How to Create a Strong, Professional Online Presence for Your Law Firm

Create a Strong,  Professional Online Presence  for Your Law FirmThese days most law firms have a website.

One important marketing goal of a law firm should be to build a strong online presence that conveys a professional message and supports your firm’s mission. Unfortunately, if a website is your only presence, you are missing out on a lot of great marketing opportunities.

What are the best ways to create a strong, professional online presence for your law firm? Here are a few thoughts.

Have a Complete Website

First and foremost, your site should be current and relevant. If it has been a long time since the site was updated, make revising your website your first priority. Your firm’s site should be current from both a content AND a software perspective. Most people choose to update the content with a blog. Add new and relevant content on a daily, weekly, or bi-weekly basis, but make sure it is consistent. The great thing about a legal blog is the amount of material with which you can work – there are always topics and stories that are timely and relevant to share with the public.

Utilize Social Media

Social media is a branding tool, not a sales tool. Too many business owners dismiss social media as a viable way to grow a business online, but this is changing fast. It is important to explore your social media options and determine the best course of action based on the needs of your firm and where you are now.

If you are currently absent from social media, choose one platform and spend a few weeks focused on building a campaign. Once that is consistent, add another platform. For instance, set up a Facebook page and begin posting to it daily. Once that is part of your regular routine, create a Google+ page, then a Twitter account, and so on. The key is to have solid, consistent campaigns for each platform.

In addition to having these social media accounts and keeping them active, there are other beneficial things you can do. For instance, those with Google+ accounts can take advantage of Google Authorship. This links all the content you publish online with your Google+ account, giving you greater credibility and making it easier for people to find your work.

Create Videos

Online videos are one of the most consumer-friendly methods for marketing. As a matter of fact, the video content site YouTube reaches more consumers age 18 to 34 than any cable network. Six billion hours of video are watched every month on the site. Though a lot of that is entertainment, YouTube has also become a destination for research and learning.

If you have not yet considered using video to enhance your online presence, you should add it to your list of goals for the year. Video is truly the key to taking your firm’s marketing to the next level. It puts potential clients at ease and helps them feel familiar with you before they even step into your office. Videos also show you are willing to go the extra mile when it comes to educating people about your field.

Claim Your Directory Listings

There are free listings for your law firm now on all Internet Yellow Pages, local search pages and directories, including vertical legal directories. Typically these are basic generic listings, name firm name, address and phone number. By claiming these listings you can build out the details to include email addresses, website URL’s hours of operations, photos and practice area information. This makes for both a more robust listing for those potential clients seeking legal guidance as well as an extended Internet footprint which the search engines appreciate.

Solicit Reviews and Testimonials

This seems simple enough, but not enough business owners are taking advantage of it. Consumers trust the opinions of other consumers, especially if they are connected to that person in some manner. Asking happy clients to review your services is one of the best ways to build an online reputation. Referrals are as important (even more so, really) online as they are in the offline world. Find a way to link your social media efforts with soliciting referrals and you will create a great system for reaching out to potential clients at a very personal level.

Looking for more ways to enhance your firm’s online presence? Give us call!

Website Design – New Features for Today’s Marketer

The Internet changes frequently and over time, has become more and more adept at helping the average person find the information needed to make important decisions. What does the online future hold and what should your law firm focus on in 2014 to make the most of your online marketing opportunities?

Website Design

The Internet is one of the most valuable tools consumers have at their disposal for conducting research, so to give the impression of being a successful firm, you must make sure you are using professional online marketing to your advantage. In today’s digitally connected world that means a website for both the desktop users AND a mobile optimized website.

Website design is one of the most important factors for building a strong online reputation for your firm. A high-quality professionally designed website says a lot about the quality of service your firm provides. It enables your visitors to access the information they want in a quick intuitive manner, creating a strong engaging user experience.

