Using SEO to Attract Readers to Your Site

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Last week we defined search engine optimization (SEO) as the technique used to ensure your website can be found in the search engines. It is the strategy of using words and phrases that describe your practice and how they relate to the terms consumers type into search engines to find you.

Your main consideration when thinking about SEO should always be "What's best for the visitors to my site?" Trying to use words simply to get a higher ranking in the search results may not be your best strategy. SEO is about visibility with your posts, but it's the consumers, readers, and users of the information who are most important to consider.

How do you reach those potential clients?

Google, the most used search engine, suggests these strategies:

  • Great content is key, so create a useful and informative site.
  • Make your site easy to navigate with a clear hierarchy and text links.
  • Know your prospective audience—the topics of your pages should interest them.
  • Create an accurate title for each page, one that succinctly and accurately describes the content.
  • Search engines and readers like fresh information.

Strategies for Lawyers

  • Think local—rather than identifying yourself as a "Michigan Probate Law Firm" try target keywords such as "East Lansing Probate Law Firm."
  • Build a site based on your practice area.
  • If your firm has several practice areas, set each apart from the others and offer lots of information on each separate area of law.
  • Present a high quality website that conveys trust and experience—include lawyer bios, press coverage, awards, community service, or publications.

The robots that search the web look for sites with links to their content. The authority of your website is determined by the number of reader endorsements, and measured by links to your site from recognized online authorities. Ways to get more links include:

  • Trading links with other lawyers in a different practice area.
  • Write articles for other websites in exchange for a link to your site.
  • Keep a blog, publish it regularly, and link it to your site.

If you want a more focused marketing campaign use "Long-tail SEO," which is a more targeted way to attract consumers to your website. Instead of using two-word search keywords such as "estate planning" you can use four or more such as "What you need to know to write a will," or "What is an employment contract?"

You benefit from long-tailed SEO campaigns because long-tail search words represent the specific products or services people are actually looking for. After finding your site and reading your information, the consumer knows more about estate planning or contract writing and feels a connection to you. At that point, it is easy to send you a query with your contact information on your SBM member directory profile or pick up the phone and call for an appointment.

Speaking of your directory profile, follow these steps to help draw more search engine attention to your information on the SBM website:

  1. Use your SBM member login to access your Zeekbeek account. Click on the Actions button in the top right and select Edit Profile.
  2. In the General section, click the blue Edit button, and enter relevant information in the Biography section. You should focus the following relevant information in your first 155 characters:
  • Your areas of practice.
  • Your full name.
  • Your relationship with the State Bar of Michigan.
  1. In the Business Contact Information section, add your personal website and update your address to reflect the correct location.
  2. In the Practice Area section, under the sub section Custom Keywords,  add your full name plus "Zeekbeek," and any phrases that reflect your profile locally (e.g. "dui lawyer 48206," "estate planner grand rapids"). Practice Note: Please avoid using phrases that create unrealistic expectations, such as: "We always win" or "Best divorce lawyer ever." If you have questions regarding the ethical use of particular phrases, please contact the SBM Ethics Helpline at (877) 558-4760 to receive an informal, advisory opinion from a staff attorney regarding an ethics issue.
  3. On your law firm or personal legal website, add a button that links to your unique directory URL.
  4. Add your social media accounts in the Edit Profile section. Since SEO is about content, setting up a Google+ account and linking your vanity URL and cross references to blog and publication info produced on the Zeekbeek profile can greatly help bring it to a higher search engine relevance. Also in Facebook, "like" the Zeekbeek business page and follow Zeekbeek's Twitter feed after adding your "handles" to your profile to increase the SEO relevance of search results.

Conclusion

Do your research and determine what kind of information your potential clients want, create interesting and informative content, and post regularly to keep the site fresh. Take these steps and gradually you will see an increase in the traffic to your website.

Roberta GubbinsRoberta Gubbins has served as the editor of the Ingham County Legal News. Since leaving the paper, she provides services as a ghostwriter editing articles, blogs, and e-blasts for lawyers and law firms. She is the editor of Briefs, the Ingham County Bar Association e-newsletter, and The Mentor, SBM Master Lawyers Section newsletter.

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