Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Website Design and Marketing for Attorneys, Doctors, and Other Professionals
Below are some questions many clients have when they first contact Foster Web Marketing about the online marketing world.
The questions below may address many initial concerns you may have. If you don't find your answers here, you should contact us for answers to any questions specific to your firm.
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How do I choose good topics for my website videos?
Putting almost any kind of video on your attorney website, social media sites, and YouTube can potentially add power to your marketing strategy. However, the real magic of video marketing comes into play when your videos compel people to watch, connect, take away something of value, and share your video content with their friends and families.
When done right, even one great video can go a long way to spread the word about your law firm!
Do you hit a roadblock when you try to think of topics? Are you having trouble figuring out what people are interested in or why they would care what you have to say? The trick is to step outside yourself and explore what's going on around you and what's of interest to your clients.
Ready to get started?
14 Ways to Find Inspiration for Your Website Videos
- Look at your existing content. You have already put the time and effort into blogs and articles for your website, so why not expand on that same information for a video? You could summarize a longer article, share a relevant anecdote, answer a relevant question, or explore one aspect of the article topic.
- Ask your staff. Few resources are as good as the people who work directly with your clients, day after day. Even if you’re stumped for ideas, your paralegals, legal assistants, and other staff members are probably harboring a wealth of ideas for video topics that would be helpful to your new and potential clients.
- Ask your clients. The people you serve are often overlooked as potential resources for video and content ideas. Since you are trying to go after people exactly like the clients you already help, who better to ask an opinion of than your existing clients? They will be able to give you insight on what they were looking for in a law firm and what they think would interest potential viewers. They can also tell you what they think would not work, which could end up saving you time and money in the long run.
- Check out your competitors. We aren't saying you should shoot word-for-word copies of your competitors’ videos, but it doesn’t hurt to look at what they’re doing to attract new clients. The bonus is that, by browsing through what has been tried by others in your region and industry, you are bound to come up with your own ideas or angles for compelling videos.
- Check out the news. Current news stories are great bases for videos, especially when you can easily make a connection between the cases your firm handles and what is going on in the world today. Done properly, that connection will position you in your viewers' minds as an authority in your field. Video is also easily picked up by news outlets, giving you a chance to really expand your reach.
- Answer and explain. This is one of the most basic and foundational ways to come up with video ideas that will connect you with more great clients and cases. Think about the most frequent questions you hear from your clients and potential clients, then try answering those questions on video. You could also explain a common legal issue in layman’s terms, talk about an important change in the law, or share clear information that will help potential clients with their concerns.
- Brainstorm from magazine headlines. Catchy magazine titles and stories can give you tons of ideas, as long as you are thinking far enough outside of the box to apply it to your own practice. For example, the headline, “Top 10 Must-Have Beauty Products to Use This Summer” can easily be transformed into, “Top 10 Must-Have Insurance Tips for Your Summer Vacation Home.”
- Debunk a myth. When researching a legal issue, many potential clients land on your website with common misconceptions about what attorneys are like, how much their case is worth, how the legal system works, etc. By using video to debunk these myths and inform your viewers, you save your visitor time and erase common doubts. These kinds of videos not only give vital information to your viewers, they also establish you as someone who has vital information to give in the first place.
- Give a tour. When you welcome guests into your home, you show them around. Welcoming online visitors to your website should be no different. Create a video that is a tour of the most useful pages on your attorney website or give them a behind-the-scenes tour of your office.
- Introduce yourself. Unlike text, video is instantly personal: viewers will see what you look like, how you sound, and what your personality is like. Take a few minutes to tell your viewers about yourself, why you became an attorney, and why you love being a lawyer. Share a few facts about your law office. Talk about your mission and mindset, or simply spend a moment welcoming your visitors and letting them know what you’re about.
- Try a series. Create a series of short videos that all address facets of a particular topic or that continue a popular discussion that started on your website or social media pages. If you really love making videos for your law firm, you might even consider starting a video blog. You can address current events that relate to your clients, talk about upcoming events, or just answer a weekly or monthly question!
- Connect with others and deepen relationships. Web users love to share videos that help them connect with others, and they love to watch videos from people and brands that they feel a connection with. Think about how your information and expertise can help your users reach out to other people with similar issues, and let your personality and passion show while you do it. When you think about your audience and are willing to share what you do best, you can make a lasting personal connection with your viewers.
- Create emotional impact and/or raise awareness. The stories of your past cases and clients help people connect emotionally with the information you share. Showing your dedication to raising awareness about the issues that are important to both you and your clients makes an impact that brings people together. While people sometimes have trouble retaining technical or complex information, they will usually remember the emotional impact of what you shared—and come back for more.
