Twitter: Keep it Interesting!

After many months, I have updated my Twitter profile and uploaded an image of myself. I am no longer a brown squiggly. I will now post a minimum of one Twitter post a day (hopefully more if I can find the discipline). I feel good about this new initiative, although I’m going to have to give myself some visual reminders to post.

Are you on the Twitter yet? You may feel like sitting around typing little snippets about your life is a waste of time. And justifiably so. But here’s the lowdown. Twitter really can help you build up an online network of people who are interested in what you have to say; who can influence events in your life. It has a real world business purpose.

So start today. Sign up for an account. Add a custom background. Modify your profile. Replace the bland brown icon with a picture of yourself. Give people something to look at.

Your Twitter posts should: contain relevant keywords; be industry specific; and be interesting to read. Being funny sometimes ain’t a bad idea either. People need to enjoy reading your posts.

I’m a professional search engine marketer, but I’m a newbie at using Twitter. As I learn things, I will share them with you here. But I guess one thing I do know at this point is that you’ve got to make things interesting!

If you would like to check out my Twitter profile, my URL is: http://twitter.com/jwork

Also check out The Law Firm Internet Marketing Book, available on Amazon.com, to learn how to build and execute an aggressive online marketing campaign for your law firm’s web site.

Law Firm SEO…the Time is Now!

The economy is lousy. Businesses of all types are laying people off or going out of business. Unless you are one of the luck recipients of a huge undeserved bonus, chances are you are not doing as well as you were a year ago. So now is no time to be spending your marketing funds on search engine optimization, right?

No way!

This is the time to INCREASE the amount of resources you devote to search engine marketing and optimization (SEO). There is always going to be some lag time (sometimes substantial) between the time that SEO is done and when you see results. So position yourself NOW to dominate in the future.

The economy will eventually improve. The percentage of the population (and thus your target market) that uses search engines to find businesses, including law firms, is going to continue to rise. The number of firms competing for the top spots is only going to increase. Do you want to be the aggressor, and increase your search engine visibility, or do you want to the be the firm that waits for a “better time,” only making it more difficult to catch up in the future?

So maybe you’re already the top-ranked site in Google for a search of your market and services. You can just cruise along, right?

Hell no!

It is highly likely that there are firms being aggressive right now, optimizing their sites and generating impressive inbound link catalogs. If you stop, you will get passed. Avoid complacency. Keep building your link catalog. Keep blogging and distributing content. You can bet some of your competitors are.

Don’t wait until you think you can afford to engage in a search engine optimization campaign. Time is not your friend here. Climbing the search engine rankings is often a very slow process. Start working on your search rankings today so that when economic conditions improve, your web site will be the one people find when searching for your type of services.

So…what are you going to do?

If you want to learn how to do this on your own, please check out my book The Law Firm Internet Marketing Book.

A Quick and Dirty 5 Step Law Firm SEO Blueprint

So you’ve got a web site but don’t know how to drive traffic to it? Get in line. You’re not alone. Improving search engine rankings is what I do all day every day, and my company employs many different strategies. We work hard at it, both servicing our clients as well as testing new strategies. The easiest way for you to accomplish getting your site ranked is to hire a company like mine.

However, maybe your resources are limited or you’re just a glutton for punishment. If that is the case, I am going to give you a super quick technique for creating a blueprint you can use for getting your web site ranked for a particular keyword.

Step 1. Do a search in Google for your target keyword. Avoid overly generic or broad keywords like “attorney.” Your keyword should be specific to your target market, such as “St. Louis criminal defense attorney.”

Step 2. Click on the top listings that represent real competitors (i.e., competing law firms in your market, as opposed to law firm directories or portals). Look to see if the keyword is used in the title, how many times it is used in the body copy, and where else it is used.

Step 3. Tweak your front page to match the criteria discussed above. Optimize!

Step 4. Go to search.yahoo.com and do a “link:” search for the top sites for your keyword. Your search query will look something like “link:www.website.com.” This will give you a good idea of the minimum number of links you need pointing to your site.

Step 5. Now get ready to do some work. Build a catalog of links to your web site as large or larger than your competitors.

