Law Marketing Monitor

Law Marketing Monitor

Monitoring the Marketing of Law Firms in the Digital Age

Is Any of this Working?

Posted in Marketing

Years ago (say 2008), most of my conversations with lawyers about the web went something like this:

Lawyer: People will never use the internet to hire a lawyer.

Me: They already are.

Lawyer: Bah, you’re full of it.

Now, the conversations are slightly different. Most lawyers “get” the fact that people use the internet, search engines and social networking platforms to get information about their legal issues, find lawyers and learn more about specific lawyers. The new conversations usually go something like this:

Lawyer: I need SEO.

Me: One pound or two?

Lawyer: Give me three.

Seriously though, the conversation has shifted from a flat-out denial that the web has any use for client development to give me that good internet marketing magic.

I preferred the 2008 conversations…

Here’s the deal, if you’re going to use the internet to create, nurture and solidify professional relationships, you should have some objectives, goals, key-results, whatever. In other words:

  1. What are you trying to accomplish?
  2. Are you moving in that direction?

Please don’t answer question #1 with: I want more clients.

Of course you do.

But do you really know what you’re asking?

More than what? From where? At what cost?

Trying to answer the question of whether your client development activities are “working” requires defining what you mean by working. Law practices come in all shapes and sizes. They have different people, processes and purposes. Likewise, they have different business needs and success metrics.

Hopefully it’s obvious to you that if you consistently spend more money acquiring new clients than you receive in fees from those clients, you won’t be in business very long. But this is about as elementary of an analysis of whether it’s “working” as one can perform. Yet, many lawyers have never even thought about their target cost to acquire a new client, or the lifetime value of a client.

And maybe you don’t even need to. However, if don’t think about these things, it’s going to be nearly impossible for you say with any kind of confidence whether your marketing and advertising are working.

But there are a host of other things that might be an indication of whether or not something is working.

Maybe “working” means getting more people to subscribe to your blog.

Maybe “working” means meeting and connecting with people online who nominate you for a leadership position.

Maybe “working” means becoming the local go-to source for information about a very specific legal niche.

Maybe “working” means growing the number of people that refer business to you or the frequency with which your existing network refers it.

And for some of you, maybe working means growing organic search traffic, motivating those visitors to contact you and eventually converting them into new paying clients. In which case, maybe you do, “need some SEO.”

But if you do, set some goals.

How much organic search traffic are you getting from visitors in your location(s) now? That’s your baseline. Now come up with a number that you’re trying to achieve in six to eight months.

How many visitors from organic search are contacting you to inquire about your services today? Are you even tracking that (hint: asking people how they found you doesn’t count).

If you’re going to spend money on web marketing and advertising, you have to understand what the numbers have to be for you to meet your business objectives.

What is your target return on ad spend?

How much can you spend to get a new client in a way that makes sense for your practice?

If you spend a million dollars on AdWords to get clients that are never going to generate more than a few thousand in fees, you’re going to have some problems.

Once you’ve figured out what your targets have to be, start to experiment.

Build a forecast. Spend a little money to test a campaign. Analyze the results monthly, quarterly and annually. Here’s a simple example:

How much does this ad cost to run?

How many impressions do you expect it will get?

How many clicks do you expect it will get?

Are you paying on an impression, click or some other basis?

How will you track how many times the ad was seen and clicked?

How will you track whether the ad converted into any potential client inquiries?

How will you track how many of those inquiries turned into paying clients?

How will you track how much in legal fees was generated by a particular ad or campaign?

Answer these questions and you’ll be able to tell whether or not it’s working.

Do more of what’s working, less of what doesn’t.

Don’t assume that just because something does or does not work for others, it will or will not work for you.

Don’t trust what your competitors are telling you about their results.

