This article includes 100 tips, large and small, for marketing your law firm online and getting leads via the internet. Some people may take umbrage with our interchangeable use of SEO, inbound marketing, and online marketing in the title, but we hope you get enough value out of this post to forget that.
Whatever you want to call it, earning positive attention for your practice is really what any form of internet marketing should be all about. And while ultimately, earning positive attention comes down to providing excellent service to your clients, there is a variety of other “stuff” that you can do to nurture your firm’s presence online.
Will marketing yourself on the internet make you rich all by itself? Of course not. In fact, doing it poorly is likely to do you more harm than good. Nonetheless, there’s no question that what people find out about you online matters to some people. And that seems to be enough reason alone to take control of your presence on the web.
Here are 100 tips to help you do just that. It’s a long list and the suggestions range from extremely basic to sort of advanced. Admittedly, some may seem plainly obvious to you. Hopefully, not all of them do. When it comes to marketing your practice, there really aren’t any one-size-fits-all solutions. But there are some best practices that we think will help you avoid some of the most common mistakes.
1. Review your state’s Rules of Professional Responsibility especially as they pertain to advertising and communications about a lawyer’s services.
As you should know, as a lawyer, you are bound to your state’s Rules of Professional Responsibility. And while you might not agree with, or even completely understand, all of the rules, you should work to adhere to them. After all, your license and reputation might depend on them.
This post goes through the individual rules, there’s a general guideline that I think is worth bearing in mind for anything you post to the web:
Assume that it’s public and permanent.
Even with privacy settings in place, you should assume that the “stuff” you put into the web ether is public and permanent (or that it might become public and permanent).
If you keep that guideline in mind, you’ll do well to avoid some of the most common online legal marketing ethics blunders.
2. Optimize for featured snippets and voice search.
Voice search is such a hot topic in search these days and some of that is overblown. What isn’t overblown is that voice search is akin to local search. Optimizing your site for voice search will help your standard SEO and local search as well.
While voice search is still early stages, we do know that how people are searching via voice is different than how they are searching with text. The main difference for voice search vs. text search: is the use of natural language searching. They include words we usually omit in typed searches; does, to, much, what, how to.
The Steps to Optimize For Featured Snippets:
- Start with your keyword research:
- Focus on target terms where you already rank in the top 10 and have a competitor ranking in the number one spot or who has the featured snippet.
- SEMrush lists featured snippets that a particular site ranks for
- Find what people are searching for:
- Make sure your website is following SEO best practices
- Use structured markup; schema.org
3. Assume everything that you put online is public and permanent.
Did you know that you can find previous versions of webpages?
Here are a couple of tools we use for this:
At AttorneySync, when we’re looking for broken links, old links, or historical website information, we use these websites. These websites are why you want to be extra careful before you hit publish online. If a colleague calls you out on an inappropriate blog post or social media post, it may already be too late.
4. Seek to create 10x Content.
To stand out online, your content must be better, more relevant, or more ‘something’ than the other content already online.
In order to create content that is better than what others are creating, you need a process to follow. See what is ranking for the keywords you’d like to rank for. What do those pages have in common? What are they missing?
See if you can fill in the gap for those posts, plus add your own spin on the subject and tie it back to your audience, your law practice, and your geographic area.
5. Consider how the audience that you want to attract uses searches and the internet.
When you know who it is that you are marketing to, especially if you’re spending significant marketing and/or advertising dollars, you can more successfully target your marketing to those people. You can start the process of identifying your target market of clients by figuring who you currently attract. Whether or not you want those type of clients is yet to be determined, but that’s a good exercise to practice once you’ve identified your current clientele.
What is a client persona or a buyer persona?
It’s an outline of a real client that could exist and you can point to many real clients who fit that profile.
Lawyerist has a great post that details the pros and cons of creating client personas and utilizing client-centered marketing.
How to determine your client personas:
- Use your practice management software or CRM (client relationship manager) to look at who your clients are.
- How did your clients find you?
- Why did they choose you?
- What do they want?