- Call your viewers to action! Don’t forget to include “calls to action” in your videos, just like you do in your written content and emails. For example, use your videos to let your viewers know that they can give your office a call anytime with questions, that they can check out your new book, or that they can use your contact form to schedule an appointment.
Need more ideas on how to come up with effective website video content? Call Foster Web Marketing at 888.886.0939 to start a conversation with our team—or choose your on-site video shoot package, and let’s get started right now.
How often should I send an email newsletter?
There is no one rule for newsletter frequency that will work for every business that wants to send one. Instead, if you want it to be truly effective, the answer is going to be totally unique to your business and your newsletter subscribers.
That’s because the best email newsletter schedule for you is going to be highly dependent on a lot of factors, including:
- How fast you and your team can realistically produce a compelling newsletter
- The type of business you run
- Your subscribers’ preferences
- The type of content your newsletter contains
- Your goals for your newsletter
The real trick is finding out what works best for you, without losing consistency or the interest of your readers.
Need some guidelines to get your head around it? Here are our best tips and methods for finding the “sweet spot” for email newsletter frequency.
Consistency Is More Important Than Frequency
For law firms (and similar businesses, like medical practices), we typically recommend that you start with a monthly or quarterly newsletter and commit to sticking to that schedule consistently for 6 months or a year. That gives you enough time to orient your readers, polish any rough edges in the production process, and see the initial performance trends. After that, you can adjust the frequency, if needed.
It’s okay to start small! In the end, it’s far more important to send your newsletter consistently than it is to send it frequently. For example, sending a quarterly newsletter that’s delivered on time will be more beneficial to your business than attempting to send a monthly newsletter that gets delivered sporadically—or not at all. You can always increase the frequency later if your readers are engaged and wanting more.
Test and Analyze the Frequency of Your Email Newsletter
We recommend that you start with a monthly or quarterly newsletter, but we’ve seen businesses and individual thought leaders succeed with newsletters that are sent out anywhere from once a year to twice a week. That’s why we so strongly recommend that you analyze your performance over time to figure out what’s “just right” for you and your readers.
If you’ve been sending a newsletter for a while, you should already have enough data to get an idea of how it is performing for you—and don’t just look at open rates! Click-throughs and opt-outs are often what really tell the story of the success of a campaign.
An increasingly high number of opt-outs after a change in newsletter frequency can be a sign that you’re contacting your list too often (or that you need to work on managing your email contact list), and an increasingly low number of click-throughs might be a sign that you’re overwhelming your readers. Again, this isn’t a set-in-stone rule—there are lots of reasons you might see changes in your email data. However, watching those kinds of trends can tip you off that something isn’t working as well as it could after a change.
Ask Your Subscribers How Often They Want to Hear From You
Sometimes, it’s easiest to get answers right from the source. You can guess how often your subscribers want to hear from you, and you can look at the data after the fact. However, nothing is going to give you answers about how often your subscribers want to get your newsletter like just asking them!
Send out a quick survey that lets the people on your list tick off the newsletter frequency that they would prefer (monthly, quarterly, etc.), and see what your audience thinks is the right amount of contact. You could also use this as an opportunity to ask for feedback on the type of content they enjoy the most or would like to see in the future.
Partner With Us for No-Stress Email Newsletters That Rock
Email newsletters are a great way to start reaching out to your contact list, but not every attorney has the time and resources to prepare one every month. If you’ve been struggling to keep up with your newsletter, or if you just don’t have time to get one started, let us do it for you.
Check out our completely done-for-you newsletter packages, or give us a call at 888.886.0939 with your questions.
What happens after I choose FWM to write my book?
Writing a book sounds like a painful task, but that’s only when you don’t have the help of an expert writing and marketing team.
At Foster Web Marketing, we’ve ghostwritten enough legal guides and e-books for our clients that we’ve turned the process into a fast and efficient art. We’ve broken down the whole process into manageable tasks, and we leave the opportunity open for you to be as involved (or not involved) in our marketing services as you wish.
While some lawyers will bring us an almost-finished book or guide to edit, we understand that other attorneys would like us to take the reins on the project from beginning to end. Either way, there is a general shape to the process that we follow, no matter your chosen level of involvement.
The 8-Step Process of Writing a Book With FWM
If you decide to partner with us to create a book, guide, report, or other offer, these are the basic steps you can expect:
- Choose a topic for your attorney book. You know your practice and areas of expertise best, so we ask you to choose the topic or topics for your book. You’re not totally on your own, though! We can also work with you to develop your rough ideas or guide you to unique and creative topics that will deliver the information that your web visitors are looking for.
