Master Class: How to Improve Search Visibility and Lead Generation Through SEO Trends

Elizabeth Lockwood

If you own a small law firm or practice as a solo attorney, it might be a bit difficult to attract new clients and, thanks to COVID, working from home may have made that even more challenging. With such harsh competition for search visibility and online relevance, the likelihood of customers being able to find you online can seem almost nonexistent. Thankfully, through the power of SEO, you can provide your customers with a more convenient path to your business and increase your odds of attracting and converting leads.

In a webinar recorded September 22nd, 2020, Maddy Martin, head of growth and education at Smith.ai, spoke with Nalini Prasad, Chief Strategy Officer of BluShark Digital, about the many ways in which small law firms and solo attorneys can leverage SEO trends to improve their search visibility and lead generation.

Looking to capture more leads and boost your business online? Then, feel free to read the full transcript of the video below, edited for readability. You can watch the full webinar for free on YouTube by clicking the image below. To check out more videos like this one, with tons of free tips for solo practitioners, small business owners, and lawyers, subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Moderator

Maddy Martin

Head of Growth and 

Education at Smith.ai

Speaker

Nalini Prasad

Chief Strategy Officer of

BluShark Digital

INTRODUCTION

MADDY MARTIN, HEAD OF GROWTH & EDUCATION AT SMITH.AI:

Welcome everyone, thrilled to be here with Nalini Prasad from BluShark Digital.

Maddy Martin here from Smith.ai. We are a virtual receptionist and website chat service for small businesses, but mostly law firms. About 60% now, I think, is solo or small law firms, and we play a role in lead conversion.

We do appointment scheduling, intake. We do inbound and outbound calls, website chat, text answering, and Facebook messenger now, too.

So, we are very much a part of the marketing and intake process.

Nalini and I have known each other for a long time, but I'll let her introduce herself.

And then we'll talk about today’s webinar presentation, really more of a discussion, with the master herself about the key things to know when approaching organic search and SEO for your business, specifically using law firms as the case here.

So if you're not in a law firm, there's still a lot to learn. Absolutely don't go anywhere.

But I think, Nalini in particular, will get a lot out of this because that's where Nalini spends most of her time. Not all of it.

Nalini, take it away, introduce yourself. And then, I've got some questions.

NALINI PRASAD, CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER OF BLUSHARK DIGITAL:

I'm the chief strategy officer at BluShark Digital, and we are an agency dedicated to most law firms.

We do have kind of a subsection for creating SEO products for any type of service industry.

At the end of the day, anything that has to do with Google and SEO, that can translate it to any industry with an audience that goes to the internet to find your services. 

We focus on four fundamentals.

We've got a team that actually can spin out of a law firm themselves. Our founder set price is actually the managing partner of a law firm here in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

The agency, BluShark, is about 45 millennials, all strong in one townhouse in DC because of the COVID. We’re all working a little remote, but we thrive on creativity, and being in the same space and servicing lawyers across the country.

MADDY:

Nice, wonderful. We are so thrilled to have you. I know I always learn so much from you, too, Nalini.

I really wanted to start with a Google search. I think it seems like this behemoth; normally, behemoths are slow-moving.

It looks like, actually, the field of organic search does move. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

WHAT IS SEO & HOW DOES GOOGLE USE IT?

NALINI:

Yeah. Part of my bio there that I didn't give is, I really genuinely enjoy the technical aspect of SEO. Mostly because a lot of law firms, and a lot of folks on here, we're all very A-type personalities. We like competitive industries.

Google, to me, is a puzzle.

And so, Google always has its own business, right? Google is trying to ensure that they can give the best search results to their consumers, right? The searchers.

They're constantly coming up with ways to improve the way that they learn information about the websites out there and about the different businesses, how they can turn that into, “Hey, I can help my searcher the most by giving them this perfect match of someone that can help them right now.”

Google, about four times a year, will actually come out with a huge algorithm update.

The biggest thing to know about Google is this little bot that you're going to hear about a lot. This bot is AI learning. It's everything that Google is based on.

But, four times a year, they update the bot. They teach the bot more information about how to learn the most about the businesses out there.

So, it's always changing, always improving so that you can have the best pizza place when you look up when you're out of town. That I want pizza in the middle of the night, right?

