongoing development that allows for time efficiency and saving significant amounts of money. From a client’s point of view, if utilizing an online database, or “e-lawyer” to get accurate results, fast.

The early beginnings of technology designed to make a lawyer’s life easier started with chatbots. Technology from Ross and Lex Machina provide a chat lot system that makes setting up consultations simple for clients to do.

Another rising robot is called DoNotPay which was developed by Joshua Browder. This is a free parking ticket fighting chatbot that asks you a series of questions about your case. Questions like, “Were you illegally parked because of a medical emergency?” or “Were road signs clearly marked?”

At the end of the chat, the bot prepares a letter that can be used to fight parking tickets. So far, this system has been used to help hundreds of thousands of people to win parking ticket violations in Seattle, New York, and London.

What Areas of Law Could Be Most Affected

Technology is advancing at an extremely rapid pace. Each and every year a new highly developed superphone is being shoved into our pockets. If automatizing the lawyer process is the next step into the future, there may be some areas of law that will be impacted more than others.

The areas of law that once required many forms, contacts, and documents to be made may soon become obsolete. Things like business documents, contested filings, and estate planning documents, while performed by non-lawyers, are a part of the collective income of a law firm.

Currently, there are companies racing to innovate this area of law by creating efficient online services that can provide these documents in a single click.

Take for example LawGeex. They have developed an AI system that allows for the automation and approval of contracts. There focus is to eliminate paper work altogether.

Once, lawyers were required for their legal knowledge and careful selection of law like words. Now, AI machinery will be able to analyze text to review and understand the legal document.

What Are the Possibilities  of Robolawyers?

These chatbots could be the beginning of a complete legal revolution. There could be dramatic changes to the way bankruptcy, divorce disputes, and deportation can be dealt with. Instead of using a lawyer to dispute the finer points of law, AI systems can be developed to analyze every possible situation and find the exceptions, loopholes and historical cases needed to win a case.

Essentially, an AI will have access to a whole database of legal language and the history of legal cases to make decisions. From this perspective, the argument of human error leading to mistakes in law can certainly be avoided.

Here’s a couple more examples of law being replaced with technological solutions.

Judicata which is developing a database that was just mentioned above. While it may not be a go to tool for people experiencing a legal issue, it’s an AI program that provides lawyers with a chance to extract the information they need to build a case or contract.

Another AI based law solution comes from FairDoc. FairDoc focused on creating a virtualized legal team allowing for intake of clients to be made online and even tracking your client activity. It’s another cost effective solution to reduce the amount of work that is typically demanded by lawyers.

How Can You Fight The Rise of Robots?

There’s no avoiding the rapid growth that technology has in the world. As the old saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

In this case, the some of the roboticized approaches to law may work in your favor. Since you are a lawyer with the knowledge and experience in the field, many of the time saving services that are reducing the amount of paperwork can still be performed through you.

When it comes to sensitive issues and human beings, going to see a lawyer will almost always be the preferred approach to dealing with a machine.

However, to assure yourself a job in the future to come, here’s a few things to consider:

  1. Approach new technology cautiously. Technology is often being tested and does come with some setbacks. While AI lawyers may seem like a smart solution, a single hack could leak a lot of sensitive information.
  2. Question what may be “replacing” you. Be skeptical. Not all technology may be the best for you, your law firm, or your clients.
  3. Accept changes. You can stick to traditional law practice, and perhaps you’ll be just fine, however finding a few new pieces of software that makes your law practice easier and more efficient may be in your best interest.
  4. Preserve your practice. Let’s face it, some parts of technology can be good, but outsourcing significant parts of your business with 3rd parties can become a liability. Your clients trust you. Therefore you have to make decisions as to whether the products and “robots” used in your practice can be trusted for the long term.

Conclusion

Likely there won’t be a terminator situation rising anytime soon for lawyers, however being up-to-date will help you stay ahead. One of the best things to is to embrace the coming changes but doing so with a hint of skepticism. To really succeed, bringing your law practice online may be the cutting edge you need to stay alive. Imagine having your own blog, you could be the leader in the transition from human based lawyers to AI law machines.

