Like most businesses, lawyers need to have a presence on a host of directories. Google and Avvo lead the pack in terms of giving lawyers the visibility they need. There are also other somewhat less accessible directories.
To get the most mileage out of your presence on any directory you need to pay special attention to your profile. An incomplete or poorly-designed listing can hurt you more than it helps you! It takes a lot of time and effort to set up all these profiles, so it pays to do it right the first time.
Multiplatform Tip: Don't Skimp on the Descriptions
Most platforms will give you the ability to write a business description. Many lawyers neglect to write one on Google, but doing so can serve as a ranking signal.
Make sure you're using strong copy here. It's all too easy to fall into the standard dry, boring, robotic delivery, i.e., "we are Houston, TX divorce lawyers with 25 years of experience." That's the same stuff everyone else is writing and it's not compelling. Neither is a long list of the types of cases you handle.
You should assume this description is the only thing your prospective clients will ever see about you.
They may never move on to your website.
Don't leave it blank, and don't use it as an opportunity to make a grocery list of all the types of law you practice in the hopes of getting all your keywords in.
Keywords are great and necessary, but the algorithms that read them don't have checkbooks. Only living, breathing humans have those.
There's nothing wrong with mentioning your experience, of course, but what you write should be compelling. Here's one good one:
As you can see you don't even have to use professional copywriting tricks to make this work. Sometimes just being human and getting out of "robot speech mode" helps.
Here's why this attorney's description stands out:
Of course, what you can and can't say is always subject to the specific state advertising rules governing the legal profession.
Fail to show up in Google and your phones go silent. Google My Business deserves more attention than any other platform. It's also the platform offering the most opportunities to share information with potential clients. It's incredibly competitive.
Your goal is to appear on the Google Local 3-pack, and you can't do it through keyword stuffing as you could get flagged by someone else, and penalized. As it happens, keywords aren't the main determinant of 3-pack rankings anyway.
Two of the big ranking factors are proximity and getting lots of Google reviews. Another factor though is using every field that the profile offers. The more information you give, the better off you'll be when it comes to rankings.
These three bankruptcy attorneys are receiving the majority of the calls from prospective bankruptcy clients in Dallas.
In addition, there are a couple of profile tips and tricks especially helpful for attorneys, and they're sections many lawyers neglect.
When you set a special offer it shows up right on your profile. A lot of attorneys don't do this. I went through six pages of lawyers in two major cities and couldn't find even one who did. Choosing to be one of the lawyers who uses this field can help you stand out from the crowd.
This feature is probably underused because most attorneys don't run around giving out discounts. But you don't have to give out discounts. "Free consultation" is an offer. So is "Payment plans available."
These are good offers to list because they will help clients overcome some of the fears they have about picking up the phone and calling you.
G+ Post Feature
G+ posts show up in your Google profile. Use this feature to make yours more compelling.
What can you include on these posts?
In general, the point of using this feature is to show people you're an active, engaged law firm participating in some exciting legal work.
Keeping up with at least one G+ post per week can provide some additional proof of your expertise, making you more attractive to potential clients. It also makes your Google profile a dynamic piece of marketing collateral, rather than a static one.
Avvo is one of the top legal industry review sites.
It is important because it will almost always show up in the organic search results for "type of lawyer + city." It also tends to attract more specific prospects who are definitely looking for a lawyer. As a result, people who call you from Avvo may be more valuable leads than people who call you from Google.
Keep in mind Avvo wants to sell you some expensive and labyrinthine advertising blocks. Good news? You don't have to buy into their ad services to take advantage of the platform. In fact, at least one state has banned the platform on the grounds advertising there violates the state's advertising ethics code.
Nevertheless, if you're not in New Jersey it's a good idea to at least maintain a presence on the site, which some prospective clients will visit directly to begin their search. Once you've claimed your profile you'll want to pay special attention to three specific portions of it.
About Section: Subheader
The About section offers a great opportunity to earn the trust of prospective clients, but you've got to "hook" them first. The subheader is the way to do that.
The stronger you can make the subhead, the better.
Not a copywriter and don't feel like hiring one? You don't really have to reinvent the wheel. Check out "Every Copywriting Headline Ever" from Copy Hackers if you're in need of some inspiration.
About Section: Body
We've already discussed why it's important to write a strong description on all platforms. Avvo gives you lots of space, so use it.
The description above starts a little bit weak, but offers some nice language:
Again, your goal here is to stand out from the pack. Let some enthusiasm shine through, and do everything you can to distinguish your law practice from everyone else's.
Avvo gives lawyers the opportunity to answer questions submitted by potential clients. Make sure you take a few minutes each week to see what's new and to submit an answer. The number of answers you submit will show up on your profile.
Answering a lot of questions makes your practice look a lot more trustworthy. Potential clients can also click on the link to go see every answer you've ever given to any question on Avvo. As "does this lawyer know what he's doing" is one of the primary questions on the mind of every potential client this is extremely important.
It also provides a path for customers to get to your profile: many search these questions first, find the answer page, and then visit the profile of an attorney, rather than doing a direct attorney search.
Avvo offers a "Cost" tab. Most attorneys are leery of using it, fearing they'll scare clients off if they share their rates. On the other hand you might avoid wasting your time with tire kickers and people who can't afford to pay. Discouraging people who can't afford you means you spend less time chasing down your outstanding accounts.
You might also reassure potential clients who are worried about cost. Seeing $100 an hour doesn't scare everyone away. It's not $400 or $500 an hour, after all. It might turn into a selling point for prospective clients for whom price is a major concern.
If you still feel uneasy about sharing your rates, you might put your minimum retainer here, or just share a free consultation offer.
Including some form of information here is a stronger choice than the default "Contact for Details," which is a phrase guaranteed to create some anxiety in the minds of potential clients.
There are plenty of other sites out there which are important to attorneys. However, the other industry-specific sites all have some special requirements.
Nolo won't let you in their directory until you're a paying customer, for example.
You can only get on Super Lawyers if someone nominates you, and you can't nominate yourself.
There's value on being on all of these platforms, of course. If you find yourself in the position to use any or all of these use these last general tips to ensure you make the most of the opportunity.
Take each profile seriously you'll give yourself some outstanding opportunities to grow your practice. Every strong profile you can generate for yourself is another opportunity for you to score new clients.