Category Archives: Uncategorized

Starting Your Own Law Firm – 5 Things to Do From a Marketing Perspective

At Internet LAVA, LLC, we have build websites and internet marketing strategies for law firms across the United States. We have noticed several mistakes that lawyers make when starting their practice that become harder to fix as time passes. Get these steps right before you open your doors and you will reap the benefits throughout the rest of your career.

Just ask anyone that works at Internet LAVA, LLC. When we start to build the website for the attorney or law firm, from a marketing perspective, we appreciate it when lawyers get these five steps right.

1. Phone Number – Once you select your law firms phone number, that phone number should never change. Pay extra for a phone number that is easy to remember and has advance call forwarding features. That way, you can forward the calls to your main office’s phone number during regular business hours or an answering service during after-hours. Select a local phone number with advance call forwarding features that you will keep for your entire career.

2. The Law Firm’s Address – Ideally, the law firm’s address would never change. When you open your practice your address will be entered on hundreds of website. Changing your address also means changing the information on all of those websites so that individuals searching for you online will find the right address. Think carefully about the location you choose and the options for growing at that same location. Also, make sure you are consistent in the way you list your address so that there are not several variations of that same address found online. If you open an office at a second location, make sure you also select another local phone number that will forever be associated with that second address.

3. The Name of the Law Firm – When choosing the name of your law firm, the goal should be choosing a name that is simple, unique and will not change over time. Adding the name of every partner presents problems for internet marketing efforts. Although the partners like to see their last name in the name of the firm, it might be better to pick a name that doesn’t change over time as partners come and go.

4. Select a URL for Your Law Firm’s Website – Like your phone number and address, the URL of your law firm’s website is an important part of the firm’s identity. Think of the URL as an address in cyberspace. Another good analogy is that the URL is the foundation of your website, just like you have a foundation on a house. You don’t want to move the foundation. Ideally, the URL would never change. Choose the shortest URL and avoid using the names of the partners in the URL. The only exception to this rule is if you are starting a solo practice and do not intend to have partners in the future. Also, select the shortest URL possible and one that is easiest to remember. Talk with your internet marketing company about the best names to choose for your URL. In many cases, it might be better to purchase an existing and more desirable URL instead of trying to come up with a new one that is available at no additional cost.

5. Take Pictures – They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. That is true when it comes to building a website for an attorney. Your ideal clients want to see what you look like. They want to see pictures of each attorney, the office (both inside and outside), your staff, the waiting area and your conference room. Pictures help the potential client feel comfortable with you and your practice. Pictures encourage your potential client to pick up the phone to schedule a consultation. If possible, avoid using any stock photos on your website. Hire a professional photographer and take plenty of professional photographs. Take additional pictures every few years and use those pictures in your marketing efforts. Tell the photographer to take pictures with the wider end of the camera’s zoom. The wider zoom photos give your website design team more options in cropping the photos to use on your website.

Conclusion

Although these steps sound simple, you really can’t go wrong by getting these steps right from the beginning. When you start your law firm, think about it from a marketing perspective and you will save yourself time, money and frustration. Plus, your marketing design company will appreciate the fact that you got these five steps right from the start.

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How Attorneys Should Respond to Negative Reviews on Google Local Business Listing

When an frustrated former clients posts a negative review about a law firm, seeing that review on your Google Local Business Listing can be devastating. The local business listings on Google Places are perhaps the most important marketing tool available to attorneys because it will inevitably show up first when anyone “Googles” the name of the attorney or the law firm.

At Internet LAVA, our website design and internet marketing company has an easy solution – worry more about an effective on-line presence and then you will worry less about one negative review. In fact, one negative review can actually increase the credibility of other positive reviews. Your ideal client is less likely to trust a series of glowing reviews without seeing at least one isolated negative review.

