Are Your Article Submissions Doing You Any Good?

Article marketing is a highly effective search engine optimization strategy for law firms or any other kind of business. If done correctly, it gives you the ability to create many links to your site that contain your preferred keywords. At one time, we were proponents of a mass distribution strategy in which you would submit your site to every directory you could find. However, a recent trend among article directories (and many other content-heavy sites) has caused us to re-evaluate our strategy. The trend is that many article directories are now putting “no-follow” attributes in your links. This means that they will have little value for helping improve your search engine rankings. A better approach now is to focus on a small set of directories that you know are of high quality and that allow “do-follow” links. Two such recommended directories are Ezinearticles.com and Goarticles.com.

Google’s New Policy for Drug-related AdWords Ads

We have a client for whom we created a custom landing page with its own domain name to go along with a new AdWords campaign related to a particular drug. We have successfully used this strategy a number of times in the past, but this time we noticed that Google was not displaying our ads. After inquiring as to the problem, we discovered that Google has a new policy regarding campaigns for drug lawsuits.

AdWords campaigns for drugs must now have ads that only point directly to the law firm’s web site, or a standalone site that does not link or redirect to another site. In this particular legal marketing campaign, our landing page had links to the main firm’s site. If we understand the rules correctly, the site would be acceptable if it did not link to our client’s main site. We will let you know more about this rule when we figure out exactly what the deal is. But in the meantime, if you are running paid search ads for drug cases, they should probably link to your main site.

Promoting Your Law Firm in Spanish

A couple of recent conversations with law firms that deal with Spanish-speaking clients has got me thinking about the need for firms to be prepared for this market. If you open up your practice to those who speak Spanish, you could tap into an entirely new market. You might double the size of your practice. Who knows? Of course, something like this is easier said than done. But to get you started, I am going to give you a bare-bones strategy for promoting your law firm to the Hispanic market.

1. If you are going to promote your legal services to people who speak Spanish, you probably need to actually be able to talk to them. So someone on your staff is going to have to be fluent in Spanish, unless you are just going to refer all that business to another firm. But even then…don’t you need to be able to understand what is being said?

2. Perform Spanish-specific keyword research using Google’s external keyword research tool. The seed keywords should also be in Spanish:

https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

3. Create pages for your web site, or create a new web site altogether, written in Spanish and optimized for the Spanish language keywords. Caution: do not use software or a web site to do your translation! There is a high likelihood that the language will get mangled, which will damage your reputation. If you’re going to do it, do it right.

4. Generate keyword links to your Spanish language pages just like you would your English pages. SEO is still SEO, regardless of the language.

English language SEO is time consuming and has many moving parts. Shifting to a language that you are not familiar with adds to the complexity. If you are already fluent in Spanish, then you’ve got a big advantage over the rest of us.

Another consideration is whether you are promoting to a broad, global Spanish-speaking market or to markets in particular countries or to specific groups of people. There are many variations of the Spanish language, and what works and is acceptable language to one group may not be understood or even considered rude by another group. In general, the best strategy is probably to take a high level, global perspective and try to avoid using language that is specific to any particular group.

So preparing yourself to do business with Spanish-speaking people will require some effort and resources, but it will open your firm up to a whole new market.

Using Paid Search to Promote Your Law Firm? Watch Your Capital P’s & Q’s

There are many things about the Google AdWords platform that I just don’t understand – things that seem to make it harder for the advertiser to maximize the performance of his campaigns. One example of this is the way the AdWords program treats keywords with capital letters. The same keyword can be considered distinct if it is typed with different capitalization. Here is an example:

law firm marketing

Law Firm Marketing

These two words would be considered different keywords. This may not seem all that significant, but we have found that Google seems to favor keywords that are all lower case by awarding them with higher quality scores. So if you have two versions of the same keyword, you may be charged a higher click cost because of a lower quality score. Can I guarantee this will happen? Nope. But why take chances? Especially when you are dealing with an expensive advertising category like legal services.

Another problem with having multiple versions of the same keywords in your ad groups is that your AdWords account can become needlessly unmanageable. Accounts that are fine-tuned to the best (and smallest) set of keywords are much easier to manage.

This is just one example of how something that seems very insignificant can have an impact on your overall paid search account performance. It is important to pay attention to the details. The difference between a quality score of 5 and a quality score of 10 can represent a significant amount of money that could be used to acquire more leads for your law firm.

Got questions? Feel free to contact Work Media at 888-299-4837 or email Info@WorkMedia.net.

Content Research Using Amazon.com’s Look Inside Feature

Content distribution as a search engine marketing technique has many benefits: it spreads your brand, it establishes your credibility, it generates keyword links (thus helping improve search engine rankings), and it even drives some direct traffic. The downside is that it can be a real drag. You, as the reader of this blog looking to promote his own legal web site, have a real advantage over me, the Internet marketer charged with writing articles on dozens of different subjects. You already know a lot about what you are writing about. However, that does not mean that it is never necessary for you to do some research, especially when trying to crank out articles for marketing purposes. So what follows is a strategy that will help anyone research topics and find material that can be used to write articles quicker.

