Client Reviews are important for potential clients, but does Google pay any attention?

Reviews have become an entrepreneur’s most burdensome task. It can seem daunting and difficult to reach out to clients, and ask for a review online, all while staying ethical, and avoiding Google penalty for paying for reviews.

Still, we do it because everyone says reviews are important, but do they know what they’re talking about? How important are positive client reviews for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Let’s ask Google. On a related Google’s support page, they make the following statement:

“Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking.

That means in the local ranking, which currently consists of a three-pack map (with the option to view more places) is affected by the listing’s number of reviews, and the overall ratings of those reviews.

So, you want 4 and 5-star reviews, and you want a lot of them, but you don’t want them from bots. You want them to be real clients who have taken the time to review your business.

The statement on Google’s support page continues:

“Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.”

So, this means that it’s not only the number and the quality of the reviews on your Google listing, but it’s also the organic performance of your business website, which is connected to the Google listing, that matters in determining which businesses go in the three-pack of Google local search. Your website needs to be optimized for search engines.

According to this statement the three businesses that make it to the three-pack map are likely going to have a good amount of positive client reviews on their business listing, and they will also likely have an optimized website. Let’s put this hypothesis to the test.

Above is a screenshot of a local three-pack result for “general practitioner” when searched from Powder Springs, GA.  The first listing has no reviews, and no website. How could that be? Well, it could be that there were no other general practitioners in Powder Springs, GA apart from these three. In this case Google gave us these three choices simply because that’s all there was within the local area.

However, if you search for a general practitioner in a high-population metropolitan area, such as Washington, D.C. we see that One Medical dominates all downtown.

One Medical has three locations, all three of which are featured in the three-pack map. Each of the listings point to different pages on the same website, which is onemedical.com. Also, they all have at least 15 reviews, with an average rating of over 4.3.

If you actually visit onemedical.com, with the help of an SEO browser extension, you will find the reason this company dominates the space. The website has a domain authority of 60+. This website is one powerful website, and that is the sole reason it dominates in the three-pack map.

If you have a website with a domain authority above 60, you are going to naturally dominate the local three-pack map, regardless of the reviews, just because your website is so powerful. However, there are other industries that are not so dominated by one player, as it tends to be in the medical field.

For example, if we do a search for divorce lawyers in Washington, D.C. we get three independent (from each other) lawyers and law firms: Goodman Law, Hunt Law, and Kuder Law.  All three have a website this time, but Kuder Law only has one single review while the other two have over 20. Does Kuder have a powerful website too? Nope. Their domain authority is only 23.  The only thing of value is they have 9 images on their listing. They have images of the office, the workers, the building, etc.

Clicking on “More places” reveals that there are at least three other law firms that have more reviews than Kuder Law. One of them, Capital Family Law, even had 25 reviews. However, Capital Family Law had only one picture. Could it be that pictures are an important deciding factor? It could be, and therefore we recommend uploading images to your Google business listing. However, we do know for certain that reviews are a major deciding factor, so it will never hurt to focus on that.

Reviews are a great way of gaining trust within the community, and they are possible through good marketing programs. In these two examples, in two different industries, we saw that the digital marketing was involved. In the first example the website domain authority was an important factor in deciding who made the local three-pack map. In the second it was the number of reviews. This is why it’s important to hire a trustworthy SEO company. Organic traffic is so valuable to the business that the investment is worth it.

At Sundown Marketing we are that trustworthy company that businesses rely on to make stellar websites and bring a thorough, and time-tested SEO program to help you build your business. Check out our SEO and reputation management programs, and then call us for a free consultation! We can be reached at (800) 649-1764 or through our website contact form.

Are You Telling The Right Story On Your Homepage?

As an attorney, you face plenty of challenges advocating for your clients in the courtroom or against insurance companies with deep pockets. But with nearly 1.2 million attorneys in the U.S., one of your biggest uphill battles is against the search engines and your peers.

With hundreds or thousands of attorneys in your area competing for the same client, how can you differentiate your firm and attract the best cases? Your track record is essential, as is your brand, but you can stand out and create more interest by telling stories throughout your website.

The Effectiveness of Storytelling in Marketing

Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to breathe life into your digital marketing campaign. By giving your law firm and its services an identity, you can quickly engage your audience and connect with them on a more emotional level.

People who approach attorneys generally need help solving some type of pressing issue. They may be physically, emotionally, and financially in peril and looking for someone that can provide some hope. When you tell a story that quickly connects with them, you have a stronger chance of gaining their business.

Stories unite people with a common bond. When someone is dealing with the aftermath of a serious car accident, and you tell a story about helping a client in similar circumstances, that person is likely to respond.

Storytelling can also be used to transmit meaning and knowledge. Concepts that might be difficult to grasp become more clear when shared within the context of an interesting story.

In addition to being a valuable strategic tool, you can use stories to engage consumers that have become numb to the standard types of content. It gives them a new and engaging experience with an attorney and makes the interaction on your website a memorable one.

How to Use Storytelling to Attract More Cases

People hire attorneys they believe they can trust with some important matters. You can humanize your firm to build rapport and trust with potential clients that are looking for solutions.

Once you’ve established that connection, you’re one step closer to a consultation appointment and a new client.

Here are several ways your firm can use storytelling to attract more clients:

Understand Your Audience

Before you create any content or craft your story, develop a cohesive picture of your target audience. What are their demographics, values, and pain points? Once you have this information, you can tailor your story so that it resonates with them.

Is your typical client looking to maximize recovery on a personal injury case? Or, are they interested in affordable representation for an estate or family law issue? What emotions do you generally sense from them when they contact your firm? Do you find that they are familiar with the legal process or want some education?

The answers to these questions vary greatly across practice areas and firms. But, answering these questions first will help you create a story that is most appealing to your typical client.

