Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Twitter Directory, Twellow

As a quasi frequent Twitter person, I have found Twellow to be a great directory. You can search for interesting people to follow by category. You can see how many followers a particular person has too.

In addition you can create an extended profile of yourself, which can be very useful in describing your focus areas (ala practice areas and locations).

If you haven't checked out and you are on Twitter, then you maybe missing out.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Targetlaw New Release

Targetlaw has a new look and feel. It has morphed from a Lawyer Search Engine to a full blown online legal directory. There is also a legal article submission section.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Secret of Search Engine Optimization (Shhhhh, don't tell anyone)

If you are like most lawyers, you are constantly being barraged by offers from SEO "experts" who know the secrets of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Here is the biggest secret about SEO that I am going to share with you....

There is no secret. Despite what all the experts say, Google, Yahoo, MSN and every other search engine out there do not want a website to show better in their search results because of superior SEO. These search engines make their living by bringing back relevant websites to a particular query. If these results are skewed and not relevant, then the searcher will look elsewhere and not continue to use the search engine.
This creates a cat and mouse game between the SEO Experts (mostly Spammers) and the search engines. I would suggest you do not get caught up with all this.

Remember from my last post, above all, Content is King. If you are adding relevant content, have a Google Site Map (table of contents for Google), and are listed in a few good web directories then your lawyer website or blawg will do just fine. Stay away from trying to guess "keyword density" and other SEO methods. These strategies come and go. Trying to keep up with them will be frustrating, complicated, and in the end, not beneficial to your overall web traffic.

If your hobby is to SEO your law firm website on a frequent basis and the art of SEO interests you, then go ahead. Otherwise, put your head down, and refresh your relevant content. If you build it, they will come.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Relevant Content Trumps Everything for Websites

What do Google, Yahoo, MSN and other search engines want to see on a website above all else? A pretty picture? Repeating key words? Great search engine optimization?
The title of this post is a hint...Yes, it is Relevant Content. What I mean by this is that your website needs to contain information that is relevant to a search engine query. Search engines do not want to bring back poor results to their searchers. Search engines make their money by having searchers return and continue to do web searches. Google is a multi billion dollar company because more folks on the internet use Google which drives up Google's pay per click (think "Sponsored Links" when you do a search) revenue. If the results Google brought back to the public where not relevant, then searchers would stop using Google and use another search engine.

So what does this have to do with you attorney or law firm website? If you want to capture web searchers that don't know you or your firm, you need to have content on your site that is similar to what they are searching for. An example of this might be a description of your criminal practice or an article on bankruptcy. The more information you have on your site that is relevant to various web queries, the more likely you will be found on the search engines.

How do you get content on your site? Write articles, describe your practice in great detail, or post frequently on your blog. Write about your practice and what you know about. If you don't have time, "make time". Content is king when it comes to search engine optimization. Incoming links are great (if done correctly) but content will usually trump any SEO tweaking.

I would recommend that you avoid:
1. Posting duplicate content. Search engines will penalize your website if they find the same content somewhere else (ala article submission site)
2. Steal content from another website. I'm stating the obvious here
3. Write content with too much emphasis on "key words" that your potential clients may use. Write in an informative manner in whatever tone your clients would want to see.

If you commit to adding a few pages to your website a month, and publish a blog post weekly, you will be ahead of the game.

Remember, Content is King on the internet. If you don't believe me, check out Wikipedia.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Attorney referral or lead services

Attorney/Client lead and referral services claim that they take away the labor, analysis, confusion, and qualification of pay per click campaigns. A law firm pays the service and the service provides the law firm with leads it acquires through pay per click campaigns or organic capture.
In investigating a few of these services, including AttorneySync, LegalMatch, and LegalConnection, I found some good and not some good features.

All three did a good job of showing up on pay per click campaigns.

Legal Match and Legal Connection have a very detailed and long intake form which is good and bad. It is good that any referral or lead that gets to you has a lot of information and is more qualified than a typical web inquiry. It is bad that many potential clients will not have the patience to fill out the form.