- Meet with our writer and marketing team for a short interview. Once you have a focused topic in mind, you meet with our marketing team and writer to discuss the details of your book. Depending on the length and complexity of the book, we may need to have you approve an outline or briefly meet with us again to share more information. These meetings are your best chance to tell us what you are looking for, how you see the “tone” of your book, and what kinds of details you’d like it to cover.
- Sit back as we write the first draft of your e-book. This is the easy part for you, but it’s the challenging part for us! While you get on with other work that needs to be done around your office, we write a first draft of your book or guide based on the decisions made in the meetings with our writer.
- Look over the first draft and suggest changes. Once you have the first draft from us in hand, read it over and make any changes or suggestions you have. This is your opportunity to tell us about tonal changes, typos, small mistakes, or big thematic issues that need to be fixed.
- Look over the second draft and make final alterations. If needed, we will write a second draft of your book that incorporates your suggested changes. When you get the second draft, you get a second chance to make suggestions and share your opinions.
- Let us format and design a great cover for your book. Be sure to tell us if you have specific ideas for cover images, colors you’d prefer, or themes you’d like to avoid. With your input, we perfect the book’s internal layout and design and create an effective cover image to post on your website.
- Give your approval to the final draft. We’ll ask you to do a final review of the book with everything put together, designed, and formatted. Make sure that absolutely everything looks the way you want it to, from the content to the design to the cover. Once any final changes are made, it’s time to publish your work!
- Get your book added to your attorney website. We’ll add the book to your attorney website, along with the copy, landing page, banners, and buttons needed to promote it. If you’d also like to produce hard copies of your book to mail to your contacts, we are happy to talk about the print-publishing options available to you.
Now, watch as visitors begin to download their own copies of your, request print copies, and call your office for help! To increase the effectiveness of your new book, don’t forget to launch follow-up campaigns and promote the release through email and social media.
Just because writing an attorney book takes a significant amount of time and effort doesn’t mean it has to take up all of your time. At Foster Web Marketing, we mix your expertise with the strength and talents of our team to create great marketing tools for your website, quickly and efficiently. From start to finish, we generally produce your book for you in three months or less.
Want to get started on your new book right away? Check out our book writing services or give us a call at 888.886.0939.
What If I’ve Already Started a Book and Need Help Finishing It?
We understand that writing your own book can be an overwhelming task. This is especially true for busy lawyers and other professionals who may possess the skills and knowledge to write effectively, but who simply do not have time or know-how to complete a polished final product.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve only jotted down some ideas, have a working outline, have a rough draft, or have an almost-finished product that just needs a professional touch. No matter where you are in the writing process, we offer attorney book-writing services to suit your needs.
You can have as much or as little control as you’re comfortable with and still end up with a professional final product. We can even just provide the editing and formatting services for you when the writing is done!
Interested? Contact us at 888.886.0939 or browse our book writing services to work out a plan that will make your book a reality.
Why aren’t people downloading the free offer on my website?
"Free" is a powerful word. Study after study shows that using free books and offers on your website dramatically increases conversion rates. So, if you are already offering a free book (or other offer) on your law firm’s website, then you’ve already taken a huge step and probably have most of the really hard work out of the way.
However, if it just doesn’t seem like you’re getting much interest in your free book offer once it’s live on your website, don’t give up just yet. Instead, here’s a little troubleshooting guidance.
Make Sure Your Book or Free Offer Is Something Your Perfect Clients Want to Download
If no one seems to be downloading your book, we recommend that you start troubleshooting at the root. Look critically at what you’re offering, and work through these diagnostic questions:
1. Is your free book offer relevant to your potential clients? Although “free” is a powerful motivator, the most powerful motivator is relevance. If your book focuses on probate law, but most of your practice is devoted to divorce law, the potential clients who find your book probably aren’t interested because it doesn’t really address their concerns.
By offering free items that appeal directly to your ideal clients, you are putting out bait for an audience that is already ready to listen—and, hopefully, ready to hire an attorney. If your offer speaks to them and helps them in their time of need, then they are much more likely to hire you over a competitor that has nothing tangible to offer.
2. Does your free book offer suffer from thin content? “Thin content” is content that doesn’t really deliver enough guidance or information to satisfy your readers. For example, if your book is very short or only focuses on pitching your law office, then potential clients may not find it useful or worth the download.
Take a critical look at what you’re offering. Does it really offer something of value to the people you want to attract as clients? If not, consider expanding and improving your book’s content to improve download rates and avoid making a bad impression on your readers.
3. Is it easy to request your free book? If your website visitors can’t immediately find a way to request your book, they probably won’t keep digging. Make sure you have clear links to your offer page and incorporate an easy contact form. Test your contact forms to make sure they work as expected and are delivering the right message.
