Legal Marketing: What is Link Juice?

December 30, 2010

link juice

Link Juice is a term used to refer to the ranking of your website in Google. Every website needs link juice in order to gain more viewers because it is how Google determines which site is “better.”

It sounds silly, but link juice is very important. It’s similar to search engine optimization (SEO), in that every website needs link juice in order to gain more viewers. The more link juice you have, the higher  your listing on a Google search. So instead of having your firm’s website on page 5 of Google’s search for “law firms specializing in employment law,” you can be on page 1 if you have enough link juice.

Link juice is how Google determines which site is “better.” For example, if your law firm’s site is linked to popular sites like Legal Marketing Reader and/or Law.com, and your competitor’s site isn’t linked to any other sites, your site will be higher in the rankings due to its link juice.

This is important for every social media network you use at your law firm as well. Make sure you are linking your site to your YouTube videos and the other way around too. Make sure your Facebook page has your law firm’s website linked to it. Also, another great way to gain more link juice is to comment on LinkedIn discussions. Make sure your comments are linked to your LinkedIn page–BUT don’t spam!

Note: Google also uses SEO or “keywords,” in addition link juice, to determine rankings.

Advertisements

Legal Marketing: 10 Tips to Create a Law Firm Blog for New Business

December 1, 2010

SEO Logos

Your law firm’s blog can make new business easier, not harder, and will help you to better understand how digital and social media marketing works.

You hear everyone talking about blogging and social media, but you don’t understand the relevance for your law firm. As important as a website was for your law firm a blog is now as equally important if not more so. It should become a gateway to your firm.

A personal blog will provide you with a direction, focus and professional enrichment unlike anything you have ever experienced before. Your personal network skyrockets giving you the opportunity to generate the right kinds of new business leads that are a better match for your firm. Plus, you won’t have to be constantly chasing after new business; your new business pipeline will always remain full.

So with those things being said, here are 10 tips to get your attorneys’ blog started and to start turning those blog readers into clients:

1. Before you start to write learn to listen.

Identify and read other online resources that would be important to your target audience. Read blogs of other firms. Subscribe to blog RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds through Google Reader or the feed reader of your choice. Using a feed reader will greatly help you to strategize and organize your online reading. Get a feel for how blogs are written.

Writing a blog post is much different from writing for print. People tend to scan for information online rather than reading word-for-word. You’ll gain lots of ideas for your own posts from your online reading.

2. Do not incorporate your blog into your firm’s website.

You will need to allow your firm’s blog room to breathe and evolve apart from your current branding. As you interact with your target audience, they will become the decision makers as to what information resonates, what messages are appealing, what their legal challenges and obstacles really are.

You may think you know what your readers want, but you will continually be surprised as you receive their input, reflect upon your blog’s analytics. What you gain from this experience will help you discover an “appealing” position and proper branding for your firm from your prospective clients perspective.

3. Blog posts should be written by the firm’s principals or key attorneys.

Social media is personal and you are the face of your firm. We are in a relationship-oriented business and clients want to work with someone who they know, like and trust. Therefore your firm’s principals should lead the way.

Another reason I advocate that the blog post be written by the firm’s principals is that they are the least likely to leave the firm. Therefore, equity isn’t lost if an associate chooses to leave for another firm.

4. Keep the design simple.

Limit your creative and interactive staff’s involvement in the design process unless you want to greatly slow the process down. The design of your blog should be nice and clean. Here content is king.

I personally recommend using either WordPress.org or WordPress.com as your blog platform. These are simple blog platforms that are relatively easy to use and provide just the right bells and whistles.

5. Own your domain name.

I have seen a number of blogs with a wordpress.com or blogspot.com in their URL (web address). Be sure to own your domain name.  That way, if you ever change blog platforms, you won’t lose traffic to your site.

6. Create a simple written plan for your blog.

From my perspective, the objective for your blog is to generate leads and new business for your firm. To reach this objective you will need to identify your target audience, who you are writing to. What are their legal challenges?  In what ways can you become an invaluable resource and help?