The AttorneySync form was more intuitive and less lengthy than LegalMatch and LegalConnection. As you can imagine this is good and bad as I described before.

Once the form is filled, LegalMatch informs the user that an appropriate attorney will be in contact. AttorneySync actually shows the attorney that has meets the practice and location criteria. Legal Connection shows up to 3 possible attorneys that meet the criteria. Which one of these is better? I think all three have their merits.

Ok, so do I like the idea of this lead/referral service? I'll give my generic answer of "it depends". The upside is that these services take the grunt work out of SEO and Pay Per Click. These services have the ability to ratchet up their ad campaign to get your firm a certain amount of leads. These firms do all the research and heavy lifting for the right keywords. The downside is the uncertainty of the quality of the leads. No matter how long an intake form is, the lead may not be what the you are looking for. I especially hear this with Real Estate lawyers who complain they receive far too many Landlord/Tenant leads. DUI/DWI inquiries tend to be a lot more cut and dry. Either the potential lead was arrested for DUI or not.

So should you try one of these services? I would say giving one a shot would not be a bad idea as a compliment to your Law Firm website and Blawg (lawyer blog). You also need the time and the ability to respond quickly to one of these potential leads as these potential clients are in the market and want immediate feedback. I would also be wary to accept any promises of great leads and would be hesitant to commit to a long term contract.

Also, consult your state bar association on the ethics of these services. Some state rules are strict about referral services.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

A downturn economy, time to evaulate your lawyer marketing

We have all seen the news, listened to the radio, read the paper, seen blogs, read Tweets (Twitter), and have had discussions with our friends and colleagues. Yes, the economy is bad, ad nauseaum. In my personal opinion, focusing on the negative has helped worsen the recession. People buy newspapers and listen to talk radio to hear about negative news more than positive news. I'll get off my soapbox.

So, perhaps there are a few less clients walking into your law firm at the moment. That can be painful. One valuable thing you can do is to reexamine your marketing strategy and budget. If you keep forms asking new clients how they found you, now would be a good time to tabulate the results. Put the results into a spreadsheet with the advertising sources, approximate fee revenue created, cost of advertising, profit, and any other metric that might be important to your practice. Why do this? I think you may be surprised by some of the sources of clients for your firm. As I mentioned in my previous post, you may have to cross reference the source that clients write down with your web analytics tool. Either way you should get a baseline to determine what sources are working and what aren't. Perhaps you don't need that 1/2 page add in the Yellow Pages when it come time to renew. That top listing in Findlaw may be doing very well for you. Either way you should know and plan on making marketing changes that make fiscal sense.

One key investment you can make is on your website. Create new, relevant, and valuable content on your web pages. Once you create content on your website, it is there forever, so any time investment you make in writing will have long term residual effects. If you happen to write an article on bankruptcy strategies to avoid disclosure, you are creating search engine friendly content that can lead to visitors being led to your site for answers and possibly help. In addition, the more relevant content you have on a particular subject, the more authoritative you become to your potential audience.

The same can be said about your blog (blawg = lawyer blog). Recommit to writing at least weekly posts regarding points of law. For the same reason as your website, new content has search engine residual value and establishes your expertise.

Every hour you invest on marketing analysis and web content will yield tangible results in improved client acquisition and marketing spending.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Traffic Reports for your law firm website - very important

