Successfully marketing a law firm online requires understanding what activities and channels you should focus on, how to effectively plan your marketing activities, and how to measure the results.
It's not uncommon for law firm founders to do their own marketing when they first start out. That's where this resource guide can help.
If you want to remove yourself from the day-to-day marketing as you grow and focus on building a team who can handle intake, win cases, and generate revenue for your firm, let us know. We're a team of digital marketers that only work with law firms that want to dramatically grow and dominate their market.
What is Digital Marketing for Lawyers?
Digital marketing for lawyers is the process of generating and capturing demand for your services within your market. Effective digital marketing includes a strategy that uniquely positions you in such a way that you have an unfair advantage and win, the set activities that need to occur to win, and their execution.
Research shows that up to 76% of consumers look at a company's online profiles and websites before making a decision. It's a highly competitive playing field though. Knowing where and how to compete is the key to winning.
You can figure that out through trial and error or by hiring people who have experience and already know what to do.
Whether you practice family law, personal injury, criminal defense, or in some other practice area, digital marketing for your legal services is one of the best investments you can make to grow your client base.
How Does Digital Marketing Benefit Law Firms?
We live in an online world.
Potential clients must feel confidence and trust when deciding which law firm to hire and people turn to Google when they begin that journey.
Even if someone discovers you through word of mouth or a television ad, they will search for your firm and visit your website to learn more about you. You need to think of this as their first time walking through the door and aim to immediately begin building trust that you're the right law firm for them.
Your website's messaging, design, and experience are the keys to doing that. Unlike traditional marketing like billboards, radio ads, and television commercials...they're always there, on demand, working for you when a prospective client starts looking.
The Components of Law Firm Digital Marketing
There are several marketing channels law firms can invest in that work together to consistently attract more leads and cases. These include:
- Search Engine Optimization
- Pay per click advertising
- Pay per lead advertising
- Social media marketing
- Social media advertising
- Email marketing
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is how you can help ensure people find your firm when they search online for things that your business can help them with. about the signals you send to search engines related to what your website and its pages are about overall. This includes important information such as the clients you serve, the topics and keywords relevant to those clients, and your geographic area.
Law firm SEO has multiple components, including content marketing, on-site optimization, local SEO, technical SEO, and link building.
Google loves to rank content that helps people solve their problems when they search for them. This isn't always done by promoting your services.
People don't typically begin their journey to hire a lawyer by searching for lawyers. They start by searching for things like:
- how long should my back hurt after a car accident or,
- how long does it take to get divorced
A good form of inbound marketing for law firms is ranking for topics that people search for before they realize they need an attorney, you can capture more leads than competitors who are all focused on keywords like personal injury attorneys near me.
Our content marketing guide for lawyers covers everything you need to know to craft content that ranks well on Google and resonates with your audience so they'll actually convert to leads.
Each page of your website should be properly optimized to help Google understand it better so it knows which keywords to rank you for. This includes a variety of factors, much like a checklist, that should be individualized for each page based on the content on that page.
Some of those factors include:
- Your page title. You can think of a page title like the title of a book. A clear page title is the strongest on-page signal that tells Google what the primary topic of the page is. It's also what people see on Google when your page shows up. The clearer and more relevant it is to their search, the more likely they are to click on it.
- Subheadings. These are the larger text you often see within articles online that indicate what each section of the content is about. You can think of these like chapters in a textbook—they help you navigate quickly to the information you're specifically looking for.
- Meta descriptions. These are the bits of smaller text you see underneath a Google search result. You can think of these like book summaries. They're there to provide searchers with more context about the page. While they aren't a direct ranking factor, they can increase the likelihood of people clicking your result, so don't take them lightly. A bit of enticing copywriting with helpful information goes a long way here.
- Internal links are the hyperlinks found within content you read online that direct you to another page. Google uses these to navigate your website when its crawling and assessing it. How you link pages together (including the text you use) helps Google understand what your site is about and how the different pages on it relate to one another. Internal links are one of the single most powerful mechanisms influencing your rankings that you have direct control over.
- Keywords and topics. While using keywords relevant to what people are searching for throughout aren't as important as they used to be—they still matter. How you use them in your content helps provide Google the additional info it needs to assess how comprehensive your content is likely to be, and therefore, give the searcher what they want.
Local SEO for lawyers has two key components: a well optimized Google My Business profile and listings in online directories.
