Why I don’t obsess over SEO

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I take a rather relaxed approach to SEO. I pay attention to a few things like using keywords, but not at the expense of good writing, and by that, I mean writing that informs, persuades, inspires, and (at times) entertains.

I don’t study search engine optimization. I don’t hire consultants. And I don’t spend time contorting my posts to conform to arcane rules of the day.

Why?

First, I hate this kind of stuff. It’s boring. And frustrating. One day it’s this way, next week it’s something else.

Second, I don’t need to. Google is smarter than I am and they always find a way to figure out what I’m saying and who should read it. What they want more than anything is well-written, high quality information, and that’s what I try to give them.

A recent article over at the SearchEnginePeople.com blog, about five common SEO misconceptions, agrees that quality is king.

My favorite misconception is, “every headline needs a keyword.” I like this because I do try to include a well-searched keyword phrase in most of my headlines, but frankly, it often ruins an otherwise compelling headline.

Apparently, I can loosen up on the reins a bit. “If you can add a niche keyword in there, then all the better but don’t make that the be all and end all of your headline writing… A captivating headline brings click-throughs, links social shares and more traffic.”

There is a trade-off between being found (keywords) and being clicked (benefit rich headline). Apparently, if we write clickable headlines and high quality copy, Google will send us people who want to read it.

Content marketing for attorneys: click here

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Networking and your legal marketing plan

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If you do it right, networking can become a cornerstone of your legal marketing plan and one of your biggest sources of new business and career opportunities. But it can also be time consuming. 

One way to get more out of your networking is to use it as a springboard to finding content for your blog or newsletter.

Interview people you meet through networking and post it on your blog or in your newsletter. Do a profile of them or their business or practice, or promote their cause.

They get exposure, traffic, and new clients or customers. Your readers learn valuable tips from these subject matter experts. You get content for your blog that may bring you more search engine traffic.

And you get the gratitude of your new networking partner.

Their gratitude may lead to good things for you. Or it may not. Not all of people you feature in your interviews will reciprocate by interviewing you or sending you traffic or referrals. But some will.

These interviews can lead to other things. You can invite your networking partners to submit guest posts or articles for your blog or newsletter. You can explore other marketing joint ventures.

Go find some professionals, businesses, or vendors who sell to or write about your target market or community. You can find them online or in person. Reach out to them and ask questions about what they do. Then, ask for the interview. I can’t imagine anyone turning you down.

Wait, I’ll make it even easier for you. Start (this week would be good) by approaching someone you already know. Call your best referral source or business client and tell them you want to interview them.

What’s that? You don’t have a blog or newsletter? I guess you better start.

Learn how to create or grow a blog or website. Click here.

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Search terms for lawyers: let’s write another post together

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Time for us to write another blog post together. Like the previous one, this is designed to bring you search engine traffic for a high ranking search term.

Last time, we wrote a post optimized for, “What to ask a ________ lawyer”. You filled in the blank with your practice area. Today, we’re going to write a post optimized for another oft searched phrase, “How to find a good __________ attorney”.

Remember to use this phrase in your title and body of your post. It’s also good to add the phrase to the post’s meta data. I use a wordpress plug-in for that.

For the content of the post, I suggest providing two basic recommendations for finding a lawyer in your practice area:

(1) Referrals. Tell readers to ask someone they trust for a referral. This could be another lawyer, an insurance agent, accountant, doctor, business owner, or other professional. It could also be someone who might have hired an attorney in your field. Provide a few questions to ask about the attorney, especially why they recommend them.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “why suggest that they ask people for a referral that might lead the visitor to another attorney”? Because it’s good advice. Because your post is providing objective information prospective clients need to know. Because when someone reads this, they are on your site, where they can see what you do and all of the reasons why they should choose you. And because this post is what brings prospects to your site who might otherwise not find you.

Add some criteria for selecting an attorney in your field, referred or otherwise. Provide questions to ask that attorney, and things to look for on their site, i.e., background, and so forth. See my previous post for recommendations.

