Archive for January, 2011
Thursday, January 20th, 2011
Many people are as yet unaware of the small magnifying glass icon on the right of the organic search results you get once you type in a search term; it is called Google Instant Preview, and no one has yet determined how it will affect ultimate conversion rates—it’s just too soon to tell. To be honest, although I took some kind of vague notice of the tiny magnifying glass I had yet to click on it until I read an article about Google’s latest change. Apparently the goal of the new feature is to refine the relevance factor in search results, alleviating the frustration users can feel when they click on a result which has little to do with their original search.
One of the key factors in conversion rate optimization is managing human expectations, therefore it’s a good idea for your law firm to keep a close eye on how Google Instant Preview evolves over the coming months. It will be a matter of significant importance to be able to tell whether or not GIP is becoming popular with your targeted market. And if GIP makes their small little magnifying glass bigger, will this affect the number of people who use it? Before you read further, do a quick check of your law firm’s website pages to see how they show up in GIP—you certainly don’t want to be the last one to realize that your pages are virtually unreadable when previewed.
After the Preview
If you test your site with GIP and get some kind of funky results—or worse a totally black page—then you must take the bull by the horns immediately in order to ensure your page shows up as it should. Occasionally, if a site has used Flash for a large portion of their page content, weird results will show up in GIP as it doesn’t seem to be particularly fond of Flash. If your legal website is fine when you visit, with content which is relevant to the search query, but doesn’t look at all like this in GIP, your potential clients may move right on to the next results and not bother with yours. If the above paragraph has made you want to rush into a total web re-design, take a moment and regroup. It may be worth your firm’s time and money to wait and see whether GIP proves to be popular enough with your target market to justify the expense of a total overhaul to your website.
If your law firm’s website has already taken care of the core elements such as ensuring your legal webpages have page content closely matched by their descriptions, then you have already promoted conversion from search results that are not previewed. However even if your firm has done the necessary work on core elements yet your pages just aren’t looking great in GIP, consider that GIP does not affect your ads on the Google Display Network as they don’t feature a preview icon, and neither does it affect paid search results, or traffic that is either PPC or affiliate-driven. These factors alone can be a good reason to hold off on re-designing your legal firm’s websites—for the moment at least.
If the future brings lots of people in your search target market who are becoming enthusiastic fans of GIP, then beyond just fixing your webpages so they look good in preview, you may want to reconsider your overall search strategy. If, for instance, you use affiliates, consider that a large collection of thumbnails can be really difficult to see when the entire page is being shown as a thumbnail. If you are providing an organic search result which is accompanied by an attractive preview, you may end up getting more traffic than a paid result at the very top which lacks a great preview.
GIP and SEO
The new GIP feature has made law firm SEO even more important than ever by essentially “killing” the second page of a search index. When you are typing into the search bar, Google suggests terms for you, making your search theoretically more effective, but pushing those businesses which are not saturated with content down the line. GIP pulls content from blogs, photos, social media, news and products, so obviously the more places your business covers, the higher your law firm will rank. You can’t simply focus on keywords and backlinks anymore, but need to expand and cover all topics with content related to your law firm. Some believe that Google Instant Preview will increase conversion rates and render more satisfied searchers, and Google has made some suggestions to business owners to help them continue to rank high.
Your legal website’s overall appearance and organization matter more now than ever, so ensure your site is uncluttered, readable and very visually appealing. Eliminate all popups which could appear in a preview pane as it could hide relevant content, preventing users from clicking on your site. Legal SEO is more important now than ever for your firm’s website, so your job is to be super-aware of what your potential clients are searching for. In their own blog, Google stated that using Instant Preview will make searchers 5% more likely to be satisfied with the results they click on—the big question remaining is whether that 5% is really enough to change the way people search.
Free Advice Hotline – Call (769) 218-6099 for free advice from an experienced law firm Internet marketing guru not a sales representative.
Monday, January 17th, 2011
Following the finalized Yahoo-Bing Merger last April, many of us have been carefully watching the Bing search machine to see how it stacks up to Google for our law firm SEO. Predictions are rolling in that Bing will continue to gain popularity over the next few years for a variety of reasons. First of all, Bing is on a long-term strategic plan, meaning they care less about next year than they do about the next five—or ten. Bing is heavily investing in search, and focused on improving relations with in-house SEO teams. Just as Google’s algorithms have improved over time, Bing’s innovations will also bring about positive changes. Because some search engine users are beginning to see Google as a greedy, ever-more commercialized business, Bing may be benefitting from the comparison—and so may your law office websites.