Emphasize Your “Why” Instead of Your “What”

With thousands of attorneys in every U.S. state offering similar services, what your firm does may not be enough to differentiate it from the place down the street. You can spend some time on the “what,” but it’s vital that your story place significant emphasis on your firm’s “why.”

When you explain why you fight for the rights of clients, you make the clients the subject of the story instead of the law. As an example, you can tell readers that you believe one of your missions is to fight for the rights of injured workers against unsafe and unfair employers that are backed by powerful insurance companies.

Create an Emotional Connection

Legal marketing is equal parts strategy and art. Your job, or your marketer’s job, is to connect with a potential client’s mind as well as their heart. Decisions are often made more on instinct than logic, and emotion is a key driver of these choices.

You’re obviously a capable attorney, but piling statistics onto a prospective client may not be the best approach. Instead, you can tell stories that create an emotional connection with your reader, and that prompts them to make a decision.

One of the best ways to create an emotional connection is by inserting your reader into the story. For example: “After a crash with a commercial truck, you may have many questions. ‘Who will pay my hospital bills?’ ‘How will I survive with lost time from work?’”

Use Client Testimonials

Some of your most credible stories will be written by past clients. According to BIA/Kelsey, 97% of people (so nearly everyone) read reviews for local businesses. Incorporate client testimonials into your website content to communicate your story through the eyes of someone that has experience with your firm.

Produce Ongoing Quality Content

Putting your story on your website’s homepage is an excellent start. But this is also a theme that you’ll want to carry through your other pages and ongoing blog and social media posts.

People like to see a consistent message, and this can help your firm create an authentic brand. As you learn more about your audience and expand your firm’s services, your story can continue to unfold to incorporate those areas and send the message that you provide the best client experience in the area.

Contact Sundown Legal Marketing Today

Fortunately, many attorneys are gifted storytellers but don’t think to use that skill to market their own services. For more information on using this effective tool in your website content, reach out to Sundown Legal Marketing. Contact us today at (800) 864-1764 or online to schedule a free website evaluation or with any questions about our services.

Backlinks – A Must Have In Any Successful SEO Program

If you research the backlinks of some of the pages at the top of Google search engine results pages (SERPs) for the most competitive keywords in the financial industry you will find that they all have thousands and thousands of backlinks from Google Display ads. At least that we found while researching top keyword placements for a Financial Services industry keyword term a couple years ago. This led us to believe that Google might take into account the very same backlinks they have always publicly said they do not take into account: their own ads. Display ads, to be specific.

So, the top notch Paid Advertising Team at Sundown Marketing Group decided to test out this theory. Our team chose one of our clients who had not yet had much SEO work done to their website. They felt this client would be the perfect candidate because at the time they would not allow us to add any content to their website, thereby giving us a blank canvas to work with.

 

The team created the display campaign, created copy, headlines, descriptions, images and links. They focused on the keyword “car accident attorney” and then let it collect data for three months – June, July, and August of 2019. The team hypothesized that a small display ad budget of $500 would create a small increase in organic traffic, in part due to the backlinks that are generated in the ads. They believed this would happen due to the evidence seen in an Ahrefs backlink report that showed a significant amount of display ads for the top organically placed websites.

Results:

The display campaign produced some traffic, but a near 90% bounce rate, and no form submissions.

But this was to be expected; display ads are more for branding than traffic. So, what happened to the organic placement of the website for “car accident attorney”? Was it impacted?

During the first month website placement for “car accident attorney” cruised up slowly from about 35 to 25. The following two months it was erratic, going up and down but on average the site was shown at the 25 spot. It seems to have helped slightly.

What about the overall organic traffic?

There seemed to be an initial spike in traffic, but nothing too significant overall. You could say there’s more stability in the few weeks after the initial spike comes down.

Overall users were down almost 3% during the time of having the display ads. However, almost every one of the other measurements were up: overall sessions, pages per session, average session duration, even more contact form submissions resulted from the organic traffic during this time.

Those are all very good things, but it can’t be logically correlated to the display ads.

At least one thing is sure – a $500/month budget won’t make a real difference in your organic traffic. But it may help you rank better organically for the keywords you are targeting. Again, evidence seems to suggest that the larger the budget the more organic traffic you’ll get as an indirect result.

At Sundown Marketing Group we are constantly searching for the most effective way to best position our clients online and trying to uncover cutting-edge marketing/SEO ideas. If you’re a small to mid-sized law firm we can help you grow your business. Contact Sundown Marketing Group today at (800) 864-1764 or contact us online at Sundown Marketing Group to schedule a free consultation!

Proper Use of Keywords Can Make or Break Your Law Firm Website Rankings

A successful law firm relies on a constant supply of new cases to continue operations and, hopefully, keep expanding and accumulating a positive reputation. One of the catalysts for this continuous supply, particularly for smaller firms, is a robust digital marketing strategy that puts your firm’s name and website in front of people who are looking for the services you provide.

One shortcut is to simply pay for traffic with PPC ads, but legal keywords are notoriously some of the most expensive in the PPC industry. For example, the term “car accident lawyer long beach” will cost you as much as $350 per click. Ouch!

The good news is that you can avoid this costly form of advertising by focusing on the right keywords throughout your website. There are also some dangers of keyword overuse that could derail your legal marketing efforts.

The Importance of Legal Marketing Keywords

Your keywords are the words or phrases that someone will use to look for your services on a search engine such as Google. They can be single words like “lawyer,” phrases like “personal injury attorney in Mobile,” or even questions like “what’s the penalty for a 2nd DUI in Virginia?”