(2) Search. Visitors are on your site most likely because of a search. So, endorse what they did to get there by providing a list of additional search terms for lawyers in your practice area.

Again, being helpful.

Might visitors take those terms and go find other attorneys? Yes. But they might do that anyway. They also might see that you are helpful and confident and know what you’re doing, and choose you. They might go look at other attorney’s sites, see that they are not as helpful, and come back to you.

Remind readers that search is just a starting point and that they should investigate further using the same criteria you spoke about for referred attorneys.

If you have additional recommendations for finding and evaluating an attorney in your practice area, by all means add them, especially if you are strong in those areas. If you have a strong presence and lots of positive reviews on consumer rating sites, or a big social media following populated by lots of fans, you might want to say something about how this could be either a good starting point for a search, or a good way to validate that the attorney candidate is worthy of consideration.

You might want to explain why some ways of finding attorneys are not recommended. Directories, for example, are often paid listings (ads) and in any event, don’t provide enough information to make an intelligent decision.

Once this post is published, as with the previous post, write other posts on this subject, optimized for variations of your original search phrase. For example, “How to find a great ______ attorney,” “How to choose the right _______ attorney,” and “How do I select the best ______ attorney?”

For more ideas on blog posts and other content that brings traffic to your site, get your hands on Make the Phone Ring and learn, um, how to make your phone ring.

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How to write a blog without writing a blog

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I get it. You don’t have a lot of time to write a blog. Even once a week seems daunting. But you know that having content online is a great way to highlight your capabilities and draw traffic, and you’d like to find a way to make it work.

One way to do this is to let others do the writing for you.

You could have your partners, associates, and staff do some or all of it. You could hire a ghost writer. (They’re not expensive.) Or, you could let other professionals write guest posts. Let’s talk about this one, shall we?

One way to do this is have five or ten other lawyers, consultants, experts, accountants, and so on, who each contribute a post every other month. They get exposure for their practice or business, you get content.

Some of those other professionals will undoubtedly notify their clients, subscribers, and readers about their new post on your site, and provide a link to it, which gives you exposure to their contacts. Of course you can offer to provide guest posts on their blogs, too, if and when you have the time.

If you don’t have enough other professionals who want in on this deal, no problem. You can easily find professionals online who would love to get exposure to your readers. Reaching out this way is a great way of networking with potential referral sources.

One thing you might want to do is add your comments before, during (by interlineation), or after the guest post. In other words, you introduce the guest blogger and his or her post and add your thoughts about how the post applies to your practice area or clients. This should take you very little time and will add value and context to a post that might otherwise seem a bit off topic.

First, make sure you flesh out your blog with ten or twenty substantive posts, written by you, about your practice area. Why? Because it’s your blog and you want to show visitors what you know and do. Also, you’ll be able to link to this content in your comments to guest posts. For example, if you handle employment law and have a guest post by a psychologist writing about how to handle a difficult employee, in your addendum to that post, you can link to your article about the legal implications of what employers might say or do.

Okay, one more idea. Ask one of your guest-post team if you can interview them. Have them give you five or ten questions to ask them, in advance. Record and transcribe the interview and post it on your blog. Easy content.

Of course it’s just as easy to have them interview you for their blog.

For more ideas on how to write a blog, get this.

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Attorney marketing plan: time vs. money

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I talked to an attorney yesterday who wanted to drive more traffic to his website. A plan to get more traffic to your website, like any attorney marketing plan, comes down to a choice between time and money.

