Why Lawyers Should Not Just Settle On SEO, But Focus On Authority Marketing
With all the content now found on the Internet, a key challenge may lawyers have is simply getting noticed. For many smaller law firms or solo-practice lawyers, this remains a huge obstacle to survival or growth.
As more lawyers create websites (because they have been told it is good to do so), many have turned to search engine optimisation (SEO) to try and get ranked on the first page of search results. Increasingly, many are focusing on local search results and optimising their web pages so that people looking for local lawyers can find them much more easily.
All this is well and good and can be done whether lawyers pay for expensive SEO services (which I argue is not always necessary to get decent rankings).
However, it then brings lawyers to one of the biggest challenges they will face…
How do you convert all those people that land on to your website into fee-paying clients?
The problem with SEO is that all it does is get to eyeballs faster but does nothing to position you as an authority in your prospects’ heads.
Think about the various SEO strategies many law firms have used:
They invest a lot of money, or sometimes are simply good enough, to be on page 1 on Google / Bing searches;
They produce lots of content and syndicate it across various sites, which should be part of their marketing strategy, but in itself does not automatically mean you are an authority in the minds of your target market;
They work on getting lots of backlinks to their websites, which is frowned upon by Google and might, if done really badly, actually dilute the good brand lawyers may have created;
They focus on collecting followers or likes but can’t differentiate between simple browsers and hot prospects actively looking for legal services (and have the money to pay for them).
Authority marketing goes beyond SEO, and aims to position lawyers as The Authority or Lawyer Of Choice within the minds of prospects. It is very common to have people land on your law firm website via a good SEO strategy and then lose them because you don’t have anything to capture their attention or make them want to learn more about you.
When lawyers start to think of authority marketing, they have to map out how they will build trust with prospects and add value to the relationship they develop with people.
Adding value is based on understanding what prospects and clients:
Are actively looking for (i.e. in terms of content);
Think is the best way to be communicated to;
Want as their desired end result;
Feel is the ideal way law firms should treat them and charge for legal services.
With all the training lawyers have gone through, many would claim to be experts or specialists in their field. But the lawyers that think beyond this and then aim to be The Authority in their field (amongst all the experts and specialists there are) are the ones that will start to generate active leads and get more clients.
That is the difference, for many lawyers right now, between stagnation and growth!
Lawyers that are seen as authority figures gain more trust and respect, are more likely to be approached for legal services or opinions, get more referrals that convert into fee-paying clients, and get better feedback.
With all the legislative changes taking place in legal services (e.g. The Legal Services Act in the UK), increasing competition for customer wallets and the crazy amount of content being put on the Internet, lawyers that want to be noticed simply have to focus on authority marketing.
SEO has its uses, but it is simply NOT enough.