MADDY:

Absolutely. I just got the best Italian food in Cooperstown, New York, because that's exactly what I searched for.

So, I mean, the same principles apply, right? Your target, your general approach to ranking on a SERP search engine result page remains pretty much the same. Is that right?

WHY SHOULD YOU USE SEO FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

NALINI:

Correct. So, wanting visibility is the most important.

The amount of information that you can give to Google about who you are and why you're the smartest person in the room and should be the person that's the answer for the searcher is what's changing, right?

The how, not the what.

We always want to be visible, because that's how people are going to see us and give us calls. 

MADDY:

Okay, and you know when it comes to the sensibilities and the needs of the small law firm or small special services business.

What do you think is just in your top quick hits list? What's important to keep in mind is maybe even a check weekly or daily?

IMPORTANCE OF LOCAL SEO

NALINI:

Yeah, absolutely. And so, everybody knows your website's importance.

A lot of people will probably talk about social, making sure that your branding is out there. And you're in front of the right audience, the people who need you the most.

But there's also this significant aspect of Google known as local SEO.

LOCAL SEO

And that specifically has to do with your Google My Business profile, where you send people to review you.

When you're on Google Maps, and you're looking for how to get somewhere. And you see this profile for the business that you're trying to reach, that is their Google My Business profile.

Google has spent the most time in the past year, coming out with new fields, features, and all sorts of things for you as a business to give your consumers more information.

But really what they're also doing is making sure that they have more data points to understand how the consumers are engaging with your business on that profile.

The biggest takeaway, I would say, is if you don't have access to your Google My Business profile or if you don't have one yet for your small business, that is, first and foremost, the most important thing that you want to look at.

You want to look at it daily. How many people are calling you? How many people are engaging with the information you're putting out there?

And it's a learning process.

So maybe I put up a post about a community service event that I'm sponsoring this week. I had a bunch of people click through to my website, and then the next week I talked about a deal that I had going, and no one clicked on it.

So maybe your audience really likes the engagement of the community, right?  What are you guys doing and telling more about your brand and who you are?  And so, lots of cool things like that, that can gain from looking at it every single day.

MADDY:

That makes a lot of sense.

And what about like this, we're hearing a lot about the three-pack. You wrote a great article on our blog, which I'll share in the notes after this.

What is the local three-pack, and how does that affect how a law practice, rank sensors?

IMPORTANCE OF THE LOCAL THREE-PACK

NALINI:

Yeah, absolutely.

I'm going to share my screen here just to take folks through really quickly. It’s a lot easier to see it sometimes. So people should be able to see my screen. Can you see Google? Yes. Awesome.

So we're going to go with my pizza thing. If I look up “best pizza” is what I've typed.

Example of what a local three-pack looks like and where you can find it on Google

And you'll notice that Google automatically wants to fill in near me. It's that whole aspect of Google wanting to find the most convenient answer for you too. Right? So even if I take “near me” out, Google is still going to determine where Nalini is sitting.

And you will notice that it's, as far as a blue dot, it puts you on the map of where you are. And then the three top results that you're going to see on a computer screen or even on a cell phone is what we call that local three-pack.

This is what we're mentioning. And earlier, when I said your “Google My Business profile”, these three options.

You'll notice if you ever click on one of them, it doesn't take you to a website. It takes you to a Google My Business profile.

What a Google My Business profile looks like and where you can find it on Google
The real importance of actually having it is that’s the only way you can get into the local three-pack and be even above the top 10 results, and the most important aspect of this is the visibility, right?

Google has chosen to say that if you have this profile, if you give us enough information, and consumers are giving you great reviews and they're engaging with your content, then you’re somebody I know will be good to my searcher.

And so that is the heart of everything with local SEO in the local three-pack.

MADDY:

So, a couple of questions for you and one that you know is sort of unscripted. I know you can answer it. How many reviews are we looking for in a small law firm?

GAINING VISIBILITY THROUGH REVIEWS

NALINI:

That's a good question. And so, it's more so about consistency.

Everything with Google takes time.

And you'll hear if you have talked to an SEO agency. You've said, “Well, can I get leads next month? Can I get them in three months?” You're always going to hear, “It's going to take six months going to take eight to 10 months.” And you're like, “Well, what the heck? Why does it take so long?”

