The Importance of Search Engines in Marketing

Google_1 I've been called as an expert witness on marketing in a court case, and was completing my report when I was struck by a Pew/Internet study, "Search Engine use in November 2005."  Granted it's a year old, but it dramatically shows where law firm marketers should be focusing their strategy: search engine optimization. The report states:

  • 60 million American adults are using search engines on a typical day.
  • The number of those using search engines on an average day jumped from roughly 38 million in June 2004 to about 59 million in September 2005 - an increase of about 55%.

  • The use of search engines ranks second only to email use the most popular activity online.

Suffice it to say that the Web is the predominant source of information about businesses in today's world. The Web has become an important force in the commercial marketplace. Search engines are the first choice for business executives when they research a purchase for their business -- including legal services.

If your firm is not on the first page of search engine results when general counsel and business executives are looking for a law firm, you are invisible. Check yourself out -- Google your own firm.  Don't use your exact firm name, that's not a valid approach.  Instead use search terms that describe your firm, like "Chicago intellectual property law firm" or "insurance policy enforcement law firm."

If you're not on the first page of the search results, you have a big marketing problem.  You must fix it immediately by putting on your Web site the content your clients want to see, eliminating Flash graphics (which are search engine repellent), using your chosen key words throughout the site, and updating the site frequently.  You can also spend money and start a Google ad word campaign; they work.

But you've got to do something to be found by search engines.

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Ben Glass - November 18, 2006 7:52 AM

Here's the question lawyers I talk to want to know. Is the investment in lawyer directories such as Findlaw and worthwhile. I say "no", consumers don't know about these directories and,as the article you referenced says, most are going to Google, MSN and Yahoo. The hidden problem of the lawyer directories is that, unlike Google, they are not "set up" to return quality web sites first. They put return the sites that have paid the most for the listing. Google is looking for quality content, highly ranked sites linking to them, etc.
Wonder what others think.

SEO Specialist - December 4, 2006 8:46 PM

They may not be worth it for the sake of generating leads directly as click-throughs, but they're highly relevant links to a law firm's site, which help improve rankings. So they'll contribute to generating leads indirectly by improving your SEO.

Another thing firms can do to improve their rankings is request that journals publishing their lawyers' essays and doctrine should link back to their sites. Not only might this provide direct traffic from people researching the subject, but the link is virtually guaranteed to be of good quality.

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