The One Question You MUST Ask Any Company You Are Considering Hiring to Promote Your Firm’s Web Site

Here is the question: how many other law firms are you promoting in my market?

This assumes that you have already established that the company has the experience to do the job.

One thing that perturbs me about this industry is law firms hiring a company for their search engine optimization that is already promoting many firms for the same market. SEO is war. How can an SEO firm fight like hell to get your website to the top of Google along with dozens of other firms? The math just doesn’t work out.

It’s not just that the SEO company is competing against itself…it’ s competing against companies like mine. We don’t have competing interests, and we don’t lose. If your firm is promoted by a company like FindLaw, which is probably promoting a dozen or more other firms for the same market, you don’t want to compete against a firm being promoted by us. It is highly unlikely you will come out a winner in that situation.

To reiterate: You only want to compete against firms that are represented by other SEO companies. Not your own.

Social Media Integration 101

Social Media Marketing is about integration. It’s about feeding a piece of content into a machine that drives that content onto various social media web pages. These can include article directories, video directories, social networking sites like Facebook and Linkedin, and anywhere else on the web where people are gathering to share information or to have fun.

By “machine” I mean an organized system for systematically distributing your content. Your system will likely involve a combination of software automation and manual work. However, there are lots of low cost sources of online labor that can greatly reduce the amount of time you have to spend manually working on your system. For example, you can outsource the article writing process. In my experience, it may take some time to find an article writing resource that you trust and that does good work.

For automation, there are a few basic tools you can use to get the job done. For example, Ping.fm is a tool of that will distribute a single blog post to numerous social media sites, such as Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr and WindowsLive. In this scenario you want Google and other search engines to find your content on your main blog first, and then find it on the other social media sites. So you might want to incorporate a staggered distribution strategy in which you first post your content to your main blog and wait a few days before distributing it to other sites.

The staggered distribution strategy applies to article marketing as well. You probably want search engines to first find your articles on EzineArticles Com. And then find it on the other article directories. The reason is that a keyword link from EzineArticles may carry more weight and thus help improve your search engine rankings more than a link on other article directories.

We’ve started recording the world’s shortest Internet marketing videos for law firms, which I invite you to check out at http://12seconds.tv/channel/lawfirmseo. And we recorded a longer video on this same subject on our YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7zGC83lzm4.

Three Criteria for Judging Keywords for a Law Firm SEO Campaign

With regards to search engine marketing, targeting the correct keywords is vitally important. One mistake that many businesses, including law firms, make is that they pick an arbitrary keyword or two that they think they should rank for and concentrate their efforts (or the efforts of people they hire) in ranking for that keyword. Don’t make that mistake.

On the other end of the spectrum, some businesses or firms want their web site top-ranked for every possible relevant keyword. Don’t do that, either.

So just what do you do? Let research guide your decisions, and pick keywords that meet three specific criteria.

For any potential keyword, judge its effectiveness based on the following three criteria:

1. Relevance. Relevance refers to how closely the keyword is related to the subject of a web site and the content on a particular page of the site. You want to target keywords with a high degree of relevance.

As an example, if a law firm in Miami has a page on its web site about maritime accidents, then a good keyword for that page might be “Miami maritime accident lawyer.”

2. Search volume. The more search traffic there is for a particular keyword, the more potential traffic the keyword could drive to your web site.

3. Competition. Keywords that have fewer competing web sites offer the opportunity to get your site ranked quicker.

So the three major criteria for any keyword you are considering targeting is relevance, traffic and competition. You will have to use some judgment for the relevance component, but you know your business better than anyone – you know when something is not relevant. Google’s external AdWords keyword tool, found at https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal, is one of the best sources of finding competitive data. The competition criterion can be based on a couple of things: either the number of results of a Google search for the keyword surrounded by quotes; or the number of results of an “allintitle:” search for the keyword in Google.

So to begin creating your target keyword list, start by using the AdWords external keyword tool referenced above, eliminating the ones that are not relevant, and then ranking them by search volume. Then highlight the ones that are not overly competitive (less than 1,000 competing sites is good). Your highlighted keywords at this point are your best bet for generating targeted organic search engine traffic in a reasonable amount of time. Your chance of ranking for those keywords, and thus generating visits to your web site, is excellent.