Certainly, we’ve glossed over a lot of details. Anything you need to know is contained somewhere in print or online. If you are willing to put in the work, you can learn how to run a campaign like the one described here. Of course, you can always take easier route and hire a company like Work Media.

Law Firm Marketing Success: Measurement is the Key

So how do you know what marketing strategies you should be using to promote your law firm? You have many options. You can do paid search and SEO (both of which I highly recommend), TV advertising, radio, newspaper, Yellow Pages, and the list goes on. You might start by finding out what marketing methods are working for other successful firms in your market.

One problem is that the strategies used by your competitors may not be the same that work for you. If you really want to find out what works, the only sure-fire way is to try different strategies and carefully track the results of each. You need to make a direct connection between the leads you generate and the marketing that generated those leads. You can measure performance by using a special URL with different advertising campaigns. For example, a print ad in a newspaper might display a URL like “www.myfirm.com/special”. Then checking your web site stats for traffic to that URL will give you an idea of how effective the ad is.

There is one flaw in this technique. Some viewers of the ad will not use the full URL, instead just typing your root domain name. This is at least a starting point. Displaying a different phone number for each ad is a more accurate way to generate data. Then you can tell which ads are working by how many calls come in for different phone numbers. It’s pretty cheap to do and there are quite a few companies that can provide the service. Just a couple to check out are callsource.com and capturethecall.com. Just search Google for “call tracking” to find more.

Yes, this is a lot of work. But finding the right marketing mix can mean the difference between success and failure for your marketing. And if you’re going to promote, you might as well do it right.

To learn more about online marketing for law firms, check out my book The Law Firm Internet Marketing Book on Amazon.com.

Legal Trend Hopping with Print on Demand

Print on demand (POD) is a technology that my firm has made heavy use of for self-promotion. It is a fantastic technology for use by publishing companies, as well as any independent business that wants to produce its own books. In this post, I want to discuss a concept related to POD that I call “trend hopping.” The idea is to use print on demand technology to quickly create books or other products focused on very timely subjects – subjects related to your areas of practice.

POD allows you to quickly create products based on the public’s interests at the moment. One example is mesothelioma from asbestos exposure, which is a hot subject in the legal industry. Your could write a book on this subject and make it freely available to anyone who visits your web site. The book could provide more information about what mesothelioma is and what a person’s legal rights are.

Intuitively, it might seem like an expensive form of marketing, but it’s really not. To order copies of your book yourself will probably cost you $2 or $3 per copy. If you use paid search to drive traffic to your web site, you might be paying $25 or $50 per visit. So in the general scheme of things, another couple of bucks is not much relative to the cost of getting traffic to your site, and it just might improve your chance at signing up a client.

Trends always change. Just because people are interested in something right now does not at all mean that they will be tomorrow. The kinds of cases you pursue today may be different tomorrow. Traditional printing does not deal with this situation very well because it requires the publisher to estimate the number of copies of a book that will sell (or that you want to give away). Predicting when a trend will end is difficult.

POD eliminates the risk completely. You don’t have to worry about printing and storing books in advance. With POD, you will only print the number of books that you need and no more.

Contact Work Media, a Nashville-based search engine marketing firm, to learn more about using this and other strategies to promote your law firm.

Staggered Distribution of Spun Blog Content

My company uses a strategy that we call “staggered distribution of spun blog content.” Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? At Work Media, one of our specialties is making things sound scientific and complex. Despite the long name, it’s really just a strategy for getting the most value out of your blogging efforts. I believe if you take the time to write something of value, you should get maximum value from it for your law firm promotion efforts. It’s also related to something I blogged about previously, which is using multiple blogs to promote your web site and firm.

In my previous blog post, I stated that you should maintain up to ten blogs focused on your areas of practice. The idea is to use article spinning software to create multiple versions of a core blog post that are technically unique, and use those for updating your blogs. These blogs would be spread out among various blogging platforms and have many different names.

To carry this concept a step further, I also suggest you stagger your blog posts. In other words, rather than updating all of your blog posts on the same day with a similar spun blog post, make the posts over multiple days. Less time is required between updates the more blogs you maintain.

