I was working recently with a Plaintiff’s firm that was going through some staffing issues. The individuals on their in-house marketing team were of a more traditional legal marketing style-set and weren’t especially well-versed in internet marketing. Online marketing and SEO for law firms had recently become a priority and content creation and intake had become an issue. In order to keep things running smoothly during the transition phases of bringing on some tech-savvy staff, we ended up thinking of some easy ways to offload the more compartmentalized internet marketing responsibilities to the administrative staff without drowning anyone with too much SEO jargon.
Our plan acted as a great band-aid to cover the absence of a webmaster/SEO manager during restaffing and even ended up shifting the permanent roles of some non-marketing staff.
We needed to find some clever and “easy” ways to cover a few key processes:
- Consistent updates to our website
- Tracking our incoming web leads
- Generating content for our website
- Link building
1. Train Your WordPress Coordinator and Install a Few Plugins
Filling the roles of a not-yet-hired webmaster was simplified into two main tasks – updating and maintaining the website. This ended up being the most difficult work to spread around the office. While WordPress is not difficult for a trained individual, we found the administrative staff had trouble picking up an unknown content management system.
We began to think of ways to automate and simplify the process. Your website (like the website in the example) may be running WordPress. If so, this means that we can rely on some useful plugins to handle the maintenance aspect and there will be minimal training needed to allow someone to update the blog and other link assets.
Updating and Adding Content
One of the boons of WordPress is how easy it is to update. You don’t need a working knowledge of HTML or CSS (although it helps…) and there’s plenty of free resources to train a staff member to fill this role.
WordPress developed its own series of lessons within The WordPress Codex which is the “go to resource” for aspiring WordPress designers.
Step one for your designated WordPress coordinator will be to have them review these how-to guides to get familiar with WordPress. The next step should be for them to make sure that there is a backup of the current site in case you need to revert back. This can be done in one of two easy ways. The first and least tech-savvy method is to simply call your website hosting provider and check that there is a somewhat current backup of your website’s data on their server. The second and more technical method is to log into your website host’s FTP access for your site through a downloadable FTP client like Filezilla (you should have those logins buried in an old email somewhere) and simply download all of the files from your website to your local hard drive.
The next step is to let your new webmaster take a peek at the back-end of your site (usually by adding “wp-admin” to the end of your URL you can access the admin login) and determine where your blog posts, pages, and articles need to go to maintain the formatting of your site.
WordPress is fairly foolproof – but make sure to stress the huge ramifications that some errors might have on your firm’s website.
Below is a great infographic covering 15 of the worst issues your WordPress site could be stricken with. Make sure to resolve these issues as they arise.
Automated 404 Detection and 301 Redirect Writing Plugin
Once we found a staff member ready to take over the temporary webmaster/developer duties it was time to automate some of the web maintenance any good SEO should be doing.
The WordPress plugin 404 redirected is a great solution for some light website SEO maintenance without needing to hire or train anyone. It will automatically scan the incoming links to your site for any which cause your website to show a 404 error. These are all collected in your WordPress Dashboard and your web developer can periodically go in an make sure those broken links all redirect to their proper pages.
If people are copying the great content your publishing (and you are publishing great content right?) you can use CopyLink to help push text copiers in the right direction and maybe snag a few organic links from your content.
Each time text is copied from your site a link to the page it was copied from is also included. Now, this is far from a complete solution for your link building (as other webmasters can just delete these) but it’s our hope there are a few kind souls who might take pity on our law firm and keep the link active.
2. Tracking Your Internet Leads from Start to Finish
Now that you have your website in order, we can start making sure all this extra work is having an impact. You should already have some sort of intake team that handles incoming phone calls and web leads, our main focus here is to make sure we can track two things:
- The sources of all incoming leads (forms, emails, calls, walk-ins) and the % of these leads that were internet based
- Incoming traffic to our website with a focus on organic visits
Front End Tracking
If you don’t have Google Analytics set up, do that first. Then have your newly-minted website admin drop the tracking code in your header.php file right before the /head tag and give Google five minutes or so to catch up and confirm that data is being received. Log into Analytics and make sure you starting to see some traffic data.
This is the front-line when it comes to tracking your progress in Google. For the time being, you just want to make sure this service is running and collecting data. After you have 2+ months of data, you can start comparing progress and figure out exactly what ‘s working for you as far as your website. You should also set up goal tracking for your form fills that should be rolling in.
Back End Tracking
Now that we can see what people are doing on your website, it’s important to make sure your staff can determine the source of each incoming lead. There’s really no automated process for this – just make sure your intake staff makes an attempt to ask the following questions from your incoming leads:
“Where did you find us?”
And if they answer “Google, Search Engine, etc”
“What did you type in to find our site?”
Now as we build up this data for your lead sources you can start to see some great trends emerging as far as the types of searches your clients are using to find you, as well as how well your website is performing compared to other sources.
The best way to track this is just to set up a spreadsheet with the following columns to fill out for each lead. This also works well as a spreadsheet your intake team can use to track their outreach and status of potential clients.