Bing’s Webmaster and Maps
It can be a problem to get new sites indexed, and Bing can be especially slow to index a new site, especially in the beginning. You may see only part of your lawyer website indexed at first, which can be detrimental to any new site’s success. The good news is that the Bing webmaster center has a specific area which allows users to submit their own XML sitemap which in turn lets Bing crawl your attorney website more quickly. Bing has really been “one-upping” Google when it comes to providing an online map service. It is expected that if Google doesn’t get in the game quickly that Bing’s impressive beta map will steal the market share. Make sure your law firm’s physical address is listed on the Bing maps so you can be more readily found.
Target Long Tail Keywords
Bing has a “related searches” feature which assists users in narrowing down their search by (politely) suggesting more specific phrases they might want to try. This makes it easier to be found using long tail keywords. Should you be unfamiliar with the long tail concept, keywords can basically be split into either short tail keywords or long tail keywords, or, more simply, broad keywords or narrow keywords. A long tail keyword tends to target the less-competitive niche markets rather than the immensely competitive broad keywords. A long tail keyword for your law office websites could be “Denver personal injury attorneys” rather than the short tail version of “Denver attorneys.” Understandably, “Denver attorneys” would easily have 30 times as many competitors as “Denver personal injury attorneys,” however the short tail version would get more searches each month. If you wonder why anybody would want to target hundreds of keywords which bring only small traffic, the answer is that there is less competition, which means the long tail keywords can bring you lots of traffic overall, which is why Bing is targeting these keywords.
If you use the search operator “linkfromdomain” on Bing, you will be able to see all of the pages that a given site links to; type “linkfromdomain:yourwebsitesname.com” into the search bar on Bing, and you will immediately see the quality and relevancy of the sites you are linking to. If your law firm website is having trouble ranking for a specific subject, you can easily use this tool to ensure the sites your firm is linked to contain the same subject or keyword. Don’t forget that many search engines, in effect, judge your law firm website by who you hang out with, or in the web world, who or what you are linked to.
Social Media and Bing
Bing is rushing to establish itself as the search engine to choose if you want to index social networks like Twitter or Facebook more quickly and, in fact, if you want to get a new attorney website page indexed fast, post a link to it on Twitter. Since Facebook’s deepest desire is to become the next Google, they have structured a deal with Bing which allows Bing to become the first search engine to show U.S. users which sites Facebook friends like. The companies have entered into an alliance arrangement in an attempt to best the giant, Google. Both Bing and Facebook report they see future opportunities to surface people who are specific-subject experts.
As with Google search, Bing wants quality content, however links and competitive keywords will push your attorney website to the top of Bing’s search. Microsoft has a huge budget to promote Bing, meaning you will likely see at the very least, an early surge of Bing users. Will Bing go the distance? Only time will tell, however for the health of your law firm website, it is well worth your while to learn as much Bing SEO as possible. Bing represents legitimate competition to the best search engine of the day, so jump on the train before it leaves the station!
Sunday, January 16th, 2011
The domain name you choose for your legal website can be like the color of your home—it says something about who you are as well as what you stand for, and is the first impression clients have of your legal business. Quite often lawyers simply choose their firm name as their domain name, believing they are, in effect, “branding” their law firm. Unfortunately, rather than the branding they intend, they may be merely muddying the truth about who they are and what they do. Perhaps a client has been injured in a slip and fall in Santa Fe, New Mexico. They will likely type in those search parameters to begin their search for the perfect attorney. When the search results come back, most people tend to click on the one which stands out the most—and the things which stand out are the title, the description and the domain name. Remember, Google puts the search terms in boldface in the results with a goal of drawing your eye to the very most relevant search results—a trick which works pretty well. Because online marketing requires you to use every tool to your best advantage, consider that your domain name is something you can do when setting up your law firm’s website which can give you a leg up on the competition almost immediately.
The Best Domain Names
While your domain name surely won’t be responsible for bumping your law firm website to number one on the search engines, it’s an easy fix that can’t hurt. Your domain name should be short enough to be memorable—if the domain is too long or hard to read, its value goes down. If the average human can’t say—or type—the domain name correctly, the value of it goes down. Most especially if your firm’s name is rather common, then you might not want to use it as your domain name. If you haven’t already chosen a domain name, make a list of words and phrases associated with your law firm. Once you’ve made the list, remove every one of them which have more than twenty characters. Create new additions to your list by adding “and” between keywords and phrases. Then prioritize your list and go to the mat with it to see which domain names are actually available. When your chosen name is not available, you will get a list of “alternative suggestions,” for other domain names. While most of them are names you might never ever choose for your law firm’s website, others can be possibilities.
