Archive for November, 2010

New Google Algorithm Update Link Values Effect Law Firm Website SEO

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Have you heard about the recent Google algorithm update? It has to do with text links and your law firm website’s content.

Here’s the short version…

Some search engine experts are saying that Google is now placing more “weight” on links found within the actual content of your law firm websites and blogs.  These links are called contextual links.

Google is placing less “link value” or passing less page rank on to links found within your website’s main navigation menu, footer links, and sidebar links and giving more weight to contextual links found within the content of your web pages.

What does this mean to your legal website?

If you use legal content/blog post or articles to promote your web business, generate more backlinks and boost your law firm website traffic, now is the time to step it up and create MORE content. Why? Because Google is telling you to do so!

Want Free Advice concerning legal content writing for SEO?  Speak to an expert not a sales representative by calling (769) 218-6099.  Click this link for law firm website content writing services information.

How to Connect Your Legal Blog to Twitter—and Why You Would Want To

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

You are likely wondering in what possible way it could  benefit your law firm’s blog to be connected to Twitter-after all, how much good can a mere 140 characters possibly do? Well, let’s talk about how it works before getting into the why you care. After you sign up and create a user name on Twitter’s web site you can post short messages, called “tweets,” which appear both on the law firm website and on cell phones and other applications. Once you are a member, you can choose who you want to follow, whether it is someone you know, or merely someone who sounds interesting. Others can do the same to receive your messages, and if you prefer to be a bit less public you can control the visibility of your messages to only those people you approve. Okay, simple enough, now the “why” of connecting Twitter to your legal website’s blog pages.

Expand your Contacts

Through websites, blogging, speaking, or being a part of bar committees, most attorneys are pretty well networked, yet you may be pleasantly surprised at how many new contacts you can make—many of them with incredible potential value to you and your firm. Like everyone else on Twitter, you will have a profile page with links to your firm’s website or blog. Just as you may click on other blogs that sound particularly interesting, so will others do for your blog.

Image

Our own first impression of Twitter was simply “way too much information.” Perhaps that was due to the fact that I was reading tweets belonging to my elderly aunt and several of my cousins in New York. While Twitter can provide a glimpse into the lives of others, it doesn’t have to be an inappropriate glimpse which can tarnish your image as a professional lawyer. If your posts show you writing a brief, preparing for a deposition, this only increases the image you want to portray as a hard-working attorney. If, however, your posts tell others you are going out for drinks with the guys, or taking a nap, think twice about how this information appears to your followers. In other words, Twitter can enhance your image or degrade it, and you know which one you’re aiming for.

News

Many lawyers and law firms already use Twitter to send out news and press releases by posting a headline with an accompanying web link. Think about how often most people check their cell phones, even when at work. You can get out the news that is important to your firm, quickly and easily to a multitude of people—what could be better?

Bring More Traffic to Your Website

Any time you post something new or different on your website or your blog, mention it in a tweet with a link to the full post. There are some tools you can download (such as Twitterfeed) that will let you do this automatically, anytime you post to your firm’s blog. This is an almost sure-fire way to bring more people, most especially potential clients to your website. Once there, they are likely to take a look around, and, if they are not in the market for an attorney, they can tell a friend who is. A California blogger was threatened with a lawsuit over comments he made online, he immediately turned to Twitter to find an attorney—you can find clients and they can find you. This sounds like a near-perfect setup!

Talk to Colleagues

Some lawyers ask questions via Twitter, comment on pertinent news, or share articles; you can reply to others either publicly or privately. You can send a direct message to anyone on Twitter, which is visible only to them; kind of like instant messaging if you need a quick question or answer from a colleague. By monitoring the tweets among your circle of colleagues, you will be able to get a handle on the current topics, or see what people are saying about your firm, your client, or your services.

