Category Archives: SEO

Quick and Easy SEO Tips – A Beginner’s Guide

We have been living in the new digital landscape of SEO for more than a decade but many small business owners remain clueless about the world of Search Engine Optimization. It can be challenging to know where to start and where to turn for quick and easy SEO tips.

Faced with this bewildering new normal, it’s hardly surprising that many smaller enterprises avoid tackling their SEO problems or outsource them. Many businesses are fighting every day to grow or even to make ends meet. They may have little time to even add valuable website content, let alone to optimize it for search engines to improve their chances of being found online.

A coherent SEO strategy can go a long way and you don’t have to hire an expensive consultant. These quick and easy SEO tips will help you set up basecamp.

Read these easy SEO tips
SEO tips can be quick and easy but it takes hard work to take off

It’s important to realize SEO is a long-term strategy. Don’t think you can flood your site with content for two months and then post nothing on it. It takes time for search engines to notice your web presence.

It’s important to know what SEO is from the outset. Think first of all about the role of the search engines. The search engines will analyze all of the web pages they have ever visited and give you the most relevant results. Seach engines are clever at understanding the relevance of results to the search query.

Here are seven quick and easy SEO tips.

1 Realize the Real Audience is Human 

People drive your bottom lines and the search engines know this. If you build your website so as it’s user-friendly, the search engines will reward you. A few years ago, website writers would try to game the system by stuffing their copy with the keywords they wanted to show up for.

Now the search engines will look for user-friendly content that makes the experience easy and entertaining for your visitors. Consider using a range of media and answering the questions that people are asking on your website. Keyword research is an important way to do this.

2 Find Keywords that are Relevant and Profitable

Before providing content for your site, you should consider the keywords that you want your potential clients to search for. The expression ‘keyword’ can be misleading. Keywords are usually more than one word. Seek out keywords that will ensure your site is found and is not over-utilized elsewhere.

For instance, if you own a personal injury practice in Chicago, there will be massive competition for the keyword “Chicago personal injury lawyer.’ The trick is to find a keyword that fewer people are searching for and fewer of your competitors have thought of. If, for example, accidents in elevators is one of your practice areas, instead consider a keyword like ‘Chicago elevator accident lawyer.’ Although fewer people will be searching for this term, a potential client who has been injured in an elevator accident may be and your site is more likely to top a Google search.

Use a tool to research keywords that you want to rank for. Google Keyword planner is a great tool and it’s free. To access it, you need a Google Adwords account. You can set up an Adwords account free without doing paid search. You can find the Keyword planner under the Tools tab. This guide on Backlinko tells you how to get the most out of the tool.

Although Google Keyword planner is aimed at paid search and tells you how much to bid for on keywords in paid search, it’s useful because you can find the demand for certain keywords and the search volume. Seeking out keywords with less competition but lots of searches will help you get ahead of your competitors.

There are other great keyword research tools you can use like Moz Keyword Explorer, but you will have to pay for these services.

If you are building out a new website, every page on your website should be optimized for a keyword. Even if your website is well established, you can utilize keywords in blog posts and new pages. However, make sure not to detract from the pages that are optimized by using the same keywords in subsequent writing.

Although developing a keyword strategy may not seem like it should be included in a list of easy SEO tips, keywords are a bit like the foundation of a house. Once it’s solid, it easier to build.

check out quick and easy SEO tips

3 Build Keywords into Your Content

If you find a host of great keywords but don’t know how to use them, it’s like buying an expensive new camera without reading the manual. Make sure your web pages are aligned around the keywords.

The search engines want to see unique keywords that are optimized on each page.  Draw up an Excel spreadsheet from the outset that highlights the keyword that’s slated for each page of your website.

Once you have this, write your copy around that keyword. Don’t overstuff the page with the keyword. Your pages should be written with the reader in mind with the hope he or she will become a client or a customer. Make sure to include the keyword in the title and the SEO title as well as a handful of times in the copy. If you are working in WordPress an SEO tool like Yoast can help you optimize your pages for their allocated keywords.

4 Don’t Forget About Images

Images will break up your copy and make it more user-friendly for the reader. However, you need to guide search engines to tell them what information is contained in the images.

