Why I don’t obsess over SEO


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.


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


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


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.


How to qualify prospective clients in four seconds or less


Would you like to know if someone is a candidate for your services within four seconds of meeting them?

I just read about a financial advisor who built a very successful business doing that. He cold called investors, introduced himself, and asked a simple question: “Are you looking for a new financial advisor?”

He didn’t ask if they were interested in getting information about a hot stock. He didn’t invite them to a seminar. He was looking for people who wanted a new advisor and that’s what he asked.

They either were or they were not. If they said yes or maybe, he moved forward. If not, he moved on.

Hold the phone, I’m not suggesting you cold call. Or that you ask people you just met a qualifying question. “Hi, I’m Joe. Are you looking for a divorce lawyer?”

But I am asking you to put on your thinking cap and come up a good qualifying question for your services.

There are many ways to phrase the question:

  • Are you looking for. . .?
  • Do you need. . .?
  • Which of these works best for you. . .?
  • Do you have this problem?
  • Have you ever. . .?
  • Why are you. . .?
  • Are you ready to. . .?

You might put the question on the home page of your website, front and center, to let visitors know they’ve come to the right place. You might not ask until someone has had a chance to read something, get their questions answered, and get a sense for who you are.

You might ask in conversation. Or hand over a brochure or report that asks for you.

On the other hand, you may never vocalize the question or put it in writing. The question may be no more than sub-text. But there it will be, guiding you and qualifying your reader or listener.

Crafting this question will help you define your “ideal client”. What is their problem? Where are they in the process? What other solutions have they considered or tried? It will help you qualify prospective clients, possibly in four seconds or less.

So, what would you ask someone to find out if they are a prospect for your services?

Do you want help describing your ideal client? Get this.


Social media marketing for attorneys is not that important


If you don’t have a robust social media marketing strategy in place you could soon find yourself left behind. At least that’s what everyone is saying.

This recent article in Entrepreneur is typical. It says that more and more people, especially younger ones, increasingly discover websites through social networks, less so through search.

I say it doesn’t matter. Social media marketing for attorneys isn’t that important.

Let’s think this through.

Joey Prospect has a legal problem and needs a lawyer. He goes to his favorite social network and asks for a recommendation. If his contacts have said recommendation, they provide it and a link to the lawyer’s website. If they don’t have the link, they tell Joey to do a search on the lawyer’s name.

What does this tell us? It tells us that nothing has changed. When someone needs a recommendation, they ask people they know. Yesterday, they may have phoned. Today, they go online.

If someone knows you and thinks you’re a good egg, they will refer people to you (your site) when asked. The people asking for the referral and the people giving the referral may be connected through a social network, but in the scenario above, the lawyer doesn’t have to be connected to either one.

Besides, most lawyers don’t actively engage with prospective clients through social media, nor do they need to. Most prospects don’t think about legal issues unless and until they have one and probably don’t have anything to say to a lawyer or want to hear anything a lawyer says until that occurs.

So, it’s a good thing that your clients and contacts are networking through social media. It’s good that social media is growing as a means for finding recommendations.

But, let’s keep things in perspective. If you handle legal issues that most people don’t want their friends to know about, you’re not going to get a lot of referrals that way. “Does anyone know a good criminal defense lawyer? Yeah, just got arrested for narcotics trafficking, a-gain!”

Search isn’t going to go away. So, lawyers need a website and some basic SEO in place because Joey Prospect is going to want to visit that site to see what the lawyer can do, and if the link is not provided, he is going to “google” the lawyer’s name.

Focus on building a great website with lots of quality content (i.e., solutions). This will (a) let people find you through search engines, (b) show prospects what you can do to help them, build trust, and convince them to choose you, and (c) allow people who know you or find your website to share your content with their networks.

You should provide an easy way for visitors to your site to connect with you via social media, i.e., you should have accounts with the major social media platforms and icons that allow visitors to connect with or follow you. And you should provide share buttons which make it easy for visitors to share your content with their networks.

Let everyone else worry about the networking.

However, social media is a great place for lawyers to network with other professionals. Use it to find and engage lawyers and other potential referral sources and joint venture partners.

And, if you advertise, you should probably allocate more dollars to ad buys on social media.

But don’t get hung up on the idea that you need to have a big list of social media contacts and you need to be conversing with them every day. You don’t. Social media marketing for attorneys, at least the way most people talk about it, just isn’t that important.

Learn more about social media and marketing online for attorneys in my course, Make the Phone Ring.


How does a new attorney get clients?


Yes, how does a new attorney get clients? I remember when I was opening my practice this was something I desperately wanted to know. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a good answer.

I was told that I should do the following:

  1. Send engraved announcements to everyone you know announcing your new practice
  2. Pass out business cards to everyone you meet
  3. Join groups where you can network and pass out cards to everyone you meet
  4. And, that was about it.

There was no Internet in those days. Yellow pages advertising was too expensive. Besides, I’d have to wait months for the book to come out and I needed business immediately.

I didn’t send out announcements, but I did tell everyone that I had opened my own practice. That brought in exactly zero business. I didn’t do any networking. I was 23 years old and looked it, and I didn’t think anyone would take me seriously. Hey, I didn’t take me seriously.

What I did do (on the phone and in classified ads in a bar journal) was contact other attorneys and let them know I was available for (a) appearances and (b) overflow work. And that actually worked. It gave me some breathing room until I could figure out how to get some clients of my own.

If you’re a new attorney today, opening your own practice, I suggest you do the same. It’s a great way to generate immediate income and get some hands on experience.

But the first thing you should do is set up a website.

Not a page in an online directory or a free website, but your own site. A domain name you own and a site that you host. You don’t need anything fancy. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. You can either do it yourself–if I can learn, you can learn–or pay someone $100 to set up the site for you. Monthly costs are less than $10.

Add lots of content to your site, to show people what you know and how you can help them. Educate people about the law and procedure. Show them what they need to know. Answer their questions, show them their options, and help them understand what to do.

Yes, you should also tell them about the services you offer. But fill your website primarily with information prospective clients want to know about their legal problems and the available solutions . Give them enough information and they will see that you can deliver those solutions.

Make sure your content has appropriate keywords so clients can find you via search. And make sure your site has social media sharing enabled so visitors to your site can share your content with their friends and contacts.

As you gain experience, update your site with additional content–articles, blog posts, reports, checklists–and stories of how you have helped your clients solve problems.

Start building a list. Not everyone who visits your site is ready to hire you. Capture their email address so you can stay in touch with them, notify them when you post new content, and remind them that you are still available to help them or people they know.

When you meet someone who might be a prospective client or referral source, send them to your website so they can learn about what you do.

What’s next? Well, that depends on you. You can continue to build your practice primarily online. You can join networking groups and do public speaking. You can create a free seminar or webinar and “allow” other professionals and centers of influence to invite their clients.

But here’s the thing. Your best source of new clients is referrals from existing and former clients. So, as soon as you have a few clients who are happy with your work, you should leverage those relationships to generate new business.

You can ask for referrals directly but you have another option: ask your clients to refer people to your website and the great content you have available.

How does a new attorney get clients? The same way an old attorney gets clients. Plus appearances and overflow.

The Attorney Marketing Formula. How attorneys get clients.