The Internet has become a useful tool for injury lawyers in particular, whether it is to gain potential clients, do research or network online on sites like Google Plus, and so on and so forth. Of course, negligence law practitioners around the country generally already have a negative reputation as “ambulance chasers,” so even if they are not big time Internet lawyers who want to rank online, they still have to maintain an online presence and clean up things like bad reviews, etc, to try and overcome that bias.
But when determining where clients come from, one of the best answers now-a-days, is still by word-of-mouth. This is not just because Google has created an environment of fear, uncertainty and doubt insofar as organic rankings go, with Penguin, Panda and its other algorithmic iterations.
It is also because PayPer click bids are now so high due to so many people paying for their Internet traffic, since their organic rankings started falling off starting around April of 2012. After all, a term like “accident attorney” can be as high as $100 for one click, which is way too high when you consider that we have to fund our own cases, and sometimes even advance down and out clients money.
Also, rather than deal with negative SEO from jealous competitors and their SEO companies such as the problems discussed here, many injury attorneys are even hiring PR firms to help improve their online images, paying for review clean up, and opting to pay for clicks on AVVO and Yelp!, instead of dealing with SEO companies.
Many injury lawyers I know who were once number one all over the net, are all but giving up on their websites for ranking organically, and instead using them to display reviews and information about their firms to impress potential new clients, and to put some fear into liability insurance companies that don’t want to pay up.
Gone are the days of lots and lots of links ranking your website, and having arrived are the days of one or two links from a powerful site being enough to rank a brand new site in the number one position. And good luck finding that golden egg link.
So how do you get ahead if you’re an Internet attorney when you finally throw your hands up and walk away from Google? Well, the above issues are causing a lot of formerly great ranking online attorneys to hedge their bets on old fashioned warm marketing. And as you can see, you can never really walk away. You will still need to monitor your reputation.
Simply put, warm marketing means that clients refer the law firm, or attorney’s name to friends, family or co-workers who are seeking the services of a legal professional practicing in the area of the law they may require legal representation. Yes it is true that some attorneys still have not begun using the Internet as a marketing tool and depend on word-of-mouth to help bring them potential clients.
Obviously these are the firms and lawyers that do seminars and hustle up business at conventions, from new and less experienced lawyers, and also from experienced lawyers who are too busy, or trying to focus on other areas of law. They also sponsor events, etc., and work with local communities doing outreach projects. Warm marketers are the injury lawyers who typically do not get so hurt when Google changes the algo.
But even in situations where a person seeking an attorney is given the legal advocates name by someone they trust, or even after meeting the lawyer face-to-face most individuals will then look up information about the law firm or attorney on the Internet using a search engine.
The reasons that an injury victim would do this can be for one or more situations below:
- They want to see the size of the law firm.
- How long the attorney offering services has been in practice.
- The background of the attorney.
- If there has been any record of disciplinary action against the lawyer or law firm.
- How well the attorney or law firm is rated by past clients.
Searching for an injury attorney or law firm on the Internet in most cases, there will be no need to go past the first page on the search engine results, if the legal professional has a web presence they take seriously. Clicking on the link to a law firm or solo practice and what will be found is generally the law firm website.
Why do Legal Practices Show Up on Search Engines First Page?
Some of the reasons some injury firms rank is that using a search engine to look up a legal practice by name and even adding the city location is because of search engine optimization (SEO) and relevant content. The first page placement for any website, including solo, small and large law practices is valuable.
This does not mean that a law firm appearing on the second page or further is not as good of a legal practice, but they may not get the same amount of visitors as those appearing on the first page. What appears on the law firm or lawyer’s page that comes up in the search engine is equally important.
The person searching for information about the legal practice or attorney is doing it to determine if they are the right legal professional to represent them. If the search results brings up the attorneys private pages with pictures of deep sea fishing that is not going to be something that impresses a potential client. The potential client is looking for information about what the legal professional can do for their case and to protect their rights.
There are some websites that will come up in a search engine results that are profiles for the attorney, such as Lawyers.com, AVVO.com, Superlawyers and LinkedIn. Some of these pages have been setup by the attorney, while other profiles are based on public information. Many of these social media sites will have reviews written by clients and even a star rating.
Profiles are something the potential client may specifically look for, since they have ratings and reviews by past clients that will provide them with some insight.These social media legal profiles are good for the legal professional to bring in potential clients, because the legal professional has some if not a lot of control over the profile by adding too it and using it for a marketing tool.
The Internet is a wonderful place to use for research and it is also a place where items can be found for years. It is possible to find articles, newspaper items, editorials and other information about the attorney that they may not even realize still exists. This kind of information could be about cases they have been the legal counsel, their standing in their community or it could be something derogatory.
Back to Word-of-Mouth
Word-of-mouth is an essential way of bringing in new clients and it is one that can be enhanced using Internet marketing as a tool. There are some ways that can improve using the internet as a marketing tool for these types of potential clients.
- Websites: It is important today for the solo, small and large law firm to have an Internet presence and if you do not have a website now is the time to ensure you do. This should be a well designed website and there are tools that can be found online for the legal professional that feels they want to tackle building their own website. Building your own website or even if you enlist the help of a professional, you will need to purchase a domain name and website hosting. One of these tools is a WordPress installation on your domain if you are building your own website, which will be easy to add content regularly. Next you will want to ensure the placement on the search engines comes up in the first results when your name is searched by an Internet user. This is done by search engine optimization (SEO) and while it is something that can be done on your own there are also SEO professionals that can be hired to improve your ranking on the search engine.
- Web Cleanup: One of the things that should be done by the legal professional is to minimize any negative or adverse information on the worldwide web. In some cases this information can be removed, but in others all that can be done is to reduce the damage. If the damage is in the form of bad review(s) then make an appropriate response without the response looking like an attack on the commenter personally. In some situations hiring an SEO expert they may be able to lessen the damage or remove newer reviews off of the first page results of the search engines. New content that is positive and new positive reviews are other ways to reduce negative issues.
- Profiles: Profiles that are already online should be updated and places where there could be profiles for the attorney or law firm they should be created. Legal directories generally show up on the first page of search engine results, so having created and maintained these profiles is an advantage for the legal professional. One of the ways to know which of these websites show up can be done by running a search and then creating a profile in the ones that are on the first page results.
- Social Media: Social media websites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook cannot be ignored by the legal advocate or law firm. These are showing up in search engine results more and more, which mean having a presence there isn’t going to be enough it will also need to be maintained. This is a way of communicating with clients and potential clients and answering comments, private messages or emails.
Making use of these Internet tools can help to develop or enhance your online presence and profiles. This helps clients and potential clients find you faster and obtain the information they want, which can in turn help build the practice in ways that would not happen without being online.
About the author: Michael Ehline is a Los Angeles based injury and accident attorney, and author of the Car Accident Lawsuit Center blog. He donates time helping other attorneys with organic ranking problems over at www.circleoflegaltrust.com, is an award winning public figure, and has spoken at many seminars, including as an honored guest at Personal Injury Warriors International at two of their Las Vegas Conventions in a row.
Ehline has also been voted “Cruise Ship Attorney of the Year,” by Hollywood Weekly Magazine. Last, he also acts as a law professor for people trying to become lawyers on the California State Bar Law Office Study Program (Learn More Here.) If you would like to contact him, his number is (213) 596-9642.
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