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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Google has announced it will no longer provide keyword data about searches. What does that mean for my website?
In late 2011, Google started to encrypt its searches for users who were signed into their Gmail accounts while completing searches in Google. This resulted in an increase in “not provided” keyword data being recorded in Google Analytics. In layman’s terms, this basically meant that, as a website owner, you couldn’t see the search phrase used by someone who found your website while signed into his Gmail account.
Although this was a road bump for search marketers to analyze keyword data, we rarely saw the percentage of “not provided” above 30 percent for lawyers.
In recent weeks online marketers have noticed a steady rise in the percentage of “not provided” data being passed into Google Analytics. This all came to a head on Sunday night when Google redirected all searches completed in its search engine to encrypted search. This has increased the percentage of “not provided” for organic Google searches to 95 percent or more.
What Does This Increase in “Not Provided” Keyword Data Mean for My Website?
First off, this new change will in no way change the performance of your website. What it does mean is that there is going to be a shift in the way online marketers can analyze organic traffic to your site. Some things to keep in mind:
- Don’t freak out. Google is not the only search engine out there and others still provide this keyword data.
- This should only reinforce the fact that you should not be focusing on high-level vanity keywords, but instead long-tailed search phrases that convert.
- As always, write content to inform and engage human visitors to your site and not to help improve your rankings in search engines.
- Choose another yardstick. There is a variety of other measurements to help you understand the success of your law firm’s SEO program.
If you are worried about how this news will affect your law firm’s search engine optimization, please do not fret. Foster Web Marketing’s team of attorney SEO specialists can help make sure your website is performing well even after this big piece of news from the king of search engines. Schedule a free website audit to make sure your online marketing efforts are working the way they should be.
What is the difference between Google+ Local, Google+ Business, and Google+ Personal?
We're going to break it down for you, so feel free to read this article as a rap. A really good one that puts a spring in your step and gets you pumped up about the many features of Google+.
What is Google+ Local?
Google+ Local has quickly become a crucial element of local search engine optimization for attorneys. Your firm should absolutely have a Google+ Local profile—one for each of your offices. If you don't, you will be left out of millions of local searches. Another great reason to setup a Google+ Local profile is that it's a popular place for people to leave and read reviews. If you haven't embraced the power of reviews for attorneys, now is the time, and Google+ Local is a great place to start.
Tip: To make sure that your name and that all-important pin pops up on Google+ Local, triple-check that all of your profile information is correct, especially your name, address, and phone number, and that it exactly matches your Google+ Business page.
What is Google+ Personal?
Though your Google+ Personal profile is for you, as an individual, it will be linked to your law firms' Google+ Business page. In fact, you won't be able to create a Business profile without a Personal profile. In addition, this profile is needed to claim authorship, and trust us, you want authorship. Because of this, your profile picture should be a professional headshot. Period. You want your shining face to show up in Google search results, not your logo, your cat, or your kid.
When used correctly, the Google+ Personal platform can assist in furthering your brand and helping you appear more "human." Use this to your advantage. Many people see attorneys as slightly robotic, so make sure that your personal page contains humanizing posts. Occasional posts about attending your kid’s soccer game, taking your dog to the park, or helping at the soup kitchen on Sunday should do the trick.
Tip: You will need to balance personal and professional posts, but no matter the subject, all posts must be well written and appeal to potential clients and your contemporaries.
What is Google+ Business?
The easiest way to explain Google+ Business is that it's very similar to a Facebook Business page. This is the place where you post about new articles you've written, interesting articles written by others, and videos that you've made. To distinguish this page from your Personal account, use either your logo or a professional picture of all the attorneys in your practice. We must reiterate: make certain that all of your information—name, number, and address—is correct and matches all other online listings for your office.
Tip: A good rule of thumb for posts on your Google+ Business page—and Facebook Business page, for that matter—is 80 percent links to content written by others and 20 percent content of your own. This helps you avoid getting a "ME! ME! ME!" image and, if your links are relevant and well written, will improve your image as a helper and giver of important information who has a finger on the pulse of current laws and trends.
Still Not Convinced That Google+ Is Important?
