5. Create Interesting and Educational Content
Knowledge is power—and it doesn’t have to be dry or boring to be meaningful. Your clients and prospects probably want to know a few things:
- What is your general knowledge about the law?
- What is your knowledge of the law as it pertains to their situation?
- What are your area of expertise or emphasis, and how much experience to you have in these areas?
- How you can help them with their legal matter?
- How will you help them with their legal matter (will you be their bulldog, if that’s what they want?
- Why they should hire you instead of the hundred other attorneys available?
You are a step ahead of the competition when you understand what your potential clients want from you. Giving it to them in order to convert them from a prospect to a client is the tricky part.
Search Engine Optimization: An Overview
You’ve heard the term “SEO” tossed around, but what does it mean?
Let’s start with a look at the world’s most common search engine: Google. Google is a mathematical machine. You input information (i.e. a search query or keyword), it processes that data with a series of algorithms, and it spits out a ranked list of results. That’s it (an incredibly complex and evolving “it”, to be sure).
How are these results selected? Some people think that SEO is simply a bunch of robotic spiders crawling web pages ranking sites with the largest numbers of keywords. But it isn’t like that anymore. When SEO ranking consisted only of an overly-simplified process of keyword and link counts, everyone suffered. Content farms created poorly-written articles which search engines would harvest and display as top ranking sites. Truly useful content was buried under piles of fluff and worthlessness. It was awful. So awful that Google (and other search engines) now have strict policies prohibiting unethical (“black hat” SEO strategies.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is good (“white hat”) SEO. This is probably where you want to be.
Some Quick “White Hat” SEO Guidelines
We won’t go too in depth, but here are some best practices to keep in mind when entering the glamorous world of SEO:
- When writing SEO, your goal shouldn’t be to rank high in a search engine (search engines will pick up on this, and they will not like it.) Make your goal to tantalize the reader with stellar content. Yes, the right words count, but they count most when in a meaningful and useful context.
- Never aim to trick your readers, and never display “double-content” – showing your users one set of content while ranking with bad SEO behind the curtain. This is called cloaking, and it’ll get your site shut down.
- Organize your content using a nice, flowing hierarchy. This means working hyperlinks, a good ratio of optimized keywords and a stable pyramid of header titles. For extra optimization (SEO brownie points), link your blog posts back to your website when it’s applicable.
- Use best practices in off-page SEO. Great link building, ALT attributes and <title> elements are key, so brush up on your backend knowledge and put it to the test (make sure you give your SEO strategies time to evolve—and don’t be afraid to evolve with it).
- The key to meaningful SEO is to ask “What do my clients want?” and “How will they try to get it?” Steer clear of a search term like “John Wilkins Personal Injury” and try more generic terms like “Personal Injury Lawyer Orange County”. If you aren’t a navigational search term yet, you want to rank for informational queries where there’s already plenty of competition. Clients will find you with search terms that depict what they need, so optimize for those terms. Try your hand at Google AdWords – see what keywords are generating the most buzz this month.
- Write for humans! Make your URLs human-friendly. You are person. Your prospects are too. The internet is simply a tool for humans to communicate and exchange knowledge. We’re in control (for the moment, right Hal?), so don’t produce content that looks too robotic.
There are many more elements to consider for a comprehensive SEO strategy, but the above suggestions are a good place to start. If you’re already itching for more, take a peek at SEOmoz’s guide for a deeper overview of some great SEO practices.
Let’s take a quick inventory of what we’ve covered: we ushered in the legal marketing strategy with a little brand identity, got your juices flowing with ideas on how to differentiate your firm, addressed your local online presence, discussed how visibility relates to your credibility and reputation, and hit upon some major points about creating crawlable and relevant content.
Now let’s explore the other side of the legal marketing: leads, converting prospects to clients, and referrals.