Sunday, September 18, 2005

Lawyer websites and SEO

If any lawyers are reading this post, I can see them scratching their heads at the term "SEO". It stands for "Search Engine Optimization". Okay, they're still scratching their heads, and I guess most non-lawyers are too.

Since I opened my practice about 2 1/2 years ago, I have worked on my law firm website. I've worked to improve the content so prospective clients will find it informative. I'm working (with professional help) on the design so that it will be prettier and therefore more professional, giving a sense of credibility. The actual design goal is to make it reassuring. You can see one version of that design at a new variation of the site we've been working on: Albany-Attorney.com.

But the biggest thing about making a law firm website effective for bringing in business is making it so that potential clients find your site. I do PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, and that helps. But SEO is the big thing. This involves many factors. I'm happy to say that what I'm doing seems to be working. My main site now ranks well on a variety of searches. I'm referring not to where I rank on "sponsored links", but in the "organic" search results. I'm doing better and better in those results.

I have continued to work on improving my site and other factors for SEO. It recently has come to my attention that other lawyers in the community have noticed. A couple of lawyers mentioned it to me in the last week or so. If they have noticed, then many other lawyers have probably noticed also.

And that's why you can't sit on your heels. The odds are that someone will try to outdo me on this. I'm fortunate in that I have a pretty good head-start. Also, I've been on the internet since 1988 -- before there was a world wide web. I know how to code in html and until recently I've done most of my own stuff. But I can't rest on my laurels because others will try to do better. If they succeed, my rankings might go lower.

So I'm working on further improvements to my site, and doing a variety of other things so that I not only maintain where I am but improve if possible.

For now most of the competition here is not from lawyers or law firms, but from lawyer directories and other such things. I figure that the directories will take their share of clients, and that's fine. For people who are looking for a lawyer whose site has substance, I should continue to do well.

The reality is that there isn't really a number 1 position on the web. As long as you're on the first page you'll be okay.

The other thing is that there may not be enough business on the web to justify having 20 firms fighting over the business. The revenue I'm generating is still not enough to really sustain a small law firm. If 20 law firms were fighting over that business, each would end up spending much more than I'm spending now and no one would make money on it because the pot would be divided 20 ways.

I get calls all the time from the directory sites trying to sell me a position in their directory. Sometimes it's an exclusive listing -- you'll be their only lawyer in that topic for that county. Sometimes it will be one of three or four lawyers in that topic in that county. It always costs a lot more than what I'm spending, and I suspect that the revenue will be less than what I'm generating.
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