Small Law Firm Marketing

Essential Online Marketing Advice for Small and Startup Law Firms

Small-Law-Firm-Marketing Small law firms face different marketing challenges than larger law firms. This is not a ground breaking concept: Small businesses of any type tend to have smaller budgets than their larger counterparts, which naturally makes marketing and advertising more of a challenge.

This doesn’t change the fact that the ability to generate new clients for your law firm consistently is the code you must to crack to built a successful, sustainable law firm.

In this article, we are going to talk about surefire, slow and steady marketing methods you execute to build the reputation of your small law firm and sign cases consistently through online marketing.

Note: This article is about marketing, and in it we make a major assumption about you: That you are dedicated to and passionate about your work, and provide a great service to your clients. Great marketing can make up for a lot, but it alone will not ensure your ultimate success as a business. Only providing high quality service can do that.

Looking for affordable, effective digital marketing for your small law firm?

Juris Digital’s Hyper-Focus Website solution has helped dozens of small law firms generate consistent leads from the web, affordably and sustainably.

Marketing a small law firm requires a laser focus

The firms that are most successful marketing their firms online have focus. Nobody wants to hire someone who is an expert in everything, as that typically means they’re not an expert in anything. Google treats SEO the same way.

In crowded and competitive online markets, Google rewards websites that are hyper-focused on a narrow topic. This narrow focus, beyond its benefits from a marketing and SEO standpoint, is also a necessity when resources are limited.

Let’s say for example I wanted to show Google that my website deserved to rank for keywords related to Denver Personal Injury Lawyer. A few ways I could do that would be to:

When you hyper-focus your small law firms’s marketing efforts on a single practice area and geographic market, you will see results faster, because this approach enables you to establish yourself as a clear online authority in your field.

When thinking about how to market your small law firm you should consider the following:

Where to prioritize your marketing efforts

Marketing a small law firm requires a strong understanding of where your clients are coming from.

As a smaller firm you only have so many resources so you have to decide where it’s best to spend your time. Let’s take a look at a quick breakdown of some of the ways your firm can get new business.

Offline Methods

  • Networking events
  • Referrals from lawyers
  • Referral partners (e.g. Doctors for PI)
  • Previous Happy Clients
  • Reputation

Online Marketing Methods

  • Firm Website
  • Organic & Local SEO
  • Pay Per Click
  • Email Newsletters
  • Legal Directories
  • Review websites

According to a study, we conducted in 2017, 49% of people research their legal issue online before hiring a lawyer. This means that the law firms which are the most successful are ranking for searches for keywords that potential customers are looking for.

Someone injured in a car accident, for example, might use voice search, or their mobile phone to find a variety of answers on the fly. Some of the common questions that come to mind are:

Potential clients come from all walks of life and backgrounds. Making information available to them is a surefire way to get more clients through online marketing.

If you’re interested in online marketing the biggest channel you should focus on is Google Organic and local search as this is where most of your traffic will come from.

Online Marketing Plan for Small Law Firms

Below I have put together a small marketing plan for law firms that you can use. By following these steps and tactics you can be sure that you’re moving your firm in the right direction and doing things the right way which is going to help your firm produce more leads in the future.

Start With A Solid Foundation

If you don’t start with a solid foundation a lot of this work will be for nothing.

1. Build The Best Website You Can Build

One of the biggest mistakes I see often is people wanting to build a website quickly without any regard to SEO or thought given to conversions. If you take a shortcut on the foundation of your website you’re going to be re-doing it in the future.

At a minimum, for effective online marketing your website should meet the following MINIMUM standards:

Pro Tip: If you had an existing website ensure your Design and SEO company know about links to older URL’s. If they don’t implement the proper redirects this is a great way to tank your site.

2. Do Great Keyword Research

Another crucial part of your foundation is keyword research. You want your website to rank for keywords that will actually drive new business to your website. It’s important to focus your efforts optimizing content towards keywords that get traffic. Starting off with a proper keyword strategy is important to the success of your website and the structure.

Great keyword research can be done using a variety of tools like Ahrefs, Keyword Keg, SEMRush and many others. Below is a screenshot from Keyword Keg.

Keyword Research Ideas from Keyword Keg

It’s typically best to start with a list of keywords you know you want to rank for. For example, a personal injury firm might want to rank for Car Accident Lawyer or Dog Bite Lawyer. Here are a few more tips you can use to generate more keyword ideas:

And once you have a list of initial keywords (say 10-20) you can determine the proper site structure for your website.

3. Write Great Content

After you know which content you’re going to write (based on the keywords) it’s time to write great content on the topic. This is where I see attorneys struggle most. They’re experts on the subject, but writing about it can seem like a daunting task.

The easiest way to go about this if you have trouble writing is to think of a topic and brainstorm the most relevant sub-topics for it as well. Let’s take a practice area page for example that might seem difficult like “Dog Bite Lawyers”.

Those were just a few I came up on the fly. If you were writing about this you would probably have enough subtopics to easily create a 500-1,000 word article on the topic.

Pro Tip: If writing still seems like a big issue for you, consider having your legal assistant ask these questions to you and record the answers. This can then be easily transcribed and edited for quick content.

4. Setup & Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

Your Google My Business listing is a great way to get new business. If you rank well organically your firm can also get a lot of business from the 3 pack.

