4 Simple Ways Lawyers Can Increase Their Online Presence

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By: The NBI Team

Thursday, October 1, 2020

4 Simple Ways Lawyers Can Increase Their Online Presence

Gone are the days of flipping through the yellow pages in search of an attorney. In the digital age, most people in need of legal counsel look for an attorney online. Without a strong online footprint, an attorney is greatly limited in the ability to reach prospective clients, as even the best attorneys need to expand their reach beyond word of mouth referrals alone. With that in mind, consider the following tips for expanding your online presence.

1. Grow Your Social Media Following

One great way for an attorney to improve their online presence is to grow a social media following. The average person spends 144 minutes per day on social media, which creates an opportunity for lawyers to increase their reputation and stay top of mind within local communities.

There’s a common misconception that you need to invest in technology, analysts, or a branding kit to get started, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Effectively building a social media presence for your practice should be a natural and organic process that simply takes engagement, authenticity, and a willingness to share what you already know. While your content strategy should differ based on the platform you’re using, you should aim to create and share content that aligns with the challenges your clients are facing. When selecting topics to write about or share, the goal is to convey that you are knowledgeable and current within your practice area, without giving legal advice or crossing the line to overt self-promotion. Once you’re off the ground, tracking engagements and lead conversions can be a worthwhile next step that will help you identify additional content areas worth exploring, and get a clear picture of your ROI.

However, there are potential ethical risks that come with discussing legal issues in an online setting. Attorneys must ensure they do not cross the line into giving specific legal advice, breaching confidentiality, or giving the impression that they are serving as someone’s attorney when they are not. As attorney Peter L. Ostermiller explains in the NBI course Risky Business: Online Legal Marketing Ethics, the rules of professional conduct still apply to social media use. Attorneys must pay careful attention to what they share on their social media accounts to avoid misleading statements or the improper implication that they are a certified expert when they are not.

2. Publish on Third-Party Sites

Many attorneys are prolific bloggers that offer their insights on a weekly or even daily basis. If those attorneys have only a small online following, the reality is most of the blog posts go largely unread. That is where publishing on third-party websites comes in. Publishing guest posts on news or legal websites with a significant following is a powerful way for an attorney to get their name out there. What’s more, these postings could drive traffic back to the attorney’s website.

Offering to post on another site is not the only way for an attorney to expand their reach. Free services like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) send out daily requests from reporters seeking subject matter experts in a variety of fields. These services offer a way for an attorney to serve as a cited expert on a particular case or legal subject. Not only does the name recognition from these publications help, but it can also lead to helpful backlinks from major news publications to the attorney's website. These links can go a long way toward improving that site’s search engine rankings.

3. Keep an Eye on Your Online Ratings

Sometimes, the best steps an attorney can take to grow their online presence is to mitigate the damage of unfair negative reviews. Disgruntled clients, online trolls, or even unscrupulous competitors could leave an attorney unfairly negative reviews online. This is more serious than it might sound; customer relationship management firm Womply reports in a study of negative business reviews that there is a strong correlation between low reviews and low revenue.

Because potential clients do not have a clear picture of what to look for when hiring legal counsel, they generally rely on reviews. This means that negative reviews are especially damaging for attorneys. Many attorneys maintain perfect ratings on search engines and other sites, meaning one single bad review could be costly.

Dealing with bad reviews is never easy, given that every business is at the whim of the search engine. However, there is an appeals process for fake or unreasonable negative ratings. What’s more, some companies specialize in protecting the online reputation of a business. This typically involves addressing false negative ratings on directories or search engines.

Dealing with positive reviews and comments can also be helpful, particularly on social media. Engaging with commentators online can show these potential clients that an attorney is engaged in their work, easy to get in touch with, and always ready to listen.

4. Focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The most important step an attorney can take to increase their online presence is by optimizing their website for search engines. This search engine optimization (SEO) process makes a website more likely to rank on the first page of online search engine results. The first page of a search engine query is highly sought after, and for good reason – according to SEO company Zero Limit Web, sites that land on the first page of search results capture as much as 71 percent of all search traffic.

Attorneys can expect significantly more traffic at the top of the first page compared to the bottom. Analysis of more than five million Google search results by SEO company Backlinko suggests than the first site listed in search results is 10 times more likely to receive a click compared to the site at the bottom of the first page.

A website that is fully optimized for search engines can make a major difference in an attorney's business. In most markets, the battle for prospective clients is a costly and competitive one. SEO is a helpful tool as it directly connects potential clients seeking legal counsel with experienced attorneys. Capturing a larger share of search results can mean an attorney also catches a larger share of new clients.

While SEO is vital for any attorney's website, the process is complex. A minor error in the SEO process can tank a site’s rankings, which makes a strong argument for relying on an SEO expert.

These are only a few of the ways an attorney can improve their marketing efforts. To learn more about how attorneys can improve their practice, see what the NBI Course Catalog has to offer.

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This blog post is for general informative purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or a solicitation to provide legal services. You should consult with an attorney before you rely on this information. While we attempted to ensure accuracy, completeness and timeliness, we assume no responsibility for this post’s accuracy, completeness or timeliness.

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