Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Google Places Charges Will Have Little Impact On Law Firms?

New news broke out of Google land that next year Google is planning on charging high volume users of their Google Places listings:

As the story currently goes, Google plans to charge an excess impressions fee for companies who have more than 25,000 impressions per day. Most law firms rarely reach 25,00o impressions daily since more attorneys searches are more practice area specific and parochial in nature.

The question however becomes how does Google plan to define a "company" in their system and how are their totals calculated? Are the totals discussed based on ALL Google Places listings in one account? This would seem logical as the only way to connect the dots here. Or is this based on the total volumes for each listing - no matter where they reside? Since they will likely bill from your Google account, questions remain.

Again, most law firms needn't be concerned about this but the firms with multiple locations and are in higher volume search practice areas should take notice. We will keep tabs on this and see what is the best course of action here...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Optimizing Website Title Tags For Improved Google Places Results

When Google first introduced Google Places (formerly Google Local) listings in their search results, the phone books were officially added to the endangered species list. Historically the old phone book companies that would proactively contact attorneys each year make sure their listing were up to date and made the process easy to update and renew. With the advent of Google Places, attorneys must now proactively claim their listings, optimize them, and make sure they are working properly with their attorney websites. To further complicate the issue, Google has now blended the website and places listings into one result for the most common attorney searches online.

Google’s Previous Problem Managing Firm Names

For those who have searched over the past few weeks, you will notice that the displayed results have changed…again. Google has now placed the address and phone to the right and more importantly the way the company name is displayed in the blended results listings. Historically, Google would pull the company name (or attorney or firm name) directly from the Google Places name. Naturally, this created problems for Google since people would, despite Google’s policy to the contrary, change their firm name to better present themselves and increase conversions for specific searches. This worked fine for a while until Google started validating their listings (finally) and suspending accounts that violated their policies.

Google’s Most Recent Display Changes

Ironically Google is now doing through their results page what many attorneys previously had tried to do themselves: provide better conversions and targeted results for their Google Places listings. In the example to the right, you will see the listings for the “Omaha real estate attorney” search. Notice how the top two listings display details about the attorneys (Highlighted: that are not the firm’s name in Google Places) while the others do not. What is displayed in the first two listings are from the Title Tag of the home page from each website. Also notice how the title tag displayed is only relative to the search query. For example in this search, is displayed as “Patricia Geringer, Bankruptcy Attorney” but if we change the search to “Omaha bankruptcy attorney” we see that not only is Patricia’s position improved but the title tag of her website is also now displayed.

What You Can Do To Improve Your Google Places Search Results & Conversions

  • If you are an attorney, you need to identify your practice areas of concentration. If you only do bankruptcy work, this is easy. But if you have multiple practice areas, you need to understand your concentrations and narrow them down to 2-3 for the home page optimization of your website. A good law firm marketing consultant will be able to assist you with this.
  • Once you have identified your 2-3 areas of concentration, go into Google and do searches within your targeted geography and identify those search results for your targeted practice areas that display blended Google organic and places listings as used in the example. If no Google Places are displayed for specific searches (i.e. “Omaha Land Zoning Attorney”), then you know you are too narrow in search.
  • Once you have claimed and complete your Google Places Optimization, make sure that you review the SEO elements of your website and in this case – the title tags on the home page of your website. MAKE SURE that the home page title tag contains the keyword search terms that are most important to your practice areas of concentration (as discussed above). Again, a law firm SEO consultant will be able to assist you with all of these steps.

It is CRITICALLY IMPORTANT that attorney websites have the proper on-site optimization and nothing is more important than creating the correct title tags. Just ask yourself how many books you have purchased that had the wrong titles and you will quickly realize the significance of good title tags on a website. If you would like to learn more about how law firm search engine optimization can help your practice online, please contact the today…

Friday, October 14, 2011

Top 5 Tips To Maximize Attorney Referrals Online

We recently worked with a very prominent attorney who for years said that he didn’t need a website and if anybody wanted to see anything about him, they could just Google his name and see all the results. This all changed when we finally received a call from the client saying that he now wanted a website. When we asked him why he changed his mind, he had indicated that the night before he was at a dinner party with a major celebrity who had not retained his services. When asked, the celebrity indicated that he did not choose our client because he did not have a website and he was impressed with the other attorney referrals that did.