Fresh coffee in hand, ready to start marketing your firm.

Real Digital Marketing Tactics For Solo Attorneys

Starting your own firm is hard work. You don’t have the same resources that big firms have to market yourself. But luckily, what you lack in budget you gain in scrappiness. You can move quicker and with less oversight. You can ditch the BigLaw stuffiness and appeal directly to the clients you want to help.

Here’s our promise. We will deliver an actionable plan every week that can be implemented in less than 30 minutes a day, that, applied consistently, will provide you with an audience of prospective clients that lets you focus on the law instead of glad-handing at every networking event that rolls through town.

Remember, consistency is key if you want to build up that consistent stream of clients. Consider us your coach. We’ll give you a plan, every week.

Want to get early access to these tactics? Sign up for the email list and we’ll deliver them right to your inbox, every Monday morning. If not, check back on Fridays for that week’s plan.

Photo Credit: 55Laney69 used under CC

PPC For Lawyers May Have Just Gotten A Whole Lot Tougher

The focus of a website is to receive the most clicks that provide a steady stream of traffic and leads to an increase in business and clients. The means that every business (and law firm) is fighting for the front page of Google.

Visitors arrive to your website in a variety of way. One way to receive free, organic traffic is by ranking high on search engines via keywords. The content you provide and the keywords included on your pages will be selected by search engines that best match the query.

An alternative to free, organic traffic is PPC (Pay Per Click).

PPC is a highly competitive advertising strategy that can place your website and business pages on the front of Google and other search engines. Due to the changing nature of the online world, PPC for lawyers is going to be much more difficult to come out on top.

What Is PPC?

Pay per click advertising is a method of attracting new clients to your law firm using specific and targeted keywords used by those seeking a lawyer.

Successful campaigns use a landing page that has a distinct message and a clear call-to-action. This means that whenever you advertisement is clicked, that person will be landing on a webpage describing a solution to their problem (i.e. call 123-456-7890 for a FREE CONSULTATION).

PPC campaigns can be set up in a variety of ways with specific ad groups targeting the following:

  • Bankruptcy Lawyer
  • Business Lawyer
  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Family Lawyer
  • Medical Malpractice Lawyer
  • Personal Injury Lawyer

Search engines like Google, Yahoo, Yandex, and Bing allow you to design text based ads that will appear when those keywords are entered into the search bar. The concept behind PPC is that you will only pay whenever someone clicks on your ad leading to your website or landing page.

There is potential to create some successful advertisements that allow you to discover new clients, however many of these keywords above are highly sought after by other law firms. In addition, the nature of PPC and how advertising is permitted on these search engines are constantly changing.

The Changing Nature Of PPC

Back in February 2016, Google rolled out a few changes to their some changes to the way they show ads in the search queries. They removed the longer text ads that showed in the right sidebar. This is a complete overview of the changes Google made:

  • No more text ads in the right sidebar of search results on desktop
  • Up to 4 text ads will be shown above the organic listings for “highly commercial queries” (before, up to 3 were displayed)
  • Up to 3 text ads will show at the bottom of the search results.
  • The maximum number of ads to be displayed will be 7 (before, there were up to 11)

Google defines “highly commercial queries” as the keywords that are in high demand in certain industries.

What Does  This Mean for Lawyer’s PPC?

 When you are choosing the right keywords  to setup a PPC campaign, there may be a highly sought after keyword that drives up the prices. Let’s saw for example, “New York Lawyers” is a highly searched keyword. Due to popular demand, you can see yourself paying tens to hundreds of dollars per click.


Consider this. “Lawyer” and “Attorney” are the most expensive keywords used on Bing. They cost over $100 per click when used with search queries like these: “personal injury lawyer” or “accident attorney colorado.” Your monthly PPC campaigns could cost in the thousands with a return of investment being entirely uncertain. Bing is known to be the cheaper advertising platform and Google is likely to be much higher.