6. Spend a lot of time learning about search engines.
We recommend reading these blogs:
- Search Engine Journal; You’ll get a wide variety of information here and stay up to date on search engine changes. Just don’t get overwhelmed by the inside baseball articles you may find.
- Moz Blog; Industry experts submit articles here, giving away their own strategies to digital marketing and SEO topics. Really helpful stuff here!
- AhRefs; We use Ahrefs for our keyword research and their blog is as high-quality as their product.
- Backlinko; This blog isn’t quite as hard-hitting on the SEO and digital marketing as the above but it does showcase really great content and practical tips for maximizing your marketing efforts.
7. Read Google’s Webmaster Tools Help on SEO.
Google is the source for what to do and not to do online because, as of this study in 2018, almost 90% of searches happen on Google. They set the rules that we try to follow.
8. Read Google’s SEO Starter Guide.
Along with their own Webmaster tools and tips, Google’s SEO starter guide is, of course, a great place to get started. This guide goes through best practices, breaks down SEO lingo, and offers their best practices for SEO success.
9. Read Moz’s Beginner Guide to SEO.
Another great tool to get you started with SEO. Moz has been working on updating the guide, so you’re sure to have the latest and greatest, beyond what Google wants you to know.
10. Read our GoogleAds Guide.
Tested, tried, and true beginner guide for GoogleAds from us. We’ve been running ads on behalf of our law firm clients for over a decade now and have seen some great success while learning what not to do along the way.
*The screenshot in this post may show it’s age but the content is still there!
11. Read the Legal Marketing posts at Lawyerist.
Lawyerist is a go-to for lawyers beginning a law practice or taking their small firm to the next level with easy-to-apply and understand, even while running your firm.
12. Focus on User Experience.
It may not seem like user experience for a law firm website is a big deal, but the longer your practice area’s sales cycle is, the more important this actually is.
User experience goes beyond having an attractive website or great call-to-action and fits into SEO because of RankBrain, what Google has said is its third-ranking factor for SERPs. RankBrain relates to user experience in that it takes information based on how searchers respond to search pages and take that information to determine which pages are creating a better user experience.
13. Brainstorm what search phrases your target audience (the people you’re trying to get to your site) would use to find you.
Beyond brainstorming, find actual data to go along with those ideas. Utilize services like SEMRush, Answer The Public, or even the People Also Ask feature on Google. This Search Engine Journal article goes through 28 free tools.
14. Spend time planning out your content strategies (i.e. posting schedules/topics, interactive media, videos, etc).
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
This old adage is especially applicable when it comes to a busy law firm. If you don’t spend some time planning your social media or blog posts, it’s not going to happen when you’ve got a busy caseload.
The other bit of advice tied into this? Create ahead. When you do have extra time, record multiple videos or use a service like Buffer to pre-plan your social media content.
15. Plan out “calls to action” to motivate visitors to take action (i.e. contacting you, downloading something, click on something, subscribing).
A/B test those call-to-actions as well. There are great resources out there, including this one from Hubspot. An effective CTA may need to be more than a “click here,” and this guide helps define alternative options.
16. Add web forms to your site that provide a means for visitors to contact you.
Smarter lead forms could make the difference for your website visitors. Segmenting leads from the start can make selling easier and interactions more meaningful.
Here are a couple of tools we like:
- Gravity Forms; a great plugin for your WordPress website and the forms we use (but honestly, aren’t maximizing- yet).
- Leadformly; they proclaim to get you more leads than a standard form. Not sure if this is true but they sure look nice!
17. Update your old content to make sure that it applies year over year.
This is often referred to as “evergreen content” which means that you simply have to update it from time to time, instead of writing on entirely new topics.
Less is more with content. Create longer-form posts that deep-dive into issues that matter to your potential clients and speak to the wide range of issues that they could be dealing with.
18. Create experiments in Google Analytics to test different versions of your pages.
Most businesses, law firms included, underestimate their analytics. Set up goals, look at where your website traffic comes from, and track converting webpages.
19. Consider appropriate disclaimers regarding confidentiality, advertising, and attorney-client relationships.
As with our first tip, we recommend that our clients use social media and internet marketing wisely by following their state’s and the ABA’s ethics rules.
