According to the American Bar Association, there were approximately 1.327 million lawyers working across the United States as of 2022. If you needed a single statistic to help explain why new attorneys in particular often have a hard time making a name for themselves in an admittedly crowded marketplace, let it be that one.
Not all of the aforementioned lawyers work at huge firms, either. Some are in smaller practices and some have gone out on their own. All of them represent a challenge for new entries to the field who are up against the difficult prospect of not just establishing a physical presence, but an online one as well. All of this becomes critically important if you’ve come out of law school and spent the money needed to open your own firm.
Truth be told, the vast majority of all first impressions between a lawyer and potential clients will happen online. Someone will find your social media page or locate your website via a search engine and, hopefully, pick up the phone and give you a call. That last point is particularly important as, statistically speaking, 93% of all online experiences between any type of business and customers begin via a search engine like Google.
This means that for someone in the legal profession, establishing an online presence is not a recommendation for success – it’s a requirement.
Thankfully, all hope is not lost. There are a few key tricks that a lawyer, law firm, or any other member of the legal profession can utilize to make the process not just easier, but faster and more effective in terms of generating the results that you’re after.
Why Your Online Presence Matters
Trust is one thing that people put at a premium these days and more often than not, online proof is how it’s generated.
Case in point: it’s estimated that 90% of modern consumers read at least a few online reviews before they even consider visiting a particular business. Not only that, but 84% of people say they trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation made from a friend, family member or other loved one.
Keep in mind, this is just online reviews. The discussion has yet to turn to things like social media, directory optimization or your firm’s website and content. All of them are important for law firms, albeit for different reasons.
In essence, the reason why your law firm’s online presence matters is because it matters to the type of people who may one day become your client – which means it needs to matter to you, too. There is a narrative playing out online right now about your firm, whether you like it or not. By paying attention to your online presence and by taking steps to optimize it, you put yourself in the best place to control that narrative – making sure that you come out all the better for it.
Not only that, but your firm’s online reputation can also become a key value differentiator in that aforementioned crowded marketplace. If someone has a concern and they’re looking at two different firms – yours and that of a competitor – they’re more likely to choose the one with the highest reputation. Once you get them through the door, your work can speak for itself – exactly the way it should be.
5 Tips to Establish a Presence Online
Get more online reviews
As is true with any other type of business, people won’t hire your law firm if you have no reviews or online presence to speak of. In some ways, not having an online presence is almost worse than having a mediocre one because at least with the latter people will still be able to find you.
As a result, you need to be willing to put yourself – and your firm – out there in order to generate those first few reviews. Solicit feedback from satisfied clients and ask if they’ll post testimonials to various websites. After those first reviews come in, it will get easier.
Criminal defense attorneys in particular will almost always have a more difficult time to that end, but it is still hugely necessary – particularly when gaining those first few clients.
Overall, regardless of the type of attorney you are, your review scores will impact a number of core factors. These include but are not limited to ones like:
- The exact location where you show up on Google’s Map Pack.
- The “Click-Through” rate of certain paid ads that you invest in.
- How likely people are to hire your firm at all.
When you first launch your firm’s website, the chances are high that you won’t have a lot of rich content. While that will come later, it is indicative of why you need to empower your reviews now while you also work to handle everything else on this list.
Optimize your business directories
One of the things that a search engine like Google values above all else is the user experience – which means that you need to value it, too.
You can see this on full display in recent algorithm changes, such as Google’s Core and Web Vitals updates. It is in their best interest to offer their own users the best experience and if your firm’s website doesn’t, it won’t rank highly – period.
However, Google will also drag your rankings down if you offer inconsistent information across a variety of channels. The contact information on your Google Business Profile should match other business listings and even your website, for example. The ultimate goal is that you’re making it as easy as possible for people to find your firm in the first place, which makes it easy for them to pick up the phone and give you a call.
In terms of Google Business Profiles, also make sure that the “Primary Category” selected accurately reflects your main practice area.
Maintain your website’s content
It’s always important to keep in mind that attorneys operate a type of business that helps people make critical life choices. That’s why you need to make sure your firm’s website is filled with helpful, relevant, and high-quality articles – they go a long way towards establishing your firm as an authoritative voice to be trusted.
All content that you create needs to adhere to Google’s own best practices. Your website needs to be easy to use across numerous services and platforms, too. If it isn’t, your traffic will suffer which means that your search engine ranking will suffer at the same time. Your website needs to be easy to use, fast-loading, and should offer effortless navigation on a multitude of different devices.
Be active on social media
As an attorney who is just starting out, you need to make your presence known online in any way that you can. These days, one of the best ways to do this is through social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok. Create social media profiles on all of these networks for both you and your firm.
Facebook is going to be particularly important because if you don’t have a Facebook profile, people will probably think you don’t really exist. Twitter will be less important, but it still couldn’t hurt. LinkedIn, TikTok, and Instagram can certainly be useful for certain practice areas. Business law would be a good fit for LinkedIn and criminal defense attorneys can add a significant amount of personality to their firm by using TikTok and Instagram.
Conduct competitor research
Finally, you should always leverage a platform that allows you to do as much research into your competition as possible. You should be able to see where you stand in comparison to them, what they’re doing right in terms of digital marketing, and more importantly, what they’re doing wrong.
Digital marketing is nothing if not a war for carving out the largest possible audience for yourself and your firm on the Internet. This is true whether you’re talking about the search engine results pages, on social media, or both at the same time.
In order to beat the competition, you need to understand as much about them as possible. That is what competitor research is all about. This is a difficult task, yes – which is why having the right software by your side can make all the difference. To generate the insight you need, one must get an idea of how long it will take to catch up to your main competitors.
Don’t forget that your competitors are taking cases from you all the time. Therefore, you need to do what you can to make sure you’re appearing online as often as possible so that you can do the same right back to them.
Request a Demo of Our Business Intelligence Marketing Software
If you’d like to find out more information about all the ways you can establish your law firm’s online presence, consider joining a demo of our business intelligence marketing software and online presence consultation.