Keep in mind that your contact forms should be specific to the book you are offering, and they should be brief (while still collecting the information you need). Be sure to get visitors excited about your book with compelling calls to action.
If your book is already relevant, robust, and easy to download, then it’s time to move on to the next phase of troubleshooting. Let’s look at how—and where—you are promoting your free offer.
Promote Your Free Book or Offer to Increase Interest and Get More Downloads
You can’t expect people to get excited about a book or offer they don’t know about. If you have a great offer on your website, but downloads are struggling, the next step is to find a way to inform and remind your clients that it’s available:
- Feature it on your website. Using DSS, it's simple to add new books or offers to your website, create landing pages for your offers, and create professional contact forms for download or mail requests. Adding a “thank you” page and follow-up “thank you” email are additional touches that let readers know you’ve received their request. For maximum effect, you should also promote your book or offer on your homepage, relevant practice area pages, and the sidebars of relevant supporting pages.
- Include it in your newsletters. Mention your latest book or legal guide when you send out your newsletter, and maybe offer a “teaser” of the content. Let people know how they can get it and that you are offering it for free. If people are interested enough to read your newsletter, it’s likely that they’re interested in reading your book, too!
- Make it your call to action. In relevant blog posts, articles, and FAQs on your website, use your book offer as a call to action. Since your readers are already engaged with the content on the page, moving on to the additional content in your book is a natural step—but you have to let them know that next step is available.
- Embrace social media. Using your accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites to promote your book is a great idea, but don't overdo it. The last thing potential clients—or your friends and associates—want is to hear about every hour of every day is your book. You definitely want to let people know when you publish a new book and promote it while it’s fresh. After that, though, occasional reminders will suffice, especially when you can tie it to a relevant campaign or message.
- Engage readers with an email follow-up campaign. The people who download your book share their contact information with you, so look at it as an opportunity to stay in touch. A “drip” campaign keeps you top of mind after people download your book and helps convert them into clients. It also increases the chances that your readers will recommend your book or offer to their own friends and family.
We Can Write a Book for You and Give You Everything You Need to Promote It
If you haven’t written a book yet, or if your current book is struggling, FWM has a solution that can explode your growth. With a Practice Expansion Campaign, you choose the focus, while our team writes your book, creates the landing page for your website, writes your email follow-up campaign, and provides the supporting content you need to bring it all together. You even get personalized coaching that will hone your strategy and get you focused on exactly who your perfect clients are and how to reach them!
From brainstorming topic ideas to promoting your book, a Practice Expansion Campaign makes the process of adding a free book to your website not only painless, but fun. Questions? Call 888.886.0939.
I want to offer a free book on my law firm’s website. What should it be about?
These days, most of your online audience is likely to have a hard drive that is clogged with all kinds of free e-books and downloads from different sites. And, as unfair as it might sound, your online audience expects more than ever from your online marketing freebies.
We are not saying you shouldn’t write a book and offer it on your website for free—quite the opposite actually. We’re just saying your book needs to meet the needs of your potential clients and the needs of your law firm, and it all starts with the topic you choose.
Your Topic Should Be Relevant to Your Potential Clients
You are writing a book to attract more of the kinds of cases and “perfect clients” you want. That means your topic planning for your book needs to start with what is most relevant to that audience.
Think about who you want to reach and what you can share with them that will be valuable and relevant to their lives. If your free book isn’t relevant to most of the clients you hope to attract, then they probably won’t download it, even for free. Why would they?
Instead, you need to focus on why they are visiting your website or searching for your law firm and what matters to them:
- Choose a topic that helps your readers handle a crisis. For example, a personal injury lawyer might write about what to do at the scene of an accident. A criminal defense lawyer might write about what you should do after your loved one is arrested, or an estate planner might address what to do after a loved one’s death. Aim to provide the information your perfect clients need at the point of crisis, and they will remember that you had the answers they needed in a difficult time.
- Choose a topic that makes the legal process easier. Walk your readers through a common legal process in your practice area. For example, you might give a timeline and more information about how a personal injury case proceeds in your state or talk about the steps in bankruptcy and loan modification. The idea is to break down complex legal topics into digestible—and truly useful—information that addresses what your potential clients face.
- Choose a topic that focuses on a specific segment of your audience. If you have more than one practice area, it’s hard to come up with a topic that will be truly relevant to everyone. If you have a broad practice area or highly varied client base, it’s hard to speak to everyone’s needs. By choosing a topic that focuses on one niche, practice area, or portion of your audience, you deliver the most relevant information to exactly the right people. Think “A Woman’s Guide to Divorce” or “What You Need to Know After a DUI.”
