The Ultimate Marketing Blueprint for Lawyers | 2020

The 2020 Ultimate
Marketing Blueprint
for Lawyers

Find out exactly what the most successful law firms are doing online to grow.

As a Digital Marketing agency that specializes in trades related to legal services, we have a behind the scenes look at what separates the most successful law firms from the rest. We’ve compiled a list of the most important online marketing strategies your firm needs to implement in order to increase leads and get the results you’re looking for.

1 Web Design

The first step in any digital marketing plan is updating your company website. This is the hub of your digital marketing strategy, the place all prospects are funneled to in order to be converted into leads.

What's Needed

Responsive design
A responsive website is designed to seamlessly work on all device types. If your site isn’t designed for mobile users, you are basically irrelevant for over half of internet traffic in 2020. Needless to say, if your business's website isn't optimized for mobile traffic a lot of your digital marketing budget is going to go to waste. Since March of 2018, Google has switched to mobile-first indexing. This means that if your site isn't mobile-optimized, it will now negatively affect your ranking in search engines results, making it imperative to update if you haven't yet done so.

In order to maximize your marketing ROI, your website needs to convert at a high level. That's where calls-to-action (CTAs) come into play. It is extremely important to make it easy for prospects to contact you -- by placing CTAs on each level of your law firm's website, you eliminate the hurdle of having to search for a way to contact your firm, increasing your conversion rate. To quickly grab a visitor's attention, CTAs should be designed to stick out from the rest of the site. We recommend lawyers always have the following types of CTAs on their websites:

  • Click-to-Call Phone Number: placed in the header, content area & the footer of your website
  • "Get a Free Consultation" Button: placed in the header, content area & the footer of your website
  • General Contact Form: placed in the content section of your website

Easy-To-Use Navigation
What you don't want to do is make site visitors search for what they're looking for. The navigation on your website should be simple, intuitive and include all the main pages a visitor might be interested in. These pages should include every legal service your firm provides, contact pages, about us, testimonials, case studies, etc.

Branded to Your Company
The most successful lawyers focus on building a strong brand. Your brand should portray professionalism and provide prospects with a unique logo, tagline, color scheme, etc. that makes remembering - and feeling a connection with your firm - easier! Your website and all other marketing materials (business cards, folders, letterhead, signs, etc.) need to incorporate these same unique branding elements.

Build Trust
Let's be honest, there are a few bad apples in every area that give lawyers a bad name. People are at their most vulnerable when in need of legal assistance, that's why building trust is so important! If a website's visitors have any doubt in how trustworthy or competent a lawyer is, they will quickly leave for a competitor's site. Luckily there are a few quick and easy strategies that you can implement in order to help build trust with prospects and current clients:

  • Use real photography and video of your legal team throughout your website. Law stock photography gives a site a generic, impersonal feel that your competitors can easily copy. Using custom, professional digital media provides a glimpse into who your firm is and the professionalism you offer.
  • Show recent client reviews and testimonials. There are several reputation management tools, including feeds from actual review websites, that make collecting and sharing reviews from real clients easy!
  • Add case studies of your marquee wins to show customers the kind of success they can expect when hiring your law firm.
  • Toot your own horn by showing awards and certifications, such as Super Lawyers, Avvo Clients' Choice, Bar Memberships, Avvo Rating, etc. throughout your site.

2 Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is something a successful lawyer can't afford to overlook. No other marketing efforts can provide the long-term ROI of a successful SEO campaign. There are two types of strategies your firm will need to implement: On-Page SEO strategy and an Off-Page SEO strategy, as well as GMB optimization.