Make sure to rename images so as the search engines know what they are about. Use your keyword in captions and alt tags. These boxes are visible when you upload images. Too many people leave them blank.

5 Use a Range of Media

Variety will keep visitors to your website more engaged. The longer they spend on your website the more favorable the ‘bounce rate’ of your site will be. Google prefers sites with a lower bounce rate because it indicates visitors find more value and interest in your site and are more engaged if they are not clicking away.

Adding variety to your website is one of the quick and easy SEO tips that doesn’t take much technical know-how. Embed videos from your YouTube channel, use polls to engage people, reply to comments and consider adding features like infographics and memes.

More than half of all searches are now on mobile devices, making it vital that your content is not too text-heavy and ideally features elements like video and other graphics.

6 Wok on Getting Good Quality Links Your Domain

Backlinks are links to your site from another website. They are important because search engines like Google and Bing see them as endorsements. If someone else is linking to you, they must like something about your site.

Think of a link to your website as a vote for your page. The search engines pick up on links to your website.  But not all links are good links. In the past, Google moved to outlaw practices such as link exchanges and the buying of links.

The search engines place value on the relevance of the links.  Some links are better than others in casting votes for your website. If you work as an insurance attorney, for example, a link from a trade association or a professional body will be worth more than a link from the website of a pet supply store that opened up a week ago.

Generally, good quality backlinks include links from government entities, charities, educational institutions, and the mainstream media. If your work is being featured by a local TV station, ask if you can get a link from their website to yours. Often non-profits will provide a backlink if you agree to be a sponsor.

7 Create Unique and New Content

It has become a cliche, but content remains king in the world of SEO. You should add new content to your website as often as possible, whether blogs, new pages, pictures or videos. Google prefers lengthy content that’s optimized for SEO.  Daily blogs are ideal. If you are not able to add to your website every day, hire a writer. Also look to feature guest bloggers and contributors. Encourage comments but also be careful to moderate them. Maximize that content by posting links to it on your social media sites. The idea of the storefront is becoming unfashionable but your website is really little more than a virtual storefront. If nobody is coming through your door, you’ll be living a lonely and unprofitable existence.

David Macaulay is a writer who has been working on SEO with law firms and other businesses for more than six years.

Five Top Social Media Tips for Law Firms

This week I was invited to be on a panel for a discussion hosted by Martindale-Nolo and the young lawyers division of the American Bar Association about using social media to grow your law practice.

More than 1,400 young lawyers were on the call and there were six panelists including attorneys and social media people from Martindale-Hubbell.

facebooksocial media strategies for law firms

I was blown away by a poll taken at the start of the call that revealed more than half of these young lawyers are not using social media for their practices. I would have expected that kind of response from people my age or the older partners at firms who view social media as a disturbing new development. However, most of these participants were in their twenties and from the social media generation

My law firm has used social media for about four years now but I still face something of an uphill struggle to persuade the older partners about its importance. Facebook is a platform their wives spend too much time posting pictures of their kids on; it’s a place for cuddly cats.

Both of these statements are true. They also go to the heart of why social media is such a powerful tool for attorneys and other businesses such as accountants that you would not necessarily associate with social media.

You won’t get dozens of cases every month from Facebook unless you are a firm like The Law Offices of Jacob J Sapochnick, a San Diego immigration lawyer who has more than 139,000 Facebook likes and gets as many as a dozen cases a day from the social media.

That’s immaterial in many ways. Facebook and other platforms are a way to get into people’s lives in a subtle and unobtrusive way without proclaiming you are a lawyer and turning people off. It’s the online equivalent of that fridge calendar from a landscaping company. You don’t think much about the company until you suddenly need a tree removed and think “I know a landscaping company.”

When my firm started experimenting in social media it was an unimportant sideline. Now it’s the third or fourth biggest source of traffic to our website and posts routinely get hundreds of views. It’s certainly not our most important marketing tool. But it’s gaining in importance all the time and the potential is unlimited. In the second quarter of 2016, Facebook had 1.7 billion active users and as many as a third of all people get their news first from social media. It’s not going away any time soon.

If your law firm does decide to build social media platforms, you should adopt a strategic approach. Here are five top tips.