If you are careful, your spun blog posts will each qualify as unique content. However, there is still some risk in releasing many blog posts on the same day that are all very similar. Staggering your blog posts over time closer matches the idea of different humans updating different blogs. It sets off less of a signal.

For more advanced ideas about how to promote your law firm online, check out my book The Law Firm Internet Marketing Book.

Link Swapping Reluctance: Get Over It!

A pet peeve of mine is when someone tells me how to do search engine marketing. I have been doing this for years, have promoted dozens of web sites, have written hundreds of articles and blog posts, and have two books in print on the subject. SEO is what I do.

As an SEO expert, I can tell you right now, unequivocally, that link swapping is a valid link building technique. Until I see that it doesn’t work anymore, my firm will continue doing it.

Here’s what I don’t understand: why do attorneys seem to have such a distaste for link swapping?

We continue to talk to attorneys who question us on the matter; who don’t really want to swap links with other sites. Look, link swapping has nothing to do with having links on your site that you actually want people to follow. It’s strictly for the search engines. Don’t worry about it!

I’m not at all implying that you should rely on link swapping is your only strategy for getting links. Certainly, without a doubt, one way inbound links are better, and you need to use other strategies to get those types of links. But link swapping is one important component of your overall online marketing campaign.

However, to receive maximum benefit, there are a couple of rules you need to follow. For starters, limit the number of links on any particular page to 40 or 50. So you will probably need to have multiple pages. You also need to supply your link partners with very specific verbiage and HTML to use for their links to you. Your links pages do not have to be prominent pages on your site. You don’t need a link to it on your main menu. Place a small text link to your links page at the very bottom of your home page. That will be good enough for search engines to find.

This is a great way to begin the process of building a catalog of links to your site if you are just getting started.

Get over it.

Dofollow Blog Link Building for Law Firms

An underutilized link building strategy for law firms is posting comments which contain keyword links on relevant blog posts. This is an old school strategy that has been used for years. Internet marketers have also abused the strategy. The major blogging platforms have mostly made it so that blogs, by default, do not allow “nofollow” links.

So what exactly does “nofollow” mean? “Nofollow” is an attribute that can be set for any link to disallow search engine spiders from following the link. You don’t get credit for it. So why bother?

For one thing, just getting your name and firm name on an active blog page related to your areas of practice is good self-promotion. You can’t do too much of that. Another reason is that blogs that allow the kind of link you need still exist.

First you have to find them. One tool to make this process easier is Fast Blog Finder. It works by looking for blogs that contain a target keyword and then evaluating the HTML of the blog to try and determine if it allows “dofollow” links.

It is a time consuming strategy, but one that is very effective. But I believe that you should seek links from many different types of web sites. This strategy is one that will compliment your other link building techniques.

Why Law Firms Should Use Autoresponders for Their Online Marketing

The use of an autoresponder to collect email addresses is a technique that has been abused by some Internet marketers because it works. But it is a rarely used strategy for law firm promotion. In the marketing world, any marketer knows it takes multiple exposures to a marketing message for it to get through to your prospects. With an autoresponder, you automatically feed a series of messages to people who have indicated they are interested. It is one-on-one marketing that lets you do a “soft sell” by subtly promoting your firm while giving away valuable, free information.

The first thing you need to do is create a series of articles that will be the foundation of your email series. A divorce lawyer, for example, might create a series of lessons on strategies to make sure you receive your fair share in divorce settlements.

The next step is to use your material from the first step to create a series of emails that will be sent out over time. I suggest you set the emails to go out once per week.

To automate the process of sending your emails out over time, you will need an autoresponder. There are many autoresponders available, but two that are reputable and well-known are aweber.com and getresponse.com. There may be a required investment in time to learn how to set up your emails and use the system. Once your messages are loaded, you’re ready to go!

All that’s left now is to set up a form on your web site that lets your visitors sign up.

With this strategy, you kill two birds with one stone: you get the contact information of visitors to your site; and you automatically contact those people multiple times.

Feel free to contact me at www.workmedia.net, a search engine marketing company specializing in law firm and lead generation marketing.