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.

Blog/Twitter/Facebook Integration Using Ping.fm

Blogging, micro-blogging and social networking can be an integrated process if you use the right tools. Integration, as intended here, means dynamically combining content from multiple sources into content for a third or more source.

How about an example?

I am Director of Marketing for a small law firm in Austin. I update my firm’s blog every Tuesday and Thursday. A couple of times per day, I also update our Twitter account. At five minutes per tweet and about an hour per blog post, my weekly time investment is about three hours.

For those three hours, in our original configuration, I am just updating my blog and micro-blog periodically. However, I can get much better leverage on my time if I stream that content to different places, such as a Facebook page.

Using a tool like Ping.fm, I can configure my firm’s Facebook status to update every time I update Twitter. Taking it a step further, I can use the Facebook Notes application to update my Facebook account every time I update my blog. Now I not only get my blog and Twitter account updated in a three hour time frame, I get my Facebook page updated as well.

We have left out one important component of Facebook, which is acquiring friends. So I may need some additional time to periodically log into Facebook and search for new friends. I could even automate that part using a tool like Facebook Blaster. I will still want to log into Facebook periodically and check on things.

Since I’m using Ping.fm, I could also choose to set up some more social media pages and have them update every time I update my blog. In this case, it will be important to separate blogs from update sites using groups. Otherwise, I will end up with a bunch of extremely short blog posts with no titles.

Assuming I just stick to one blog, a Twitter account, and a Facebook account, I can still merge the information created from two of them (my blog and Twitter) into my Facebook account, thus having a Facebook account that remains fairly active without requiring any additional work on my part.

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.

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.

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.

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/