The better job you do of selecting and optimizing your website (called search engine optimization or SEO) for your keywords, the more likely someone that is looking looking for a firm like yours will find it at the top of the search results and end up on your webpage. So, the keywords you choose as part of your legal marketing strategy must be directly tailored to fit what you’re offering and consider the needs of your target audience. Your keywords should focus on several areas.

Consider Your Unique Brand

One of the first things you should consider is your law firm’s brand. Maybe you have a mission that sums up your firm’s values, such as fierce advocacy for accident victims. You can create some words and phrases associated with your brand to incorporate in your company’s digital content.

If you aren’t sure about what defines you, think about the type of client you wish to serve. What cases do you consider your specialty? What is the most common question you receive from new and current clients?

Location is Vital for Attorneys

According to Hubspot, nearly half (46%) of all Google searches are seeking local information. As an attorney, it’s safe to argue that almost all of your traffic will come from local searches, such as “family lawyer near me” or “motorcycle accident attorney Montgomery.”

When you choose your keyword phrases, it might be tempting to just focus on one or two, but having a broad range is likely to get you better results. Some of the ways you can target geographic keywords for your legal services include:

  • Cities and towns
  • Neighborhoods
  • Points of interest such as universities
  • Geographic regions such as the Gulf Coast

Emphasize Your Services

Most laypeople don’t have an interest in learning the intricacies of your state’s legal code. So, they won’t be searching for legalese or complex legal jargon related to their issues. Instead, they’ll want to know the potential consequences of a recent arrest, what they should do after a slip and fall, or how much they might recover after an accident with an 18-wheeler.

Someone that is suspicious of attorneys will search for one that is “trustworthy” and a person that is detail-oriented with look for a lawyer that is “thorough.” While you can’t claim to be the “best” attorney or an “expert,” you can certainly emphasize other aspects of your unique services with the right keyword choices so that you attract more clients.

Where Do the Keywords Go?

Choosing the best keywords and phrases for your legal marketing strategy is only the first step. You’ll need to use them appropriately and effectively to get the results you want and beat out the attorneys that are trying to do the same.

Simply put, you’ll use your keywords and variations of them in content that you publish on your website as practice area pages and blog posts. The best way to get the most mileage out of your chosen topics is to continually post new material that answers questions and provides additional value to current and potential clients.

The Dangers of Overusing Keywords

Similar to many areas of life, too much of a good thing produces diminishing returns. When it comes to overusing keywords, Google’s response can be brutal. In the past, “stuffing” keywords into a website would garner positive results. This is no longer the case.

Cramming the term “Colorado DUI attorney” into a blog post 10 times makes for clunky and unnatural reading. Google’s algorithms will also notice what you’ve done and could penalize or even deindex your site.

Keyword selection and use is obviously a pain point for many law firms. A lot of work not only goes into choosing the right keywords for your business, but also using them effectively so that they engage with the right audience, get you more clicks, and bring in additional clients.

If you believe you could use some help marketing your legal services online, Sundown Legal Marketing has you covered. We specialize in helping law firms develop individualized digital marketing plans and then executing every aspect of those plans so that you can focus on what you do best.

Contact Sundown Marketing Group today at (800) 864-1764 or online for a free law firm marketing assessment or with any questions.

Do You Have A Marketing Plan?

At Sundown Marketing Group, we have helped law firms market themselves for over 15 years. From big markets to small markets, there has always been one constant; law firms with a well thought out marketing plan, get more cases than firms that do not have a plan. In the days of the yellow pages, firms with the best positions in the most books typically received the most calls and often secured the most clients. We have moved on from those days, but the concepts remain the same.  Get your name and your message in front of as many people as you can while sticking to a specific budget. In today’s world of sensational, in your face, advertising your marketing message must be concise, clear and visible.   Whether it is radio, billboards, TV or the internet you have just a few seconds to get someone’s attention and sell yourself.

With that in mind, we have come up with 10 tips you can implement today to help your firm achieve its marketing goals and dominate your competition.

  1. Decide who will oversee your marketing program and who will have the final decision about all things marketing. Although getting input from other members of the firm is important, the decision on how to proceed should be kept to as small a group as possible. Often, as the group gets larger, less gets done. Paralysis by analysis really comes into play here.
  1. Decide what type of cases your firm wants to attract and prioritize them. This may seem unnecessary, since the firm may practice in several areas, but it just isn’t worth advertising for some types of cases (i.e. real estate closings). This type of work usually comes through relationships or referrals. If your budget is limited, you should mention all your practice areas on your website but save your advertising dollars for the types of cases that require name and brand recognition. Examples of these would be car accidents, criminal defense or divorce cases. There are always case types that are more profitable than others, so you should prioritize them.
  1. Create a budget and stick to it. Marketing of any kind carries a burden of uncertainty. Have a budget that the firm can afford, even if there was a zero return on the money. That is not likely to happen with the right plan, but it should take pressure off the firm. Also, stay away from every “new” idea that comes along. We see this a lot. Stick with the proven methods but give them time to work. Jumping from one plan to another wastes a lot of time and money.
  1. Determine your “total” current investment on marketing. If you have a person at the firm dedicated to marketing efforts, what is their true cost? What is their cost in hourly pay, benefits, education etc.? You must then add in the amount you are spending on marketing outside of your internal human cost (i.e. Google Ads, Facebook Advertising). This will be your actual marketing investment. You then need to determine if your marketing person is as effective as someone who specializes in law firm marketing. In the long run, it may be less expensive to pay an agency, whose job it is to work for you, as opposed to paying an employee to do a similar job.
  1. Know your competition. If everyone in your area is spending $5,000 per month to market their firm and you are spending $500 per month, your program won’t get the same results. Your law firm is your biggest investment, bigger than the stock market or a new car, so invest in it regularly and wisely.
  1. Decide on firm involvement. Determine how much of the firm’s marketing is going to be done internally (dedicated person or people) or externally (agency), or a combination of the two. The first step is to build the best website in your area. This is your calling card and your initial impression on prospective clients. The next step is to get that website found. Digital marketing can be the hardest marketing to do, because the rules are always changing. But it is also an area where you can work with someone else to complement your efforts, with the least amount of time taken away from the firm.
  1. A digital presence is the cornerstone of any business. Everyone has a website, but to really stand out, you should be covering as many of the digital bases as possible, website, video, social media, reviews, internal client referrals and paid ads.
  1. Be consistent. That is the hardest thing for firms that handle their own marketing. A successful program, in the eyes of Google, will have a website that is content rich, has fast load speeds, few errors, proper tagging, quality back links, videos, social media links and the website is updated with new content on a regular basis. Consistency also comes in the form of social media updates on firm activities, community involvement and helpful information for the public.
  1. Build your brand. Be consistent with your firm’s message. Create a steady stream of branding opportunities and stick with them. If you have a tag line, use it on everything. Some of the most successful marketers, in any business, have a great tag line; you should too.
  1. Build up your reviews and testimonials. For most prospective clients, reviews are one of the primary deciding factors when it comes to hiring a lawyer. Facebook, Google and legal directories are all great places to show people how good you are. Don’t be afraid to ask a happy client for a review. You can count on the fact that your competition is doing it.

