In addition to optimizing your website to ensure a top-ten result in the search engines, your firm may also want to use these Internet marketing techniques.
Pay-per-Click Advertising Campaigns
If you do not have the time or cannot produce results from search engine optimization, then you can always "buy your way to the top." A pay per click ad campaign enables you to list your site at the top of the search engine results (or on the side in some search engines, such as Google).
As the name indicates, you are only charged a fee when someone clicks on your ad. These fees can range from a nickel per click to over a dollar per click. Despite the fact that each click will cost your firm money, not even "Bob" in accounting can gripe about the fact that it cost ten cents to find a new client. The three main providers of pay per click programs are Google AdWords and Overture. The account setup process is relatively quick and easy for each: you select your keyword phrases, create your ad/listing, and set your budget.
It should be noted that Google AdWords and Overture provide ads to different web directories and search engines. Thus, you may want to consider advertising on each. Each provider also has a slightly different pricing structure, content requirement, ranking algorithm, and listing/ad setup.
While the Google Adwords and Overture text ads are slowly taking over (due to low cost, ease of maintenance, and great results), banner advertisements are still quite useful. In fact, with the invention Action Scripting and Flash, banner advertisements can be a powerful form of interactive advertising. The key to creating powerful banner advertisements is prompting, formatting, targeting, and interacting.
Your ad must prompt the user for action, such as "Click here" or "Visit our Site" or any other keyword that will draw the user's attention.
Also, to draw the user's attention, your banner ad needs to stand out from the other clutter on the website. Bright colors and contrasting colors are great, as long as they stay professional and do no detract from your firm's image.
Further, targeting your audience is an important aspect of banner creation. Do not try to create an advertisement that focuses on the whole nation and all practice areas. Focus on your geographic market or specific practice area.
Finally, interactive banners have higher click rates. Animating your banner advertisement can be done through the use of animated graphics, scripting, adding forms, buttons and Flash. Of course, much of this is dependent upon the website where your banner ad is displayed.
Your law firm should publish a quarterly newsletter. Even better, publish a monthly newsletter and you will see instant results. This form of advertising . . . err. . . providing information is great for generating repeat traffic to your website and introducing new clients to your firm. Newsletters also boost your image with other attorneys because they can establish your firm as a go-to place for up-to-date information.
Newsletters work because they remind your existing clients about your firm, which can lead them to send new projects your way, and they also provide relevant information to potential clients. The more they know the better decisions they can make ... which of course would lead them to select your firm for the job. Every time you send your email newsletter you will probably have a 2-5% response rate. Nothing beats receiving inquiries simply from providing potential clients about breaking news, notable victories, or upcoming events.
Blogs & Web Logs
A blog is a web page made up of usually short, frequently updated posts that are arranged chronologically, like a journal. The content and purposes of blogs varies greatly from links and commentary about other websites, to news about a company/person/idea, to diaries, photos, poetry, mini-essays, project updates, even fiction. In the legal field, you could promote your firm's services, cases, clients, and other notable news in the blog.
Blogs are great because of their ease of use, low cost, audience reach, and high search engine visibility. For $15 a year your firm can have their own blog related to its practice area. While I would not recommend sharing client details, I would recommend posting relevant information about your specific practices and ongoing events. If your blog is informational, you will quickly see that the blog will raise your overall presence on the Internet and your search engine rankings will increase. Again, this will lead to more traffic and more clients.
In addition to search engines, people use the legal directories and online phone book directories to find lawyers. Directories provide a quick and easy way for clients to find lawyers across the nation.
Your web site should be submitted to all phone book directories, including: AnyWho (AT&T), SBN, Yahoo Yellow Pages, AOL Yellow Pages, MSN Yellowpages, Info USA, Lycos Yellowpages, QuestDex, Switchboard, US Yellow, SuperPages (Verizon) and InfoSpace. You can submit your site to all of those directories for free through each providers website.
Also list your web site in a variety of online legal directories, such as FindLaw.com, TechlawOnline.com, Martindale-Hubbell's Lawyers.com directory, or a variety of other legal directories. Of course, each of those latter options will charge you a directory fee per year. However, if you just sign a few clients per year from each directory, they generally pay for themselves.