Your law firm provides great services, and you have top-notch lawyers who work hard. You’re confident in this, yet your search for new clients seems like it’s proceeding as slowly as a glacier in the Pleistocene.
Word of mouth can only get you so far. The same can be said for referrals. In this day and age, everyone knows a small firm needs to tap into the prodigious marketing power of the internet. Of course, you can’t simply dive into the torrent of data and hope for the best. When potential clients are searching for the services that your law firm offers, your firm should show up as a contender. This means you must be discoverable by online search engines.
Digital Logic, a digital marketing firm based in Shreveport, La., has developed a method to help you attract the new business that’s crucial to your success.
So, what is this method, and how does it work? Is this marketing method the right choice for your firm? Recently, the folks at Digital Logic met with Above the Law to walk us through the company’s Search Engine Optimization strategies, techniques, and the core functions of research-content writing and link building. The company demonstrated the importance of SEO with a few numbers: 96% of consumers start their search for legal advice by using a search engine. Seventy-two percent of those consumers only contact one lawyer. Moreover, 95% of searchers never look past the first three search results.
Effective SEO begins with research, which, as Digital Logic says, “continues forever.” The first step is an audit of a law firm’s website using web-crawling tools from Ahrefs.
The following analysis of the web presence from Janicek Law, a San Antonio, Texas, personal injury and medical malpractice firm, illustrates how Digital Logic uses an audit and a review of a firm’s competitors to develop a customized strategy. The web crawler analyzes the technical infrastructure and content of the web site. The SEO experts at Digital Logic then use key data points to better understand how the website currently interacts with Google, the most powerful search engine to date.
For Janicek’s site, the audit revealed that the website featured 245 organic keywords with a traffic value of $505. This is based on the overall price-per-click information in the sector. Digital Logic informed the client that these numbers were far too low. To compare, the leading med-mal firm in the same market showed 1,400 keywords and a traffic value of $6,700. This competitor is also a small firm. Digital Logic told Janicek, “there is no reason why we couldn’t be competing for this share within the first six months to a year.”
Fast forward to a few weeks later. Janicek Law’s new website went live. On the first day, the numbers surged to 477 keywords and a traffic value of $1,300 [see Figure 1].
Digital Logic’s method features clearly stated goals and offers quantifiable progress reports. They understand that marketing can often become a frustrating black hole for investors, and they want their clients to see the actual numerical return on investment. As they demonstrated their method for Above the law, Digital Logic made it clear they are not a large marketing firm spitting out cookie-cutter solutions. They look at your data, your market, your competitors.
This method also examines keywords and traffic value page-by-page. Unsurprisingly, before Digital Logic revamped Janicek’s website, the figures were far too low. The audit found only 15 keywords on the firm’s medical malpractice page, a practice area targeted for growth. According to Digital Logic, the page should have been showing ten times that amount of keywords.
Furthermore, Janicek’s top rated pages had URLs featuring the firm name and individual attorney names, not practice areas. This suggested that visitors to the site already knew the firm or a particular attorney, which is not what you want to see if you are trying to attract new business organically.
According to the site audit, Janicek’s med-mal practice page was worth only $24 and accounted for only 2% of its traffic. In contrast, the top-ranking medical malpractice page in that same market was worth over $4,200 and generated 36% of the website’s traffic. Digital Logic identified this firm as Janicek’s direct competition in the short term, stating that Janicek “may be a far superior firm but Google doesn’t know.”
When the new site launched, it didn’t take long for Janicek to show improvement. The number of keywords on the med-mal page rose to 26 on the first day, and the value rose to $657 [see Figure 2]. The page accounted for 18% of the website traffic, up from 2%.
These numbers reflect the beginning of a process that seeks to drive them much higher over time. Digital Logic offered the example of Belén Law Firm, which does criminal defense in Phoenix, as an example of a fully optimized website. The page that generated the most traffic on a given day—17%—featured 931 keywords for a value of $1,136, but the firm had many pages with high keyword counts and good value. [see Figure 3].
On the day we captured this information, the highest traffic page was not the most valuable page for Belén, but it was a good illustration of how Google’s search engine works and the importance of a law firm reaching those who need answers to specific questions. Notice the URL on line four, which includes the specific question, “Can I be arrested for shoplifting after leaving the store?” While this query may not magically turn into a client overnight, it does establish brand authority and begins the process of trust-building, which is critical for lawyer-client relationships.
One part of Digital Logic’s solution is to seed practice-area pages with keywords based on the way potential clients actually search. For instance, Janicek would want to show up high in the results when potential clients search “birth-injury attorney.”
Digital Logic’s method proves that it’s better to place a practice-area page in front of those searching for more specific information, as these consumers are typically closer to actually hiring an attorney. These searches may include questions such as, “Was my baby’s injury caused by my OB during delivery?”
This method also emphasizes the need for blog content and new pages, published not only on the website but duplicated to a firm’s social media accounts, in order to generate links and enrich online presence. The more relevant information a firm’s site can provide for potential clients, the higher the exposure of the website.
