1. Thinking you don’t need an Internet presence.
I sing the praises of law firm marketing on the Internet here and in my book, How to Create a Big, Fat Pipeline of New Clients for Your Law Firm in Just 10 Days, so I won’t do so again, except to say that no matter what your practice area, you will gain benefit from an Internet presence. One reader of my book kindly left a review, giving the book 4 stars on Amazon. His only criticism of the book was that it would not work for all practice areas. Although I appreciated the overall positive review, I was saddened by the fact that he apparently did not absorb my message.
Practices such as family law, criminal law and personal injury no doubt get more direct work from a website than a more arcane practice area such as admiralty law, but regardless of the practice area, an Internet presence will help to establish you as an expert in the field, which will generate more clients and work.
Remember the old academic saying, “publish or perish”? That is a recognition of the fact that academic excellence is showcased via published articles. I just did a mental inventory of every obscure area of the law I could imagine, and I could not find one that would not be assisted through the publication of great articles. Even if you practice antenna zoning law, there is no reason to believe that publishing articles on the topic would not lead to work.
2. Putting all your marketing eggs in one website basket.
I recently came across an article, wherein the author stated that having multiple websites is a waste of time, and suggested that all of your efforts should be put into a single website for your law firm. The writer acknowledged that the multiple website approach may have worked at one time, but would not do so any longer due to Google’s algorithm.
I don’t know how self-proclaimed experts can come up with these theories, when all evidence is to the contrary. During the process of writing Pipeline, I wrote a chapter on creating a niche website by the simple use of a adjective. I used as an example adding the word “aggressive” to “trial attorney”, to create the domain name “aggressive trial attorney.com”. After writing that example, I decided it was so good that I would take it for myself. Reasoning that lots of potential clients call my office, complaining that their trial attorney is not “aggressive enough”, I thought that might be a good search term. I bought that domain name, and created a very simple website.
That basic website, which literally costs me nothing other than the $8 per year domain registration fee, routinely brings me work. And unlike most of my sites, which require some sort of geographical limitation in order to appear on page 1 of Google, that site comes up number one with just the search words aggressive, trial, and attorney. The same is true for Yahoo and Bing.
But here is the really interesting point. The website contains very little content, and uses the word “aggressive” only once. By all the so-called rules, Google should ignore it because it lacks content and is not keyword optimized. Yet Google offers it up as the number one search result, proving that Google does give weight to the domain name. This is supported by the fact that the number three search result (my firm also comes up number two) is an article on the evils of being aggressive, which uses the words “aggressive”, “trial” and “attorney” multiple times. These results would appear to indicate that Google is giving preference to the domain name over the keywords in the article.
Despite these results, I think it is generally true that Google does not place as much emphasis on domain names as search terms, but this example makes clear that there is no reason or advantage to putting all your eggs in a single website basket. If you are in a raffle with a total of 100 raffle tickets, are you more likely to win with one ticket or ten? Multiple quality niche websites simply provide a better opportunity to win the search engine raffle when a client is searching for an attorney. And never forget, for the reasons explained more fully in this article, while most people use Google for their Internet searches, and hence your SEO efforts should be directed at Google, Yahoo and Bing can still send you a lot of business. Those two search engines place tremendous emphasis on domain names.
And aside from all the SEO advantage of multiple niche sites, having more than one web site is smart for the very reason why “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” became a saying in the first place. If you accept the advice of the aforesaid author, and devote all your energies to a single site, your practice will be in a world of hurt if your single site goes down or Google decides to de-index it.
3. Not “niching down” enough.
Repeat visitors to this site will hear this as a broken record, but in case you are a newbie, the single most important factor in getting to page one of the search results is to niche down your practice area sufficiently. I see personal injury attorneys who create a beautiful website with a good domain name, but the site never gains any traction because the attorney is marketing himself as exactly that – a personal injury attorney. That’s too broad, and makes it next to impossible to distinguish yourself. Go to the following link for my article on how to pick a niche practice area.
4. Taking ‘low-tech” marketing out of the mix.
Don’t get so enamored with Internet marketing that you forget basic networking.
I don’t devote a lot of time to one-on-one networking because I view it as a poor return on investment. Some of my websites and website articles receive thousands of hits per month. Thus, by spending an hour or so drafting an article, I at least have the potential of receiving thousands of readers if I’m lucky with my selection of keywords. Now, take that same hour and spend it at a chamber of commerce meeting. Let’s assume it’s a big Chamber of Commerce, with 100 members in attendance. Now let’s assume, out of those 100 members, 10 of them are so impressed with my elevator speech that they actually remember who I am and what I do. Out of those 10, how many are likely to encounter someone who would be in need of my legal services?
But, with all of that said, one good networking contact can be an evergreen source of business. The moral of the story is to invest your time in efficient forms of networking. This is also another example of why a niche practice is so important. Although my firm has a few different areas of practice, when I network, I only promote one. If I tried to promote our business litigation practice, the person with whom I’m networking probably knows a dozen other attorneys who practice that area of the law. But when I tell them my primary practice area is defamation law, I find that in most instances I am the first attorney they have ever met who specializes in that area of the law, and that makes me memorable.
5. Failing to leverage the clients you have.
Clients won’t know to promote you, unless you ask them to do so. Generally, people like to help people, and if they view you as a valuable resource, they will be more than happy to tell others about the great job you did.
I am frequently retained by doctors to address false reviews that have been posted about them online. In one particular case, a doctor retained me in the morning, and by close of business that day I had managed to persuade the person who posted the false review to take it down. Achieving such an amazing result in just a few hours is atypical, but as you can imagine the doctor was very impressed. I sent him a stack of business cards, and asked him to please pass them along to any other doctors who might find themselves in the same position.
That doctor became a steady source of new business. As it turned out, he is active or in the medical community, and the issue of false online reviews is a hot topic. Whenever he hears a doctor lamenting the impact of a false review, he sends them to me.
6. Failing to go where the clients are.
I need to be much better about this myself, but in this instance, do as I say and not as I do.
Think of the Internet as consisting of the various disparate tribes. Some spend all their time on Facebook, others rely on YouTube, while others do traditional Internet searches and read blog articles. If your only presence on the Internet is websites and blog articles, then you will completely miss the Facebook and YouTube tribes.
I recently had a problem with the ice-maker in my refrigerator. The ice-maker was still going through the process, but it would not fill with water, and hence was not producing any ice. I did an Internet search for an ice-maker repair person, and soon a technician was standing in front of my refrigerator. My refrigerator is a built-in, and the technician could not figure out how to remove the grill to get to the inner workings. (Not very confidence inspiring.) He pulled out his iPad and did a search on YouTube to find an instructional video. Ironically, I had followed the same process in an attempt to fix the ice-maker myself before calling the technician.
YouTube is becoming the repository of all human knowledge. Your brilliant blog articles will do nothing to win the new clients that are going to YouTube to research their legal questions. I recently heard an interview with an attorney who has posted dozens of videos on YouTube, which have doubled the number of calls to his office.