I've written before about ranking in the search engines. While it's a great goal most law firms go about it the wrong way.
They want to rank for more popular terms.
Unfortunately, those 'popular' terms are also 'high commercial intent keywords'. And, in those cases, roughly two out of every three searchers clicks on ads - not the organic search results.
However, many more searchers who are doing research click on the free search results. This is why answering questions can be so effective for appearing in the search engines.
It's also important to mention that while this wasn't part of my goal - other opportunities came my way.
I got asked to appear as an expert witness in a trial that was being mentioned on ESPN.com at the time. I was interviewed by numerous other podcasts and perceived as the expert.
2. SEO’s Effectiveness Continues to Drop
I’ve long warned that search engine optimization (SEO) is a fools errand with a low ROI tactic*.
This is not some hair brained theory I’m spouting off. It's from testing and experiencing algorithm updates and loss of traffic, time and capital.
I also hear from more and more law firms who’ve spent considerable sums of money to boost traffic only to see it fail.
They failed to educate themselves about the reality that SEO is a gamble:
- It takes a long time to rank
- You may not ever end up ranking for the terms you really want
- You may end up ranking for search terms that get very little traffic
*I want to be clear - my definition of SEO is not based off creating content. SEO is more about trying to reverse engineer what everyone 'thinks' Google wants to rank highly in their algorithm. It has nothing to do with helping your reader.
3. The Internet is Getting Better at Mimicking Real Business
Ten years ago the internet was a medium that could be ‘gamed’ more easily and was in it’s infancy.
Social media wasn't mainstream, email marketing and building your all-important email list was much easier and ranking in the search engines was child’s play.
The truth is ten years ago you simply didn’t have to be as valuable online to gain traction. It wasn’t like the real world of business.
Those times are gone. The internet has matured. Reputation, value and trust are of paramount importance.
But here's the kicker - in today's environment you must SHOW - not tell.
Case studies, testimonials, helpful articles, guarantees, interviews, media attention, etc.
You can't simply throw up a nice looking website with a lot of buzzwords and hope to gain any traction online.
4. Email Marketing is Still Beating Social Media
Go ahead – spend some time on social media development (I'm on LinkedIn a lot and find it valuable). So it has it’s place.
But, pound for pound and dollar-for-dollar your best investment is to grow and cultivate your email list.
I’ve tested response rates for the same message sent to social media followers versus those on email lists.
So have others.
Even though social media is what all the cool kids are using. Email has still won ... usually by a lot.
5. Be Authentic
My testing has proven that if you want to build your trust online you have to be authentic.
That can mean different things to you but the fact remains what you stand for and your opinions are actually valuable. Besides, there’s no point in trying to hide them anymore. You can’t with the internet.
Authenticity also allows you to disqualify prospects. This is a good thing. As the old saying goes – if everyone is your client than no one is.
6. Good Things Do NOT Come to Those Who Wait
Being online in the RIGHT way is important for law firms. But not at the expense of 'waiting until the time is right.'
You need to start now.
So where should you start? Let me give you a simple digital marketing plan that you can carry out for the next year.
- Most small law firms would see the highest potential ROI from PPC (Google Adwords).
- Once leads and revenue are coming in then you can direct that revenue to producing valuable content (YouTube videos, articles, etc.). This will help build your Thought Leadership and naturally draw clients to you.
- Gather contact information to build trust, relationships and a referral system.
7. More Competition
In the last ten years technology has developed so rapidly that it’s made it immensely easier to get online, communicate with customers and display your value.
But this is a double-edged sword: it’s also lowered the bar for entry and allowed competitors to flood the market.
Online, success will come down to your value and your execution.
Remember, no matter how much coffee you pour in the cup the cream always rises.
8. Smart Law Firms Leveraging PPC Will Win Big
Law firms are discovering in droves that paying an SEO firm to appear on the first page of Google is neither cheap, quick or guaranteed.
According to HubSpot's survey of SEO agencies most of them charge $2,500 to $5,000/month.