One thing we see a lot? Lawyers using social media inappropriately or in a way that could get them reported. Erin Gerstenzang has some great information about posting on social media in ways that get you referrals or clients but don’t get you in trouble.
20. Use real professional photography of the people at your firm and real photography of your office.
What does this have to do with SEO? Creating a good web visitor or potential client experience is an important part of your digital marketing.
Real photography also means quality photography. Potential clients will notice the difference between photos you take with your iPhone and when you’ve hired a professional.
21. Don’t use cheesy stock legal imagery like gavels, legal books and scales of justice.
It is important to create a brand identity for your law firm that matches a client experience of working with you.
Here are several great examples of lawyers with websites that look like lawyer websites but aren’t cookie cutter and offer insight on what working with that lawyer will be like:
- EHG Law Firm, Erin Gerstenzang, Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorney
- Birken Law, Jess Birken, MN Non-Profit Attorney
22. Make sure your website is optimized for mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.
We recommend (and use) responsive design for our client’s websites. A separate mobile website should be a thing of the past.
While potential clients are rarely going to share your law firm’s content, they may want to see what your law firm is doing on these platforms.
You may get some great questions here or you may not get any interaction. Either way, it seems like an easy opportunity for interaction. Just make sure to monitor your posts for comments.
25. Begin to build a list of these search phrases (use a spreadsheet).
Using the tools we’ve mentioned for keyword research, take the phrases you’d like to rank for and build them into a spreadsheet with your law firm’s current ranking status, the pages that are ranking for these terms, and if those pages are creating conversions (leads). It may take a bit of time to triangulate the data, but having this information will be the cornerstone for your content marketing plan.
Why? Because it is much easier to improve rankings for things you are already rank for.
26. Use Google’s free keyword research tool to compare relative search volume and advertiser competition.
A great tool to have in your toolbox of keyword research.
27. Download phrase match and exact match keywords and they’re relative competitions and volumes to add to your spreadsheet.
The next step in your keyword research is to look at how your competitors are ranking for those keywords and to see which keywords searchers are also using for those phrases. SEMRush is a great tool for this step in your research.
28. Utilize Frequently Asked Questions
An FAQ page is a really great place to use videos that explain what it’s like to work with your law firm. Take advantage of this typically boring page and showcase your law firm, your company values, and your business practices.
Speak to your contracts, your personality, and your working style.
Or, instead of a singular FAQ page, use FAQ Schema to incorporate the questions on each practice page of your website.
29. Prioritize keywords base upon relevance to your practice, search volume, and relative competition.
You’re never, I repeat, never, going to rank in the top 10 for “lawyer.” Maybe not even “car accident lawyer” in a general search. Think about what other terms you can realistically rank for that would lead to more clicks, calls, and clients for your law firm.
If you choose to pursue rankings for a low volume keyword, just make sure that the time you put into that keyword is congruent with the search volume of the keyword.
30. Begin to plan which pages of your sites will be optimized for which keywords.
- Start with the page you want to rank for most AND are currently ranking highest for.
- Build out a 10x content page based on the top 10 ranking pages for that keyword, especially in your geographic area if you are a location-based law firm.
- Identify what is missing from those pages and add your law firm’s unique perspective on that term.
31. Consider using the ‘keyword 1 keyword 2 | Firm Name’ convention for titles.
The <title> tag is extremely important to the success of your website in search engines. It tells the search engines what your law firm website is about. One of the most common mistakes made on attorney websites is using your name, or law firm name, as the title of your website. Sure, you’ll do very well for searches on your name, but you don’t do very well for all the other searches that potential clients might be using to find you.
32. Optimize meta descriptions to attract the attention of searchers.
But don’t expect them to level-up your SERPs. Meta descriptions are great for searchers to understand what your website will be all about but won’t make you rank number one by themselves.
Here’s what Google Web Spam Master, Matt Cutts, has to say on meta keyword tags:
Look, spending some time thinking about your meta keywords and descriptions can’t hurt. However, don’t expect that by simply adding some metadata to your websites that you’re going to start getting visibility within Google.