Don’t Try to Remove a Negative Review on Google Places

Yes, Google Places does have a process for asking for a misleading or inaccurate negative review to be removed from a law firm’s local business listing. However, don’t even think about it. Our experience has been that once the review is removed, the listing gets penalized and loses its rankings for at least 6 months. If you are worried about one negative review then keep in mind that eventually positive reviews will minimize the impact of one negative review.

Update: In August of 2010, Google Places now allows law firms and other businesses to respond to both positive and negative reviews. Interacting with the prior client who shared their opinion about the law firm is a great way to let your potential clients know that you care about the feedback. However, attorneys must be very careful not to violate any rights to confidentiality. Although this is an interesting option for a hotel owner or a cupcake maker, attorneys are probably better off not responding to a negative review.

How Law Firms Should Respond to a Negative Review – Forget About It – Blog article with informational videos produced by Yelp.com with advice to business owners worried about a negative review.

On-line Reputation Management for Attorneys – Read more from Internet LAVA about how we help our clients manage their on-line reputation through a strong internet presence that begins with a powerful, effective website.

How Law Firms Should Respond to a Negative Review – Forget About It

What happens when a client post a negative review of your law firm on-line? If you already have an effective internet presence, the best response may be – “Forget about it.” Just to impress upon you how import these reviews are becoming, consider the fact that Yelp has produced a serious of videos on the topic of what business owners should do if they receive a negative review on Yelp.

On Negative Reviews…

Business Owner Advice – Frank & Paul explain how to respond to a negative review on Yelp

Business Owner Advice: How do you respond to your Yelp reviews? (Jeff D.)

At Internet LAVA we focus on internet marketing and website design exclusively for attorneys. That focus allows us to stay current on emerging technologies that work best for law firm marketing. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss how you can achieve your goals. Read our free guide to learn more about why attorneys and law firms should used social and business profiles to provide positive information about the legal services they provide.

Tags on Google Places for Law Firms – What Are You Waiting For?

Law Firm Internet Marketing SEO Local MapsThe minute that the tags came out for the Local Business Listings on Google Places, we called all of our clients to tell them why they should sign up immediately for tags. As soon as our clients gave us the go ahead, we added the tags which allows our clients to sponsor their Google maps listing.

For $25 a month, Google will place a nice yellow marker tag next to your listing. As soon as we began signing our clients up for the tags we saw there rankings jump up within 24 hours. The tags even show up on Google Maps and mobile phones! As mobile phone marketing becomes more and more important – tags are one of the most important factors in “mobile phone” SEO.

One of the keys to ranking high on Google is thinking about what Google wants your business to do – what would Google do? By creating the tags in the first place Google wanted all of the owners of the local business listings to sign up. After all – the company wants to make a profit.

So we do what Google wants – especially when it is free. And we do it before everyone else catches on. Our clients with the tags were the first attorneys in town to sign up for this service. And by the time the other attorneys in town figure it out, our clients will be leading the way on the next new trick Google wants us to use.

Watch this video produced by Google – it explains it all.

What are Tags on Google Places for Local Business Listings

When advertising your law firm on Google, the local business listings called “Google Places” are the single best value for your advertising dollar – because it is free! Your ideal clients are already searching Google looking for an attorney to handle their specific legal problem.

By creating a free business listing with Google Places for your law firm, you can help your ideal clients find your law firm more easily. By simply adding a tag to your Google Places listing you can highlight particular info that you want your ideal customers to see (okay, that part will cost you a simply monthly flat fee of $25 a month – but we call that “nearly free”).

What can be highlighted? Your law firm can design the tag to highlight any of the following:

  1. Highlight a coupon for new customers (although coupons don’t really work for attorneys and law firm but you can customize the coupon to provide a “free legal guide” on the particular service that you want to highlight or the law firm’s monthly newsletter. Anything that you can give away for free that provides your potential clients with helpful information).
  2. Highlight a video about the services that you provide;
  3. A link to your website (for many of our clients we started with that link because when the client clicks on the link it takes them directly to the attorneys main website).
  4. Highlight “posts” on your Place Page from your business (posts are the status updates that can link to any page deep within your website);
  5. Highlight photos of your business.