With the changes made by Google, this puts increasing competition on keywords but also to a top ranking position in the search queries. Where before prices may have varied from a dollar up, the supply and demand can push your PPC campaign budget beyond its limits.

The Downside Of PPC Campaigns For Lawyers

 PPC offers a paid alternative to getting your website noticed by potential clients. However, these campaigns are based entirely on bids and competition for keywords. If there are a lot of advertisers bidding on the same keyword, the price goes up.

Unfortunately, PPC advertising does not guarantee that every click will lead to your next client. In fact, you could be losing a significant amount of money at each click when no one is contacting you for your legal services.

This document from Google detailing factors that influence your PPC viewability, claims that 56.1% impressions are not actually seen. This implies a considerable amount of loss and uncertainty when relying on PPC to find new clients and grow your firm.

Now, here’s something that you have to be aware of. Since you are not the only one competing for “high commercial queries” there are occasions of click fraud.

Click fraud is an extremely shameful marketing practice where one of your competitors will continually click on your ads until your budget is depleted. While Google does provide protection from fruad, there are still ways to get around this.

What Can Lawyers Do?

Paying $100 per click may not be a viable solution for small law firms.

As an alternative to pay per click advertising, lawyers can start their own blog and generate organic traffic to their websites. Although this too requires a significant amount of keyword research, time writing articles, and consistency with posting, the investment are for those seeking long term returns.

Having a blog can bring a flow to steady clients without having to spend thousands on advertising. By utilizing your knowledge and expertise in your field, you can provide solutions clients are searching for and direct them to a direct method of getting in contact with your legal services.

When combined with social media and other marketing strategies, blogging can be a relief to highly competitive and sometimes fraudulent ways of PPC campaigns.

5 Costly Attorney Website Mistakes

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Chris Small of The Art of Lawyering Podcast about legal websites, and thought I’d share a few points from the podcast.  If you’d like to check out the podcast (and the deal we’re offering its listeners), you can find it at theartoflawyering.com/021.

Let me start with a few words about why I started AmazeLaw, and why I understand what lawyers are dealing with when it comes to online marketing.  When my wife left her big law job to start her own practice, we were bombarded by all sorts of scummy sales-guys cold-calling her about all of these digital marketing solutions that were overpriced at best and downright harmful at worst.  She doesn’t have a marketing background, so everything was so new and foreign to her, and I know she found the whole learning process very stressful.  Luckily, I have a background in building marketing tools from my time building the Content Management System for Hubspot.  I knew I could help her.  Then I realized that I could help a lot of people who were just like her.

So I set out to build AmazeLaw to offer a do-it-yourself marketing solution for attorneys that focused on simple, sustainable marketing tactics that busy solos can manage themselves.

While doing research for the business and in helping our clients build or re-build their sites, I’ve come across a lot of common errors that solos make in their digital marketing, so I thought it would be fun to share some of those mistakes and how to fix them.  So I present…

The 5 Most Common Attorney Website Mistakes…and How to Fix Them

Not updating frequently enough.

If you haven’t made added/updated content on your site in the last month at an absolute minimum, your site will get stale.  Your audience will not understand how busy you are.  They will think you don’t care.  So how do you keep a blog updated?  First, your blog should be on your website.  Don’t buy into the malarkey that it should be separate.  Second, here are few easy ways to come up with content for your blog.  Write down the ten questions you get most often.  Write down 10 common assumptions your clients have that are wrong.  Now, write one or two posts per week explaining those in their language.

Writing for attorneys, not people.  

I think I can say this, because my wife has admitted it to me.  Solos often have this insecurity about competing with the big guys, a subconscious need to show the big law attorneys that they’re serious attorneys.  Resist that urge. You’re not writing for lawyers, you’re writing for clients.

Clients are PEOPLE. They want to work with REAL PEOPLE not stodgy old-school law firms (and the ones that really do, you shouldn’t care about because you’re fighting an uphill battle trying to compete with firms that have many more resources than you do).

