Search Engine Optimization or How Robots Find You
Sally Consumer, seeking a lawyer in her city, turns to the Internet for help. She pulls up a search engine such as Google, Yahoo!, or Bing, and types in her search terms. Almost instantly a list of law firms appears on her computer screen.
How does that happen? How does the search engine take Sally’s terms and match them with helpful information?
Search engines use automated robots that crawl through the web building an index to provide consumers with a list of websites relevant to the consumer’s question. 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.
Creating 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 and techniques?
Google, which is the most used search engine, suggests these techniques:
- Great content is the key so create a useful, informative site
- Make your site easy to navigate with 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
Strategies suggested for lawyers include:
- Think local—rather than identifying yourself as “Michigan Law Firm” try target keywords such as “East Lansing Probate Law Firm”
- Build a site based on your practice area
- Present a high quality website that conveys trust and experience—include lawyer bios, press coverage, awards, community service, or publications
Lately there have been rumblings among the marketing experts that you should have a more focused marketing campaign using “Long-tail SEO.” Long-tail SEO 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 to consider when selecting a guardian for your child” or “What is a contract?”
You benefit from long-tailed SEO campaigns because long-tailed search keys 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 or pick up the phone and call for an appointment.
Sally Consumer will find you if the content of your site and her search words connect. That is, if
- she is looking for an East Lansing Probate Attorney
- your website uses those keywords, East Lansing, Probate, Attorney
- the search engine robots found those words and, therefore, sends your site as one of several with those specific keywords. Now it is up to the content of your website to convince Sally to make a call.
In addition to your website (or in place of a website if you do not have one), you can use these same methods in the new FREE SBM enhanced member directory powered by ZeekBeek®. When you build your profile in the new directory you have the opportunity to present many types of information about your practice. In addition, your profile contains a page dedicated to publications—what the search engines refer to as content. You can blog, or add articles you’ve written, news articles in which your name was mentioned, announcements of events occurring at your firm or otherwise involving you, and even videos you may have posted on YouTube!
To help you with long-tailed SEO, ZeekBeek® also has a specific place on your edit profile page for you to enter phrases that you believe will help consumers find you. This data entry field is called “Enter Custom Keyword & Keyword Phrases.” Type in as many phrases as you want that you think consumers might search!
For help building your profile please contact the help desk at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the help center.
P.S. I’m sure you know the Robot is really an algorithm but this writer/lawyer doesn’t speak number.
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.
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