Getting your articles to the top of Google

Note that since this article was originally posted, Adrian Lursson who knows more about J.D. Supra than I do posted a helpful correction in the comments section below so it’s well worth reading his comments first. If you use LinkedIn or search Google for law related articles you may already have come across J.D. Supra and wondered who this seemingly omnipresent super-author is. It turns out that J.D. Supra is a news and editorial syndication application allowing lawyers to post their documents for publication on the web. The system submits the work to Google and is registered very promptly but it takes a bit of trial and error to get your work returned for popular searches on Google.  However,  if you think about it before writing the article you can ensure that you use the right phrases, by which I mean the phrases that your target audience are actually searching for.

Employment lawyers usually want employers to read their articles so taking that example, it’s unlikely that employers are going to subscribe to feeds from JD Supra or visit the website because it is predominantly for legal specialists so you rely on them finding your work via the search facility on Google when they search for help with a problem. It would help, therefore, to include the words and phrases that employers will search for.

Your next question is, of course, “How do I find out what employers are searching for?”  Well, you could start by searching Google with phrases you think your audience may use. Google’s new ‘Suggest’ feature automatically shows you what the most popular searches are as you type. Just keep changing the words around and experimenting to find inspiration from Google’s ever changing list of suggestions. The list is based on the most popular searches and is rated by many experts as more reliable than Google’s keyword tool.

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The BBC series ‘Turn Back Time’ ended recently and with it a fascinating experiment proved that marketing is vital to growth. The idea was to recreate the high street through the ages from the Victorian era to present day over the course of 6 episodes. Each week a different period was brought to life by the sponsored families who gamely dressed up, took over authentic period shops and grafted for their livelihoods often in very difficult circumstances. The unsuspecting residents of Shepton Mallet watched on and then… joined in.

It soon became clear that those shopkeepers who marketed their products and services with passion were more successful than those who sat back and waited for customers to cross the threshold.

Despite all the odds, an Edwardian butcher flogged pre-historic looking cuts of meat and a milkshake bar drew in crowds of listless teenagers. The blacksmith did a brisk trade in candle stick holders and the hairdresser bagged tips she had only dreamt of.

The successful shopkeepers overcame many barriers including limited product lines, third rate machinery, rationing during WWII and price fixing by the large manufacturers. They beat all the odds and their competition with good old fashioned marketing techniques and a healthy dose of excellent customer service.

This is something the Edwardians developed and the’self-service 70’s’ killed off. Most lawyers can cast their minds back to law school and remember the Boots self service test case as a useful lesson in ‘offer and acceptance’. Beyond that this case heralded a new era in which we liked to help ourselves. The irony is as this series discovered, that we now miss all that pampering and have welcomed it back with open arms in the millenium. We are very sorry we took it forgranted and we want to feel ‘special’ again. Stuff the conveyor belt and self service check out’ and spoil me says today’s typical consumer.

But is this enough for us? The programme seemed to confirm that we want more than just elements of great customer service. We want it all. Personal service, competitive pricing, endless choice and of course, excellent quality.

Well like it or not, as lawyers this is the challenge facing us today. I for one take it up with gusto. It makes my job much more exciting and when I get it right (which evidently I must now do 24/7) it is hugely rewarding.

Nobody, particulary hugely successful businesses have time on their hands and yet they find time for marketing. I know this is a fact, because they cannot reach their potential otherwise.  If you want new business you have to work for it. Allocate significant resources to smart marketing. Stop making excuses and instead make it happen and just like these High Street time lords you will find that it works a treat.

Carolyn

How to become the media’s legal expert

Here are the key steps to becoming the media’s ‘go-to-expert’. Once mastered they will pay you back in spades. The down side is this strategy focuses the attention on you rather than the firm or the departmental team. Still, it’s a great way to differentiate yourself from local competition. Using radio, TV soundbites and niche internet based magazines you can stand out from the crowd among your target audience. This article explains how to get started.

Ten myths about marketing legal services

Specifically written for lawyers this article by Bruce W Marcus hits the nail on the head. He also explains the reasoning behind his arguments which is comforting for us lawyers!  Ten Myths That Impede Marketing Success | CoolAvenues.com | MBA Network of IIMs, ISB, Bajaj, XLRI, FMS, SPJAIN. He is releasing a new book which may be well worth reading. [Bruce W. Marcus is a Connecticut-based lawyer in marketing and strategic planning for professional firms, the author of Competing For Clients, and the forthcoming The New Professional Firm: Competing For Clients In The 21st Century.]