If your website already has a web analytics tool, I reccommend you become familiar with it. If your website does not have a analytics tool, you can always use Yahoo! or Google Analytics. I personally use Google Analytics for this site and others. I do not think there is a huge difference between the two.
Once you have your web analytics solutions live and ready to go, now comes the fun stuff. With a little playing around, you can start to see how successful (or not so successful) your blog or website is. Here are some metrics you want to look at:
1. Daily unique visitors aka how many people look at your site: This is a good overal guage on how well your site is doing. The higher the number, the more poplular your site is. (no doi)
2. Referring sites/links: If a visitor came to your site from another site, you will know what that site is. This is a very crucial measurment. Here you can see how successful that paid listing(s) is at Findlaw,, or Justia. Are you getting the amount of traffic from these sites proportionate to what you are paying? Don't just take your sales reps word on how well these top listings work, test for yourself. You can track any pay per click campaing. Also, you can see how much return you get for you efforts on the whole social networking strategy. You can measure LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Digg, and posts you make on other blogs.
3. Key words. These are terms or words that visitors typed into a search engine that eventually led them to your site. Most attorneys will see their name in various forms show very high on this list. This helps validate the fact that many web visitors know your name, and want to check you out. You can also see what other key words led people to your site. Search terms for a personal injury attorney may include "car accident attorney Grand Rapids " or "I slipped at a Kmart in Detroit ". If these key words are leading people to your site, you know that your content is being indexed and performing well on the search engines. If your are not getting the key words that your are looking for, then you can adjust and add to your website content appropriately. Write a blog post on an area of law that you are not getting alot of web hits on. More content can only help.
4. Trends. It is important to keep track of overall trends of your website. If you traffic spikes up or down, you need to be aware of this and be able to respond.

These are just a few of the things you should look for when analyzing your website traffic. The reality is, that very few attorneys take the time to look at their traffic reports. This gives the firms and lawyers that do look at their traffic reports and make adjustments a competitive advantage in securing that harder to get client. In today's times, an advantage, even a slim one, can mean all the difference.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Web 2.0 for lawyers, law firms, and attorneys - Q & A

As Web 2.0 (the next generation of web experience and sites) continues to grow and accelerate, visitors want interaction in everything they do. As the younger generation gets older and the older generation becomes more acclimated with web interaction, the typical Law Firm Website model will become a little less relevant. Web surfers want to ask for information via the web. They do not want to "call for a free consultation" or fill out an intake form where someone from the firm will contact them.
This is why you see a lot of Law Q & A sites out there. Law firm potential clients are asking legal questions on these sites and on general Q & A sites such as Yahoo Answers!
I have had discussions with many attorneys about the viability of the information of these sites. Some attorneys believe it is ok to give informational answers that cannot be described as any legal advice. Other attorneys believe that the whole legal question and answer model is fatally flawed. One lawyer told me "would you get advice on how to do open heart surgery on an answer from a website? So why would you be able to get solid legal information without consulting with an attorney on the phone?".
I'm not a lawyer and don't know which perspective is correct. I do know that less and less people like to use the phone. People want answers online just like they want to purchase products online. A general manager of a local Pizza Hut franchise told me his sales increased 25% when customers could order pizza online.
How law firms will deal with this quandary will be very important. Blawgs can be a little interactive, but do not answer the fundamental question, how should lawyers communicate with prospective clients in the age of Web 2.0?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Web 2.0, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Flicr..oh my!

Whatever happened to websites that just displayed information? Websites where you could just buy stuff online?
They are still out there of course, but the internet is slowly changing to Web 2.0. What is 2.0? You are already a part of Web 2.0 if you are reading this Blog. Blogs are part of the 2.0 revolution. Web 2.0 is interactive. Site visitors want to comment, create profiles, upload/share pictures, communicate with friends or colleagues, rate movies or restaurants...and the list continues.
What does that mean to the average law firm or attorney? First of all, don't panic. Your old fashioned website is still the most important part of your online footprint. Your lawyer website can still be the "hub" for all of your other online activity.
Here is my suggestion, if you are interested in Facebook, Twitter, MySpace etc..., sign up as a personal user, not a business person first. Just to check it out. It's fun to reconnect with friends and know what they are doing. As you get more and more immersed into Twitter and the gang, see what your peers are doing. If they look active, then you may want to think about creating another or compliment account for your law practice.
Also, don't forget about that blog you keep putting off. Blogging by definition is search engine friendly (especially Google) and also Web 2.0 friendly. Blogging is interactive (comments can be made), frequently updated with new and relevant content, and properly categorized/tagged.