Register Your Legal Firm’s Domain Name
Once you’ve seen what’s available, and have chosen your best domain names, registering them is your next step; there are all sorts of companies on the Internet which you can register your domain name with. When I recently looked at domain name statistics, I was somewhat surprised to learn that registering 70,000 new domain names per day is not particularly unusual. What this should tell you is that it can be a good idea to register several domain names, not just your number one pick. You never known when the day will come that you want to change your domain name, or add another website—if you already own the domain names you are a step ahead of the game—and registering domain names is pretty inexpensive as well.
Try to Choose a Domain Name for Your Firm and Your Product
If at all possible, choose at a minimum one domain name with your firm’s name, and another with your specialties. The clients who know you only by your firm name will be able to find you as well as those who are looking for a DUI attorney, or personal injury attorney. You can easily have both of your domain names pointing to different pages of your website. Some experts feel that domain names with dashes in them are both more aesthetically pleasing and easier to read, however the names with dashes are harder to type. Despite the typing difficulty, domain names with dashes can sometimes rank a bit higher in the search engines, bringing more clients to your legal website. The bottom line here is that buying multiple domains and pointing each of them to a specific area-related page on your main site can give you more converted clients. Don’t point multiple domains at the same page, however as this can get you dropped from search engines.
Choosing a domain name can be a very important part of your firm’s overall marketing process. Don’t take it lightly and make sure your domain name properly represents your legal firm, your specific services, and your image and you will have laid a solid foundation for future conversions.
Free Expert Law Firm Marketing Advice Hotline – Call (769) 218-6099 for free tips, advice from the best law firm Internet marketing companies. Since 2003, Lawyer Success has advise 4,000 law firms and has worked on 7 of the 10 leading legal websites online.
Monday, January 10th, 2011
A fundamental mistake which is seen often on lawyer websites is website content which talks exclusively about the firm, the lawyers and their accomplishments. You are probably thinking right now—“Well, isn’t that the whole point?” The answer is yes—and no. Yes, your potential clients must absolutely be aware of who your firm is and where your specialties lie, however your clients also want to hear about their favorite subject—themselves! Many of us have been on a bad date in which our companion talked nonstop about themselves for the entire evening. It’s a pretty sure bet that there are few enjoyable memories of that evening and that there was little feeling of connection with the other person.
Liken this experience to how your potential clients might feel should they land on your attorney website and read absolutely nothing except how great your firm is and how wonderful your attorneys are. The bottom line is that most people want to know what’s in it for them, and while they care about your skill sets and capabilities, their interest lies in how those capabilities can help solve their specific problems. The goal, then, is to ensure your firm’s practice areas and accomplishments are framed in the context of how those things can effectively solve your client’s problems. How does your past experience benefit them, and how does your niche area offer better service to them than the next lawyer in line? Your attorney website content must convey what’s in it for your potential clients should they hire you, your firm, your expertise.
Typically, web designers are much more compulsive about the layout and visual appearance of your website than the actual content. Identifying and fixing weak copy can go a long way in offering superior value to your potential clients as well as persuading prospective clients to hire you, and, after all, isn’t that the ultimate goal of your website? Take a fresh look at your copy with the following ideas in mind, and you may find several weak areas which can benefit greatly from a word renovation.
Who—and what—is Your Copy Talking About?
Your copy is talking to whoever it’s talking about. As noted, people are generally concerned with one looming thing—themselves and their problems. If you talk explicitly about your clients, and how you can solve their specific problems better than any other lawyer, how you can help them achieve their goals in the most expedient manner possible, then your website will be all the more persuasive. Try using lots of “you” and “your” phrases and relatively fewer “I” and “me,” and “we.” Secondly, what is your website talking about? Consider carefully what your ideal client cares about, then tailor your message precisely to answer those questions.
When you find yourself talking about the myriad of benefits you can offer clients, put yourself on the other side of the webpage and give your potential clients some darn good reasons to believe you. Testimonials from satisfied customers are a powerful web tool as are case studies which detail how you helped a client succeed in whatever their initial goals were. High quality articles say—without specifically saying—I’m an expert. Choose relatable problems, then demonstrate exactly how you would solve them. It may seem counterintuitive for a lawyer to give away free advice, but the fact is that the more useful information you give away, the more people assume you know, thus increasing your firm’s ultimate value in the client’s eyes.