Your Google My Business profile (now called a Google Business Profile) contains important contact information for your law firm like your phone number, address, and physical office locations. It should also include images you've added to that profile and online reviews from past clients.
Optimizing a Google Business Profile is an entire subject on its own that you can learn more about in our Guide to Optimizing Google My Business for Lawyers.
Make sure your law firm is easily located with the correct details posted in all legal directories relevant to your local area or practice areas.
Technical SEO is all about making sure search engines and people can find and navigate your website easily. Some elements of technical SEO are table stakes when it comes to ranking online such as making sure your website is crawlable and indexable for Google by setting rules in your robots.txt and meta robots attributes properly.
It also includes making sure the experience is good for searchers who land on it. To do that you'll want to ensure the mobile experience is excellent (visit your own website on mobile and see if anything annoys you) while also making it trustworthy by installing an SSL certificate (secure socket layer).
Important: Without an SSL, modern browsers like Chrome and Safari won't even load your website.
When another website links back to your content, that indicates that the content on your website is high quality and authoritative. When you earn these actions, known as backlinks, it can help to boost your SEO results.
Guest posting or being quoted in articles on other prominent websites is a great way to get your law firm name out there.
Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising
Pay per click ads involves placing a bid on a particular set of keywords so that your law firm's name and website come up before the organic search results. PPC ads might also be called "Google ads" or "pay per click advertising."
While PPC advertising can get quick results for an investment, don't opt for this over the long-term snowball results of organic SEO. As you contribute more content to your website, you build a library and begin to get traction with multiple keywords.
Research has also shown that 70 to 80% of readers skip over paid search results, so you're better off investing your time and energy into organic.
PPC can also get expensive if there's a lot of competition for your practice areas in your region, so building a solid base of organic SEO results is important. The return on investment might decrease over time if other firms in your area start using PPC marketing services.
Local Service Ads (Pay Per Lead)
Like pay per click ads, local service ads put your law firm above organic search results, but these include a small snapshot of some of the data from your Google My Business profile rather than a text-based ad of your choosing.
With these types of ads, searchers will see your picture, the name of your firm, hours, years in business, and your overall Google rating.
Organic Social Media
Sharing content on social media is a nice way to connect with your audience, but the primary goal of social media websites is to keep the viewer's eyes on that platform. This means your attempts to drive traffic off the platform to your website will decrease the number of people who see or engage with your content overall.
Organic social media marketing can supplement some of your other content efforts, but should never be relied on as a solid source of traffic or quality leads for your law firm.
A social media platform, unlike your website, isn't owned by you. This means that the platform can change its rules or algorithm at any time, potentially to your detriment.
Social Media Advertising
While organic social media marketing is free outside of the time and resources spent creating and publishing that content, advertising involves dollars used to promote your content to a specific audience.
Social media ads are a mixed bag for lawyers. Data in social media platforms doesn't always lend itself to a lawyer's practice areas.
For example, while a business lawyer could target someone who has a Facebook profile with an interest in "entrepreneurship" or "venture capital" easily, there's no similar data point social media users might tick off to indicate their current contemplation of divorce or that they’ve just been in a car accident.
Social media results, like PPC ads, will have varied results that depend on how many other people are running ads and at what cost, too. This means seasonal changes in the effectiveness of ads, such as around election time or the holidays when more people are throwing money into paid ads.
Email marketing, at first glance, seems like a logical fit for a lawyer who has time to create great content like newsletter articles or re-sharing blogs. Most people, however, don't want to stay subscribed to a law firm newsletter indefinitely. There are a number of reasons why:
- In email marketing, users give up their contact information usually in exchange for something of value, but not every law firm needs to or wants to create a "lead magnet" style ebook, PDF, or guide
- Many potential clients for a law firm have an immediate problem, so staying on an email newsletter month over month doesn't make sense
- If you have multiple practice areas, the chances that someone joins for content very relevant to their situation but also receives emails that are not of interest to them increases the chances they'll unsubscribe.
- Most content is simply not relevant for the average internet reader, but if you have a strong referral base of other lawyers where you can share your recent publications, awards, and case outcomes instead, a monthly or quarterly newsletter to that audience might be a better fit
How to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy for Your Law Firm
A solid attorney marketing plan goes a long way toward breaking down what to do to reach potential clients. To succeed, you must define your target audience, set marketing goals, set a budget, choose the right marketing channels, execute, and measure your results.
Define Your Target Audience
In order to connect properly with ideal clients, you have to know who you're talking to. This is not "everyone" or "everyone in this particular zip code."
