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Want to rank high in Bing Local? Try SPAM

Bing_local_spamWe recently looked at the local results for Google, Yahoo!, and Bing in an attempt to find similarities among the results displayed in the search engines’ local results.

While Yahoo! and Bing are both powered by the same search engine, the logic behind their local results are very different.

In Yahoo!, a search for a Chicago personal injury lawyer yielded one spammy listing out of five. In Bing for that same search, we found four spammy entries out of five. The non-spammy listing looks like spam at first glance, but the law firm has incorporated their keyword-stuffed name, so they are technically “doing business as” the keyword-rich title in their listing.

Yahoo! shows local results that appear to be based on more credible variables — things like reviews, citations, reviews on other websites, and rating. They also appear to favor higher-rated law firms. Whereas Google may favor a law firm with 50-plus reviews, (more…)

Changes to Search Algorithms are Constant. Don’t Panic.

panicRecent changes to Google’s guidelines coupled with statements from Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team, that disparage the usefulness of press releases have made many firms nervous about their rankings and the future of their search marketing efforts. Just as everyone is adapting to summertime Penguin updates, additional modifications are forcing marketers to once again reconsider what the best strategies are for their clients.

Rule number one when facing any unknown is: don’t panic. Making reactionary, emotion-based changes to your website or marketing will likely do more harm than good. Take a step back and see how much new guidelines will actually affect your site and go from there. If you have been engaging in ethical and honest practices, chances are you will not have to make too many adjustments at all. Here are some areas about which your firm may have particular concern.

Press Releases. Google has been (more…)

Less Is More When It Comes To Law Firm Website Design – Podcast

Simplicity can be difficult. Simplicity in website design is difficult as well, as most people want to fill white space. Not a good idea. Check out why.

Associating your law firms name with a good crowd

into_the_futureThe July issue of Bigger Law Firm magazine features a column by Ryan Conley, Into The Future of SEO.

In it, Conley made a case for citations becoming as important as inbound links. Your law firm should embrace this concept with open arms.

Here is how it works:

1) Smith & Smith, LLP setup their Google+ Local page, connecting the profile to their website, lawexample.com.

2) In their profile, they place themselves in the category of “estate planning lawyers.” Now, Google knows that Smith & Smith, LLP is equal to lawexample.com, a website about estate planning.

In the past, had John or Susan Smith been interviewed by The New York Times, the article would probably mention their name and the law firm’s name, but would more than likely not link to the firm’s website — giving the firm great exposure, but absolutely no search engine optimization value. That has changed.

If (more…)

How to Write Content that Captures Your Readers’ Attention, Part 3: Compelling Copy

questionmarkThis is part 3 in a series of posts about how to write content that people actually want to read and share. Part 1, which you can read here, focused on legal marketing article titles. Part 2 focused on email subject lines and can be found here.

Capturing readers’ attention and delivering content that ranks well in search results are quickly becoming the same thing. Search engines can see through old tricks like keyword stuffing, and the web is a better place for it. Because search algorithms are able to learn and discern quality from context, creating valuable content that people actually want to read and to which other websites willingly link is good for your conversion and your rankings.

How do you know you are delivering the message that people want to hear?

Writing compelling page copy and blog posts

When you are writing website copy, forget about keywords. Do not (more…)

Does Active Blogging Pay off for Law Firms?

rss stickerWe recently conducted a study to see if blogging really impacted search engine rankings. We searched for highly-competitive terms in some of the America’s largest cities and reviewed the top three natural rankings. Aside from blog activity, we also looked at the overall number of pages on the sites and social activity.

The results were mixed, but we found some interesting similarities. We looked at five key practice areas in 20 major metro areas and reviewed the top 3 sites in each search, totaling approximately 300 websites.

Results (Averages)

  • Blog entries per month – 4 – 12
  • Firms with more than 100 pages – 87%
  • Firms with social profiles – 98%
  • Number of social profiles updates (per month) 15 – 20

Some firms (a small percentage) did not have blogs at all, but the majority of firms in the top three rankings had blogs with at least one weekly blog post. Some of these firms were not routine (more…)

How to Write Content that Captures Your Readers’ Attention, Part 2: Email

This is part 2 in a series of posts about how to write content that people actually want to read and share. Part 1, which you can read here, focused on legal marketing article titles.

email subjectMarketers have been trying to invent new ways to get people’s attention since the invention of the profession. This is particularly true online, where visitors’ already short attention spans are even shorter. Email marketing is not new and shiny, but studies show that it is still one of the most effective direct marketing methods. SEO concerns are less relevant to your subject lines; your goal is to get people to open that email.

Writing click-worthy email titles

Similar rules apply to writing good email titles as do to writing good article headlines. People must be told up-front why they should bother to click on your email when they have so many others to occupy their time. (more…)

7 Ways to Enhance Your Local Search Marketing Efforts

localWith the release of Penguin 2.0 in May, Google made it apparent that, among other things, a business’s location would play a little more heavily in search results. You may have noticed over the last few months that businesses near you are getting preferential placement in results for non-geo-specific terms like “sushi” or “veterinarian.” Your firm can take advantage of this development by adding a targeted local strategy to your online marketing efforts.

Google wants to see more diverse link profiles and higher quality content in its quest to provide relevant and useful results. Old-fashioned link exchanges and over-optimized, location-based keyword stuffed pages will do your firm more harm than good. Google may be giving physical proximity more weight, but it will still recognize and penalize geo-specific keyword spam.

Instead, local search marketing efforts must be organic. Here are some things you can do to make sure (more…)

Your law firm’s outbound links still play an important role

resourcelinksThere is a lot of discussion within the search engine marketing community surrounding the Google Penguin 2.0 updates and how they affect inbound links to your firm’s website. In last month’s issue of the Bigger Law Firm magazine, the author created a framework for how to think about search engine marketing moving forward. It’s about connections, not just links to your website.

Connections involve social connections, citations, websites which mention your firm (even if not linking to it), inbound links, and outbound links. The outbound links are often overlooked, but are extremely important.

An outbound link is essentially an endorsement from your website — an extension of your reputation. Imagine networking at a dinner party. You stand up and introduce your friend who has a Ph.D., is a professor at M.I.T. and currently works with NASA developing nuclear reactors to be used for galactic space travel. Your status at the dinner party is (more…)

How to Write Content that Captures Your Readers’ Attention, Part 1 – Headlines

typewriterThis is part 1 in a series of posts about how to write content that people actually want to read.

Some tried and true marketing tactics are no longer effective, especially when speaking to online viewers. People have been hit with so much hyperbole, so many empty, information-free articles, and so many offers that seem – and are – too good to be true that they have simply begun ignoring some forms of message delivery. Users have seen so many sites that are just pure spam that words like “free,” “award-winning,” “save” and “innovative” can actually cause a negative reaction. Headlines that contain over-the-top promises and shameless self-promotion will cause people to click away or overlook the piece altogether.

Good content must catch the reader’s attention and prompt them to do something. And good content starts with a good headline. If you cannot convince people to read your posts, you will (more…)