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Gone are the days when people relied only on personal recommendations or traditional advertising to find a lawyer. Google has stepped into the role of the “trusted friend” recommending a lawyer, and online local reviews serve as word-of-mouth in your community. This is why it is important to take the right steps to ensure your website and online presence work for you. Try these seven tips.
Web design that makes navigation easy helps people find the information they need quickly, whether it’s legal information or your contact information. Google also rewards websites with a clear navigation system and easy-to-understand hierarchy. Unless you or a staff member has this kind of expertise, hire a qualified web designer to ensure your site portrays you as a professional attorney who offers easy access to the resources clients and potential clients need.
Our experience: It took around 90 days to design, develop and launch our latest website. Even though the site is a few years old, it continues to perform very well for our firm and it even won a design award.
Mapping out your website and putting a plan in place for adding high-quality content is key to building your online presence. Plan out the content, including main pages, practice area pages and FAQ pages. Adding a blog component will allow for regular updates that keep your site fresh and up to date.
Our experience: With our latest website, we planned out 20 initial content pieces that we wanted to have in place prior to launch. Most of these pieces were practice area pages and FAQ pages. Then we created a content plan that focused on the post-launch content that we wanted to add. These pieces included more FAQ pages, blog posts and pages that we paired with our video content.
Optimizing your website for search engines — known as search engine optimization (SEO) — is key if you want your site to pop up when potential clients are looking for a lawyer. You could learn the basics of SEO yourself, but this requires time, patience and lots of practice. A better idea is to meet with an SEO specialist to review your website and implement changes to improve your pages’ rankings in search results.
Our experience: Like most lawyers, practicing law is our strength, not SEO. So we work with a marketing agency that specializes in SEO for law firms. There is no question that our firm would not be growing at the same pace if we did not have an optimized website.
In addition to general SEO, local search optimization plays a big role in helping potential clients find you. Google your name and check to see that all information that pops up is correct. Make sure your “NAP” — name, address and phone number — is consistent, down to the letter, on Google, your website, and any other directory that lists your information. For example, if Google lists your address spelling out “Street” but your website abbreviates to “St.,” then change your website to reflect how Google knows your address (e.g., “Street”).
A lot more goes into local SEO, which your SEO specialist can help you identify and execute to bring in more local traffic and phone calls.
Our experience: Our presence in the Google local results has been a huge driver of website visits and phone calls. Without local optimization and the appropriate amount of directory listings, we would miss out on a large portion of our business.
Backlinks continue to play an important role in SEO. When other sites link to one of your web pages, it brings more traffic to your website. Perhaps more importantly, high-quality backlinks increase your search engine rankings.
Some people resort to spammy techniques to get backlinks, but this is not a good idea. It will not get you the relevant, high-quality links you want. Instead of buying links or joining a link exchange, build backlinks in a more natural way. Start with quality content on your site that other websites will want to link to. Look for opportunities to contribute to high-authority websites, too.
Our experience: Over the years, we have used a variety of techniques to gain backlinks. We have offered scholarships to local students, which help generate links from high schools and universities. We have sponsored local sports teams, donated to charities and have participated in other community events. We have also made ourselves available to our local news outlets for commentary on legal related matters, which can result in links back to your website as well.
Lead generation tools simply allow you to capture information of potential clients so you can reach out to them later. Examples of lead generation tools include chat windows, Facebook remarketing, and valuable downloadable materials like eBooks and checklists.
A word of warning: If you use a chat window, make sure it does not obstruct too much of the web page. Google will penalize the page in its search rankings if the chat window covers too much of a mobile screen. Keep chat windows small — you might even consider including it only on the desktop version of your website.
Our experience: We receive several new leads a day and find that most come to us in the form of a phone call (usually from someone using their mobile device). We also receive live chat and email form leads. It is important to provide site visitors with more than one way to contact you, so they can pick the way that is best for them given their circumstances and preferences. We have also created a few detailed guides that users can download in exchange for providing their email address. This has been another effective lead generation strategy for our firm over the past year.
Almost 70 percent of all adults in the U.S. use social media regularly, according to data from Pew Research Center. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites can play a big role in reaching people in your community. Update regularly, share others’ content, too, and engage with followers and community members.
Our experience: It is crucial to build out a solid web presence, not just a great website. Our firm is present on all of the major social media channels and the most-trafficked business directories as well. We also place a strong emphasis on obtaining reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and more to take our online presence to the next level. We have signed up countless new clients as a result of our online reviews. The simplest way to get reviews is to simply ask your current or past clients. If you don’t ask, they most likely will not think about leaving a review, even if they are completely satisfied with your service.
Most people have web access at the tip of their fingers at any time of day or night. Having a strong and trusted online presence is vital for every business today, including yours. You may have a great local reputation and gain many new clients from word-of-mouth and local advertising. However, there will always be potential clients who need your help but do not know you exist. When they type in your practice area and your city in a search engine, you want your name to be at the top of their list.
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