Law Practice Today | November 2013 | The Internet Marketing Issue
November 2013 | The Internet Marketing Issue
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Google+: You, Your Law Firm and the Future of Search

By Gwynne Monahan

Google+ has been called a "ghost town." People exclaim "I don't get it," and promptly start talking about Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, networks they, at one point, also exclaimed "I don't get it" about. So here is what you need to understand about Google+: it is the future of search.

In January, Dave Llorens wrote a good piece for Fast Company that best explains how Google+ is the future of search. In the article, he says that "what makes Google Plus different is that it is the new backbone of a company that does search better than anyone already." Remember searching the Internet before Google? Remember searching for anything before the Internet? Think of the Dewey Decimal System. Or the search language you had to learn in order to find anything in LexisNexis. None of these methods were as simple as typing words into a search bar. The results you get when Googling something now are all forms of content:  videos, images, articles, blog posts, etc. And now, content posted or shared to Google+, be it a +1, comment, blog post, article, photo, what-have-you, gets indexed by Google. So what you share, comment on or +1 on Google+ plays a role in your search results, whether someone is searching for your name or your law firm.

To take full advantage of the future of search, however, you must do the following:

1.  Completely fill out your Google+ profile. Seriously. Fill. It. Out. Both your personal profile, the one you get automatically with a Gmail or Google Apps account, and the Google+ Business Page you create for your law firm. The quickest way for other users to determine whether you’re worth “circling” is by what’s in your profile. It should include where you work, where you live, a sentence or two on who you are, your dreams, aspirations, current projects, or whatever it is that interests you and thus makes you interesting.

2.  Share stuff. All kinds of stuff. Yes. All kinds of stuff, especially from your personal profile. What should you share? News articles. Photographs. Animated gifs. Observations. Jokes. What’s bothering you. What made your day. You just never know what will spark a conversation, so don’t limit yourself. You can be more strategic with your law firm Business Page, sharing articles you've written, firm news, charity events and the like. It all helps with search results.

3.  Share stuff publicly. This is deserving of its own mention because a lot of people don’t pay attention to the larger Google+ audience, instead choosing to share only with those in their Google+ Circles. When that happens, sharing is limited and perpetuates the ghost town perception. So unless you are having a private conversation, check “Public” before sharing so that your content can be seen by a larger Google+ audience.

4.  Interact. Not by just sharing stuff, but by commenting on other posts, re-sharing or +1ing posts. It helps drive the conversation and keeps your name out there. Remember, the Internet is not a vacuum.

The Internet is not a vacuum, but it can certainly seem like it. Google+ suffered from a "ghost town" image partly due to one-sided conversations: people just sharing and not interacting. With the launch of Google+ Communities, things changed. I have found Google+ Communities invaluable, from a personal big data project to engaging conversations on legal technology or psychological theory, to learning more about knitting. Yes, knitting. Why? Because Google+ Communities gives me all the benefits of Twitter, like finding interesting things and interacting with people I probably wouldn’t otherwise, but it also gives me feedback and a level of interaction I wouldn’t expect from any kind of social networking platform. And that level of interaction can be targeted to specific audiences, some of which have yielded surprising results.

An early experience on the power of Google+ Communities came from the Psychology Community. Or, more specifically, the Strengths Finder 2.0 book review I shared with it. The surprising thing is that I’ve shared that review practically everywhere, with limited success on engagement. Sure, it got retweeted a few times, and I received some comments in my normal Google+ and the StrengthsFinder Google+ Community. It really struck a nerve with the Psychology Community, though, and that’s the big benefit of Google+ Communities: tight target audiences.

Google+ provides you all the benefits of the other social networks, like networking, information sharing and the like, while also improving your search results for you, and your law firm. Posting and interacting on Google+ sets you up to take advantage of the future of search now, instead of racing to catch up later. Through Communities, you can engage with your target audience in a way that is either tricky on other networks, or simply not possible.

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About the Author

Gwynne Monahan is a writer and editor of Clio's Small Firm Innovation, a blog written by and for solo and small firm lawyers. She can be reached at her Twitter handle, @econwriter5.

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