If you need help with any of these ideas, call our office today. We provide a no cost marketing analysis and can get you headed on the right track in no time. Contact the experienced legal marketing team at Sundown Legal Marketing at (800) 649-1764 or through our website contact form.

Are You Missing Out On Clients? You May Be If Your Website Isn’t Mobile Ready

A website is an essential part of business today. From providing information about your firm and practice areas to driving prospective clients to take action, your website lays the foundation for your connection with clients. However, that means your website needs to appeal to clients based on how they use it. You may have a beautiful, dynamic desktop website, but if it’s not mobile-friendly, you’re missing out on an important part of your online presence.

Mobile technology today

In our technology driven world, mobile internet traffic surpasses desktop traffic by approximately 3% per year. Desktops and laptops are used at home and in business, but most people utilize mobile devices while on the go. People of all ages use smartphones and tablets, to work online, browse social media, and read the news. The constant access to content has created a society that demands instant information, including while on the go. As a result, many websites have adapted to create mobile-friendly formatting, so that website visitors can get what they need whether they’re sitting at a desk with a traditional computer, using their tablet while commuting to work or from their mobile phone while shopping on the weekend.

Reasons to have mobile-friendly websites

Mobile-friendly websites are not just a convenience for a small percentage of users any longer. It is a necessity because of the way people use mobile technology today. However, it’s more than just simply about accessibility on mobile devices. There are a number of reasons that mobile-friendly websites are a good idea for your firm. Understanding these reasons can help highlight the value of this approach for your firm’s business goals.

Users want mobile access. Even though people use desktops for work or personal reasons, chances are they also use mobile devices. People have gotten so used to instant access to information that they expect to be able to find anything on their mobile devices that they would on their desktop computers. Without a mobile-friendly website, your prospective clients will not have easy access to information about your firm on their mobile devices.

Make it easier for prospective clients to contact you. Mobile ready websites provide any website visitor with the ability to instantly contact you using easily clickable buttons (phone or email).

Google likes mobile-friendly content. Google’s all-important algorithm prioritizes mobile-friendly websites. Google knows that most people are online using mobile devices, so they want their search results to match the search needs of the majority of their users. By optimizing your website to be mobile-friendly in formatting and content, your SEO content will be more effective, and your site will rank higher in search results when prospective clients use your keywords and phrases in searching. Whether your prospective clients are searching on desktop or mobile, your mobile-friendly site will make Google happy and help you site to rank well.

Mobile-friendly content is more sharable. Sharing is an important way to spread information. From links on social media to text messaging websites to friends and family, people want to be able to share what they see and like. However, if your site is not mobile-friendly, sharing from desktop to mobile doesn’t work very well. Even if a client wants to share information with others, the information the new client gets won’t be in a format that appeals to them, and they may not take the time to save the link to read it on their desktop.

Stay competitive. Your competitors, especially those with successful internet marketing programs, have already integrated a mobile version of their website. If you want to keep up, get busy.

Ways to make your website mobile-friendly

It’s not difficult to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly. Whether you are building a new site or working with an existing site, here are things you can do to make your site easier to use on mobile devices:

  • Make your site responsive. That means it will automatically adapt to the size of the screen used, including mobile devices. Along similar lines, it’s important to include the viewport meta tag so that browsers will fit the width of your site page to the device your customer is using.
  • Think about the information your prospective clients need. By making important information clearly visible, your users won’t have to figure out how to navigate a site to find valuable information. This may be your menu, your homepage, or your contact information. You can use site metrics to find out the type of information your users view most often to help you decide.
  • Avoid flash. Not only is flash bad for SEO, but it can slow down your site’s loading time considerably. Not all mobile devices support flash, which means some people won’t be able to load your site properly.
  • Pay attention to button and font sizes. Users can get irritated quickly if they have trouble clicking buttons or reading content on their mobile devices. No one wants to have to zoom in on a site just to easily navigate your site.
  • Compress images. High quality images can slow your site’s load time dramatically. By compressing all of the images on your website, you will be able to give a website visitor a better user experience regardless of their device preference.
  • Test mobile and desktop versions of the site. Whenever you make changes or update your content, be sure to test both versions of your site. That will ensure that your site is mobile optimized and your users will be able to access all the information quickly and easily.

