Posted by Gavin Ward, search and social media marketing manager at Legal Futures Associate Moore Legal Technology
These are our top seven Internet marketing tips for law firms and lawyers in 2013
1. Get your social on!
Twitter now has over 500m users, 340m tweets and 1.6bn search queries per day. LinkedIn has over 175m professional members, 10m of whom work in the UK. Google+ has over 400m members (albeit with less activity than other networks). Legal Futures reported last year about how social media is the new golf course for law firms.
There’s a buzz about social media for a reason and 2013 is likely to see a continued increase in the way social channels are used for business purposes. For the more advanced users, we will see an increase in more targeted interactions within niche communities and it will be important to align strategies accordingly. For further reading, see our top seven benefits of social media for law firms here.
2. Review your website
With many different online platforms becoming more prominent – particularly social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest etc – lawyers and legal marketers have many options as to where they spend most of their online marketing time. While there are great opportunities, your website should still be the hub of all digital marketing activities (think like an octopus!).
So, make sure your website works for you as best as it can. Consider if it has the right calls to action – is it obvious what you want the visitor to do? Is it optimised for search? Is it updated regularly? Will you be found if someone types in relevant search phrases in Google? Can you measure where visitors are coming from? Can you determine who signed up for your newsletter from your website? Who then made an online enquiry? Who then became a client?
These are all relevant questions you should be considering. No matter how good you think your website may look, it might not be meeting all of your objectives.
3. Cut your reliance on claims management companies to send you leads
This one applies mainly to personal injury law firms and lawyers in 2013, but there are lessons for other solicitors and businesses. In April 2013, there will be a huge legal shake-up as the ban on personal injury referrals comes into force. Notwithstanding the ban, cutting your reliance on claims management companies early and putting more investment into long-term online business generation strategies will be important if you’re to beat the competition. See our previous blog, ‘Is Google the answer to the referral fee ban?’.
4. Realise the potential with smartphone and tablets
The number of people who access the Internet through their PCs will shrink slightly over the next four years, with numbers of mobile users steadily increasing. And mobile search is increasingly rapidly. Mobile searches increased 250% in Q1 2012 year-on-year as reported in Econsultancy, with 11% of all UK searches online taking place through mobiles. Searches for lawyers are included in this.
Responsive web design, or at least optimising your website for both smartphone and tablet, was one of the big things to look out for back in 2011 and it will be even more important for firms to realise the opportunities from this in 2013.
5. Keep up-to-date with Google and other search engine algorithm updates
Last year saw some of the most significant Google algorithm updates in recent times. The Panda, Penguin and Exact-Match-Domain updates transformed SEO strategies across the world. It meant that those using ‘black hat’ (or unethical) techniques were bombed out of the main search rankings and those who provided valuable content, presenting well to search engines, jumped above their competitors.
This year is likely to see further significant search engine changes and it’s important that you, or your SEO providers, stay on top of the changes. And don’t just think about search engine optimisation. Social media optimisation is a growing specialism – think about SEO within LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and your other social networks.
The leading SEO blogs such as SEOMoz or Search Engine Land are some of the most useful sources of analysis and comment. If you got an SEO book for your Christmas, expect a lot of it to be out of date by the end of 2013.
6. Blog like never before
This tip is mentioned above in various places, but content – contextual content that is – really will be king in 2013. If you don’t have a consistent blogging or content generation strategy in place, you will be losing out online. And don’t forget, content isn’t just about words – an image can, metaphorically, display 1,000 words and a video can do much more than that.
7. Have a plan
We don’t think this needs an explanation. Strategy and planning are crucial to avoid you wasting your time and investment online.