Marketing Your Law Practice in Tough Economic Times

These are tough economic times and marketing your law practice is more important now than ever before.  Your decision to keep doing the same thing that is not working or not doing anything at all is simply not going to work.  You need to embrace the marketing and advertising that is available to you today. And let me tell you, these options are better than ever and can produce results that are superior to the advertising of yesterday.  But please keep in mind that the more avenues you can help people find you at the better off your practice will be.  But not every firm can do it all, TV, yellow pages, newspaper and of course Internet.  I believe very strongly that the Internet has the best bang for your buck.  Why?  Because you can create a presence that is both effective and has an extremely strong return on your investment.
I talk to a lot of attorneys on a regular basis and one of the common threads amongst attorneys that do not advertise or do very little advertising is they seem to be struggling more than the attorneys that have a solid marketing plan. 
There are a lot of good companies out there that can provide you with the right marketing plans.  Do your homework though.  If you are meeting with a web development firm make sure they can actually provide your firm with an effective online presence.  What do I mean by effective?  Simple, it will mke money for your practice.  A question I get from almost every attorney I meet with is how do I know who to trust or who can d the job.  There is actually a simple answer for that as well.  Remember, anyone can tell you anything.  Anyone can make a promise.  Simply ask the Internet Marketing Firm you are speaking with you to provide that they are getting results for their current clients.  YOU, as the attorney should type the phrases into Google yourself so you are sure no manipulation is being done (after all you will be spending your hard earned money so it's ok to be sure they are good).


"Tablet" Computers - How Can an Attorney Utilize These New Devices?

With the introduction of the Applie iPad last week and with companies like HP coming out with similar devices people everywhere are asking how they can justify buying one of these devices and how can they best utilize them?
Well, for attorneys I believe there is a very strong application for such products.  Instead of having t carry all your files into court why not bring one of the new tablets with you instead loaded with all the information you need to help you win your case.  The only drawback so far is the inability to actually write on such a device. 
I do believe that this scenario will start to play itself out over the next several years and will be much more common place than people may be imagining. 

Also, with Google Scholar readily available you can look up information ASAP without having to carry your laptop with you everywhere.


Free US Case Law from Google! - US Federal + 50 State Case Law

Starting November 17, 2009, Google has placed full text legal opinions from the US Federal and State district, appellate and supreme courts using Google Scholar. You can find these opinions by searching for cases (like Planned Parenthood v. Casey), or by topics (like desegregation) or other queries that you are interested in. For example, go to Google Scholar, click on the "Legal opinions and journals" radio button, and try the query separate but equal.

This provides all citizens with a way to learn about the laws that govern us all.  You can explore citing and related cases using the Cited by and Related articles linkson search result pages. As you read an opinion, you can follow citations to the opinions to which it refers. You can also see how individual cases have been quoted or discussed in other opinions and in articles from law journals. Browse these by clicking on the "How Cited" link next to the case title.

Advanced Scholar Search screenshot:

Official Google Blog: Finding the laws that govern us

Official Google Blog: Finding the laws that govern us



This is an article by Tim Ash posted January 11, 2010 in regards to how CRITICAL it is to answer your phone ASAP or reeply to an email immediately, not 20 or 30 minutes from when you get it but NOW.  Why?  Well according to the article by Tim Ash once someone fills out a form and sends it in is probably the most critical point you have with landing that individual as a client.

You have a few choices, call them on the phone or email them back.  Tim doesn't think placing a call is the best use of your time, unless you call within five minutes.  I agree and disagree.  I believe that if you are able to call them, then do so but do it within five minutes.  The chances of them also contacting other attorneys is HUGE.  Don't miss an opportunity.

If you are not able to call them within a few minutes of getting their message then do the next best thing and send them a personal email. What's that you say?  Your phone does not get email???  Are you kidding.  You have NO excuse for not getting email on your phone AND being able to respond.  Come join us in the year 2010. 

So this article by Tim says that delaying your first-dial response time from 5 to just 30 minutes decreases your chances of qualifying the lead by 21 times!  WOW!!!!
Even delaying the first-dial from 5 minutes to 10 will cut your lead qualification percentage by a factor of four.
This information comes from a joint study between M.I.T. and InsideSales.com (download the whitepaper)
So if you thought you could take your time contacting potential clients I hope this blog helps you realize that by doing you will be losing clients. 

You can always call me to discuss this further.  You can find my contact information on my website for legal marketing.


Tips for Hiring a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Firm

If you are an attorney looking to get business from the Internet then you need to hire the right SEO firm.  You need to make sure they understand what it takes to be successful online.