Your Topic Should Be Interesting to Your Potential Clients
When was the last time you enjoyed a boring book? Relevance is crucial, but you don’t want to make your potential clients wade through a bunch of dry information or boring definitions to get the information they need. A boring book is not an effective conversion tool!
You’ll attract more readers and make people happier if you can present relevant information in an intriguing, exciting, or interesting way:
- Choose a topic that expands upon current news and events. Is there a big story or trend that relates to your area of law? Have there been recent changes to the law that people need to know about? Has a case related to one of your practice areas had a lot of media coverage? People are probably already curious about these kinds of topics, so a book that explains or expands upon popular subjects in accessible language can be a huge draw. For example, you can use your book to explain why a prescription drug was recalled, how a change in tax laws affects your estate planning clients, or the lessons your potential clients can take from a trending story.
- Choose a topic that offers “insider” knowledge. Some of the most irresistible book topics give readers a unique peek into a particular process or industry. That kind of “insider” information not only establishes you as an authority on the subject, but it also helps your readers orient to the topic and avoid making “rookie mistakes.” For example, you might write about “5 Secrets of the Hail Insurance Industry Revealed” or “Why Injured Patients Don’t File Medical Malpractice Claims.”
- Choose a topic that highlights what you do best. Every law firm is unique, so focus on what makes you stand out. Are you the go-to person for a certain kind of case? Do you have expertise in an unusual area or with a highly specific client base? Do you have a unique point of view you can share with your potential clients? Choose a topic that shows you as the authority you are and offers a glimpse into why your law firm is different. This is a great place to use stories of past clients and cases to bring your book to life and illustrate important points for your readers.
Your Topic Should Be Robust Enough to Warrant a Book
When looking for topics that are both relevant and interesting, it’s easy to end up with ideas that are a little too narrow to warrant a whole book on the subject. If your free “book” is very short or seems to mostly just be a pitch for your services, your potential clients are likely to be more disappointed than delighted.
Don’t be tempted to just “pad” thin information with useless information for the sake of the word count. If you can’t write enough useful, unique information on your original topic to come up with a 30-page book, you might consider combining several related topics or publishing the shorter document as a “guide” or “report” instead.
If you’re having trouble coming up with enough for a substantial and valuable book offer or guide, you might also think about other kinds of free offers that are relevant to your potential clients and can reinforce your core message. Would a first aid kit, mobile app, checklist, or other offer be relevant and helpful? Don’t be afraid to get creative!
Partner With a Marketing Team That Understands Free Offers and Book Writing for Attorneys
If you’re having trouble coming up with a topic for your book, our book writing services team loves brainstorming ideas from scratch and talking through clients’ ideas. We can even partner with you to create a book that will be a great resource for your potential clients and make you look like the professional you are. You don’t have to have it all figured out before you come to us!
Ready to see how a book can change the way you market your law firm but don’t want to do it all yourself? Don’t miss out on this rare opportunity to get a book written for you and see all the marketing parts in motion for your success. With a Practice Expansion Campaign, you can get focused on your perfect clients in one practice area, get a book written that will attract their attention, and build a strategy that keeps that investment working for your law firm.
What is the best length of time for an email campaign?
Email campaigns are a powerful way to reach out to your perfect clients, whether you are breaking the ice, following up, or letting them know about something new. The problem is that, if you send email too often, you end up seeming pushy. If you don’t send email often enough, then you risk your contacts forgetting who you are and what you do.
So, what is the right length of time for an email campaign? It all depends on who you are reaching out to and what you want to accomplish.
1. It Depends on Your Goals for Your Email Campaign
What are you trying to do with your email campaign? Your goals have a lot to do with how many emails you should send and for how long.
If you are just trying to introduce yourself or a new service, a handful of emails over a few weeks might be just right. If you want to educate clients who have already signed up for your services, it might be more appropriate to break up the information over many emails that are sent out over 6 months or a year.
Here are some “ballpark” ideas for 2 common goals to get you started:
- For following up after a book download, we usually recommend starting with weekly emails over 8 to 12 weeks.
- For a “blast” campaign about an upcoming event or special offer, we might recommend sending a few emails on an increasingly smaller time scale as the event date approaches.
Feeling lost? If you are a Foster Web Marketing client and need help figuring out the right length for your email campaign based on your goals, just reach out to our team at 888.886.0939 for guidance.
2. It Depends on Who You Are Reaching Out To
People who don’t know you probably don’t want to get stuck hearing from you for the next year or two. People you do have a relationship with will be happier to hear from you more often.
