In the most recent Thomson Reuters U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey, 62% of respondents who used an online source to find an attorney said a search engine was their tool of choice. But what factors do search engines take into account when returning relevant results to users?

The answer: a lot.

While search algorithms change frequently, in an effort to return the results that best meet a user’s intent, the trend is moving to factor in more and more sources. Therefore, if you want your law firm to have visibility with potential clients, you can’t choose just one digital marketing tool and expect it to do all the heavy lifting on its own. Furthermore, search engines aren’t going to magically get clients for you. Once clients get to your website, blog, or social media account, they need to be drawn in and convinced that you’re the right attorney for them.

Here are three digital marketing tools that can help raise your firm’s online profile. While each is powerful on its own, when combined, their effectiveness is enhanced.

Legal directories

What are they? Legal directories are similar to digitized phone books. They offer simple, just-the-facts information (like firm name, practice areas, and contact information) that is meant to be absorbed quickly. FindLaw has four options: FindLaw.com, the most used legal directory on the Internet; Abogado.com, which is for Spanish-speaking users; Super Lawyers, for those attorneys who are selected to a prestigious list; and LawInfo.com, which offers deeper and more specific targeting opportunities.

How do they work? Legal directories give users what they want.Consumers appreciate their simplicity and ease of use, and search engines take note of your law firm’s contact information appearing somewhere beyond just your website.

How can law firms use them? A listing on at least one legal directory is a must-have for a law firm with any expectation of being found on the Internet. Legal directory listings are also very economical, so they’re an excellent choice for small law firms or solo attorneys with limited budgets.

PPC

What is it? Pay-per-click advertising is an internet marketing model where a business pays a fee every time a viewer clicks on its online ad.

How does it work? The ads are displayed when consumers enter relevant search inquiries into search engines. Advertisers only pay when a user actually clicks on their ad.

How can law firms use it? The appeal of PPC is that the cost is based on clicks, not on impressions (the number of times users see the ad). Attorneys are trained to evaluate evidence, so they often appreciate the “hard numbers” aspect of PPC, as well as the ease of calculating return on investment.

SEO

What is it? Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to constructing website content in a way that a search engine algorithm recognizes it as being valuable, authentic, and relevant. Successful SEO positions a website for better visibility.

How does it work? Search engines need to know what to show a user when they search for a term. PPC is a powerful tool, but it must point to something. A website or blog that has been thoughtfully constructed with SEO best practices in mind will not only assure a search engine that it’s recommending a valuable destination but will also engage users.

How can law firms use it? It wasn’t long ago that peppering a piece of content with highly searched terms was enough to attract search engines. However, today a digital marketing best practice is to write for people, not just search engines. That means the right way to write content for your website or blog is to provide genuine value for readers. Doing so enhances engagement and increases the likelihood that search engines will deem your website or blog post as being worthy of suggesting to users.

In this post, we mentioned benefits of each of these tools beyond just what they can do for SERP. That’s because digital marketing is complex, and a user’s journey from inquiry to hiring touches on a number of points. Every tool mentioned above is useful individually, but they are exponentially more powerful when combined. Therefore, it’s wise to figure out a combination that works best for your practice and your budget.

 





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