Check back here often for more law firm internet marketing strategies. If you need some help today, contact Work Media at 888-299-4837 or email Info@WorkMedia.net.

7 Step Law Firm Web Page Optimization Checklist

My partner and I have worked with quite a few law firms by this point, and we are still surprised at how many web sites we look at that have serious content or coding flaws. Some of these sites are not bad at all in terms of design, but design alone won’t get it done if you are seeking search engine visibility. Here is a checklist of items to make sure your web site meets the minimum level of optimization for search engine rankings.

1. Make sure your physical address is on the home page, in text. Pictures don’t count. There needs to be some text on the page with your city and state.

2. Create a home page title that contains your geographic market as well as main area of practice. Ideally, your home page title will also be based on keyword research to make sure you are using the phrasing that more people use to search for law firms in your market.

3. Give every page of your web site its own specific page title. Again, it would be useful to do some research so that you can insert traffic-generating keywords in titles throughout your site.

4. Have some copy and text links on your home page. If your home page consists solely of Flash or some other non-text technology, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage right off the bat. You want to have lots of text for search engine robots to read.

5. Use text links to practice area pages that contain the practice area in the page name. For example, your home page might have a link that says “Divorce” to a page titled “Divorce Law.”

6. Use your meta tags. Place a set of keywords in the keywords meta tag, and try to use those same keywords in your web page copy. Also give a good, keyword-rich description.

7. Use header (h1) tags to emphasize each page’s primary keyword. For example, if your home page is meant to rank for the phrase “Memphis Personal Injury Lawyer,” then it is helpful to have a header on the page with exactly that phrase.

So there you go. If your web page does not meet all seven of these criteria, then you are lacking some basic on-page optimization parameters that could definitely help improve your web site’s search engine rankings. As always, I would be glad to talk to you if you need some help. You can email me at jwork@workmedia.net, or check out http://www.law-firm-internet-marketing.net for more tips and advice about promoting your law firm’s web site.

Social Networking Scheduling for Law Firms

Social networking is a complex area with a lot of moving parts:

  • Blog posts
  • Forum posts
  • Updates
  • Groups
  • Content creation and article writing

Social networking is one of those things that tends to happen haphazardly, as time permits, whenever you think about it. This is especially the case when it is done by someone who is extremely busy, such as the typical lawyer. This can all be done much more effectively if you create a monthly social networking/content distribution schedule that tells you exactly when you should be doing things and what you should be doing.

In other words, you need a system.

I have been working on an Excel-based organization system that lets you input some data into some fields, after which a calendar of activities you need to perform for the given month is created. I will be giving this away for free, but also working on a more advanced, online, database-driven version for use by Work Media’s clients and friends.

But it’s something you can begin to do immediately, even if you are just writing notes out on a piece of paper. You gotta start somewhere.

I consider content distribution to be a major part of online social networking, so that is where your system should start. If you leave this part out, and just concentrate on meeting people online, then you are not taking advantage of the Web’s ability to spread your name and marketing message. Writing blogs and articles and distributing that content gives you something to talk about in a social networking environment, and it accomplishes the more broad marketing goals of branding and name recognition. And that’s not to mention the search engine optimization effect, which I’m not going to go into at this time.

To begin with, I suggest you create a simple calendar of when blog posts should be posted and articles written. Aim for eight blog posts and three articles per month. You can get away with only two articles, but the eight blog post minimum is written in stone.

When you lay out your blogging and article writing schedule, go ahead and write out an idea for each blog post in advance, and create groupings of two or three blog posts in a row that elaborate on the same general topic. Then for each of those topic groupings of blog posts, specify a date to write an article that combines the information from those blog posts.

For example, a lawyer who deals with a lot of automobile accident cases might write two or three blog posts about driving safely in various conditions, and then combine those blog posts into an article about the same thing. At the end of that blogging cycle, you would have three new blog posts, which search engines will index, as well as an article to mass distribute. You also have several items you can link to or mention in forum posts in social networking groups you belong to.

