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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Is this plugin right for my site?
"Plugin" is a broad term, so let's narrow it down first.
What is a Plugin?
A plugin is essentially an extension to existing software applications. The purpose is to allow a third party to make an addition, add a feature, or change the functionality of your site, browser, or whatever software you are integrating the plugin with. They can be incredibly useful depending on what you are trying to accomplish- or they can be a huge detriment and slow down load speed of your site. If you don’t know what a plugin is for, do not add it to your site!
Functionality- is integration possible? Do we support it?
If you are interested in a feature or option for your site, determine exactly what it is that you want to accomplish. DSS offers functionality that may not be blaringly obvious upon first glance, but you don’t want to start making additions without first checking to see if you already have the feature. Many of our best features are not made public on your site, because we want that information to remain exclusive to you! For example, your DSS dashboard gives you a glimpse into how your site is doing. It can offer a nudge when it’s time to update your content, and it lets you know what your bounce rates look like per page. However, if you want to get more in depth, you do not need an extension! You’ve already got it through Google Analytics (Control Panel>Reporting>Visit Google Analytics).
It’s important to note if integration is possible, as well. While you may not be able to tell the difference between HTML and Script plugins, our customer service team can answer your questions, as well as give suggestions for your specific needs. There are plugins we do not support for a multitude of reasons, but specifically they are generally written for WordPress sites. If you don’t know why DSS is a superior product, check out this link!
There are pros and cons to many of these plugins but the bottom line is DO YOUR RESEARCH! If there is something you want to see, be sure it is recommended for SEO purposes, check to see if it is something DSS already offers, and be sure it is truly beneficial to your goals.
What is usability, and why should lawyers care?
Usability refers to the learnability of a human-made object. Here, we are talking specifically about the usability of your law firm's website. Website usability ratings attempt to judge how easy a website is to use, and these ratings take into account:
- Site navigation
- User frustration
When a site's usability rating is high, it's easy for anyone, even a first time user, to navigate the site. There is no confusion about what each button does. All links work as they should. All pages load quickly, and users leave the site with the information they were looking for.
When a site's usability rating is low, the user is easily confused by the layout of the pages. Navigation is difficult. Load times are long, and links are often broken.
We've all been to websites that are difficult to use, and we all react the same way—by clicking the “back” button on our browser and finding another website that is easy to use.
Why Lawyers Should Care About Website Usability
If your website is difficult to use, you are losing more clients than you know. People go to the internet to shop for more than shoes; they shop for doctors and for lawyers. So, when potential clients visit your site, they immediately judge your skills as an attorney based on what they see on your site. If your site is difficult to navigate, and if they can't find the information they need, they will assume that it will be hard to get in touch with you or that you don't have the answers they are looking for. All of this will happen in mere seconds.
Find another attorney.
It will take just slightly longer than it took you to read the above bolded text to lose a client. And, unless you're running a law firm for the heck of it, you can't afford to lose clients.
Want someone to take a look at your site, give it a usability rating, and suggest ways to improve it? For free? Get your free site audit today. Our team will carefully comb through your attorney website site and give you the best practice attorney web design and SEO tips to help improve your site and get more clients. It's free, and it works. Call today at 888-886-0939.
Can you explain Google's Hummingbird update to me?
Sure, I'd love to!
The Hummingbird update is Google's latest attempt to give searchers better results. While prior updates—think Panda and Penguin—focused on penalizing websites, the Hummingbird changes Google's search algorithm altogether. It's like they tore down the walls of their house and put in new appliances, flooring, and drywall, keeping only the parts of the structure that were sturdy and sound.
Aristotle and the Hummingbird
Aristotle famously stated, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." That’s what the Hummingbird update is all about.
Before, Google relied heavily on the actual keywords users typed into the search bar. You typed in a query, and Google bots combed the internet for the exact phrase you typed in. You got results that contained precisely what you asked for—even if it wasn't exactly what you really wanted.
Now, the phrase a user types is quickly dismantled. Each word is taken into account as a separate entity. The Hummingbird does this by parsing the grammar of your search term, looking for synonyms and, in the end, deciding what your intent was.
By taking apart your search phrase and making the most of your words, Google's Hummingbird is able to give you truly personalized, valuable search results.
Now that you understand what the Hummingbird update is, you're likely wondering what you can do to please the little bugger.
If you are already writing dynamic content, making the most of social media for your law firm, focusing on your USP, and catering all content to the needs of your ideal client, you don't need to do a thing.
