Stephen Fairley 2013-06-12 00:41:55
Stephen Fairley is CEO of The Rainmaker Institute, LLC, the nation’s largest law firm marketing company specializing in small law firms. Over 8,000 attorneys have benefited from applying their proven Rainmaker Marketing System. Stephen is a best-selling author of 10 books and a nationally recognized law firm marketing expert. He has appeared in the American Bar Association’s Journal, Harvard Management Update, Inc and Entrepreneur. To receive your free copy of his book “Top 10 Marketing Mistakes Attorneys Make” visit www.TheRainmakerInstitute.com or call 888-588-5891. If you have heard me speak at bar association meetings around the country, or at one of our Rainmaker Retreats, you know that I talk a lot about how to improve your law firm’s visibility on Google search results. Why? Because being in the first three results when people are searching for an attorney can impact your revenues in a major way. Being in the number one position has an even bigger effect! This is not just hypothetical. There have been numerous studies done proving the importance of being in the first position in Google search results; here’s a chart from a recent study by digital marketing software company Optify that clearly demonstrates the value of being #1 in Google search: Those websites in the first three organic positions for a particular keyword receive almost 60% of the click-through traffic – and the drop-off-from #1 (36.4%) to #2 (12.5%) is dramatic. THE VALUE OF BEING #1 IN GOOGLE SEARCH RESULTS Any discussion about the value of being #1 in Google search results starts with the understanding of your current rate of conversion of web traffic to paying clients. You may hear people talking about conversion with lots of different criteria, but you must understand that for a law firm, conversion should be measured by the only criteria that matters: The number of people who visit your website compared to how many of those contact your law firm (by phone, email, or live chat). This is really simple math. Suppose you are a divorce attorney in Phoenix. Find out the number of unique visitors to your website for a given period of time and divide it by the number of contacts you received. So if you are in the #2 position in Google search results and 100 people land on your website, and 2 of those contact your law firm, your conversion rate is 2%. How much is the top spot on Google actually worth? According to data from the Optify study, it’s worth a ton – triple the traffic of the #2 spot, to be precise. Now suppose your conversion rate stays at 2%, but you move to the #1 position and get 3 times the traffic which results in 900 people land on your website! That represents 18 new leads instead of 2! That is the power of raising your position to #1 in organic search. SEO ESSENTIALS If you are relying on your law firm’s website or blog to bring you leads, you cannot just count on luck to make it happen. Those sites will not do you any good if prospects are not finding them – which is why it is critically important that you follow these top SEO essentials for your legal websites and blogs: Keywords in title tags – title tags are those words that appear in the title bar of web browsers and what generally shows up in search engine results pages. Title tags are coded into your site and should contain the most important keywords relevant to your prospects. Header tags – these go in your main content, separating thoughts and/or paragraphs with keyword-rich subheads. Think of header tags like the bold words in this article. It’s used to draw your attention to key points. Google uses header tags to identify the key terms on your individual web pages. Fresh content – creating new content and updating old content regularly boosts authority and news ranking. Last year Hubspot.com conducted a survey of 3,800 small businesses around the nation and found a direct correlation between the number of times you update your blog and how likely you are to derive a lead. The minimum level is 10 times per month. The optimum level is 20 times per month. Content diversity – search engines reward diversity in your format, so include photos, educational videos, slide decks, and special reports wherever possible. High quality inbound links – creating high quality, unique content that others will want to link to and reference can have a huge impact on your website ranking. Social media connections – build authority for your site through participation in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+. Connect with others via social media, provide content from your blog, and engage potential clients and referral sources in relationships. Quality user experience – Google rewards sites that are well designed, easy to navigate, load quickly and keep visitors engaged (low bounce rates). GOOGLE GOES LOCAL Local search is becoming increasingly important when trying to improve the rankings for your law firm website on Google and other search engines. After all, someone searching for an attorney in Scottsdale will not care about a lawyer in Tucson...and Google knows that. Google is all about delivering relevant search results to its users...hence, the importance of doing whatever you can to rank well for local search. Here are some tips for optimizing your website or blog for local search: Include local keywords in your content, URL and tags. If someone is looking for legal services, it is highly unlikely they will type