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.

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.

Automated Versus Manual: Which Content Distribution Strategy is Better?

I am constantly in search of tools to help me make my job easier by getting more done in less time. As such, I love tools that do things for me: submit to directories, create articles (from seed articles), research stuff, whatever. But I have found that anything that relies too much on automation just doesn’t do as good a job as what you can do yourself manually. I think the key is to find the right mix of automation, semi-automation, and manual work.

For example, I used to use SENuke for social networking content distribution. But the problem I have is that the program always creates new web sites and blogs, rather than adding content to sites and blogs you have already set up. So over time, it results in lots of orphaned web sites that might (possibly) rank well, but that are of much less value to visitors than a site that has been built up over time with lots of content.

So in this particular case, I have stopped using the program for content submission. I do still use it for keyword research, which saves me a great deal of time, and for creating spun content. I just don’t use it for submission. So it takes me considerably longer to submit content to social networking sites, but I have much more control over those sites and can build up content-rich sites over time, rather than creating lots of individual sites that are very light on content.

Here is another example: I used to use Articlemarketer.com for article submission. But the service does not allow for article spinning, and I was finding that my articles were being rejected by Articlemarketer’s staff on a regular basis, which always required me to re-work the article, resubmit, and wait for their approval (which at times was taking weeks). I trust my writing, and I don’t need that kind of babysitting, so I have stopped using the service.

Now I use a semi-automated article submission service. I have complete control over where my articles are submitted, and I don’t have to ask for any one’s permission to submit articles. It does take me longer to submit the articles, but they get distributed much quicker and I have much more clarity about what is going on with my submissions. So again, some automation combined with some manual work has become my preferred strategy.

I can’t tell you what tools and strategies will work best for you. You just have to decide how much you are willing to trust your name and reputation to automated products, and how much time you have to invest in doing things manually, then try different things until you find the perfect match.

On a different subject, if you are involved in the promotion of law firms, I suggest you check out the following site:

http://lawfirminternetmarketing.ning.com

Have a great day!

Jerry Work

Law Firm SEO using Squidoo

I’ve been updating some Squidoo lenses this week. It had been a while since we had logged in (shame on us!), and noticed that there have been some changes to the Squidoo interface. One of the great things about Squidoo is all of the modules you can use that make the pages dynamic by updating themselves from various information sources (blogs, Google News, RSS feeds, etc.). So a Squidoo lens, if built the right way, will update itself forever.

The new Squidoo interface makes it much quicker to add modules and align modules on your page. Formerly, this was a very slow and tedious process. The new system is much better.

So why should you set up pages in Squidoo to promote your law firm? Because Google really loves it. Often, a page on Squidoo that pertains to your practice area will rank quicker and higher than your own web site. So links from Squidoo carry a lot of weight. And as you know, one of the things you should be trying to do in your law firm seo campaign is build a catalog of links from web sites that Google holds in high esteem.

You should incorporate Squidoo as part of your social networking/content distribution campaign. If you publish a blog for your law firm, you should use the RSS module to stream your blog posts to your Squidoo lenses. And use some of the other modules to stream legal news or other blog posts to your Squidoo pages. It is a simple and quick way to build a high quality industry page that links directly to youf firm.

Using Neurolinker to Build Your Link Catalog

We have been trying out a product called Neurolinker, which is an online service that facilitates link sharing among its members. It could make it much easier for you to generate links to your law firm’s sites beyond link swaps with other law firms. There are other similar services but we liked this one because of the positive comments we read regarding the developer’s support and its reasonable price.

Neurolinker basically facilitates trading links with other sites through the use of a script that you place on a page of your web site. The script automatically displays your outbound links to other Neurolinker members. Some other members running the script will in turn display a link back to your site. Shortly after installing the script, you will being seeing links pointing to other web sites.

You can configure the links to be more or less relevant to your web site. You have access to reports that show exactly what sites are linking to you, so you can make the determination if the links are relevant enough.

The system also has a social bookmarking feature. Basically, you bookmark the web sites of other members, earning “brownie points” as you do. The more points you accumulate, the higher your sites will appear on the list of sites to bookmark for other members. So the more you bookmark others’ sites, the more your site will be bookmarked.

If you aggressively use the system, you can create many new links to your site, both from relevant content sites as well as social bookmarking sites.