Then request our free report, What to Do When Worlds Collide: Rise of Social & Search With Google+. This report gives an in-depth look at:
- The impact Google+ has on organic search
- Creating effective circles
- How to optimize your Google+ Local listing
After you've read the report—or if this article has you pumped and ready to dance along to the Google+ song—call 888.886.0939. Our law firm social media team can help guide your Google+ efforts, ensuring that you and your firm make the most of your Google+ profiles.
What can I do to take advantage of current events?
There is so much your law firm can do to take advantage of current events that relate to one of your practice areas. If you're not taking advantage of breaking news, then you are missing out on a highly valuable SEO and conversion tool.
What Makes an Effective Breaking News Campaign?
Maybe you think you're already taking advantage of news events. After all, you often blog or write news articles about accidents or events in your area. This is a good start, and it can't hurt the success of your attorney web marketing plan. But it sure doesn't help a lot.
To truly take advantage of breaking news—think big events that are getting national attention—our attorney SEO team suggests that you create all of the following content:
- At least one high-quality video
- Multiple blog posts spread out over a week
- A landing page for news-related traffic
- A recap of the event in the form of a news article
- A press release
- Effective news coverage and commentary through social media
Timing Is Everything When Taking Advantage of Current Events
As you can see, launching an effective breaking news campaign takes a lot of work. To make things more complicated, breaking news must be breaking. It should be a brand-spanking new, not a story you found online from last month. As soon as you see the news—we suggest signing up for Google alerts and checking in on the TMZ website—you must spring into action and put your standing breaking news plan into action immediately.
This means that you need to not only have a plan of action, but that you need to be ready to shoot video, write a ton of quality content, and launch an effective social media campaign. Are you ready to strike when the iron is hot? Are you ready to strike before your competitors do? Are you ready to strike before some other attorney is being interviewed by Anderson Cooper?
If not, or if you don't feel you have the time or skill to do the job right, consider calling our video services and SEO team at 888.886.0939. We can keep an eye on breaking news for you and, when a hot story pops up, spring into action to deliver the video and written content you need within 48 hours.
Do I really need to be involved in social media?
Yes, yes, and yes!
A recent study showed that over 50 percent of people use social media to find a lawyer. 50 percent! So, if you haven't embraced social media, you are missing out on more clients than you know.
Social media is no longer a place where people go to share pictures of their cat and talk about their lunch. With the advent of Facebook Graph Search and the increasing reliance people have on their social network, social media must be a cornerstone of any successful lawyer web marketing campaign.
How to Get Started with Social Media
If you don't yet have an account on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter—or if you do, but you never do anything with your accounts—it's time to make a change. To get going, our attorney social media team suggests that you:
- Do some groundwork. Take a look at what your competition is doing. Are they active on Facebook? Or do they tend to Tweet more? If they seem to be getting good results—lots of comments, likes, and shares—on a particular social media site, start there. You need to not only compete with other attorneys in your area, but do social media better than they do.
- Set yourself up for success. Begin by ensuring that every bit of information you enter into your profile is correct, especially your name, address, and phone number. Make sure your description is interesting and well-written, and then pick a professional, high-quality profile picture. Nothing will scare potential clients away more than a mistake-ridden profile with a grainy picture of your lead attorney.
- Build a following. This takes time. And, like any white hat SEO strategy, it's going to take some work. Before you post anything—and you should be posting once a day on Facebook, or more often on Twitter—be sure that there are no mistakes in your posts and that it's something you would say to a client. Links should be helpful to those seeking your services, and everything you post should be relevant to your area of practice, mistake-free, and shareable.
If you need assistance in any aspect of social media—be it setting up your accounts or running your entire social media campaign—call 888.886.0939. We can help you achieve social media success. Your competition won't know what hit them.
From a website design perspective, what makes a landing page “good?”
First, a landing page is a page you’ve set up to gather a visitor’s contact information.
It’s where you send someone who wants your free download, to register for a seminar, or get a bumper sticker.
An ideal landing page should have:
- Only one call-to-action. This is typically a form you want them to complete. Do not include chat or other offers.
- No navigation or menu. Do not distract visitors from doing the one task you want them to complete.
- No links to other web pages. Remove social icons and search fields.
- A title indicating the type of offer and the value.
- An explanation of the benefits of completing the form. Explain what’s in it for them. This is best presented in the format of a bulleted list detailing the types of questions that are answered in the book, what the reader can expect to learn more about, or how the offer will help them.
