“If you’re not online, you don’t exist.” That statement is starting to gain momentum. The Internet is no longer confined to one demographic or one industry; it has infiltrated every aspect of our lives, and it is often the first place people go to learn about anything—including attorneys.
Lawyers who have a weak or non-existent online presence are at a significant disadvantage. Consumers search the web for information on attorneys, and the more positive content attorneys can push about themselves or their firms, the more they can generate new business and grow their practices.
Why building authority is important online
Recent studies suggest that slightly more than 1/7 of the planet used Google to perform a search online. That doesn’t account for other search engines or online channels where consumers might go to find out more about a lawyer.
In other words, people frequently use search to find what they are looking for. Search engines are ubiquitous, and the algorithms they use to find relevant information have become very advanced. One primary factor that determines what shows up first is content, which is used not only by search to rank web pages but also by people researching attorneys. The more content that is available, the easier it is for clients to decide whom they want to handle their legal needs.
When attorneys flood the Internet with narratives that speak to their knowledge and skill in legal matters, search engines have more results from which to choose and display to searchers. That also means that consumers have more data to use in their decision-making process.
How lawyers can build authority
Building an online presence is an ongoing process that requires creativity and persistence. There are many different ways to get exposure online. The key to success is consistency. Here are a handful of good places to start:
Building online profiles
A good way to start is by building online profiles on attorney-specific directories, which are often searched by consumers. These sites have a lot of authority, so they rank well and provide an opportunity for you to add lots of content. For example, Avvo is an excellent directory where lawyers can publish information about themselves, accumulate reviews, and participate in forums.
To get the most out of directories, attorneys should fill out profiles completely, add practice areas, and add descriptions, links, and images where applicable.
Creating attorney-specific profile pages
A page on your website or your firm’s website dedicated to your work as a lawyer is a great way to get relevant content about your personal brand on the web. Write a blurb about yourself that is 400-500 words long. Include your name in the web copy, the title of the page, and the URL. Also include your practice areas in the page content. Matthew Dolman has a great example, and he is also a great example of a lawyer who does well with personal branding in search.
Social proof refers to iconic or trustworthy designations that lawyers can earn to show potential clients they know what they are doing. There are many ways for lawyers to get social proof and display it to visitors. These include the following:
- Testimonials (both on and off site)
- Case results
- As seen in
- Better Business Bureau
- Top 100 Trial Lawyers
- Million Dollar Advocates Forum
- Avvo Rating
These types of social proof are tangible in that they can be displayed on an attorney website, and profiles can be created on websites that bestow designations on lawyers. There are also social proof badges that can be displayed on an attorney website.
Actively publishing content around the web
Nothing builds authority better or faster than being consistently helpful to your target audience. Lawyers can build credibility by being active on forums, answering questions, posting helpful articles on their websites or LinkedIn, and by pushing out helpful content.
By doing this on a regular basis, attorneys will find that a positive narrative begins to take shape. People will begin to see them as a fixture in online communities that they trust. As a result, they’re more likely to reach out for help. This eventually leads to more clients.
Dominating page 1 for your attorney name
By using the tactics above, attorneys can easily dominate the first page of search results for their name or firm name. Even though lawyers should take a holistic approach toward their SEO efforts when it comes to the keywords they target, consumers inevitably do research on the people they plan to work with.
Consumers will also see attorney names popping up in places where they are doing research on their legal issues. Those lawyers that are actively engaged in the online community are more likely to get a call than those who are not.