What's Needed

On-Page SEO
On-Page SEO refers to all the measures you can take on your website to improve your rank in the search engines. It involves everything from content strategies, backend code, and server setup & optimization. The most important elements include:

  • Keyword Optimization - In order for search engines to understand and rank your webpage as a credible option for prospects, you'll need to have the correct search terms in place and optimized on your pages. Start by coming up with a list of keywords for each page that a client would search for to find your exact legal service. Next, optimize these specific keywords or key-phrases on each page using H1 & H2 headings, title tags, internal linking, image alt text, and well-written page copy.
  • Service Page Build-Outs - Often times law firms assume having a website with fewer pages will produce better results due to its simplicity. They have a single Services page that merely has a small summary paragraph followed by a bullet-list of the legal services they offer. The problem with this strategy is that it severely limits a site's ability to rank for industry search terms. Google ranks pages not websites, in order to rank for long-tail terms such as "Personal Injury Lawyer" or "Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Lawyer" you need a page with optimized content that provides details about that specific service. For each service you offer, a corresponding page is absolutely necessary for optimal results.
  • HTTPS over HTTP - Securing your website with a SSL Certificate has become one of the newer ways to help your SEO. While it's not yet critical to update from http to https, Google's algorithm is quickly moving that way. Get a jump start on it, and adjust your website now.
  • Page Speed - Not only does a slow website encourage prospects to leave, it now affects how search engines rank your page as well. Search engines, such as Google, want to give their customers the best user experience, so it makes perfect sense that they would negatively score a website who's speed will frustrate users. A target page load time should be around three seconds. You can check yours here with Google PageSpeed Insights
  • Schema Markup - Schema is structured data that you can add to your website's html to improve the way search engines understand and display your website in search engine results pages (SERPS). It also improves the way your page displays in SERPs by enhancing the rich snippets that are displayed beneath the page title.
  • Blogging + Ongoing Content - Creating a website that contains a bunch of well-written content is great. But what search engines don't like is a website that remains stagnant and stale. That's why your initial website build-out is just the beginning - your firm should be adding new content to your website through blogs plus deeper linked pages on-site that will drive new longer-tail traffic. A couple of examples of this would be to create Location Pages for each district you service or how-to pages that offer insights and exactly what to do if they find themselves in a legal predicament.

Off-Page SEO
Off-Page SEO refers to the actions your law firm takes outside of your own website to increase your rank in the search engines.

  • High-Quality Backlinks - Backlinks have been the backbone of off-page SEO for a long time and continue to be the most important factor in search engine results. The more high-quality sites that link to your website, the more authority search engines give your site which results in increased rankings. There are several types of backlinks, including:
    • Self-Created Links are done by manually adding your company profile to directory sites, such as Google My Business, Avvo, FindLaw, Justia, Yellowpages, BBB, Chamber of Commerce, etc.
    • Manually-Created Links are generated by asking for links back from websites such as community, legal associations, and industry related sites. An example would be using your connections to reach out to your law school asking to write an article for their online publication. In the article you would include a link to your site.
    • Natural Links require no direct action on your part. They occur when other websites naturally link back to you. Possible causes could be that a 3rd party site wants to share quality content you've created or community news you've been involved in.
  • Social Media Signals - While nothing you put on social media directly affects SERPS, having a regular social media strategy keeps your firm in the public eye which can result in increased brand recognition, content distribution and brand mentions — which all have positive effects when it comes to higher ranking.
  • Online Reviews - Each year the impact of online reviews on ranking increases. The quantity, velocity, and diversity of reviews all play an important role in organic local listings, especially Google Local Pack/Map listings.

Google My Business (GMB) Optimization
GMB is one of the leading traffic sources for lawyers. So it's easily understandable how showing up higher in local map listings can have a huge affect on your firm. Once you have a verified GMB account, you can optimize your listing by:

