Is Internet Marketing Part of your Marketing Plan for 2015?
One of the hottest topics in the legal marketing community these days is Internet Marketing. I feel it’s imperative that lawyers know the ins and outs of Internet marketing – there are so many facets to an online marketing campaign. To go it alone isn’t a smart move.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no Internet expert, but when it comes to marketing, whether it’s online or offline, I know that the key to success is an all-inclusive strategy. What do I mean by this? Well, just like there is more than one way to skin a cat, there’s definitely more than one way build your online presence.
One thing I know for sure is that SEO is vital to any website. If you don’t have your website SEO’d, you might as well not even have a website! However, with that said, SEO isn’t the only thing you need to concentrate on. It’s just a piece of the Internet pie. What most attorneys miss, is that even though SEO helps you get found, it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans unless you’re worth finding. If you get people to come to your website – great! But if they don’t find what they’re looking for while they’re on your site, what good was it for them to be there? The key is to get them to hire you, not be a pit stop on their way to their new attorney.
So, how do you become an online destination for potential clients instead of a pit stop? By developing and implementing a complete online strategy which includes not only being found but being worth finding. First I’ll talk about being found.
SEO & SEM
Google, Bing and other search engines have made their algorithms so complicated that figuring them out well enough to do the work to make your site rank well is a full time job for millions out there in SEO land. I’m sure you guys have been contacted by numerous companies and have contacted companies yourself trying to find the one to take you to the top. One thing you may have noticed is that many of these providers often use the terms SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) interchangeably. This is understandable since ultimately they will both be used within your online strategy, however, you should know that there is a difference.
SEO, or the act of optimizing the content on your website through the use of keywords and website development to boost natural search rankings, takes some planning and expertise. It is the first step that has to be taken in any online marketing effort. SEO is an essential part of SEM. Without SEO, it all falls apart. SEM is the process of gaining traffic from search engines. SEM uses tools such as paid inclusion, directory submissions, reputation development through backlink building, social media, guest blogging, content aggregators, Google+, etc – the list goes on and on and only seems to get longer and more involved. Think of it this way – SEO and SEM are like buying or renting a home – SEO brings you equity while SEM brings immediacy. SEO is more of a long term investment while SEM can produce immediate ROI.
How is your website performing currently? Do you know? You should. You’ve heard me talk about Google Analytics time and again and I sincerely hope that you or someone in your firm is using it. This back-end tool analyzes your website’s performance in the search engines, including how many visitors you have had, where they came from, and how long they stayed. This information is vital to your overall marketing campaign – not just your online campaign, but your whole campaign. Google Analytics will help you get a leg up when it comes to website development and enrichment. You have to keep this in mind - not only do the search engine algorithms include the search for keywords (SEO) but they also include the search for relevant content, performance, social presence and a host of other things only the magical wizards of Google know about (SEM). By knowing how you’re performing, you can tweak your site, your budget and your efforts to make your marketing more effective. If you aren’t tracking, you’re losing money. Period.
Content, Content, Content...
How can you ensure that visitors want to not only visit your site but stay there and ultimately hire you? Give them what they need and want. This is where being worth finding comes into play. Content is not only king, it is key. If you don’t have what potential clients are looking for, they’re going to go look somewhere else. Let them know who you are, what you do and most importantly what you can do for them. Connect with them and give them relevant information that not only matters but that they can use. Make them trust you. Your website and online real estate claimed by you, are extensions of you in cyberspace. Make sure they perform as such.
I’ve said this many times before but it bears repeating – there is no silver bullet…no magic pill…no one answer to marketing – whether it’s Internet marketing or traditional marketing, you have to have a tool box full of sharpened instruments and be ready to build the blueprint you have set forth for your firm’s marketing campaign.
Can you do all this on your own? Maybe. Should you? I wouldn’t recommend it. But you do want to know enough to be able to have a conversation with those you’re trusting to build your online empire. If you don’t know, don’t understand or just don’t want to have anything to do with all this – find someone who does or who wants to and let them take the lead. Letting your Internet marketing fall by the wayside is a mistake. If you aren’t already on top of it, you have some catching up to do. If you’re all over it, stay that way – you know that it could all change tomorrow and you need to be ready.