"Did you know," Lance Lawyer asked sister Linda, sitting across from him at the conference table of L&L Law, "that one billion, one million people a month search the web with Google?"
"No," Linda said. "I didn’t know that. How on earth do we get noticed among all those folks?"
That is the question. How does a single lawyer in Lansing or Traverse City or Marquette or Detroit get noticed on the Internet?
The answer lies in understanding how search engines work. Google is not the only search engine, but it is the one setting the gold standard for search results. Google, like Bing and Yahoo, the other top contenders, use automated robots or algorithms that crawl through the web, building an index to provide consumers with a list of websites relevant to their search. Assuming that the more popular sites have the most valuable information, the robot then ranks those sites, pages, or documents according to popularity. Think of it as a map of the web with only those stops that are both relevant and popular.
The technique used to create a relevant and popular site that gets lots of visitors is called search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of using strategies and techniques to obtain a high-ranking placement in the search results.
What strategies can you use to get noticed?
- Update your profile settings in the SBM Member Directory.
Did you know that one of the benefits of the enhanced member directory can be an improved search results listing on the Internet? The State Bar included an article in the March issue of SBM Today about how updating your profile settings in the online Zeekbeek directory can help draw more attention to your profile. Opting in to your free, personalized vanity URL and making a few other quick additions to your profile can help raise your ranking in Google, Yahoo, and other search engines. After reading all the tips in this article, be sure to make time to read Six Easy Steps to Improve SEO.
- Content is everything.
Search engine robots are looking for content that holds the reader’s interest. They are judging your content’s value by seeing the interaction of the reader with the website. Does the consumer spend time on the page and come back to read more? You need to provide the information being sought by the consumer to rank higher in the findings. In other words, create a useful, informative, and original site targeted for your clients and prospective clients that conveys trust and experience.
Include lawyer bios with professional photos, interesting content in your area of practice, and images if possible. Adding links to more articles helps the reader. Your goal is to provide your clients and prospective clients with a good experience.
- Mobile friendly.
Consumers are searching on smartphones, tablets of all sizes, laptops, and desktops. Your website and blog posts must be mobile friendly. Google, seeing the problem and wanting to retain its position as a useful service, decreed a website’s "mobile-friendliness" be included as a ranking signal. This means that site pages that can’t fit comfortably on a smaller screen could see a downgrade in ranking.
How do you know if your website pages are mobile friendly? Ever efficient Google has created a website where you can enter your webpage URL or web address to test it. Visit the Mobile-Friendly Test page, enter your web address, and you will quickly know the results. If you fail the test, contact your web developer or website host to find out how to make your website mobile friendly. Your readers will thank you.
- Longer articles work better.
Longer articles—those of 1,200 to 1,500 words—work better in the rankings. Experts believe this is because there are more words and images to rank on a page. Longer pages are often shared on social media.
When writing longer articles, remember to keep them reader friendly. A long, densely worded article will be passed over. Make use of white space, add sub-headlines, bullet points, numbered lists, bolding, and images throughout the copy to keep it interesting. Readability and design of your site can influence rankings.
- Remember how consumers are using search engines.
Today’s consumers no longer use one or two word searches. When searching for lawyers they may include "estate planning lawyer in Traverse City Mi" or "Criminal defense attorney Lansing Mi." By their choice of words, they are narrowing their search results. They may ask a question such as "What is a contract? Or what is a will?"
You benefit from longer queries because they represent the specific products or services people are seeking and which you provide. If your site includes those words, they will find you. And, 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 or pick up the phone and call for an appointment.
You, like Lance and Linda, will get noticed on the Internet if you try these suggestions. And, remember to announce your improvements on social media and your SBM Member Directory.
Roberta 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.
Read More Clear & Convincing Articles
Six Easy Steps to Improve SEO
Using the New Enhanced Member Directory
How to Login and Edit Your Profile
Zeekbeek For Lawyers Page—learn about all the new directory features
How to Contact ZeekBeek Support