Lawyers talk a lot about growing their firms through search engine optimization (SEO) and how they can get their law firm website to rank high in Google. This focus on SEO-related tricks, hacks, and buzzwords often completely misses the point of what good lawyers should actually focus on to grow their firms. Good lawyers doing good lawyering can win at SEO without using any tricks.
Good lawyering, good referral networking, and good SEO are all based on building a reputation in your community for effectively representing happy clients and letting people know who you are and what you do, in an effort to get more paying clients in the future. Below are 8 specific tactics lawyers can and should use, both online and offline, for 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 usually thinking about sneaky tools marketing consultants must have for making sites rank well in Google. The sad truth is that for a long time, there actually 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.
What that means is the best way to “rank well in Google” is to do what good lawyers have been doing offline for decades.
8 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?
1. Write quality, relevant, valuable content about your area 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. The key here is to write well and for the purpose of providing value to an identified audience, not to generate content for links.
2. 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. These opportunities will expose you to new people and also often come with faculty bio pages on websites or links to your firm.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Become a source for the media. Find local reporters—many are on Twitter—and show them you can be a smart, media-savvy source for quotes in future stories about your practice area. Again, the key here is to actually solve the reporter’s problem by giving them ideas for good stories or being a quality source for a story they’re already working on, but not to pitch every case you have to every reporter you can find. Make these contacts for the purpose of helping them, not for promoting yourself.
6. 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. Many of these experiences will come with website listings from established, large organizations or government websites, all of which are great for SEO.
7. 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.
8. Serve clients well and encourage them to tell others about it. Satisfied clients (and their related testimonials and referrals) are the best way to earn a positive reputation, online and offline. After you’ve provided great service to a happy client, encourage them to review you on Google, Yelp, Avvo, or other websites that review businesses.
These eight activities are things good lawyers have been doing for decades, and they are precisely the kinds of activities that will guarantee a good ranking in Google.