Law firms live and die by their reputation. Both online and offline, you need to show your experience and expertise in helping clients and continue to build your online presence and your online reputation.
Establishing your online presence allows you to more easily market to new clients and bring in new business to your firm. But it is a lot of work. It’s not an overnight task, and it does require ongoing maintenance and effort to keep your online reputation for excellence, once you have it.
So, what’s involved in building your online presence, why does it really matter, and how can you build a quality online presence that ultimately has your ideal clients coming to you?
Read on to find out in our online presence guide for law firms.
What is an online presence?
There is far more to building an online presence than simply having a website and posting on a couple of social media platforms.
Your online presence is built from everything you say and do online. It comes from the actions you take, the content you create, your values as a company, and what you stand for. Those are the things you can control.
Your online presence is also built based on where you are in the search engines, how much Google is sure that you’re a genuine business, and where you are in the social media algorithms. You can’t directly tell the search engines and social platforms what to think, but everything you create online can add to your reputation and presence and give them the right impression.
Finally, your online presence is heavily influenced by the public at large. It rests on what they think of you, what they say about you, and if and how they interact with you. You certainly can’t tell the public what to think either, but with the right content on the right platforms, you can guide their impression of you and build a stellar reputation.
Benefits of having an online presence
We did say building your online presence is a lot of work, but the benefits far outweigh the time and effort it takes. Here are just a few of them:
1. Get discovered more easily
It sounds really simple: Clearly, the more places you can be found online the more discoverable you are online. That’s completely true, and it’s why you need to build your presence outside just your website and your social media. Adding your business to online business directories and claiming your Google Business Profile can make a huge difference to your online presence, including helping you gain rankings in the search engines.
This is one of the main reasons to put in the work and build your online presence. You need to be discoverable and easily so, in order for you to keep getting regular, high-quality leads that are actually looking for what you do.
2. Be seen as a legitimate business
The more consistent your presence is online and the more you have accurate listings of your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number), the more chances you have of people thinking you have a legitimate and genuine business. Given how many scammers and con artists there are online, that’s a massively important benefit. You have to have a pristine reputation and be seen as real and legitimate to ensure potential clients will consider your firm.
3. Promote your business around the clock
Unless you really want to go to the expense of hiring a 24/7 marketing team, it’s impossible for you to promote your own business non-stop. But the more you build your online presence and your reputation, the more your audience will start to trust you and consider your firm for work. If they can find out what they need to know from excellent content and great reviews on your website, socials, and directories, they’ll start to persuade themselves without you even being there, whether it’s midday or midnight.
4. Save money while attracting new customers
This won’t be an instant benefit when you first start building your online presence, but once you are well-established online, with a lot of quality, educational content, and excellent reviews, you’ll start to find that your content and your reputation will market your law firm for you.
You’ll also start to get user-generated content, such as reviews and posts from previous clients talking about how good you are and what you did for them, if they’re comfortable sharing. This is extremely important social proof that you just can’t buy, and it comes in part because of how well you did your job, and in part because of the online reputation you already have.
Keep going with this and you will be able to cut back some on marketing and lower your budget because it’s like a snowball rolling downhill. Once it gets started, you don’t need to push as hard.
5. Earn Google’s trust
Being consistent with your NAP and your general business information is very reassuring for Google. It makes it more likely that you’ll be considered as a real and genuine business that they can trust, which can help you rise in the search rankings, and get more of your content shown in Google’s results. Google only wants to show the best of the best content from genuine companies to its searchers, so help them out with your business directory entries.
You can also help this along by claiming your Google Business Profile as you have to verify that you are a real business with Google before you can claim and edit your profile. Google can then feel confident that you are genuine.
6. Nurture customer relationships
You’re building so much quality content in so many places online, precisely because that content is a big part of nurturing customer relationships.
If you provide excellent educational content, and interesting case studies (where allowed,) show results you’ve obtained for your clients, and help your audience to feel reassured and comfortable with you, you will nurture that relationship and increase their trust in you.
That’s one of the biggest benefits of building your online presence. And of course, the more they trust you, the more likely they are to hire you.
5 ways to increase your online presence
Now you have some idea of what it takes to build your online presence, we’re going to get into the details of what you can do to increase your online presence and build your business reputation.
Your website is the main way you can represent your law firm online. It’s as close as you can get to your office reception on the internet.
Your website needs to be modern, well-designed and branded, highly attractive, and simple to navigate and use.
