Legal Marketing & Consulting

Can law firms really improve their marketing for free?

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How can law firms put their marketing plans into action with a limited budget? During a Thursday panel at ABA Techshow entitled “Free Lunch: Market Your Practice Online for (Almost) Free,” Gyi Tsakalakis and Joy Hawkins offered practical and cost-effective things lawyers can do to attract more clients.

Tsakalakis, president of digital marketing agency AttorneySync in Chicago, encouraged them to focus on how they can show they’re making clients happy. First, he says, websites need to be fast, because no one will wait for pages to load.

He recommended WordPress, a free and open-source content management system, or WP Engine, a more expensive, but quick WordPress digital experience platform, as tools to consider. He also suggested Chrome DevTools, another free tool built into the Google Chrome browser that can check the speed of websites.

Tsakalakis pointed out that law firms also need to make it easy for potential clients to find information. He recommended that they add frequently asked questions, question-and-answer sections and “how-tos” to their websites to get richer results from people doing searches on Google.

“How-tos are no-brainers for law firms because most people who have these issues are just doing research and don’t even realize they need to hire a lawyer yet,” he said.

Tsakalakis suggested that law firms use Google Search Console or information pulled from homepage search queries to determine which questions to include on their websites. He also said when appropriate, putting content into bulleted lists could increase the likelihood of being more prominently featured on Google.

“That has a lot of real estate on search results, and it’s free traffic,” he said.

Tsakalakis’ other recommendations for reaching more potential clients included implementing a free chatbot like Smith and a free appointment scheduling tool like Calendly on firm websites.

Hawkins, the owner of Sterling Sky Inc. in Uxbridge, Ontario, focuses on local search engine optimization and said that instances of people searching for an attorney near them increased in recent years.

She suggested that law firms use Google My Business, a free service that helps business owners manage the information that people see when they search for their products or services, to drive more traffic to their website.

Hawkins said that receiving positive reviews are the most important thing any business owner can do to “influence how often their phone rings,” particularly since consumers read an average of 10 reviews before making a decision on who to hire.

She recommended Whitespark, a free tool that allows businesses to not only check how many reviews they have received on Google, but also see how many reviews their competitors have received. She said law firms could also use GatherUp, a low-cost customer experience and online review engine to help solicit reviews.

Hawkins added that law firms could use posts on Google search results to draw more traffic to their websites, and firms should consider creating separate listings on Google My Business for attorneys who work in different practice areas.

“If your law firm has multiple specialties, you could get more exposure,” she said. “The key is not to compete. Generally, I don’t suggest creating them if you are all doing the same type of law.”

Her other recommendations included continuing to focus on website content and reporting spam, such as fake law firm listings, when it appears in local search results.

“Normally when we do audits for law firms, we say, ‘Who is outranking them?’ ” Hawkins said. “But more often than not, we see real law firms shoved out of search results because of these fake listings.”

Follow along with the ABA Journal’s coverage of the ABA Techshow 2020 here.

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