The Opportunity Cost of Managing Your Legal Business

Most attorneys look at legal marketing expenses as what they gain by taking action. This includes building up referral networks of other attorneys and formal clients, advertising on TV, radio, in print publications, directories, etc. This also includes the visibility you can receive (or not receive) through the use of a legal website. In 2009, the ABA Journal found that 65% of people indicated that they now start their search for an attorney online. But what is important to note is that attorney searches also begin at the point of referral. Since most attorneys give out referrals in numbers (which most malpractice insurance coverage companies encourage), people are increasingly looking up and researching their referred attorneys online BEFORE they decide to contact them.

The Power of Controlled Content

Without a website that you can control, you as an attorney are at the mercy of the alternative websites and directories that will ultimately end of controlling your image online for you. If you don’t have a optimized website (or no website at all), try Googling your name and look at the results. These will likely include attorney directories, ratings agencies like AVVO, news, press releases, case summaries, etc. You may even see Google Places listings with customer feedback (positive & negative) about you. Even though you may not be aware of these things, your clients and referral clients are. In most cases, you have little or no control over these sources of information about you – especially if you don’t have a plan to manage them online.

What Your Referrals Want To Know About You

When people receive attorney referrals, they want to know information about you in order to determine if you are the right attorney for them. Traditional sales psychologists indicate that the average person will go through three stages during a sales process: Needs, Proof & Risk. Clearly in the case of the referral client, they seem to have a need which is what led them to you. At the point they receive information about you, they are considering questions dealing largely with Proof & Risk which includes questions dealing with:

  • Does this attorney have the experience and expertise to handle my case?
  • What results has this attorney received for other clients and does he/she have a solid track record?
  • How much will this attorney end up costing me and what value do I get in return?

Because of these questions, it is little wonder why I typically see web pages dealing with results and/or testimonials at the top 5 most trafficked pages on a good attorney website.

Top 5 Tips To Maximize Your Legal Practice Online For Referrals:

  1. Make sure your website is fully optimized for attorney searches. Go on Google and type in your name along with lawyer and/or attorney and your location and see what comes up in the search results. If your profile on your website is not ranked #1 for this search, you need to contact a legal SEO consultant to help change this for you. It important to point out that the #1 ranking in Google gets 36.4% of the clicks on the first page so your goal should always be to achieve that position. If you don’t have a website today, get one now – waiting will only make things worse for you.
  2. Design your website to appear more professional than your competition. Studies have shown that most people will make a decision on the quality of a website within less than a second. In short, you have a very short window to impress your referral clients online BEFORE they decide to let your competition do the same. If you know who are commonly provided as other attorney referrals along with you, take a look at their websites and see how you stack up. If you are unclear of your competition, simply ask your referral clients on a regular basis and take note of who else is commonly mentioned to them.
  3. Utilize social media with an active content strategy. Since most attorneys get business from client referrals, what are you doing to actively keep you in their minds? Marketing experts agree that you need to be in front of people 7-12 times a year for them to actively remember you WHEN THEY NEED YOU. One of the best ways to do this is to create an active content strategy so they will see you on a consistent basis when they are on Facebook, LinkedIn and/or Twitter.
  4. Claim and optimize your Google Places Listing. If you have no idea what I just said, then once again you should rely on a legal marketing expert to help you at this point. This is critically important when people do searches for you by name and also include where you are located in the same search. Google will make this connection and in many cases, will propel their Google Places listings at or near the top on the results. Once claimed and optimized, these must then be monitored, controlled, and improved upon by encourage customer testimonials and removing or displacing any negative comments as well.
  5. Monitor and edit third party sources involving your name. In addition to your website, you will still have other web pages displayed for searches involving your name. There are three things you can do to best manage these third party sources:
  • Try to edit any third party attorney profiles that appear on the first page of Google. Some of these like AVVO will allow you to claim and edit for free while other sources such as Martindale may require a fee to claim and modify these listings and/or to make them more comprehensive and complete.
  • Promote positive third party search results to higher positions on the first page of Google. Do any of the search results involve newspaper and/or TV articles about major case wins? How about positive press about an award you may have received or something else that positively reflects on you? Through the use of targeted inbound link building, you can actually help promote and improve these search results by creating targeted citations from other web properties.
  • Remove and/or diminish any negative results or articles dealing with you. If somebody has said something negative about you in a blog, in a news article and/or other content sources, you may have little recourse to have it removed if any of that information may be factually correct. If you cannot have them removed, you next best option is to simply diminish their visibility by promoting other positive web sources to appear above them. In short, you can push down bad results by promoting positive results above them. Again, this involves targeted link building strategies which a good legal SEO consultant can help you with.