If you are managing your email contact list with appropriate tags, then you should know exactly who you are reaching out to with a particular email campaign—and that will help guide the length and frequency of contact.
For example, if you are sending email “cold” to new contacts, we might recommend that you keep it short and sweet, with prominent options to either “unsubscribe” or officially sign up for more information. If you are reaching out to past clients, then we might recommend that you reach out less often (for example, monthly instead of weekly), but over a longer period of time.
This is also the time to think about how many of your other campaigns your contacts are subscribed to. If a big portion of your audience is already receiving your newsletter and your book’s drip campaign, they may not be as open to getting yet another intensive, long-term series of emails from you.
It’s all about thinking through what your contacts and perfect clients want to see from you and tailoring the length of your campaigns to meet their needs and expectations.
3. It Depends on How Long it Takes to Convert Your Perfect Clients
How long does it take to convert the contacts that are most important to your business? We can give you “ballpark” ideas based on who you’re reaching out to and why, but nothing will give you concrete answers about what works like testing the campaigns you try.
Ultimately, everyone’s perfect clients and contact lists are different, and what they are selling is unique. You can start with an informed guess, but the real answers will lie in the numbers you get from what you’ve tried. For example, you might start a drip campaign for your book offer with a length of 8 weeks. If you see a lot of engagement fall off after week 6, then you might want to test a 6-week campaign. If there is still a ton of engagement at week 8, you might want to test a 12-week campaign. This is a simple example, but the cool thing about email is that you can get very granular in your testing and analysis.
Track your emails. Look at how well they have performed for your goals. Look at the emails that performed the best, and adjust your future campaigns to replicate that success. The data you analyze from your email campaigns is really just your perfect clients telling you exactly what they want.
All the Tools and Expertise You Need to Do Email Right for Your Law Firm
Email is one of the oldest and most effective digital marketing tools out there. It’s easy to get started, but there’s a steep learning curve to true mastery.
Do you need help building email campaigns that convert or figuring out the “sweet spot” for frequency of contact? We have you covered. Find out how we help attorneys get on top of their email marketing, or sign up for a demonstration of the email tools available in DSS.
How can attorneys get review stars displayed in Google search results?
When a law firm’s website comes up in Google’s search results, users might see rating stars displayed between the link and the page description:
Compared to other Google SERP features, law firms actually have a lot of control over the ratings and reviews that are displayed to users in these kinds of “rich snippets.” While there is no guarantee that Google will display your review stars every time your pages come up in search, taking full advantage of this feature can make you stand out to Google’s users and stimulate more click-throughs from search.
What Your Website Needs for Review Stars to Display in Google Search
Google can only pull from what you have set up, so you need to use “review schema” on your website if you want review stars to display for your law firm. Review schema is a bit of code that lets search engines know that the review information is there and makes it possible for them to incorporate it into the results they show their users.
Essentially, you choose the reviews and ratings you would like to display, add the appropriate code to your website, and hope that Google chooses to display enhanced results for your firm.
If review stars sometimes display next to results from your website, then you already have review schema on your website. However, you still need to make sure you are using it the right way to get the most out of it (and avoid potential Google penalties):
- Don’t use review schema on your homepage. There is no need to add review schema to your homepage. Due to past abuses, Google no longer displays rating stars for homepages in organic search.
- Do use review schema for other core pages. While you can’t use review schema for your homepage, you should add it to the service area pages, office pages, about us pages, and bio pages on your website—basically all the main pages that talk directly about your firm, your attorneys and staff, and your services. At FWM, we do not recommend that you try to add review schema to blog posts, articles, or other supporting pages on your site because the reviews are almost never directly relevant to those pages.
- Reviews listed on a page must be relevant to that page. If you use review schema on a page, you should choose reviews and ratings that are directly relevant to the page. This is especially important for law firms that have multiple attorneys or many practice areas. For example, you wouldn’t want to add a review for the wrong attorney on a bio page or a review from a personal injury client on your estate planning page.
Why Aren’t Review Stars Showing on Google SERPs for My Law Firm?
If star ratings do not show up in search for your law firm, but you have already added review schema markup, the problem is probably due to:
- Messed-up code. If the review schema code you add to your website is a little off, then it could prevent search engines from using that information. If you think your code might be the source of the problem, you can contact your web provider or use Google’s Structured Data Testing tool to check for problems.
- Wrong page or place. Like we said above, Google won’t display review stars for homepages, and you should limit the use of review schema on pages that aren’t directly relevant. Google won’t display review stars if you aren’t playing by the rules.
- Google’s mysteries. There is no guarantee that Google will display review stars in every search that brings up your marked-up pages. If you only sometimes see stars for your law firm on the search results page, then everything is probably working as intended.