You’ll need a name for the blog. An appropriate tag line that states what this site is about. Identify the categories that you will be writing to. I would suggest limiting the categories to 10 or less.

As you begin your blog remember, you cannot be everything to everybody and the more general your blog is the less traffic you can expect.

7. Keep a list of blog post ideas.

I’m often asked “don’t you run out of ideas when you are primarily writing only to a law firm’s marketing needs and social media tactics?” The answer is no.  Every morning I start the day by opening my Google Reader.

I have RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds from about 16 of my favorite blogs and publications. I scan quickly through the list of post titles or headlines, when one catches my attention I open it up and read it. It often sparks ideas for my own posts or is information that I can site and link for my readers.

I use a browser bar tool called “Press This” that allows me to post a draft of that article in my blog. I also keep a list of post ideas on my DeskTop.  I never find myself lacking for something to write about that won’t be of some help to my audience.

8. Set a goal for the number of posts to write per week.

I have a goal of posting 5 blog posts per week-it is very ambitious to think an attorney will have this many posts, but remember, consistency is key. I want to be constantly posting so that I don’t lose any readers. The feedback that I gain is what motivates and excites me.  My readers are very loyal and I don’t want to disappoint them by not having fresh content.

9. Repurpose your blog content.

I have lots of material to utilize through other new media tools. Your blog posts can actually be turned into a book. You can also create your own white papers, e-newsletters, and informational press releases from your content.

I use a tool called Tweetlater, to automate postings on Twitter. You will find all the effort you’ve put forth in your writing for your blog can be repurposed in lots of different ways through a number of different online channels and will have a long, long shelf life.

10. Learn how to generate blog traffic.

The current communication revolution makes it critical that you know this stuff so that can provide better direction for your firm and for your clients. Learning how to generate traffic to your blog is an eye-opening experience. You will better understand SEO (search engine optimization), web analytics (such as, Google Analytics), RSS feeds (reader subscriptions), email campaigns, HTML, etc.

Plus you will know the importance of and learn how to use social media tools like FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Delicious, Technorati, Digg and StumbleUpon just to name a few.

Understanding social media is not for just one practice area within the firm. Every staff member needs to understand it. What better way to learn than to use these tools than to generate new business for your firm through social media.

Social media is permanently revolutionizing communication. It isn’t an option to not participate. If your firm is to survive you’ve got to “get it.” Only as a participant will you genuinely come to understand what a valuable tool it is for your firm.


Legal Marketing: 10 Tips When Writing for an Online Audience

November 27, 2010

Book Stack

Writing effective online articles requires a much different approach than any other type of writing so leave the “legalese” for your legal briefs; here, your words should be short and your message clear and direct.

Online readers scan quickly for content and move on if they don’t quickly see  information of direct relevance to them. Your copy must be concise, easy to scan and objective.

This type of writing may seem simple but is harder than it looks. Remember these 10 tips when writing for an online audience:

  1. Brevity is key. Readers want to find information quickly, get the facts and get out. Don’t you?
  2. Your post should be information rich. “No frills” writing will allow you to create a substantial amount of information into a few paragraphs.
  3. Keep headlines short, simple and focused on the point of the article. Include key words that will help get your article picked up by search engines.
  4. Sum up the main point of the article in the first paragraph. This lets the reader know exactly what the article is about and what knowledge they can expect to take away at the end.
  5. Readers will be turned off by promotional writing, so don’t sell. Blogging is a much more subtle type of marketing – the purpose is to establish yourself as a thought leader in your area of specialty by sharing your expertise. The minute you talk about your firm’s benefits, readers lose interest.
  6. Use meaningful sub-headings (not “clever” ones)
  7. Highlight keywords (hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting; typeface variations and color are others).
  8. Use bulleted or numbered lists. Readers love them.
  9. Keep your articles within 350 to 450 words, or about 3 to 4 short paragraphs.
  10. Include at least one high quality graphic.