Tailor Your Copy
Your copy should ideally read as if you were having an intimate conversation with a client about his problems and how you intend to solve them. Avoid copy which sounds as if any lawyer in America was speaking to a general audience. Understand that being “professional” does not prohibit you from being personal and warm. It’s important to make your initial headline compelling and persuasive, leaving your reader with a desire to read on. Your headline should imply a clear benefit for your ideal client; starting out with a “how to” or a “why” can be successful, as you are implying that what follows will be useful. Make sure your headline appeals to your reader’s self-interests, and implies some sort of desirable outcome and that it is as specific as you can make it, not to mention unique. In our information age, readers have seen it all—they want a headline that reaches out and grabs them, makes them think, gives them hope, makes them finish the paragraph…then the next and the next.
Your ending can be as important as your beginning. Once you’ve pulled your ideal client in, discussed his problems thoroughly and intelligently, proven beyond a doubt that you are the perfect lawyer to solve this particular issue, it’s time to make your offer. Tell your prospect exactly what you want to do for him, and what he needs to do to accept your offer by encouraging him to contact you. Make it as easy as possible for your potential client to do just that, by offering phone numbers, e-mail addresses, as well as an inline contact form which strongly encourages immediate action. Guarantees are good, because they tell your client that he simply cannot lose when he calls you—something like an obligation-free benefit in the form of a free initial consultation.
Free Advice – Call (769) 218-6099 for free advice concerning you law firm website copy and law firm website traffic conversion issues. Speak with a law firm website conversion expert, not a sales representative. Call today.
Sunday, January 2nd, 2011
Lawyer Iphone Apps Development Services – Designers for Ipad Apps for Attorneys and Law Firms
Lawyer Success, Inc. announced today that they are releasing a new and affordable service to assist attorneys and law firms with brand identity, online credibility, viral marketing and lead generation needs but designing and launching law firm branded iPhone apps. The iPhone apps for lawyer will include many services and features most practical and specific to the needs of legal consumers. The iPhone app development services will also come with guaranteed placement on both iTunes and Apple’s Apps store.
Lawyer Success, Inc CEO James Greenier said Wednesday “Our new attorney app development service is very affordable and really adds instant credibility to any law firm that has an app in Apples iTunes and App stores.” says CEO James Greenier.
Greenier said, “We are following the trend that other industries are following and customizing this for the legal industry.”
“Right now we are one of the few companies that can guarantee that your law firm branded app will be found on both of Apple’s online app stores – iTunes and Apple’s App store. We are by far the most affordable by a factor of five. Any attorney can afford this because of our business model.” added Mr. Greenier.
Greenier emphasized the concerns most attorneys have, “The legal space is unique. Law firm clients have unique needs and law firms have to contend with advertising rules and ethics. We understand this and have developed a product that addresses all of the issues.
Greenier is silent about the features and functionality. “We put about 1 year into research, polling attorneys, building relationships and building the platform to be a high quality product at a price that our competition cannot match. The product is complete – nothing was left out. We want to be the leader in this offering to the legal profession.”
For more information concerning attorney iPhone app development, contact Lawyer Success, Inc. to speak directly with the iPhone technical team at (769) 218-6099.
Saturday, January 1st, 2011
Findlaw is the largest custom law firm website design company in the United States. This fact is both a benefit and a detriment. In my opinion Findlaw’s custom websites are very attractive and offer your traditional web design features and functionality. Findlaw also claims to host and maintain the largest number of law firm websites currently on the Web. In my opinion, I believe that to be true as well.
Does being the biggest mean you are the best?
The problem with being the largest or the biggest at anything is that your core service becomes watered down. The average customer usually ends up lost in the mix of 1,000s of higher paying customers. The Internet and search engines like Google are constantly changing meaning the technology on your website must be updated in order to achieve top rankings and increased traffic.
If Google and other search engines now prefer websites with newer technology and rank websites according to their authority, regular content refreshes and SEO revisions – you have to take a hard look at your website and what is being done to your website to accommodate this. In other words, static websites are no longer perceived as valuable sources of information.
Canceling a Findlaw Website Checklist
If you are dissatisfied with Findlaw and want to switch to a competitor here are some things to consider because this is a tricky process.
1. Make sure that you read your contract. In many cases you will have to give advanced notice.
2. Contact a law firm website design company experienced in Findlaw website transfers for assistance. You local web company will not be able to throughly do this and your site will likely be indexed with an inexperienced web designer.
3. Purchase the Website files or end user license
4. Pay Findlaw what you owe them and follow the terms in your agreement completely.
5. Respond to all of their corespondences in a timely basis
6. Request the transfer of your domain to your account or a separate PeopleDomain.com account.
7. Contract with a new provider and start the process during the cancellation process to ensure your email and websites are not down.
