Part 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.
...at 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.