It has to reflect your business and give a feel for how you help your clients, what your values are, and why people should choose you.
More than that, it has to operate smoothly and guide people through what they need to do next, with clear calls to action and clear contact details for your company.
Publish quality blogs and content on your site and add high-quality images to show what your offices are like inside. People like to see what your business is like before they make an appointment, so provide the kind of content that makes them feel as welcome as you’d make them on your doorstep.
In addition, you can’t forget SEO and you must optimize your website with SEO best practices, including your blogs and your images. Make sure that you can be found easily and that you’re not doing all this work for nothing.
2. Social Media
You can expand your reach and reach new audiences on social media, as long as you continue with your strategy of posting excellent, educational content, and answering any questions that people have. Every time you do this, you’re demonstrating your expertise and showing them you’re a lawyer that they can trust.
You can save some time and schedule a lot of your posts to hit at the best posting times, but you do have to be active and responsive on social media too. People want to see you respond, answer questions, and reply to comments and reviews. They want to feel like they’re talking to a real, authentic person who cares about their needs and can genuinely help.
You can’t, however, be everywhere at once, so choose just one or two platforms where you know your potential clients are and get really good at those. You’ll get better results than if you spread yourself too thin. Over time, you can add on additional social media platforms the more comfortable you become or if you add on additional team members.
Finally, don’t forget that, while this isn’t your website, you should still remember your SEO and optimize your social media with SEO best practices too.
3. Directory Listings
We’ve talked above about your directory listings and your Google Business Profile, but here are more details on how to optimize these sites to help with your online presence.
Firstly, you need to claim your business on the biggest and most important directory platforms, including Bing, Facebook, and Yelp. Don’t forget any law firm specific directories and local directories, such as your chamber of commerce too. As long as it’s a reputable directory, you should be on it, basically.
You also need to fully optimize your sites by filling in every last section and detail you possibly can. You want to make these directories attractive with images and full of helpful information for potential clients. After all, one of these sites might be the first and only place someone finds you, so they need to be fully complete.
Once you’ve done that, you will need to maintain and monitor your listings in case you get more questions to answer. You don’t want to miss any opportunities to impress potential clients. You can also request reviews on many of these sites, especially your Google Business Profile, and you’ll want to encourage those and respond to them when you get them for social proof.
4. Online Advertising
Online advertising does need a budget, but it can be extremely helpful in the early days of establishing your online presence, and if you want to announce a new practice in a new area or new services. You can quickly start to get attention and quality leads, even from day one.
These are the ads you’ll have seen at the top and bottom of the search engines. Search ads are pay-per-click, so you only pay when someone clicks through, not every time someone sees your ad. They can be a cost-effective way to gain visibility and attract the right audience.
You’ll see these ads in your Facebook feed and on other social sites. They tend to blend in more rather than stand out but can look more convincing because of it. Again, they are pay-per-click and you can target your ideal audience with demographics.
You can use Facebook or Google Advertising Network to set up these ads. They are highly visual and definitely designed to stand out and grab attention. They’ll appear on websites and in apps. You can choose where to put them or let your ads platform choose for you. They can also be designed to be as close to your branding as possible.
These ads are to encourage anyone who’s already visited your website to come back and give it another look. You can get a second chance at a client booking here as these ads will follow the viewer on social media and some other websites.
5. Email marketing
You can build your email list over time to enable you to market to them whenever you like. You’ll get your marketing messages found in your clients’ inbox right where they are more likely to read them.
Email marketing is effective if done well, so provide the right content and segment your list to tailor what you send, depending on their interests.
You really can build a great relationship with your list, which all adds to your online presence and reputation.
Attend a Surefire Local Marketing Platform demo
While we did warn you that there’s a lot of ongoing work involved in building your online presence, we really can help you save time, effort, and budget to make the whole thing a lot easier than it might sound right now.
We provide quality business intelligence marketing software that can help you manage your most important online marketing activities all within one platform.
How does that help you build your online presence? Well, you can update over 80 directories and your Google Business Profile with just a few clicks all at once, saving you hours of logging in and logging out and reducing the possibility of mistakes in your NAP.
We can help you automate social media posting, email marketing, and content too, to save time and reduce how long you have to spend in person online. Again, you don’t have to log into all those different platforms, you can do everything right from your dashboard.
In addition, you can manage your paid ads, request and respond to reviews, and save yourself so much effort when building your online presence.
Why not book a demo of our software and see just how much it can help you?