Does the following scenario sound familiar? The end of the week is approaching, and the office hasn’t had a phone call in hours. Your administrative and support staff have wrapped up projects and are running out of tasks that are time-intensive, if not entirely finished with all work. While this scenario may seem blissful when busy or behind schedule, sooner or later you may find yourself ahead of the work week.
On one hand, you may consider sending hourly workers home, to save from paying them to grasp at straws for things to do (and that’s if they’re entirely diligent and not tempted by the millions of distractions possible at a workstation). On the other hand, prior experience may nag at you that the moment they step out of the door, a crisis requiring all hands on deck will inevitably arise. Therefore, the best solution would be to find productive assignments for them that will be worth them staying.
Well, have you claimed your Google place listing yet? Are you listed (correctly) in the yellow pages and other directories? Does your firm have a Facebook business page? When was the last time your website had some new content or an article posted, even if from a third party? This is hardly the end of the list of questions you can ask yourself and your staff, but these alone could easily fill up a slow afternoon. You may wonder if these tasks are truly worth the time and labor hours, especially if your support staff are highly trained and educated in their fields.
The truth is, these assignments, and others involving your firm’s online presence, are extremely valuable to have completed. While some of them are important enough to address even when it’s not a slow business day, they are especially viable tasks when all of your more pressing matters of the week have been attended to. Many of them would only take an hour or less, making them even more ideal for the waning hours of a slow day.
Below are some examples of possible assignments, and why they’re so useful to have done between more obvious tasks:
1. Google Places Listing: This is perhaps one of the most important assignments, and is also one of the easiest. When prospective clients want to investigate their choice of firms online, more than 95% of them use Google. If your business is not claimed on Google places, you will be at an immense disadvantage at being found amongst competitors who have been proactively managing their online presence. Because many searchers include geographic keywords with their query (“injury attorneys in Chicago”), having your business claimed with the correct address ensures that you appear on the map of business listings. Appearing on Google’s map (which is located near the very top of the search results) is a great way to get your company’s name in front of searcher’s eyes, especially if it would otherwise have been at the bottom of the page…or worse, on page 2.
Another reason it is so important to claim your Google place is so that your information can be updated. Having incorrect information on Google places (this can occur when Google automatically gleans the listing from other sources, such as YellowPages.com) is almost worse than having no listing at all. Whether the name was auto-filled wrong, or your contact information is outdated, that will be the last time a potential client considers you. In the mind of an unbiased searcher, you’ve wasted their time by having them call a disconnected number, and you’ll have become worse than unknown.
Consider this: If it means that even one client finds you that wouldn’t have before, won’t it have been worth the twenty minutes needed to set it up? Get started at http://www.google.com/places/
2. Bing, Yahoo, MapQuest Listings: While these search engines certainly aren’t the priority that Google is, they are the next logical step as far as search engine listings go. Google isn’t the only search engine that gleans information from other sites, and YellowPages.com is not Google’s only target, either. That is why it is important to ensure your listing is also updated and visible on search engines like Bing, Yahoo, and map directories like MapQuest.com. This way, no matter which search engine is copying the other’s index, your information will be up to date, and all the more likely to appear to a searcher.
3. Online Directories: While search engines are definitely the most important place to ensure that your contact information is correctly listed, the sheer quantity of online directories makes them worthy of mention. Directories like Yellowpages, Local, and Supermedia are just three of the hundred or so directory sites, or at least the ones that matter. They all have (nominal) weight in making your firm turn up in a search before the other guy. Make sure the information is consistent, though (I’d recommend copying the information from your Google Place, exactly as it appears); so that the indexing search engines immediately recognize all of your listings as one (proactive) entity.
4. Website Content: Now that you have a better understanding of just how important it is to have Google and the other search engines on your side, here’s a tip on how to make them like your site more: Don’t be static. A website that adds new content (even quasi-regularly) will be much more appreciated by search engines. By adding new content, you are assuring that the search engines think that your site is relevant, up-to-date, dynamic, and more interesting to searchers than a site that was last updated in the nineties. If you don’t have a whole lot of updates to add about your own firm, add an ‘articles’ section to your website, and have it filled with relevant news stories, editorials, industry journals, or even comics! Even if you don’t want your support staff writing the content, set them to work finding these valuable content pieces, so your website can appear more active.