And it's because Google is looking for dependable people.

So yes, you may only need 200 reviews to get ahead of your competitor or 200 pages of content. Maybe you could go on a spree and you could get all 200 of those reviews in the next month or two. And you could show this huge spike, “Hey, look, I did what I needed to do. And now Google, I'll forget about you for the next five months.”

Whereas your competitor, who is slowly adding ten new reviews every single month, they’re being dependable and consistent.

That's what Google will want to send to the searchers to because you're not just showing a spike, but you're showing that you are actively a business. You're a real business, enough that you can do this every single month. And you're going to hold up to your end of the bargain.

So more than I'm looking at how many you need is being consistent.

So, if you are a small law firm and you only sign maybe 10 cases a month because you take maybe even top dollar cases and you don't do volume, then perhaps try to say the goal of, “I need 30% of those people to give me a review. Not everyone's going to do it, so I need at least three to five reviews,” maybe every single month.

If you're high volume, then your numbers should be 20 a month. But keep it consistent.

So, consistency over quantity, I would say. 

MADDY:

And we also see the default settings here, right? Where it's a four-plus rating pizza type restaurant. I mean, does it go into that level of granularity?

If I search for law firms, does it understand practice areas? It being Google.

NALINI:

And so, I have one of these up here in this tab right now. So, we'll look at this one, which is actually built out pretty well.

Example of a law firm's visibility online

If you look up your actual brand name in Google, you'll notice that Google My Business profile comes up on the right-hand side.

All of the information that you have input on the back end is what is being shown here to your consumer. What Maddy's talking about here is this.

So, you're able to actually choose, “Hey, what's my category type.” And not just say lawyer or law firm, but you can get very specific and say that you're a family law firm or a criminal law firm.

Google can say, “Oh, okay, well, I know that there's a niche, and this is their practice area, and they specialize in it, and this is what they're an expert in.”

And so if someone's looking for a car accident attorney and your competitor marks themselves as a lawyer, which means they handle all sorts of cases and you label yourself as a personal injury lawyer, you are already going to have the upper hand over Google because they know that that's what you're specializing in.

You'll be able to handle it a little bit better.

Then all of the other information here that we can go into, and I can give some tips on what's the most important thing like that.

But it's very important to choose wisely the information you present yourself as to Google and your consumers.

MADDY:

Okay. Yeah, this is really fascinating.

So, what we see here is not just that they have their address, the maps, and photos, perhaps obviously link to your website. They have five-star reviews from 100.4 reviewers.

One question about the reviews before we move down this listing. Can you ask more than one of your clients, if it's a multi-client case, to write a unique review? Is that something that you would recommend?

NALINI:

That's an interesting question, and there are lots of questions around reviews, and it's, “Hey, I have two locations. Can I have the same person leave a review on both of them?” That's one good question I get all the time right for two years.

And you want to be as honest and as straightforward as you can be.

If you can avoid that and still get the number of reviews you need to be competitive, that's the best case; always go white hat.

If it seems a little shady to you and you have to ask yourself the question of if it's okay, it's probably not. That's usually my advice.

And so, yeah, if you have a big client that you have helped, and there are multiple folks you've worked with there in different capacities. I think that's fine to have them write about their personal and professional interaction with you as a business from different perspectives. Right. That's okay.

I know that a lot of us, as you know, high service law firms, may work with the marketing director and the partner at the firm, and they've both worked with me in a very different capacity. They can both leave a review because they are both using our services, even if they're one client.

So that speaks to what your question there directly wants, but you want to make sure that you're not getting all.

If you only have three reviews on your Google My Business, you don't want them all from the same place. Right? So again, it depends on how many do you actually have on your profile and all that good stuff.

But yeah, reviews are really cool.

And one of the things, while we're on reviews that I can talk about that I really like is, numbers are great.

And one of the things that Google came out with back in February this year. I don't know that many people look at this on their own, but if you click here on all of the reviews, Google came out with this filtering system, where they now have words that are commonly used in your reviews as long as a term is used more than three times.

And a word that is searched a lot, according to Google? It's an actual buzz word.

