Gavin Ward is a Search & Social Media Marketing Manager at Moore Legal Technology. He specialises in optimising law firm web presence to help them to generate more relevant business online.

Optimising web presence for law firms: How to generate valuable business online

As the UK economy looks to grow in 2012 and with the potential threat of alternative business structures (ABS) looming, it is important for law firms and lawyers to keep up-to-date with their marketing and business development practices. One such practice involves optimising web presence, which is otherwise termed “Search Engine Optimisation” or “SEO”. When applied for marketing purposes, this is known as ‘Search Engine Marketing’.

Why Develop a Strong Web Presence?

For every lawyer with a commercial focus, the ultimate goals in optimising a web presence strategy should be business generation, business development and brand awareness. Search engines, such as Google, are becoming a first port-of-call for many potential clients. With a strong web presence allowing your firm to reach the top spots on Google, it is, therefore, more likely that potential clients will follow-through to your firm’s website and, consequently, may pick up the phone or send an introductory email. As an example if you were to type into Google ‘employment law edinburgh’, or ‘solicitors east kilbride’, you would probably find some of our clients in the number one spot. If your law firm is not appearing in search for relevant keywords or geographical areas, your digital marketers are doing something wrong.

Earlier this week I met a lawyer from a medium-sized Scottish law firm. He told me that their marketing director was impressed by the fact that the firm appears first in Google when you type in the firm’s name. Actually impressive? Not really. Complacency like this is what leads to law firms missing out on potential online business. It was good that the lawyer himself knew the value of an optimised approach, informed by solid keyword research, as mentioned below.

Three Tips to Maximise Exposure of Websites for Law Firms

There are three tips I would suggest that every law firm and its staff, including fee earners, bear in mind when looking to grow a presence on the web:-

1.         First, law firms should choose targeted keywords for which their clients, prospective clients or referral sources would search if looking for their firm and its services. Thereafter, they should include or ensure that your web developer has included those targeted keywords in the metadata of the law firm’s website and in prominent positions. They should also aim to generate valuable backlinks to their website, for example through legal blogs or through other sources of article marketing. For instance, I run a legal guest blogging site called YouBlawg. It’s free to join and to post legal articles.

2.         Second, law firms should utilise several social media platforms such as Twitter or Linkedin to send “social signals” to their firm’s website. This is becoming increasingly significant with Google’s search algorithm continuing to give greater appreciation to social signals and less appreciation to stale, rarely-updated websites that see little Internet traffic flowing through them. Google Plus in particular is causing all sorts of upsets in the online marketing sphere at the moment;

3.         Third, following on from this point, law firms should keep their website updated with good quality content and should look to share more useful legal information. One of the best ways to do this is to integrate a blog with the website or, if not, create a blog on a separate website and have a lawyer or legal journalist keep the blog updated, using targeted keywords, key-phrases, tags and categories. Firms should avoid a direct hard sell, but should instead look to communicate relevant, useful information which holds them out as experts in certain areas of legal practice. The more they do this, the more business they should get in the long term.

For a free initial discussion about how your website and social media strategy can be improved, please telephone me at Moore Legal Technology on 0845 620 5664. Also follow MLT’s law firm website design, SEO and social media updates on Twitter and LinkedIn.