5. Press Release: Press releases are valuable because they make (copious) mention of your firm and/or site on third party platforms. When you have any kind of relevant or interesting story to publish about your firm, compose an article about yourself and send it out to anyone who will take it. Even if The Wall Street Journal turns you down, there are free journal and article sites that you can send it to, or even allow you to post it yourself! Make sure to include many links to different parts of your website (though it’s best to avoid arbitrary over-use, some search engines can recognize this!) and of course mentions of your firm and/or its applicable employees. When the search engine sees your firm on resources other than your own site, it will assume you are much more relevant and worth showing up on a search.
6. Facebook: Ever heard of it? It’s kind of popular. Facebook is the Google of social media, and as such, you need to have some sort of presence on it. Even if your firm won’t ga
in as much from it as other industries do, there is a value to having your firm listed on this Internet powerhouse. You’ll want to make a business account and then make a business page. Assign a support staff member to regularly update the “wall” with company news, relevant industry articles, and anything else that will show viewers that you are active and socially-conscious. Encourage clients and partners to “friend” or “like” your page or profile, and do the same for their Facebook pages. It’s a quick and painless way to network, and can sometimes lead to a large return on (time) investment. To read more about the importance of social media in the context of your law firm, see our earlier article: Social Media Marketing for Lawyers
7. Linked-In Business Profile: Creating a Linked-In business profile is also an important social media task, though for slightly different reasons as Facebook. A Linked-In profile is an easy way to create a networking hub for your firm, where you can find and be found by likely cohorts and interested searchers. It also provides a social media outlet to send to those business partners who shy away from Facebook like it’s a plague designed by the current generation to make them feel technologically inadequate. Having a Linked-in profile is becoming more expected for business professionals, as well as companies. If you think of Facebook as a power-tie (standardized flair), then Linked-In is the suit jacket (practically mandatory in its professionalism).
8. Start a Mailing List: Keep your employees, partners and affiliates informed! Create a mailing list (email would be the economic choice, but sending out a paper newsletter is almost less likely to be “trashed” before reading these days) to keep anyone who might take interest in the current events of the firm.
10. Create a YouTube Video: If you perform a Google search for something general, you’ll notice that links to websites are not the only returned result. Near the top of the page, you will be given links to YouTube videos, where you can view videos instantly without needing to download neither files nor software. As it turns out, Google puts a huge emphasis on these videos (especially now that they own YouTube!), and they can be an enormous advantage in your favor over your competitors. Even if you were to only make a concise, moderately professional video, and upload it to YouTube with all the appropriate keywords and links to your website, you could easily overtake a competitor who was above you on Google’s search results (if they don’t have a video).
Searchers are much more likely to view a quick and effortless video about a firm, whether it’s a third-party review or company-made, before investigating the actual website further. If you make a snazzy company introduction or a virtual tour, you could also embed it into your company website, or send it to potential clients
A good video is pure marketing gold. A below-average video or worse will just make a viewer laugh and consider your firm unprofessional. Make sure you show the final product to an unbiased acquaintance that won’t be afraid to tell you it’s not ready to represent your firm. You could consider a professional video company for a truly effective video, though that may defeat the purpose of keeping your staff busy. With a few interviews, shots of the office or building, and a few edits from free software (to add names and titles below speakers, along with a few inter-scene effects), you should have at least a satisfactory video, with minimal investment.
11. Craigslist Classifieds: Anybody looking for anything will very likely give Craigslist a try…eventually. While you may not think legal services are as synonymous with Craigslist as say, selling a lawn mower, there is actually a section dedicated to it. By posting specific classifieds such as “Affordable New York Divorce / Family Law Attorney”, you can try and capture searchers who have a specific concern or legal matter. You can then create multiple different listings for different law areas, and maximize your reach. Thousands of other legal firms are posting classifieds on Craigslist to try and capture this niche of searchers, why aren’t you?
The waning days of the work week don’t seem nearly as quiet now, do they? There are online presences to be managed, content to be written, and clients to gain!
Admittedly, any or all of these steps might not be the specialty of your support staff. Otherwise, you may desperately want to take these steps, but are blessedly busy with other matters. For these and many other solutions for your law firm, contact LegalPPC to manage your Internet marketing, so you can get back to your practice!