Legal Marketing: Social Media Philosophy and Tips for Law Firm Partners

August 4, 2010

To give your law firm a jump-start in using social media I thought it would be beneficial to share my personal observations, opinions, philosophy and tips on how to use it to grow your inbound leads and personal networks.

Most problems law firm’s have with their social media efforts are the following:

  • No primary target audience
  • No point of differentiation
  • No strong appeal
  • No time left to create a “consistent” theme

My Social Media Philosophy:

  • Social media “teaches” firms to promote themselves the way they should have been doing all along; to lead with benefits instead of your firm’s capabilities and credentials.
  • Firms need a differentiated and appealing position to a particular target audience.
  • Enlarge the firm’s online footprint so it can be found by your best prospective clients that match up with the core strengths of the firm.
  • Through social media, you build relationships, trust and a position of expertise. People always prefer to work with people that they know, trust and like.
  • Even though social media is very time-intensive in the beginning, as you get up to speed, it becomes an extremely efficient use of time. Clients have an opportunity to check under the hood, kick the tires and examine the upholstery within their own timetable.
  • The central platform for social media is a firm’s blog. As important as it was for your firm to have a website, it is becoming essential that your firm have a blog. Your firm’s website is becoming more like an online static brochure. A blog provides better SEO, fresh and rich content, is more personable, easier to update, provides a reason for your prospective clients and readers to visit often.

The following 10 tips are my suggestions for creating a law firm’s new blog with the objective of building your social media capabilities and credibility:

1. I recommend that you do not incorporate your blog into your firm’s website.

If it is tied into your firm’s website, it is immediately constricted and has no room to breathe and grow.  It’s okay for your firm’s Website to show its diversity of clients, but a blog has to have a specific target audience.

The Website is your online brochure, the place where capabilities, credentials and the work reside. The blog will compel you to focus your firm more narrowly without the risk.

2. The firm’s blog should be reflective of its principals.

You have to remember that social media is about people, not an entity. Don’t hide behind the veil of the firm, be the face of the firm. Again, people want to work with people they know, trust and like.

Your firm needs a face. For most small to mid-sized firms, that face needs to be the firm’s principal(s).

From my experience working with prospective clients of, small to mid-sized firms, they always are interested in the chemistry with and oversight of the partners.  You are the visionary of the firm. The only way you are going to “get” social media is to participate. If it isn’t a priority for you, it won’t be for your firm.

Also, keep in mind that the firm’s principals are the least likely to leave the firm.  If you lose a staff member who you’ve allowed to be the face of the firm through social media, you lose your equity and a significant portion of your audience.

3. Keep the design simple.

The more people you involve in this process the more chance you will have a bottle neck that slows, and most probably stops, the process. Keep the people involved to a minimum. Remember that content is king. It is the fuel for the engine and don’t let anything inhibit generating the content. I would suggest to start out utilizing WordPress, TypePad or Blogger blog platforms. My favorite is WordPress. You can create a blog in minutes rather than days, weeks or months. It will be a constantly evolving process, and its important that you keep it moving. You can easily add pages, navigation and graphics without help from your IT department.

You should be able to have your blog up and running in a matter of minutes, not hours, days, weeks or months. Keep the design clean, simple and easy to navigate. Stay focused on delivering the beneficial content. The site needs to be more personal and less corporate. Let it reflect your personality. Avoid using your firm’s logo. The firm should reside in the background. A side note: be sure that you own your domain.
Make your target audience crystal clear.

4. For your blog to be successful, keep you target audience in mind.

You don’t want traffic for traffic’s sake, you want targeted traffic. This not only will help your SEO, but also when you repurpose content through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

5. Before you begin to write learn to listen.

Please remember this: reading fuels your writing. A great time saver for your reading is to use an RSS Reader. My suggestion would be to sign up for Google Reader. The key is to find sources for great content and have that content flow to you instead of you having to constantly search for it. Google Reader allows you to easily organize all of your online reading. It is very efficient.