- A large image of what they are getting. If it’s a book, the image should be large enough to read the title. Also, use an image with a thin spine—no one wants to read a tome the size of “War and Peace.”
- Text that wraps around the image.
- Something that draws the eye to the form, such as an arrow, box, or red button.
- A headline beginning with an action word, such as “Download” or “Get.”
- The shortest form needed:
- For downloads, ask for the visitor’s first name and email address.
- For hard copies, request the visitor’s first name, last name, street address, city, state, zip, and email address.
- Testimonials and badges on the sidebar. These are visual clues to visitors that they are making the right decision
- Button text other than “submit”. “Click Here” and “Go” convert better than “Submit”.
Have more questions about creating a landing page that really helps you get the clients you want for your business?
Reach out to our friendly law firm website design team today at 888-886-0939.
How can I get inexpensive, high-quality video?
Now, more than ever, it is possible to get high-quality and inexpensive video services. This is because the popularity of web marketing videos has skyrocketed—and for good reason!
Google and other search engines reward websites that effectively use video. They do so because they know that people respond to video. When people search, they are more likely to click on a link displayed with a video, so of course Google wants to give searchers what they want. Bud do they want you? Are you giving them what they want? Are you providing the videos they demand?
If you don’t have web video on your website and on sites like YouTube and Vimeo—or if your videos aren’t properly optimized—you aren’t as searchable as you could be. So what’s holding you back? Cost? That does not have to be a factor in your decision to use video.
Making Big Things Happen in Video With Small Budgets
At Foster Web Marketing, we offer custom, affordable video packages. This means that you are able to choose the video services you want and the services that will do the most to advance your video marketing efforts. We can help as little or as much as you want, and we can advise you, free of charge, as to the best options for your situation. Our video services include:
- Video script writing
- Videographer services
- Production services
- On-location video shoots
- Green screen studio shoots
- In-office video studio set up
Beyond Shooting Video
After the shoot—whether we shoot your videos or you shoot them yourself in our green screen studio—we offer affordable post-production services. All post-production services are performed by our video and SEO teams. Because of this, you can be assured that your video is in good hands. After all, the focus of our SEO company is attorney and video marketing. We are obsessive about current SEO trends and video advancements and are not satisfied until the videos we produce and market are the best they can be.
So, after your shoot is over, feel free to choose from any of the following post-production video services:
- Video optimization
- Video distribution
- Video promotion
To learn more about how affordable high-quality videos can be, please call 888-886-0939. Our team of attorney video marketing experts can help ensure that your videos are the effective SEO tool you need to take your firms’ marketing efforts to the next level.
What is the difference between a referring domain and a backlink?
Before we discuss the difference between a referring domain and a backlink, it's best that we get on the same page by going over a few basic terms.
Just the Facts, Ma'am
- Domain: A domain is an organization's unique descriptor listed within a URL. For example, in the URL “http://www.honkeytonk.edu,” honkeytonk is the domain name.
- Referring Domain: Also known as a ref domain, a referring domain is a domain that backlinks are coming from.
- Backlink: A backlink is a link on another website that points to your site.
So a referring domain is where your backlinks are coming from, and backlinks are the links on the websites that link back to your site. Think of the referring domain as a phone number and backlinks as the number of times you've gotten a call from that particular number.
Why You Need to Know the Difference
If you've dug into your backlink profile or had us do so with a free website analysis, then you have seen how many referring domains and backlinks are associated with your website. But what do they mean?
What you're looking for is the ratio of referring domains to backlinks. If you have a ton of backlinks and not very many referring domains, your backlink profile is very weak. For example, if you have 10 referring domains and 110 backlinks, Google is likely dinging your site for shady backlinks, which negatively impacts your page rank.
They punish high backlinks and low referring domains because, when a high number of backlinks come from a few sites, it's almost always a paid linking scheme, such as a private blog network. Increasingly, search engines are de-indexing blog networks. If your website is connected to the de-indexed network, your ranking will be affected. Because of this, it's best to stay far away from paid blog networks.
Getting Better Backlinks
If you find that your backlinks are all coming from a few referring domains, you have some work to do. Begin by reading our advice on the best way to get backlinks for SEO. Using these tips, begin to slowly increase the number of backlinks pointing to your site. This will take time, but it's worth the effort. Google is always on the lookout for quality, natural backlinks and will reward your handsomely if you are able to obtain them.
