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Potential clients search the web every second of every day looking for a lawyer, legal information and other advice. Smart law firms recognize that positioning themselves in front of this audience is essential for future success. Moreover, Internet-based client development has become so ubiquitous that doing it well makes a tremendous difference in the scale of your online marketing success. Let’s use this space to look at the fundamentals of Internet marketing for lawyers.
Aside from the growing base of potential clients, Internet marketing has many advantages over traditional marketing. They include:
There are a number of ways to reach potential clients online. The primary channels include websites, search engine optimization (“SEO”), pay per click (“PPC”) advertising, local search marketing, video marketing, social media and directory listings.
There are an overwhelming number of website design and development companies that are out there with prices ranging from $5 a month for a templated site to $100,000+ for a custom website. Which one is right for your firm? In the legal industry, my advice is that, if you need content developed for your site, go with a design and development firm with experience in legal copywriting. I’ve seen that many shops have excellent design and development, but very few are able to meet the standards of your common attorney. Naturally, the lawyer website team at LexisNexis is my first recommendation.
Once you have a website online, optimizing that site’s code and content to rank well within the search engines is often the next order of business. This ensures that your site shows up for what people are searching for and delivers what they are after. Lawyer SEO happens to be a favorite subject of mine…
An option that’s extremely fast to market for law firms is pay per click advertising. PPC allows you to pay the search engine for each visitor that it sends to your website. Unlike SEO, PPC can have your ad positioned in front of potential clients within hours. The disadvantage is that PPC can get very expensive for competitive keywords.
We’ve all seen the maps that appear when you search for a local business in Google and Yahoo. To be included in those listings, local search marketing is essential.
Video marketing provides potential clients with an opportunity to get inside your firm, meet your attorneys, and hear how they express themselves. Additionally, video marketing is advantageous because it:
For a kick, take a look at the “unofficial” lawyer video site that I run with LexisNexis.
Through social networking websites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, lawyers can connect with peers and potential clients to show their expertise and leverage relationships. Since the social media space is all about crafting your message and monitoring consumer response, reputation management is often an essential adjunct to social media marketing. While social networking does require a lot of time in building those relationships, benefits include:
Attorneys should also take advantage of online legal directories to market their services. Why? First, websites like lawyers.com often appear at the top of the search engine rankings for legally-related searchers. You want to be among those returned on that site so you can capture your portion of that traffic. Next, many lawyers make a living on referrals from other law firms. Directories like martindale.com position themselves with peer ratings that can aid the referral process and thereby enhance the referral revenue stream. Finally, most online legal directories provide a link to your website… the one you’ve worked so hard to perfect. The fact that these powerful directories are linking to your website can often be helpful to your site’s search engine rankings. Take a look at our submission sites for lawyers page for a few recommendations.
For competitive law firms, doing nothing is not an option. Clearly, if you’ve made it this far in this article, you have the motivation to succeed online. Pick one of the items listed above and give it a try. For those who are too busy to go it alone, hire a professional search marketing team who understands the legal landscape online and ask them about each of the items above. If their answers are elusive or they claim to have a “secret way” to succeed… walk away.