Keep in mind, too, that Google can and will penalize you if you abuse review schema on your website or try to “trick” search engines into enhancing results for your firm. The end result could be completely stopping your traffic, and extra traffic is the whole reason to even get involved with review schema in the first place!
Need help getting review schema to work for you? Want to take advantage of more SERP features that enhance the search results people see for your firm? Give us a call at 888.886.0939, or let’s talk about what a fresh website design can do to bring more clients through your door.
How do I properly optimize images for attorney websites?
Great images draw the eye and bring your website content to life for your potential clients. Using them effectively, though, is not as simple as choosing great images and adding those images to your website.
You also need to optimize your website’s images so that they are accessible to users, understood by search engines, and ready to be a part of an engaging online experience for your perfect clients.
Need help whipping your images into shape? Below, you’ll find our best tips for optimizing images for your law firm’s website.
Optimization Starts With the Names of Your Image Files
You should always optimize your images with descriptive files names, including little touches that make those file names play nicely with your website.
Image file names are typically NOT the place to target high-level, vanity keywords. Instead, you should stick to short, simple descriptions of what the images show.
That being said, though, the photographs on your bio pages can be the limited exception to this rule. For example, if you want to name your bio photo “des-moines-personal-injury-attorney-carmen-sandiego.jpg” instead of “carmen-sandiego.jpg,” that is acceptable because it still appropriately identifies the subject of the picture.
We also recommend that you always use dashes between the words in your image file names. Spaces in filenames aren’t always handled well when they’re uploaded, and you can sometimes see some crazy characters, like this:
Those “%20”s replace the spaces and make a mess of the filename in the URL. When you instead use dashes in your file names, there are no spaces to worry about.
It might seem like a lot of concern over something small, but you and your users get a lot out of the few extra steps it takes to name image files appropriately.
Need some concrete examples? Take a look at this picture:
Let’s say that we have three options for naming this image file:
Example A, “img-377863702.jpg,” is a terrible file name, from an optimization standpoint. It gives no information about the file and doesn’t help anyone understand what it contains.
Example B, “san-antonio-medical-malpractice-attorney.jpg,” is an unacceptable file name. Again, it does not help anyone understand what the image file contains, and it adds salt to the wound by rudely stuffing keywords where they do not belong.
Example C, “medical-patient-in-hospital-bed.jpg,” is a good file name and the best choice of the three. It describes exactly what is in the image, and it does not try to shove keywords in your face. Imagine, too, how much easier it is to find and use this image if you download it or want to use it again later! You know what to expect from the image before you even open the file or see a thumbnail.
Compress Large Images to Retain Quality and Protect Load Speeds
If your site loads quickly, that’s a good thing. Google likes fast sites, and so do your site’s visitors. That is why you may have to do a little balancing act with the images you use.
Few things slow down page load times like humongous image files, particularly huge image files that have to be shrunk to a small display size on the page.
You may think you’re doing the right thing by using the 4MB, 2080x4056 pixel version of your photo. However, that huge image is going to considerably hamper how quickly your page loads, and you might be shrinking it to a 200x300 pixel image anyway to fit the layout of the page.
Fortunately, you can quickly and easily compress an image (while retaining its original quality!) to reduce the file size of your image. I like to use TinyPNG, though JPEGmini (notice a trend?) is also a fine option for fast, free, in-browser image compression. Simply drag and drop your image. It will be compressed, and you can download your new, smaller file. This compressed file is the one you should upload to your site.
Keep in mind that, along with the size of the image file, the size of your image as displayed on your site matters. If it is too small, it lacks visual effect and can be hard to understand. If it is too big, it can mess up the text formatting on the page and become a distraction. For example, an image that is over 500 pixels wide is so big that it will cause problems with the way your website displays. As an example of an image that is too small, here is our image from above shrunk by half:
Are you squinting to figure out what is happening in this picture? Does the smaller picture have the same visual impact as the larger version of the image? An image’s display size can make a surprisingly big difference!
Use Alt Text to Help Search Engines and Screen Readers Understand Your Images
“Alt text” is a text description of an image that is added to your page code with the image file. Alt text helps users with visual impairments, users using screen readers, and search engine crawlers understand what the picture should show, even though they may not “see” the image directly.
Alt text can also help visitors understand what they should be seeing in the event of technical difficulties that prevent images from load properly on the page.
Like image file names, you want your alt tags to be short, simple, and descriptive of the image. Remember that the alt text you write is there to help people understand the picture on the page and make your website more accessible. While keywords can naturally fit into alt text, trying to over-optimize or stuff keywords here can get you in trouble with Google and disappoint your users.
