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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I'm so overwhelmed. How am I supposed to find all of the mistakes in my local listings and fix them? HELP!
I've got a bit of bad news. As you feared, it's not as simple as it should be to find mistakes in your local listings and clean them up. Is it possible to do so? Absolutely, and we will show you how in this article. But is it an easy, ten-minute task? No. However, with a little perseverance and patience, we have faith that you can do it. Here's how.
To clean up your local citations, we suggest that you use the following websites:
- Yext. Yext is a fantastic service that finds everywhere your business is listed. This can be a long, long list. In addition to just finding your local citations, Yext will scan all of these listings, showing you everywhere there is incorrect information, missing citations, or missing information. This includes mistakes in your phone number, address, and business name—all of which are crucial to the success of your local listing.
- Whitespark. If your local listings are correct, but you don't feel you're doing enough to take advantage of local search, try using Whitespark. This service will find new, niche-specific local citation sources that you aren't taking advantage of. It will also give you links to your current listings, allowing you to ensure the information found there is correct.
Once you find any mistakes in your local listings, it's time to fix them. Some of the fixes can be as simple as logging into your account and changing a "5" to a "7" in your phone number, but others will be much harder to correct. It can mean contacting each host of the listing sites where your information is wrong and getting them to fix it. And while doing so is possible—we do it all the time—the process can be lengthy and daunting.
There Is Good News, Too
The first bit of good news is that you know what local listings are, and you recognize how important they are and want to ensure that you're getting them right. Huzzah! Also, you have come to us for the answers. At Foster, we are experts at creating and fixing local listings. We love digging into your listings, cleaning them up, and then watching as your local traffic goes through the roof. Seriously, what could be better than that?!
The other good news is that you now have the answer to your question, and you have a choice: go it alone and fix your local citations by yourself or enlist our local-citation cleaning team to help.
If you'd like for our team to take care of your local listing for you—be that creating a new listing, cleaning up a current listing, or helping you change your location—we'd love to help. To get going, just call 888-886-0939, and a member of our SEO team will help you make the most of local search.
What are local citations, and why do they matter?
Local citations are other websites on the internet where your business name, address, and phone number are listed. Back in the day, the only place you had to get your local listing right was the Yellow Pages. Now, your listing is scattered all over the internet and, when incorrect, has the potential to snowball into an avalanche of misinformation and missed opportunities.
How the Local Citation Snowball Gets Rolling
The three big names in local search are Yahoo, Bing, and Google. However, there are many other sites that pull your information from the big guys and one another. So if your information is incorrect on any of your local listings, it's likely listed incorrectly on multiple sites.
When this happens, your listing and your local SEO efforts could be buried under tons of incorrect listings, suffocating your local search power and threatening the life of your practice.
I'm Listed Where?!
Local search is a big deal, so there is a good chance that your information is listed in more places than you know. To find out where your practice is listed, we suggest using the free website Yext. Yext will scan local listing sites and let you know where—and how—you're listed on each of the 50 most popular sites, apps, and maps.
This handy tool can help you find any mistakes in your listings. However, it will be up to you to correct mistakes everywhere your local citations are incorrect. If there are many mistakes across many sites, this can be an extremely time-consuming process.
Another way to check your local citations is to request our free website audit. We will check to see if your local citations are correct and, if they're not, can take over the process of repairing all your listings.
No matter how you get it done, get it done. Incorrect local citations have a huge impact on your local SEO power, affecting your local marketing efforts more than you know. For help digging yourself out, call 888-886-0939 today.
What should I look for in a live chat provider?
When looking for a live chat provider, it's wise to use caution. Live chat has quickly risen in popularity, and too many providers are trying to get in on the game—even if they have no idea what they're doing.
How We Picked Our Recommended Live Chat Provider
At Foster Web Marketing, we recommend the live chat company Ngage. To find the best live chat option for our clients, we vetted many possible companies, and we would like to share the top three deciding factors we used to choose a live chat provider:
- The company must test constantly. A chat provider should spend much of their time testing the effectiveness of their product. They should be on the lookout for issues with their product and alert you when they believe that changes should be made. Example: Ngage was running tests on the optimal pop-up times for the chat window. They found that decreasing the pop-up time led to a 10 percent increase in chats. This led to changes in pop-up times for all of their clients, and we reaped the benefits.