If you want to read up on a good blog regarding Web 2.0, these guys know there stuff:

Good luck and welcome to Web 2.0!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Yet another free website directory listing

There is much debate on directory listings having much search engine marketing value. The reason being is that oftentimes directories are not seo friendly for individual listings. A few years ago, you would see Findlaw and individual pages showing up for local queries such as "Phoenix DWI Lawyer". Now that the internet is more crowded and search engine algorithms have dramatically changed, directories have lost some of their luster.
That being said, I recommmend that if a website directory is:
1. Free or minimal cost
2. Not a spam directory
3. Has a Google Page rank of at least 3
then it is worth creating a profile with your website address. It may take 5 minutes to do and it could help you.
For instance, I placed my other website, into the free directory Brownbook. One day later the Brownbook listing showed up in a Google Alert I have for the term "Targetlaw". This means that Google must have indexed the listing and seen the word Targetlaw. Not bad for 3 minutes of work.
I will try and continue to search new directories that meet my criteria and share them with everyone.
By the way don't forget about Targetlaw, it is another free directory/search engine specifically for lawyer websites.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Yelp - another local free listing for businesses

I ran into an interesting website, This site is a local business directory with a twist. It allows visitors to rate 1 out of 5 stars for businesses in their local area. And oddly enough, there are a lot of lawyer and law firm listings. I recommend in getting a free listing for your law firm in this site. You can put in basic information including your website. Yelp has a Google page rank of 7 (out of 10) which is pretty high (Yahoo has a page rank of 9)which means it may help your firm website to be listed for SEO's sake.
I would also invite friends and family to give a review of your law firm. I'm not sure what ethical issues this may cause, so check with your Bar Association rules.
Creating your listing on Yelp is not the most important thing you can do to promote you website, but it can't hurt either. If you have 5 minutes, it might be worth the time.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Blogging, when self promotion is counter productive

From this blog, you can derive that I am very interested in strategies and tactics for lawyers and law firms to increase their exposure on the internet. Great web content, a relevant and informative blog, the right directory listings, search engine optimization etc all play a role in increasing potential clients to your practice.
All this being true, there has to be a correct tone in all the content that you publish out to the internet. I recently read a blog post by an solo practitioner regarding car accidents. It was very informative and relevant to someone looking for information on car accidents. Unfortunately, the author continued to mention himself and his practice as being qualified to handle car accident cases. Instead of the blog appearing informative and authoritative, it read more like a billboard. This cheapened his well thought out post. Maybe a few visitors will decide to call him, but someone more web savvy will see right through this post. In addition, I don't think the rest of the blog sphere will link back to this site as it looks more like advertising than an article.
So what's my point? If you have a blog, keep writing interesting and relevant posts. You do not have to plug your practice in the post. The fact that you write the post and credit the information to you and your firm, does far more to establish crediblity than mentioning your name 20 times.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Google Pay Per Click - Adwords

In my previous post I mentioned a great, easy, and effective way to get exposure and market your law practice on the web.
I would now like to give my brief take on using pay per click for law firms large and small.
If you don't know what pay per click is, do a search on Google, Yahoo, or MSN and you can see "Sponsored Results" typically on the very top of the search results page and on the right side of the page. How do you think those results appear there? Advertisers pay Google for their ad to appear when certain search terms are used. The interesting thing, is that advertisers pay only when their particular ad is clicked on, taking the searcher to a desired website or landing page. Advertisers bid for clicks on certain key words such as "car accident" or "asbestos". The amount that is bid is solely up to the advertiser (lawyer/law firm). The advertiser with the highest bid, will appear first in the sponsored results. The second highest bidder will appear second and so on.
On the surface this may seem to be a quick and easy to generate business. My advice, do a lot of investigation before you start. Here are some suggestions/comments before you jump into pay per click:
1. Do you have enough time to research pay per click in general, read the tutorials (Google provides good information at
2. Do you have the time to be able to bid, monitor, and adjust your pay per click strategy? I think that you should have to at least commit a few minutes per day to review your bid status.
3. Do you have a way to measure your results? I recommend a separate landing page on your website for you ad campaign. This allows you to monitor and measure the results of your sponsored links.
4. Could you be spending more time getting more business from the web by other means? Blog, newsletter, articles.