Here is a list of the more common (and acceptable) marketing options for attorneys who want to get more traffic:

MONEY

  • Advertising (PPC, display, offline, direct mail, radio, etc.)
  • Hire a PR firm to get you coverage, interviews
  • Self-hosted seminars
  • Hire people to ghost write content or assist you in writing content

TIME

  • Writing a blog
  • Guest posts and comments on other people’s blogs
  • Writing articles for article directories, offline publications
  • Webinars/teleconferences
  • Public speaking, seminars
  • Write reports, ebooks, articles, audios, courses
  • Build an email list
  • Staying in touch with former clients
  • Social media networking
  • Youtube videos
  • Networking
  • Marketing joint ventures
  • Podcasts/webcasts/hangouts/interviewing experts
  • Interviews, panel discussions

Most attorneys can’t or don’t want to advertise. Or, they don’t have a big enough budget to compete with some of the bigger advertisers.

The problem is, most attorneys have even less time than money. At least that’s what they tell themselves. They could invest more time in marketing. They often don’t because (a) they don’t know how and/or (b) they don’t think they’ll see a return on their investment.

What if I could prove that one hour invested in marketing (the right way) would bring a three-fold return? In other words, if you’re time is worth $300 an hour, and I proved to you that investing one hour in writing a blog post would bring you $900 in revenue, would you invest that hour?

Of course you would. Yo mama didn’t raise no fool.

But here’s the thing. That blog post might bring you a three-fold return this month, and then again next month. And every month. There will always be new people searching for your content and your solutions.

No guarantees, of course. Your results may vary.

My point is that many time-oriented marketing activities have a long tail, whereas advertising generally doesn’t.

Your website content can bring you traffic and new clients for months or years to come. Networking and building relationships with new referral sources and joint venture partners can do the same. Building lists and staying in touch with people can provide you with a long term source of new business.

When you look at it this way, instead of worrying about how much time marketing is “costing” you, you’ll realize that every hour you AREN’T marketing is costing you.

As Wayne Dyer puts it, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

If you want more traffic to your website, get my Internet marketing course for attorneys

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How to get more search engine traffic

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Would you like to get more search engine traffic from prospective clients who are looking for a lawyer who does what you do? I thought you might. Okay, let’s write a blog post together and make that happen.

The title of your post is, “What to ask a _______ lawyer”. (Fill in the blank with words that describe one of your practice areas.)

Why this title? Because every day, prospective clients type the following words into a search engine: “What to ask a ________ lawyer?”

Are you with me? You’re going to write a post that uses the exact keywords that your prospective clients are searching for. Put those keywords in your title and again in the body of your post.

Later, you can write variations on this original post with similar keywords they may use in their query, i.e., “What questions to ask. . .,” “What do I need to know about. . .,” “What information should I find out about. . .”, and so on.

Now, write five to ten questions prospective clients should ask a lawyer in your field. Start by jotting down the questions prospective clients typically ask you. Add some questions they don’t ask, but should.

Here are some ideas to help you get started:

Background/experience: Years in practice, practice areas, certification/specialty, awards, jury verdicts, etc.

Doing business: Fees/payment plans, free consultation, satisfaction guarantee, etc.

Procedural: How long, what happens first, what happens after that, what if X happens?

Law/advice: Why do I need to do X? or  When would you recommend x instead of y?

Why you: Why should I hire you instead of any other lawyer in your field? or What do you do/offer that other attorneys don’t do/offer?

Personal/philosophy: What do you like best about your practice?or Why do you do what you do?

Once you have the questions, answer them. Obviously, you should have a good answer to these questions yourself.

Many, if not all of these questions, should already be answered on your website, on a FAQ page, your “About” page, and in articles or posts. Then, in this new post, link to those other pages or posts so the reader can get more information.

And, that’s all there is to it.

Now, when someone searches for “What to ask a _______ lawyer?” in your market, there’s a good chance your post will come up at or near the top of the search results. When the reader clicks through and reads your post, they’re going to find exactly what they have been searching for and see that you have some really good answers to those questions.

Targeted traffic made simple.

Want more ways to get more search engine traffic? Click here.

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The second best source of new clients

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According to a study of online marketing metrics, the best source of new clients (customers) is through generic search engine traffic. Nothing else comes close.

You probably knew that.

