You've got a website, now what?

Issue September/October 2016 By Heidi S. Alexander

These days most attorneys have a website (and, if you don't, we need to talk). But, a website doesn't automatically get you business. There is a lot more to online marketing then merely putting up a simple website. You first need to understand what your potential clients are looking for when they seek out and hire an attorney. You can then use that information to develop an effective overall online marketing strategy. According to a FindLaw U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey, potential clients want to know that you have expertise in your field, you are trustworthy, and have a good reputation. Moreover, the survey found that a majority of people who contact an attorney hire the first attorney that they contact. If you can use your online marketing to demonstrate your expertise, trustworthiness, and reputation, you might just be that first attorney.

Here are eight ways to maximize your online marketing:

Have a Mobile-Friendly Website. If your site is not mobile optimized, then you are losing out on potential business. Not only are more Google searches now taking place on mobile devices than on computer, but Google also gives ranking preference to sites that are mobile optimized. Two good reasons to ensure that your site can be easily viewed on a mobile device.

Reduce All Barriers to Entry. Whether it's your website, social media page, or directory listing, you need to make it as easy as possible for a potential client to reach you. For example, if a potential client finds your website on their mobile device, they should be able to click one button to call you from their device. This requires a clickable phone link on your website and an answering service or call specialist to conduct an intake. For directory listings, such as Avvo and Justia, make sure that you've claimed your profile and that your contact information is up-to-date.

Produce Good Content. High quality content plays an important role in boosting your search engine rankings as well demonstrating your expertise in your field. Use your own blog and write for other blogs and publications (and make sure they link back to your site).

Video. All statistics point to the increasing importance of video as part of an online marketing strategy. By 2017, video will account for nearly 70 percent of all consumer internet traffic. YouTube receives more than one billion unique visitors each month - that represents a huge market of potential clients and referral sources. Video might take the form of an intro to your practice and individual attorneys, a Q & A with the top questions you receive from clients, or a recording of a presentation you've given.

Get reviews. This is a great way to build trust among potential clients, plus it factors into Google rankings. Google, Yelp, Avvo, and Facebook are top sites for reviews. Ask for reviews from clients after a good result, and make it easy for them to do so.

Sign up for Google My Business. Google My Business (GMB) puts your business on the map, literally. If you are on GMB, a Google search that results in your firm listing will present an image on the right-hand side with a map of your location and important information about your firm. If you want potential clients to find you on Google, you need to be on GMB.

LinkedIn - Use it To Your Advantage. If someone searches for you online, most likely your LinkedIn profile will end up somewhere on the first page of the results. As such, you should keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date (that means a professional picture as well) and use keywords to describe your practice. Then, use LinkedIn to disseminate content to demonstrate your expertise and engage with others to boost your reputation.

Facebook - It's Not Just for Personal Use. With nearly two billion users currently on Facebook, that's a whole lot of potential clients you don't want to lose out on. Create a law firm Facebook page and then start posting and promoting it. Use targeted Facebook ads to get in front of your potential clients.

Everything above should be part of a comprehensive marketing and business development strategy which identifies your target market and proper marketing channels, sets forth a plan that is tied to your budget, and includes a method to track and analyze your efforts.

Heidi S. Alexander, Esq. is a Law Practice Management Advisor at the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program (MassLOMAP), where she advises lawyers on practice management matters and provides guidance in implementing new law office technologies. She frequently makes presentations to the legal community and contributes to publications on law practice management and technology, including American Bar Association's (ABA) Law Technology Today, Attorney at Work, and Technolawyer. She is also the author of the forthcoming publication by the ABA's Law Practice Division, Evernote as a Law Practice Tool, and serves on the ABA's TECHSHOW Planning Board.