Once you have some content pieces in place, and an e-mail sign-up list ready for subscribers, it’s time to campaign for new people to interact with your web presence. As an attorney you’re going to want to focus on the local market since those are most likely your potential clients. Browse through the web sites of the local newspapers in your area. Chances are you will find a way to submit an article about your business, since every paper has some sort of “what’s happening in the area” feature. In my local area in south Florida, examples would be http://www.tcpalm.com/forms/submit.html or http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sfl-business-event-form-htmlstory.html or http://events.miamiherald.com/.
Those local listings are ideal if you are giving a talk or lunch seminar somewhere in town that the public is invited to attend, or if you are having a small party or function when opening or expanding your practice. Hopefully you will be able to slip in your web site address in the contact info when submitting a listing. Any articles about your business that appear in a newspaper’s web site are favored by Google as being more credible and rank higher, so its also good for SEO purposes. Of course, while your browsing those web sites, look for any general business directories the newspaper partners with, so that you can add your listing there too.
Although Craigslist is most associated as a source of classified ads for personal items and job searching, don’t forget that each local area on Craigslist has its own legal services section. My local south Florida section would be at http://miami.craigslist.org/lgs/ for example. You might notice that the law firms that do use Craigslist publish their free ads regularly because they expire after a few weeks, and many firms include graphics and maps in their ads.
Google has a variety of ways to help you get your law firm noticed in its search engine, mostly in the hopes that you will be impressed enough to buy some Google Adwords to further increase your exposure. To get a nice overview straight from Google, you can go through their “Get Your Business Online” site, which is tailored for each state. My home state Florida is at http://www.gybo.com/florida/resources but you can easily pick your own state at the bottom of the page.
In an effort to compete with all the other business directories and Facebook, Google really wants you to have a Google+ page, and https://plus.google.com/+GoogleBusiness/posts will show you how your page is the root of your Google marketing efforts. Because Google will pull your information from your Google+ page when it displays your info on the other Google sites, it’s worth the effort to beef up your Google+ page. This way you can optimize your listing that viewers will eventually see in the Google+ Local directory or the map that will appear in search result listings. You can see from a typical law firm Google+ page at https://plus.google.com/+JRLawFirm how such a page looks like a merger of the Pinterest-style curation pages we looked at in an earlier lesson, and a business card site.
Not a Google+ fan? Google will even show you at https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/146861?hl=en how you can put your business info in the code of your web sites, in what it calls “rich snippets”, so that Google will know where to look for your business information, even if its on your web site instead of your Google+ page.
When you’ve completely had enough of Google for a while, there are many other business directories that you can offer your business profile to. Head on over to https://moz.com/local/search and input your law firm name and zip code. The site will go through many business directories and conveniently let you know what listings it found and what your contact information looks like from those sites, so you can go edit them if you need to. It will also let you know which directories it could not find a listing for you at, and it provides you with a submission link to each of those sites, so you can add your firm to any of those sites.
A great way to increase your web presence for local business is to simply google your own name or the name of your law firm. In the first page of results, see what directories already list you. Since these are the directories that people are already seeing when they Google your name, you may well go to those directories and add more substance to your listings. Of course, if they look too spammy, like those sites that quickly and repeatedly start asking for money to provide “detailed reports” on you and your business, feel ignore to ignore those sites. Hopefully those extra web sites you created in the earlier lessons of this course will get found by Google and help bump those spammy guys off your first page results!
A much more detailed guide to examining all the local factors you can tweak can be found at http://moz.com/blog/top-20-local-search-ranking-factors-an-illustrated-guide. There are certainly a lot of tips there to work on, and that’s only touching on the local part of SEO. In the next lesson we’re going to move away from strictly local efforts, and look at some ways you can directly offer your legal expertise and networking savvy to help promote yourself.