If you are having trouble thinking of alt text to add to your images, imagine they are being described to you by a screen reading device. Screen readers already tell users that they are describing an image, so you don’t have to worry about prefacing your alt text with words like “picture of” or “photograph showing.”
You want your description of the image to be straightforward, but as descriptive as possible. For example, the alt text for a photo of the Statue of Liberty could just be “Statue of Liberty,” but you can provide a better user experience by being a little more specific. For example, you could use alt text to more accurately describe your image as an “aerial view of the Statue of Liberty” or a “stylized Statue of Liberty holding U.S. flag.”
Give Your Images Some Space to Look Neat and Professional on the Page
Sometimes, images speak for themselves. However, most of the time, you are using the images on your attorney website to help illustrate and bring interest to your text content. They need to look nice, but they can’t interfere with the text on the page.
DSS gives you a lot of flexibility for stylizing your images and formatting text. One of the best and most common ways to get started is to learn how to add margins to a website image and use wraparound text.
Wise use of margins and text formatting gives your images a professional-looking touch, and the extra “white space” between text and image improves the reading experience.
Get Help Making the Images on Your Law Firm’s Website Perform Better
Little optimizations and extra steps are what make the user experience on your website stand out to your perfect clients. However, it can be a challenge to keep up with every detail and follow through with every best practice on your own.
If you need help optimizing the images your law firm’s website, or if you have questions about how DSS can make it easier to do it yourself, reach out to our friendly team at 888.886.0939. Our goal is always to help you get your time and energy back with solutions that let you work smarter, not harder.
How can doctors get review stars displayed in Google search results?
If you are reading this FAQ, you probably already know that some websites can display review stars between the link and the page description in Google’s search results:
For doctors and medical practices, taking full advantage of these review stars can be an easy way to build trust with potential patients and stand out from other search results. It is a feature that we recommend for our clients and think has a lot of benefit.
There is no cost for the review stars that show in Google’s organic results. However, there are a few steps you’ll need to take to get your website set up and in line with Google’s review-star rules.
Make Sure Your Medical Practice’s Website Tells Google You Want to Display Reviews and Ratings
Google only knows about the reviews and ratings your website’s code tells it about. That means that your website provider needs to add “review schema” to certain pages on your website. This little bit of code makes the review information you choose available to search engines. The search engines can then choose to incorporate that information into the results they show their users.
If you sometimes see review stars for your practice in Google’s organic search results, then you already have review schema working on your website. While you have total control over which reviews and ratings are displayed by this feature, only Google controls when and where that information is seen by its own users.
Avoid Google Penalties by Using Review Schema the “White Hat” Way
There are right ways to use review schema, and there are wrong ways. Abuses of review stars and review schema typically lead to Google penalties, and the search engine has even made major changes to how it uses the review-star feature to curb misuse in the past.
That means that, if you want to use review stars for your medical practice, you need to make sure that you’re using review schema right:
Review schema does not belong on your homepage. Widespread abuses of review schema in the past led Google to stop displaying review stars for website homepages. For now, at least, there is no need to use it on your practice’s homepage.
Review schema does belong on other core pages. You should add review schema to the pages on your website that talk directly about your practice, your doctors, your staff, and your services. These should be core pages on your website, like service-area pages, office-location pages, about us pages, and bio pages.
Relevance is the main concern. Google is most interested in displaying review stars that are directly relevant to a particular page. The review schema on a doctor’s bio page should only point to reviews of that doctor. The review schema on a service-area page should only point to reviews of that service. This is also why we recommend that you stick to using review schema only on your main pages. Your practice’s ratings and reviews are almost never specific to a particular blog post, FAQ, or minor supporting page on your site.
Review Stars Still Not Showing for Your Medical Practice?
Even when you add review schema to your core website pages, you won’t see review stars in every search for your practice. Google is a little mysterious about when and how review stars and other search engine results page (SERP) features are displayed.
However, if you never see stars for your doctors or practice, your problem probably lies in one of two places:
The code on the page. Contact your website provider or use Google’s Structured Data Testing tool to check for errors in the code used on your pages. Any problems with the review-schema markup could interfere with search engines’ ability to display your star ratings.
The page you added the code to. Google does not display review stars on certain types of pages, and we talked about why above. If you have checked your code and still don’t see review stars, it may be a sign that you are trying to use review schema on the wrong kind of page. Remember that you want to stick to main pages that are about the people in your office and the services you provide.
Google gives medical practices a lot of options for enhancing the search results that potential patients see. If you need help leveraging review schema or other search features, reach out to our team at 888.886.0939. We would also be happy to talk with you about how to build better functionality into a fresh, modern website in a website design consultation.
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