Just the other day, Sam provocatively declared “There is No Such Thing As Online Marketing.” His point was that people who think that online marketing is fundamentally different from traditional marketing are splitting hairs. It is about letting people know who you are and what you do, in an effort to get paying clients in the future.
Sam’s post made me think about the specific tactics lawyers can and should use, both online and offline, for search engine optimization (SEO) and link building.
Purpose of Online and Offline Marketing
The goals of both online and offline marketing are to get clients and referral sources who trust you, and understand how your services can benefit them. That’s it.
The Internet has created a number of new opportunities to engage with clients and colleagues, but that engagement is not (or at least it should not be) fundamentally different from how you would relate to those people if you saw them in your office or bumped into them at the grocery store.
Secret Tricks for Ranking in Google
When lawyers ask us about website marketing, they are thinking about sneaky tools marketing consultants must have for making their sites rank in Google. The sad truth is that for a long time, there were tricks that SEO experts used to get low-quality sites to rank well. Google has been learning its lesson, though, and with few exceptions, the current understanding of Google’s algorithm are increasingly based on three principles:
- Naturally-acquired links from reputable sites.
- Your site’s trust and reputation among real people, based on their social media presence.
- Interest and engagement on your site by actual visitors.
It turns out that the best ways to “rank well in Google” are what good lawyers have been doing offline for decades.
Seven No-Risk Tips for Sustainable Online Marketing
The good news is that all of these things are easy for an effective lawyer to start implementing today. These tips are guaranteed to work, cost little-to-no money, and you will never get a Google “penalty” for doing them. In return, you will get high-quality links to your site, mentions in social media, and see your Google search rankings increase.
So, how do you become an online and offline marketing master?
- Write quality, relevant, valuable content about your topic of expertise.
Good lawyers write. If you have an idea for an article, submit it to your local bar journal or community newspaper. Of course, you can write a guest post on Lawyerist, or even start your own law blog. Regardless of the medium, there is no better way to build your reputation than to write valuable content for others.
- Speak and teach.
Use your practice area expertise to teach CLEs, speak at client industry events, offer a community education course, or guest lecture at your local law school.
- Win awards.
If you have actually done good work, you will eventually receive recognition for it. Awards from esteemed organizations will often promote you on their website.
- Sponsor events.
Have your firm sponsor a client industry conference, a local pro bono organization, a little league team, or a charity 5K. These opportunities often come with links from the organization’s website to the sponsor’s website. You may even be able to deduct the cost of the sponsorship as a charitable deduction.
- Become a source to the media.
Find local reporters — most are on Twitter, if you are looking — and let them know that you can be a smart, media-savvy source for quotes in future stories about your practice area.
- Be a leader in your community.
Chair a section of your bar association, serve on the board of a non-profit, get appointed to a local commission, or run for local office. Do not do these things for the SEO; do them because you care about your community and will do a great job. If you have no board experience, start small by volunteering for a committee.
- Stay engaged with friends, colleagues, former clients, mentors, and mentees.
Make a point of checking in with your social and professional network and offer them help. Whenever you can, share interesting and valuable information with your network. You can do this with social media, an email newsletter, or by picking up the phone.
What other activities should lawyers consider for getting people to know, like, and trust them on and off the Internet?