Learn about social media etiquette, understand the importance of transparency and motive when using this emerging media, but remember this one rule, there are no rules when it comes to social media. It is still evolving, and we are pioneers within the space when it comes to legal marketing with this channel. Watch your blog analytics, it will help to fine tune the appeal for your writing. Always look to your readers, what they care about and respond to.

6. Write Concisely. People read online differently than they do print.

They usually don’t read word-for-word, they scan.

Nielsen Norman Group’s research found that 79 percent of their test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word. This makes it a tough transition for copywriters who tend to be clever and fluff up the copy.

Make your posts scannable by:

  • Being brief, give your readers the Readers Digest version, the executive summary. Do the work on their behalf.
  • Dividing up copy into shorter paragraphs.
  • Using bullet points or numbered lists. Using compelling subheads, quotations, bold, italics, etc., so readers can scan for the information they need.

Follow Hemingway’s example:

“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of &*^$,” Hemingway confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934. “I try to put the s___t  in the wastebasket.”

7 .Jump start traffic to your blog to accelerate lead generation.

“Build it and they will come,” is not the answer to generate traffic to your firm’s blog. You must employ proactive tactics to create awareness and interest among prospective clients. The more traffic that you can generate from your target audience, the more rewarding your legal blog will be.

The strategic use of Twitter and eNewsletters can significantly bump up targeted traffic to your blog in a short period of time.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking, “If I’ve written it everyone must have read it.”

The copy for your eNewsletter will come from your blog posts. It takes literally 10 to 15 minutes to create and send. That allows it to be maintainable even when you are at your busiest. Through these two tactics alone you can get 100% return on your time investment from writing your posts.

    Here are some quick tips to help generate traffic to your blog:

    • Publish posts frequently and consistently.
    • Write evergreen posts that have a long shelf life and a good return for your time investment. I know when writing to a legal audience, many of your posts will be time-sensitive, but try to have some very simple and basic posts so you can repurpose.
    • Syndicate your new posts to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
    • Add your blog link to your email signature.
    • Use a program like SocialOomph to re-purpose your blogs older content through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
    • Add a share button at the bottom of your posts to allow them to be easily promoted by others to through their personal networks.
    • Provide subscription options for your blog through email or an RSS Feed like Feedburner.
    • Identify key words you want to dominate in Google search and consistently use them in your posts titles, such as law, legal marketing, etc.
    • One thing to avoid…don’t sell! The moment you start to sell on your blog is when you will most likely LOSE your audience.

    8. Create resources for blog post ideas.

    Because I know who my target audience is, and I have identified the categories that I’m going to write to, coming up with blog posts ideas is not difficult. From my experience, the narrower your focus, the easier it is to find things to write about.

    As I mentioned earlier, reading fuels writing. When I’m reading in the mornings, using Google Reader and scanning through hundreds of posts and articles I have filtered directly to me, I find a few that catch my eye. So that I don’t become distracted while reading, I use a tool called Press This, that will place the interesting posts/article title, URL link and synopsis into a draft posts in WordPress.

    When I write, I can go to my draft posts and work from there. I also keep a Word document on my laptop’s desktop with a running list of ideas.

    9. Be focused and consistent.

    It is as simple as planning the work and following the plan. I start out each day knowing who is my target audience. I write consistently to the stated purpose of my blog. I make irrelevant material relevant to my readers. I do the work on their behalf. I’m consistent with my timing and religiously follow a regular posting schedule.

    I follow a daily ritual to keep me on track and consistent. I start every day with my strategic reading. My homepage in FireFox is my Google Reader. I open it before I will dare to open my first email because if I open the first email, my day is done. I also enjoy getting a leg-up for the week by having one to two posts finished by Sunday afternoon of most weekends. These are preset to publish on different days of the week, and I’ll write the other posts before the week is up. My readers can be assured of finding fresh content.

    That doesn’t mean that you have to provide all original content for each post that you write. I usually recommend that one post per week be original content, other blog posts are highlighting other information, resources, research that will be of help to your target audience.