If you would like to learn more about how you can improve your marketing online to better promote attorney referrals and conversions, please contact the SEO Consultant Firm today to see how we can help you better grow and promote your practice online. Free CLE New York

Monday, October 3, 2011

Integrating Social Media and Law Firm Websites

A lot has been made of lawyer marketing and the addition of social media in your marketing plans. It is hard to deny that 93% of Americans want companies to have a social media presence (Cone Business In Social Media Study 2008) but does have a social media presence alone for attorneys accomplish this? No – and here is why…

  • Social properties like Facebook Pages, LinkedIn Pages, Twitter Pages and the like are simply a way to potentially connect with and have people follow your law firm…that is if you have something important and frequent to update them with otherwise they are billboards in a cornfield.
  • Marketing experts commonly state that you need to be in front of your potential customers 7-12 times a year for them to remember you WHEN THEY NEED YOUR LEGAL SERVICES. This is what is called frequency marketing and why you see commercials of polar bears drinking Coke every Super bowl when you already know what a Coke is. The problem is unless your social media is frequently updated with content; there is nothing new pushing you in front of your potential customers (and referrals) on social media.
  • Most attorneys do a poor job of promoting legal social media properties to their prospective clients and referral partners. They fail to do this on a consistent basis with their business cards, legal marketing materials, networking events, emails, and yes: especially their websites.

Here are a few ways you can better promote your social media on your website/s:

  • Place a Facebook Page “Like” button on your website. No matter what the user thinks they are liking, ultimately they are clicking a button to have your information on Facebook in their news feed every time you publish information. This is like having a free newsletter to your customers who almost never change their mailing address and they only have to click on the button once to make it all happen!
  • Place Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter icons prominently on EVERY page of your website so no matter what pages a user will possibly enter or exit your website, they will always be able to quickly access and follow you on social media.
  • Place all of your social media links next to your phone numbers, on your contact us pages and on your contact us confirmation pages. Since most law firm websites fail to provide a “call to action” on the contact us confirmation pages, this is a perfect pace for users to see a “next step” after initially contacting you.
  • Do you offer free initial consultations and/or case reviews? Why not ask the prospective client to click on your Facebook page “like” button as part of your providing a free consultation for them. Since you are giving your time for free, why not ask for something as simple as a click in return?
  • Place a stream of your social media postings in a column on the home page of your website. What better way to display the usefulness of your social media postings than by prominently showing them to your website viewers.
  • Add your social media links, buttons, and Facebook page “like” buttons prominently on your law firm blog. I am amazed at how many attorneys will work hard to drive customers to their blogs only to not giving them an easy way to continue to follow future blog posts by simply following the law firm on social media properties. Since the blog is the heart of your active content strategy, it only makes sense to help distribute your content to as many places as possible.

Clearly there are many more ways to help integrate and promote your social media properties on your websites and blogs so if we missed something, please feel free to share and we will gladly add to this list…

If you would like to learn more about how best lawyer search engine optimization practices can help your law firm succeed online, please contact the SEO Consultant Firm today…

Friday, August 12, 2011

Do Online Legal Document Services Provide High Quality Work?

It is hard these days to turn on the TV and not see ads for various online legal document services – especially for LegalZoom. But recently another company, Rocket Lawyer has been making waves and according to has recently surpassed LegalZoom in total unique visitors.

Rocket Lawyer recently raised and investment round of $18.5 Million and according to Forbes has around 70,000 users per day. A recent search in Google also shows that there are around 429 Million results for the search term “online legal document forms” and 90.6 Million results for “online legal document service.”

What about Quality?

One of the biggest questions surrounding the use of these low cost alternatives to legal documentation is how good is the quality of work? Consumer reports recently went out to three of the leading online document service providers (LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer and Quicken WillMaker Plus) to create a will and here are the key findings from their test:

  • Although the results were better than having no will at all, they were very simple and typically not a good fit for many complex legal needs and guidance.
  • Many of the wills produced potential pitfalls and lacked important and timely information ranging from outdated tax laws, little guidance on state laws, ability for the user to modify and add potential conflicting provisions, limited abilities to create special needs trusts and little or no tax guidance.

What Consumers Need To Know

When it comes to good legal service and documentation, you get what you pay for. Many years ago, I tried filing taxes on my own only to learn that a good accountant will save me far more money than they cost due to their expertise, service and thorough understanding of the tax code. A good attorney should provide the same type of value.