Whether you’re redesigning your site to make it more attractive to your target demographic or you want to take advantage of mobile technology with your site’s formatting, a mobile-friendly website is an important part of successful online business. More people use the internet on mobile devices than desktops, so having a mobile-friendly site means being able to engage with the majority of your target demographic. By making changes to your site so that it adapts to mobile devices, you’ll be able to share information with your clients and achieve your firm’s business goals, as well as your website metric goals.

If you have questions about mobile search or building a mobile friendly website Sundown Legal Marketing specializes in helping law firms review their current internet footprint, developing a comprehensive internet marketing plan and implementing every aspect of that plan. Contact us today for a free website evaluation and a no obligation assessment of your internet marketing plan. Call us today at (800) 864-1764 or online at Sundown Marketing Group.

Build Quality Links or Suffer the Consequences

Most website/business owners build a website for a specific purpose. It could serve simply as an online business card, it could be designed to generate revenue, like an e-commerce website, or it could be a website meant to generate leads directing website visitors to call the business or complete a website contact form.

Most law firm websites fall into the latter category, meant to generate leads and convert those leads or prospective clients into actual clients. There are many moving parts in a detailed and comprehensive law firm internet marketing, or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plan, but none are more important than a detailed, well thought out linking strategy.

Links are connections between pages within your website (internal links) or connections between your site and another website (external links or back links).

  • Internal links help Google better understand the content on your website and how your content works together to provide web searchers with answers to questions and a quality user experience. Internal links also help Google better understand how to navigate your site. Website navigation is a very important user issue, so Google needs to confirm that your website can be easily navigated and that website searchers can easily find every page of your website.
  • Back links are proof that your website contains information/content worthy of reference from other, relevant websites. Google uses the number and quality of your back links as a part of their ranking algorithm, which determines what website will rank on the first page of Google for any given search word or phrase. Think of back links as an affirmation that your website is worthy of ranking on Page 1 of a Google search.
  • There are good links and there are bad links. When building a linking program, it is important to focus on building back links that will bolsters your overall E-A-T, or expertise, authority, and trust and to avoid the links that may result in a Google penalty. A bad link is any link that either has a negative impact on your site’s rankings, or indirect issues with your, or indirect issues with your site’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) performance. When building links, you need to keep Google’s Webmaster Guidelines regarding link schemes in mind. Google’s Webmaster Guidelines describes link schemes as “Any links intended to manipulate Page Rank or a site’s ranking in Google search results”.

Creating an effective linking program requires careful planning and consistent execution. Your actual link building strategy should be quite simple – “Develop content that is worthy of links”. The planning and execution of the tactics within your link building strategy is a little more complicated. The first tactic of your link building strategy is the foundation of your link building program – Create high quality, well written content.

In our previous article, Website Content – The Difference Maker, we discussed the importance of creating quality content. Well written content is a very important part of attracting traffic to your website. If your content is authoritative and addresses questions that web searchers are seeking answers to, then it is highly likely that other website owners will want to link to your content so they can provide your answers to their website visitors. The benefit of this is two-fold:

  1. The website linking to your site gains the benefit of the informative content you’ve created, thus bolstering their offering to their website visitors.
  2. Your website gains additional evidence that you are a subject matter expert, proving to Google that you deserve to rank higher in organic searches.

Well written content is the foundation of your SEO effort. Using a quote from one of my favorite movies as inspiration – “Write it and they will come”.

Another tactic you need to include in your link building strategy is guest blogging. Writing content for other authoritative websites within the legal community can provide quality back links to your website. Where this effort can provide valuable cache for your site, the work effort necessary for success can be substantial. The steps involved in a successful guest blogging campaign are:

  • Find a site or sites where you’d like to post your guest blog. Criteria for these sites will be – sites that publish legal content, sites that Google considers relevant and sites that do not contain too much promotional material.
  • Contact the owner of the sites you’ve chosen and “pitch” them on the idea of posting your content.
  • Draft your content/blog. Create content that fits the theme of the site where you want to post your content but is still true to your business goals and your practice areas.
  • Follow up with the site owners.

This process needs to be a part of your ongoing SEO effort. Posting your content only on sites that Google considers relevant in the legal marketplace and adding a link back to your website is a slow and steady way to build quality back links. A calculated and sustainable approach is necessary in order to avoid suffering a penalty from Google.

There are other ways to develop quality back links for your law firm website:

  1. Become active in your community. Support a local charity, sponsor a local sports team, or promote an educational event. Beyond the obvious benefits of giving back to your community, sponsorship opportunities often result in a mention on another web property. With this mention come a back link to your website.
  2. Build robust profiles on directories. There are many different types of directories on the web. Some are free, some cost money. Some focus specifically on law firms/attorneys, some focus on any type of business. Directory listings can provide valuable back links to your website.
  3. Get noticed. When you receive recognition for your work it may result in a back link. If you receive a mention for a large settlement or you are selected as one of “100 Best” for a legal publication, then your name and/or your firm’s name may be prominently displayed the company’s website. With this mention you may receive a back link.
  4. Get published. If you draft an article for a legal website, you may receive a back link from the article to your website.

Earning links needs to be the foundation of your link building program. Simply purchasing links is no longer an acceptable practice. You must make sure that your link profile is as natural as possible.

You need to have a long-term outlook on link building. It is an ongoing project that will evolve over time. Any short term, quick fix schemes may work near term, but eventually will result in Google penalties.

If you have questions about building a comprehensive link building program Sundown Marketing Group specializes in helping law firms review their current internet footprint, developing a comprehensive internet marketing plan and implementing every aspect of that plan, including link building. Contact us today for a free website evaluation and a no obligation assessment of your internet marketing plan. Call us today at (800) 864-1764 or online at Sundown Marketing Group.