Repeat after me.  Clients don’t care about case law.  Clients don’t care about case law. Clients don’t care about case law.  Don’t write about case law.

Sure it’s the stuff you can geek out on, but clients care about a solution to their problem.  They don’t care about the particulars. They pay you to know the case law and to recommend a solution in the context of their business or their situation, not in the context of a courtroom argument.

One key exception: a new case or new legislation somehow changes or contradicts a common assumption your clients have that impacts their day-to-day decisions.  You can mention it, but when editing, err on the side of “they don’t care, just tell me what I need to do differently with this new information.”

Not having a clear “next-step.”

Once you’ve explained something in their language, how do you get them to take action?  Each piece of content should end with a call to action. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a simple request written in italics at the end of your post is just fine.  As long as it’s clear what the next step is.

After all, they’re interested enough to read your entire post. They’re feel ingratiated because you gave away your expertise. Capitalize on that using reciprocity as a motivation to (1) ask for a consult request; (2) ask them to join an email list; or (3) ask them to comment.

Finally, your homepage needs an email address and a phone number.  Place it in the footer for sure, but consider placing it in prominent places in your copy.  Finally, make sure to hyperlink your phone number for mobile devices and never embed your contact information in an image (because Google will never find it).

Speaking of mobile…

Not having a responsive website, or not having a mobile site configured properly.

This is 2015, you need to have a website that not only “works” on a mobile device, but is optimized for it.  Why? Anywhere from 40%-55% of search traffic is on a mobile device.  Google started cracking down on April 21st, meaning that if your site isn’t mobile optimized, it will be virtually impossible to find it from a mobile device.  If you want to see if your site is mobile-friendly, you can check out at https://amazelaw.wpengine.com/googletest.  If you find out that your website isn’t mobile friendly, it’s time to upgrade to a mobile responsive site.  For more information about Google’s changes, why they’re happening and what you can do, check out our Mobilegeddon overview for attorneys.

Not having up-to-date and consistent local search listings.

Your #1 priority should be getting a google local listing set up and correct for your site.  This will make sure your business shows up with a map and details when they search for your firm directly, which in turn makes your firm eligible to show up in the local listings that appear on the first page of google just below #1 search position.  Go to the AmazeLaw Google Guide for step-by-step instructions for making sure you’re taking advantage of all of Google’s tools.

Your #2 priority is making sure you have a consistent web listing (with no duplicates) for your firm across the various local search aggregators.  Rather than managing this yourself each time something changes in your business, use Moz Local.  You enter your information once and they publish it and sync it across all of the major local search aggregators. A steal at $84/yr.

Are you making any of these mistakes?

You’re not alone. These are super common and we can help you avoid each and every one. Want to see how we can take your website from blah to blazing?

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Picking The Best Domain Name For Your Law Practice

In order to run a successful law practice, you’re going to need a website. Your website is the place for potential clients to discover your legal services, get to know you, and  schedule a consultation.

However, before you or hired help creates your website, you’ll want to pick the best domain name for your law firm.

A website and a domain name are not the same, although they are closely connected. The website contains all your content, information, and images. Whereas the domain name is the address that people type in their browsers that bring them to your website.

There are many types of domain names available and there’s a few important guidelines to follow when choosing the best one for your law firm:

Top Level Domain for Lawyers

 Top Level Domains (TLDs) are the little part of the domain name found after the DOT. These include, .COM, .ORG, .NET, and .GOV. There is even a specially created TLD for lawyers called .LAW.

The kind of TLD you decide will play a role in your ability to being found online. The universal TLDs are those listed above. There are also country specific TLDs such as .CA (Canada), .CN (China), .EU (European Union). Using these domains are restricted to those residing in that country and may not have as large a global reach as a .COM.

Most domains can be registered by anyone, however, the .LAW specific TLD requires proof of license before it can be issued.

Is a .LAW the best domain for you?