If you are initially concerned about the costs involved with the legal documentation you need, ask a number of lawyers for quotes and be candid with them about your budget and what you are willing to spend. In many cases, a good attorney will work within your budget or recommend somebody who will. In addition to providing legal documentation, a good attorney should also provide you with guidance and a better understanding of state laws and tax issues that may be lacking with the low cost online alternatives. Once you have exhausted the potential attorneys at your disposal, then you can consider these online alternatives.

Contact the SEO Consultant Firm if you would like to generate more clients for your law firm

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Missouri Becomes First State To Ban Facebook Friending Between Teachers and Students

Missouri just became the first state to prohibit teachers from creating a "friend" relationship with their current or former students. In what has raised a number of eyebrows in the social media world, the Missouri law now states:

"Teachers cannot establish, maintain or use a work-related website unless it is available to school administrators and the child's legal custodian, physical custodian or legal guardian,"..."Teachers also cannot have a non work-related website that allows exclusive access with a current or former student."

This is most likely the beginning of many legal issues surrounding the use of Facebook and who you become friends with. We are already seeing a growth of conflicts arising from "friend" associations between judges, attorneys and jurors in the legal community.

If you are an attorney, you need to become aware of the growing number of laws and ethical implications of social media use - even if you don't use social media yourself.

If you would like to learn more about Facebook Page Optimization and how we can help you manage your social media policies, please contact the SEO Consultant Firm

Monday, August 1, 2011

Google’s Market Share in NYC

It is commonly stated that Google has around 66% of the search engine market with Bing and Yahoo picking up most of the remainder. But just how accurate is this number?

A recent article by search engine land sparked my interest to once again review data from a number of law firms here in New York City to determine what percentages I am typically seeing. This is certainly not scientific by any means by here is what I found across all my attorney websites and practice areas:

  • Google: 83.8%
  • Yahoo: 6.1%
  • Bing: 5.2%
  • All Others: 4.9%

Again, this data is not scientific but is was surprising how little this data varied from one attorney website to another – no matter the practice area or authority of the site. Clearly from an SEO and PPC (Pay-Per-Click) perspective, Google remains the 10,000 pound gorilla for search engines in NYC.

Contact the SEO Consultant Firm if you would like to learn more about how we can help your law firm internet marketing online.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Using YouTube Hot Spots To Help Improve Your Attorney Videos

With the growing number of attorney videos appearing on websites and social media, attorneys are increasingly beginning to ask how effective they really are. Website and YouTube analytics provide a good tertiary read on the usual views and click through data but they still fail to tell us what we really want to know about our videos such as:
  • How long should a video typically run before I lose my audience?
  • Do people want to see me, pictures, or both?
  • How do my videos compare to other competing videos?
  • How well do my videos retain the viewing audience?
  • What can I learn from my previous videos that will help educate me on how to improve my future videos?

In the past, most of these questions left people guessing but with the recent release of YouTube’s “Hot Spots” reporting tool, you can now find many of the answers you need

What Is YouTube Hot Spots?

YouTube Hot Spots are a new reporting tool located on the lower-left of your YouTube Insight report for each of your videos…hosted on YouTube of course. This report now allows you to see such how your videos are received by viewers throughout the course of the video. The metrics provided are compared to thousands of other videos on YouTube of similar length for comparison – you cannot segment by attorney videos only. Instead, you may be competing against the sensational video of the monkey scratching his behind with millions of views…so don’t get too caught up in the overall comparisons.

As noted above, you can now see how people are reacting and behaving when watching your videos. If your video has not yet received 300-600 views, chances are you will need more views to produce the data you need to see this report. In short, as if YouTube’s ranking algorithm involving total views was not enough for you, this is yet another excuse to stream your YouTube videos through all of your web properties.

What Can You Learn From Hot Spots?

After reviewing a number of attorney videos through Hot Spots, I have seen a few patterns that are worth repeating including:

  • People tend to high higher viewership at those times of a video when nice visuals and images are used in place of a talking head. This may not be welcome news to a narcissist but apparently people react differently to images than people
  • People tend to have higher levels of viewership at the beginning and ends of a video. This could be the result of user fast forwarding but also could indicate that shorter videos are more favored
  • It is a good idea to place your call to actions at those times with the highest level of viewer interest

YouTube Hot Spot reporting is still in its infancy but could very well become the new “heat map” for video effectiveness moving forward. Since people are more inclined to watch than read online, this may be yet another valuable tool to help you improve your attorney marketing efforts online.

If you would like to learn more about lawyer search engine optimization and marketing online, please contact the SEO Consultant Firm today to see how we can help you.