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.

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.

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.

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.