The Hummingbird update only affects those relying on keyword stuffing, spammy marketing techniques, and weak web content.
Not sure if you're website is sweet enough to catch the attention of the Hummingbird? Call 888-886-0939. Our attorney SEO experts can help you determine what you need to do to make your attorney marketing plan attract even the most finicky nectar sipper.
What the heck are domain extensions?
A domain extension is the suffix found at the end of a web address. For example, in fosterwebmarketing.com, “com” is the domain extension. Since the advent of the internet, domain extensions haven't been discussed much. You pick from the few available and move on with your life.
While there are multiple choices for domain extensions—.gov, .org, .net—most businesses use .com as their domain extension. But it may soon be possible for anyone with a website to choose and purchase a custom domain extension. These extensions are called gTLD's and may forever change the internet landscape.
What the Heck Is a gTLD?
A gTLD is a Generic Top-Level Domain. This is anything after the "dot" in a web address. Thus far, we are used to seeing a very limited number of domain extensions when we cruise the internet. But, if the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has their way, anyone will be able to purchase and use any gTLD.
What the Heck Does This Mean for Me?
As an attorney, this could mean an opportunity to get a very unique, very searchable URL. For example, an attorney in Boston could buy the gTLD .bostonattorney. In theory, owning and using this gTLD could boost the attorney's SEO power and help him or her stand out from the competition.
Did you notice the words "in theory" above? It's important that you do because, for now, everything about domain gTLDs is conjecture and theory. Nobody knows what will happen when gTLDs are rolled out. Will people buy into them and begin using and trusting them? Will they help or hurt businesses' SEO efforts? Nobody knows, and we are all guessing, watching, and waiting.
For more information on gTLD's and your law firm, please call 888-430-8377. Our attorney SEO team loves nothing more than to talk about the big, exciting future of the internet at large and, more specifically, the marketing needs of attorneys. It's what we do and what we love, so feel free to call us up and talk shop.
I heard that mobile search is on the rise. How do I make the most of mobile search for my law firm?
First of all, it's important that you understand the difference between mobile and desktop search:
- Mobile search. When people search using their phones, tablets, or other mobile devices, it's considered a mobile search, even if they are using their phones to search from home.
- Desktop search. When people search using their laptops or desktops, it's considered a desktop search, even if they are using a laptop in a coffee shop.
For a few years now, mobile search has been growing in popularity. More people own mobile devices and understand the convenience of searching from their phones. What's more, those searching from their smartphones are much more likely to act on the search than those searching from their computers. This means that people who search for an attorney from their phones are highly motivated and ready to take action to call the attorney they deem worthy.
Pleasing Motivated Mobile Users
In order to make the most of these motivated mobile searchers, you'll need to have your local and mobile games on point. We suggest using a two-pronged approach that will get your law firm found and meet the expectations of mobile searchers.
- Make the most of local. In order to be found during a local search, you need to ensure that you are listed on the most important local sites. Start with the big guys—Google Local, Bing, and Yahoo. You'll need to make sure that your law firm is not only listed, but listed correctly on all of these sites. If your name, address, or phone number is different on any listing—even just by one number or letter—your SEO power will take a hit. Tip: A service such as Yext can be used to ensure uniformity of listing information. Yext checks over 50 sites, apps, and maps for your listings and lets you know how you are listed on each site.
- Get a mobile site. If you don't have a mobile site, now is the time. If a potential client arrives at your site from a smartphone and gets a traditional site, he or she will click back and try another attorney who has embraced mobile. After all, if you can't offer a modern, mobile site, who's to say you offer modern, competent legal care? Tip: When designing your mobile site, be sure that the main page contains both call and direction buttons. You want to make getting to your office or calling you as easy as possible.
Taking it to the Next Level
If you've ensured that people can find you from their mobiles and that you are meeting their high expectations by delivering a clean, easy-to-navigate mobile site, it's time to crank it up a notch. To do so, our attorney local SEO team suggests that you:
- Create and implement a review strategy.
- Write interesting content that appeals to your ideal client in your ideal city or county. Use keywords that reflect this.
- Use your local phone number in all listings, not your 1-888 or 1-800 number.
- Make your profile picture a professional photograph of you or you and your staff.
- Make sure the description in your listing is interesting and perfectly written.
If you'd like our team to help you take advantage of mobile and local search, request a free site audit or call 888-430-8377. We will comb over your site, giving you a full report on how your site is performing and what you can do to improve your local SEO efforts.
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.
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