The following (in Googles words) are what you need to do to hire the RIGHT SEO for your practice:

SEO is an acronym for "search engine optimization" or "search engine optimizer." Deciding to hire an SEO is a big decision that can potentially improve your site and save time, but you can also risk damage to your site and reputation. Make sure to research the potential advantages as well as the damage that an irresponsible SEO can do to your site. Many SEOs and other agencies and consultants provide useful services for website owners, including:
  • Review of your site content or structure
  • Technical advice on website development: for example, hosting, redirects, error pages, use of JavaScript
  • Content development
  • Management of online business development campaigns
  • Keyword research
  • SEO training
  • Expertise in specific markets and geographies
If you're thinking about hiring an SEO, the earlier the better. A great time to hire is when you're considering a site redesign, or planning to launch a new site. That way, you and your SEO can ensure that your site is designed to be search engine-friendly from the bottom up. However, a good SEO can also help improve an existing site.
Some useful questions to ask an SEO include:
  • Can you show me examples of your previous work and share some success stories?
  • Do you follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
  • Do you offer any online marketing services or advice to complement your organic search business?
  • What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what timeframe? How do you measure your success?
  • What's your experience in my industry?
  • What's your experience in my country/city?
  • What's your experience developing international sites?
  • What are your most important SEO techniques?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How can I expect to communicate with you? Will you share with me all the changes you make to my site, and provide detailed information about your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?
While SEOs can provide clients with valuable services, some unethical SEOs have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to manipulate search engine results in unfair ways. Practices that violate our guidelines may result in a negative adjustment of your site's presence in Google, or even the removal of your site from our index. Here are some things to consider:
  • Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.Amazingly, we get these spam emails too:

    "Dear google.com,
    I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories..."

    Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for "burn fat at night" diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.

  • No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a "special relationship" with Google, or advertise a "priority submit" to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting aSitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.

  • Be careful if a company is secretive or won't clearly explain what they intend to do.Ask for explanations if something is unclear. If an SEO creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, such as doorway pages or "throwaway" domains, your site could be removed entirely from Google's index. Ultimately, you are responsible for the actions of any companies you hire, so it's best to be sure you know exactly how they intend to "help" you. If an SEO has FTP access to your server, they should be willing to explain all the changes they are making to your site.

  • You should never have to link to an SEO.Avoid SEOs that talk about the power of "free-for-all" links, link popularity schemes, or submitting your site to thousands of search engines. These are typically useless exercises that don't affect your ranking in the results of the major search engines -- at least, not in a way you would likely consider to be positive.

  • Choose wisely.While you consider whether to go with an SEO, you may want to do some research on the industry. Google is one way to do that, of course. You might also seek out a few of the cautionary tales that have appeared in the press, including this article on one particularly aggressive SEO: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2002002970_nwbizbriefs12.html. While Google doesn't comment on specific companies, we've encountered firms calling themselves SEOs who follow practices that are clearly beyond the pale of accepted business behavior. Be careful.

  • Be sure to understand where the money goes.While Google never sells better ranking in our search results, several other search engines combine pay-per-click or pay-for-inclusion results with their regular web search results. Some SEOs will promise to rank you highly in search engines, but place you in the advertising section rather than in the search results. A few SEOs will even change their bid prices in real time to create the illusion that they "control" other search engines and can place themselves in the slot of their choice. This scam doesn't work with Google because our advertising is clearly labeled and separated from our search results, but be sure to ask any SEO you're considering which fees go toward permanent inclusion and which apply toward temporary advertising.

  • What are the most common abuses a website owner is likely to encounter?
  • One common scam is the creation of "shadow" domains that funnel users to a site by using deceptive redirects. These shadow domains often will be owned by the SEO who claims to be working on a client's behalf. However, if the relationship sours, the SEO may point the domain to a different site, or even to a competitor's domain. If that happens, the client has paid to develop a competing site owned entirely by the SEO. Another illicit practice is to place "doorway" pages loaded with keywords on the client's site somewhere. The SEO promises this will make the page more relevant for more queries. This is inherently false since individual pages are rarely relevant for a wide range of keywords. More insidious, however, is that these doorway pages often contain hidden links to the SEO's other clients as well. Such doorway pages drain away the link popularity of a site and route it to the SEO and its other clients, which may include sites with unsavory or illegal content.
  • What are some other things to look out for?
  • There are a few warning signs that you may be dealing with a rogue SEO. It's far from a comprehensive list, so if you have any doubts, you should trust your instincts. By all means, feel free to walk away if the SEO:
    • owns shadow domains
    • puts links to their other clients on doorway pages
    • offers to sell keywords in the address bar
    • doesn't distinguish between actual search results and ads that appear on search results pages
    • guarantees ranking, but only on obscure, long keyword phrases you would get anyway
    • operates with multiple aliases or falsified WHOIS info
    • gets traffic from "fake" search engines, spyware, or scumware
    • has had domains removed from Google's index or is not itself listed in Google
  • Any questions you may have please don't hesitate to call Jon Reiter at 303-947-1737.  He can help you in your online marketing decisions.

