Over the past year, Google has been placing increased emphasis
in search engine rankings on websites with Google Places listings.
Google Places is a free directory listing service, and it gives local
businesses (including law firms) the opportunity to create detailed
information about their products and services.
Because Google usually can tell the location of a user based on
the user’s IP address, if a user from the Phoenix area enters a search
query such as “divorce lawyers,” Google assumes that the person is
looking for a divorce attorney in the Phoenix area. It will then display a list of “local” websites. Google now frequently displays links
for these websites (noted with the term “Place Page”) before the
regular search results.
There are many search engine companies that can help law firms
improve rankings. These companies range from those that are very
good and carefully explain their services to those that are secretive
and may use unethical search engine techniques. 5 Law firms should
generally avoid companies that guarantee number-one placement,
promise quick results or won’t explain their services clearly. It’s also
best to get quotes from several companies, and to ask for examples
of search engine results.
text, coding information, metatag content (most important, the Title
and Description tags), the number and “quality” of incoming links to
a website, the age of the website, and other site information. 3 Then,
in response to a user’s search query, Google searches its own index of
collected information and, using proprietary algorithms, returns to
the user a rank-ordered list of “best” websites based on the user’s
search query. 4
Consequently, an experienced Phoenix divorce attorney might be
surprised to find her firm’s website ranked significantly lower (perhaps
by several pages or more) than the website of a newly minted attorney
with no divorce law experience. A large business law firm might also
find that its website ranks much lower than a sole practitioner for a
search term like “Phoenix business lawyer.”
High search engine rankings usually don’t come by accident, and
they don’t happen overnight. Often high rankings are the result of a
carefully developed SEO plan, which involves identifying the search
terms used by a firm’s prospective clients, analyzing the metatag, link
and other relevant information of other highly ranked websites, creating
optimized web pages on a firm’s website focused on desired search
terms, blogging (as blog postings are picked up by Google and blog
search engines such as Technorati), incorporating video in a website
(and uploading video to websites such as YouTube), participating in
social networking websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter,
and acquiring incoming links from other websites (such as directory list-
ing websites). All of these activities will help improve website rankings.
; Your firm’s website is
your one “always-on”
source of marketing.
Make sure it is done well.
Although they won’t accept payment for high organic rankings,
Google, Bing and other search engine companies offer a way for
firms to immediately receive first-page visibility through PPC marketing. PPC marketing typically consists of the four-line ads shown
at the top and to the right-hand side of the search results pages; the
non-paid or “organic” rankings usually are displayed in the middle
and take a up a majority of the search results page.
The process for creating Google PPC marketing ads is straightforward. A firm needs to ( 1) open a PPC account with Google, ( 2)
create a campaign (such as “Phoenix divorce”), ( 3) write compelling ad text to be displayed, ( 4) develop a list of key words (such
as “phx divorce lawyer”) that will trigger the display of the firm’s
ad, ( 5) specify the maximum bid price they are willing to pay each
time one of their ads is clicked, and ( 6) specify their maximum daily
budget (such as $10/day).
PPC campaigns can be targeted so that ads are shown only to users
searching in defined geographic areas (and/or during specified days
and time periods). The parameters (including key words and daily
budgets) can be changed easily, and PPC campaigns can be paused
and restarted at any time. There is no minimum monthly spend.
Once a PPC campaign is created and activated, Google will
begin displaying a firm’s ads (often starting the same day the
account is created). The more the firm is willing to bid, and the
better a firm’s ads are at generating clicks, the better placement the
ads will receive.
PPC ads are tremendously popular because firms can set the
maximum click price, they are only charged when a prospective
client clicks on their ad (and is taken to the firm’s website), and
; Focus on client needs and create messages around how you serve clients. De-emphasize personal legal accolades. Remember, your website is about your clients, not about you.
; Your site needs to be seen on the first page of Google’s
search results for terms relative to the legal needs of
your clients if you want to reach those searching on the
Internet for the legal services you provide.