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.

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.

Using Mobile Blogging to Do More with Less

Today I’d like to explore another way to better leverage your time, which is making posts to blogs and social networking sites with your mobile device. This is fairly new to me, but it is a concept that can really save you some time.

For example, if you have a Blogger account, you can send a message to Blogger and they will assign you a code for your blog. The code lets you make posts with your phone. This lets you update your blog no matter where you are, even if you are nowhere near a computer.

Tumblr has another very interesting example, which is the ability to call a phone number and leave a message which is instantly converted into an audio post on your blog. This is a great way to instantly add some audio multimedia to your blog, and all you have to do is speak into your cell phone. Audio and video are excellent additions to your blog.

There are just a couple of examples that I have played around with personally, but you have lots of options for mobile blogging opportunities. Just find the directions for doing it on the platform of your choice and practice it a couple of times. Do it on a regular basis and you might even be able to keep all of your blogs updated without using your computer. It does help to have a phone with a qwerty keyboard.

For a complete search engine marketing strategy for your law firm, check out The Law Firm Internet Marketing Book (for sale on Amazon.com):

http://www.amazon.com/Law-Firm-Internet-Marketing-Book/dp/1440485585/

Time to Go Wide

Go wide with your blogging Wide as in managing five blogs, not just one.

Whoowhee… It’s hard enough just to make regular posts to one blog, much less five.

And what would be the point? For one thing, it gives you the opportunity to be more focused on specific areas of practice. And the process creates lots of content for Google to index. The key to managing five blogs is leverage.

Here’ how to do it. At the start of the week (or Wednesday, or Thursday at 3:00 AM…whenever), create five new blog posts, each between 200 and 300 words, using article spinning syntax and many alternate passages and paragraps. In other words, each of the five blog posts should be written in such a way to serve as a seed article for numerous other technically unique posts.

Next, use article spinning software to create five versions of each blog post. You now have unique content for twenty five blog posts, which you can distribute among your five blogs over a couple of weeks.

It would also be useful to do some keyword research before you write the five blog posts so that you can write them to emphasize some specific keywords. Look for specific, niche keywords that you can dominate. Your posts should also contain a liberal amount of links to your other web properties.

Need help with this stuff? Call me. I’m Jerry Work, with Work Media. www.WorkMedia.net. You can also learn more law firm Internet marketing strategies at www.law-firm-internet-marketing.net.

Law Firm Marketing with Ning

We’ve started playing around with Ning, which is a very interesting concept. It’s basically a social networking site that allows users to set up their own social networking sites. So we set up one specifically for law firm Internet marketing:

http://lawfirminternetmarketing.ning.com/

I also joined another group on Ning:

http://lawmarketing.ning.com

Ning is the type of site that Google loves, so it would behoove you to set one up for yourself. For instance, let’s say you practice divorce law in St. Louis. Why not set up a St. Louis divorce Ning site? It would be another way for people to communicate with you and learn some things about divorce law. And of course, as the creator of the site, you could pepper it with links back to your site and place your marketing message prominently on the site. You may even find that your Ning site ranks higher than your own main web site, but that’s just fine.

The site has lots of interesting features that you can add to your own site: forums, blogs, videos, images, etc., all of which get added to the main menu. It really does let you create some powerful, interactive sites.

I invite everyone reading this to come join us on our law firm Internet marketing Ning site. You just might learn something…and you don’t even have to pay us!

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.