The first place most people start is by searching Google. But you definitely have to wade through a lot of irrelevant (or just very poor) material like that. However, we’ve recently discovered that Amazon.com can be an excellent research tool.

The key is to use Amazon’s Look Inside feature. Look Inside allows you to search for and read passages from books in the Amazon catalog that contain specific keywords. You are only allowed to use this feature if you are a registered user on the site with an order history. So sign up for an account and go buy yourself something nice. Then you’ll be good to go.

Start by doing a book search based on your primary keyword. Then, scroll through the list of returned results and find a book that has the “Click to LOOK INSIDE” logo on top of the book cover image. Those are the books that you can search. Click the book cover.

On the next screen, you will see a search box labeled “Search Inside This Book.” Type your keyword in that box and perform another search. You will now be returned a list of links to passages in the book that contain the keyword. If you are a registered user with an order history, then clicking on the link will show you that passage.

Searching through a book like this will provide you with all kinds of information about a keyword from a real book written by a real expert, rather than marketing material written by amateurs.

Anyone can be a successful writer of online content for distribution if he takes the time to do his research. This process can be tedious, but using the best sources of information will make the process a whole lot easier. Content distribution is an outstanding law firm Internet marketing strategy that you should begin incorporating into your marketing plan today.

More Control for Less Money

The question of the day: do you have control of your web site? Do you really? Can you change your page titles at will? Can you change your web page copy? Can you add new pages? Can you add links to those pages?

How about this…if you decide you want to move your site to a new server or hosting company, can you repoint your domain name?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then you do not have control. You are at the mercy of whatever company set up your web site and content management system. And if you lack control, then you can forget about being able to do the things that will cause your web site to rank highly in the search engines. Success in search engine marketing cannot be left to chance.

We recently became aware of a practice used by at least one of the big companies in this industry. Apparently, depending on what kind of relationship you have with the company, if you want to point the domain name elsewhere, they require THREE MONTHS to do it. Three months for something that should take about a day. Now that is lack of control.

So what can you do? First off, avoid working with companies that tie you into a content system that is very restrictive. Avoid long-term contracts. Avoid letting another company have control of your domain name (as in the example above). And avoid hiring a large company that is already working with hundreds of law firms, many of whom may be your direct competitors.

Think small law firm marketing company that will give you a high level of personal service and let you keep control. This kind of situation will not only serve you much better in terms of having a web site that will generate leads for your firm, it will probably cost less. More control for less money. Now that’s a good deal.

A Keyword Lesson: Eggs in One Basket Can Be a Good Thing

For many paid search advertisers, including law firms, 2009 was somewhat of a difficult year due to increased competition for paid search traffic and poor economic conditions; i.e., more advertisers chasing fewer customers.

There is one client of ours with whom we have taken a fairly radical approach. And that is that we are now only bidding on four keywords. I’m really not a big fan of bidding on so few keyword, but looking backward, I can see that if we had concentrated our client’s budget in 2009 on that very small set of keywords, our performance would have been substantially better.

Should we go down to a single keyword? In theory, if you place all of your budget on the number one performing keyword, then all else equal, you will maximize the performance of your paid search account, up to the point where you run out of traffic. So there’s one problem with this strategy. It is best employed in a limited budget situation.

If you have $10 thousand to spend, but bidding on a single or very few keywords only soaks up $1 thousand of your budget, there are likely many more opportunities you could be exploiting by spreading your budget around. But if you only have $1 thousand to start with, then spending the entire $1 thousand on a single keyword makes sense if it provides the best return on your investment.

Another problem is that if you’re all in on a single keyword and conditions change such that the keyword’s performance declines, your overall account performance will decline right along with it. So in our case, I don’t see us dropping to a single keyword. We will stick with the four keyword basket, but you better believe if we start to see a trend of declining performance, we will open up some other keywords.

I guess the core lesson here is the importance of allocating your budget so that more of your budget is consumed by keywords that provide the best return for your advertising dollars. The only way to do that is by carefully examining your historical keyword performance. One caveat is that keyword performance can be affected by where your ads are positioned, so your analysis will be most accurate if your ad positioning is relatively steady across keywords.

Paid search management sometimes requires some imagination, and it definitely requires a watchful eye. Work Media has a lot of experience in the field of search engine marketing, and we’re pretty dang good at it. We would welcome the opportunity to work with you. Contact us at 888-299-4837 or email info@workmedia.net.

Ready for 2010?

One of my goals for the new year is to write for a minimum of 30 minutes every day on the subject of search engine marketing, so starting in 2010 this blog should be updated much more often. But in the meantime, I am busy preparing myself to come out swinging. I have created some custom organizer pages (yes, even though I am a computer nerd I still prefer to use a paper organizer to manage my affairs) that will help me take care of all the important facets of my life, including health and family. Not just business. And I’ve scribbled and drawn out elements of our marketing plan on a whiteboard for everyone in our office to see. And we’ve set specific goals for the new year. Plan, plan, organize, organize. This is the time to do it so you can hit the new year running. Anyway…

…hope you have a great New Year’s! Be careful out there…