Obtaining the best position on the online search page requires good content, money
Having become so synonymous with Internet search that the noun has become a verb – “I Googled it” – lawyers and law firms who don’t work to ensure their websites appear on the first page of any Google search are increasingly likely to find themselves losing potential business.
The process of getting the best position on a search page involves many factors such as paid vs organic results, keywords and long tail keywords, featured snippets and content that is often refreshed and updated. Rather than building a website in cyberspace and then walking away, marketers say lawyers and their firms need to be intentional and review their internet presence frequently.
Search engine optimization, the term used to describe the process of making a website appear among the top results in an online search, is increasingly becoming the key to connecting with customers because when individuals need a lawyer, they turn to the Internet.
Robyn Addis, Chief Operating Officer, and Taryn Elliott, Director of Client Success and Marketing, Legal Internet Solutions, indicated that potential clients will research
People who ask friends and family for a referral when they need legal help will usually only get a name, Addis and Elliott said. Thus, they will have to turn to the Internet to obtain a contact number or an e-mail address. Additionally, they will browse the website to find out more about the lawyer they could hire.
Even attorneys who rely primarily on personal connections and networking to find new clients now need to think more about their digital presence, Addis and Elliott continued. The pandemic has propelled the use of virtual spaces to meet and do business, which means lawyers who do more fun than cyber-host will receive fewer and fewer referrals.
“Even after COVID, the fact is that the way law firms interact with their clients will be fundamentally different than it was in 2018 and 2019,” Addis said. “Personally, I don’t see networking opportunities and client meetings happening the same way. …Whether we can be in person or not, I don’t think all customers will choose to be in person.
Buy a higher position
A recent report by Thomson Reuters came to the same conclusion.
In the 2021 Consumer Legal Needs Survey, 2,000 US adults over the age of 18 who had a legal need in the previous 12 months were asked how they found a lawyer. A majority, 68%, said they had turned to “offline resources” like print advertising, but the percentage has dropped even for three years, when 72% of respondents found legal help without using the internet.
The survey concluded that the trend will continue as more consumers find lawyers through websites.
“In the past, the legal industry has been slow to adapt to technology,” the survey says, “but today, any lawyer who doesn’t have a strong online presence is going to lose new business. “
To get the top position on the search page, lawyers need to think like a non-lawyer and incorporate long-tail keywords into their content. For example, someone injured in an accident is more likely to search for “car wreck, Indianapolis” than “personal injury attorney.”
In addition, lawyers can either carefully and continuously take care of the content of their websites so that search engine crawlers consistently place pages at the top, or lawyers can simply write a check. Paid searches will almost guarantee that the lawyer’s website appears at the top of the search results page. Law firms can pay for a word or phrase, or they can pay for a competitor’s firm to have the link to their website also appear whenever the other firm’s link is displayed.
Pricing isn’t usually disclosed, but in 2004 The Wall Street Journal reported that “mesothelioma” was the most expensive keyword, costing attorneys more than $90 every time someone clicked on their link. The auction pushed the price of the word up because, the article explained, “…there is nothing more valuable than a mesothelioma patient.”
Addis said getting a top spot on a search page takes money.
“Search engines are a business, and they have an incentive to create ways to make you pay for it,” she said. “The competition is doing it, so yeah, it’s more and more a paid game.”
Addis said she considers large law firms that primarily serve corporate clients to position their websites for attention. In-house legal departments likely won’t have to rely on Google to find outside advice, but, she said, “a big shift” is underway, from legal departments selecting lawyers to the procurement team of the company.
“I suspect – again, not supported by data – but I suspect that even in this case, where there are sourcing protocols for companies, there could potentially be a case for a paid search effort, because that you have people who don’t know everything about big law firms and they do some background checks,” Addis said.
next generation internet
In December, New Jersey law firm Grungo Colarulo expanded its footprint in the “online metaverse world known as Decentraland,” the ABA Journal reported.
Articles written about the metaverse struggle to explain the specifics, but it’s essentially portrayed as the next generation of the internet that will include virtual reality. In its Decentraland office, the law firm can virtually meet with clients and give information to people who are still looking for a lawyer.
Even though the Metaverse is still taking shape, Elliott said she sees an opening for some lawyers to claim now.
“I can see an opportunity if you’re a lawyer who has cryptocurrency or if you’re a lawyer who does gaming law or if you’re a corporate lawyer, but you also identify that a lot of your potential clients who are starting businesses also play video games,” she said. “That kind of immersive experience, … that’s where you might have the opportunity to do some product placement or buy a billboard or sponsor something that could reach your target audience.”•