33. Consider using your contact information in meta descriptions.
Use this method sparingly but consider putting your law firm’s phone number or contact email in a few page meta descriptions.
34. Think about your site’s layout before you begin creating posts and pages.
Mapping out your website before creating it or working with a web developer could save time and headaches in the long run.
First, take a look at law firm websites in and outside of your practice area. Go back to other websites that you like, outside of legal. What do those websites have in common? Are they user-friendly, with cohesive user experience?
Second, identify the main pages your website will have. Practice areas, blog, team pages, and what else?
Third, identify what will live on those pages. Just a rough outline is all you need, your website development team should be able to fill in the rest of the dots for you and offer suggestions.
35. Find your “Content Gaps” and fill them!
Ahrefs has a great tool called, content gaps, to find out what your website and your competitors are missing on the content front. You could possibly uncover a blue ocean for your content.
36. Site speed matters, choose a hosting plan that will keep your site fast.
Site speed continues to be one of the important factors of SEO but did you know that it’s not just about compressing images and videos? Your website hosting plan also affects your site speed, so make sure you upgrade as your website gets more complex.
37. Choose keyword-rich domains that describe your practice & location.
While you may not be able to secure www.personalinjuryattorneycitystate.com, this may not be the best website for your law firm anyway. Your law firm name, location, or specific niche, are great places to start when looking for a new domain name.
We discuss law firm domains more in this post.
38. Avoid using hyphenated and ridiculously long domain names with strange domain extensions.
See the post linked above. This post is also great for more domain name knowledge.
39. To control results for searches on your name, consider also registering the domain for your name (i.e. gyitsakalakis.com).
This may not be possible unless you have a unique name but it may be worth a shot.
40. Make sure your offline marketing is tied to your online marketing.
If you aren’t tracking the success of either your offline or online marketing, you may not see the value in one or the other. Why does this matter? You may think your billboards are doing all the heavy lifting in getting you leads, but they may just be funneling people onto your Instagram, where people are actually contacting you from.
Learn more about tracking your online & offline marketing here.
41. Just use WordPress. That’s the self-hosted kind from WordPress.org (not WordPress.com).
We use WordPress for all of our website development, as long as the client is on board. Why? The platform offers more plugins, customization, and more possibilities for great SEO.
In addition to WordPress, make sure you own your website. If you are working with a digital marketing company that uses a proprietary CMS (website platform, Content Management System) make sure you can get all of your website data. Then run straight to the nearest SEO-focused website company and have them build you a website that you can own.
42. Harden your WordPress installation.
43. Go to Settings -> Privacy and make sure that “Allow search engines to index this site” is selected.
It may seem silly but we meet with potential clients who have unindexed sites with shocking frequency. If your younger brother’s roommate who made a website for his gaming and you think that qualified him to build your website, you may want us to check out the technical SEO aspects of your site.
44. Go to Settings -> Permalinks and make sure that they’re pretty. Select “Custom Structure” is selected. I recommend /%category%/%postname%/.
In this case, pretty means easy to understand. We’ve all seen links that go to “www.websiteexample.com/services/asdlj9gklj309/” – what is that? The link verbiage isn’t essential to its success but it does create a seamless experience for the person who clicks the link.
45. Install Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin.
This plugin is great because it gives you a red, yellow, green stoplight based on how “SEO-friendly” your webpage is, so you can improve the page before you hit publish.
46. Configure page & post title and meta-templates in Yoast’s plugin.
Don’t get stuck on making your post all green but do make some effort to boost your post with a concise title and engaging meta description.
47. Ideate your content based on interactions with actual clients.
What do your potential clients want to know when they first talk to you? What questions do they ask during a consultation or intake? These questions can provide some great social media and blog posts. Keep a living document with these ideas and add the links to completed posts, so you know what you’ve already covered and where that lives.
48. Consider whether you want archive pages to be crawled and indexed. Will your archive pages be creating duplicate content issues?