Law Firm SEO Website Marketing Checklist

Posted in Marketing

  • Have you considered the marketing consequence of your website domain selection?
  • Is the website content and structure properly organized?
  • Is the website’s hosting causing issues with search performance (i.e. speed, location, etc)?
  • Are there any technical issues limiting the site’s performance in search engine results?
  • Are there additional client development campaigns that might be leveraged to increase search visibility?
  • Is there a process in place for regular additions of quality content to the site?
  • Is there a process in place to identify, measure and optimize for new keyword opportunities for which there is relevant search traffic?
  • Do you have a system for staying on top of the most recent developments in search?
  • Have you considered the role your website will play in terms of word of mouth referrals and testimonials?
  • Are you aware of the unique aspects to marketing a law firm (i.e. ethical issues, reputation considerations, etc)?
  • Have you done the research to understand your specific online competitive landscape (i.e. analysis of competitor websites)?
  • Have you considered other search channels beyond traditional organic results (i.e. local, news, video, discussion, etc)?
  • Have you reviewed your SEO strategies for compliance with search engine webmaster guidelines?
  • Are all the pages of your site easily accessible for both people and search engines?
  • Do each of your pages exist to supply a particular demand for information or do they exist for the sole purpose of catching long tail search traffic?
  • Are your pages easy to access, navigate and read on multiple devices including desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones?
  • Do your pages load quickly on various devices (quickly meaning between 1 and 3 seconds)?
  • Have you taken advantage of relevant schema markup to maximize your rich snippets in search results (i.e. authorship, reviews, video, etc)?
  • Do you have a system for regularly analyzing your web analytics data to understand how people are using your website?
  • Have you set up goal conversion tracking to measure specific actions that have meaning to your client development efforts?
  • Do you have a system to measure key engagement metrics including people subscribing to content on your site, comments, links and other social interactions?
  • Have you set specific goals for your web marketing activities that have meaning in terms of the growth of your practice?
  • Do you have a system in place for site visitors to provide feedback about your website?
  • Are you regularly testing different elements of your site including design elements, calls to action and other conversion elements?
  • Have you verified your site in both Google and Bing webmaster tools and corrected any issues that those tools are reporting?
  • Are you creating new pages that provide something uniquely valuable that don’t exist elsewhere on the web?
  • Have you made it easy and obvious to visitors how they can share your pages with their networks across the web?
  • Have you made sure your business information is accurate and consistent across these 100 sites?
  • If you have a law blog, do you know whether or not is sucks?

Law Firm SEO Analytics Shortcut

Posted in SEO

Use this Google Analytics shortcut to better understand the effectiveness of your law firm’s SEO activities.

Let’s assume you run a local consumer-facing (PI, criminal, bankruptcy, etc) law practice. Let’s further assume that at least some of your business comes from people who use search engines to find lawyers like you.

If you’re responsible for understanding what’s going on with your firm’s SEO efforts, hopefully you’re somewhat familiar with Google Analytics.

You might regularly check your Traffic Sources Overview report. Unfortunately, this top-level traffic report can be misleading. Especially if you receive a lot of “branded” search traffic (i.e. searches for your name, firm name, etc).

It’s not that branded search traffic is bad. In fact, it’s really good. It means that people are coming to search engines to learn more about you. Which means that they know your name. Which means that they heard it somewhere.

However, unless you’re a really well-known lawyer, chances are that there is a whole lot more search volume for unbranded queries. And, depending on your practice, you may want to attract some of these searchers.

But in order to know whether you are actually attracting these folks, you need to dive a little deeper into your web analytics reports. Here’s how to set up a Google Analytics shortcut to view your unbranded organic search traffic in your location.

First, open up Google Analytics and navigate to Traffic Sources -> Search -> Organic. This will take you to your Organic Search Traffic report.

Next, set your Primary Dimension to Keyword. You should now see all of the organic search traffic to your site organized by keyword.

After that, you’re going to want to set your Secondary dimension to reflect the location(s) in which you would take clients.

You’re probably going to be choosing from Country / Territory (if you have a national practice), Region (if you practice statewide, Metro or City.

Click Secondary dimension, then Visitors and select the appropriate dimension for your firm. For this example, I’m going to assume you have a statewide practice and are using Region.

You should now see a report that contains your organic search traffic by Keyword and Region (State).

Now we’re going to create a filter to only include unbranded organic search traffic in your location.

Click on “advanced” to open up the advanced filters.

The first traffic we’re going to filter out is your branded search traffic. To do this select Exclude -> Keyword –> Matching RegExp and enter ‘yourfirstname|yourlastname’.

Next, select Include -> Region -> Containing and enter ‘your state’.

Then click “Apply.”

If I were a lawyer practice throughout Illinois, my filter would look like this:

You might have to add some additional branded keywords (i.e. firm name, taglines, phone numbers, misspellings, etc) to get all of your branded traffic out.

Once you’ve filtered out the overwhelming majority of your branded traffic, click Shortcut and Enter a name for your shortcut (probably something like unbranded organic search traffic in your state). Then click ok.

You’re done.

Now, the next time you come back to analytics, you can simply click Shortcuts and select the Shortcut you just made.

You can now see how much unbranded organic search traffic in your practice location(s) you are receiving to your site.

This is one way to measure the effectiveness of your SEO efforts. And if you’re paying someone to do SEO for you, it’s a good way to hold them accountable.

Stop It!

Posted in Marketing

Stop pretending you’re a web designer.

Do you have a background in design? Do you have years of experience designing and developing websites for lawyers? For business? For anyone? Stop pretending you do. Stop telling yourself that your sites are “good enough.” Stop using crappy stock legal imagery. Stop blending in with all of the other do-it-yourself legal websites. Stop telling us about how hard you’ll fight and how passionate you are. Stop trying to turn your website into another law firm television ad.

Stop pretending you’re a blogger.

