John Bowie* Endless Google updates, the onset of artificial intelligence tools, and fiercely competitive ranking issues all create issues for law firms seeking to deploy effective digital marketing plans.
Today’s digital age is making law firm marketing more competitive than ever as more clients use the internet to find lawyers for their needs. Having a strong online presence is more important than ever.
In fact, digital marketing for lawyers is not even an option any longer, it’s a necessity.
Done right, it will increase visibility for lawyers, attract more clients and grow your legal business.
Search engine marketing and organic marketing generate more leads than any other marketing tool or method.
That is not going to change.
But endless Google algorithm updates and change mean keeping your law firm front and center on Google remains an ongoing challenge.
And there will be more changes in digital marketing in 2023.
So what are some of the trends that are shaping successful digital marketing for law firms?
What IS Digital Marketing
Digital marketing for lawyers involves using online platforms and tools to promote legal services and connect with potential clients.
This can include search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, and more.
The ultimate objective is to increase visibility and attract new clients through targeted, effective online campaigns.
Why Is Digital Marketing Important in Law Firm Marketing?
Having a strong online presence is critical for law firms seeking to build their credibility and client base.
A good website with quality content will showcase expertise and build credibility, particularly if it is clearly and concisely displayed.
The Growth of Digital Marketing
The internet is used increasingly to find legal services, with up to 70 percent of consumers using it to either research legal information or services and the continued growth of online research has continued to grow, year-on-year, as other reports have shown.
There has also been massive growth in areas like legal document preparation and other legal tech growth. The growth in online legal documentation is anticipated to reach $4.4 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 11.5 percent from 2019 to 2026.
e-Discovery is another booming area of growth and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.2 percent during the forecast period (2020-2025).
Virtual legal consultations are also on the rise: The demand for virtual legal consultations has increased in recent years, with many legal service providers now offering online or video consultations in a trend that is only set to grow further.
Online legal platforms and marketplaces, such as LegalZoom and Avvo, are becoming increasingly popular for consumers seeking legal services online and new online law services continue to emerge and engage legal service users – aka, your law firm’s potential clients.
Remote working is also driving online legal services growth as the pandemic has made remote working more prevalent and further stimulated an increase in online legal services.
These statistics and trends demonstrate the growing trend of consumers turning to online legal services for their legal needs, as well as the rising popularity of virtual legal consultations and the growth of online legal platforms and marketplaces.
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) For 2023
We hardly need to explain how important SEO is for lawyers, but check our article on the key elements of effective SEO for lawyers here in our Ultimate Guide to Law Firm SEO.
To summarize the key benefits –
SEO helps to increase the visibility and ranking of their website in search engine results pages (SERPs), thus vastly increasing the law firm’s ability to be found by searchers.
Keep in mind that SEO is an ongoing process and requires consistent effort to keep the website up-to-date with the latest best practices, to monitor the performance, and adapt to the changes in the algorithm.
( Lawyers can increase their visibility and reach more potential clients. This can be done by incorporating relevant keywords, meta tags, and backlinks into their website.)
Local SEO can also help lawyers to target specific geographic areas, by optimizing their website to target people searching for legal services in that city.
(This can be done by including the city’s name in the website’s title tags, meta tags and creating local business listing on Google and other directories.)
Additionally, SEO can also help to establish a lawyer’s credibility and authority.
it is worth noting that SEO is an ongoing process and requires consistent effort to keep the website up-to-date with the latest best practices, monitor the performance, and adapt to the changes in the algorithm.
Search engines consider a website’s credibility and authority when ranking it in search results, so if a lawyer’s website is optimized for search engines, it may be more likely to appear higher in search results and be seen as a credible and authoritative source of legal information.
In summary, SEO is important for lawyers because it helps them to increase visibility, reach more potential clients, target specific geographic areas, and establish credibility and authority online.
The essential elements for good search engine optimization for law firms will continue in 2023 as they have previously, but with a great emphasis on the need to establish authority and credibility (of which more below).
The main elements of good SEO remain the following –
Quality Content – whatever the AI tools and content writers may say, it is the quality of the content, its relevance, and the authority of the writer that will make the difference in terms of impact. There are key elements to help boost this impact, as outlined below, but the key is to answer the questions a searcher is looking for.
Well-Researched keywords: Lawyers should also research keywords that are relevant to their practice area and the content about which you are writing, including them and meta tags in the content online to help the search engines pick up the information and rank it.
Well-Optimized website structure: Having a website that is well-structured and easy to navigate is a key to good SEO, which will include having a clear hierarchy of headings and subheadings, as well as using descriptive titles and alt tags for images.
Optimize for voice search: Almost 60 per cent of consumers use voice for searching. It is growing hugely. Alexa continues to grow. People are asking questions. Use AnswerthePublic.com and type in the questions and you will see the questions people are asking. Create content on those questions and you will get more searches.
