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Technical and social skills don’t always go hand-in-hand. But in today’s marketplace, it is crucial to master (or hire) both.
According to John Ray, Google’s Industry Head – Legal, there are over 375 million legal-related online searches per month in the United States. Ray, who spoke Tuesday at the 2013 Legal Marketing Technology Conference/West, said you can be a brilliant attorney, but if potential clients can’t find you, you are losing out on business. At the same time, opportunities to interact socially are increasing. In addition to optimizing your firm’s online presence, though, remember that your online and offline social skills are crucial to building trust.
Here are a few tips from the conference.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is as laborious as it sounds. But if you want your website to be seen, it must show up consistently on the first page of search results. During “Optimize It and They Will Come,” Steve Hennigs of Siteimprove, made this clear with the following statistics: 70 to 90 percent of clicks occur on the first page of organic search results, and 73 percent of people never go to page two of search results. (See the session’s Greenfield/Belser slide deck on better understanding your digital presence here.)
If you’re new to SEO, here are some resources to get you started:
- Google the search phrase “site:www.yoursite.com” to see which parts of your website are indexed by Google. Then you can remove unnecessary pages and improve the ones you want to rank higher.
- Read ”The Beginner’s Guide to SEO“ at Moz.com.
- Check out Schema.org for webmaster resources to help markup pages for better visibility.
Now and Tomorrow…
SEO is not a one-time project. As Hennigs explained, more than 15 percent of all searches each day are made up of new search terms and phrases. So even if your site ranks well today, it will soon slip down the page if you fail to keep on top of SEO. Google webmaster tools can provide you with details on your site’s visibility over time, and Google AdWords offers a keyword planning tool to help with your ongoing SEO needs.
In a Multi-Screen Universe…
During a 10-Minute Tips session, Google’s Ray drove home the importance of optimizing your site for all screen sizes: 98 percent of people use multiple screens, throughout the day, to accomplish a task. For instance, you might use a desktop to book a flight, a tablet to check in, and your smartphone to get updates on the flight status.
This is how potential clients expect to find you — anywhere, any place. If your site was built more than five years ago, chances are it is not mobile-friendly. Pull up your site on a variety of screens and browsers and take an objective, critical look at the functionality, loading speed and readability.
Where Relationships Rule and …
Having a website, of course, is no longer enough. Being social is key to building trust.LinkedIn is a great place to start. Consider that 78 percent of business decision-makers who search for a lawyer online use LinkedIn, according to David Ackert of BusinessBoomers, who presented tips for advanced users. Failing to be social on LinkedIn, therefore, means losing out on a lot of potential business. And since 70 percent of LinkedIn users are dormant, it doesn’t take much to stand out from the crowd.
Equally important is keeping relationships alive. Eric Toscano, a San Francisco solo practitioner, spoke of the challenge of keeping in touch with potential clients. He said it takes a minimum of seven contacts before the average client trusts and possibly commits to a firm. Whether through email, a handwritten note, a newsletter or an article shared online, staying connected is key to building business relationships.
Some lawyers, like Richard Hsu, a partner at Shearman Sterling, are a natural at engaging people. With the help of his 13-year-old daughter, Hsu breaks down complex legal topics with illustrated video shorts. Check out this video on IP ownership in Joint Development.
Mastering both social and technical know-how can be daunting. While some people excel at it naturally, for the rest of us there are gatherings like the LMA Bay Area Chapter’s Legal Marketing Technology Conference/West — a conference that inspired, informed and connected the legal marketing community in the Bay Area and beyond.
Kerstin Firmin is the Creative Manager for The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF). As part of BASF’s communication team, her responsibilities include design of the San Francisco Attorney Magazine and the recently launched blog Legal by the Bay. With a background in fine arts and communication technology, her strengths include visual and data-driven communication.