How Google Authorship Can Help You Stand Out From The Competition

George Murphy, Owner at The Search Ninjas provided a guest post about Google Authorship.

Google, which is still the preferred search engine for 67% of the United States according to Comscore’s latest report, launched their Authorship program in early 2012 in an attempt to help users differentiate between trusted, reputable authors, and web spammers. Many Internet marketers (myself included) believe that the Authorship program will play a big role in the search engine giant’s ranking factors in the near future, and to plan for this, you’ll need to know more about Google Authorship and how to implement it on your website(s) and/or blog(s).

What is Google Authorship?

You know how, when you do a Google search for something like “Maryland DUI attorney” or “Los Angeles divorce lawyer”, you see a number of other lawyers’ pictures come up in the search results page?  Their pictures are being displayed because they’ve implemented Google Authorship into their website(s) or blog(s), and studies have confirmed that click through rates for webmasters who have implemented Google Authorship are much higher than those who haven’t.

How Do I Setup Google Authorship?

The best part about the Google Auhtorship program is that it doesn’t take a web “ninja” to figure out how to set it up. Here are a few resources that you can utilize to implement Google Authorship:

How to sign up for Google Authorship and link your Google+ profile to the content you create by Google

Rich Snippet Testing Tool to see if your website’s Authorship markup is working correctly by Google

Check Authoship impressions and clicks in Webmaster Tools by Google

A Few Quick Tips

    While you may be tempted to post more personal/laid back images of yourself on other social media profiles, you probably want to keep the suit on for Google+. Surveys have shown that law firms with more distinguished attorney pictures are preferred to the picture of you and the family on vacation.

    In the “contributor to” section of your Google+ profile, add a link to as many profiles as you can- your LinkedIn profile, Twitter profile, Facebook page, Superlawyers/Lawyers.com/Findlaw profile, etc- as it adds reputation to your Authorship efforts.

    If you use Wordpress for your website or blog, Yoast’s SEO Plugin will help you to easily implement Google+ Author markup.

Improved Search Engine and Overall Web Visibility

As you continue to:

    Add more content to your website, blog, and other websites through guest posting and contributions.

    Increase your reach on Google+ by following and interacting with others, posting regularly, joining and interacting with communities, and +1’ing other posts on a regular basis.

    Market your Google+ page in your newsletter, e-mail campaigns, and other social media profiles.

    Get added to more people’s circles on Google+ as a result of the above

The more trusted you will be in Google’s eyes and, as a result, the more visible you and your firm will be to search engine users and your target audience.

About the Author


George Murphy is the owner of The Search Ninjas, a Maryland-based web marketing company specializing in website design and SEO (search engine optimization) specifically for law firms and attorneys. George has been in legal web marketing for over 5 years and has worked with a number of law firms throughout the country and in a variety of practice areas. Find out more about their law firm SEO services or follow George on Google+.

 

 

Guiding New Clients on the Journey to Retaining You

When you open a file, it's the end of a successful customer journey for the client — a trip that was influenced on the way by email, online searches, social media and referrals. Search engine giant Google recently unveiled data about which law firm marketing tactics are most influential in guiding that journey to a "customer purchase decision."

Google: path to purchaseWhich technique is the most effective? Savvy marketers understand that you don't always seal the deal with a single tactic. A client may see a display ad, click on a link from a friend, or do a search before deciding to select you for their legal matter.Google's online tool reveals online buying behavior and shows how different marketing interactions affect business success.

Every lawyer wants to "close" a new client, but that won't happen without marketing to consumers at the start of their journey, when they (a) become aware of a lawyer, (b) begin to consider the attorney, and (c) form an intent to call you.

Email and social media are effective early in the client journey, according to Google. These initiatives assist a consumer in becoming aware of a lawyer's services. (Note: I filtered the Google tool to display results for the finance industry, the closest analogue to the legal profession.)

This means that publishing an email newsletter, and having an active presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are important elements of a law firm marketing plan. These techniques will influence the journey a consumer takes, but it will require multiple interactions or "marketing touches" to direct them to hiring you. Lawyers.com has expertise in helping lawyers with social media marketing.

Pay-per-click advertising and paid search results are effective in tipping consumers from considering hiring a lawyer — to deciding to hire a lawyer. In fact, paid search turns out to be just as effective as being found in the results of "organic" or consumer-initiated searches.

A referral is marketing gold: according to Google, it leads directly to a purchase decision. Consumers who have received a referral to you are no longer shopping — they are ready to retain you. Among the ways to get more referrals is to ask clients to recommend you, and to establish referral arrangements with other lawyers.

To impress clients and lawyers, it is key to have an up-to-date lawyer profile. Lawyers.com receives 34 million unique visitors each year who are seeking legal assistance.1 Seventy percent of those visitors come to Lawyers.com to find an attorney.2

The Google tool proves the necessity of having a multi-faceted marketing campaign to generate new business. Email, social media, paid search and referrals are guideposts on the customer journey to retaining your firm.