Outpacing Your Competitors With Agile Marketing

The legal industry is inherently conservative, not necessarily in the political sense, but rather in the sense of adhering to traditional ways of getting things done and building business. If you think about it, lawyers resolve many cases by researching similar issues in the past, so forging new ground might feel uncomfortable.

But as the world changes at an increasingly rapid pace, a law firm’s ability to survive might hinge on its ability to innovate and adjust. Clients want a more personalized experience, and law firms are being forced to operate under some strange conditions. How can your firm continue to build its business and give its clients the service they need and deserve? Enter a concept called agile marketing, which could transform your legal marketing strategy.

What is Agile Marketing?

When your law firm created its marketing plan for 2020, it probably didn’t anticipate a global pandemic and everything that has come with it. In most cases, it’s no longer affordable or logical to create a 12-month marketing plan that you take a peek at annually.

In this ever-changing world, a Google update can pull the rug out from under your plans, or something like COVID-19 can come along and change everything. While traditional marketing emphasizes client development and marketing production cycle, agile marketing places a priority on the clients and their buying process, which makes more sense in today’s environment.

Inspired by the term “agile software development,” agile marketing is a legal marketing strategy that has teams work collaboratively and collectively to accomplish goals within definitive, short time periods.

With agile marketing, team members publish content quickly, track results, and make necessary changes based on performance. Firms can also quickly adjust their approach to respond to changes in the market. Websites and campaigns can be created in a launchpad format and revisited whenever necessary for revision.

How Agile Marketing Differs from Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing processes follow a linear and rigid timeline. Marketers set goals and approach tasks one-by-one without making adjustments. Large projects like websites might not be revisited for several years.

Agile marketing uses a more rapid cycle that enables teams to make changes when necessary. Here are several ways that agile marketing differs from a traditional approach:

  • Fast-paced – Instead of dealing with lengthy development cycles, agile marketing accomplishes short-term goals with frequent meetings to gauge progress.
  • Collaborative – Agile marketing eliminates traditional hierarchies and silos, with members of the team sharing accountability for results.
  • Rapidly Iterative – Teams produce initial content that is tested and later tweaked to improve performance and better respond to client needs.
  • Driven by Analytics – Agile marketers rely heavily on data to analyze the effectiveness of efforts and identify opportunities for additional approaches.

The Benefits of Agile Marketing for Law Firms

If you’re going to shake up the way you approach marketing for your law firm, it’s helpful to understand why you’re doing it. Agile marketing has a number of advantages over traditional methods. Marketing teams not only work more effectively using agile methods, but they also achieve better results.

Get More Done

Agile marketing is an incredibly efficient means of marketing your brand. SEO experts at Moz report that teams who use agile marketing methodology accomplish up to 40% more tasks than those who stick to conventional methods.

Better Internal Communication

By having more frequent meetings, you’ll ensure that there is improved communication between members of the marketing team and between the marketing team and the firm’s senior management.

Quickly Adapt to Change

No one knows what’s going to happen tomorrow, a month From now or six months from now. But we do know that the future isn’t going to look like the present, and businesses that survive are the ones that can quickly adapt to change.

Google changes its search parameters frequently, and firms using this approach can adapt more quickly. Also, some law firms were quick to post COVID-19 content to reposition themselves in a shifting market, and others are still thinking about it.

Measurable Results

The foundation of agile marketing is using data to improve your results, so it’s not surprising that brands using these methods are seeing results. According to researchers at McKinsey, companies that adopt agile marketing see revenue increase by up to 40%.

Stay Competitive

Agile marketing allows your firm to produce a more relevant message that matches the current environment and meets the needs of potential clients. Since delivering a positive client experience should be a priority, this approach gives your firm the best opportunity to engage with prospective clients and convert more visitors to clients.

Creating Your Agile Framework for Legal Marketing

The benefits of agile marketing are clear for a business that is ready to commit to something different. But, how can your law firm implement this new approach? Here is a breakdown of the agile framework to give you an idea of how this works:

Strategize

Start by setting goals for your project. You can begin by auditing your current website or marketing tactic to see what’s working and what needs improvement. As with any marketing strategy, the agile process should have SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.

Launch

Take your website or next marketing initiative live quickly, meaning within two to four weeks. This is much faster than the many months it generally takes to launch a traditional website or produce tangible results from a content strategy. Agile marketing is characterized by short bursts of activity that move you towards accomplishing long-term goals.

Improve

Based on the data you collect about your marketing initiative or launchpad website, you can identify any necessary improvements to boost results. Compare your results to the goals you set at the beginning. Figure out what is working and what isn’t so that you make adjustments as you move to the next iteration of your marketing strategy.

Get a Head Start on Your Competition

With too few law firms taking advantage of proactive processes and strategies, agile marketing can give your firm the competitive edge it needs. Sundown Legal Marketing specializes in helping law firms identify and implement the best approach to legal marketing. We have an experienced team of designers, developers, copywriters, and strategists that are ready to work with your firm on a website design and robust marketing strategy.

Contact us today for a free evaluation of your internet marketing plan and no obligation assessment of your website content. Call us at (800) 864-1764 or reach out online through our website contact form.

Transitioning Your Law Firm’s Future Client Interaction

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every industry and part of American society. This country’s law firms have been facing unprecedented challenges with no clear end in sight. Like other industries, lawyers are innovating ways to continue serving clients from a distance by leveraging technology.

Most client journeys begin online with a client realizing they have a legal obstacle and then hitting the search engines for some answers. But, traditionally, lawyers’ transition to face-to-face contact for consultations and updates. While that might have changed temporarily due to COVID-19, there is a good chance that those changes will become permanent to help satisfy the wants and needs of their clients.

Focusing on the Client Experience

The “client experience” is a fairly new buzz phrase in the business world, but it is something that the legal industry should be paying particular attention to, especially in these trying times. According to Bain and Company, businesses that do well at creating an excellent customer experience grow revenues from 4%-8% above their industry average.