At Internet LAVA we are in the process of testing each of the different options to see which are more beneficial for our clients. As we gather more information, we are beginning to adjust the tags to provide our clients with the biggest benefit to make sure their local business listing on Google maps really stands out from the competition. Watch Google’s video on the specific tag types.

We have noticed that small changes can make a huge difference in the number of calls our clients receive from their ideal clients. And since are clients are the only law firms right now benefiting from the tags – our clients are enjoying every minute of it. Many of the attorneys have called us to ask – “Are you kidding? Why are we the only ones doing it? Thanks for telling us about this – we love it!”

Do Tags Affect Search Results Rankings?

Although Google claims that the “tags do not affect search result rankings” we know that they affect something because we have seen our clients rankings jump up several spots within 24 hours of adding the tags. Perhaps, the numbers of hits to the local business listings control a part of the search rankings determination and by adding the tags you are affecting that part of the equation. Or maybe the keywords that you can add to the tag somehow affect the search ranking equation. We don’t know why it works – but we know through “reverse engineering” that it works.

Watch a Google’s video to learn more about Tags.

Although You CAN Cancel Anytime – You Should NEVER Cancel

In order to sign up and add your law firm’s tag it takes less than 5 minutes. You will need a valid credit card. Go to your law firm’s Google Places Dashboard and click on the “Create Tag” link to get started. But once you sign up – don’t let anything happen to that credit card. The fine print of the contract says that Google can delete your entire business listing if you let the payment lapse. So once you sign up, you need to pay that $25 as long as it is still an option.

While Other Attorneys Pay Per Click – Our Clients are Tagged

Take a look at all of the attorneys that are paying thousands of dollars a month in pay per click. Yet, no one has told them about how they can pay $25 a month to have a tag next to their local business listings. Which is the better value?

Well, you can pay thousands of dollars a month for pay per click and be in the sponsored listings section. Of course, most of your ideal clients are going to be drawn to the 7 business with the nice map next to it. And of those 7 businesses, most of your ideal clients are going to be drawn to that one business with the nice yellow tag next to it that says – “Visit Our Website.” And the tag only costs $25 per month.

Read more about the mistakes made by attorneys using pay per click advertising and the benefits of more targeted niche advertising.

Google Places – What Else Am I Missing?

When we begin representing a new client one of the first things we do is revamp their local business listing. We are amazed at how many attorneys do not take advantage of the free resources available to them. What do attorneys miss when they do the local business listing themselves?

  1. Adding the tag (as discussed above);
  2. Adding “a post to your place page” which acts much like a Facebook status update and it allows you to link to an interior page on your website;
  3. Adding one standard category, and 4 other categories customized to the attorneys practice (instead of just using 5 standard categories);
  4. Taking advantage of the service areas and location settings to show your client’s which jurisdictions you practice in;
  5. Adding at least 5 photographs which are properly tagged (in other words you can name each photograph and it doesn’t hurt to use the same key words in those tags that you used when creating your custom categories); and
  6. Adding at least 2 videos which are properly optimized using the keywords that should match your custom categories).

Although we provide a lot of free information here about how to optimize your Google Business Listing, we also keep the best and newest tips for our clients. If your law firm is paying per click and not taking advantage of EVERY other advertising option Google has available, then your internet marketing provider just does not have your best interest in mind.

Internet LAVA – Stay Way Ahead of the Curve

At Internet LAVA we pride ourselves on staying ahead of the curve. By taking advantage of every new option available for internet marketing, we help our clients rank at the top. We welcome your calls for a free consultation.

During the free consultation, we will take you on a free tour of what your ideal clients find when they begin their search for an attorney on-line. We will also show you how your current marketing budget could be redirected to provide you with a much better and immediate return on investment.

Topics: Mobile Phones SEO for Law Firms, Google Places Tags for Attorneys, SEO for Local Business Listings, Pay Per Clicks