In her second guest blog article, small firm lawyer Amanda Shaffer shares her first step in the process of turning her new law firm website into a referral magnet.
After a grueling nine months of full-time lawyering and after-hours website creating, I finally launched my law firm’s new website!
As proud of I was with all of my work, I knew it would all be for naught if it does not bring in new clients. In other words, although my full website was finally live, my work on it was far from done. Now I had to start on the second part of my online marketing journey and figure out how to become visible on search engines and found by potential clients.
So how do you go about getting found by Google and other major search engines? The answer = Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
There are many different parts to SEO – if like me, you used a program like wix.com. These types of programs do a lot of the heavy lifting (i.e. coding) for you.
I will be blogging about each of the following topics in this and subsequent Law Firm Suites blog posts, all of which are critical components of effective SEO:
- NAP(S) (today’s topic);
- Keyword Research;
- The Blog, and;
- Site updates and maintenance.
The first topic and the first step in your SEO journey is known as NAP.
NAP(S) = Name, Address, Phone #, (Site)*
*I add in the S for a more accurate acronym; people need to know where to find your website!
NAP(S) is an easy enough concept, i.e., your contact information should be consistent across the internet so that someone who is looking to contact you is successful. However, achieving 100% consistent contact information amongst all of the various search engines and listings is tedious and time-consuming.
Before You Begin
Do yourself a favor and make a word document and list your contact information EXACTLY how you would like it to appear across the web (I will use my/my firm’s information for an example below):
- Your Name: Amanda Brooke Shaffer, Esq.
- Firm’s Name: The Shapiro Law Firm, LLC
- Phone #: (212) 444-8064
- Fax #: (212) 981-2726
- Email: [email protected]
- Address: 11 Broadway, Suite 615, New York, NY 10004
- Website: theshapirolawyers.com
You will have to write it over and over so “copy and paste” is your best bet to cut down on time on and typographical errors. Any mistake in this basic information can cause delays in your firm listing’s verification and/or prevent potential clients from finding you.
Real World Example
Up until recently, my firm’s address listings contained slight variations that were affecting our online visibility. For example, some sites listed our street address as 11 Broadway #615, instead of 11 Broadway Suite 615. Search engines were reading the two variations as separate addresses.
Google will even rank you lower in organic searches if your NAP(S) is not consistent across the web. As you go to different business listing websites, you will notice other repeat information is asked, such as:
- Brief description
- Longer description
- Practice areas
- Hours of operation
As you list your firm on different sites, you will add different categories to your “copy/paste from” list.
Apart from your basic contact information, most of this information is optional for you to fill out, but do not expect too many potential clients to call if you are missing a lot of the optional information. You will find that your competitors who fill out the optional categories will be much more successful in attracting potential clients online. I think the more information the better, the only downside is it takes time. But by copying and pasting, the process it should only take you a few minutes per site.
Keep In Mind
You can hire a service like Yext.com to do this all for you. But keep in mind, it is very expensive! Furthermore, Yext handled the listing for our firm through a 3rd party site before I took over. I found that Yext did a terrible job.
Not only was there a lot of inconsistencies that were never fixed, Yext literally just copied and pasted the bare minimum, i.e. your base contact information. Also, they don’t check with you to fill in optional information (such as categories and business description). Essentially, you could pay A LOT of money for a service that has the potential to do your firm more harm than good.
Just So You Know
As soon as your first business listing goes up, you will start to get annoying marketing calls from companies who will try to lure you into hiring them to take over your listings, even going so far as pretending that they work for Google (hint* if they mention anything about Google, ask them if they work for Google, they do not and they will immediately hang up on you!).
If you tell the caller that you are taking care of it yourself, they will act shocked and tell you that it is impossible. They are lying and want your money.
It is easy to do. Have some patience (it can take up to 2-3 weeks for certain sites to verify your business and actually list your firm on their website) and trust me, you want to be in control of your own listings. Wrestling control back from these companies is a nightmare (I had to do it since Yext controlled our listings through a 3rd party before I took over and they did not do so willingly).
Remember, if your NAP(S) is not setup correctly, potential clients cannot find you, thus I recommend addressing this as your first SEO step.
Ensuring that your NAP(S) is correct and consistent across the web is a good first step to getting you found online, but that alone will not shoot you to the first page of google. Check back soon for my next guest blog article that will discuss keyword research for lawyers by lawyers!
* Update on my Website*
It is working better than expected! It took less than a month for our first call and client (was told it would take 6-8 months minimum by all SEO companies I interviewed) and we are getting at least 2-3 calls every day from people who found us via our website. I have gotten around 10 new clients in about 2 and a half months, not bad! Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think: http://theshapirolawyers.com