Backlinks: Backlinks remain important but reaching out to other websites and asking them to link to their websites will help this process. This can be done by writing guest posts, participating in online communities, or reaching out to other legal websites.
Backlinks will be as important for search optimization because they are ‘votes’ in favor of your website.
You can check the backlinks that both your own law firm website and others are receiving and then contact other sites to provide content or provide linking information. Sites like Ubersuggest.com and HREFS backlink checker can provide vital information to let you know what sites to reach.
Optimized for Local SEO – This is a must-have for many law firms, particularly smaller firms that operate in a specific locality. Using the website’s title tags, meta tags, and the content will also build the local SEO effectiveness, along with creating a local business directory listing on Google.
>> See Local SEO For Lawyers: How to Get To No. 1 on Google
Enhance site speed – The speed of your website is one of the keys to SEO success as a slow site will not only be penalized by Google, but it will also impede the likelihood of searchers remaining on your website. Site speed is a key metric for Google’s site rankings and you can check the situation with your own site using a tool like this tool or this tool at GTMetrix.
>> 7 Key Steps Towards Local SEO Success
Google Business Profile – Lawyers should claim and verify their Google Business Profile (previously called Google My Business) listing and make sure it’s updated with accurate information about their practice, hours of operation, and contact details.
Ensure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly – Lawyers should ensure that their website is mobile-friendly, as more and more people are using mobile devices to browse the web. Makes sure your site loads quickly and is responsive.
Research has indicated that over 92 percent of internet users access the internet using a mobile phone with over 4.3 billion mobile users.
Use Meta Tags – these snippets describe a page’s content and will help you build Google profile by using descriptive content that helps Google know what your content is about. Using curiosity-arousing headlines will also help build interest in the page content.
Use Google’s Tools – Google provides some powerful tools to analyze and see what you are doing right or wrong. Google Search Console and Google Analytics will provide a wealth of data to see how your website is performing and permit you to m
Virtual Consulting – The pandemic has highlighted the importance of virtual consultations and online appointment scheduling has become very popular and important. Lawyers can leverage this to connect with potential clients in a more efficient manner and help build digital marketing strategies around virtual consulting opportunities.
Marketing Automation: With the help of marketing automation software, lawyers can streamline their marketing efforts and automate repetitive tasks, such as sending follow-up emails to leads.
A good use of marketing automation tools and strategies can create a funnel for future clients and streamline your whole online marketing process.
Audit Your Site: By checking and ‘auditing’ your site for index or other issues you can make sure that your law firm site is performing properly and what you need to fix to secure higher rankings.
Tools include, SEMRush, MOZ and Ubersuggest
2. Never Forget E-A-T (read more about EAT here)
In the age of artificial intelligence-driven content, the need to adhere to Google’s requirements for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EAT) is more important than ever.
We don’t know whether Google will soon be able to pick up a bunch of AI-written content using Chat-GBT or any other tool (probably), but the assessment for EAT is used in Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines and they are a factor in every search.
Check the online details on Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines here.
They are particularly important for sites like law firm sites (as well as money and health) because they are YMYL sites – ie ‘Your Money, Your Life’.
To quote form the guidelines:
Sites are classified as high-quality websites if they meet these requirements:
- A very high level of E-A-T
- High-quality main content
- User-friendly navigation
- Very good reputation of the website
- Transparency with regard to the source or the person(s) responsible for the content
It is highly likely that EAT will become even more important, particularly with the growing wave of AI-based content.
That means authority and expertise from yourself, as a lawyer, will become a more significant factor in ranking your site, quite apart from all the other SEO factors mentioned.
3. The AI Trap – Is It Everything We Think It Is?
There is much that is – as Elon Musk says – ‘scary exciting’ about artificial intelligence. However, using AI to build rapid content using a tool like ChatGPT is a potential trap for various reasons.
One is that Chat GPT, impressive and amazing as the technology is, will provide information based on content already online. It avoids your opinion or ‘angle’ on something that is often what the searcher will be looking for
AI can only grasp, very firmly and impressively in ChatGPT’s case, information and data already online.
Using ChatGPT requires some degree of not only added ‘human’ input but also direction around the context and ‘tone’ of any such content. For instance, instead of simply asking a question, the query should be framed in a manner that identifies the tone (first person, third person) and context of the query in detail, even asking the AI to provide a response in the nature of an article from an appropriately authoritative publication.
The framing of the query and the necessary fact-checking are key to have the basis for quality content.
It can help with building headlines, outlines, content ideas, and the like but when you are producing EAT-quality content for your website you need to inject your views and your personality.
There are other factors that count both for and against AI-built content that we will discuss in another article, but do not write off Google because of Open AI, the owners of Chat GPT.
