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. Lawyers.com, 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 Lawyers.com gives you both options. For this reason, I have to give the nod to Lawyers.com 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)