Posted by Ally Thomson, a consultant at Legal Futures Associate Moore Legal Technology 
In the first part of this blog , I recalled how much the world has changed since the year 2000 and looked at how Google has changed in what it wants from you if it is to score your website highly.
Having gained Google’s attention, I turn to how it leads to winning business.
Being found online through search
People who may know nothing of your firm may find you by Googling. They will form an immediate first impression of you because you were prominent in search, the look and feel of the site they are served up, and through the content they are presented with. Making a good first impression will greatly increase the likelihood of them contacting you.
Being assessed online
Businesses get referrals from multiple sources. For example, referrals from friends and family or existing clients remain a great source of new business.
But the likelihood is that, even with the reassurance of a positive endorsement from someone you trust, people will still check you out online. A positive impression means you are likely to be contacted, while a poor impression caused by a site that doesn’t look ‘alive’ is likely to jeopardise your prospects of gaining a new customer – a risk not worth taking.
Asset creation that helps to convert potential customers
Once you do get a call from a prospective client, you may not immediately be instructed as the person may want some time to consider their position.
After the call, you can use the content on your site to assist with converting the enquiry into business. Sending links to articles, white papers, video and other content that you have created and is on point with the issue the enquirer has, reinforces your professionalism and expertise.
Becoming an authoritative voice online
As I outlined in the first part of this blog, Google is obsessed with authority. The opportunity exists for lawyers and law firms with particular sector expertise to become the authority voice online.
This can be achieved by writing extensively on a particular topic and ensuring that this content is presented effectively to Google – this is exactly what Google wants, and you in return will receive business enquiries and enhance your professional standing simultaneously, which also helps convert enquiries.
These are just some examples of the ways in which law firms can benefit from creating strong online identities and assets. The reality is that these routes to business are all inter-related – the online world permeates virtually every aspect of the way that we conduct our lives and make many buying choices.
It is no longer the year 2000. Failure to embrace change can lead to the demise of one-time incredibly successful businesses, a perfect example being Kodak. The company was once the Google of its day, pushing technological advances.
In 2000, the company had just returned profits of $2.5bn and was one of the most powerful companies and brands in the world. Yet it filed for bankruptcy in 2012, an incredible reversal in fortune and largely brought about through not responding to a changing environment – customers wanted digital cameras, yet their focus for too long remained on selling expensive film.
So the future is now. We all face a battle to remain relevant and change must be embraced. Law firms and lawyers who are agile of thought and action will continue to prosper. The days of a discrete brass plaque as the only calling card for business are gone.
The internet is your new shop front, and it’s open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day as customers look for and assess you. Even normal routes to business, such as referrals from friends, will be impacted by the internet.
No matter the recommendation, it will become the norm to assess a business online before engaging them. If you aren’t talking to them in a way that they value online, you may one day be pulling down the shutters for the final time – dramatic indeed, but Kodak would have thought the same not so many years ago.
Update to 2030…
Your driverless car waits outside as you make an appearance from your office at a virtual court hearing, all court documents are stored in the cloud, the court is considering a visual re-enactment of the crucial events, the judge’s smartphone tells him his blood pressure is rising…
It may seem like a comical fantasy now, but look how far we have come since the year 2000. If you want to avoid being a Kodak, then you need to embrace the future now.