What you may find surprising is what’s number two. According to the study, it’s email, which is 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter.

So, if you aren’t leveraging generic search engine traffic by creating and posting quality content online, you’re missing out big time. Prospective clients go to search engines looking for information about their legal situation, the available solutions, and for lawyers who can help them. Post information that answers their questions and provides those solutions and they will find you.

You don’t need to hire a team of experts. You don’t need to spend a lot of time. Once a week or so, write 300 to 500 words about something prospective clients want to know and might go looking for and post it.

Make sure you use keywords in the title and body of your post and follow a few other best practice to tell Uncle Google and his cousins what your post is about. Remember, search engines want to help their customers find what they’re looking for. Write and post that content and they’ll help you find prospective clients.

Now, not everyone who finds your website and reads your content is ready to hire you right away. In fact, you have to assume that most visitors to your website aren’t ready. In a few days or a few months, or perhaps a few years, when they are ready (or know someone who is), they probably won’t remember you. There’s a good chance they’ll wind up on some other lawyer’s website.

Unless. . . you stay in touch with them . . through email. . . the second best source of new clients online.

Your website needs to collect visitor’s email addresses. If it does not, you’re losing business. Probably a lot of business. Even if you practice in an area where most people make a hiring decision quickly like personal injury or criminal defense, because some clients wait and some clients are unhappy with the first attorney they hire.

Offer your visitors something free as an incentive to sign up for your email list. A report, checklist, form, or ebook. Add a form to your site to make it easy for them to opt in. Use an autoresponder to collect emails and automate much or all of the “staying in touch”.

Marketing online is not difficult and does not take a lot of time. Create search engine friendly content and build an email list. They are the number one and number two best source of new clients online so if you do it, you won’t have to do much of anything else.

Need help? Get my course on Internet marketing for attorneys.

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Lawyers with blogs aren’t necessarily bloggers

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One of the best ways to show prospective clients and referral sources what you can do to help them and the people they know is to post high quality information on your website. Whether that information comes in the form of articles, blog posts, videos, or anything else isn’t that important. It’s also unimportant whether you post that information on a static website or a blog.

If you post your content on a blog, that doesn’t make you a blogger. A blog is merely a convenient format for displaying content to visitors in a way that is accessible and search engine friendly.

Blogging is often said to be more than just writing and posting content. We are told that there is a distinct social aspect to blogging, involving things like engaging visitors through comments, interviewing subject matter experts, and conversing with other bloggers. But it appears that the importance of these activities may be overstated.

I read a post this morning which asked whether introverts can be successful bloggers. The author cites Pete Cashmore (Mashable), Guy Kawasaki, Brian Clark (Coppyblogger), and Darren Rowse (Problogger.net), four successful bloggers and self-confessed introverts, in support of his position that yes, introverts can be successful bloggers. In fact, these four individuals have all built big businesses through blogging.

I noted recently that a preponderance of attorneys are introverts. I am, too. I have a successful business that is built on a framework of blogging. While I don’t ignore the social aspects of the job, my primary focus is on creating and delivering content.

Am I a blogger? Perhaps. I don’t know. I really don’t care. What’s important is I don’t let my introversion stop me from leveraging the power of the Internet, and neither should you.

Quality content attracts traffic via search engines and social sharing (done by your visitors). That content then educates visitors about their legal issues and the possible solutions. In so doing, it shows those visitors how you can help them and demonstrates your skills and experience. It helps visitors get to know, like, and trust you, and prompts them to hire you or inquire about doing so. If they’re not ready to hire you immediately, your content can prompt them to join your email list so you can stay in touch with them until they are ready to take the next step.

If you want to add more of the social elements to the mix, that’s fine. It can help. And if you’re an extrovert, you’ll be naturally inclined to do so. But if you are an introvert, you can dabble with the social aspects, as I do, or ignore them completely.

You don’t have to be an extrovert to have a blog and lawyers with blogs aren’t necessarily bloggers.