    10. To keep up, you must have the right mindset.

    We will experience more change in our industry in the next five years than we have in the previous 50.

    One of the main reasons law firms and partners haven’t been as inclined to participate in social media is that they are already over-extended with little time for anything additional in their professional or personal lives.

    When they make time to participate and understand social media, is when they’ve finally relented that it isn’t going to go away. What will make the social media pill easier to swallow is understanding the multiplicity of benefits it provides. Social media only becomes a priority when you understand the benefits generated from it for you and your firm.

    Before you brush off participation, the benefits you’ll reap through your efforts to write a law firm blog:

    • A blog is worth doing if only for this one big benefit, professional enrichment. It provides a system for you to stay ahead of the learning curve in communications technologies and in front of your clients and prospects. A position of leadership – thought leadership.
    • The interaction with your readers, clients and other attorneys is priceless. If you really want to know what your prospective clients’ obstacles are and become a thought leader, then write a blog.
    • Learn to create a strong appeal for your firm. A blog will help you to stop using legal speak and speak in a language that resonates with your target audience. It will teach you how to generate an appealing message.

    Legal Marketing: 10 ways to create a blog that is reader-centric

    June 18, 2010

    Reader-Centric Blog Graph

    A key to your law firm’s blog success for new business is to put the user’s experience ahead of your own.

    People don’t have time to work hard for their information. You must be prepared to do some work on their behalf if you want to grow your blog’s traffic and generate inbound leads.

    Success on the Internet depends on multiplying the number of people who will visit a home page times the proportion who actually enlist your services – the percentage who become clients.

    Here are 10 ways to create a legal blog that is reader-centric and puts the user’s experience first and foremost:

    1. Write to be easily found. Create an SEO strategy so that your blog’s content is found by your intended target audience. Consistency use certain key words in your post titles that aid in the search-ability of your posts. This same tactic also helps with Twitter and identifies content specific to your audience’s needs.
    2. Make your blog site easy to navigate. Blogs are not often read chronologically. That makes navigation from a category section located in your blog’s sidebar a very important feature. Creating blog categories will also provide a guide for your writing, keeping you focused.
    3. Provide the Reader’s Digest version for the information that you share. I would suggest limiting your posts to 350 to 450 words on average. Usually half the word count than you would use for print. It actually takes a bit more work to make post copy concise, but your readers will love you for it.
    4. Create numbered and bullet-pointed lists when possible. Readers love it when you create this type of executive information summary.
    5. You get more readers with focused, short, scannable content. 79 percent of Web users scan rather than read word-for-word. Highlight key words, indent quotes, etc.
    6. Write for fast comprehension. Eliminate unnecessary copy. It takes more work to be brief. Try to stay within 350 to 450 words per post. Web content must be brief and get to the point quickly, because users are likely to be on a specific mission.
    7. Write content that is evergreen to provide information that has a long and valued shelf-life. This is a hard thing to do when writing about certain legal topics or current law changes, so keep most posts basic, but I understand some will be dated.
    8. Use your analytics to sharpen your blog’s appeal. Your readership will be your guide to relevant content.
    9. Don’t think that just because you’re written it that everyone has read it. Repurpose content. Someone that found a post through SEO, might find another through your email newsletter or through Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
    10. Take the time and select images for your post that convey useful, memorable information, not just decoration.

    Why is it so important to create a blog that is reader-centric?  To provide a great user experience with your online content, you must overcome these obstacles:

    • You are competing with thousands, if not millions, of other legal online sources.
    • Online readers have a very short attention span. The average page visit lasts about 30 seconds. 10 minutes would be a long visit to a website. People want sites to get to the point, they have very little patience.
    • Your competition is a click away. There is a low tolerance for poor site navigation, material that is hard to locate and sites that are slow to load.
    • Users want to construct their own experience by piecing together content from multiple sources. Many users simply want to reach a site quickly, complete a task and leave.
    • Web users are getting more selfish when they go online. People arrive at a website with a goal in mind, and they are ruthless in pursuing their own interest and in rejecting whatever the site is trying to push.
    • Online behavior is very search-dominated which makes your content search dependent.