the name of your firm into a Google search box. Your location should be in your page title, header tags, meta tags and content as well, and you should also include long-tail keyword variations for your area. Blog. Every time you add a new post to your blog is a new opportunity to get found using local search terms. Be sure your content discusses local issues and always add your location somewhere in your post – for example, instead of saying “We can help you...” write “Our Chandler estate planning law firm can help you...” Optimize your site for mobile. Almost half of Google Map usage is on mobile devices, so you need to make your site mobile-friendly. Research indicates that mobile users are a finicky bunch and will quickly leave your site for a competitors if it›s not optimized for mobile. Local contact information. Be sure you have a real “Contact Us” page with your physical address, phone number and Google map. In addition you should employ these additional tactics for getting good local SEO: • Add your firm to local directories like your local Chamber of Commerce, bar associations and other business organizations. • Have a Google+ account. • Get reviews on Avvo.com, Google, and other sites that profile local businesses. SOCIAL SEARCH Facebook recently introduced a new search engine called Graph Search that will allows users to search their social circles for things they want to know about. It’s not a Google-type search engine; it doesn’t scour the entire Web for results. It only returns the results that are popular within your circle of friends on Facebook. And that can be pretty compelling, since we tend to care more about what our friends think or recommend than strangers. If you want to obtain higher rankings for your website and blog on Google, there are some things you should be doing online to optimize your sites for social search: Add original, high quality content to your blog and other social media networks. As I’ve said many times, Google loves fresh content! However, it’s not enough for it just to be fresh – it also needs to be original and relevant, and you need to post frequently, at least 3-5 times a week. Add social sharing to all your online activities. Adding a “Share” capability to your E-newsletters, website, blog and social networking profiles will help boost your visibility in social search. Establish a Google+ Profile. Set up a Google+ profile and create links to all your social content. You’ll need a profile on Google in order to use the new Google+1 button, which is Google’s answer to the Facebook “Like” button. Use videos and photos. Video and photo files are more likely to be shared online than text, so be sure your website, blog and social pages contain lots of these files. Understand the importance of the now. Google has decided that realtime information is more relevant and rewards content posted on real-time networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn with higher search rankings. If you are a Twitter user, activate your Twitter Location and use social check-ins on Facebook. CONTENT MARKETING A definitive research study by inbound marketing firm Hubspot.com showed that companies with a robust inbound marketing program had a 61% lower cost per lead than companies that rely on traditional outbound marketing. Inbound marketing, of course, relies heavily on a good content marketing strategy. What you need to do to make content marketing a part of your overall legal marketing strategy is remember that: Content is king. Low quality content – article spinning and output from cheap labor – will not only do your website no good, it will get you penalized by Google. Bad content really is yesterday’s news, and that is great news for those of us who spend a lot of time producing stuff that people really like to read. This is one of the reasons why we hire attorneys to produce the several thousand pieces of content we do every month for our clients. Content isn’t just words. A good mix of shareable content – sharp articles, videos, infographics, interesting photos and social media posting — all counts in driving traffic to your website and getting some Google love. SEO is no one-trick pony. Good SEO practices today consist of great content, link and citation building, site optimization strategies, social media participation and mining your data for insights. Do not rely on just one strategy and expect lasting results. Establishing authority is key. Sites with great content that people visit time and again to get information on subjects of interest to them establishes those sites as authorities, which Google sees as a primary ranking factor. If you are not a great writer or have a few hours a week to write great content, outsource it to a professional content management company (like The Rainmaker Institute). Many attorneys are great writers, but don’t have the time to do it consistently. Try to do it on your own for a month or so, but make the commitment to hire someone else if you aren’t able to consistently post 10 to 20 blog articles per month. The Rainmaker Institute has been helping attorneys in small to midsized law firms move up rapidly in their search results with innovative programs that add fresh content daily to your website via blogs and social media. To find out more about these programs, email me at Stephen@ TheRainmakerInstitute.com and in the subject line put: “Getting to the Top of Google.”
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