Monthly content marketing is part of Digital Logic’s SEO strategy, the company explained. They will develop an editorial plan of new content that they write, freeing up busy lawyers to get back to lawyering. They also design the associated graphics so the content will look professional when it’s published on your website, blog and social media. Digital Logic aims to strike the proper balance of quality content produced specifically to match user intent and quality off-site linking that can boost your site’s search-engine rank.
“The idea is to provide enough relevant content, enriched with keywords sourced from our research to ensure that you’re capturing more overall site visitors within the desired search terms,” Digital Logic explained.
In addition to a content strategy that incorporates valuable keywords, Digital Logic also performs a metadata analysis to ensure a law firm’s website is technically correct. They can also build a new website from the ground up, complete with testing, in about six weeks.
The company’s clear explanations on the technical side are helpful given that attorneys often do not have the time nor the inclination to stay abreast of the latest developments. “You can incorporate all the useful keywords you want into your content, but if Google’s algorithms can’t identify and analyze them, you will not feature high in its results,” Digital Logic explains. These technical details—reverse engineered, using tools like Ahrefs—include correctly coded titles and headings that contain the best possible keywords, tags that categorize content for relevancy, and image tags.
Of course, it doesn’t end there. The technical details of a well-performing website are seemingly endless. Aside from the fundamentals of site architecture, Digital Logic pays attention to indexation, URL structure, page redirects, and page load speeds. Internal links must function seamlessly and quickly to avoid seeming spammy when Google crawls the website.
Technical jargon can be mystifying to attorneys, but it’s reassuring to be consistently and clearly informed. As a small marketing company, Digital Logic prides itself on its responsiveness and communication, two things baked right into its method. The company points out that clients are provided with direct numbers to call with questions or concerns: “We at Digital Logic believe you should not have to ‘Press 2’ to reach your point of contact.”
The cadence of that communication is left to the client, but Digital Logic recommends monthly meetings for the first three months on a project and at least quarterly after that.
As noted briefly above, high rankings on search engines like Google are not accomplished solely by your firm’s own website and social media. Digital Logic explained that “a major ranking factor is how many quality links are leading a user back to your website from a separate domain.”
Their strategy here is to provide content to third-party sites that have credibility and authority in your targeted practice area. And of course, to make sure this useful content includes links back to your website. You no doubt have seen posts of this nature—for example, an interesting point of law explored in an essay on the American Bar Association’s website, written by a young associate at a firm, complete with link, or perhaps a column written for the legal publication of records in your market.
While this content can bring potential clients directly from another domain to your firm’s website, this isn’t the reason for the aforementioned strategy. Google incorporates a hunt for these backlinks into its algorithms, meaning these links can bestow the same sheen of authority on your page as the page that linked back to you. This drives up your rank. The more links you have, “the more perceived authority your website will have within the search engine results page,” according to Digital Logic’s materials.
Many agencies provide content, but content strong enough to accomplish its intended function requires in-depth market research. Digital Logic touts its research as another item that differentiates it from other marketing companies.
Aside from gathering the important backlinks from authoritative sites, Digital Logic’s strategy also includes social media posts as well as press releases, the old stand-by.
In addition, any Google search for legal services in a given locale will reveal the importance of directory listings. Digital Logic’s “directory syndication platform,” can be a serious time saver, not to mention an important way to safeguard your firm’s brand by ensuring 100% consistency across the internet. Uniformity in key areas such as name, address, and phone number is a big factor in your website’s organic search engine rank. These details are crucial to the success of a firm’s online presence, and many busy attorneys may never slow down enough to consider them. Time is money, as they say. So, it makes sense to let an experienced digital marketing firm attend to it for you.
Digital Logic recommends you start your directory process by claiming “your four foundational business listings.” These are Google My Business, Facebook, YP, and Yelp.
From SEO to Advertising
Once your firm’s online presence is optimized for increased rankings on search engines, such as Google, your business should be well-positioned for robust organic growth. Digital Logic’s research shows that SEO drives 1,000% more traffic than organic social media. Many firms fail to take advantage of the possibilities represented by this number. Only 5.7% of website pages will rank in the top 10 search engine results within a year of publication, and Digital Logic found that 66% of pages had no backlinks, those all-important drivers of visibility.
The beauty of engaging a company like Digital Logic, besides its expertise in such matters, is that you can tailor its services to fit your needs. You can sign on for marketing services that cost about $2,500 per month for the full SEO suite: content for your website and blog, social posts, backlink development, internal linking, plus all the technical aspects and coding required.
You might also move on to the next step in Digital Logic’s proven method—paid ads, from pay-per-click to local services ads to display and banner, a process every bit as complex and painstaking as the SEO highlighted in this article.
If the business climate changes, Digital Logic’s staff is experienced and agile enough to draft and implement a new plan, quickly. In fact, Seth Winterer, CEO, said a lack of responsiveness was a big reason he left a large marketing company to start his own smaller, more nimble firm. Digital Logic aims to feel like a part of your team.