There are lots of questions that pop up when lawyers hear the phrase organic digital marketing. For example:
- How is organic web traffic different than paid?
- What are the latest organic strategies in law firm digital marketing?
- What metrics will help me measure the success of organic efforts?
These are some the very questions that we address daily as we help our legal clients find the right mix and balance of search engine marketing tactics.
Q: How is organic web traffic different than paid?
There are two ways—paid and organic—to get your law firm’s website to appear in the first page of the search results, regardless of which search engine you use. Paid and organic marketing have the same goal: getting potential clients to your site. But the strategy behind them couldn’t be more different.
Paid search is exactly what it sounds like. You, or your law firm’s marketing agency, create ads for keywords with high search volume or high conversion rates, paying only for each click or impression the ad earns. Of course, your law firm’s pay per click campaigns may be more complicated than that. If you have that do-it-yourself attitude, you can check out this guide to SEM & Paid Search Marketing from Search Engine Land.
Organic search (SEO) is a different process entirely. You’re not bidding on clicks and impressions, which can save a lot of money in the marketing budget. But organic isn’t 100 percent free either. You don’t pay for clicks or impressions, but you do have to invest in meaningful, well-produced content, site design and functionality, and site promotion.
You are paying for results one way or the other.
Q: What does organic digital marketing entail?
You can ask six different SEO experts how to do their job and you’ll get six different answers. That said, there are clear strategies every law firm should employ in order to have a successful organic campaign. Assuming your marketing agency or in-house SEO specialist isn’t using black-hat tactics, these include:
You need content on your properties that resonates well with your potential clients. Content can be anything from a 500-word blog post to a well-crafted infographic or video.
Each piece of content should have a specific purpose—the key to content marketing for lawyers. That’s how you know if it works or it doesn’t. For example, a service page on your site may convert well but perform poorly on your social media pages. Whereas a video, infographic or a piece of interactive content might earn a ton of social shares or backlinks, but convert poorly. Having both scenarios is ideal. There’s one piece of content that directly affects your law firm’s bottom line and another that improves brand awareness.
Creating content at such a high level requires a lot of research, trial and error, and a bit of luck, to be honest. It’s also unique to each market. What works well for a Boston firm may not earn the same results in Tampa or Seattle.
Likewise, “If you build it, they will come” worked great in A Field of Dreams, but it won’t work for your content. You need a promotional component to get your content in front of the right people.
These time-consuming tactics range from sharing it multiple times on your social channels to sending personalized messages to individuals and webmasters. You could add a paid Facebook campaign as well. It’s a high-risk tactic, but if successful, the results are well worth the investment.
Mobile-friendly & local search
In 2015, Google announced that mobile search volume outpaced desktop for the first time. So what does that mean for your website and digital marketing for law firms in general?
It means you ignore mobile devices at your own risk. Google tweaked their ranking algorithm to ding sites that aren’t friendly to mobile users. That first update in 2015 was called “Mobilegeddon,” promising to do just that. Thankfully, there wasn’t a lot of fall out because agencies and webmasters made the necessary changes to websites to avoid the penalty.
It doesn’t matter if your website has a responsive design (adjusts to a user’s screen size) or a standalone mobile site, as long as it’s user friendly. If you don’t know if your site is mobile friendly, you could ask your marketing agency or use Google’s Mobile Friendly Testing tool.
But you’re not done yet. You need to pay local SEO some attention.
The first organic result isn’t what it used to be. The first organic listing used to get the majority of clicks. These days, depending on the search result, that No. 1 position may actually be the eighth link on the page—behind four paid ads and three local listings.
It’s one reason why folks in the SEO marketing industry have moved away from just reporting on keyword rankings to validate their work. Just remember, rankings are still important, but they aren’t the indicators of success that they used to be.
So how do you overcome this change to the results? There are two ways. First, you could start a PPC campaign. But depending on your market and the legal keyword you’re targeting, that can get expensive in a hurry.
The second option is getting your business in that local pack. Like creating content, that’s easier said than done, but there are a few things you can do to improve your chance of getting in.
You’ll want to create or claim a Google My Business profile. (Tip: Always claim a listing if it already exists.) After claiming the profile, you or your representative should confirm the information is correct and add in anything that’s missing. Repeat that process on Bing, Yelp and other local listing platforms.
Q: Can you outline some smart strategies for organic digital marketing?
All law firm marketing strategies should answer one question first: Are your attorneys or law office giving prospective clients (users) what they want?
From the content on your website to the videos and photos you share on Facebook or Twitter, these are all tools to reach an audience. If you don’t know who your audience is and what they want, then you’re essentially just throwing things against the wall and hoping they stick.
Identify your audience, give them what they want, and share your content where your audience is. Go to them first, then they’ll start coming to you.
We can get into the weeds about content, backlinks, mobile-friendly designs and so on. But if you’re ignoring the user, then why are you wasting time and money advertising at all?
Q: What are the best metrics & tools for measuring success?
Measuring success for organic strategies requires teamwork between your law firm and advertising agency. At Network Affiliates, we can tell you how many users filled out a form or clicked on a digital ad to call your office, but that’s where our data ends. And unless you’re using a track-line phone number, we have no way of knowing whether those leads turned into clients.
That’s why intake is such important component of marketing plans for lawyers. If your intake specialist is capturing the right information from online leads, then we can compare the information we gather with theirs. It gives us a better idea of how well (or poorly) your site is performing.
Google Analytics is the most important tool to have installed on your website. While it’s far from perfect, it’s one of the better ways to see how people are engaging with your website. You can track how many leads your site generated, where those people came from and how many pages they visited before converting to a lead. Analytics lets you monitor traffic sources from organic and social channels, time on site or page, and a myriad of other metrics.
It is far from perfect. Spam traffic can inflate bounce rates and page visits and improperly set goals can skew your conversion data. Those issues can be fixed with the right configuration or a little bit of foresight.
For social channels, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ have their own reporting dashboards. Those dashboards give you the social information that Google Analytics can’t. You can really dive down to see what resonated with your audience for that respective platform.
That level of reporting and teamwork takes all the guesswork out of calculating your ROI, cost per lead and cost per case. Time consuming? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.
Let Network Affiliates eliminate the guesswork from your law firm’s digital marketing efforts. Give our organic search pros all call today – (888) 461-1016