August 14, 2018
Every law firm needs a great website, right? Of course, but does a website really matter if no one sees it? Your firm’s website is a critical part of your marketing and branding but is the last stop on the journey of your potential clients when they trying to find a firm to help them with their problems. Today we’ll go over all the steps before they get to your website and why they matter. Our goal today is simple, how do we get a lot more potential clients to show up to give that beautiful (and potentially expensive?) website so you even have a shot at converting them into a paid client.
It all begins with Google
Or at least it does most of the time, if we look at a few examples from Google Ads we can see why, if we look at St. Louis for the month of July 2018 we can get an idea of how many people are searching for some kind of lawyer or attorney.
42,100 people search for some kind of attorney during the month in a city of 311,000, a reasonably small city and certainly not a massive metropolis by any means. Now while it’s true not all of those searches results in hiring an attorney, not all of those searches will be for your specialty, it’s still where all the actions at and where you need to be.
A law firm that doesn’t show up on Google is a law firm that doesn’t exist, beautiful website or not, if clients can’t find you when you search, it really doesn’t matter.
How does Google rank?
When a client or potential client searches for a type of attorney, let’s say for example they search “divorce attorney” and they happen to live in St. Louis, Google already knows a lot about the search and the results the clients are looking for. First, they know the search has “local intent”, a fancy term for they know that the person is looking for a local service, as opposed to something they could get from anywhere in the country like buying on Amazon where something gets shipped to you from 10 states away, you don’t care you just want that product. Local intent is something that gives you a huge advantage when it comes to showing up because Google automatically only shows people that are nearby.
Claim your Google My Business account
The first step to showing up on Google is telling Google that you exist and giving them some more information about your firm, that can be done here: https://www.google.com/business/ think of this like a registration system for all businesses so Google can keep track of who does what where. They will ask you to enter your business name and address. They will then send you a postcard to that address with a code to verify you are actually where you say you are, old school for sure, but it works.
Make sure you’re listed in all 60+ citation directories
So after getting listed in Google My Business, Google knows you exist, but now it’s about working on how to differentiate yourself from the competition. To do this Google uses information from 60+ directories across the web to determine how important a particular business is, if you’re listed in these directories it assumes you’ve done the work to be listed and all that time and energy must mean you’re worth paying attention to. This step alone can move a law firm from unknown to a steady flow of clients coming in the door in short order (think a couple of weeks).
Reputation is where it’s at
Your business today is judged the way it always has been, your reputation, but for better and for worse, the way people can determine that reputation has changed dramatically. The downside used to be the happy client could only really reach a few people who could potentially use your services, but the upshot was the disgruntled client could only do about the same. Today the game has changed dramatically, the happy client can now reach thousands, but so can the angry one.
Add to that the fact that Google is moving away from blogs and tons of keyword stuffed content to rank local services like law firms and you’re now faced with the reality that if you can’t solicit reviews your firm may not be around much longer to worry about it. The way we see this, it’s actually all very positive. Let’s face it, who wants to write blog articles anyhow? Not I. In fact if I could tell this to you in any other way I would much prefer it, the great news for attorneys is that they mostly live in a very keyword driven enterprise and that will help tremendously when it comes to growing your business.
When potential clients search your law firm name they will quickly see how exactly how many reviews you have and they will use this to judge your reputation. But it’s not just your potential clients who use this information this is exactly what Google uses to decide who they plan to rank in search terms for your law firm as well.
The key to excelling here is easy, get more reviews and do so often, because Google doesn’t just see how many you have this week or this month, but they see how many you have on a rolling basis and you need to stay ahead of the firm down the street if you want your law office to stay up in the rankings.
Something to think about
While I know this has been quite a long blog article hopefully I’ve given you a peek at how the world of online SEO for law firms is changing, while it might sound scary at first, I really think it’s going to get easier, once the shift to reviews is finished the rules will be a lot more clear and lawyers can focus back on what they went into business for in the first place, practicing law and helping clients.