 

1Self-reported LexisNexis Web Statistics, 2012
2Data derived from a custom analysis of sub-domain URL information from comScore Mar. 2012. This data is not reflected in the basic comScore interface.

Video is the Killer App to Get Found in Google

There is a "killer app" that will greatly improve the likelihood that potential clients will find you in a Google search.  Research confirms that it is online video, and many lawyers have gotten the message. Just pay a visit to the LawyersDotCom channel you YouTube and check out the 500+ lawyer videos.

Video is the No. 1 reason that people go online, according to Pew Internet Research.  Clients and potential clients would rather watch to a two-minute verbal explanation than read a two-page article. "I don't want anything on paper. I don't have an in-box; if I did everything in it would go into trash. I want something that will catch my eye in 30 seconds or less, certainly not a long block of text. I'm more likely to look at a video," said MeMe Rasmussen, VP and Chief Privacy officer of Adobe Systems Inc.

Consider this:

  • More than 4 billion videos are viewed on YouTube every day.
  • Video is the easiest way to a first-page ranking on Google. A website with video is 53 times more likely to be found on the first page of Google compared with a website without video, according to Forrester.
  • Statistics show that having a video on your law firm website increases the chances that a potential client will retain you, and increases the time a visitor spends on your website.

Therefore it is surprising that only 51% of lawyers in firms of 1-5 lawyers say they plan to use video in their online marketing, according to a LexisNexis/Vizibility survey of law firm use of social media. The lack of video on your law firm website is a marketing mistake.

"Lawyers should develop an introductory video that showcases their personality as well as expertise. Post the video on the Web, including YouTube. Our studies have shown that a well-produced video can be a primary factor in a consumer's decision to contact a firm," says my colleague Craig McGuire, Product Marketing Manager, Websites/SEO/SEM at LexisNexis.

A small firm that is harnessing video effectively is Tully Rinckey of Albany, New York.  The firm's videos have been viewed more than 140,000 times - an outstanding result for a law firm. Many are clips from TV news reports in which a station interviewed a lawyer for comment about current events. Chief Marketing Officer Graig Cortelyou has cultivated good relations with local TV producers who give him these videos for free.  The 33-lawyer firm also displays a video on its home page.

 

Tips for a good video

Recording a video is easy and can be done right in your office. An experienced videographer will have the camcorder, lights and lavaliere microphones that are required. I recommend that you do not write a script and read it word-for-word from a teleprompter. All you need are a set of bullet points to follow, as you would use when making a presentation.

Click Here for Information on LexisNexis® Personal Video Production

To create a video that generates new business, follow these tips:

  • Don't talk about yourself. Clients are more interested in their legal issue than your credentials. Instead, talk about the problems you solve for clients.
  • Keep your video short: 2-3 minutes tops. Any longer and you'll lose your viewers.
  • Get to the point in 8 seconds or else viewers will move on.
  • The more light the better. Do not rely on sunlight or office light, which will produce dark and off-color videos.   
  • Move when you speak, because video is designed to capture action. Most lawyer videos show someone sitting at a desk, which is boring. Try standing up and gesturing when you speak, which is how you talk to people in person.
  • Mind the background. What is seen behind you makes a big difference. Do not sit in front of your office window or a lamp, which will put your face into a shadow. There should be no distracting cars or people moving in the background. Get rid of the clutter too.

One thing is clear: video is the future of law firm marketing. Adding video to your website is like getting an audition with a potential client. Don't delay in bringing your website up to date. 

 

Finding Yourself Can Be Harder than it Seems

This is an interesting post by Brian Farrell, one of LexisNexis' Law Marketing Specialists, that includes helpful information to get you ranked higher in your name's search results.

If you Google the name Brian Farrell, you'll find a lot of "us." There's Brian Farrell the Artist, Brian Farrell the Doctor, Brian Farrell the Lawyer, Brian Farrell the Harvard Professor and Brian Farrell the Irish Footballer. And then, there's me, and many, many others.

Among all of these other Brian Farrells, it's critical to me that my name appears at the top of search results. Not an easy task when competing against professional athletes and distinguished Ivy League professors! I've spend a lot of time working on this, and so should you. You want potential clients to find you, not the person with an identical name who lives halfway across the country. And while "Brian" and "Farrell" are both relatively common names, even attorneys with more unusual names may share those with others.

So how do you set yourself apart online from those with names exactly, or almost exactly, like yours? It will take some research and a small investment, but the results will help secure your online identity.