Five Tops Tips for Using Social Media as a Law Firm

1 Decide Which Social Media You Should Concentrate on

Unless you have unlimited resources, you won’t have the time to establish a comprehensive presence  on all social media platforms. Decide on your main platforms and devote most of your resources to one or two. You can develop others at a later stage.

Facebook remains the most popular of social medias and the one it makes the most sense to have a  presence on. We also devote considerable resources to producing and posting videos on YouTube. Given that YouTube is owned by Google it makes sense to set up your channel and post videos regularly. YouTube videos show up in Google searches and Google is as dominant in the world of search engines as Facebook is in social media.

Consider the strengths and weaknesses of each social media and consider what people want to see. For example, LinkedIn is a lot more business-orientated than Facebook. This is a good social media for developing contacts and possibly getting referrals from other lawyers. It’s not the social media to post lots of pictures of the partner’s dog on.

People often ask me about Google+, the social network that was set up by Google to rival Facebook, but ultimately failed. I believe it is important to have a presence on Google+ but not because anyone will see your content. Rather, it sends the right signals to Google. And don’t forget to verify your Google My Business listing and seek out reviews. These are golden.

2  Don’t Treat Social Media Posts Like Ads

If you have a social media site, one of the worst things you can do is to treat is like a platform for TV ads or a place to bombard people with legal material. Some of our most popular forms of content are pictures of office staff having birthdays, their children or attorneys doing very un-attorney like things. Tag people in the posts and you’ll generate interest, shares ,and comments.

Educational posts are also great things to run on social media and may be shared. These can relate more closely to your practice. Examples can include safe walking to school tips or how to strap children into car seats.

There are also a variety of feeds you can use to vary up your content that may have little to do with your practice areas. If an important football game is taking place, think about how you can tailor your content to the game everyone is talking about. Use humor and post memes now and again.

3 Use Social Media to Promote Your Own Content

Having a social media presence is far more important if you can drive people to your own website or even to another social media channel like YouTube. You need to create your own content and share it on social media. If you get traffic to your website from a social media site, it may boost your website’s ranking with the search engines.

The proviso here is that content on your website should generally be related to your practice area. You shouldn’t be posting all of your immigration or family law blogs because your Facebook page will quickly become dull. One method we have used to drive people from social media to our website is to have competitions . People won’t mind being directed to your website if they think they will win something. It’s a win for you too because you will be boosting your site and hopefully capturing their information.

You can keep the narrative going by announcing the winners on social media and even posting a video of the drawing.

4 Be Ethical

The fact you are posting material onto a more informal platform is no reason to forget about the ethics a law firm has to abide by. Check with your local state bar association to establish the rules. In Virginia, for example, there are rules that require a lawyer to maintain a client’s confidences and secrets. You should be very wary about posting anything about a client until a case is settled and, even then, you should obtain the client’s permission.

There are also rules about misrepresentation that can get an attorney in trouble. If, for example, he or she makes a friend request to a potential client in order to solicit their business, the lawyer may fall foul of the state bar.

Advertising rules are as pertinent on social media as anywhere else. It’s one thing to blog about a case result (providing you meet the disclaimer requirements) and to post a link to the blog on social media. But you can’t make subjective comments like boasting you are the best in your field.

Also avoid using social media to vent your frustrations about a court case or another attorney and steer clear of politics and religion.

5 Consider Paid Promotions and Review Analytics

Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have increasingly moved toward a “pay to play” model.  Businesses won’t get the organic exposure they received two years ago. Although this may be an irksome development, social media advertising is still very cheap compared to Google Adwords and it’s a quick way to build your following and to target the people you want to reach. Facebook has very sophisticated targeting tools.

As well as promoting posts or considering limited advertising spends, you should regularly check analytics to see which kinds of posts are working and which are not.  This will allow you to develop a more sophisticated social media strategy and to concentrate on what works best for your brand.

 

Ten Top Tips for An Effective Law Firm Blog

Lawyers tend to be fastidious people. They would not be successful in what they do without a keen attention to detail. Appearance is also important to attorneys. When you show up in court, you want to look your best. How can a judge or jury respect your expert opinion, if you don’t respect your own wardrobe?

In saying that many law firms fail to take the same approach to their websites. I still find websites out there that are the equivalent of 1974 in fashion sense. They are wearing facial hair and flairs and look dated. Of course, in terms of web technology you don’t need to look like 1974 to be dated. Looking like 2008 will do the trick.

