Law Bloggers use their blog to increase their status and credibility among other lawyers.
When you’re just starting out, this seems like the easy, logical place to start.
After all, you know the law, you can provide deep commentary on the law that other lawyers would appreciate, and that Small Firm Inferiority Complex is a powerful beast that is always thinking of ways to justify to your big-firm brethren that just because you’re small, it doesn’t mean you’re not an expert.
Here’s the thing though. Your clients don’t care. If they were interested in learning the nuances of law, and could understand that deep analysis, they wouldn’t need your help.
They want to know how the nuances of law affect their daily life. How do they solve that one nagging problem that they’ve ended up at your site trying to solve? And can you explain that problem, that pain, to them better than they could explain that pain to themselves. That’s how you win a client’s trust. Not, by being the most vocal fish in a small pond of blogging lawyers, but by doing the legwork to convey true understanding of your clients’ day-to-day problems.
Now, I won’t deny that there’s certainly value in convincing other lawyers that you’re worth a referral, and sometimes it’s valuable to provide a unique insight and circulate it among your peers. But make no mistake about it, writing for lawyers should be considered a rare guilty pleasure, not the focus of your firm’s marketing plan.
Law Bloggers consider their blog to be a separate entity from their firm.
Law bloggers often see their blog as an extension of their personal brand; a sort of hedge against becoming too synonymous with their parent firm lest they decide one day that they want to move on. That’s a great strategy, and I’d recommend that strategy to any associate (or partner) at a big firm.
What’s more, if you were to separate your firm website from your blog, you’re effectively making sure that none of the SEO value generated by all of that effort is transferred to your firm. Having them both under the same domain is critical to ensuring that your firm and its blog rank well in Google.
Blog posts don’t pay the bills, clients do.
Your blog isn’t about you. It’s about your clients. Everything you do needs to be geared toward their needs, their desires, their pains. Every marketing activity you spend time on need to be focused on one of two things. One, getting more prospective clients to your site. And two, convincing them that you’re so deeply in tune with their problems that they absolutely can’t afford to not contact you for your expertise.
In short, you need to focus on blogging to get business, not being in the business of blogging.
To that end I would strongly recommend looking outside the law industry and into small business marketing for your marketing advice, as your small-firm’s marketing is much more closely related to that of a pool salesman* than a law blogger.
* Marcus comes off a little “marketing-guru” at the beginning, but trust me, you’ll love him by the end. One of the more genuine applications of business blogging I’ve ever seen and a simple framework you can always fall back on when you’re searching for what to write about, or even why you’re bothering at all.
Everyone knows Google is the ruler of the roost when it comes to search. In this guide, we’ll take you through the steps to make sure your firm’s Google setup is a firm foundation for the rest of your marketing efforts.
What a lot of small law firms miss out on is the fact that Google provides a number of free tools to help site owners (that’s you) adhere to best practices that can help Google better understand what your content is about. And when you make Google’s job easier, it can only help your prospects of ranking for important search keywords.
We’re going to walk through the setup of each of these tools to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the free stuff.
Your Google Account
First thing’s first. You need to have a Google account. If you use gmail, you’re probably familiar with all of this, but I would highly recommend setting up a separate Google account specifically for your firm. It’ll make things much easier down the road.
If you use Google Apps for your firm’s email, awesome, you already have a Google account, and you can use that email and password to sign in.
If you don’t use Google Apps, you can still create a Google account using your business email address, just use this form.
Google analytics is a tool that keeps track of who’s visiting your site and when. It’s a very powerful tool that we’ll get into in more detail at a later time, but for now, let’s just get your site set up and verified.
First, log into google analytics by going to http://www.google.com/analytics. Once there, you’re going to create an account by clicking on the “create an account” link in the top right corner.
Google analytics is structured by accounts and then by property. Accounts act as a grouping of websites (properties). For most firms, you’ll only have one property, but if you have a law blog on a separate domain, like blog.myfirm.com, or myfirmblog.blogger.com, you may want to manage multiple sites.
Let’s start by following Google’s instructions for setting up your firm’s account.
Click on the ‘Admin’ link at the top of the page. From here you should be able to create a new account. Fill it out as follows (let’s assume your firm is called AmazeLaw Firm and your website is amazelawfirm.com):
Account Name: AmazeLaw Firm Website Name: Main Website Website URL: http://amazelawfirm.com Industry Category: “Law and Government” Reporting Timezone: Select your timezone Data Sharing Settings: It’s ok to leave the defaults here, but for the paranoid, you can uncheck “Anonymously with Google and others” and “Account specialists”.