Try to keep track of the following at a minimum but these will change depending on your practice area:
- Lead Source
- Keyword Used (If Found by Search Engines)
- Date of Contact
- Date of Incident
- Client Name
- Case Status (Signed, Referred, Declined, Pending)
- Notes about Client
- Client Contact Info
Review these once a month and start tracking some trends to see whether your work is having any immediate effect on your bottom line. If you are starting from scratch it will take a few months to get everything rolling.
3. Make Everyone A Writer
This can include Paralegals, Associates, Interns, Accountants, Receptionists, and even Partners. If handled correctly, your staff can quickly become your front-lines when it comes to brainstorming content for your blog AND writing it.
This might be an area where you hit a little backlash – your staffers are most likely inundated with calls, emails, and paperwork all day, and the thought of sitting down and writing a blog post is the furthest things from their mind – but this is where you are going to save the most money, and get the most results if it’s done right.
Now the biggest hurdle is to figure out what you want to say.
Ping your paralegals and intake staff for some of the biggest problems, questions, or issues you’re hearing from new clients and start creating articles to solve those issues. A good strategy would be for each staff member to:
- Identify a problem or question a customer/client is having (can be legal or non-legal)
- Write up a 350+ article answering the question or outlining the issues
- Have those articles filtered and proofed by an associate
- Send it over to your new website admin and have them post it as a page or blog post
The effect of this is two-fold:
- Organic visitors will be looking for this information which could mean a conversion for you
- Less non-converting exploratory phone calls since common questions are already answered on your website
In addition to providing value to your clients, make sure you are writing up posts and articles about REAL COMPANY STUFF (SEER’s acronym, not ours – see these slides courtesy of Will Reynolds of SEER Interactive for an explanation) as this is the kind of content that can take a more personalized tone and your firm more personable and stand out. It should be noted that this personalized voice approach is tried and tested among Plaintiff firms, however, you should be writing to the appropriate style and voice of your intended audience, obviously, a target group like business owners would be different.
Again – you might receive backlash for this – one hour of writing per week per employee (even if they don’t deliver each week) will be enough to keep your blog updated and your site expands. Even if you offer your staff incentives, it can often be less expensive than hiring dedicated writers.
4. Get Your Entire Staff Looking for Link Opportunities
If you’re successful in getting some non-marketing staff writing articles, you can make sure they know to share their work with friends, family, personal contacts, and even clients and vendors. This will make a positive impact on your social media efforts, but ultimately you want your staff to understand what a backlink is, and keep an eye out for any opportunities for one.
Using Personal Injury as an example, here are a few quick tasks you can have your staff implement to work on building backlinks to your website:
- Asking Doctors, Chiropractors, and other businesses you refer clients to link to your law firm
- Reaching out to vendors and asking if you can provide a testimonial about their company in exchange for a link back to your site from the testimonial
- Having an intern build out local citations for each of your office locations as part of their daily tasks
- Having lawyers and associates email their alma maters and trade associations for link opportunities.
Much like the writing engagement, you’ll have some staffers that balk at this. You may need to provide some incentive to get your staff on board, but this is just as important as writing content for your site – in certain cases even more important. The amount of backlinks to your site influences your search rankings.
5. Reviewing Your Results Month-to-Month
Now that we’ve successfully shaken up most of your staffer’s job descriptions, it’s time to make sure we’re seeing some progress – by all means if 3-4 months go by and none of your metrics are improving, it might be time to revisit the SEO work you are spreading out.
While I could list 50 metrics we can look at to understand the minutiae of each site visitor, we’re going to focus on just a couple key metrics you want to track the month to month movements in:
- Keyword Rankings
- Moz.com is a cost-effective way to automate this task – track as many relevant keywords as you can
- Focus on tracking the average movement each month and determining how you can create content to appeal to straggling keywords
- Organic Visitors
- Since you set up Google Analytics at the beginning of this process you should regularly be checking in to see how many visits you’re getting from search engines.
- It may take 2-3 months to get rolling, but even just publishing a blog post should bring an improvement to this metric.
- Total Internet Leads
- This data should be available through the back-end lead tracking you set up and without an improvement here we’re not making progress. As with the other metrics, it may take 3-4 months to really start seeing some statistically sound increases.
- Total Signed Internet Leads
- The ultimate measure of SEO success – signed clients who found us through Google.
While you’re not going to have the agility of a normal in-house our outsourced SEO team, these are some great ways to at least get something running within your firm without too much effort or increase in payroll.
If you have been ignoring that fact that you even own a website for the past couple years, this kind of process yields even greater results as adding new content and backlinking is a quick way to revitalize a coveted “aged” domain.
Looking For Digital Marketing Help?
Although this article is based on one example from one of our medium-sized clients, it obviously may not be realistic for a law firm of any size to allocate non-marketing staff resources to an internet marketing initiative. If you would like to set up your own internet marketing campaign, I invite you to call us. We have worked with attorneys and firms of all sizes, practices areas, and levels of market competition. We can revolutionize your internet and content marketing strategies. If you are looking for a marketing team that spins in the background of your practice and produces in-bound leads, feel free to give Majux Co-Founder Bernie Clark a call today at (215) 309-1631.