  • Category Selection - Start by selecting your primary category. If you are a larger firm "Law Firm" would be an appropriate selection, or "Lawyer" for a one-person practice. If you specialize in a certain type of law such as "Divorce Lawyer" select that as your primary category. Next select your "Additional Categories", which is where you can indicate each individual focus of law you practice in.
  • Set Your Service Area - Google recently changed this feature so that you're no longer able to set a distance radius around your address. Instead you're now able to include up to a maximum of 20 different cities or zip codes that you want to attract clients from which defines your service area for your listing.
  • Fill In ALL Info - For best results, it's important that you fill in everything you possibly can. List your phone number, hours of business, website, physical address, etc. Also, to increase conversions add the URL of your "Free Consultation" page to the appointment url box.
  • Business Description - This is where your firm can sell itself and what makes your practice different than your top competitors. Include details on why potential clients that land here should choose to contact your law firm today!
  • Continuously Add Photos - Begin by adding your firm's branded images like your logo and your profile and cover photos. Then, be sure to continuously upload photos of each of the lawyers in your firm, community engagements, etc. on a regular basis.
  • Continuously Add Reviews - This is crucial to your success on GMB. Even if your law firm already has more Google reviews than any of your competitors, you need to keep adding them. It's not just quality and quantity that Google takes into account, review recency also matters when it comes to your placement among other lawyers.

3 Client Reviews

Studies show that people today trust online reviews nearly as much as personal recommendations from friends and family. This growing mindset makes it critical for a lawyer to obtain and display as many high-quality reviews as possible.

What's Needed

More Reviews For Increased Traffic
When it comes to traffic drivers like Google Local Maps, reviews are one of the main factors in determining how high your law firm ranks and how many users click on your listing. The more high-quality reviews -- the better the results. This makes acquiring reviews from happy clients a key element of your digital marketing strategy.

Review Software
In today's fast-paced world it's hard to find the time to actually reach out to clients to personally ask for a review. There are also guidelines by most review sites as to how that review can even be requested making it tough to keep up with. That's why a third-party software that sends review requests directly to your recent clients is a great tool for obtaining reviews without having to jump through so many hoops. Software like Birdeye and Podium do a great job of this.

Community Management
Few things bother a good lawyer more than seeing a negative review left on a major review site, but it happens. To minimize the damage, it's important that firms respond to a client's complaint in a timely and professional manner. Additionally, responding to positive reviews is a great opportunity to show potential clients you are an attentive and appreciative lawyer.

4 Paid Ads

The lawyers that see the most growth use a well-balanced strategy of both organic inbound marketing and strategic paid ads. While paid ads take skill to implement properly, they can provide a positive ROI and pay large dividends when they are. For firms looking to maximize their ad performance, the use of analytics and A/B testing is critical to achieve maximum ROI.

What's Needed

Google Ads
All lawyers are after the same thing - quality leads! But when it comes to ads, your cost per acquisition of these leads will make or break you. Google ads can be extremely ROI positive for your firm or extremely detrimental to your marketing budget. It's how you run these ads that makes all the difference. Here are the major points-of-focus for a successful Google Ad campaign:

  • Keyword Targeting - The first step of every Google Ad campaign is to do keyword research, setting up ad groups for each unique service you want to attract leads for. Ad groups should consist of a small number of keywords, generally between five to twenty. Google will set these keywords to “broadly match” by default, but these keywords are sometimes very expensive and will send you untargeted traffic. When setting up your bids, use “phrase match” and “exact match” to avoid this unwanted traffic. Try to avoid generic terms such as "Lawyer", as these terms will burn up your budget without bringing in the required level of relevancy to your exact legal niche.
  • Negative Keywords - The use of negative keywords allows you to dodge unwanted traffic that won't convert and depletes your budget. If you don't practice tax law for example, you should place "tax" in your negative keyword list which will make sure you won't show up for a term like "tax lawyer + your city".
  • Location Targeting - You probably only travel to a few districts or maybe just one in a larger city. By setting your geo-targeting radius to a realistic range, you can limit ad spend to only the areas you want to practice law.
  • Landing Page Per Ad Group - A common mistake lawyers make is directing all ad traffic to their homepage. This will not only result in a lower conversion rate than an optimized landing page for the intended keyword, but it will also cause your Google quality score to drop considerably resulting in much higher cost-per-click prices.
  • A/B Testing - Between the ad copy for each ad group and the design and content of your service specific landing page, chances are that you aren't going to get it perfect on the first try. By including A/B testing into your strategy, you can greatly increase your ad performance.
  • Analytics Tracking - The majority of firms that lose money on Google Ads do so because they don't use analytics to track and adjust performance. Turning off under-performing keywords, finding negative keywords, tracking conversion rates, and knowing your cost-per-acquisition and ROI are just a few of the key elements analytics can give your firm a handle on.
  • Give It Time - Even the best Google Ad specialists will tell you that it takes time to dial your performance in to get your cost-per-acquisition where it needs to be. We typically recommend 3-months, with necessary adjustments throughout and a keen eye on analytics to get a decent read on whether paid ads will work for your law firm.