Jon Clarke - Business Bankruptcy Attorney in Denver

Andres Guevara - DUI Roadside Stops


SEO Best Practices: 20 Questions

I found this article at ClickZ and thought it was a great article on what needs to be done to a website for it to have a chance at success on the Internet.  The article was written by P.J. Fusco.

There are all sorts of tried-and-true SEO (define) tactics that can be used to ensure your site is successfully crawled, indexed, and positioned in the major search engines. Though SEO tactics evolve with the technologies used to render Web sites, certain fundamentals remain constant.

How can you tell if your site adheres to current SEO best practices?   Let's start with some honest answers to the following questions:

  • Are the keywords you're targeting relevant to site content? Are targeted keywords popular phrases used in search engine queries?
  • Do page titles start with your targeted keywords?
  • Does your site employ H1 header tags for prominent content titles?
  • Is your permanent body copy contextually sufficient and keyword-rich?
  • Do text links include targeted keywords that point users to pages within your site?
  • Do you use CSS (define) image replacement in graphical navigation on the site?
  • Do graphics used in the site have descriptive, keyword-rich alternative attributes that are useful for visitors?
  • Does your Web site have a site map with text links?
  • Do the URLs of your dynamic, database-driven pages look simple and static?
  • Does your site have a flat directory structure?
  • Do your site's home page and other key category pages have PageRanks?
  • Is your site listed in Open Directory?
  • Do you routinely list your site in other trusted, human-reviewed online directories?
  • Do all the pages in your Web site have keyword-rich meta descriptions?
  • Does your site have a custom error page?
  • Do the site's filenames and directory names include targeted keywords?
  • Does your site avoid using pop-ups?
  • Is the exact same content visible to both users and search engine spiders?
  • Do you avoid free-for-all linking offers?
If you answered "yes" to all or most of the above questions, your Web site embraces some of the most common elements essential to SEO best practices. If you're unsure about some of the answers, consider the following additional information.

There's no point in angling for high rankings on keywords and keyword phrases no one searches for. If you're not certain what keywords your site's well positioned for, start digging through your referrer logs or Web analytics data to determine which search engines send your site considerable traffic for which phrases.

If you can't access your log files and search engine referral data, use a tag cloud generator to get some visual clues as to how the search engines interpret your pages. You might be surprised as to what any particular page in your site is actually optimized for.

Most subscription-based keyword analysis tools offer a free trial period. You can readily compare keyword popularity using tools such as WordTracker, KeywordDiscovery, and Yahoo's Keyword Selector Tool before deciding what phrases could send you considerable search-referred traffic.

Despite the popularity of individual words, it's best to target two- or three-word phrases on a page-by-page basis. Because of the vast number of Web pages indexed by the major search engines, competing for a listing or two on the first or second SERP (define) for a one-word keyword is a losing battle. Trying to make one page optimal for a multitude of unrelated keyword phrases is almost equally fruitless.

It should go without saying, but the keywords you select to target should be relevant to your business and your site's content. Permanent body text should consist of at least two to three sentences on every page, ideally more. Opportunities vary from industry to industry. At the very least, try to build about 250 words into key category pages.

Of course, site structure plays a large role in how well your site's indexed. The search engines have improved their ability to crawl through dynamic URLs, yet static URL structures tend to rank better. Flash and AJAX (define) present additional search engine visibility issues that can't be addressed in this brief column.

If you have an all-Flash site and answered "yes" to visible text links, you may want to reconsider your answer. Use the control-A function in your browser to see what words are really visible on a page, or use Zippy to take a deeper look at what any particular page or site is actually optimized for.

Better rankings come with better linking. Better linking starts within your site. Having a site map is a no-brainer, as are nongraphical site-wide navigation, footers, and related deep links.

Pursuing well-ranked inbound links is an art form and an ongoing endeavor for nearly every Web site. Just make certain you execute on the fundamentals first, which should include submissions to key directories. Once your site is listed in DMOZ, the Yahoo Search Directory, Gimpsy, JoeAnt, and the like, continually grow you inbound links with vertical directories, local listings, business partners, vendors, and so on.

Implementing the 20 most fundamental elements of SEO best practices (or at least most of them) and avoiding the dregs of worst practices should provide you with a straightforward approach to better visibility for your Web site in the major search engines.