When you’re ready, click ‘Get Tracking ID’ and accept Google’s Terms & Conditions.
Congratulations, you’re now staring at a rather techy looking page that contains the code you need to add to your website in order to get tracking up and running.
If you use a content management system like WordPress, Drupal, or AmazeLaw, all you need to do is authenticate with Google Analytics and it will suck the code in for you. For example, on WordPress, if you go to Plugins > Add New and search for “Yoast Google Analytics” you can install a plugin that will allow you do suck in your code. There’s even a nifty video over here that will show you exactly how to set it up.
If you use AmazeLaw, just log in and go to your dashboard, there should be a giant button asking you to authenticate. Clicking that will automatically suck in your tracking code.
Now if you don’t use WordPress or AmazeLaw or if you need a developer to add the code for you, here’s a sample email you can send your developer that will instruct them on how to add it to your site. By the way, this should be an amazingly simple task for any competent developer so don’t let them charge you for more than an hour’s time to do it (it’ll likely take less than 10 minutes depending on how they’ve set up your site.)
Hi <Developer’s Name>, I would like to add google analytics to my site. The following code needs to be added to the <head> tag on every page on my site. <Copy and Paste the tracking code here> Thanks! <Your Name>
That’s it! You can verify whether the tracking is installed by going to Admin > Choosing your account and property, and then .js Tracking Info > Tracking Code. Next to your Tracking ID, you should see “Waiting for Data” or “Tracking Installed”.
Google Webmaster Tools
Google doesn’t provide much direct control when it comes to how your site appears in search, but what little control it does give you is controlled from webmaster tools.
When you log in, if you don’t have any sites set up, you’ll see a welcome video and a simple text field where you can put your domain to add your site. Simply enter your domain, and click ‘Add Site’.
If you followed the steps in the Google Analytics section above your site should already be verified. If not, follow one of the procedures Google outlines in order to verify your ownership of the site. Unfortunately, it may require help from your developer.
Google+ may not be poised to take over Facebook any time soon, but it’s generally accepted that having a Google+ profile set up (if not actively updated) is a best practice for SEO. Google has indicated that going through the process of verifying the authors of content on your site will act as a quality signal in search algorithms. In other words, set up a Google+ account for yourself, and link it to your website.
If your email uses the same domain as your website (it does right!?) then the process is simple. Just log into Google+ using your firm email address and then go to this link and submit your website.
If you don’t have an email address for your domain, something like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, then it requires a bit of effort to get authorship set up, and honestly, your time would be better spent signing up for Google Apps for business and moving your email over there. After all, email@example.com is a lot more professional than firstname.lastname@example.org.
And finally, it’s time to get you on the map. This is absolutely key to making sure your firm is available for Google to list at the top of localized searches. You know, the ones that show a map and a list of 5-10 businesses.
In the map that appears, search for your business, either using the name or your office address if you have one. If it appears in the search box, click on the business to claim it. If not, just select the “None of these match. Add your business” link at the bottom of the search results to create yours in the system. Now, if you don’t have a Google+ page for your firm, this will go ahead and create the page for you as well.
There are a few fields worth noting when you get to the point that you need to enter your address information. The first is, well, the actual address. Many solo’s don’t actually have a physical office, and even if you do, it’s likely that you want to serve an area larger than the city in which you live. If you don’t have an actual office, enter your home address (you’ll be able to hide the address later). But whether you have an office or not, make sure you check the box that says “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location.”
And finally for the “Category” field, you could put the general “Legal Services” or if you have a specialty try that. Search along the lines of “Family Law Attorney” or “Employment Attorney” to select your specialty.
Once you have filled out that information, it’s time to let Google know where you operate. If you checked the box above, you’ll be given the option to list out cities, or choose a radius around your office. I would suggest a radius, but that’s entirely up to you. If you want your office to also appear on the map, just check the box “I also serve customers at my business address”.
When that’s done, you’ll be prompted to create a Google+ page for the business and sign Google Terms of Service.
You’ll be asked to verify your business by mail, and you can then go ahead and edit your Google+ business page.
That’s it! Take a break. Now you can edit your site knowing that you’re all set with Google.
Was that too much? Want help?
This stuff can get super hard to keep track of. That’s one thing we pride ourselves on here, is our ability to stay on top of best practices on the web, and then building it into our system so that you don’t have to worry about it.