Just doing the above things will go a long way toward giving your content distribution efforts more focus. In later blog posts, we will continue talking about content scheduling and hit on some other functions that should be included in your social networking calendar.

Contact Work Media at 888-299-4837 or email Info@WorkMedia.net if you need some help promoting your law firm online.

Our Law Firm Linking System is Now in Beta

We are signing up beta users for law firm linking system. If you manage the promotion of a law firm’s web site and would like to participate or get more information, just send an email to me (Jerry) at jwork@workmedia.net and I will let you know what you need to do. This is a private system only open to invited users, so this is ONLY for those who promote a law firm.

It Takes an Umbrella, Not a Stick

I’ve been involved in a very interesting discussion on one of the LinkedIn groups that I participate in, and I thought it would be worth blogging about to bring the conversation into the public arena. The discussion started when I proposed an informal three-way linking arrangement among law firm members of the group. Basically, web site A would link to web site B, web site B would link to web site C, and web site C would link to web site A. It is similar to reciprocal linking, except the sites don’t swap links, but rather link to one another in a chain. The advantage to this kind of concept is that it helps each site build its link portfolio, and the links carry more weight since they are not reciprocal links.

What has surprised me about the conversation is the amount of resistance to the plan. There is a lot of worry about being banned by Google. Technically, this kind of arrangement is a violation of Google’s policies…as is just about everything that my company does. It was pointed out that in 2007, Google banned a bunch of real estate web sites for reciprocal linking. So is there some risk involved in something like this? Sure. But in my opinion, it is just as risky to do nothing.

Which is the better situation? Your web site not having any visibility because you haven’t taken steps to promote it, or your web site getting banned? Answer: there’s no difference! Either way, you’re invisible.

I think one point that I probably have not been clear on is that I am not at all suggesting that you should RELY on any particular link building strategy. I think that is where the above referenced real estate web sites made their major mistake. These were sites being promoted by amateurs who relied on link swapping to build their link portfolio. You don’t need a single technique; you don’t need a stick. You need an umbrella! In other words, you need to use lots of different strategies to get links from lots of different places.

Swap links. Do three way linking. Distribute articles. Post blogs. Submit to directories. Distribute press releases. Post blog comments. Build social networking pages. Submit to social bookmarking sites…

Do you get my point? Again, search engine optimization ain’t about using a stick. It’s about using an umbrella. If this sounds like a heck of a lot of work, it is. But either you do it or you don’t. Either you promote your web site or you don’t. If you’re NOT going to promote your web site, if you’re not going to be aggressive in doing things to improve your search engine rankings, then you might as well stick to Yellow Pages advertising.

Want to talk about how to promote your law firm web site? Call Work Media at 888-299-4837 or email info@workmedia.net. We’ll be glad to talk to you.

Stumbling for Law Firms: How to Use StumbleUpon

Probably not many legal marketers reading this are actively using StumbleUpon, and that could be a mistake. The site displays random sites submitted by other users based on your interests. I doubt many legal marketers really have time to just sit and watch random web sites appear. However, where StumbleUpon becomes useful is in submitting web pages of your own into the StumbleUpon system to be seen by others. StumbleUpon is very popular and has the potential to put your web site in front of a lot of eyeballs.

There is one caveat: you must create the appearance of being an active user, and not just a marketer trying to get your site in front of people. Follow these rules and your “stumbling” will be more effective.

Make sure you set up a good profile with a nice photo. Failing to set up a good profile will emphasize that you are a marketer only looking to promote your own web site, rather than a part of the community.

Every time you submit a site, take the time to provide a well-written description and appropriate tags.

When another user recommends your site, send that person a personal message.

Only submitting your own web pages makes you look like a spamming marketer. Recommend enough other web sites that it is not clear that you are trying to promote a particular site of your own. Try to submit sites that you think other people would really be interested in.

For your pages to receive maximum exposure, they should be strong enough for other people to recommend. The pages you submit should therefore be light on fluff and heavy on value or usefulness. Pages that do nothing but try to sell your services will likely receive few recommendations. The more approval you get from people who see your site, the more visibility you will have in the StumbleUpon system.