Get Court Updates

Although your particular city may not have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon just yet, courts in Philadelphia recent launched a Twitter feed which contains news and announcements relating to the court. We expect more courts to follow suit shortly. You could quickly find out if a judge is out for the day, affecting your own schedule, or other items of interest. Not only federal agencies and members of Congress are using Twitter, but the even the White House! You can find a list of federal government Twitter feeds at Twitter Fan Wiki.

Twitter can be a great asset to your law firm and your practice, as long as you always consider the consequences before posting. In such a casual setting, you can unwittingly create an attorney-client relationship or overstep an ethical rule, so to avoid getting yourself into trouble, be very aware of the results of your posts.

Want FREE HELP and ADVICE concerning your law firm Twitter and social media marketing? Call (769) 218-6099 for more information today by speaking to an expert, not a sales person.

Trends in Online Commerce: How Can Your Law Firm Benefit from Mobile Sales?

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

This week an IDC Retail survey revealed that shoppers using smartphones are expected to account for more $127 billion in sales — more than a quarter of the estimated $447 billion in sales that U.S. retailers will reap this holiday season.

Law firm websites that offer the most advanced mobile strategies and thorough social media efforts will enjoy a significant competitive advantage in reaching more of the existing and future online clientele.

What does this mean for your law firm?

Consumers are becoming more comfortable, and reliant on their mobile devices for online tasks — including shopping for services including legal services. If your law firm website is not fully optimized for mobile use and compatible with smartphone browsers, your law firm will be left behind.

Consider purchasing the .mobi version of your domain name and develop the property to be mobile-friendly. This will attract consumers and will help increase your visibility in search engines such as Google.

Social media is also key to driving mobile success: sites such as Twitter and Facebook are geared to work seamlessly with smartphones. Mobile users have embraced these sites and business owners seeking to succeed in the mobile world can learn from the experimentation pursued by these major online players.

Remain competitive in the face of this wave: plan and execute a mobile and social media strategy that will cater to the growing mobile marketplace.

Free Mobile/Smartphone design advice and SEO advice – Call (769) 218-6099 to speak to marketing experts not sales people.

Google Places SEO To Attract Clients To Your Law Firm's Website

Friday, November 5th, 2010

Google estimates that some twenty percent of all search queries are local in nature, leading to the unique merger of organic and local search, and shifting the way local search engines display information. Consumers are getting away from using the traditional phone book directories and any current businesses that have relied on organic traffic to their website in the past may be significantly impacted in the near future. If your law firm is unprepared for this shift, it may be a rather rude awakening when you find your listings changed in Google’s search results. With the search marketing being changed in this dramatic way, it is critical that you implement a local search online review and legal firm SEO strategy to achieve visibility in local searches. There are additional new features in Google Place Search which can help your business website realize its full potential.

Your World, Your Search

The theory behind Google Places lies in the fact that millions of people use Google to find places in the real world—in their world. They want to know where the nearest auto repair place is, where they can get a haircut, or where they can go tonight for Chinese food. They also want to know where they can find a local attorney to help them with whatever form of problem they are currently experiencing. More and more, people are going online to find a local attorney than they are thumbing through the yellow pages. In order to help people make informed decisions about which attorney’s number they will dial, Google Place Pages will connect people to that critical information, displaying photos, reviews, and essential facts. Our intense connection to our computers, cell phones, and other gadgets make Google Places the brightest new star in the sky.

Google Maps with Tags

Over four million businesses have already claimed their Google Place Page through the Local Business Center; they can verify and supplement their business information to include hours of operation and so much more. For only $25 per month, if your law firm is in select cities, you can make your listings stand out on both Google.com and Google Maps with Tags. There are currently Tags in Austin, Atlanta, Houston, San Jose, CA,  and Washington D.C., with Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, Boulder and San Francisco coming onboard soon. Hopefully, many more major cities will be coming soon to Google Places.

Photos of Your Law Firm

Besides uploading photos of your law firm, attorneys, etc., if your firm is in select cities you can request a free photo shoot of the interior of your business; these photos will be used in supplementation of existing business photos. Prospective clients love seeing actual photos of your business and your lawyers as it makes them feel much more personally connected by the time they pick up the phone to call.