Content marketing for attorneys. Click here to learn how.

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How NOT to propose a guest post

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One of the best ways to get targeted traffic to your blog or website is to write guest posts on other blogs in your target market. Guest posts bring traffic from prospective clients, exposure to prospective referral sources, sign-ups for your newsletter, and new clients. They should be a regular part of your online marketing activity.

Getting the go-ahead for a guest post is not that difficult, especially for a lawyer. Show the owner of the blog that you have something to say that will be of interest to their readers, show them that you are qualified to say it, and show them that you can write.

I get a lot of emails offering to write guest posts for my blog. Most of them don’t follow these basic guidelines and get no more than a glance from me before I delete them. Like this one which arrived this morning:


Hi,
I am interested in guest’s posting on your site, how much time you will take to review my articles. I assure you that all content will be legal and would add value to your reader.
Here are samples given below:

[links]

Kindest Regards

[Name]
—-

C’mon now, really?

If you want me to consider you for a guest post, sending me a poorly written bulk email with links to poorly written, off-target articles isn’t going to cut it.

Show me that you read my blog and understand my readers. Comment on one or two of my posts and tell me what you like about them.

Tell me what you propose: What would you write about and why would this be of interest to my readers? How would it be different from anything they might read elsewhere?

Tell me why you are qualified to write this. What is your background? Do you have your own blog I can look at? Have you done guest posts on other blogs?

It’s not difficult. And plenty of blogs want guest posts, especially from subject matter experts. You provide their readers with quality information and they provide you with traffic. You get to demonstrate your expertise to a targeted market of prospective clients and they get the day off from writing.

That’s the good news. The even better news is that because so few people follow these basic guidelines, blog owners are inundated with unprofessional proposals like the one above, making it so much easier for you to get their attention.

In fifteen minutes of searching you could find dozens of blogs in your target market that accept guest posts and would love to hear from you. Spend some time reading those blogs and then approach them with a proposal.

Learn more about guest posts, traffic, and marketing online for attorneys.

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Content marketing for lawyers made even simpler

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In Make the Phone Ring, my Internet marketing course for attorneys, I provide a comprehensive list of ideas attorneys can use to create content for their blog or newsletter. They can also be used to produce reports, presentations, articles, videos, and other kinds of content.

Whether you have my course or not, today I want to give you a homework assignment that will help you create ideas for content almost automatically. You see, it’s one thing to go looking for ideas when you need them. It’s something else to have those ideas coming to your in-box every day, filling your mind with raw material and providing you with a starting point for creating rich, timely and interesting content.

Your assignment is to subscribe to three types of newsletters (blogs, RSS feeds, ezines, etc.):

  1. Other lawyers. Find lawyers both in your field and also in other fields and subscribe to their newsletters or blogs. You may start out with seven or eight and then cut back to the best three or four. You’ll get ideas for your own articles, which may include commenting directly on theirs. You’ll also see how often they publish, how long their posts are, and what types of posts they write (case histories, news, commentary, etc.)
  2. Your target market. Read what your target market is reading–news about their industry or local community, for example. Also read the content produced by those who sell to or advise your target market–vendors, consultants, businesses, and other professionals. You’ll learn about the news, issues, causes, and trends that affect your clients, prospective clients, and referral sources. You may also identify new marketing opportunities as you learn about those trends and the people associated with them.
  3. Something different. Subscribe to content that interests you and has nothing to do with the law or your client’s industry. It could be hobby related or any kind of outside interest–tech, travel, food, sports, news. I get lots of ideas by reading outside my main areas of focus, and so will you. You’ll be able to create richer, more interesting content. And it doesn’t matter if your readers don’t share your interest. Not everyone follows sports, for example, but on some level, everyone can relate to sports analogies.

Content marketing for lawyers is relatively simple. Subscribing to other people’s content makes it even simpler.

Get Make the Phone Ring and get more clients on the Internet. Click here.

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