- They must listen to their clients. Your live chat provider may be the best in the business, but if they don't listen to their clients, they aren't doing their job. The company you choose to run the live chat for your website should be receptive to your opinions and willing to work you with on a solution. Example: When we expressed concern over the size of the live chat pop-up on our mobile site, Ngage worked with us to make it smaller. This met our needs and tested well—problem solved.
- They should provide you with chat transcripts in a timely manner. It's important that you know what's going on when people use the chat feature on your website. Top-notch live chat providers should make every single chat transcript available to you. This allows you to see exactly what questions site visitors are asking and ensures that the live chat operators are answering them to your satisfaction. Example: In DSS, we have a built-in feature that allows you to view all live-chat transcripts. For those who don't use DSS, the company emails transcripts to their clients.
We hope that our experience in choosing the best live chat provider for our company will help you find the best provider for yours. If you're interested in adding live chat, please call 888-886-0939. We would love to speak with you about the power of live chat and its importance in improving your website’s conversion rates.
What Is an Email Drip Campaign?
While it sounds like a nickname for your sick toddler, a drip campaign is actually a marketing technique that can improve the health of your overall marketing plan.
An email drip campaign, also known as a follow-up or back-end campaign, is a series of correspondences you send to those who request your free offer.
The most effective follow-up campaigns don't rely solely on emails—a common mistake many doctors and attorneys make. Instead, they vary greatly and can include:
- Mailed letters
- CDs of an interview you did
- DVDs of you speaking at a professional event
- Invitations to your yearly charity event or community function
Ideally, you should send at least 15 types of correspondence over a seven month period, which means reaching out every other week.
After the Email Drip Stops
Once your follow-up campaign has run its course, it's important to stay on the minds of your audience. The best way to do this is to continue to send out a monthly newsletter via snail mail or email.
Also, if you've done it right, there's a good chance that those who have been getting your follow-up campaign materials have chosen to follow you on social media. This means you will continue to be on their minds long after your last follow-up campaign letter comes in the mail.
If your law firm or medical practice doesn't have a drip campaign, I suggest you begin to implement one as soon as possible. We find that follow-up campaigns for attorneys and doctors significantly increase the success of their free offers.
For more information on how our marketing team can help you implement a conversion-boosting follow-up campaign, call 888-886-0939.
We can take over the process or show you the best way to create and deliver your custom-built free offer and follow-up campaign.
How can I improve my marketing and get better quality patients or clients?
Stop marketing to clients or patients that you don't like dealing with. By identifying your less-than-ideal patient or client type—and focusing in on your ideal—you'll be able to get more of the cases and clients you want. To begin, we need you to get a little mean.
Who Were Your Least Favorite Clients or Patients?
It may seem like bad karma to focus on the bad, but to get a better idea of how to market to your perfect patient or client, you have to know who you don't enjoy working with. Here are some specific examples that we've gotten from clients. Do any of these sound familiar to you?
- Personal injury attorneys: Personal injury attorneys usually have at least one type of case or client that they're tired of taking on. Minor car accident injuries, people without proper insurance coverage, and those who overstate their injuries are all examples of less-than-ideal clients.
- Plastic surgeons: Every doctor has procedures or patients they'd rather not deal with, and plastic surgeons are no exception. Examples of this include invasive face lifts, patients who pay with credit, and patients who are extremely high maintenance.
We often speak with clients who complain that they only get cases they dislike. And while we would like to blame this on their local market, the truth is that they have brought it on themselves.
They have been marketing to a too-broad audience or, in many cases, to a demographic that they don't particularly care for. Why? Because they think it's the only way and that they must take on clients or patients that aren't fun or profitable.
Stop Selling Yourself Short
It's time to stop settling for second best. It's time to take the future of your practice into your own hands by defining your perfect client or patient and marketing directly to this person.
For help narrowing down exactly who this is and how to market to them, call 888-886-0939. We know how to help busy professionals build a practice with quality clients and patients that they love to work with. You can enjoy your job again, and we can help.
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 analysis or call 888.886.0939. 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.
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.
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