The first part of marketing your law firm online starts with your website. Historically, law firms have paid top-dollar for expensive custom websites. While a custom website may be the right option for some firms, more often than not, purchasing a custom website will cost much more than it’s worth. So, what’s the right price for a law firm website? Unfortunately, that really depends.
Our attitude is that while it is essential for your website to have a professional look and feel, the majority of your website investment should be on the things that help it get found online. These include both search engine optimizations (growing your site’s search engine visibility) and conversion optimizations (turning more visitors to your site into actionable potential client leads).
That is no to say that you can simply put up a static 1997 website and call it a day. When it comes to balancing professionalism, control, easy of use, and price, we continue to support law firm websites built on WordPress.
Here are two great examples of law firm websites built on WordPress:
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization has to be part of your law firm Internet marketing plan. Whether you handle it on your own, in-house, or hire a consultant, if you’re not at least doing the very basics, you may end up hurting your site’s visibility in search engines. If you do nothing else, check out Google’s SEO Starter Guide. Truthfully, it takes a lot more than just the basics to compete for the higher volume legal key phrases. However, you can get a good start and avoid hurting your site by following their guide.
Should you choose to go the route of hiring a professional, you will have to make some important decisions. Think about the practice areas and geographic areas that you want to target. Think about what budget investment you are willing to commit. While generally speaking, larger investments yield faster results, this is not always the case.
Be sure to look for professional help that provides transparency into their activities and reporting on key performance indicators such as traffic, leads, and search visibility.
In addition to search engine optimization, you should consider whether or not you want to engage in a paid search campaign. Paid search advertising will get your marketing message in front of search engine users in a very short amount of time.
In order to effectively execute a paid search campaign, you need to consider your target audience very carefully. You will need to decide which key phrases you wish to target and which geographic areas you wish to serve ads. You will also need to pay particular attention to your budget, bids, ad copy, and landing pages. Each of these components can have a significant impact on the success you will find with paid search. You will want to closely monitor your impressions (the number of times your ads are displayed for a give keyword/adcopy combination), your clicks (the number of times that your ad was clicked on), and conversions (the number of times someone took action to become a potential client lead). Ultimately, like all forms of advertising, you will need to measure your paid search investment against the new business it brings in for your firm.
If not implemented properly, paid search advertising can become a money pit. The online legal services paid search market is highly competitive. Further, there are many law firms that have no problem paying upwards of $50 per click. This can make paid search advertising very costly. However, one of the advantages of paid search is the multitude of key phrase opportunities. Once you find the key phrases that produce the best results for your firm, you can increase the efficiency of your paid search ad spends.
Online legal directories have been around for a long time. Some can be effective, others a complete waste. The effectiveness of an online directory can also vary significantly by practice area and location. For example, a personal injury lawyer in New York may have a completely different result from a criminal defense lawyer in Detroit in the same directory. In addition to practice area and location, the effectiveness of a law firm directory will greatly depend on your visibility within the directory. If you have prime placement, you are likely to have much better exposure. If, on the other hand, you are buried deep within a directory of a million lawyers, it is very unlikely that the directory listing will generate many results.
When considering paying for a directory listing, I recommend considering the following:
-The directory listing’s visibility for terms relevant to your firm.
-The visibility of listings within the directory.
-The length of the commitment to the directory.
-Whether or not you get links back to your website.
Generally speaking, I recommend limiting your initial investment in any online directory to 3-6 months. In that time, you should get a pretty good idea of the kind of results the listing will produce. As always, it is critical to measure the results produced by the listing. Therefore, you should implement a web analytics solution, as well as, a dedicated tracking number and landing page. Measure visits from the listing, phone calls, and of course, new clients.
Pay-per-lead or pay-per-action Internet advertising can be an excellent option. Under this model, law firms pay advertisers a fixed fee for each potential client inquiry that is generated. While the way these programs are implemented need to be mindful of professional ethics considerations, these performance-based services can be a source of some of the most efficient marketing. Unlike many subscription-based models, pay-per-action services align their incentives with yours. If they can’t produce potential client leads, they don’t get paid.
However, it’s important to be mindful that paying per lead presents its own set of concerns. If the leads being generated aren’t producing qualified leads, a percentage of which turn into new clients, then they too will fail to generate a positive return on investment. If you’re considering pay-per-lead services, take a look at Total Attorneys and ExpertHub. Their performance-based marketing products have produced great success for some of our own clients.
Social media is the latest marketing thing on the web. When it comes to social media for lawyers, my attitude is to get involved, but don’t bank on it to be a huge lead generator. Generally speaking, social media has been most effective as a tool to develop new professional contacts and referral sources. If you’re overwhelmed by all the social media out there, stick to blogging, LinkedIn, and some of the various other legal-specific social media networks.
If content is king, then content distribution is queen. Having great web content is critical to having success with Internet marketing for your law firm. However, if nobody sees your content, then it is unlikely to generate new business. Leveraging content distribution platforms, like JDSupra, as well as, article directories, will give your content exposure to a much wider audience. In many instances, it will also generate new links back to your website, which is critical to your own site’s search engine visibility. One thing to keep in mind about content distribution is duplicate content. You don’t want to plaster the exact same article all over the web. If the a search engine deems your content as a duplicate, it will only serve up the most authoritative copy in its results.