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.