Modern consumers are different from old school consumers, in part because they access information about service providers via different methods than have traditionally been used. And, even those methods are changing rapidly. It was only fairly recently, for example, that mobile searches overtook the searches from traditional hardware, that had previously dominated the market.
So, for law firms that want to compete, in what remains a highly competitive market, it’s essential to understand how consumers find you, to access your services. The more you know about that, the more calculating, exacting and effective your marketing becomes. So, that begs the question: How do modern consumers find law firms?
At a very basic level, there are two ways that consumers find lawyers: (1) because they’ve been referred to someone whose name they now know (and fewer and fewer millennials receive personal recommendations for lawyers — they’re more apt to look online first) or (2) via an online search for a legal topic.
If the consumer already knows who you are (if they’ve been referred to you) they’re likely to execute a Google search. So, you’ve got to own the ‘vanity search’ for your name. If you don’t know what the first page of Google looks like when someone searches for you name, try it yourself. I guarantee you will be surprised by the results. When you are, you’ll know what work you need to do to beef up your personalized online presence. When does your website come up in search? What about directory profiles? Do your social media profiles appear? Are there websites containing information about you that you do not control? To what extent is any of that information negative? What portion of the information does not relate to you or your business at all? Now, at least, you’ll have an idea of what you need to tidy up, so that you’re putting your best foot forward in terms of the first things that your leads learn about you, or confirm about you. But, keep in mind that consumers are not only searching via Google. With the rise in smartphone usage, lots of consumers are now performing what are called in-app searches, which means that they never get to Google at all. Instead, they’re going directly to a particular app on their phone, and starting their search there. So, you need to also make sure that, not just the links to, but your actual social media profiles themselves, are locked and loaded — because that may be the only glimpse a consumer gets into who you are, and what you do.
When consumers don’t know who you are (where there’s been no referral), they’re then searching based on a specific need they have, for which they require guidance (yours, hopefully), and a guide (you, hopefully). A number of those searches are done using keywords, like ‘real estate lawyer new york’ or ‘personal injury law las vegas’, which big players will spend big dollars optimizing for — but, maybe that’s not you. If it isn’t, you can build out your marketing strategy in a different way. Consider that many consumers search for legal services by asking questions, like ‘If I have to sell my house how do i find a lawyer for that’ or ‘i was hurt in a car accident, what do I do now’. It’s, of course, more difficult to find keyword combinations to fit that search type, especially because lay consumers are not going to be searching for things like ‘tort law indianapolis’. The way that you can optimize for these ‘long tail’ searches, then, is by utilizing content market. So, if you write a blog post that reads ‘How to Find the Right Lawyer When You Need to Sell Your House’ or you create and publish a short video titled ‘What to do When You’re Hurt in a Car Accident’ — and, if you can widely distribute those content pieces online, across social channels and via backlinks — you can generate significant traction in search for short dollars. Think of the top 10 questions that your clients ask you, and create content pieces around those topics, then publish and share them. If you can do that, you’re replacing, or supplementing, a traditional SEO spend, with relevant content driven by elbow grease. Optimize for long-tail search to save money, and show up in places your competitors least suspect you to be. And, that starts with building an aggressive content marketing engine.
Then, when it comes to your revenue, you won’t be the one who’s a long tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs — your competitors will be.