What Are Lawyer Keywords?

 Consider your domain name as a very important keyword that aides in your website getting found. People looking for a lawyer may search the following in Google: Florida Divorce Lawyers.

 Those words, are considered keywords and they play an important part in how your website is found online.

One thing to keep in mind is that keyword stuffing your domain name could lead to penalties by search engines and prevent your site from ever being noticed.

For example,

“childcustodydivorcelawyers.com”

While a name like this appears to be congruent with your services, there are a variety of reasons to not use this kind of name.

Best Domain Names For Lawyers

 Creating a domain name that is memorable and brandable is the best approach to take. This is important. Your domain name will serve as a banner that not only catches people’s attention but prepares people for what they’ll find on your website.

So, consider the following: what is the overall message you’re trying to say? Can people remember it easily? Can they type it into their browser without difficulty? Are there other websites with domain names similar to yours?

In addition, here are a few points to help you pick the best domain:

  1. Keep it short and simple (KISS). Shorter names are easier to remember and simpler to type into the browser. Just imagine, if your name was Bernie, you could have this: bernietheattorney.com!
  2. Be consistent. Your domain name should be a reflection of the services being offered and/or the location you provide them. Having a name like nyccourtconsultations.com (implying that you offer court consultations in NYC) would be more powerful than worldoflaw.com (potentially implying this site is about a world of flaws?).
  3. Don’t use unpopular TLDs. There are many different domain names available that may seem ideal for branding purposes but have less effect as a common TLD like .COM. Many people are familiar with .COM as a domain name.
  4. Avoid using hyphens. Search engines sometimes consider websites using hyphens as spammy and trying to stuff too many keywords. For example, best-lawyers-in-san-francisco.com may signal to search engines that this website is spam. While hyphens can be used without receiving penalties.

Lawyers Starting A Blog

 Having a website allows your to showcase your practice, services, past clients, and contact information to the entire world. As well, another useful thing to do on your website is starting a blog.

As mentioned before, keywords play an important part in getting your site noticed online. While the domain name plays a significant roles in directing people to the website, the content is the most valuable.

The best way to make your website stand out online is by providing expert advice and quality content. Blogs allow you to build your reputation online as well as discover new, potential clients.

Domain Name Overview:

Do Don’t
 

●        Do use your personal or business name(s). Remember to keep it short and simple. Use a domain name like, smithlawassociates.com, instead of smithandtullylawassociates.com
●        Do use your area of practice. If you’re a divorce lawyer, legal advisor, or criminal lawyer, feature that (i.e. smithdivorcelawyers.com)
●        Do use something memorable. Especially for blogs, having a domain like, fortheloveoflaw.com or leagueoflawyers.com could serve as a great platform to express your legal work as well as for branding purposes.
●        Do use a common TLD (such as .COM or even .LAW).
●        Do consider the ethical code. Making claims that cannot be proven, or misleading (i.e. always-win-lawyers.com) may be a violation of your local jurisdiction’s ethical rules.

 

●        Don’t use names that may change in the future (i.e. if an associate leaves your law firm)
●        Don’t use abbreviations of your legal service that could create a negative reputation (i.e. Austin, Stevens, and Smith Lawyers Group: asslawyers.com)
●        Don’t use spammy words like, best, top, greatest, etc. While you may feel that your law firm is #1 in your area, the search engines may flag your site as spam.
●        Don’t make it too personal. Whatever you are interested in and passionate about should not be used for your domain name, unless, it is relevant to your area of law.
●        Don’t use hard to remember or difficult to spell words.
●        Don’t copy another domain name. If serveandprotect.com is taken, avoid taking serveandprotect.net (or any other TLD). This can confuse your potential clients.

Choosing the best domain name for your law practice is not going to be easy. Remember that search engines like Google do provide benefits when a keyword is matched in your domain name. However, try to avoid coming off as spammy and use a name that is broad but to the point. For branding purposes, short and catchy would be the better approach.

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.