See How Your Firm is Performing

If you want to keep close track of how your law firm’s business listing is performing on Google, there is a personalized dashboard within Google Places which will include interesting data regarding how many times people have found your business on Google, which keywords they used to find it, and what areas people traveled from to visit your business. This is especially important for your legal firm, as it can be crucial for you to know the exact keywords potential clients used to find your firm, as well as where your potential clients are coming from.

Because one out of five Google searches is location-related, it is crucial that your business is easily found—apparently the only “downside” to Google Places is that it is missing the social aspect of Twitter and Facebook, thus prohibiting the business from establishing an ongoing online relationships with customers.

Want FREE Google Places SEO advice and coaching? Call (769) 218-6099 to speak with a Google Places expert, not a sale person.

Changes That Can Hurt Your Legal Website’s SEO

Monday, November 1st, 2010

It is likely that you usually read about all the things you can do to improve your legal website and make it stand out from all the rest. However, there are things that we do without thinking too much about them, which can really hurt our website.  Remember that one of the factors responsible for the traffic your legal website attracts is the inbound link profile to your particular site. If you make substantial changes to your website, you have to consider whether or not those links are still valid. While the search engine can’t necessarily determine whether the links are still valid, what they can do is reduce the effective value of the inbound links until they see if people are removing your links after changes to your website.  If you want to keep the ranking of your law firm website stable, then you should think about the following issues, especially if you have recently implemented or are contemplating changes.

Watch Out For Duplicate Content

Having duplicate content on your website can seriously destroy your search engine ranking position. If you’re wondering what constitutes duplicate content, this basically means having the same content on two or more pages of your website. You may have even done this deliberately in an attempt to reiterate or emphasize certain aspects of your law firm’s specialty, but be aware that Google is not a fan of duplicate content. Keeping archive pages on your site can also fall under duplicate content unless they are indexed through your robot.txt. You could also write custom summaries of your legal articles rather than posting the entire post on the main page.

Domain Change

If you have started out your website using a .net, and are now able to obtain a .com variant of your domain, you may think this is a good thing, but beware of making this type of change, as it will be seen as a huge change by search engines, especially if you also add in a website re-design. While change can be good, this is one you need to be very cautious of. Should you implement a relatively simple domain change, the search engines may believe that people who linked to your old domain will no longer link to your new domain. Even if you properly implement a 301 redirect, you may still have significant setbacks in your website traffic. Even if you have only implemented a new content management system, it may still take weeks or months for search engines to “get it”, leaving your legal website being vulnerable and somewhat devalued.

Theme Changes

If your legal firm currently specializes in personal liability, but is branching out into family law as well, it will take time for the family law section to receive the trust and authority conveyed by the current inbound links, and the value of the personal liability links may also end up being devalued. A theme change may seem obvious to we humans, but to search engines, even adding a significant amount of content to pages that previously had only a directory of links can be seen as a significant theme change. Be careful when implementing major theme changes to your law firm’s website unless you are prepared to be bumped back a few spaces and scratch your way back up to the top.

Appearing to Change Owners

Search engines relate the way one website links to another to trust in the owner, therefore the question begs, “if the owner changes, is the trust still there?” Many times the search engine may offer a resounding “no” to that question. If you have only changed the e-mail address of the administrative contact it will not likely be seen as a major change or violation of trust, especially if you are not making other significant changes at the same time. However, changing the name or address of the registrant is likely to be interpreted by search engines as a change in owner, so avoid making major changes to your legal website and a change to registrant name or address at all costs. If you must change the registrant, do it as a standalone, then wait before making any other changes.

The main principle you must remember is that search engines use algorithms to make their complex determinations when deciding who gets ranked highest, and algorithms are still not quite as smart as a real human being at figuring out exactly what a material change consists of.

Want FREE ADVICE from expert law firm website design and search engine optimization experts? Call (769) 218-6099 to speak with experts, not sales people.