    What are some of the benefits for creating a reader-centric blog?:

    • It will improve the success rate for communicating key messages.
    • Increase your credibility.
    • Convert readers into loyal followers, advocates, and clients.
    • Generate more traffic, which leads to higher conversion rates of readers to new clients.

    Legal Marketing: 5 Quick Tips for Good Placement on Search Engines

    June 2, 2010

    Follow these rules on SEO and get your law firm’s website ranked higher on search queries.

    Search Engine optimization allows for people to easily find your site. Usually it only means you have to make small modifications to your website to get it optimized.

    The following is a list compiled from the Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide to make your site visible in search engines, but always remember your main client is your customer-not a search engine.

    1. Pages on your site: Make sure every page has an accurate and brief page title as well as an accurate and brief title tag. Title tags are important because it tells both users and search engines what the topic of a particular page is, so make sure they are unique and different for each page. Normally, the title tag is what shows up in a search on Google.
    2. Meta Tags: A meta tag for a page is a description and summary of your pages content. These tags give Google and other search engines a type of summary for your site. You never know Google might use these as snippets for your pages when someone is searching it.  When you are writing these met tags, make sure they are accurately describing the page and don’t write generic tags such as,” this is a page about…”.
    3. URLs: Make sure your URL is simple and text driven. You don’t want cryptic letters and numbers in your URL-you want a URL that tells you what you are about to click on. A URL with relevant words in it will show accurate information to a search engine or a user.
    4. Navigation: When navigation is easy on your site, users will be able to find the content they were looking for easier. Create links linking things from within the site and links linking information outside the site.  Also, use mostly text for navigation.  It’s hard for Google to recognize Flash and other fancy stuff for navigation titles.
    5. Interesting Quality: An interesting site will get more users than a site that is boring and has no relevant information.  Organic word of mouth is what really grows your site, so get a blog, email, or use other sources of social media and talk about something buzz worthy!

    These are a few tips to get your site noticed. Always keep your client/user/customer in mind when making these changes! After all, it’s all about them!

    Download a copy of Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide


    Legal Marketing: 5 Ways to Turn Your Law Firm’s Website into Solid Leads

    May 27, 2010

    picture of a web address

    There are some simple things you can do to make your law firm’s website more effective in generating new business leads.

    A law firm’s website gives valuable information about your firm and what it does, but people have to find it first. Don’t make them work to find you; creative use of social media can drive traffic right to your doorstep.

    Here are 5 ideas to help you turn your law firm’s website into solid leads:

    1. Extend your online presence far beyond your website.

    I recommend making your blog the central point of your online presence, as it can be the prime source of leads to your website. The idea is that Twitter, Facebook, search engines and other forms of social media will provide links to your blog, which should be a newsworthy resource on topics of interest to your clients in your area of expertise (it should not be marketing-oriented).

    Clients who click-through to your website from your blog already feel as if they know you – a key factor in signing new clients – and have already gotten valuable information from you.

    2. Reap the benefits of viral marketing

    If your blog is relevant and informative it may be referenced by and linked to other sites and blogs, extending your reach exponentially. Post your blogs and other news on Twitter, which automatically alerts search engines to your post and makes it available to people searching the topic on Google or Yahoo.

    3.  Use landing pages

    Have website visitors land on pages specific to their interests. For instance, if they click to your site from a blog you posted about employment law, take them directly to that portion of your website.

    4. Make it easy to contact you

    Every page of your website should have a prominent, easy-to-find “Contact Us” button. On the firm’s contact page, provide several different forms of contact – phone number, email address, physical address. To make it more personal, provide the name of the staff member they will be contacting.

    5. Solidify the relationship

    Now that social media has driven warm leads to your doorstep, follow-up quickly with a phone call or personal email to greet clients and find out more about their needs.