Today, for every professional and business, having a web site is as important as having a phone number, so if you are a lawyer or work for a law firm and you do not have a web site, you are missing tons of potential clients. Search engines are the main entry point for those individuals searching for lawyers on the Internet. About 1 million people search for lawyers every month only in Yahoo!, and if you consider that Yahoo! is only the second player in the search engines market share, we could say that about 3 million searches for lawyer and law firm are performed every month only in the top 3 search engines (Google, Yahoo! and MSN). But who is getting that crowd looking for lawyer every month? Well, if you don’t have a website, well, is not you!
Now that you understand how important is to show your practice online, let me give you some suggestions to help you get some clients on Internet, is not easy, and you have to be patient, but you won’t regret. A huge crowd is out there looking for professional lawyers, let them find you.
The obvious first step: Create a website
Having a website is not very complicated, and not very expensive. There are lots and lots of good freelancer web developers out there, you don’t need to hire one for a full time positions, a website for a lawyer or law firm does not need to be very fancy and will not need huge amounts of information, so it cannot be really expensive. Look for someone who has experience and if you can find someone who has worked for other lawyers, that would help.
Avoid a very fancy design and Flash animations, yes, they look very good, but they will not help you to get new clients, search engines are allergic to Flash based content. I have to be honest, I really like Flash, and I use it a lot, but when it comes to search engines, Flash in not a good choice.
Maybe the most important aspect you have to consider when creating your web site is SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If your website is not user and search engine friendly you are only wasting time and money because you won’t get any client if no one can find your website, so find a web developer with experience in SEO. It is weird but, web developers with a high understanding of SEO are not easy to find, maybe because it takes a lot of research, patience and testing and has sometimes little or nothing to do with development. If you cannot find a web developer with a good understanding and experience with SEO, you can have a SEO company or advisor working with your developer, but be careful, there are SEO companies or advisors who promise the first place in search engines and you should know, no one can guarantee a top placement in Search Engines Result Pages (SERPS) since no SEO company or advisor has control over search engines. Ask for results, not for promises.
If you already have a website and you are not getting any client online, you should have a SEO company or advisor to take a look at your website, they will give a diagnosis on how you can improve the exposure of you website.
I’ll publish another article about SEO for lawyers, so I won’t get really deep on that this time.
Step two: Keep your site fresh
I’ve hear a lot SEOs saying “Content is king” and in the world of search engines that is like Harry Potter’s magic wand, so keep your site fresh by adding new content on a regular basis. Post articles in your website, post news about legal topics, write about your experience and the cases you are working on. Search engines love new content and information, but they also hate duplicated content, so don’t be lazy, don’t copy content from other websites, your website could be penalized and thrown away from search engines indexes.
Step three: Subscribe to one or more lawyers directory
A huge part of that people looking for lawyers that I talk to you before is trapped by lawyer directories, they get the searchers and present them the members of the directory, so being listed on at least one lawyer directory will increase you exposure and will provide a few links to your site, which is very good.
Findlaw and Lawyers are the 9000 pound gorillas on the field, they have thousands of members and get a lot of traffic, obviously the more exposure you want within those sites, the more you have to pay, but that is an investment that will return for sure.
There are other lawyer directories that also get a lot of traffic and also offer a wide range of resources for lawyers, like Alllaw, Morelaw, Attorneyslocate, Expertlawyer.org, Lawcore, Lawinfo and many other that are specialized in specific legal topics. They are not really expensive and will get you some potential clients for sure.
There are 2 lawyer directories that are interesting, Attorneyslocate and Expertlawyers.org. Attorneyslocate offers a basic free listing for one year, you of course, you don’t get as much exposure as paying members, but it is a good place to start at no cost. On the other hand Expertlawyers.org charges no fee for membership, they only ask for a link from your web site pointing to their site and you have to keep the link on your site or blog as long as you are a member, but you need an invitation from a someone who is already a member if you want to get listed, you can also apply without invitation. If you are an experienced lawyer or law firm, you will probably be accepted. As they don’t charge any fee to members, they give more exposure to top contributors of the site, writing articles, legal news, keep your profile updated, invite other to join the site, forum postings and helping other members will increase your exposure in Expertlawyers.org.
There are a lot more things you can do to increase your exposure online, and guess I’ll have to write a second part of this article, but for now you have enough information to get started. If you have any question or need more information, just send me an email, I’ll gladly answer to any question.