Lawyer Website Marketing: Website, Good SEO Essential

by Jennifer McGinn on April 17, 2013

Lawyer Website Marketing was the topic at the monthly Small Firms, Big Success luncheon on April 8. The class, geared specifically toward lawyers, was taught by FindLaw Regional Manager Dustin W. Ruge. Although FindLaw hosts websites for lawyers, it wasn’t just one big sales pitch.  Ruge did say it is possible to start your website and blog on your own, but it will probably be necessary to have a professional take over the website and search engine optimization, or SEO, at some point.

The main message was: Most people in need of an attorney are either searching for attorneys online or expect an attorney they consult with to have a website.  Having a website is a form of inbound marketing and is more cost-effective than outbound marketing such as phonebook and newspaper ads.  Because people are using their mobile devices more and more for Web searches, it is important to make sure your website looks good in a mobile format as well.

As most people know, SEO is a complicated process and constantly changing.  So while it is possible to set up your own website, run a blog from your website, and transmit your blog posts to various social media outlets (such as Google Plus, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Avvo, Twitter, JDSupra, etc.), if you are trying to have your website show up in the first or second spot in a Google search, you may want to hire someone to do this for you on a monthly basis.  The components that are involved in Google’s ranking algorithm are (listed in approximate order of importance):

  • how long your Web address has been around,
  • link popularity of the specific page,
  • amount of external links to your page from another page,
  • what words or phrases you use on your site,
  • how many years your URL is registered/renewed,
  •  how many clicks the page has,
  • and social media.

Because the algorithm is always changing, it is difficult to keep your SEO rating high on your own, especially if you plan to actually practice law in your spare time.  However, some tips to help you with your SEO rating are:

  • add content/pages,
  • add video,
  • add a blog,
  • add social media,
  • have other businesses link to your website from their site,
  • and renew your domain name for the maximum amount of time possible.

You also can add words or phrases to your website that are used in “long tail searches.”  In the analytics section of your website, you are able to see which words people used in searches to find your website.  This can help you figure out which other words or phrases you may want to include in the content of your website. Blogs are especially beneficial to websites because search engines love the fresh content and it is indexed and shows up in Google almost immediately.

The bottom line is: it’s 2013.  If you don’t already have a website, you need one. If you want it done right, delegate the task to someone else.  But if you can’t afford that right now, get a basic site set up on your own and start a blog and social media. You can get started with the posts and tutorials from Solo in Colo’s WordPress Website Project.

Understand though, once you get someone else to take over your site maintenance, he or she will likely want to start the site from scratch (except for your blog posts) to ensure the content is written appropriately for SEO. You will likely want the person you hire to have some experience with other lawyer’s websites and the words/phrases that are helpful in SEO for legal sites.

Good luck!

Jennifer McGinn is a solo family law attorney in Denver, specializing in unbundled legal services.  She helps host the Solo Small Firm Section’s Denver monthly networking happy hours.

{ 2 comments }

Barb Cashman April 17, 2013 at 10:35 am

Thanks for writing this Jennifer. I have to admit to skepticism about the “you lawyers need us” perspective of many online marketing folks. Being the DIYer that I am, I blog regularly and really enjoy it (don’t think many lawyers could say that though). I do it because I love writing. Point of this is that I got a phone call last month from someone who reported that my name came up first on her iPhone search (using her location in Centennial) for elder law attorney. I have never paid anyone for SEO. It’s all thanks to my trusty WordPress website and all the other stuff I do online. To close, I’ll refer to a 2012 Lawyerist post http://lawyerist.com/do-people-really-use-the-internet-to-find-lawyers which talks about a law firm funded study of how people search for lawyers on the internet. Getting first in the search ranking isn’t nearly as important as many marketers think it is!

Jennifer McGinn April 17, 2013 at 10:51 am

Barb, yes that certainly was part of the sales pitch in the presentation. I think some help in layout and SEO can be good but some of the lawyers I know who write their own content and blogs are doing quite well with their sites. I think it will come down to whether a particular lawyer has the desire to learn how to design his own website and whether he has the motivation to constantly write and add content.

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