Because Google have mastered and owned the most information. They will come up with AI that will transcend what Open AI has done, wonderful as it is. They have the data that ultimately is what counts when rendering down terabytes of information into useful, digestible content.
There will now be what some have described as an ‘arms race’ around tools to identify what is AI-written, just as there are tools to detect plagiarism.
4. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is online advertising that allows lawyers to place ads on search engines, social media platforms, and other websites.
While it does not come logically into the SEO universe being paid, rather than organically-driven traffic, it still has the ability to drive traffic to targeted pages and grow leads.
PPC can be an effective way for lawyers to reach potential clients and grow their practice quickly.
The benefits of PPC were outlined in our article on law marketing but let’s summarize the benefits –
Targeted reach: PPC advertising allows lawyers to target specific demographics, such as location, age, and interests. This means that they can reach potential clients who are most likely to be interested in their services.
Measurable results: PPC advertising allows lawyers to track the performance of their ads, such as how many clicks, conversions, and leads they generate, permitting easy assessment of which ads are working and which ones aren’t, so they can make adjustments and optimize their campaigns.
Quick results: PPC advertising allows lawyers to see results quickly. Unlike SEO, which can take months to see results, PPC advertising can start bringing in leads almost immediately.
Cost-effective: The advertising can be a cost-effective way for lawyers to reach potential clients, as they only pay when someone clicks on their ad. This means that they can control their advertising budget and avoid overspending.
Brand awareness: Effective advertising can also help to increase brand awareness and visibility for lawyers. By consistently showing up in search results and on websites, lawyers can become more recognizable and memorable to potential clients.
Testing and Flexibility: PPC advertising done properly allows lawyers to easily test different ad copy, landing pages, and targeting options to see what works best. This flexibility allows lawyers to make adjustments and optimize their campaigns as needed.
In summary, PPC advertising can be an effective way for lawyers to reach potential clients, generate leads, and grow their practice. It allows them to target specific demographics, track results, and make adjustments to optimize their campaigns.
5. Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is a key traffic generator and SEO tool for lawyers because it allows them to connect with potential clients, build relationships, and establish their expertise in their practice area.
There is a vast amount of material published about social media marketing, including articles on social media marketing for lawyers, but in essence, it remains a key way to amplify your messaging and build your law firm brand.
It will continue to play a major role in 2023 and although Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter has lead to speculation about just how that will play out, it does reflect the constantly shifting sands of social media and the need for law firms to pick the platform(s) that best suit their needs.
Whatever the social media platform, be it LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook or the increasingly popular Gen Z platform of TicTok, you can increase visibility and grow your branding.
But, in addition to visibility, the social media platform allows lawyers to engage with potential clients and build relationships with them.
By regularly posting relevant and informative content, answering questions, and responding to comments, lawyers can establish themselves as trusted and credible resource for legal information.
Social media allows lawyers to showcase their expertise and knowledge in their practice area. By regularly sharing industry insights, legal updates, and news, they can establish themselves as thought leaders and experts in their field.
They also permit the target audience to be connected in a cost-effective way. Many social media platforms allow users to create a business profile and post content for free.
Social media platforms offer targeting options that allow lawyers to reach specific demographics, such as location, age, and interests.
Measuring results: Social media platforms provide analytics and insights that allow lawyers to track the performance of their social media campaigns and measure the results, such as reach, engagement, and conversions.
In summary, social media marketing is important for lawyers because it allows them to increase visibility, build relationships, establish expertise, reach specific demographics and measure the results in a cost-effective way. Social media can help them to attract new clients and grow their practice.
Choose The Best Platform for Your Law Firm
Here are some best tips for lawyers to maintain a strong social media presence that will help reach new clients and build your law firm brand.
Choose the platforms that are most relevant to your law practice area and target audience.
For example, if a lawyer specializes in corporate law, they may want to focus on LinkedIn, whereas if they specialize in criminal law, they may want to focus on Twitter.
Whatever the platform, maintain a professional (but friendly) tone to build your brand as one of knowledge, authority, and accessibility.
Work on building a consistent brand identity: Lawyers should create a consistent brand identity across all of their social media profiles, including profile images, cover photos, and bios. Consistency will help build the brand imagery and create a better marketplace recognition.
Maintaining a consistency in social media efforts, posting regularly, and building a routine to manage social media accounts.
Share valuable content, which is always the key, particularly for lawyer. Lawyers should share valuable and informative content that is relevant to their practice area and target audience. This can include blog posts, articles, legal updates, and industry news.
Engage with followers by responding to comments and messages, asking questions, and participating in online discussions. This will help to build relationships and establish themselves as trusted and credible resource.
Using visuals like images and videos to make their content more engaging and shareable.