First, buy your name as a domain name, and then grab your Twitter handle. Next, customize your Facebook URL and your LinkedIn profile URL (replacing the random string of numbers with your own name). If you haven't done this already, you may find that the obvious ones have already been taken, particularly websites that end with the .com extension or @YourName on Twitter. If that's the case, try to snatch up domain names that end with .net, .name or .me as an alternative. You should consider taking www.YourNameSucks.com while you are at it, as a preventative measure. Many of these will be free, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, but you will have to pay for domain names. However, the fees are nominal, and once you "own" them, they are yours as long as you keep renewing them.

There are also free services, such as www.knowem.com, that will help you identify different extensions and domain name availability, as well as searching the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database.

If you find that the obvious names have been taken, you will need to consider Plan B, or even Plan C. For example, seek out domain names that include your middle initial or your full name with your practice area or location (but don't use your city or state if you don't plan to practice there a long time), such as www.JohnDoeLawyer.com.

Throughout all of your social media activity, remember to abide by the rules of the state bars where you practice. And stay up to date on rulings and ethics opinions, since this is an area that is quickly changing.

Next, figure out which of these names you want to use to market yourself. You don't need to create a website for each of the URLs you secure — you just want to make sure no one else uses them. You can always redirect your chosen URL to your Lawyers.comSM profile, too. Once you have settled on one URL, Twitter handle, personalized LinkedIn page and business Facebook profile, be sure to use those consistently to brand yourself.   

Read original post here.

Using Social Media to Accelerate the Referral Process

In the following post, Stephen Fairley, author on The Rainmaker Blog,  describes how using social media can accelerate the referral process.

Social media has become a fundamental shift in the way we communicate and find information -- or rather, the way information finds us.  

When you consider the overwhelming number of people who are now using social media, the question you should be asking is not, are my prospects, clients, and referral sources using social media? The question you should be asking is, which network are they using most often?

A survey last year by the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center found that 56% of attorneys are already using a social network. This means for you skeptics out there, if you are not maintaining a presence on at least one social network you are already behind the curve. Of those networks, LinkedIn is the most popular, followed by Facebook – however, Facebook is still the social site favored by prospects.

For attorneys who are looking to connect with consumers (versus business owners), like criminal defense, personal injury, bankruptcy, estate planning, and family law just to name a few, Facebook should be your primary focus because of the sheer number of people that can be found there (over 950 million registered users and growing).  

Depending on the demographic of your clientele, you may have more success with one social media platform compared to another -- but it is important that you have a presence on them all.  For example: Business oriented attorneys, like business litigation, securities, and intellectual property, should focus more of their efforts on LinkedIn. However, LinkedIn also has the highest number of attorneys who use the network so it's a little more difficult to stand out as compared to Facebook or Twitter.

What many people fail to understand is how people are starting to use social media.  Social networks are more and more being used as personal search engines mainly because Google has become too generic and they often don't trust what they find there.  

This trend is especially true in the under-30 age group. In fact, many social media experts are starting to point to Facebook as the new Google! Tens of thousands of searches are conducted every day on Facebook for resources and reviews of products, services, and service providers.  

The long-time phenomenon of asking your friends and colleagues for a referral has simply gone viral and online. Social networks are quickly multiplying the number of connections a person can ask when seeking a referral to a trusted advisor.  

Read about Stephen on his bio.

Last Chance for FREE Webinar on Search Engine Optimization

Keywords to success, search engine optimization, seo, google, yahoo, bingTime is running out to register for our new, free webinar, “Keywords to Success: How to Generate More Business for Your Law Firm with Search Engine Optimization” to be broadcast on this Tuesday, December 6, 2011.  We are applying for CLE credit for the program.

You can register at www.lexisnexis.com/webinar

I’ll present the webinar and will describe how your law firm can focus its online search marketing strategy generate leads and new business.  The program will show you how to optimize your website to promote the areas that matter most to your clients and prospects.

At a time when more and more consumers are searching online before meeting with a lawyer, this seminar will show you how to make your website more visible to prospects searching for the areas of law you practice.

You will learn:
•     How keywords and search engine marketing works
•     The difference between organic links and paid links, off-site and on-site optimization
•     How to promote specific business initiatives at your firm such as entering a new market and targeting new types of clients.

There’s no charge and no obligation. You can register at for free at www.lexisnexis.com/webinar.

4 Things You Need to Know to Protect Your Online Reputation

The infographic below from Mashable describes:

  1. What's an e-reputation.
  2. Why your online reputation matters.
  3. What potential employers are looking for.
  4. What you can do about it. While there are companies like Reputation Defender out there to help you manage your online reputation, there are still plenty of things you can do on your own. Feel free to check out my PowerPoint slide show "How to Monitor & Enhance Your Reputation on the Internet as a Lawyer."

protecting your online reputation, blog, facebook, google, twitter

 

Adios, Facebook and Twitter ... Hello, Google+

Google plus, facebook, twitter, legal marketing, law firm marketingHere's my latest article in Law Technology News:

"Dear Facebook and Twitter,

I know we've been together for about five years, but I think it's time we start connecting with new people. Facebook, I appreciate that you've reconnected me with all my old girlfriends who still criticize my opinions. You've also hooked me up with people from high school that I've deliberately had nothing to do with for 20 years. And your security issues drive me crazy.

