I’ve worked with dozens of attorneys helping to enhance their online presence and market their firms. I’ve also studied many more and it isn’t uncommon to see lawyers (often busy doing what they do best) miss obvious opportunities for getting more exposure on the internet. Just like in every industry, people make some really basic mistakes when promoting their brand on the web and lawyers are no different.
Many of the mistakes I see are very basic in nature and can easily be remedied. Check out my list of the top 7 internet marketing mistakes to avoid (and how to avoid them):
1. Not including your practice area and location based keywords as target keyword phrases
Lawyers should have at least one page on their site (but typically more) to target a practice area they specialize in (or more pages if they have more practice areas) and a page targeting location-based terms.
This concept speaks to searcher intent and the way people look for legal services online. Going after really broad keywords will only waste your time and drive you nuts. Searchers are often looking for very specific information related to their own legal situation and their queries mirror this fact. No one searches for “attorney” or “attorney Chicago.” They use phrases that generate more specific results related to their situation. For example “car accident attorney Chicago” or “slip and fall accident attorney Illinois.”
Targeting broad terms like only the phrase “lawyer” means you will be competing with hundreds of millions of other web pages that use that term in some capacity. Not only is it hard for you to tell what visitors are looking for when they use that single term but it is also difficult for search engines to know what page out of billions to serve based just on that one word.
Instead, include your practice area and location in the phrase. For instance “personal injury lawyer Atlanta.” This is a much more specific phrase because now you (and search engines) have a pretty good idea that a person is looking for a personal injury lawyer who practices in Atlanta, Georgia.
Including these phrases in the title of your page helps it stand out in SERPs. When users scan search results pages, they are looking for the phrases they used in their search. Titles are typically highlighted in blue on every result. You can test out what your titles look like to people in search result pages using Google’s structured data testing tool.
Assessing Search Volume
Some phrases are more popular than others for searchers. Ideally you want to choose ones that people are using a lot because that means the more potential traffic you can get to your site. Google provides a free tool called the keyword planner (formerly the AdWords keyword tool). By typing in a phrase you can see search volume for specific geographic locations for that phrase.
The tool will also generate similar phrases accompanied by search volume, estimated cost per click and competition (both of which are only useful when applied to AdWords). The real value of the tool for SEO comes from generating new ideas and learning about potential search volume.
Note that you have to use a Google account to use the planner but it’s free to sign up and create an AdWords account in order to use the tool.
2. Not having a Google Plus business page
This one is a no-brainer. Making a Google Plus business page is perhaps one of the easiest pieces of low-hanging fruit for SEO that a local law firm can leverage to get more exposure in search. It has the potential to get you first page placement for localized searches almost instantly. Google has always had a strong commitment to delivering relevant and useful local results to users and Google Plus Business Pages (formerly Google Places Pages) are an extension of that. They have also taken steps to make local results more robust.
If you don’t already have a Google account, you can create one at google.com/signup. You’ll then use it to create your Google Plus business page. Visit google.com/business to get started. Follow these tips to get your Plus page to rank well in search:
-Fill out your profile completely (i.e. fill out your category, all other information, add images, add a description, add links to other social profiles, etc)
-Get reviews for your business on Google Plus
3. Not creating an AVVO profile
AVVO is a legal forum and directory that has significant authority online and in search. Attorneys can create a profile and use the platform to build links to their site (note that many are no-follow), gain exposure and build themselves up as an authority in a particular practice area.
You can also get a free directory listing on the site. This is an easy link to acquire and you also get exposure to potential clients visiting the site looking for legal information. Many times your AVVO profile can outrank your website for specific keyword phrases allowing you to still capture traffic for your law firm. At the time of this writing it is free to join AVVO although an AVVO Pro account is 49.95 per month.
4. Not engaging your audience on social media
Social media has proven itself as a useful way to build engagement with a target market, drive leads, and create brand awareness. The biggest mistake lawyers make is creating social profiles and then leaving them to collect dust. Social media is about having a conversation with your audience, not setting up profiles and never using them.
The key thing you have to remember about social media is that it only works when you interact with others on a platform. That means talking to them, commenting on their posts, responding to those who have commented on yours, sharing, liking, plus-oning and everything in between. If you don’t engage with your audience on social media there is really no reason for them to be following you.
5. Writing on the wrong blog topics
If you aren’t blogging you should be and if you are, you need to carefully consider what you write about. A blog for law firms is meant to share credible, relevant information for the target audience. It should also act as a sort of spider web attracting the type of clients that you want for your firm. In other words, you have to write content that will attract the type of clients you want.
With that in mind, you should be very strategic in choosing blog post topics. For example, if you’re a personal injury attorney you don’t want to be writing blog posts on recent car accidents that happened in your area. In this scenario, people would be searching for information about the crash and using your blog to consume news content as opposed to getting legal information where they may later contact you for help. A better blog might be answering the question “I was in a hit and run accident what should I do?” Then you have a pretty good idea that people visiting the post are potentially interested in legal services.
You should also be thinking of your buyer persona. This is simply a semi-fictional representation of your ideal client. To create one, answer questions like: How old is your ideal client? What are the challenges they have that your legal services can solve? How do they shop for legal services? What are their goals, motivations, aspirations, etc.?
Creating buyer personas helps you visualize your target market and better tailor your services, your marketing and your messaging to reach that market. Hubspot has some excellent documentation on how to create a buyer persona.
6. Not targeting synonyms and related keyword phrases
It used to be that copy on a web page was supposed to follow a rigid structure in order to rank well in search. That involved adding your target keyword phrase a number of times in the page and perhaps a couple of different variations of it.
That concept doesn’t really apply any more with initiatives like the Knowledge Graph and the sophistication of Google’s algorithm in general. Lawyers should also target synonyms and phrases related to their target keyword terms on other pages of their website. You should still target the obvious ones but use a blog or other sub-pages of your site to go after related phrases.
For example, let’s say you are targeting the phrase workers compensation attorney. You wouldn’t want to just target that phrase but also use other phrases that are synonymous or close variations of that phrase. Maybe even specific locations where you are focused too.
Workers comp attorney
workers comp lawyer
workers compensation attorney
workers compensation lawyer
Workers compensation attorneys
workers compensation lawyers
workers comp attorneys
workers comp lawyers
Raleigh manufacturing accident
workmans comp attorney
workmans comp attorneys
workmans compensation lawyers
workmans compensation attorneys
workmans compensation lawyer
wormans compensation attorney
federal workers compensation attorney
work comp attorney
7. Not utilizing video in your online marketing efforts
Many people forget or don’t realize that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. People flock to it for tutorials, entertainment, facts and other information. Google owns YouTube, so typically videos rank well in search. They also rank well because of less competition. Other leading video sharing platforms haven’t really been able to touch the success of YouTube.
Videos can also help improve conversions because of report with audience. There is something much more personal about a video. When attorneys can appear before an audience on film, people get a chance to see who they really are and are more likely to reach out than when they read web copy. Videos are also good media to share on social networks.
Online marketing can get pretty sophisticated and if you don’t have the basics squared away, getting to anything more advanced is much harder. What are some mistakes that you see law firms make or that you have learned about on your own?