If you want to spend more time being a lawyer, and less time tinkering in HTML…
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.
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 graphic design (the theme you use will be the “web designer”)
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…
There are a couple of new top level domains that are opening up for registration in the next few weeks, and the announcement has attorneys wondering what, if anything, should they do?
What’s the deal?
Well first, let’s talk about what the change is. Around 2006, ICANN, the governing body for domain names on the internet started taking bids for new generic top level domains (gTLDs). Since most lucrative and/or useful domains have been taken up by domain squatters and the occasional legit business, folks welcomed the opportunity to get a branded domain name that was relevant to their business.
So, they offered companies and investors the chance to own and manage new top level domains. Some of them are innocuous (.ceo, .bike, .directory, .beer), some are scandalous (.sexy, .xxx), and some are just industry specific (.plumbing, .attorney, .lawyer).
What makes the .attorney and .lawyer gTLDs interesting, is that they are intended to act like the .gov, .edu, and .mil “sponsored” top level domains. Sponsored TLDs act as a signal of trust since not just anyone can get one of those domains. You need to meet a managing body’s criteria. In the former, you need to prove you’re an attorney (or attending an accredited law school), and in the latter, you need to be a government, educational institution or branch of military service.
I’ve always considered sites with the newer TLDs as somewhat suspect. It’s not a perfect system, but the fact that you need to pay a decent amount of money for a great .com domain is such a good filter that it tends to cloud my judgement when it comes to trusting other domains.
At least, that’s my bias. But I’m not one to assume that everyone is like me. I’m a computer nerd by trade, and as such have a fairly biased opinion when it comes to technology in general.
Enter real data…
Instead, I ran an experiment to find out for real, whether the regulated TLDs accomplish the task of inspiring trust in normal, everyday folk.
Here’s how it worked. Using Google’s awesome Consumer Surveys tool, I asked a simple question of 100 people. If you were looking to hire an attorney, based only on the domain name, who would you choose?
The idea for those three is based on the following scenario. Let’s assume you’re trying to find a domain for your solo firm. And let’s say you have a fairly common name where you can’t get the exact johnsmith.com or johnsmithlaw.com (because if you can, you should do that right now and stop reading.)
You might then consider, do I get my exact match domain with .attorney or .lawyer instead? Will that get more clients to trust me?
Well, survey says…
Overall, I was surprised by the results. I thought the .com would absolutely trounce the gTLDs and that appears to be absolutely wrong.
.attorney and .com lead the way. Turns out, while almost noone prefered the .lawyer domain, .attorney actually appears to hold roughly equal to slightly more trust than .com when you take into account the error margins in the survey.
Here’s the preliminary result:
Younger folks prefer .com, older folks, .attorney While that’s the general population, it’s interesting that there are fairly heavy splits when it comes to the age of the recipient. Something that might be useful to know for all your elder law folks out there.
Upper income clients still prefer .com If your clients tend to be wealthier, or you hope to get more wealthier clients, it’s interesting to note that upper income individuals still prefer the .com.
Upper income folks seem to prefer .com dmoains ober .attorney and .lawyer
Want to analyze the data for your target clients? If you want to comb through the data to see what your target clients might prefer, head on over to the Google survey results page and tinker to your heart’s content.
And if you think this data is bunk, or if you want more info for your own purposes, this survey is set for 100 responses and only cost $10. You can set one up yourself and target the results by geographic region and income, and you’ll have the results in a few days.
I see the data, so what should I do?
Well first, don’t panic. It might seem like there’s a great gold rush out there for these domain names, but the population that uses them is tiny (relative to other TLDs) and an even smaller fraction will actually purchase the domains. And since switching and/or deciding on a domain is a BIG deal, don’t make the decision rashly.
Should I switch to a .attorney domain? Probably not, definitely not right away, and MOST DEFINITELY, not without some professional help.
There are a number of things to consider when considering a domain switch. You’ll need to consider the cost of replacing any marketing collateral you own like business cards, pamphlets etc.
You’ll need to perform an audit of your existing site to make sure any and all pages on your site are redirected to the new domain properly (for any site with more than 5 pages, seek professional help with this).
Should I register my existing domain with the .attorney and .lawyer TLDs? If you have $35-$100 burning a hole in your pocket and it would make you feel better to have them just in case, go ahead and buy them. But remember, if you buy both at $35, that’s $70 every single year you own them.