But just about every industry is feeling some sort of disruption due to COVID-19 and other related factors. This only makes emphasizing the client experience even more critical in the coming months and years.

How you represent your firm will impact its success. While you can distinguish yourself through a superior website and social media presence, you also need to deliver an exceptional and consistent client experience at every stage of your client’s journey.

While your firm might be struggling to adjust a remote work environment, your clients may prefer this approach over the traditional one. If you are going to transition to a more remote business model, what is the best way to do so efficiently and effectively so that you can satisfy the needs of your clients?

Tools to Interact With Clients Remotely

Since the pandemic began, courthouses and law offices have closed their doors out of an abundance of caution. Hearings and depositions have been postponed or adjusted, and in-person client intakes have stopped. The good news is that many law firms have continued to do a brisk business, thanks to technology.

Whether you have the resources in place currently or need to implement them, there are a variety of tools available to help your firm interact with clients remotely. If you haven’t started using these tools yet, it is probably a good time to learn about your options.

Scheduling Client Meetings

After potential clients learn about your firm’s services on social media and your website, the next step is to contact you to schedule a consultation. While they can still call, why not give them other options that are available 24/7?

One type of technology that many law firms have adopted is chatbots. Having Live Chat Services available on your site is a convenient and popular option. And this feature alone can increase conversion rates by up to 40%.

Another app you can use to schedule client meets is Calendly. This popular scheduling/calendar app will connect with up six of your current calendars, check your availability, and allow clients to schedule meetings in spots that you make available.

Video Conferencing Apps

For remote consultation and client update appointments, you can use video conferencing app like ZoomGoogle Hangouts, or GoToMeeting. Most of these apps will have an option to send automatic invitations and links to participants, which makes scheduling simple.

Digital Communication Apps

You can also use a digital communication app to stay in touch with employees who might be working remotely. A popular choice is Slack. The program works in real-time and integrates with other digital communication tools like Calendly and Zoom.

Best Practices for Remote Consultations With Clients

Conducting remote consultations might be an adjustment, but there is no reason they can’t work as well as a face-to-face meeting. The key is to create an environment of professionalism and trust. In most cases, you are already delivering convenience because virtual meetings save time and effort for your clients, which is why many favor them.

By implementing these best practices for remote conferences, you will be able to deliver a better client experience.

Learn and Test the Technology

The start time for your first online meeting is not the time to learn how to work Zoom or some other virtual meeting app. Spend some time watching a few online tutorials to get the lay of the land and then test out the technology on colleagues or friends before going “live.”

Set the Stage for Your Meeting

Don’t leave your client waiting. Make sure you are the first person on the call and pay attention to your surroundings and appearance. Do they look professional? It is a good idea for you to use the video feature on your call but give participants the option to use video or just audio.

Be Engaging and Relatable

Just because you are meeting virtually, it does not mean your interaction must be intimidating or dry. Ask them how they are holding up after an accident and in the face of the current health crisis. Share some brief personal insights before getting down to business.

Follow Your Agenda

Have a list of key talking points for your meeting so that you can stay on track. Explain any relevant procedures, such as using Adobe Acrobat and DocuSign, for retainer agreements. Make sure to outline the next steps to move a client’s case forward.

As you test and implement these measures for remote consultations, consider how they might continue to serve some or all your clients in a post-COVID environment.

Contact Sundown Legal Marketing Today

The legal industry is likely to be permanently transformed and move even further into the digital world by this latest crisis. As this pandemic ends, we can expect that law firms will have plenty of business to deal with through both new and old cases.

Law firms should continue to assess and strategize during the COVID-19 pandemic. These transitions and adjustments will put your attorneys in a better position and help you deliver a better client experience. And a large part of this is taking your digital presence to the next level.

Sundown Legal Marketing specializes in helping law firms assess their current position and develop a strategy to reach more current and prospective clients through various online channels. Contact us today at (800) 864-1764 or online for a free assessment and to learn more about our services.

Building A Brand For You & Your Law Firm

Human relations are built largely on associations. If you have positive associations about someone or something, you are drawn to that person, object, or experience. If you have negative associations or feelings, you will want to avoid them. This is basic human nature, and it will never change.

Advertisers understand this concept better than almost anyone. They spend vast amounts of money each year to learn what consumers like and dislike, so they can either associate pleasure to buying their product or service, or associate pain to not buying it.

Advertising and marketing a product or service over a sustained period of time is one of the primary ways to build a brand, although it is not the only way. A brand is built on name recognition to be sure, but it is also built on reputation, how your target market sees you, and how you are perceived in the marketplace.

So, why is branding so important for attorneys? Because we live in a digital world where legal consumers have more choices than ever before. In almost every area of the country, lawyers are a dime a dozen and consumers can look up hundreds of attorneys online within just a few minutes. If you do not distinguish yourself from the rest of them, you risk getting lost in the shuffle.

What does Legal Branding Mean?

For attorneys, branding means creating a recognizable name for yourself and your practice. Your personal brand is the unique value you bring to the table that your clients will benefit from. Your brand is built on your track record, reputation, how you personally approach cases, and other distinguishing characteristics.

Johnny Cochran is an example of an attorney who built a very successful brand. Most people know him as the lawyer who defended O.J. Simpson (and got him off), but he also grew the Cochran Firm into a national practice that continues to this day, 15 years after he passed away.

The firm still bears Johnny Cochran’s name, because his name is synonymous with the success that he had with his highest profile case, and he had also established a reputation as someone who fought for justice for those from all walks of life.