49. Choose a theme that generates good, clean code.
If you are starting from a theme or templated website, look up reviews and SEO thoughts about the theme you choose before starting to customize. This could save you time, money, and effort in the long run.
50. Install a web analytics program, probably Google Analytics (it’s free).
Google Analytics is the industry standard for analytics, but there is much more you could learn from these other sites.
51. Listen to online conversations to understand what information is creating a demand for your potential clients.
The best way to seek this information? People Also Ask. Most searches happen on Google and they keep track of alternative search queries.
52. Supply that demand.
Create content that answers those search queries.
53. Add your firm’s name and the names of the attorneys at your firm to Google Alerts.
Alerts are a great way to catch everything that is being said about you online. Warning: if you have a common name, add “lawyer,” “law firm,” or your city to the alert to cut back on potential false alerts.
55. Where appropriate, respond to questions and comments concerning you and your firm.
This is especially important on the above-mentioned Google My Business profile. Unanswered questions are a poor reflection on your law firm.
56. Create goals in your analytics software to track key events that take place on your site (i.e. form fills, downloads, etc).
57. Track your potential clients.
There are now multiple tools you can use that follow your website visitors after they leave your site. Installing the LinkedIn and Facebook pixels on your website could allow you to retarget beyond display ads.
58. Verify your site in Google Webmaster Tools.
59. Don’t forget about Bing Webmaster Tools too.
60. Where appropriate, add schema markup for reviews.
Reviews = social proof. If you are providing great service and getting positive reviews, circulate those reviews beyond the search results page and your social media by adding review schema.
61. Monitor your competitors, beyond website visits.
Your competitors are probably doing a lot more than you can see from their static website, just as you are. Scroll midway through this post to find easy ways to keep an eye on your competitors.
62. Validate your markup with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
63. If local search matters to you, make sure that your firm’s name, address and phone (local phone) appear prominently on your site.
Tongue in cheek on this one, as local search should matter a great deal to your law firm. Beyond local search, if a client can’t easily find your phone number or contact information, they won’t be able to contact you. Make life easier on them, put your contact information in the header and footer of your website.
64. Claim, update and optimize the local profiles recommended at GetListed.org and the citation sources specifically recommended for your city.
Again with how important local SEO is. Make sure that your business is listed in local listings and that the information is updated as needed.
65. Use tools like Whitespark to find quality citation sources.
66. If permissible in your state, encourage happy clients to review your work on Google My Business, Avvo, Yelp, and Facebook.
67. Look for citation and link opportunities from authoritative legal sites (i.e. state bar associations, law schools, legal information sites).
Link-building is one of the most effective SEO methods we utilize for our clients.
Link-building is one of our specialties, so we created a whitepaper to share our process. Download Our Whitepaper
68. Find citation and link opportunities from reputable legal directories (i.e. Avvo, Justia, Cornell’s Legal Directory).
69. Use tools like OpenSiteExplorer, Majestic SEO and Ahrefs to find where and how your competitors are acquiring quality links.
70. Avoid all link schemes.
71. Don’t do quid pro quo link exchanging.
Typically, these are low quality links. There may be times when you do link exchanges. For example, when creating a resource page with local professionals, you may do outreach and ask them to share the page on their own site or link to your website on their own resource page.
72. Don’t drop spam comments with optimized anchor text links.
We’ve all seen these spam comments which most often don’t relate to the content they are commenting on. This just makes your law firm look bad
73. In fact, don’t over-optimize anchor text links period. Use descriptive language, your name and firm name in anchor text.
74. Don’t straight buy links for the purpose of manipulating PageRank.
75. Add answers to questions to your site that are frequently asked by your clients and prospective clients.
76. Discuss how a recent change in law might impact outcomes for prospective clients.
This is Content Marketing 101 for lawyers but Greg Sisiend went into detail about his process on an episode of Clienting.
77. Write about a book that you recently read.
Especially if the book relates to your practice area or client interest. As a personal injury attorney, you may want to share books that discuss brain injuries or healing from physical trauma.
78. Discuss a seminar or CLE that you recently attended and how it might impact your practice.
This is a content marketing option that is underutilized, in our opinion. Letting potential clients know that you are continually learning how to better serve them, via social media or blog posts, could set you apart from the next lawyer in search results.