10 Things I Think I Have Learned About Social Media

Derek RodgersA guest blog by Derek Rodgers, Partner at Gardner Leader LLP, Newbury.

“I have recently started blogging and twittering as part of the business development strategy for my firm (which is a solicitors’ practice in Newbury).  After doing it for a few weeks now, what – if anything – have I learned?

1. It is not easy: Thinking of things to write about is difficult.  Finding time to write about the things you have thought of is difficult.  Making those things interesting is difficult.  Finding the ‘right voice’ is difficult.

2.         It takes perseverance: It would be nice to think that as soon as you start writing, millions of people around the world will drop what they are doing and hang on your every word.  It might work like that for Stephen Fry.  For the rest of us, it is a matter of gradually building our Twitter followers and hopefully seeing growth in the number of hits on our blog.

3.         It’s called social media for a reason: It seems to work best if you relax a bit and let your human side show through.  To get any return, you have to engage and build some dialogue.  This is best done as an individual rather than as a company.  I started with a Twitter account (http://twitter.com/GardnerLeader) using the firm’s logo.  I still use it for linking to articles and general information, but it is difficult to have a conversation as a logo.  So I started a separate Twitter feed as ‘myself’ (http://twitter.com/DerekR_GL) which enables me to be a bit more social.  I still try to keep a reasonable proportion of the tweets work-related so that people know what I do, but quite a high number are just about day to day life.  This makes it easier to engage and establish a profile.

4.         It requires some new language: To be honest, I hate words like ‘tweeting’, ‘retweeting’, ‘tweet-ups’ and so on.  They make me shudder.  But that is the language of social media and even if you can avoid using the terms, you do at least need to understand what everyone else is talking about.

5.         It works best if you combine different media: There is a limit to how much you can say in the 140 characters allowed by Twitter.  It is not easy to attract readers direct to your blog.  By using the two in tandem, you can use Twitter to notify your followers that you have written something on your blog and you can use the blog to go into more depth.  Most blogging sites (I use WordPress.com) also enable you to have your Twitter feed on the blog page to complete the circle.  You can also then use status updates on LinkedIn as a further means of spreading the word.  Facebook is another option, but one we have decided against for the moment.

6.         It is worth trying different things: As well as two Twitter feeds, I also have two blogs.  One I use for writing about general things with (usually) some connection to my work (http://derekrodgersgl.wordpress.com/) and one which is specifically devoted to FAQs about company law (http://companylawfaqs.wordpress.com/).

7.         There is a lot of help out there: There are a lot of social media experts around giving out advice and helping people to get started.  Indeed one of my doubts about the whole idea of social media is that so much of it does seem to consist entirely of social media experts talking about social media.  But if you do want to get into it, it probably is worth getting some kind of guidance to start with.  I went to a Twitter workshop organised by a local PR consultant (http://twitter.com/nigel_morgan) and trainer (http://twitter.com/concisetraining).  There are also plenty of websites such as problogger.com with tips about writing blogs and attracting readers, as well as applications such as Hootsuite.com which make the process of publishing across various media much easier.

8.         It could all be a complete waste of time: Despite having all these twitter feeds and blogs, I don’t see myself as any kind of evangelist for social media.  I think it is worth persevering with and I would be happy to encourage some of my colleagues to get involved, but there are no guarantees that it will do anything for our business.  Only time will tell.

9.         I have not got it right yet: I am still trying to find the right level.  I think a more relaxed style probably works better, but like most lawyers I perhaps err on the side of being too serious.  Again, I think it is a question of perseverance and a bit of trial and error.

10.       Blog posts which consist of a list of 10 items seem quite popular: Much more so than posts with only nine items.”

Lawyers finding their niche

Fancy becoming a wine law expert? Here is an inspiring article demonstrating how lawyers can turn a hobby into a niche market. Becoming an expert in a niche area is gold dust for your PR agent. Law Times – Lawyers finding their niche.

Lawyers should post videos on You Tube

Get your client testimonials on You Tube if you want to leverage them as a PR tool ~ More at this link: Corporate video productions recommended for lawyers.  Sounds like a good idea but caution should be exercised before hamming it up too much! Probably wise to get the professionals and brief them to give the ‘impression’ of a home made video. As Churchill once said “My best impromptu speeches are always prepared well in advance”.