As you are probably discovering yourself, the old ways of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are no longer serving you / your law firm in terms of a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). And by old, we mean 2012. If your SEO company is guaranteeing results via linking, directories, and other vague promises, RUN (this is not an acronym and it is very important ).
Not only did Google release a number of algorithm updates last year (including the Exact Match Domain (EMD) update, one dozen plus Panda updates, changes to actual search results pages, and unnatural link warnings through Google Webmaster Tools), but it has shifted its focus to content and SMO, or social media optimization. Therefore, the right social media campaign for lawyers will include a diverse and holistic perspective to SEO. One that favors quality over quantity, and community engagement over key word spamming.
If you are interested in building your law firm’s web presence, read on for 6 SEO tips for top SERP placement.
Wondering if your law firm needs an active presence on social media? Social media for lawyers is not a new concept. Many law firm, from Am Law to solos, have been utilizing the social networking sites to build their practices, establish themselves as authorities in their particular field, and generally dominate the online world of potential business. With all the chatter about search engine rankings, SEO, and what works vs. what doesn’t, here are a few reasons why social media for lawyers is a must in today’s competitive environment.
4 Reasons Social Media Campaigns for Lawyers are Necessary:
Times, they are a changin’. As many lawyers who employ SEO companies to increase their search results rankings are learning, Google can’t be bought. Panda and Penguin, two updates for the much-discussed Google algorithms for determining search result placement, brought down many law firms last year when the updates started to penalize companies that purchased links, spammed key words, or created invisible white pages for clients in the hopes to increase their online visibility. Not only are these practices shady, but they no longer work. WebPresence, Esq. saw a number of law firms disappear from the first page of a Google search thanks to these updates.
Unfortunately for many more law firms, Google is at it again. This time, Google is going after over-linking and over-keywording and the search engine marketers that engage in these practices. This is great news for those of us who provide quality legal content for blogs — our unique, information content will be rewarded with higher search engine rankings.
WebPresence, Esq.’s founder, Kristen Marquis (who is also an active attorney), authored an article for California Lawyer magazine on the ethical issues lawyers face when engaging in and on Social Media. As every practicing attorney knows, there are strict guidelines surrounding ‘advertising’ and ‘soliciting’ that a lawyer must adhere to in order to avoid the wrath of a State Bar. Familiar with the relevant rules and requirements, Kristen breaks down what California lawyers should and should not do while building a Web Presence.
The following is an excerpt of the article “Social Media for Lawyers: Beyond the Yellow Pages,” which can also be found in California Lawyer’s January 2013 print edition…
You’ve been Googled! You know it’s true, in part because you’ve done some Googling yourself. Whether it was looking up opposing counsel, your client, or your new next-door neighbor, you’ve used the powers and reach of the Internet to find out a little more about someone.
And you can be sure your potential clients will do the same when they need an attorney.
Broadly speaking, attorneys have been slow to adapt to social media and building an online presence. Many are stuck in the Yellow Pages Age, or at least have the (very mistaken) impression that they don’t need to worry about building their identity online. They assume that word of mouth has propelled their practice thus far and will continue to do so. However, if your potential client can’t research you online, they move on. Studies indicate that 90 percent of Americans consult the Internet before choosing a company or professional to do business with. Having no digital presence, then, can be nearly as damaging as having negative reviews posted online (and those reviews are out there, whether you know it or not).
To continue learning about the steps you / your law firm must take to stay in line with the State Bar while maintaing an active online presence, read the entire article here.
How influential are you online? What does your law firm’s online presence say about your practice? Are you tweeting and Facebook status updating but to no avail? Your answers to these questions are crucial when determining the effectiveness of your Social Media Marketing campaign and whether or not your efforts, or those of your legal marketing team, are bringing you the results you desire.
Whether you are using Social Media to establish your credibility in a certain area, become a household name, bring in new business, or all of the above, use these tips for upping your Social Media swagger:
1. Focus. Just like you have (probably) narrowed your practice areas to a few key niches, do not over-extend yourself on Social Media. There are ton of social networking sites for lawyers out there, and more popping up every day. Instead of trying to get a teeny piece of all of them, focus on a few select networking sites based, in large part, on your target demographic. Your content quality will be higher, meaning more potential clients will want to read it, and you’ll end up with a more targeted follower base.
If you’re a practicing attorney, you’ve likely been approached by a legal marketing company that promises to help you build your Social Network. And while having a large number of followers can be important, in the legal word, it is about quality not quantity. In order to be effective, your marketing team must be aware that the ways in which attorneys should interact via social media are different than for professionals in any other industry. At WebPresence, Esq. we are attorneys-turned-social media professionals and we approach each of our client’s Social Media campaigns with the ABA Model Rules, State Bar rules, and the uniqueness of the legal services industry in mind.
Using Social Media the Right Way
For lawyers, Social Media must be used as the starting point for a dialogue and not as a tool to initiate specific legal advice. This might seem obvious, but what the ABA and/or your State Bar considers legal advice can be broad. Make sure your legal marketing team is distinctly aware of what is and is not putting your law license at risk.