But what if I want to prevent someone else from registering them? Unless you’re a giant brand with money to spare, this is generally a false worry. First of all, as a small law firm, you’re not big enough for most squatters to care about.
Second, unless the squatter commits to building content in your niche, search engines will never find the squatter’s site anyways.
However… one case where I’d consider squatting is if your firm is hyper personalized and your name is reasonably common. For example, if you own “marystevens.com” or “marystevenslaw.com”, consider picking up “marystevens.attorney” and “marystevens.lawyer” as building a little moat around your personal brand is important when you have a common name.
I am just starting out, should I go .com or .attorney? Based on the data, it looks like we can rule out .lawyer. And if you can get a decent .com with no dashes, go that route for sure.
But, if you found a really nice .attorney domain in a competitive niche, like say “nydefense.attorney” or “thepersonalinjury.attorney” go for it! Given that it appears that the trust is there, it can’t hurt.
But, one thing to consider is whether having the singular “attorney” or “lawyer” as a domain name will be limiting if you want to grow your firm. The domain seems to imply a single individual, and that might become an issue down the road if you suddenly have a couple of associates or additional partners.
I already registered the domains, if I don’t switch, what should I use them for? First, redirect them to your existing site by using a CNAME or URL record with your DNS provider. I know that’s really techy, so if you need help, just email me.
Second, if you’re not changing your primary domain, do not use your new domains for things like email or other branding materials. Besides confusing your clients, it also confuses google into thinking there really are two sites and that hurts your SEO.
Should I buy up domains for multiple practice areas? Not unless you’re creating separate sites for each and have the time to maintain them.
Just owning the domains and pointing them all at your existing site won’t really make a difference for your site traffic. Google will only recognize those domains if you actually have content on them and have links coming in using the new domains. And since it’s highly unlikely that any consumer is going to type “newyorkpersonalinjury.attorney” into their browser bar without some sort of marketing material to prompt them, you won’t get any additional direct traffic either.
But what if I’m squatting, hoping to sell the domains to other attorneys? Well, sorry to be the one to say it, but you’re the reason we can’t have nice things (like reasonable .com domains.)
That’s it! Any more questions?
If you like this kind of no-nonsense marketing advice for solo and small firm attorneys, sign up for our marketing bootcamp where you’ll get one email every week with easy to digest marketing plans that let you get back to being a lawyer.
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.
You may have heard whisperings that Google is going to be cracking down on non-mobile-friendly websites starting April 21st.
That’s absolutely correct.
For a while now they’ve been keeping track of whether sites are optimized for small screens and slow data connections. Up until now they haven’t changed any of the rankings based on that information and instead, just show a little “Mobile-friendly” label on search results when searching from your mobile device.
But, that still means you’ll start to lose out on 1/4 of your traffic.
A better way to think about this might be to consider the following scenario. Let’s say a potential client just got into a cab when they received an email from a friend referring your firm to fix their problem. The first thing they’ll do is google you or your firm.
If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, your firm website might not be right there in the first spot in their search results. Instead, they might see your Avvo profile (which you may or may not have done anything with). Or maybe they’ll see a complaint a bitter client left on a review site.
All that effort crafting your brand and your message, and it’s all for naught because your site wasn’t the first one listed.
Obviously, that’s not a great place to be in. So it begs the question…
“How do I make my site mobile-friendly?”
Well, you have two options. You can redesign your site, or you can create a separate mobile site that lives at mobile.myfirm.com.
Each has their benefits and drawbacks, but I’m going to strongly recommend a site redesign over creating a separate mobile version of your website.
The main reason is maintenance. With two different web properties to maintain, you’ll need to have a way of keeping them in sync. And what’s more, you’ll need to be diligent about telling Google which version of a page is ‘canonical’. Meaning, which version is the “one true version?” Fail to stay on top of that and Google will dock you for having duplicate content.
The second reason is just common sense. For the same cost it would take to build a mobile-specific site, you could redesign your site to be mobile-friendly and avoid the mess of maintaining two properties altogether.
No need to worry about whether the mobile site matches your desktop branding. No worrying about duplicate content. And hey, you get a fancy new desktop and mobile website for the same investment.
How large is that investment? Well, it depends on what you’re starting with.
I use wordpress or another CMS.
If you already use a content management system like WordPress, it could be as simple as finding a theme you like. A decent responsive theme can be had for peanuts on sites like themeforest.net. You might get lucky and be able to just swap in the new theme and call it a day and you’re done in ~$50.