I’m still struck by the number of lawyers I meet who are not putting new content on their websites. They may have paid a company such as FindLaw a large sum of money to develop their website two years ago and it’s now just out there gathering dust. And they are wondering why the leads are falling off.

blogger

Many lawyers are suspicious about blogging and the addition of new content to their website. Attorneys are busy people who have little time to blog and when they do they can make the mistake of writing the kind of ‘insider’ content that would interest other lawyers like themselves, but be of little interest to potential clients or the general public. They may also be suspicious of hiring writers and researchers to help them, even though it’s a lot quicker and easier for them to review content and make additions than to write it from scratch. There are many reasons why your law firm or any other small business will benefit from regularly posted blog content.

A law firm blog is one of the most effective and cost effective ways to promote your business. If it’s done right it can drive traffic to your website at a fraction of the cost of a pay-per-click campaign, it can increase your client base and establish you as an authority in your field. Occasionally, blogs can have a direct result. In any given year a small number of blogs I write about auto accidents, have led directly to sign ups from people who have searched for the name or the name of a family member. The same can be true with crime blogs.

Here are 10 tips for an effective law firm blog.

1 Write your Blog to Meet your Customer’s Needs. You may be very happy about the fact you have just received an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell, but your potential clients won’t. Not only have they probably never heard of Martindale Hubbell but they are more interested in finding out how long their bankruptcy proceedings will take, whether they are eligible for workers’ compensation, whether they will lose their home in their divorce or whether they can make a claim against a trucking company for their injuries.

2 Answer the Question. If your potential client wants to know how long he has to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in North Carolina, write a blog titled ‘How Long Do I Have to Bring a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in North Carolina?’ However, you should vary up the FAQs. The more you have out there on your website, the more likely you will get an exact match with a potential client’s question. If he or she likes your answer, you are more likely to get a call.

3 Be Local. There are a number of outsourced cookie-cutter writing services there that will deliver generic blogs for you. Some of them may be written by services in places such as India which will deliver vanity phrases and links that can harm your website. A few years ago, it was easier to get onto the first page of a Google search by stuffing your content with phrases such as “Atlanta personal injury lawyer.” Today a series of complex algorithm changes means Google will penalize this kind of writing. You need to be writing about real issues and events in your local community in the way your community newspaper would have done in years gone by. It will resonate with the local people you want to get as clients as well as the search engines. If you are supporting a charity or doing community work, blog it.

4 Develop a Blogging Style. You should develop a consist form of writing that’s not overly formal. A blog is the human face of your business and you may develop a fan base among people who know you. If you are hiring a writer, he or she should get to know you and your style and write accordingly. Throttle back on the sales pitch. I usually find a subtle call to action at the foot of a blog will suffice for the sales pitch.

5 Be Substantial. A word count of about 400 will help your blog to be found online. If it’s longer than this, you should consider breaking it up into categories.

6 Post Regularly. It stands to reason that the more content you have out there, the more likely potential clients will find your blogs. There’s not a lot of consensus about how often you should blog but you should post blogs regularly because if you are creating a steady stream of writing and it stops, it will look as if you are out of date or don’t care about your online appearance. Aim for at least one blog a week but two or three is better.

7 Use Visuals. It’s an increasingly visual age so why are we still inundating people with blocks of text? As a former newspaper reporter, I’m painfully aware of how the younger generation gets its media in a different way than we used to. Many people in the younger generation will watch the video of a news story rather than reading the text. So embed a video in your blog. There’s nothing wrong with a video of the attorney saying almost the same thing as he is saying in the blog. And use original photographs and illustrations too. There are also a number of infographic services that can give you a different kind of blog.

8 Plan your Content. Consider planning content six months or even a year ahead. This will allow you to blog for seasonal trends or events and to ensure you don’t run out of ideas.

9 Share. Putting your blog on your website is just the first step. This is useful and unique content that can also go on social media as well as blogs for legal directories to get your name out there. Make sure you have sharing buttons under your content and use a service such as HootSuite to send out content to a number of social media sites.