StumbleUpon also has its own advertising platform that allows you to pay to have your site displayed to users in a particular category. There is a legal category. Impressions in StumbleUpon cost a nickel each. That may sound expensive, but it is actually a good value because an “impression” in StumbleUpon means someone is actually viewing your web site, rather than an ad for your web site.

I am currently working on a new book specifically about this type of thing, but in the meantime I recommend you check out The Law Firm Internet Marketing Book on Amazon.com for more Internet marketing strategies for law firms.

If Your Web Site is Sinking, It’s Time for Deep Linking

When you are working on building a catalog of links pointing to your web site, you need to remember to think deep. Deep linking is the act of linking to sub-pages of a web site, and not just the home page. You need to remember these two rules:

1. You should seek keyword links that point to web pages optimized for those same keywords.

2. You can really only optimize a single web page for a couple of keywords.

So if your web site has different pages optimized for different keywords (and if that is not the case, you need to call me today), then you need different keyword links pointing to each of those pages specifically. Here is an example. Let’s say you have a web site with pages covering the following practice areas: automobile accidents, maritime accidents, and aviation accidents. To help raise the search engine visibility of each of those pages, each one needs keyword links related to the subject of the page. The automobile accident page needs links such as “automobile accident attorney,” the maritime accidents page needs links such as “boating accident lawyer,” and the last page needs links like “airplane accident lawyer.”

What you have to keep in mind is that search engine optimization is a business of specificity. Specific pages are optimized for specific keywords, and those pages need specific keyword links.

You may be wondering how you go about getting links with specific keywords in it. If you rely on other web sites to hopefully link to you, then you are at the mercy of those other sites with regard to what keywords they use in the links, if any. Most of the time those types of links will just contain your web address, which is useful for the fact that it is a link, but not as useful as a link that uses a keyword.

One of my favorite strategies for creating links that contain the keywords I want is article marketing. Write an article related to some keywords, and then place a couple of keyword links in the article resource box to the pages you want to promote. Then distribute the article to lots of article directories. If you want to get more complex (and more effective), you can do something called article spinning, which will result in lots of technically unique articles being distributed rather than duplicate articles. Another way is by posting on others’ blogs with a keyword as your name (but you will need to find blogs that allow “dofollow” links).

I invite you to check out my book, The Law Firm Internet Marketing Book, to learn more about this type of stuff. You can also contact me at Work Media if you would like some more in-depth help.

Multi-Channel Marketing Integration for Law Firms

The process of combining your marketing initiatives into a unified campaign is called multi-channel integration, and it is not just something done by big companies with big budgets. It is also something that you should be doing for your law firm. For clarification, the concept I’m talking about is using email, your web site, social networking, blogging and other relevant channels in an integrated marketing plan, rather than just relying on one or two of them.

To clarify, let’s look at an example. Maybe your web site has an autoresponder form for people to sign up for your newsletter. Autoresponders are high leverage tools because they automatically send a series of pre-programmed messages to those who sign up. The emails you send should be informational and high value, but they can also be used to promote your web site, your Facebook page, or whatever. Your blog RSS stream would be used to update your Facebook page and other web properties. Your blog content will contain references and links to your various other web properties. Basically, everything should link to everything else.

And there is the matter of your offline marketing – print, TV, etc. All of your offline printing should contain at least your main web site URL. There has been a trend in advertising recently to begin a conversation with the viewer with offline advertising that tries to lead him to the advertiser’s online marketing.

For the ultimate example of this type of marketing integration, look no further than everybody’s favorite domain registrar, GoDaddy.com. The TV advertising created by GoDaddy is fun, sexy, and a little bit controversial, and it does a great job of driving the viewers of the commercials to the GoDaddy web site where they can view uncensored versions of their commercials and more Web-only content. If you’ve ever bought anything at GoDaddy.com, you also know that they are the masters of the up-sell (but that’s another story).

The main point to come away with here is that any single online or offline property should not be viewed as a standalone entity; it should instead be looked at as one component of an integrated campaign using properties that all relate and make reference to one another.

I would welcome the opportunity to talk to you about this stuff in more detail. Contact Work Media at www.workmedia.net, or check out www.law-firm-internet-marketing.net for more law firm-specific Internet marketing strategies.