WHAT IS SEO AND DO YOU DO THAT?
I speak to lawyers I know and lawyers that cold call me for advice almost every single day. Over 75% of them ask me about SEO without the faintest idea of what it means or if it even truly matters, but are still prepared to spend money on it because they “heard” they need it – and they do.
SEO is search engine optimization. The long and short of it is this: search engine optimization means that search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing are better able to “read” your website, allowing your law firm website to rank higher in search results. Winning at SEO is not an expensive, lifelong endeavor costing tens of thousands of dollars each month (Do not believe the hype). SEO starts with a thorough look at the design, development, and metadata of your law firm website. We can provide a multi-layered, thoughtful analysis of digital assets, and many of our recommendations will help you optimize your website so that search engines can read it more easily, as well as improve the user experience. A determination of your website’s SEO value (and potential) includes page rank, backlinks, domain age, and so much more. Once your site is optimized and ready to rock, you then turn toward a comprehensive marketing strategy to boost your website’s credibility with the search engines.
So, yes we know all about SEO; but no, it is not generally what the high-priced, long-term contract charlatans are selling.
CAN YOU MAKE ME AN AWESOME WEBSITE ON A LIMITED BUDGET?
Potential clients will look online to find information about you and your law firm. Do you want to show them a cheap template site with poorly written content that barely functions? Do you want it to appear that your firm isn’t solvent, serious, or successful enough to spend the money on a nice website? Generally, you get what you pay for. Remember a phrase you may tell potential clients: Good lawyers aren’t cheap, and cheap lawyers aren’t good.
A custom-designed, properly developed website with SEO-driven, appropriate legal copywriting will not cost you less than $6,000.00, and in most cases will cost you more. If you are signing a long-term contract with a vendor offering you quick success for less money, you are potentially locking yourself into a website hostage situation. I recommend spending at least $5,000.00 on just the design of your website, especially for firms using their website as an online brochure for B2B marketing.
HOW LONG SHOULD MY BLOG POSTS BE AND HOW OFTEN DO I NEED TO POST?
Word Count: Blog post word count recommendations vary according to whom you ask; however, while the quantity of pages of content used to matter, now quality content is key. I do not recommend blog posts written at under 300 words. I generally strive to write between 350-500 words per post, and to break my posts up with headings and bullet points. While some credible experts have more recently begun to argue that each page of digital copy should register at least 2,000 words, I have had significant success within the 350-500 range, and starting at that word count sets a realistic and attainable goal for a busy law firm.
Quantity and Frequency: We recommend that law firms devise an editorial calendar to schedule when and what will be posted each month. You can start off blogging once a week, but twice a week is generally a best practice. At SEBPC, we blog three times a week, every week
WHICH SOCIAL NETWORKS DO I REALLY HAVE TO USE?
Social media for law firms can include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, YouTube, and more. Does a busy lawyer without sufficient time to devote to social media really want to dip their toes into the pond? If they do, which one or two social channels are the most important?
Lawyers should prioritize Google Plus for at least one lawyer and for the firm, as well as individual and company LinkedIn pages above all else. Google Plus matters more and more to search engines each day due to Authorship and AuthorRank. (Note: this relates to the SEO topic above as well.) Take the necessary steps to create a Google Plus profile, the associated Authorship, and engage in targeted audience building.
LinkedIn is where the lawyers are. LinkedIn operates the world’s largest digital professional network with over 277 million members in over 200 countries and territories, but over 93 million of those members are in the United States. Be present, build out your profile, and connect with professional peers.
I’VE BEEN CONTACTED BY [INSERT NAME OF RANDOM COLD-CALLING LEGAL INDUSTRY WEB VENDOR], ARE THEY ANY GOOD?
Yodle Law, Legal Match, mass torts lead resellers, emails touting lists you can purchase and market to … you name it, I have talked to them or maybe even tried them out. My first advice is to read about the company online. If you see a cadre of negative reviews, quality issues are likely present. My second tip is to post about the service on a legal industry list-serve to gauge your peers’ thoughts. You have likely not uncovered anything novel, and someone has tried the service before you and failed with it.
My bullsh*t barometer gets tweaked every time a vendor demands a law firm sign a contract over three months in duration, (and some vendors demand up to 24 months) and/or promises “PAGE ONE” search results as their primary goal. If you can’t prove your worth without taking my law firm hostage for two years, no thank you.