Do you have something to write that’s actually worth writing about? Do people actually subscribe to your blog? Do you even know? Would even know how to figure that out? Do people talk about your blog? Do they share what you’ve written with others? Has anyone ever emailed one of your posts to somebody else? Stop churning out regurgitated news stories. Stop creating posts for every iteration of “your city” + “your practice area(s)” + ‘lawyer or attorney or law firm.”

Stop pretending you’re an SEO.

Do you know the fundamentals of user experience, information architecture and conversion optimization? Do you know the best practices to help search engines find, crawl and index your web pages? Are you familiar with the webmaster guidelines of major search engines? Is your best SEO strategy figuring out the right keyword density of your pages? Are you familiar with the most recent major Google algorithm updates? Do you know who this is:

A picture of Google's Matt Cutts

Stop pretending you’re an SEO. Stop wasting time and money on article and directory submission software. Stop buying hundreds of legal domains and linking them altogether. Stop being surprised when your sites get a major penalty from search engines. Stop using content scraped from other sites. Stop creating pages for the purpose of ranking for a particular keyword. In fact, stop focusing on your rankings altogether.

Stop blaming Adwords.

Are you Adwords Certified? If I said “enhanced campaigns” to you, would you stare back blankly? Stop blaming Adwords. It’s not Google’s fault that you’re broad matching every legal term you can think of. It’s not their fault that your ad copy is weak. It’s not their fault that your landing pages suck, are slow to load and don’t respond well to mobile devices. It’s also not their fault that you’re not tracking, measuring and optimizing your campaigns to increase conversion and lower your average CPA (that’s cost-per-action to you).

Stop blaming your marketing consultant.

You’re a grown-a** lawyer. Stop blaming your marketing consultant for your crappy web marketing. Stop blaming them for hurting your reputation and causing ethics violations. Start taking ownership of your decisions to hire web marketing consultants. Spend some time vetting the people you work with. Understand what they’re planning to do on your behalf. Hold them accountable for acting without your permission.

Stop pretending you’re listening.

Stop pretending you’re listening. Stop commenting, sharing, liking and re-tweeting these posts and then going out and leaving blog comment spam, publishing spun and scraped content and sending unsolicited emails for links.

Stop incessantly nodding like some creepy bobble-head, only to go out and create another crappy website and pouring time and money into “tricking Google.”

Stop doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

Stop it!

Building Authority

Posted in SEO

Authority Machine

Let’s say you’re researching something related to a legal matter. As a lawyer, you probably do this all the time. You research case law and statutes. Depending on the task, you might turn to another lawyer you hold in high-esteem. You might refer to a treatise on the subject. You might hire a subject-matter expert to provide an opinion.

And in performing this research, you’ll make judgments about their relevance to your investigation, as well as, how much weight, authority or credibility should be afforded to each of them.

You might even sort these sources of information based upon how you perceive their relevance and authority.

Now let’s say you are trying to build a machine that does this.

The very purpose of this machine would be to sort the relevant and reliable, from the irrelevant and unreliable. And in order to accomplish this task, the machine would need to know who the reliable authorities are on a particular subject and what they’ve said and written on the subject.

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Law Firm SEO Services and Rankings

Posted in SEO
Avoid law firm seo services that guarantee rankings.

No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.

Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.

- Google Webmaster Tools help on Search Engine Optimization

I don’t know how long we’re going to have to talk about this. Probably forever. At least as long as you keep buying it…

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Developing Content Assets for a Law Firm

Posted in Law Firm Internet Marketing

Making great stuff for the web is becoming more and more central to business development. Effective content assets speak to an audience at varying stages of the business development process. In other words, they supply an audience’s demand for information whether it be researching a topic or preparing to hire.

I recently came across this tweet in my feed:
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Leave a Review, Win a Prize!

Posted in Law Firm Internet Marketing, SEO

If attracting visitors from local search results is part of your legal marketing strategy, you probably know the importance of acquiring positive reviews on your Google+ Local Pages.

Which may lead you to conclude that you should solicit Google+ endorsements from clients and colleagues. Of course, most lawyers are limited as to how they can permissibly obtain reviews by their state’s rules of professional responsibility.

One way that business owners have tried to increase the number of reviews they receive from customers is by holding a contest to provide incentive for folks to leave reviews. Which probably violates your state’s ethics rules. But if violating your state’s ethics rules doesn’t dissuade you from holding a contest for reviews, here’s another reason: these contests violate Google’s guidelines.
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How Lawyers Should Approach Working With Web Designers

Posted in Law Firm Internet Marketing, Marketing

Web Design

I read this terrific article yesterday on How To (and not to) Work With A Designer.  The article is chock-full of good advice that really hit home for me based on my experience working on web design projects. 

I would like to share a few of the suggestions that should be top of mind for lawyers.

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