Think about your ideal clients in the past and the kind of clients you want in the future. What do they have in common? How can you narrow down the demographics so that you're clearly speaking to your target audience?
In the legal industry, it's important to be clear about the client focus of your law practice regardless of your practice area.
Set Marketing Goals
The reason a lot of legal marketing feels like throwing spaghetti on the wall is due to lack of metrics. Before deciding on your marketing tactics, determine how you'll measure success. Set marketing goals that can be tracked easily and reflected on regularly in your law firm.
Set a Budget
Every law firm needs a marketing budget regardless of the size, location, or practice areas. While that budget might vary based on those parameters, a budget helps you determine the best way to reach potential clients effectively.
Choose the Right Marketing Channels
Marketing channels are the places in which you could connect with your new clients. There are offline channels such as:
- Traditional ads
- Word of mouth testimonials
- Marketing collateral
- Publicity and news
- Boards or professional memberships
- Community engagement
- Networking and referrals
There are also many viable online marketing channels for law firms, including:
- Your website
- The firm's Google My Business profile
- Email marketing
- Local services ads
- Paid search advertising
- Legal directories
- Social media marketing
If your firm is just starting out with marketing, it's best to focus on mastering one channel at a time. Jumping into too many channels at once could end up scattering your marketing efforts, causing more harm than good in the long run.
Start Executing Your Plan
Once you know the budget, the team members required, and the time investment it will take to get your marketing efforts off the ground, it's time to execute. Focus on meaningful daily, weekly, and monthly action steps that move you closer to your goals.
Measure the Results
With most aspects of marketing, it will take some time before you begin to see big results. Start tracking anyway so you know what your baseline is. Your tracking could be as simple as a spreadsheet or you could use a CRM or other software to see how your efforts are paying off over time. Reflect on those results and make changes to tactics as necessary.
Digital Marketing Tips for Law Firms
A few tips go a long way in building a successful, credible brand for your law firm. These include building and maintaining a professional website, creating content that highlights your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, and providing value with everything you create to promote your law firm.
1. Build a Professional, SEO-Optimized Website
Your website should clearly build your firm's brand and value offering while also being easy to navigate.
Research from Amazon Web Services reveals that as many as 88% of people will never return to a website where they had a bad user experience, which means it's very important to have a clean and functional web design for your law firm.
There are a few things to keep in mind with law firm website design and marketing efforts, including:
- Build the site with your potential clients in mind, including the questions they might have and the material most helpful to them
- Use a clean interface and clear navigational buttons
- Don't overwhelm your site, and especially your homepage, with slow-loading massive videos or other files
- Test your website's performance on desktop and mobile
- Make sure there's a call-to-action on your pages regarding the user's next step
Building an SEO-friendly and user-focused website is very important, but it's also time-consuming. It's best handled by marketing experts. Many lawyers smartly invest in a team to help them build an optimized website.
2. Create Content that Shows Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (EAT)
The content on your website should all be geared to potential new clients as well as search engines. Google evaluates content based on the EAT principle, which stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
Your content should be completely original, displayed in a way that makes it easy for readers to scan, and high quality.
3. Always Provide Value
Your target audience doesn't land on your website by accident. They have a legal concern or important question they want an answer to. When writing content for these readers, always provide value. Write in such a way that they will understand. Give context, use examples, and always be willing to go back and update if things change.
Additional ways to make your content more engaging include:
- Linking to other relevant content on your website
- Avoiding legal jargon
- Writing FAQs at the end of long articles or blog posts
- Using imagery or infographics to synthesize complex information
Remember, your client is the hero of their story, not you. You're the guide helping them along their journey.
Getting Professional Help with Law Firm Digital Marketing
Law firm digital marketing can feel overwhelming at first because it includes so many different aspects. Once you combine all these aspects together, however, you'll start to see how they all work with one another and lead to valuable results in terms of new clients.
For lawyers, your time is best spent on two things: converting potential clients into paying clients and serving the legal needs of those clients.
Getting outside help to define and implement your marketing tactics is crucial for staying in your zone of genius. The right marketing team can systematize all your marketing efforts so that you know you have the best possible chance of reaching your ideal clients at any given time.
Rankings.io has built a reputation serving law firms just like you. We love breaking down marketing strategies into actionable steps that bring results consistently every single month.
If you're ready to level up your outcomes with SEO, contact us today for a free consultation and to learn how we've helped scores of other law firms just like yours grow and dominate their local markets.