Want more advice on how to improve your law firm website's backlink profile and increase your SEO power? Call 888.886.0939 to request your free website analysis or speak with a member of our attorney SEO team.
How can local SEO help my business?
When done right, local SEO has the potential to not only help your law firm, but explode your practice.
This is because Google and other search engines, like Yahoo!, recognize that their users are increasingly demanding high-quality, local results. To give their users—your potential clients—what they want, search engines have improved their algorithms to ensure that searchers get exactly what they want.
Getting In on the Local SEO Game
To get you started, I'm going to cover the basics of local SEO—what you need to know now about local search SEO:
- Grow where you're planted, or move. It's important that you know that local search results on Google work best when your business is located within the city you want to be found in. For example, if your personal injury law office is in Grapevine, but you want to be found in Dallas—and the Dallas personal injury market in Dallas is flooded—you may be out of luck. While you can and should put some effort into getting found organically in Dallas (e.g. including Dallas-centric keyword phrases in your content), there isn't much you can do in Google Local or Google Maps to get found. Some attorneys choose to move their offices or open a satellite office in order to get in on a more desirable city. Alternately, you can increase your efforts in Grapevine in order to be the top local attorney in your home city.
- The devil is in the details. If critical information—business name, address, or phone number—is incorrect on any listing site, your local search SEO power will take a hit. So, if you are Foreman & Gary on one site and Gary and Foreman on another, or if your address is off by just one number, your firm won't be easily found during local searches.
- Realize the power of reviews. Reviews are an important piece of the local SEO puzzle. Reviews give consumers confidence in your services, and they send signals to Google that you are a business worthy of page one. If you don't have any online reviews, or if you only have a few, it's time to get an online review strategy.
Local SEO is all about taking advantage of your local market. To get help in doing so, request a free website audit,or call one of our local SEO experts at 888.886.0939. We'd love to help you dominate your local market.
What are Regular Expressions and how do I use them?
Regular Expressions, also known as RegEx, are a way to use characters—such as | and \—to make analytics magic happen. But, more specifically, they are used to do things like create custom filters and goals in Google Analytics. Confused already? Don't stress. We are about to break it down for you.
The Basics of Regular Expressions
RegEx operates on a set of very strict rules. Much like a programming language, each symbol and combination of symbols must be correct in order for the expression to work. Unlike some of the more inexact sciences of website analytics, RegEx is very precise.
Let's look at one of the symbols we listed above, |. Known as the pipe symbol, | is used to symbolize or. So, if you want to create a filter that gives you results for attorney or lawyer, you would use attorney|lawyer. Easy, right? Right. And while this is just one of the many symbols—and combinations of symbols—it's a start. If you keep at it, you'll soon understand the entire RegEx language and be using like a pro.
But Why Bother Learning Regular Expressions?
While there are numerous SEO optimization tools, we believe that knowledge of RegEx is an excellent addition to your SEO tool box. Even for an analytics newbie like yourself, Regular Expressions can be very useful. To show you how, we will give an example.
Let's say you want to hit all variations of your targeted keyword. This is a great idea because creating these filters will give you a good idea if your targeted keyword—Divorce Attorney Layton, UT—is bringing you much traffic. But filtering for all the variations of this phrase would require creating filters for Utah, UT, Layton, divorce, attorney, and attorneys.
However, if you use RegEx, you will be able to create just one filter: “Layton UT Utah Divorce Attorneys. divorce attorneys?|divorce lawyers?” and, on a second line, which indicates the “and” expression to include, “Layton UT|Layton Utah”.
Regular Expressions give you the power to become more involved in the analytics of your website. And, besides, using RegEx is just plain cool. Think of how clever you'll feel when you know the difference between | and \. And, as a bonus, you'll be able to tell fantastic techie jokes like, "/Everybody stand back/ I know regular expressions." Hilarious!
Plus, there are some tasks that Google simply won't let you do without using RegEx. So, if you want to perform even mid-level analytics tasks, you must be familiar with RegEx.
Want to learn more about Regular Expressions? Or do you wish you could forever erase the memory of RegEx from your mind? Either way, call 888.886.0939. We can take over your analytics efforts or help you get a firm grip on this awesome analytics tool. No matter what you decide, our killer attorney SEO team can help you achieve your web marketing goals and dominate the competition.
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