Every attorney and law firm has a brand, whether they realize it or not. You may never be as famous as Johnny Cochran, but you are known by the colleagues you have worked with, the clients you have represented, other attorneys you may have gone up against in court, and others whom you have crossed paths with.

Successful attorney branding involves making your unique attributes known to the widest number of targeted prospects and making them fully aware of how they will benefit from working with you. When you have built a brand that distinguishes you in the marketplace, you will no longer be viewed as a commodity, and this will make it much easier to obtain new clients and grow your practice.

It is important to emphasize that attorneys that work for a firm with several other associates should not rely solely on the firm’s brand to bring them cases and advance their career. An established firm with a well-known brand can be very valuable, as we have talked about with the Cochran Firm example. But there are a lot of reasons that you should have your own personal brand as well:

  • Legal Consumers Hire Attorneys more than Firms: The reputation of a law firm certainly helps, but at the end of the day, prospective clients want to know about the attorney that will represent them, and as such, you will need to sell them on you and your expertise. This will be much easier to do if you have built a personal brand.
  • A Personal Brand Establishes Authority: An effective branding strategy establishes you as an authority and thought leader in your area(s) of practice, which makes you the “go to” person when people have a legal issue (within your practice niche) that needs to be resolved.
  • A Personal Brand Builds Trust: A well-developed personal brand will help people see not only what you do well, but why you do it. This helps establish an emotional connection and build trust with your target audience.
  • A Personal Brand Earns You Respect: By having a well-established brand, you will gain more respect and recognition from your peers and from the public.
  • A Personal Brand Attracts more Clients: When you have an established personal brand, legal consumers will already be sold on you and what you can do for them, making it much easier to sign them as clients. This, by the way, benefits the firm you work in as well.
  • A Personal Brand Increases Earning Potential: If you take good care of your clients, you will get a lot of referrals over time as well as more new clients, which will keep you busy and vastly increase your earnings.
  • A Personal Brand Provides more Career Opportunities: By having a well-established personal brand, you have greater control over your legal career. You could become a senior partner in a larger firm, start and grow your own successful practice, become a book author, speaker, host a podcast or local radio show, the possibilities are endless.

Ways for Attorneys to Build a Personal Brand

The first step to building a personal brand is to define what your brand message will be. Here are some questions to help get you started:

  • What are your primary legal services? Drill down further than general practice areas like personal injury and family law. A related question would be – what types of cases do you want more of? Commercial truck accidents? High net worth divorces? Motorcycle crashes? Identify two or three specific niches/practice areas that you want to be your major areas of focus.
  • What are your core values? What are your passions? Why did you get into practicing law? To stand up for working people who get injured? To fight for justice for the poor and disenfranchised? To give voice to those who are unable to speak for themselves? What do you enjoy most about practicing law?
  • What special gifts and skillsets do you have? In other words, what are some things related to law that you do better than most others? Are you a strong negotiator? Are you an aggressive litigator? What makes you stand out from the crowd?

Taking the answers to these questions, write out a paragraph or two describing your top practice areas, your passion and skillsets, and your unique value proposition.

Now that you have a better understanding of what your brand will look like, you will need to take some decisive actions to build it. Here are some of the most effective ways for lawyers to build their personal brand:

  1. Build a Personal Attorney Website

Even if your firm already has a website, one of the best ways to establish your personal brand is to build a separate website for yourself. This could be a variation of your first and last name (e.g., johnsmith.com, johnsmithlawyer.com, johnsmith.lawyer) or a description of the specialized area of law you practice and/or your local region (e.g., highassetdivorcelawyer.com or criminaldefenseny.lawyer). Make your website aesthetically pleasing, search engine friendly, and include a home page, about/why hire me page, and pages for each of the practice areas you want to highlight. You should also have a blog/legal articles section where you can publish content on a regular basis (more on this below).

  1. Personalize your Legal Directory Profiles

Legal consumers will look very closely at your profile in places like Avvo, Findlaw, and lawyers.com. Make sure to personalize these profiles with all of the information you want your target market to see, rather than just having a generic profile.

  1. Optimize your Social Media Profiles

For attorneys and other professionals, having a compelling LinkedIn profile that effectively highlights your strengths is a must. Many people will look at your LinkedIn profile to see what you are about and what you can do for them. You should also consider setting up a Facebook page that is connected to your personal website, and beyond that, Instagram is another platform that a growing number of lawyers are using effectively.

  1. Develop a Consistent Ongoing Content Marketing Strategy

The first three steps can be completed once, and you are done with them for a while, although you will need to make updates from time to time. The fourth step is the most difficult and perhaps the most consequential, because it requires a consistent and focused effort. In order to establish your brand and stay in the top of the minds of legal consumers, you need to show up in a lot of places online. And this requires producing content on a regular basis.

Content comes in a number of different forms. Regular blogging is one of the best ways to keep your name out there, and it would be good to produce some YouTube videos to complement some of these blogs as well. Your content should be distributed across all of the social media platforms you are on, so it gets into the hands of those you are connected with. You should also look at doing some press releases to attract media attention to something newsworthy that happens, such as winning a major case with a multi-million-dollar verdict, for example.

There is a saying on the internet that “content is king”. The more quality content you produce, the faster and more effectively you will build your personal brand. All it really takes is an effective content marketing plan and consistent action.

Finally, one thing that can speed the whole process up for you is role-modeling. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, model the actions of others who are getting the results you want, and you will obtain similar results. If you need help with any of these steps, let us know and we will be happy to speak with you.

About Sundown Legal Marketing

Sundown Legal Marketing specializes in helping law firms review their current internet footprint, developing a comprehensive internet marketing plan and implementing every aspect of that plan. Contact us today for a free website evaluation and a no obligation assessment of your internet marketing plan. Call us today at (800) 864-1764 or online at Sundown Marketing.