They've created these category filters where you can actually click on them. And so, you can say, “Someone's talking about legal advice,” six different reviews. We'll talk about legal advice, right?

This advice is great from the consumer side of things because if I wanted to hear about them, are they honest? Or are they understanding? Or whatever it may be, I can click and readjust those reviews.

But what I care more about is the fact that Google is associating these words with your brand. It is a work in progress in terms of these are the things that are important to them. This is how they want to be seen.

Firms will try extra hard when they're getting ,“Let's get this one.” And when they're getting reviews from someone to have them put in the practice area, they help them with.

As an example, workers' compensation is actually a keyword that is now associated with this firm in this location. If someone were to stand in Raleigh and say, “Hey, I need a worker's comp lawyer.” Google knows you've actually helped 13 individuals with that. Right?

So that's an excellent way to look at if Google has put forth some new features where they are itemizing things. That means it's information they know, and that's information that's going to help them determine if you're the best for their searcher.

So one of the takeaways, I would say here is a lot of times people will send a link to your consumer and say, “Hey, it was great working with you. Would you mind leaving me a review?” You leave people hanging there.

And if you've ever been in their shoes and maybe bought a car or went to a restaurant, someone asks you to leave a review. Sometimes you're like, “Well, I could give stars. I know how I felt about it, but I don't really know what to write," right, to make it a lengthy response.

I've heard that has been really cool, and I think it has helped a lot of folks by giving people at least one to two questions.

So, simply saying, “What service did I help you with?” or “What did I help you with?” and “What was your favorite interaction with me? What was your favorite moment working with me?”

And when you say that, all of a sudden I'm like, “Oh yeah, I know which three sentences I would write.”

Prompting folks, I would say, that is huge in making sure that you can help direct the words and the type of information that’s here presented to other consumers.

And that's a huge takeaway that I think if you did that for the next five years, the ten people you asked for a review, I bet the quality of your review would be better.

MADDY:

That makes a ton of sense.

There are a couple of best practices here that we see across the examples that you're sharing. We're also seeing open 24 hours, and that's something that has directly sort of worked with some of our firms with, to say, “Hey, we noticed that that actually does lead to a better outreach rate."

First call rate, say, “I am going to contact this particular firm, because back in the three-pack or in the list of results, hours are something that Google shows very prominently."

So as a result, if you are looking, right, if you're looking close, or you can have a pizza place might have dinner hours.

But if you're looking closed, you are, “I'm not going to get that person to wait until you're open.”

It's really important that that person who closes at 5:00 PM, we're approaching three o'clock Eastern now for both of us. Okay? Google is letting us know that they are closing soon.

It's really critical that you are open, critically during COVID, during extended, if not, 24 hours.

So, even if your firm cannot support that with your staff, having an answering service able to answer your calls can lead you to be able to demonstrate those open hours, extending beyond what you're in house capacity.

GAINING VISIBILITY WORKING FROM HOME/VIRTUALLY

NALINI:

No, absolutely.

And one of the things that Google has struggled with in being spammy is exactly this 24 hours.

And so, people for the past couple of years, I've gone back and forth and said, “Should I put my real hours? Or should I put 24 hours?” Sometimes if you put 24 hours, your competitors are going to report you, saying, “Hey, they're not open 24 hours,” even if you did have an answering service.

And so Google has had, whenever they have these questions and these issues that they have to deal with, they're, in the back of their mind, thinking about, "How can we solve this? What new update can we put into the algorithm update that I mentioned every couple of months?"

And so, one of the cool things is that, recently, and this is just last month I believe, you have these hours that are your regular hours, but now they have these online service hours and, thanks to COVID, that's absolutely why that's there.

I did put this in my thoughts to talk about today, especially because of the answering services and the chat services.

You want to make it very clear that you can answer people.

But for some lawyers, they also want to say, “Hey, seven o'clock, I'm meant to be there.”  

MADDY:

If it's, “I'm a family law practice, I know plenty of divorce attorneys who are not going to put 24 hours there," but you still get called.

“I'm in the business of being a therapist or a policeman.” But the thing is, I think it also goes into what does the answering service does.

If you just have a call center who's taking calls, you're going to get more flak, you're going to get more responses that you're not really open to yet. You're just having someone take messages, and that’s different than voicemail.