Mobile

More and more people these days are using mobile devices to access the Internet. Recent estimates show about half of all Americans use smartphones and about a quarter of the population owns a tablet. With so many people using these PC and laptop alternatives, website owners must ensure their site is capable of performing properly on a mobile device. Experts say that before too long almost all internet access will be done through a mobile devise. Will your website be prepared to render the proper mobile-optimized user experience on these mobile devises?

Website Security

In addition to having a desktop site that looks good and functions on a mobile device, you must also make sure your firm’s site is secure on these devices. You must do all you can to ensure your website is not hacked and it is secure. The most up-to-date options include protection from mobile data loss and threats specifically targeting tablets and smartphones. Security should also include reduced risk for lost or stolen devices, including unauthorized access, and data leakage from employee-owned devices. Finally, the best security systems offer equal protection for desktops, iPhones, iPads, Windows Phones, and Androids. However no system will ever be 100% secure, at best it will only deter the hackers.

Content and Design Revisions for Older Sites

Finally, consider if it is time to update your desktop site’s content and design. Aside from general updates of information, you might also need desktop software upgrades and updates to make the site compatible with today’s devices. Things like typography, interactivity, and format all effect a site’s usability on a mobile device. Responsive web design will continue to be a trend in 2014 because so many people are transitioning to mobile devices as their primary means of accessing the Internet. Content will continue to be an issue for optimization, too, so if it’s been awhile since your last revision, now is the time to get started.

If you want to learn more about the latest design trends for 2014 or you are ready for a site upgrade or simple evaluation, let us know. We can help you get your site ready for the next phase in Internet marketing.

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Have website marketing, website security or SEO questions, just email or call us for answers at 516-238-5252.

Google Algorithms Updates and Your Law Firm’s Website

Here is a fact worth noting… every business website is affected by recent Google algorithm updates. It started a few years back with one called Panda, which was followed by Penguin in 2012, and finally Hummingbird near the end of last year. The goal of each update was to enhance the user experience and ensure the best results were provided when users conducted a search. Unfortunately for some, it sent their online marketing plans into a tailspin. What do algorithm updates mean for your firm’s site and how you can you avoid the problems many experienced in 2013?

Understanding the Latest Update – Google’s Hummingbird

Hummingbird was the most sophisticated of the three recent algorithm updates. It attempts to anticipate what a user wants in response to his or her search. Hummingbird considers a user’s location and his or her search history when returning results. Hummingbird also makes it easier for users to search using natural language, so instead of typing “personal injury lawyer,” he or she can enter the question, or verbalize “where can I find a personal injury attorney specializing in auto accidents?”, and Google will understand the tone AND intent of the question.

What Does This Mean for Your Firm?

Sites featuring quality content experienced few negative effects from the Hummingbird update and in many cases, they rose in search results. However, as things continue to evolve, traditional SEO practices might not be enough to garner the results you want from your firm’s site.

Google has more engineers today working on search than ever before. Fifteen percent of searches each day are phrased in ways Google has never seen before. Their goal is to stay ahead of the curve. Your online marketing goals should be, as well. If you want to make the most of Google and other search engines, there are a few things you can do to improve your rank now and maintain a high rank in the future, even as things change. Most importantly, post new quality content regularly. Blogging is an excellent way to accomplish that task.

How can your law firm’s site offer the best user experience and ensure Google’s algorithms appreciate your efforts?

#1 – Post high quality content on a regular basis. Make sure your content focuses on your firm’s niche practices and provides information you believe your client would want to read. The better you know your potential clients the easier it will be to provide valuable content. Learn more about getting inside your client’s heads here.

#2- Be practical about keywords. They are still important, but abusing them will only damage your rank. Take a common sense approach to keywords and use them as a general guide for content, instead of as the main driving force.

#3 – Utilize Google Authorship because it boosts your online credibility. Google Authorship allows you to officially claim ownership of your firm’s content, so readers establish familiarity and trust with you. Algorithm updates will likely continue to favor verified authors, so linking content and Google Authorship will also enhance SEO.