More likely, you’ll want to find a developer to customize the theme in a few places to fit your brand. That could cost you ~$50-$100/hr for a few hours of work. A far cry from building a new site from scratch.
I had a custom site coded for me.
But if your site was a custom job, as we typically see with agencies or with one-off website designs, your options get a (little) bit more expensive.
You’ll likely need to go through that process again. Which is a pain, I know. This time through though, keep an eye on an ability to upgrade in the future. If you’re working with a developer or agency, make sure they’re using a commonly-used CMS that will be around for a while. WordPress would be my recommendation (outside of using AmazeLaw of course.)
But regardless of your starting point. This update is a good thing for your firm. Sure it requires some investment. But that’s exactly what it is. An investment that you’ll most definitely see returns on.
Again. This is a GOOD thing. Think of it this way.
Imagine you had a 20 year old car. It’s worked well for you in the past. Sure, it’s not shiny, but it’s gotten you where you’ve needed to go.
But, a lot has changed in 20 years. Technology has gotten exponentially better. While you might say “I don’t need my car to talk to me,” it’d be hard to argue against the safety, fuel-efficiency, and reliability improvements that have come along with it.
On the road, states incentivize adoption of new technology through car inspections. On the internet, Google is taking on that role by rewarding sites that stay current with better search placement.
So rather than lamenting the fact that it’s become necessary to upgrade your website, you should also feel excited. You can now take advantage of advances in technology that make marketing your firm much easier.
Does your site need a mobile upgrade?
Our sites are all fully-mobile-optimized. If you want to see what mobile magic AmazeLaw can do for your firm…
Hi, I’m Katie. I’m an employment attorney. I like what I do, and I’m good at it. Oh, you want to hire me? Great!
If only it was that easy. I’ve been a solo attorney for a little more than a year and a half. I’ve learned so much about attorney marketing, especially marketing online. I know I’ve probably only scratched the surface of everything that I should know, but I’ve made huge strides. I get calls from other attorneys telling me how much they like my blog. Clients find me online. Am I always on the first page of for the search terms I want? No. But I’m getting there.
I was lucky that I have a husband who understands all this stuff, but I still had to learn a lot of it myself, and I had to make a ton of mistakes along the way. If you’re reading this, you might be where I was when I first started. Let me help you by sharing a few of the lessons I’ve learned.
It’s hard and it takes a lot of time. Sorry. I know you were looking for lessons that are going to make your life easier, but let’s start with the principle that’s going to carry you through all of your marketing endeavors. No one teaches you how to do this in law school. If you started your career at a firm, the firm paid someone else how to do this. So now not only are you starting a completely new business and lifestyle, but you have to learn another skill. But that’s okay, because you can do it and there are ways to make it easier, but let’s just all accept that as lawyers, marketing is a skill that does not come easily to most of us.
Take time to figure out who you need to reach. When I first started out on my own, I felt like I needed to get in front of anyone and everyone. What if I missed out on an opportunity? I need blogs that reach every audience. I want to send my email updates out to everyone and their brother (and somehow find a way to be interesting to everyone on that list). Then I realized that I only have so many hours in the day, and that I need to be efficient, effective, and focused. Who are your best referral sources? For me, it’s HR professionals and other attorneys who don’t do employment law, so my marketing efforts need to be specific to those groups.
Figure out the best way to reach them. The people you want to reach may not always keep you top of mind, but your online presence can help with that. I try to write blog posts and email newsletters that attract HR professionals (day-to-day information that helps them do their job) and other attorneys (legal changes/important cases). I also only send my email newsletters to people who have expressed interest. And it works. I’ve actually gotten emails back from readers thanking me for putting the email together. How often do you get a mass email and decide that want to thank the author?
Find the right tools to help you. Everytime I write a blog post (shameless plug – it is so easy to do this through AmazeLaw), I make sure to put it out on social media. I use Hootsuite and autoschedule. I don’t have to think about the best times to post, and I only have to post once for it to go to Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Facebook. I also use Mailchimp to manage my email lists (more shameless plugging – AmazeLaw integrates with Mailchimp). Yes, it took a little for me to learn how to use these early on, but now I cannot imagine marketing without them.
If you’re looking for more information on marketing, AmazeLaw has a great email marketing bootcamp that you can sign up for at amazelaw.wpengine.com/#newsletter. And if you have any questions about your firm’s marketing efforts, you are always free to email me with questions at email@example.com. Good luck!
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.
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.
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 #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?