Marketing Your General Practice Firm Online
It used to be that all a local law firm had to do to get noticed and drive potential clients to their door was to advertise in the local newspaper or Yellow Pages directory. Year after year, the firm would place what was often a costly print ad around the same time and typically in the same publications. To change things up, they might consider adding new graphics, moving the location, or increasing the ad size if they had the money. They would then wait for new clients to call or come knocking on their door—assuming, of course, the ad was actually viewed or found by potential clients in the first place.
The Internet has changed everything. Today the Internet is the medium of choice for consumers seeking out products and services they can buy in their locality. This has opened up new marketing opportunities for local businesses, such as general practice law firms. They can now market their products and services online to an audience ready to buy. Research confirms that local consumers more often convert into buying customers. For clients seeking out a particular product or service, they get highly relevant search results—specific to their search inquiry—and not a lot of irrelevant listings from outside their geographic area. According to global Internet information provider, comScore, Inc., 47 percent of local searchers visited a local merchant as a result of their online search.
Most local law firms want local clients because they service a geographic area, city, or specialty and are looking to attract most of their new clients from that region or from that universe of clients seeking that specialty.
Connecting With Potential Clients
Although legal–related businesses are one of the top five topics consumers search for on the Internet every single day, the trick to connecting with these potential customers, involves a successful online marketing strategy that helps improve the ways these local firms can be found online. New "local" search engines target their message for the customer that is conducting a search by providing these businesses with the right keywords and search phrases to pull these customers to their website. For example, a prospective client might type in lawyers+adoptions+Southern California to get a list of law firms who handle adoption matters in the southern California geographic area. If you’re a law firm specializing in medical malpractice or DWI cases, you probably won’t turn up in the adoption search (nor would you want to), but you should turn up (and want to) in searches for your area of expertise. That’s why using highly specific targeting and the right keywords and search phrases on your firm website can help you pull prospective clients to your site and your front door.
The concept is setting up your website to facilitate the search engine delivering highly relevant search results to the searching customer. The more relevant results enable users to find the products and services they seek in the particular region or locale where they want them delivered.
For the search provider, facilitating local search for any business involves providing efficient search algorithms and solid local web indexing technologies that can help connect the searching customer to the company. For a general practice firm, specifically, here’s how it all breaks down:
- Determining who your target client is; what type of service they are looking for. A common mistake made by law firms is targeting too broad an audience. Instead, they should focus on markets they would like to represent, are best known within, and in which they are likely to already have an established brand. Although you may specialize in many areas of general practice, you may want to consider which services are the most important to your firm’s long-term growth strategy or that may attract your target client to your site where you can then introduce them to your complete line of services.
- Determine the keywords these potential clients use when trying to find a firm in their area. You should then fill your website (you should have one) with these keywords and make these words part of your core marketing blueprint. Some popular keywords used by general practice law firms include: general practice, accident and personal injury law, bankruptcy, business law, family law, estate planning, insurance law, litigation, real estate, criminal law, immigration, and tax law.
- Add fresh content to your website regularly. This includes information on services offered, educational resources or support, community events or sponsorships you may be participating in, press clips, or newsletters. You could also add blogs or educational discussion forums for current clients, but that will also open the lines of communication with potential clients who may be reviewing your website and considering your services. You could even create a call to action and give prospective clients a reason to interact with you.
- Make it easy for your firm to be found by leveraging the marketing tools offered by your local search engine provider to improve your online marketing presence. One way is to sign up for online listing services that offer flexibility and cost–effective marketing. By doing this, you can more effectively reach prospective customers. These services will allow law firms to:
- Be found by local consumers looking for their services
- Ensure that their business information is accurate and complete
- Instantly update their listings as their firm grows or changes
- Build back-links to assist with their search engine marketing efforts
- Cost effectively reach prospective clients
This is a significant benefit over traditional Yellow Pages advertising, which does not provide the flexibility to make instant changes because the directories are only published once per year.
Some of the local online advertising programs also guarantee that a businesses listing will appear at the top of the search results page in a specified category and region. This gives them the high visibility and marketing impact they need that is also cost effective. And best of all, it is less expensive to advertise using local search than traditional national search engines because the return on your investment is much higher when you are able to target your advertising dollars with the category and geographic location. You also get an audit trail to effectively measure the results of your marketing campaign.
As a result, general practice law firms with limited marketing dollars seeking effective ways to get noticed should consider implementing an online local search marketing strategy. There are a variety of opportunities that can help deliver local clients to their website and through their front door.
Jennifer Black is vice president of marketing for Local.com, a leading local search provider that attracts more than 10 million visitors each month seeking information on local businesses, products and services. Local.com offers "Local Promote™," a subscription-based online advertising service that enables local businesses—with or without a website—to quickly and easily target local consumers online by posting and updating information about their business at the top of the search results in their category and geographic region. For information about Local.com’s local search advertising opportunities, please call 888-857-6734 or visit www.local.com.
© Copyright 2008, American Bar Association.