5. Get Listed and Complete Your Profile on Top Legal & Business Directories

One of the Google 3 Pack and Local Finder Ranking factors is having your business information accurately listed in the major business directories. This means your business name, address, phone number, business hours, website, description, and photos should be consistent and non-duplicative in places where people might be looking for a lawyer.

A few of these are websites like:

Luckily for you, I have curated a whole list of these which you can find here under the top legal and business directories.

6. Enhance Your Online Reputation

At the start of this article, I mentioned how potential clients might look for you in a variety of places. This means you need to be listed online with accurate profiles, up to date pictures, and positive client reviews and testimonials where available.

As a starting point, check out my article on increasing your Avvo Score to get an idea of how to build your reputation there.

7. Setup Strong Tracking

One thing we do for our clients is create a dashboard where they can track calls, live chat, contact forms, and email submissions. Having access to this data is essential to know which marketing channels are working and ones one’s arent.

Unfortunately more often then not people make marketing decisions off of emotional “feeling” instead of data. This is wrong and can create a lot of long-term issues for your business.

Here are some software tools I use to provide me with great business analytics data as to what is working.

After Your Foundation Is Solid, You Can Build Your House

Nobody wants to put a ton of effort building a house on sand. Online marketing is the same way. If you don’t focus on doing things the right way first you’re going to end up putting the cart before the horse and starting over somewhere along the line.

If you followed my instructions above you should have met the minimum requirements to start marketing your firm effectively online.

Successful online marketing for small law firms will accomplish two things:

Once your foundation is built you can focus on the basics. Here are some of the things you should be doing.

Since this guide is geared towards helping small firms succeed with their online marketing the tactics are hyper focused for organic and local SEO success.

1. Organic & Local SEO: Increase The Number of Keywords Your Firm Ranks For

Organic and Local SEO should be the main focus of your marketing efforts because they represent the free clicks.

Below is a simplified roadmap you can use to help plan your law firm marketing strategy for 2018.

Content Creation

Creating great content that is relevant to your audience and engaging is essential to your long-term success.Using the keyword research you did earlier you can create an editorial calendar for the year.

Try to stick with it and be consistent. Even if it’s only one article a week or one a month. Do a good job and produce great content. Here are some tips you can use to figure out what content to create and where.

Link Earning

Expand the link profile of your law firm (other authoritative website’s linking back to your firm) by using these tactics to build your link profile over time. A variety of efforts are going to have the strongest effect. Focus on links that are relevant to your firm by niche (E.G. Legal) or Local links (e.g.: local news stations).

Here are some ideas you can use today

Citation Building

Continue to boost your citation profile over time. Set a small goal such as 10 per month. These are places where you can list your business Name, Address, and Phone Number.

Get Reviews

A ranking factor and major reputation trust factor comes from reviews on Google My Business. You should strive to get these on a regular basis from previous happy clients. You should also set up a system for getting these as cases finish in the future. This needs to be a cornerstone of your marketing.

Use Google Posts

Google allows you to post regularly in the search results using their new platform, Google Posts. You should post here at least once a week to showcase awards, results, or social proof to improve your conversions.

2. Social Marketing: Get In Front of Relevant Audiences

If you read our guide on Evergreen content marketing you may have some ideas of how you can use paid social to promote your firm. Let’s say that you published a post “Most Dangerous Intersections in [City Name]” that was based on actual accident data.

You could do a pretty sweet write up on this and integrate a free Google Map. But if you create content and nobody see’s it, what good does it do? None.

To get some eyeballs on the article you wrote, build your brand, and create awareness in the community you could take advantage of Facebook or Instagram advertising and promote this to people of legal driving age that live within your city.

This is a great and low-cost way to get your content in front of a relevant audience.

3. Email Marketing

Another staple of any small firm marketing should be email marketing. Most law firm partners I speak with are opposed to it for one reason for another, but I assure you that you’re leaving money on the table if you’re not doing this. At a minimum, you should send out a monthly newsletter and consistently work on growing your list.

Small Firm Marketing Expanded

Smaller firms typically have lower marketing budgets. If my budget was less than $25,000 per year the areas mentioned above are where I would put most of that budget. If the budget was expanded however there are other avenues you should consider as well.

Pay Per Click

Pay Per Click is a great way to get immediate traffic to your website. Although for some lawyers it can be cost prohibitive to get involved with. Keep in mind that advertisers who rank organically and locally will see better results than someone who only ranks in the paid sections.

Legal Directories

I love to hate legal directories. By themselves, I see them as a big waste, but as a supplementary marketing method, I see where they benefit a firm, especially if they have a lot of search share (AKA: They already rank for keywords you want to rank for). Sign up for these with caution and measure your results.

What Channels Have Been Most Effective For Your Small Law Firm?

Over the years I have gotten to speak with a lot of different attorneys that have different opinions on what works and what doesn’t. I have heard most of the horror stories, but I want to know the good stories. Are you doing something that I didn’t mention which you find successful at generating new clients?

If so, let me know in the comments below!

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Casey Meraz

Casey is the founder and president of Ethical SEO Consulting and Juris Digital based in Denver, CO. Casey's specialties are in organic and local SEO. He is a regular contributor to the Moz Blog and the author of How To Perform The Ultimate Local SEO Audit. If you have an SEO question or need advice please feel free to reach out by email: cmeraz@jurisdigital.com. Follow Casey on Twitter @CaseyMeraz.