The more you do now to make your firm’s site high quality the less you will be rattled when new algorithms are released. Ultimately, trying to outsmart or trick search engines results in failure, so take an ethical approach to your site and in the end, your efforts will pay off.

If you would like to learn more about how algorithm changes affect your firm’s site or you would like to discuss changes that could improve your site’s rank, give us a call.

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Have website marketing, website security or SEO questions, just email or call us for answers at 

516-238-5252.

PASSWORDS AND YOUR WEBSITE SECURITY

There is a terrific article in today’s Newsday by Jamie Herzlich who writes the Small Business column titled “Password can spell security or disaster”.

 Check Newsday or the business section of the Newsday site, and for those without access here’s the article:

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In a time of sophisticated attacks on computer systems, companies should routinely re-evaluate their password policies and consider improving security measures, say experts.

A password breach can be catastrophic for a company. Yet, many firms don’t put enough emphasis on security, often opting for easy-to-remember words or phrases.

Considering what’s at risk, companies should routinely re-evaluate their password policies and consider improving security measures, say experts.

“It’s human nature to create less work for ourselves,” explains Morgan Slain, CEO of Los Gatos, Calif.-based SplashData, which recently released its annual list of worst passwords, such as 123456 and “password.”

“As much as we try to educate people and enforce stronger password policies, this list has remained fairly unchanged for three years,” says Slain, whose top-25 list was compiled from files containing millions of stolen passwords posted online in the previous year.

  •  Passphrases: If you want to create a secure password easy to recall, consider using “passphrases” — short words with spaces or other characters separating them, advises Slain, adding it’s best to string random words together, not common phrases. Three words or more is ideal, he adds. For example, “cakes years birthday” or “smiles_ light_skip.”
  • Be inventive: Don’t use the same username/password combination for multiple websites or accounts, another common error, he notes. “People tend to reuse their passwords,” says Jeremi Gosney, CEO of Tacoma, Wash.-based Stricture Group, a password recovery and security firm. That’s because they have so many passwords to remember, which ultimately results in their creating simple ones, says Gosney, adding, “Most people know they have a bad password.”
  • Digital route: If you want a truly secure password, remove the human element entirely, he says. Have a digital password manager generate your password for you, he advises, such as LastPass. “Any kind of human-generated password we’re going to be able to crack.”
  • Management app: SplashData also offers its own password manager application, SplashID Safe, which generates, organizes and protects passwords. Users need to remember just one master password to get into the program, which safely stores your passwords and can automatically log you into accounts and websites without your having to retype a multitude of passwords.
  • The stronger the password, the less often you need to change it. “If the password is sophisticated enough, you don’t necessarily have to change it every few months,” says William Collins, president of NST Inc., an East Northport-based information technology services company.
  • Policy for workers: Whatever protocol you follow, it pays to have a password policy so employees have guidelines and understand what is expected, says Collins. Use the policy to enforce a standard, such as requiring passwords to have a certain level of complexity, he notes. Require a combination of letters, numbers, capitals and symbols, and avoid common words and phrases. For example, you wouldn’t want to use the last four digits of your Social Security number or your kids’ names, he says.
  • Restrict access: Also, remember not everyone needs the same access to the same passwords. “Restrict access to only those who need it,” advises Collins, and don’t be careless with your passwords (i.e. don’t write them on a sticky note).
  • Brian Selltiz, president of Digital Provisions in Smithtown, a commercial security integration firm that works with NST, says his policy dictates certain standards, such as the minimum length of passwords. He also limits access to passwords to certain employees based on their positions. “It’s always better to be safe than sorry,” says Selltiz.

2013’s WORST PASSWORDS:

1. 123456

2. password

3. 12345678

4. qwerty

5. abc1236. 123456789

7. 111111

8. 1234567

9. iloveyou

10. adobe123