Twitter, I have trouble understanding you because you speak in only 140-character blurts. I've unfollowed your most irrelevant messages, but you still jumble my day with noise. I don't have enough bandwidth for you.

It's true. I've found someone new. Yes, I'm a "plussie." I've fallen for Google+.

With G+, lawyers can follow a client, send messages to chosen recipients, and collect information on any topic and share it for business development purposes.

For me, it's a social media do-over. I get to pick the people whose messages I follow by placing them in a Circle (without friending them or getting permission). Being a lawyer, I separate my circles into "clients," "potential clients," "colleagues," "friends," and "family." I can send a message to clients and it's like a business newsletter. When I address it to "public," it's like a blog entry. When I address it to "my circles" it's like a tweet. Lawyers like control and G+ offers it.

Facebook is one of the ten most hated companies in America. Yes, 750 million people use it, but a survey conducted by ForeSee Results found that Facebook ranked near the bottom for customer satisfaction. In contrast, 20 million people joined Google+ over the first three weeks in July. ..."

For the rest of the story visit Adios, Facebook and Twitter ... Hello, Google+

SpyFu Offers Competitve Keyword Intelligence for Law Firm Marketing

Spyfu google adwords keyword competitive intelligence law firm marketingNow there is a way to find out what keywords your competitors are using in their Google Adwords campaigns: SpyFu based in Scottsdale, AZ.

  • Enter a URL and you'll see the top 10 keywords the domain website is using in their pay-per-click campaigns.
  • It will also show you every keyword the company has bought on Google Adwords, the company's daily Adwords ad budget and how each keyword ranked in organic search results.
  • Enter a keyword into the search box and you'll see the top 10 domains that are using it in their pay-per-click campaigns during the last few months.
  • Click on a colored box for a month, and it will display the advertisement connected to the keyword or URL.
  • A chart will display the cost per click, the clicks per day and cost per day.

Spyfu ppc pay per click keywords google adwords law firm marketing

It's online competitive intelligence that provides a detailed picture of their "secret marketing formulas." If you are paying for an Adword campaign, you can steer clear of dead-end keywords, spot hot buttons that drive clicks and mimic ad copy that is working for big-budget advertisers.

For example, if you've been using the keyword "executive compensation" you may discover that potential clients are searching for the phrase "wrongful termination." Once you know which keywords convert into sales or clicks, then you can put those words onto your website and can get organic search results from them.

 

ALERT: Your Law Firm Could be a Victim of a Lead-Generation Scam

lead generation scam law firm google places yelp law firm marketingLead generation scams have spread across the Internet and can affect your law firm.  You need to know this because one of the scammers may be using your law firm name and address as their location in Google Local or on Yelp.com.

I just ran a search for a lawyer in New York and unexpectedly discovered a fake Google Place page. Clicking the link referred me to a law firm in another state.

Back on the Google search results page, I noticed there was a link I had never seen before on Google, asking: "Is this accurate?" I clicked it, completed the online "Report a Problem" form and reported that the link misdirected me.

Here's how the scam works: A "lead-gen" company, as they're known in the biz, collects leads from consumers needing services. They do this be creating hundreds of phony Google Local places and Yelp businesses listings online. A potential customer will conduct a search such as "lawyer in Seattle" and will view a selection of law firms with supposedly local name, address and phone number, all pinpointed on a local map.

However, when the customer clicks the displayed hyperlink or calls the number, they'll reach a phone bank -- sometimes in other countries -- which will refer the caller to a business that has paid to receive leads from that city, state or zip code. The scam is so widespread, the New York Times ran an article about it on July 10.

Many of the lead-gen scams will use the name and address of an actual business or law firm to steal leads that should rightly be coming to them. To see a video of how the scam has spread like a plague in the locksmith industry, watch Consumer Alert! on YouTube.

It was amazing to see the brazen audacity of the phony Google Places listing for the New York law firm I was seeking. The fake listing showed a picture of the real lawyer, his address, phone number and location on a Google map. But the link to the firm directed me elsewhere.

Gabriel Stricker google law firm marketing legal marketingWhat you should do if it happens to you

  • Google your firm name, address and telephone number immediately and determine if all the search results are legitimate.
  • If you find a fake listing, click the "Is this accurate?" link provided by Google.
  • Find the "Edit This Place" link in the fake listing, and next click the link "You can report a problem."
  • Contact Gabriel Stricker, the Director of Global Communications & Public Affairs at Google Inc, at 650.253.0139 or gstricker@google.com.