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 Provider
At Foster Web Marketing, we use the live chat company Ngage. To find the best live chat option for us, 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.
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.
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