New Article Spinning Software We Are Trying Out

We are trying out some new software called JetSubmitter. It is an article spinning and distribution platform. The idea is that you write a seed article, then mark it up using a special article spinning syntax in order to have the software dynamically create different versions of the article for distribution to its network of article directories.

This particular software gets very poor reviews for its customer support, so if you decide to try this out for use in your law firm, tread carefully, and do not sign up for the one year upfront payment. Try to find the page where you can sign up for $17 per month and try it out for a month. So far, I can tell the software is working, at least partly, although I’ve already seen some things I did wrong because I either misunderstood some of the instructions or the software works a little differently than advertised.

So far, for the price, I am satisfied. However, I have quite a bit of experience with this type of software, so I don’t have much of a learning curve and don’t require much in the way of support (as long as the software works).

If you would like to give it a try for creating and distributing articles to promote your law firm, you can learn more at http://www.jetsubmitter2.com.

Law Firm Keyword Research Comes Before Writing

Do you perform keyword research before writing a new blog post or article? If you do, we applaud you. If not, you’re not alone. Most lawyers (and Web content creators in general) probably do not. But starting today, you are going to do things differently. Starting today, here is what you are going to do when writing content for the Web:

1. You are going to use Google’s external keyword research tool to find a keyword related to your practice areas and markets that receives some traffic and mild competition.

2. You are going to use that keyword in your content title and prominently in the main text, and if allowed, in bold and in a header (H1) tag.

If you do this, you will have a tremendous advantage over online authors who write without regard to keywords. Why? Because your writing will have focus. It will be specific, and it will very possibly rank highly for your target keyword, helping drive traffic to your web site.

We confess: we do not always do this ourselves. If there is something you want to write about that just doesn’t match up with any particular keyword, then go ahead and write it. But the more you write with specific keywords in mind, the more of your content will show up in search engine results pages. And that’s always a good thing.

The Law Firm Internet Marketing Book

Our BRAND NEW book, The Law Firm Internet Marketing Book, is now available for purchase on the following page:

http://law-firm-internet-marketing.net/the-law-firm-internet-marketing-book.asp

This book is written specifically for people who promote and market law firms. It compresses everything we know into a tight, cohesive law firm Internet marketing plan that incorporates MANY different elements: SEO, PPC, social networking, blogging, etc.

Currently, it is only for sale via digital download in PDF format, but in a couple of weeks it will be for sale on Amazon.com for those of you who prefer a hard copy.

Some of the topics covered by the book include:

  • Keyword research to identify the keywords that people are using to search for the legal services you offer.

  • On-page optimization to rank highly for your target keywords.
  • How to use blogs and the SEO content cycle to create huge amounts of content to link to your site.
  • Using social networking sites like Squidoo and StumbleUpon to promote your web site.
  • Using social bookmarking sites to improve search rankings.
  • Creating your own informational site to guide the search engines to links you want them to find.
  • How to create XML sitemaps to make sure the search engines find all of your web pages.
  • How to perform keyword research specifically for pay per click.
  • How to manage your pay per click accounts to generate the maximum number of leads for your marketing dollars.
  • How to write pay per click ads and landing pages that get results.
  • Specific pay per click strategies for Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, and Microsoft adCenter.
  • How all the pieces of search engine marketing fit together.

This is a book based on real-world strategies that Work Media uses to promote our clients.

Building a Legal Information Hub to Improve Search Rankings

Here is an advanced strategy that will give you an edge over your competition: build your own legal information hub. There are a number of good reasons for doing this, such as just attracting traffic, but for this discussion the main advantage is that it gives you a way to guide search engine spiders to pages you want them to find.

If you use social networking, article distribution, or any of the other content-based strategies that we recommend, then you want to make sure those pages get found. But you’d like to make that happen without directly linking to those sites. Otherwise, you’ve created two-way links, when what you want are one-way links.

If you own an information hub site, then you can use it to guide the search engines to any site you want without having two-way links between your main site and sites that link to you. It may become that the information hub itself ends up ranking higher than your main site for numerous long-tail keywords, which is another advantage. Even though the site will be very focused on providing information, it will still feature your brand and a very soft marketing message.

RSS feeds give you an easy way to display content on your information hub that updates itself. We may cover the technical aspects of how to do that in another post (or you can hire Work Media to do it). It’s really not difficult.