79. Outline your practice areas in a way that can be more easily understood by your target audiences.
Legal practice is often confusing to your clients, unless they are also lawyers. Explaining the process and breaking down how you will handle their case will demystify and create a better user experience.
80. Create separate niche microsites that zero in a particular topic in your practice and deliver very unique information on the subject.
We often tell our clients to create one main website listing their practice areas or different kinds of cases, with extensive and relevant copy on the practice area pages but if often makes sense to have separate microsites as well. These can be treated more as landing pages for funneling clients through a lead generation process.
81. Don’t limit your target audience solely to prospective clients. Think about others that you may want to attract to your site (lawyers, legal bloggers, journalists).
82. Find other people online that are writing and discussing topics that interest you and that you believe might be of interest to your target audience.
There is enough to go around. Unless you are trying to actually dominate the world.
83. Listen to industry podcasts.
Beyond Clienting, there are many legal-specific podcasts that can teach you what other successful lawyers are doing. We like The Maximum Lawyer Podcast, Trial Lawyer Nation, Lawyerist, Splitsville, and many others. Search your favorite podcast app for your practice area to see others you may be interested in.
84. Consider volunteering yourself as a guest for these podcasts.
It could be nerve-wracking but you’ll do great.
85. Use your real name when commenting and include your email and a link to your website.
86. Use data visualization tools (visual.ly) & techniques (i.e. infographics) to present relevant information in an interesting way.
87. When you have developed online connections with people, share your writing with them via social networking tools.
Make sure to also like and share their writing. What comes around, goes around, right?
89. Prepare an email newsletter that can be sent to people who sign-up to receive updates from your firm through your sites.
MailChimp and many other sites offer great templates and contact tracking systems.
90. Publish a whitepaper or research paper covering a specific topic in your practice that would be of value to your visitors.
The key here? Make it good enough for people to want to give up their email address. Also, add an opt-in for your newsletter to boost that list.
91. Make it easy for people that visit your site to interact with the site and the people at your firm.
For everyone at your firm who is client-facing and comfortable with this, add their professional or social media links so clients can get to know them better.
92. Host a Facebook Live or Instagram Live to discuss a case that has attracted the public’s attention.
It may be that the first time you do this the only person watching live i your mom, but keep at it even if no one is watching. The great thing about live video is that no one expects it to be perfect, so it’s a great place to practice.
Market the webinar beyond your email list. Try paid social media ads and a landing page to get registrations.
94. Publish a slide deck to Slideshare. Link slideshare to LinkedIn.
Other lawyers may find your content useful- leading to a potential referral source or future speaking opportunities.
95. Transcribe your video content.
With all of the video content in the world, people don’t always listen to videos and may just read the post or transcript. There are many low-cost ways to get a video transcript. We like Rev but have used Temi as well. You just need to be more careful and edit the AI transcripts.
One other great benefit to transcriptions? Creating a better experience for website visitors with a hearing or vision impairment.
Have a blog post and want to turn that into a video? You can do the opposite of creating a transcript with this cool feature of Headliner.
96. Engage in newsjacking, as taught by Mitch Jackson.
When there is a news story related to your practice area, comment on it publicly via your law firm’s social media. This can lead to PR, as Chris Gober discussed in his episode of Clienting.
97. Submit an article for publication to a popular legal news site, organization or blogger who accepts guest contributors.
98. Create a library of cases on your site and provide case summaries and links to .pdfs of Court decisions.
99. Curate excellent sources of information on a topic all into one place.
Local guides can be a great way to get links in your firm’s geographic area. As a family lawyer, you can provide a list to the best ice cream places. As a personal injury law firm, you could list local massage or chiropractor offices.
100. Provide excellent service to your clients and find ways to encourage others to evangelize the quality of your work on the web.
There is no better way to build your online presence and get more clients through the internet than to get positive reviews and show potential clients the great work you’ve done for past clients.
Image credit: https://moz.com/blog/inbound-marketing-is-taking-off