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How to Attract Prospects with Search Engine Marketing

A client recently confided that he discovered the need for search engine marketing only after he built a new web site. Expecting that "if you build it, they will come," this sophisticated international attorney was surprised to learn that launching a new web site is only the first step in the continual effort to get business over the Internet.

Another client with an AmLaw 100 firm was disappointed when, after purchasing online listings in several additional legal directories, he did not immediately see his bio page start to appear naturally on the first page of Google search results. This changed as soon as we launched a Google AdWords campaign.

The truth is that business development on the Internet, like other types of marketing campaigns, does not necessarily generate results overnight. Your best chance of success will come from a strategic Internet marketing vision that clearly defines your goals and objectives for online lead generation.

Invest some time before you launch an Internet marketing campaign to specify your target audience, the number of prospects you want to develop, the dollar volume of business you hope to achieve, the time frame for your campaign, and your budget.

Become familiar with the lingo of online marketing, including keyword density, meta tags, search engine results page (or "SERP"), and more.

Let’s start by identifying the various ways you can promote your law firm practice online. Search engine marketing ("SEM") is a term that historically has focused on paid placement, primarily through pay-per-click advertising like Google AdWords.

Search engine optimization ("SEO") is another, more scientific, approach to improving the volume or quality of search engine traffic via "natural" ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results, according to Wikipedia. A key element in many SEO campaigns is an emphasis on keywords and building "inbound links" to your web site.

I suggest a slight variation to marketing your law firm online, which I am calling “search engine expert positioning.” Basically, you want to combine the features of SEM and SEO to position your firm as an expert in your field (recognizing that “expert” is a regulated term) in order to stand apart from the competition.

As a legal authority, think of how you can educate your audience about the law. Providing value-based Internet marketing campaigns will help to naturally attract clients who are facing business or personal challenges that you speak and write about in your capacity as an expert advisor.

Once you decide the topics that are of interest to you, the next step is to determine how to communicate your message. In part, this will depend on your audience. If you are an elder law attorney, for example, your online campaigns may focus on adult children who are forced to care for aging parents. An intellectual property attorney serving technically-savvy clients may want to focus more marketing energy on Twitter, video, and other more progressive technologies.

The good news is that there are dozens of complementary ways to promote your messages. A blog, webinar, e-newsletter, white paper, search engine-optimized press release or even Twitter alerts combine to disseminate your information while reinforcing your expertise.

Always be aware of three key elements in any online marketing campaign: a) content; b) your online visibility; and c) your website structure. Let’s look at each aspect in slightly more detail.

Content is king on the Internet. A good basic goal is to post one new page of content every week to your website, blog, and/or through an article publication service. This may seem aggressive, but the firms that are able to maintain this schedule using internal and/or external resources have the best chance of getting noticed online.

Online visibility (or your "personal brand") may seem a bit ambiguous, but think of all the legal directories and legal marketing sites available to you. After the basics of Martindale and FindLaw, consider listings in sites like, Avvo, LawDragon, or Justia. Online legal publishing sites like JDSupra and LegalOnRamp add another dimension to building your online presence. Did you know, as one small example, that if you area a Florida lawyer you can now add a photo to your Florida Bar listing?

Finally, paying attention to the details of your website structure involves technical details like the use of meta tags, site maps, keywords, inbound links, navigation, and "Contact Us" forms. Having a good webmaster and Internet marketer will definitely help in this regard.

Search engine marketing techniques change on a constant basis, so it is always a good idea to check periodically for new marketing services that might be available to you. Have fun as you watch your Internet lead generation programs start to produce results.

By Legal Expert Connections, Inc.
Legal Marketing, Expert Marketing, Attorney Marketing, Lawyer Marketing
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Margaret Grisdela
Legal marketing consultant Margaret Grisdela is President of the national legal marketing agency Legal Expert Connections, Inc., focused on business development for law firms, attorneys, lawyers, forensic experts, and litigation support. She is the author of the legal marketing book "Courting Your Clients," and 2008 Co-Chair of the Legal Marketing Association, South Florida City Group. Services include business development training, attorney marketing plans, search engine marketing, Internet marketing, law firm web sites, law firm brochures, speaking engagements, article placement, and more.

Copyright Legal Expert Connections, Inc.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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