Finally, track and measure performance by using analytics and insights to track the performance of their social media campaigns and measure the results. This will help them to identify what’s working and what’s not, so they can adjust their strategy accordingly.
Remember that social media marketing is a long-term strategy that requires consistency and an approach that will both build connections with potential clients, but also maintain and enhance relationships and develop your authority.
6. Content Marketing
Content marketing is perhaps the most effective digital marketing strategy for law firms, particularly if it is shared across multiple platforms.
Check our ‘Tips and Traps’ article on content marketing here for some of the key tactics to develop and distribute high value content for your law firm.
Remember that content includes articles and blog posts, but also videos, infographics, podcasts, and social media posts.
If the content is relevant it can drive interesting engaging conversations and highlight your firm’s ability to be a thought leader and authority. The content can also include interviews, insights and features, research, press releases and so forth.
Establishing expertise: By creating and distributing valuable content, such as blog posts, articles, and videos, lawyers can establish themselves as experts in their field and provide potential clients with valuable information. This can help to build trust and credibility with potential clients.
Attracting potential clients: By creating content that is relevant to their practice area and target audience, lawyers can attract potential clients who are searching for legal information online. This can help to increase visibility and reach more potential clients.
Building relationships: By providing valuable content, lawyers can establish themselves as a trusted and credible resource for legal information. This can help them to build relationships with potential clients and nurture leads.
Optimizing for SEO: By creating high-quality, informative content, lawyers can optimize their website for search engines, which can help to increase visibility and reach more potential clients.
Cost-effective marketing: Content marketing is a highly cost-effective way for lawyers to reach potential clients and establish their expertise. Creating content can be relatively inexpensive and can be a powerful way to increase visibility and attract clients.
Use Video: With the rise of video content, lawyers can use videos to educate and inform potential clients about their services, or to provide expert legal advice as well as hitting all the EAT metrics. Video also creates the authenticity and connection that can pay off handsomely for those who project their personality into the content.
Great video marketing can be one of the best payoffs in terms of SEO efforts keeping in mind that YouTube is the second most popular search engine.
Measuring results: With the use of analytics, lawyers can measure the results of their content marketing efforts, such as website traffic, engagement, and conversion rates. This can help them to identify what’s working and what’s not, so they can adjust their strategy accordingly.
In summary, content marketing is an important aspect of digital marketing for lawyers. It allows them to establish themselves as experts, attract potential clients, build relationships, optimize for SEO, reach more people in a cost-effective way and measure the results.
By providing valuable information, lawyers can establish trust and credibility with potential clients and position themselves as valuable resource for legal information.
Remember that content is more than just great articles and blog posts. It includes e-books, downloadable resources, listicles, videos and other content.
Using a well-optimized website that captures emails and permits ready distribution of content via different channels will help build engagement and authority, but the basis remains quality content.
7. Email Marketing Significance
Email marketing is a tried-and-true way to build website traffic and authority, but it requires some unique practices and tools.
A good email marketing strategy will both nurture existing clients and also develop new ones and it remains – without question – one of the most cost effective and just effective – ways to build targeted web traffic.
I wrote about some of the key tactics that lawyers can use in their email marketing in t his article last year.
The key is to take a strategic approach toward email marketing, using best practices that will build an email marketing audience and strong relationships with potential clients.
Among the main steps to consider are providing value with the content being delivered, including legal updates, industry news and so forth, but making it as relevant as possible to your audience.
Don’t spend time blowing your own law firm trumpet, which just gets tedious and sounds like self-promotional PR that is hardly of value to the reader in most cases.
Ideally having a segmented list that will target those with particular interests and also where the emails are personalized (which will provide a higher open rate) so that you can write for the audience in a highly targeted, useful manner.
Being consistent is also important so that there is a regular schedule and you are able to consistently build your voice and your brand.
Include a call to action via a click-through link or invitation to a PDF download, free consultation or some other feature that will provide an ability to boost engagement with your audience, as well as provide the value you should be focused upon.
Further, with a good call to action, you can also measure your results. Who is clicking through and opening your emails, how many and what is the best time to send, etc? Email marketing software can track open and click-through rates, and use this information to improve your future campaigns.
When a potential client responds or takes a desired action, follow up with them promptly. This will help to build trust and establish a strong relationship. By following these best practices, your law firm can use email
Conclusion – Build Your Law Firm Digital Marketing Profile
Maintaining a strong online presence and an active social media presence is the key to building an effective digital marketing campaign for any law firm, as well as making sure your site is as EAT-compliant as possible.
As Google moves more into being AI-responsive, and responds to the threat of ChatGPT and other developments, the need to produce truly excellent, relevant content should remain top-of-mind for lawyers.
John Bowie is LawFuel publisher and writes regularly on law firm marketing and related news.