We believe Findlaw is a quality company and that they perform a valuable service. But we understand how important it is for an attorney and their website developer to be closely involved in website search engine rankings and marketing. Some attorneys just prefer to work with a smaller firm that can give them more personalized attention and care. That is what Lawyer Success, Inc. brings to the table. We have a decade of experience in lawyer website design and search engine rankings but limit our client to ensure their success.
For free advice concerning the process of making the switch from Findlaw to another website developer such as your local design firm or our company or any other Findlaw competitor, please call (769) 218-6099 for free advice.
Saturday, January 1st, 2011
Because the end of the year often brings reflection, you can use that backward reflection to your advantage when planning your legal SEO and law firm website for 2011. The business of web and SEO changes so quickly as to literally make your head spin, and 2010 brought some developments which will affect the way we operate in the coming year. So, before we head into 2011, let’s check out some of the major happenings of 2010.
Page speed became a ranking factor with Google earlier in the year, although at present only the especially slow sites are likely to suffer a negative impact. Google’s May Day update had many websites reporting significant losses in long tail traffic—the sites which seemed to be impacted the most had a lack of, or low number of, deep links, and high quality websites came out on top. Of course, that begs the question as to what constitutes a high quality website; Google’s algorithm tended to define high quality in terms of bounce rate and time on site. Google Caffeine followed closely after May Day, and although it had no direct impact on rankings, its purpose was to speed up the indexing system at Google. Using Caffeine, Google can make updates as they are discovered rather than indexing in batches. September brought Google Instant which now displays search results as you type into the search box. While some users were less than enthusiastic about this particular change, it is likely here to stay.
Hot on the heels of September’s Google Instant, Google Instant Previews made its arrival in November. Google Instant Previews consists of a small magnifying glass which sits to the right of the title of your search results. While it is expected that a really small percentage of us (5 percent or less) will actually use Google’s newest gadget, it is widely thought that the magnifying glass is more about data collection and ranking than helping users. If, for example, a user clicks the magnifying glass then chooses not to go to that page, it could be seen as a negative signal, and vice versa. Finally, thanks to a Bing/Yahoo merger (of sorts) Bing results were integrated into Yahoo, and Yahoo’s independent search index in the U.S. was retired, causing a leap in Bing’s market share from just under ten percent to over 25 percent. So, while Google still dominates, Bing is now a competitor worthy of serious attention. October brought more news for Bing with the Facebook/Bing partnership. What this should tell you is to get yourself on Facebook now; Facebook has the potential of becoming the individual’s as well as the corporation’s go-to social network and search engine. The Facebook/Bing integration may well push Bing further up the ladder, close on Google’s heels.
What’s Ahead for 2011?
The drive for new search ranking signals will certainly continue in 2011, with more and more social signals being used by the search engines. Of course Google will continue its quest to increase performance, and Google and Bing are both expected to make some major shifts in the area of search in the coming year. Because Bing is striving to increase its market share and Google is holding hard to what they already have, both companies are likely to seek out significantly higher levels of search personalization.
Search engines are becoming more and more sophisticated even as we speak and will be turning up the heat for publishers to add as much unique value as possible to websites. This will be measured by watching how the web reacts to what your law firm does by using signals such as links, social media, user behavior and interaction with your site, and how your law firm website compares to others which cover the same topic matter. This is definitely the time when you and your firm need to think like traditional marketers; engage with your community, offer items of value and consistently produce high quality content. As search engines continue to improve their algorithms, sites that are seen as valuable by users will be more readily recognized. If you have consistently take a holistic approach to your law office SEO and online marketing efforts, then the changes made by search engines are likely to favor you at the expense of competitors who have taken a short-term approach.
The biggest game-changer of 2011 may well be how social media will continue to affect legal website rankings and SEO; even though Google may have missed out on partnering with the world’s largest social network, don’t expect them to stay static in that area. Google Places has, in effect, changed the “rules” so now the attorney website with the most attractive or relevant preview will generate a higher number of clicks, making location-based keywords even more important to your firm’s site. Finally, for 2011, trust will be a key issue on all fronts. As people become ever-more worried about personal Internet security, having links and rank for your legal website will not be sufficient; all companies will be required to focus on building online trust. Your focus for the coming year should be first and foremost, to build your law office website’s trust by getting mentioned or referenced in trustworthy news outlets or by using social platforms to build high-quality, trust-driven links.
One thing we can absolutely expect in 2011 is changes in the way we currently managing law office websites and legal SEO. The Internet changes by the instant and Google seems to love changing their algorithms on a near-daily basis, meaning we can expect lots of changes in the coming year.
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