20 Minute Marketing Plan For The Busy Attorney

We get it. You’re busy! On the long long list of things you have to do in a day, marketing is probably one of your least favorite and often gets lobbed to the end of the todo list.

But successful marketing depends on consistency, and we all know what happens to the tasks at the back of the to-do list.  So let’s set up a plan that will allow you to be consistent without causing the dread of staring at a blank screen wondering what to do.

We’ll start today with social media.  Yes. The amorphous, ubiquitous, and perpetually misunderstood side of marketing.

It can be a pain to sit down and come up with a single Facebook post let alone creating an entire social media strategy.

Well, what if it only took 20 minutes while you were sipping your morning coffee? Well that’s more manageable right? Today we’re going to outline a process and tools that will help you to do just that.

We’ll cover three components of a social media strategy that will allow you to create a bustling social presence without needing to spend all of your time dinking around in the productivity sucking waste-pool that is Facebook.

Without further ado, our first focal point – curation.

ABC – A – Always, B – Be, C – Curating. Always be curating!

What is curating you ask? Curating is collecting and filtering content from across the web that will interest your ideal clients and allow those ideal clients to interact and share with you, and more importantly, their peers, that are also ideal clients.

Everyone is drinking from a firehose these days, and with so much awful content being spewed into the ether by “marketers” it’s harder than ever to filter out the good stuff.  Your goal in this exercise is to be that filter for your ideal clients.

This does two things.  First, it distinguishes you as a thought-leader in your space, and second, it makes you the source for all things true and helpful.

Another way to think of your role in all of this is as a magic flower. No, I’m not on some other magical substance writing that. Your goal is to be like the magic flower in Super Mario Brothers.

For the uninitiated (read: those over 40 or under 25), the magic flower turns regular old Italian plumber Mario into Super Mario. Super Mario is bigger, faster, and stronger than his wrench-wielding alter-ego, and he’s also invincible.

Through your carefully curated information, you can make your ideal clients into super heroes.  They’ll be more on point with what’s going on in their industry. Able to impress their bosses, their clients, and maybe even their spouses with how in tune they are with the world of [insert ideal client’s industry here]. They might get promoted. They might close that deal. They might get their spouse to stop rolling their eyes (unlikely).

But you see where we’re going with this. By giving your ideal clients those super powers, who do you think they’re going to turn to when they have a problem even their super powers can’t handle?  That’s right.  You.

So how do we do this?

First we need a way to keep track of the content we find worthy of sharing. The goal is to find something that you have available at any time, because you never know when you’ll come across something you want to share.  The best tool is the one you have with you.

For capturing content as it flies past you, we recommend an app called Pocket.  Pocket allows you to instantly save the contents of a website while you’re looking at it.  They have a great mobile app so you can just quickly “share to Pocket” and the article gets saved for later review. They even have a browser plugin so when you’re come across a good article at your desk or on your laptop, you can quickly save them there.  You can find Pocket at http://getpocket.com.

But if Pocket isn’t your thing, Evernote’s web clipper can do a great job as well (though if you use Evernote for other aspects of life/business, it’s a little hard to control the clutter of constantly saving articles). And if you don’t want to learn a new tool, a simple note taking app on your phone or (gasp!) an actual notebook, work just as well.  Point being, find a tool that works for you.

So, when you are listening to the news in the morning, scrolling through Facebook or Twitter on your lunch break, etc. always be on the lookout for those magic flower articles.

What do you do once you find one? If you’re using pocket, just save it to Pocket. If not, take down the URL of the story, and then write down the first “take” you had on it. Your thoughts on where it was great or missed the mark slightly, or how it might fit into the bigger picture for your ideal clients.

Then move on, you’re all set.

Now you might be thinking, “Wait, I’m always doing this? I thought you said 20 minutes!” Well, you’re right. You need to be on guard 24/7. But the real benefit is that this takes just a few seconds as you come across great content, and it allows you to do GREAT things in just 20 minutes if you already have a starting point when you sit down each morning.

