Most attorney SEO tip lists include things like keyword research, link building and content marketing. And while these are undoubtedly important pieces to the SEO puzzle, they don't communicate the bigger picture of how organic search marketing fits into the marketing of a law practice.
Here are 10 SEO tips for attorneys to keep in the back of their heads at all times:
- Be Authentic: There are a variety of reasons to be authentic online. In the context of SEO, you should remember that search engines are evolving to reward authenticity. Attorneys who are authentic online will have greater success in organic search results.
- Be Ethical: No organic search rankings are worth your license. Read, understand and apply your state's rules of professional responsibility to all of your communications marketing and advertising campaigns. This includes your SEO strategies.
- Be Technical: There is simply no denying the fact that there is a technical component to SEO. If your pages aren't organized in a logical manner and easily crawlable and understandable to search engines, you aren't going to have success in organic search.
- Be an Expert: Search engines reward the "best" content on a subject. People link to and share "stuff" that they can rely upon. The more that your expertise comes through in what you publish online, the better you will do in search results and the more you will turn visitors into potential client inquiries.
- Be Social: People are social. It should be no surprise that the internet is social. You don't build offline relationships by being anti-social. The same is true on the web.
- Be Interesting: You might not like to accept this, but people don't want to hear about your boring legal stories. If what you publish online is boring, people will be less likely to link to and share it. Which is a problem for your SEO campaigns. Is that to say you should post pictures of kittens on your legal blog? Of course not. But you need to find a way to strike a balance between demonstrating your expertise and keeping your content interesting.
- Be User-Focused: Search engines invest significant resources in understanding users and delivering a great user experience. User experience is a core part of SEO. Give users good experiences and they will reward you by sharing, linking to and further publicizing what you publish online.
- Be Present: For most attorneys, time is a scarce commodity. However, if you want to have success in organic search results, there are certain time investments that are unavoidable. If you are not present in the online conversation, you will be greatly limited in terms of the success you can have with SEO.
- Be Involved: You may think that you can simply write a check to have someone else execute your SEO campaigns. This is a mistake. You should be intimately involved in understanding what is being done your behalf, why it is being done and what the value is to your practice.
- Be a Good Lawyer: Because search engines want to provide their users with the best experiences, they reward businesses that are providing customers with good experiences too. Therefore, providing your clients excellent service which motivates them to sing your praises online, is critical to SEO.
Thank you for your post.
It does bring up a challenging issue: convincing attorneys that they need to spend time participating online and also creating quality copy to engage potential customers and get better rankings. The days of the old-boys' club (for getting new clients, anyway) is nearly over. Blindness to this fact--and the need for their active participation in marketing and engaging in the online world--seems to challenge both the mature and the newer attorneys (who are focused on getting as many billable hours as possible and/or getting their solo practice off the ground). Even firms with marketing depts and/or deep pockets don't seem to realize that their attorneys need to come to the party and participate (including having strategies for capturing and reusing/redeploying the content they do create, and distributing it for--gasp--free).
I'd love to see more suggestions on how to show attorneys that participating online and in copy creation is not good of them, but good for them, and the new reality of today's marketplace, and that they are running the risk of being left behind.
Thanks for your comment. With regard to convincing attorneys that they should spend time participating online, it's really no different than convincing them to spend time networking in more traditional ways. Those that understand the effectiveness of developing professional relationships will benefit. Those that don't won't.
As to proving the value of online participation, that is bit more challenging. How do you prove the value of attending a social/networking function? Count handshakes and business cards?
Traditional metrics tend not to apply. "Social metrics" tend to be irrelevant. I think it comes down to connecting the dots. If you want to measure anything, I recommend measuring things like:
- @mentions on Twitter
These engagement metrics are telling in terms whether or not the ways in which we are participating are effective with our audiences.
Are lawyers going to get inbound calls saying that they "found them on facebook?" Maybe some, but not many. On the other hand, publishing and sharing content on various platforms that demonstrates knowledge and attracts more readers, subscribers and sharers, builds industry recognition.
And of course, being social counts. After all, lawyers and their clients are people. Which means, by nature, they are social.