In theory, pay per click is great for a law practice, especially in the consumer space (family, personal injury, criminal, wills & estates, probate, immigration etc..). If business is slow, ratchet up your pay per click campaign for that month. If business is good, then put the brakes on the campaign.

For everything, the "devil is in the details". I believe a pay per click strategy can help compliment your other marketing avenues, if you do it right.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Get local with Google and Yahoo

Back to basics. From the research that I have done, people who search for things on the web, search by business type and location. This is no different for searches for lawyers or law firms. I review the web reports of my clients and see a lot of searches that my look like "DWI lawyer Texas" or "bankruptcy attorney Albany".
Having a great website with relevant content and good SEO will help your firm's website capture some of these searchers.
There is also a free and easy way to capture these potential clients through Yahoo and Google local listings.

For Google, go to: and add your firm. You can add your website, address, phone number, hours of operation, types of law practice, what payments your firm accepts etc. You can even upload a logo. The whole process takes no more than 5 minutes. Below is a sample search "family lawyer San Antonio" I did on Google. You can see all of the local listings of law firms at the top of the search results! This trumps organic search engine marketing and is absolutely free.

The same can be done on Yahoo! at

This is free, and local.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lawyer Blogging Tips

When an attorney decides whether to start a blog or not, I always ask them, "Are you really going to spend the time to make your blog successful?" A neglected lawyer blog is worse than having no blog at all.
I stumbled across this article by Foster Web Marketing that has some very good ideas to help lawyers stay on point with blogs.

This article gives 5 points for a successful blog. My two favorite are:
1. Set aside a certain time of day or week dedicated to working on your blog
2. Don't be afraid to invite guest bloggers to help you create blog posts

I had never considered these two suggestions. I recommend you check out the article.

Happy Blogging!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Directory vs Website listings

As you can guess from my previous posts, I believe a website for an attorney or law firm is one of the pillars of marketing your practice. A well constructed and crafted website can convey a professional/competent image and drive visitors and potential clients to your practice.

The two largest lawyer directories present attorney listings in a different manner., as a default, presents a typical "directory style" listing of a firm or attorney. In this listing, there is contact information, listing of lawyers, practice areas, law school information, etc. There is an option to "view website".

Findlaw on the other hand, defaults the listing back to the attorney's website. There are very few attorney listing that present the typical directory listings as described above.

There are pros and cons to both formats of listings. If I know a lawyer's name, then the directory style listing is quicker and more efficient. If I don't know a specific attorney, then I may want to investigate their website. Findlaw does not give the directory listing style whereas gives you both options. For this reason, I have to give the nod to for more consumer choice.

Please let me know what you think.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Business networking sites - LinkedIn

I recently read a great post by Larry Bodine about mistakes lawyers make on LinkedIn.
These are great points as you can see below. The biggest mistake I see is that many lawyers are not on LinkedIn. Primarily smaller law firms and solo practitioners. I recently did a search of Law Practice/ Law Firms for my zip code and only 7 firms showed up with 10 or less employees. Conversly, 185 law firms showed up with 10 or more employees.
Small law firms and solo practitioners should be networking as much if not more than the larger firms. So my recommendation, get on LinkedIn then follow the information on Larry Bodine's blog.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Findlaw selling incoming links...Google no-no?

I must admit that I do not follow the tactical and strategic plans of Findlaw on a day to day time frame. However, I just read a very interesting article from iMarktinglawyerblog which describes how Findlaw sells incoming links from the huge Findlaw website. On the surface, it makes sense. Findlaw has a high page rank and any incoming links to a lawyer website would be powerful and relevant.
According to this article, Google frowns upon selling incoming links. Findlaw can charge anywhere from $1,000 to higher for these incoming links.
It's hard to quantify if Google has penalized the attorneys that have bought off on the incoming link package.
I would recommend to look closely at this package and do a lot of research before making any decisions. As I like to say, there are no "quick fixes" when it comes to honest and effective search engine marketing for lawyer websites and all websites. Findlaw is part of Rueters-Thomson, which is a huge company. Profits are hugely important.

