For a variety of reasons, some law firm websites may not have reached the top slot in Google, Bing, or Ask. There is competition for keywords, and the search engines change their algorithms frequently. Without having a team of folks tweaking the site, there will likely be some ebbs and flows in visibility in search results. However, there are a number of ways to boost visibility on the web so that whether someone finds the firm or attorney through social media, a directory, the website, or a professional nameplate site, you can get the message out about the firm’s professionals and services.
More to Google
Google offers much more than just a dominant search engine. Google has incorporated Google Profiles and Google Places into Google+, their new social network. By filling out a free Google Profile, lawyers can create a publicly available profile that included pictures, as well as personal and professional interests. Add links to the firm webpage, blog, LinkedIn profile or anything else worth sharing. Profiles are no longer standalone, but rather serve as the "About" information in the Google+ profile.
Google+ also incorporated Google Places, which let you add the firm to Google Maps and create a local business listing. Ultimately this means that people will have more ways to discover your Google+ business listing, as the information will appear in general search results, as well as Google+, maps, mobile search, etc. It will also make local search results more social, enticing user comments and "indeed, it gives Google a local vehicle with functionality equivalent to Facebook and Twitter." Google reminds: “It's a good idea to create a Google Places account using an email address that you don't mind sharing with others or passing along, in case you wish to transfer ownership of your listings.”
There are a number of places to list basic business information about a law firm, and many of those are free. General business listings include local profile listings from Yahoo! Local Search, Bing Business Portal, and Yelp. Depending on location, there may be free listings from city guides or other local resources, so don’t forget to look. Firms can also apply for Better Business Accreditation in the US and Canada and then list in the business directory.
Many law societies and bar associations have publically facing attorney member directories. In some cases they offer enhanced listings. Take advantage of those web directories. Sites like Avvo and Justia’s Lawyer Directory may already have a listing for individual lawyers. Make sure that the profiles are accurate, and keep them updated. Add pictures, links to the firm website, and any other links allowed.
Social Media Profiles
LinkedIn company and personal profiles are public and indexed by Google. Users have control over how much of the individual LinkedIn profile is public, and there is a link to test what a profile looks like to specific viewers (public, direct connections, logged in LinkedIn users, etc.). Take the time to fill out the profile, adding pictures and linking back to the firm website, a firm blog and any other social media profiles that are public and have interesting content.
Likewise, Facebook Business Pages and Twitter profiles are indexed by Google. Be sure to add links back to your website and other web properties to get the cross promotion. Needless to say, Google+ company pages are well indexed by Google.
Take an objective look at your social profiles; make sure they are vibrant and up to date. If there are few posts and little activity rethink whether having the profile makes sense for the firm’s client development efforts.
A relatively new phenomenon, the professional nameplate site (or web business card or personal landing page) lets individuals build an online profile that incorporates information including standard “business card” contact information, work history, social site feeds, pictures, videos, and more. Most of them provide a few free templates and require no technical skills to set up.
About.me is one of the most well known and popular free sites in this genre. Simply sign up, choose a template, upload a picture, input information about yourself, et voila. About.me profiles are indexed by search engines and present a vibrant web business card. About.me also offers analytics so you can see how many visitors you have.
Newcomer Zerply is primarily designed to be a professional landing page, providing a template for an online resume complete with bio and work history in reverse chronological order. Zerply has a social component as well, providing a way to contact other professionals in the network. While, that may sound a lot like LinkedIn, it is beautiful in its simplicity and the profile pages are far more attractive visually. A similar site, re.vu , will create an online resume pulled from your LinkedIn profile, and allow you to add other social networks, website, or blog. Re.vu is more visual than Zerply, but lacks the social job seeking/expertise search aspect. Both sites are free to use.
Finally, Flavors.me is the granddad of the nameplate sites. The focus on Flavors.me is more on the design of the nameplate, rather than being an online resume. The drag and drop page builder is easy to use, and the free version offers 7 layouts and connections for 5 blog or social network accounts. A firm could create a profile here, and for $20 per year have the ability to use your own website address, as well as 17 layouts, unlimited social connections, analytics, a contact form, and a mobile site.
There are plenty of ways to get found on the Internet, and many of them come with a cost. Above are some free or extremely low cost ways to get found, even if your website doesn’t get top billing in Google. If the thought of filling in profile information to so many websites is daunting then check out Know ‘Em. Know ‘Em, among other things, will enter your basic profile information for up to 300 social media sites. Prices range from $70 to $650 and will auto upload your username, photo, bio, URL and description to the sites. Additionally you can search for your username or domain name at over 600 social sites, and the entire USPTO Trademark Database, for free.
Grab your shades, get a cool drink and take advantage of the free exposure!