google-instant.jpgThe concepts of search engine optimization are new to many in the legal profession. There is a lot of misinformation out there as well as unreasonable expectations and promises regarding law firm SEO and how it works. What follows are 5 things you should know about law firm SEO:

It Takes Time

Search engine optimization is not a process that happens over night. In fact, it doesn’t happen in one week or one month either. An analogy I like to use is that SEO is similar to losing weight. You don’t eat right and exercise for a week and expect to be thin. It is a process of doing these things every day over the course of months in order to see results and reach your goals.

There was a time, before October of 2010, that a law firm might have outsourced their “Google Maps Optimization” to one company and the “traditional SEO” to another. Some of you might be thinking, “I still have two different companies working on my Google Maps and SEO”. This shouldn’t be necessary any longer. Let me explain.

Before October 2010

Prior to the local update from Google in October 2010 there were two separate algorithms used to serve up results. The first was an algorithm for local/Google Map results which was often called the 10-pack or 7-pack. This would appear on top of the traditional SEO results when someone performed a search with local intent.

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:

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?

WhatisRss.com tells us:

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.

It’s no surprise that getting to the top 3 spots of Google can help increase the traffic to your firm’s website. However, a new study shows just how dramatic the difference in click-throughs is among the different positions on the first page.

According to the study:

Websites ranked number one received an average click-through rate (CTR) of 36.4 percent; number two had a CTR of 12.5 percent; and number three had a CTR of 9.5 percent. Being number one in Google, according to Optify, is the equivalent of all the traffic going to the sites appearing in the second through fifth positions.

Here at AttorneySync, we are big fans of WordPress. We often recommend WordPress for lawyers looking to setup a new website and/or blog for a firm.

Recently, a firm located in Russia, but serving clients internationally, asked us for assistance with setting up a basic wordpress site. One of the stipulations was that the site needed to be built in English with the ability to be translated manually in Russian. Since the majority of the firm’s audience was either going to be English or Russian speaking, it was important that the text appealed to both groups. This meant that simply installing an automated translation tool wasn’t sufficient. What we needed was a solution that allowed our client to manually translate each page and post on the site.

Additionally, we wanted to make sure that we retained SEO (search engine optimization) benefits of both versions of the site.

Google announced yesterday the release of the +1 button in search results. According to the official announcement:

Our goal at Google is to get you the most relevant results as quickly as possible. But relevance is about relationships as well as words on webpages. That’s why we recently started to include more information from people you know–stuff they’ve shared on Twitter, Flickr and other sites–in Google search results.

Today we’re taking that a step further, enabling you to share recommendations with the world right in Google’s search results. It’s called +1–the digital shorthand for “this is pretty cool.” To recommend something, all you have to do is click +1 on a webpage or ad you find useful. These +1’s will then start appearing in Google’s search results.

I have had a number of lawyers recently ask me how to automatically post their blog articles onto the law firm’s Facebook page.  While there are a number of Facebook applications that will pull in RSS feeds, most of these appear in their own section of the Facebook page.  Not on the wall of your page.  You can see an example of a separate RSS newsfeed section from AttorneySync’s page below:

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By posting articles directly onto your wall, the articles will appear in the newsfeeds of the individuals that “like” your firm’s Facebook page.  This will increase the exposure of your content and deliver it to the individuals that signed up to receive updates from you.

Networked Blogs

The service I recommend for automatic wall posting is called Networked Blogs.  Networked Blogs is a Facebook application that allows you to register a blog, claim the blog as your own, and then syndicate the content from the blog onto your personal Facebook profile and any Facebook pages that you have admin access to.  You are not required to syndicate to all these spots, you can pick and choose where you want the posts to appear.

The Process

To get started you will head over to Networked Blogs and click the “Add your blog” button at the bottom of the page.  This will take you to Facebook where you will login and arrive at the Networked Blogs application.  You will click “register a blog” in the upper right.
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Fill in your blog information and click next.  In the next step, the application will ask if you are the author of the blog.  You will click yes and the app will request that you verify one of two ways.  Either having Facebook friends verify or embedding a widget onto your blog (which you can subsequently remove after verification).  While it is a good idea to eventually verify your blog, this is not a necessary step to do right away.  To move ahead, you can simply click “I’ll do it later” underneath the verification method selections.
This will take you to the registered blog page.  From here you can select “Set up Syndication”.
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This will route you back to the Networked Blogs site to select your syndication options.  From here you can choose the Facebook profiles and pages you want the blog articles posted to.  You will also be able to select your options for what images to display with the post and whether to use the Networked Blogs toolbar.  You will also have the option of adding a Twitter account where you can automatically feed in your blog posts.

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If you have spent anytime building your professional reputation online, you have probably come across information about local search marketing. And if you have read anything worth its salt on local search marketing, you probably should have read something about business citations. But how and where should you get these citations? Here are some places to add to your spreadsheet for consideration for getting local citations for your law firm.
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