This next part is where we get into the meat and potatoes. The 20 minute social media habit.

Habits are super powerful when it comes to compounding the returns on your time investment. That’s our goal, to layer up little marketing habits that set you up for that month down the road where you’re suddenly turning away clients because you’re too busy, or thinking about hiring that associate to handle the workload.

So let’s commit to it, right now.  Let’s commit to 5 week days in a row of curating and scheduling social media each morning.  Then we’ll revisit.  Figure out what isn’t working, make tweaks and commit to another five days. Rinse. Repeat.

Here’s the 20 minute morning routine.

First 5 Minutes – (Gasp!) Original Posts

Original posts are always the hardest. But we don’t want to derail the process because we have writer’s block.  Give yourself 5 minutes to come up with an original post or two or three. But stop after 5 minutes, and don’t beat yourself up if you can’t think of anything. That’s why we have that hopper full of curated content, so you don’t always have to be on your A-game.  The juices will start to flow over time, so don’t get hung up here.

Next 10 Minutes – Queue up Curated Content

Next, dig into your treasure trove of curated content, and pick out three or four posts that you can share.  Use a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer to create posts on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn. Link to the articles, write in your “take” as the post content, and then get ready to schedule those posts.

Last 5 Minutes – Scheduling for Long Term Success

The powerful part of this plan isn’t necessarily that you’re generating social media posts every day, it’s actually that you’re going to be generating social media posts for weeks or months in the future. To the point that there will be a morning in the future where you’ll sit down and realize you already have two or three posts ready to go for the day.

So here’s how we schedule them.

First, you need to decide how “evergreen” the content is.  Once you figure out which bucket this falls into, follow the scheduling guidelines below.

Breaking News

This content is usually only good for one, maybe two days. Think – a comment on a big supreme court ruling, an announcement of a new staff member, or a comment about a the latest corporation to screw up, etc.  For these posts, we suggest scheduling the post to go out on each of your various channels today. Post once on Facebook and LinkedIn, and consider posting two or three times on Twitter.

Timely

This content is something that is useful now, and likely for the next few weeks or months.  For example, an article about this year’s trends in industry X, how a certain technology is affecting Y, etc.  For these posts, I’d schedule one post for today on each of your channels, then create posts for each channel that are 4, 14, 30, and 60 days out. Note, those numbers aren’t set in stone, but rather ball park values. The idea being to keep the posting going but at larger and larger intervals until you think the article won’t be relevant any more.

Evergreen

These are the holy grail.  They’re the articles that keep on giving, and they’re rarer than one might think. These articles are the ones that will be as useful today as they will be in five years.  For example, with attorneys, these might be articles that relate to handling common situations that ideal clients might not know about. They might be articles about how to think about a particular issue.  And sometimes they come in the form of an article so good that you couldn’t imagine someone covering the topic more completely (like, for example, a 1500 word lesson on how to do your social media in just 20 minutes 🙂

For these posts, schedule out as many as you can forever. For example, post one today, and then repeat monthly or bi monthly for the next year. Basically, for as long as you can go before your 20 minutes runs out.

Conclusion

And that’s it.  If you follow this plan for even a month, you’ll find that your social media hopper is filled out for weeks and months into the future. Your facebook page will no longer be a dormant ghost-town where we promoted that one blog post we wrote 2 years ago. Your twitter account will start to accumulate followers. You’ll start to hear the phrase “oh I saw you posted about that a few weeks ago” at random networking events from people you’ve never met before. You’ll get a referral and when you ask who it’s from, it’ll be from a person you’ve never met, and when you Google them, you’ll see that they’ve been following you for a few months on Twitter.

In short, you’ll start to see why social media can be a real benefit to your firm, and you’ll laugh at the big firms that don’t get why.
Finally, reach out to use here at AmazeLaw. Tell us how this is working for you.  Suggest tweaks. Let us know when you get that superfan client that you realize has been stalking you just a little too creepily on Facebook.