Every single visitor to your site costs you money, whether it be through Google Ads, SEO, branding, or even building your website in the first place. That's why retargeting to visitors is so important. Retargeting allows you to show ads to the people who visited but ultimately left your site without taking an action, such as filling out a contact form or calling your firm. By simply getting in front of them again, you can greatly increase your conversion rates. Unfortunately some practice areas need to be careful with the language used in their ads. Google doesn't allow retargeting ads with sensitive subjects such as divorce or an allegation of a crime in the ad copy.

Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads are great for certain industries. For a law practice, not everyone will be able to target successfully but there are a few scenarios where we would recommend using a paid campaign budget for, including:

  • Retargeting - As we've mentioned before, retargeting ads are a great way to bring past website prospects back into the fold so you can convert them into customers. Facebook retargeting offers more visibility and opportunity to increase your marketing ROI than other retargeting platforms.
  • Ads Focused On Practice Area - Some areas of practice would have a hard time targeting their clientele. For example, a criminal law attorney has very little data in which to narrow down their ad base, while a divorce attorney can target married men of a certain age living in their area, and deliver ads if there is any change in relationship status. To utilize these ads properly you should be able to narrow down your ad group using Facebook's targeting methods for your specific practice type.
  • Lookalike Audiences - A lookalike audience on Facebook is an audience that looks similar to your existing clients. You can upload a list of your clients into Facebook and they will create an audience of people who have similar characteristics of your current client base.

Pre-Roll Youtube Video Ads (Based on Search History)
Wow, that title was a mouth full, but these video ads can be extremely effective at getting in front of the right clients at the precise time they are looking for your services. When a user searches Google for your services, the next time they visit YouTube, they can be shown your ad all based on their previous search history -- making this a very targeted video ad strategy.

5 Social Media

While the days of endless organic reach on social media have long been over, the effects of a consistent social media strategy are still necessary for all types of businesses — including lawyers. Since potential clients regularly check a law firm's social media accounts before choosing to hire a lawyer, having a non-existent or neglected presence can create uneasiness about your professionalism or company credibility. Keeping your social pages up-to-date builds trust, creates additional website traffic, and raises brand awareness making social media a cost-effective marketing strategy your practice can't ignore.

What's Needed

Law Articles
Articles and blog posts on your website lets prospects know that you are a leader in your practice area. Take time to write your own, while also sharing articles, how-to-tips, company news, and more! These types of posts show that you are knowledgeable and they help to build trust that can lead to future hires. Places to add: Facebook, Linkedin

Company & Community Content
These types of post are used to add some personality into your social profiles. Every firm is unique, by showing your team's personality, you can build a sense of comfort and relatability with potential clients. Also, by adding community related content, you're able to show that your firm is involved and present in your local community. Places to add: Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin

Case Studies
Show potential customers your biggest wins inside the courtroom by detailing your best client result cases. Places to add: Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin

Online Community Responses
Online community question and answer sites, such as Quora, allow you to give free advice to legal questions. This is great for building your credibility and drumming up business by being a helpful resource. Places to add: Quora, Justia, Avvo

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