3 Comments Published on November 4th, 2014 by Teresa Shaw
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a super-hot topic right now in legal service circles, even though most law firms know they need to do at least a little optimization to help search engines find and rank their websites in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).
If you are wondering if you should consider hiring a company to perform search engine optimization (SEO) for your firm or practice, odds are, you should at least consider what opportunities you might be missing if you don’t, and if they are worth the time, effort, and probable expense of optimizing your website. Fact is, there are plenty of firms that have established a sizeable clientele and get most of their new clients through word-of-mouth referrals and networking. These types of firms do not really need to invest heavily in SEO. For these firms, a well-designed website may act as a digital brochure, albeit a dynamic one, and one that will probably move up in rankings slowly over time through reputation. Therefore, these types of firms might not gain anything by chasing first-page rankings through SEO.
Then What Type of Firms Should Consider SEO?
The objective of the search engine is to give searchers accurate results to their queries, and the objective of those who use SEO is to be the first, or at least on the first page, of those results.
Practices that focus on immediate need areas of the law, such as personal injury law, criminal law, and bankruptcy, as well as other similar areas may reach their potential clientele better by being high in the search results for those specific services, i.e., think “Vermont DUI Attorney.” While not every DUI attorney in Vermont can be on the first page of the search results, odds are, those that use SEO are being seen more than those who do not, and are probably also getting far more calls.
If you want to reach page one results, then by all means, hire a good marketing company, or roll up your sleeves and begin your optimization efforts.
So Niche Firms Don’t Need SEO?
It’s not that niche firms don’t need SEO, but practices that want to enhance their online reputation, establish their firm as an authority in one or more specific areas, and increase their network, may be better off investing their time and effort into publishing quality, authoritative content online. If you serve a more unique niche, for example in the area of trust and estate law, then being ranked high in the results might not be as important as being recognized as a trusted authority throughout your network.
For Law Firms, Content is Incredibly Important
Even though being first in SERP is not a high priority for some firms, creating content that distinguishes you and your firm from the crowd must be a high priority for all firms.
The content you create for the web will act as your introduction to many potential clients, and the impression it makes can help build trust and respect, can sway a doubting Thomas, and be a highly effective networking tool. Or it can be what makes a potential client choose someone else.
Poorly written content can hurt your reputation, undo gains made through online marketing efforts, and cause you to lose potential clients. Well written content, content that is interesting, informative, and useful, can increase your recognition, help establish your reputation as an authority, and motivate readers to contact you. You can write the content yourself, in-house, or through a content provider, just make sure it accurately represents your firm and offers value to the reader.
Let your audience get to know you through videos, comments, press releases, articles, blog posts, guest posts, social media, guides, e-books, books, and yes, your well-designed website. You can help your readers understand the law, keep them informed of changes to relevant laws and codes, keep them updated on the accomplishments of your firm, as well provide insight into relevant cases and those that set legal precedence.
Every attorney has a certain style that is reflected in the atmosphere of their office, the way they approach and work a case, and in how they represent their clients. Let some of that style seep into your writing, after all, you are your brand, and readers will want to get to know your brand before they make decisions.
Teresa Shaw is an SEO expert with 10 years experience helping attorneys and law firms across the country increase public awareness of their services.