You can read the article here:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Video on lawyer websites

A very large lawyer specific web marketing company (You can guess whom I speaking of) is touting the effectiveness of creating a video of a lawyer(s) and placing this video on the attorney website. At first I was little skeptical of this a few years ago. However, with the onslaught of Youtube and specific video search engines, I believe that having a video on a website is worth looking into. Here are some of the compelling reasons to have a video:
1. A visitor can feel like they have "met" the lawyer before even walking to an office. This will allow some visitors to stop looking and start contacting you.
2. A law firm will stand out from other sites that do not have video. In today's crowded websphere, anything to stand out will help lawyers get the clients they are looking for.
3. An attorney can convey a message of what they are experts in better than just text. This communicates quickly with video. Users don't read websites as much as scan websites.
4. Google is showing videos in search results
5. Videos specific search engines are becoming more popular as Flickr did with images

If you do decide to go down the video path here are some recommendations:
1. Get a professional and experience video production company that specializes in video for the internet
2. Make sure that your video does not violate any of your state bar rules on advertising
3. Double check the output, and make sure it is exactly what you want
4. Be prepared to spend a good amount of money. You get what you pay for and this is not something to try and do on the cheap.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Another reason to have a lawyer website

For those attorneys that do not believe that clients are looking for lawyers on the internet, the world disagrees with you. However, here are some other reasons to have a website:
1. Professionalism. Okay, so you have the best reputation in your area of law, and do not need any more business from a website. What happens when a client wants to confirm their decision to hire you as their attorney? Do they call the local bar association? Do they go to Martindale Hubble? No. Clients go to the internet to justify their choices. Most people have never heard of Martidale Hubble. If I can't find your website, then I think that you are out of business
2. Attorney references. I hear this all the time from attorneys that need to refer their clients to other attorneys, especially out of town. Where do they find other attorneys? Frequently, it is the internet. Attorneys like to read about other attorneys. Where are they going to read up on another lawyer? You got it, websites.
3. Contact information. It may seem trivial, but address and phone information is critical. Most consumers don't look at phone books anymore. Before any appointment I go on, I always check the business's website I want to visit. This is usually the most recent information on location and phone number. Phone books and directories can be outdated.

Here are three prudent reasons to get a website. You don't have to believe all the hype of how a website will bring you millions of dollars, but a website does have practical purposes.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Web site design- Stock photos vs real photos

You often see a lot of "stock" photographs in attorney websites. This should not surprise anyone as we see a lot of stock photos (photographs professionally done of models that have no relationship to the particular entity of the website).
I'm often asked by my law firm clients whether accurate photos are more advantageous than stock photos.
As I often like to answer, it depends. I think that a photo of a solo practitioner or the team of lawyers can be good on the front page. It gives a sense of realism to the prospective client. The website visitor can see the face of the lawyer that he or she is actually going to do business with.
If you can get a professionally done photograph, and not a Passport type photo, then it might be good to show your mug to the masses. Proof how your photograph looks before you publish the website.
If you cannot get a photograph to work, then stock photos of columns, scales of justice, police cars etc, may work better.
On secondary pages, it is fine to use stock photos for attorney/ client interactions. Make sure to be diverse.
Good luck, and may your good side show through.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

AARP legal directory

Here is a great lawyer directory that AARP gives to their 39 million members:

What not sign up, especially if you do elder law, probate, personal injury, or anything that might be relevant to our older generations.

To much content, not enough links?

One of my clients had a huge website/blog with pages and pages of content. This website was put in the Google "Sandbox", meaning that his page rank went to 0 where it was a page rank of 3.
How could this happen? After much study, I found that this lawyer's website had virtually no incoming links (ie other sites referencing parts of the lawyer's website). There was about 1000 pages of content with only 20 incoming links. Google must have thought that this was a "spam" type site. We immediately posted his site on some free law firm directories, his local bar association, and places like Findlaw. It took a few months, but his site got back to a Google page rank of 3.
Lesson learned, don't forget incoming links. (caution, only link with reputable sites that have similar "legal" themes)