10. Monitor performance. Sites such as Google Analytics will allow you to check on which blog posts and terms are the most popular. This can guide you on what sort of blogs you should be writing in the future. You can also get an idea of the popularity of your content if it is shared on sites such as Facebook by the number of likes it receives.

Contact Veritas Legal Media at veritaslegalmedia@hotmail.com

Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm Change and Its Implications for Blogging

Over the last two years those folks at Google have been keeping bloggers busy with algorithm changes that effectively tear up the rulebook.

I should qualify that by saying there was no ‘rule book’ as such. Google tends to be cryptic with the information it releases. The rule, as they were accepted, were those developed by webmasters and writers themselves.

hummingbird

Bloggers had a good idea of how manipulate searches a few years ago which went along the lines of – stuff copy with key words, link like crazy and set up satellite sites that interlink to squeeze the most Google juice they possibly could from a piece of writing.

Google may have been big back then but it was a lot less sophisticated than it is now. Over the last few years it has developed algorithm changes intended to punish what it saw as ‘black hat’ tactics. This is in line with the development of Google+ which has increasingly meant reviewers are no longer able to hide behind a cloak of anonymity.

The algorithm changes came as a shock to many businesses which thought they were ahead of the curve. In 2011 Google came out with Panda which led to some websites being unexpectedly slapped by an extinction threatened Chinese bear.

A panda slap proved the be the death knell for some businesses which saw web traffic drop by as much as 50 percent.

In its algorithm change Google took aim at poor quality websites. It penalized, among other things, a high percentage of duplicate content, page content that failed to match search queries, high bounce rates, unnatural language, low quality in bound links, a lack of original content and so called “boiler plate” content on each page. I still encounter marketing gurus who have not caught up with Panda, who are still teaching the development of the perfect “boiler plate,” which is anchor text on each page.

Panda, pointed out Mark Nunney, was no ordinary change. Unlike previous realignments it contained very real penalties for those who crossed the “Panda Line.”

A year after Panda in April 2013, Google launched its Penguin algorithm change. It used a different set of criteria and aimed to target spamdexing including link bombing. Spamdexing comprises a number of methods, such as repeating unrelated phrases in an  attempt to manipulate the relevance or prominence of the product you are pushing.

Search Engine Land states Google launched Penguin to “better catch sites deemed to be spamming its search results, in particular those doing so by buying links or obtaining them through link networks designed primarily to boost Google rankings.”

Now Google has implemented Hummingbird  which targets key words. The message is key words are no longer important and content is key. Google will no longer even provide information to webmasters about which key words are driving traffic to their sites.

In an article about the algorithm change my former colleague Paul Hill of Content Marketing Institute writes : “Consider synonyms — the alternative words or phrases that describe what you do and that people might use, rather than focusing your content around an exact-match keyword.”

In a webinar on October 15 Tom Foster of Foster Web Marketing said the loss of key words would be a shock to some, but the overall effect would be a positive one.

“So should you panic? Is the zombie apocalypse upon us? Is this the end of SEO and web marketing as we know it? No
If anything, Google has come to the realization that people are not zombies and don’t use the internet like mindless, brain-eating, undead creatures.

“Don’t be mad at Google it’s  a natural evolution of what they are trying to do. They are trying to make a better product,” he said.

Danielle Ruderman, Director of Research and Development at Foster Web Marketing,  said the steady stream of algorithm changes highlights the importance of a diversified business strategy.

“If the majority of your business is from the search engines, you are a sitting duck. Do not rely on Google for all of your traffic,” she said.

But for now you ignore Google at your peril. Recent research shows it’s used in 67 percent of web searches. It’s not the only game in town but it’s the biggest player which means it gets to dictate who plays ball.

The fast-moving modern environment is littered with corpses – BlackBerry, MySpace and Alta Vista to name three. Google’s preeminence is unlikely to be permanent.

In running a market strategy you should always consider every eventuality and never put all of your eggs in one basket, be it Google, YouTube or social media. The next Google algorithm is unlikely to be called elephant and to trample on the rule book as we know it. But there’s nothing to stop Google doing it. Put simply Google may do it simply because it can.

David Macaulay is the marketing director of the Cooper Hurley Law Firm and the founder of Veritas Legal Media – veritaslegalmedia@hotmail.com