Understanding the Environment of the Internet

Some Internet Basics for Lawyers

The Internet is an Environment

Before we jump into talking about your website specifically, I want to make the distinction between your website and the rest of the web.  We can, and should, make every effort through the design and content of your website to come across as professional, established, effective attorneys.  However, if we have negative ratings and complaints all over the web our site will be far less effective.  Thanks to public records and websites that auto-generate listing on your behalf, your information is already “out there”.  The challenge is corralling that information, highlighting what’s positive as much as you can and leveraging these mentions of your business name to advance your overall position on the web.

“Review sites don’t work for lawyers”

There are a million reasons why they don’t.  Easy example: criminal defense lawyers.  Most legal clients value anonymity, that is true.  But, even if you accept that you’ll never get a review from a client, you still need to be set up on the most trafficked sites for two important reasons:

  1. If you were to get a review, you would be notified.  If this was a negative review, having your account already set up would allow you to begin whatever dispute process the site offers.
  2. Claiming your profile usually allows you to link to your website, which not only helps potential clients find the information that you want them to see, but  it also helps your overall position on the search engines.

The SEO End of all of this

The most important reason to understand this is because of how citations effect search engine optimization (SEO).  Every mention of your business name, address, phone number, whether linked to your site or not,will either confirm or confuse who Google thinks you are.  So if there is mention of your name out there, it’s very beneficial for us to make sure that it’s accompanied with your phone number and current address – not because your clients are going to find you on Yelp, but because Google will find your correct information on Yelp.

Citations

Citations are really just any mention of your business name on the web.  Google uses this information to try to understand the local business landscape.  It’s not a simple one-to-one ratio where the business with the most citations appears at the top, however it is an important factor in how and where you show up on the web.  Directories, social media sites and review sites are all sources of important citations.  It’s important to work towards having the citations you can control connected to account that you can easily monitor.  I suggest getting one gmail account for all web related issues. 

Reviews & Your Reputation

There are a variety of ways that a past client can voice their opinion, positive or negative, about your services.  It’s important to be aware of what type of information is out there and accessible to potential clients.  There are review sites like Avvo, Yelp and Google+, but there can also be informal mentions of your service on Facebook or Twitter.  You are not always going to be able to control all of this, but having your accounts current and connected to monitored emails is important.  You do NOT have to be engaged in social media; however, you cannot be completely passive either.

Your Marketing Plan Needs to Address the Web, and Your Website

It’s important not only to have a nice website, to also ensure that you have made efforts towards building off-page optimization factors like reviews and citations.  You can’t manage every corner of the internet, but almost all of the largest sites offer some means to add a link there, which can help your SEO and online reputation management.  If you have questions about how to manage all of this, or want information on a new website or SEO, don’t hesitate to contact me through my website.