May 2011 Archives

May 31, 2011

Where Is Search Headed & How Does This Impact Your Law Firm?

Search engine logosPart of our jobs as web marketing consultants for law firms is to stay abreast of the changes that happen in our industry. In fact, what I believe separates the men from the boys is the ability for a company to understand not only how to leverage results with the way things currently are, but also being able to predict where things are going. Since search engine optimization is such an important part of any law firm's web strategy, I wanted to discuss where I think search is headed and how this impacts your law firm.

Where Is Search Going?

Search engines such as Google and Bing are working to make search more like a digital representation of the offline world. In a recent article by Aaron Wall over at SEO Book, he discusses this idea:

At one point in time online was a new and (fairly) level playing field where one could win based on meritocracy. Increasingly though search is becoming "a digital representation of the physical world." To win online you will often be required to win offline. some point jumping through technical loopholes will be so tiresome & expensive that it will be cheaper and easier to create the signals Google wants to see through brand, public relations, and consumer experience than it is to try to fake them.

As search is becoming "a digital representation of the physical world" some of the best SEO tips in the years to come will have nothing to do with sitting at a computer. In due time, in search, there will be no security through obscurity.

As Google continues to add signals to it's algorithm from mobile devices, social signals such as +1, local and review signals, etc. search engine optimization for law firms will increasingly become less about how to game the Google results and more about developing a trusted brand online. Search engine optimization is becoming a way to position your website, blog, profile, or other "professional online presence", as a source of information, answers, and solutions to a potential client.

How Does This Impact Your Law Firm?

This forces your firm to become more active participants in the development of your content and reputation online. Whether that takes the form of investment into content development in house or through a third party, having a strategy in place to create, share, and publicize content is going to be essential. And this content is not limited to just writing articles. Videos, reviews, infographs, newsletters, webinars, are all the types of content your firm should be looking at if you are interested in building a long term online marketing strategy.

Additionally, the content needs to have real substance behind it and be genuinely helpful for your potential clients. Simply churning out articles or other content for the sake of it isn't going to be as effective as creating content people actually find engaging and interesting enough to share.

Don't Make Excuses

It's easy to dismiss legal content as "boring" and the type of stuff no one wants to share. That simply isn't true. That's a lazy way of thinking about it. The problem of boring content exists with most legal content online today but that simply means there is a lot of opportunity for someone to do something a little bit different and present the information is a unique way. It comes down to allocating the appropriate resources into your online content strategy and development to come up with something a little different. The problem isn't that all legal content is boring, the problem is that most law firms present it in a boring way.

May 16, 2011

Using Google Reader

RSS feeds are a great way to keep up with news and topics related to your specific legal niche. I use my RSS feed as a way to centralize the blogs and content I want to stay up to date with, discover ideas for blog posts, follow the conversations in my industry, monitor my competitor's activity, and more. However, many lawyers I speak with aren't familiar with RSS or the use of an RSS reader such as Google Reader.

What Is An RSS Feed? tells us:

RSS (Rich Site Summary) is a format for delivering regularly changing web content. Many news-related sites, weblogs and other online publishers syndicate their content as an RSS Feed to whoever wants it.

RSS solves a problem for people who regularly use the web. It allows you to easily stay informed by retrieving the latest content from the sites you are interested in. You save time by not needing to visit each site individually. You ensure your privacy, by not needing to join each site's email newsletter.

Our email boxes are already flooded with too many emails and receiving blog updates this way can be cumbersome. Subscribing to RSS updates through a reader is a more advisable way to consume the blog content. Benefits include:

  • Reducing the time and effort needed to check websites for updates

  • They help to aggregate all your information into one space, a sort of personalized newspaper you create

  • It allows you to pull information from the web rather than have information pushed to you via email

  • You can easily unsubscribe from feeds

  • You can keep information more organized via tagging, labeling, categorizing, sharing, liking, etc.

Google Reader

In order to subscribe to RSS updates, you will need to use an RSS Reader. My RSS reader of choice is Google Reader. Here is a short video explaining Google Reader and how to use it:

Google Reader Mobile

Google has a very good mobile version of their Google Reader as well. It offers many of the same features and benefits of the desktop version.

May 6, 2011

Diversify Your Web Strategy

Whether you are investing or growing crops, diversifying your assets can insulate you from risk and help you expand your enterprise. The same is true for your web strategy, especially your web content. Here are a couple aspects to your web strategy that you should focus on making more diverse:

Diversify Traffic Sources

Diversifying the sources from which you get traffic to your web properties is critical to long-term success online. While search engines can be an excellent source of traffic (and will likely dominate your search traffic source share), relying too heavily on search engines will make you extremely vulnerable to changes in the search algorithm. Such reliance will also cause you to miss out on a lot of other relevant web traffic.

Diversify Link Sources

Getting more quality links from a more diverse cross-section of root linking domains is a very strong signal to Google. Relying to heavily on a couple sources of links, is really a losing web strategy. In fact, each new link you get from the same domain is likely to have a diminishing return. Therefore, you need to be constantly on the lookout for new link sources that will diversify your backlink profile.

Diversify Your Web Content

When you think of online content, you probably think of words. Don't worry most people do. However, there is a vast variety of online content that isn't pure text. As important as words are to your web strategy, you simply can't ignore these other types of web content. Diversifying your web content will make your site more interesting which will attract new visitors, social shares, and or course, links. All of which are critical to have success on the web.

So the next time that you are thinking about how much traffic you're getting from search engines, or trying to get another link from a site that you already have 100 links from, or sit down to write another blog post, article, or boring new page of written content, think about how you can diversify your web strategy.