But if you have someone who is an intake specialist, scheduling appointments, taking that information, and screening you as a lead and saying, “Yes, you are a good fit for this firm. Yes, we might be interested in real screening."

Then, you're getting real work done.

And to me, that is a defensible reason to update your hours. Right?

If you just have a glorified voicemail, it's not legitimate to say that you're open during those hours. You know, you are going to get any type of work done. 

NALINI:

I agree.

And I think the cool distinction between this is that people are going to be then able to say, “Hey, I’m a lawyer. I am not open after seven o'clock.”

And you could put nine to seven online service hours, which is really when your intake is still happening, but in this search result, you will start to see where it says maybe the office is closed, but online appointments, like online, still available, right?

MADDY:

Imagine the family who's just got their kids in bed, the bath time is over. They've only played the role of teacher and chef and are still working a nine to five job.

What time are you going to have available to contact a law firm for your elderly parents' estate? It's going to be at 8:00 PM. It's going to be 8:00 AM before work. Right?

You must make sure that you're available. 

So let’s talk for a second, though. We talked a little bit about the location.

What about all the firms? Speaking of COVID, who are considering going virtual? What if you don’t have a brick and mortar or are you putting your law firm at risk by getting rid of your rent?

NALINI:

So that's a perfect segue and exactly where my brain was going, too.

And so, one of the other really cool things is that Google came out with during COVID in the last few months is this online appointments.

To say that you take online appointments and they're actually working on – we've seen and heard that a couple of different regions in the US have seen this roll-out already – but where you may be able to click on a button from this Google My Business, and connect through Zoom with the lawyer or with whatever the industry is a CPA or a doctor.

And so, just the way the world has changed. It's amazing.

And it's funny because just last year, last summer, just about a year ago, Google was on a rampage, and they were just suspending anyone who was in a Regus or WeWork or a shared office.

And so, the reason that was happening was, we got it, people were playing the SEO game. And they were getting these Regus, these shared office space locations simply to show up in that local three-pack.

They wanted to target more areas, and it wasn't really where their brick and mortar stores were so what we’d say, you're finding workarounds.

We don't like this, but now a year later, people are getting rid of their brick and mortar. Like you said, people need a space maybe to meet with people. Then it has to be a shared office space or something like that.

And Google has to think about that. So we have not seen suspensions for these Regus, and WeWork as heavily in the last couple of months. I'm waiting for the announcement for them to say something like, "It's actually okay now because it has to be in terms of creating a Google My Business. You have to put a physical address to build it right, to create it, to get it verified. But you can also select not to show your address."

So, if you are working out of your home, for whatever your business may be, you can use your home address and then select "don't show". You can get a Google My Business created.

And so, having that opportunity, and the way that the world is going, I can only imagine that there’s going to be some sort of way that you can find still locally based on your home address. Without having to have an actual brick and mortar, but that's to come.

That's very interesting and like things that everybody's looking out for right now.

APPOINTMENT LINKS

MADDY:

Yeah. That's very interesting.

I mean, one of the things that we see here as well is that there is a specific link actually here for appointments. So, cttrials.co, and then we also have products here.

So I think traditionally many professional services businesses are not, I can say they're using an Acuity.

NALINI:

Yeah. They use Calendly.

And all of those are, and this is really the other thing about this, really quickly, is that it's actually just a link. You can put a link to your website's booking page or the contact us page there, too.

It's not necessarily that you have to do integration or be high tech and know-how to do that. It's literally just putting a link there.

So anyone here on this call has the ability to do that, technically.

MADDY:

Exactly. Link it to your page, along with all who are recommending it to you.

And then the last one, before we move into your site and search in general, products.

I mean legal services, are they products? Are they not?

Finally, we have a webinar next week. That's just about creating our DIY legal products, but this is something different. It is actually what Google is saying, our products.

So, we have products listed here for the law firm, and it makes perfect sense to see them displayed in this way.

But many people here, you might be thinking as I am, what happens when you go and list this product? Like what happens if you click on it?

LISTING PRODUCTS

NALINI:

Yeah.

And so, part of optimizing your Google My Business is that they're giving you all these different fields that you can fill in.

And for the longest time, products were there, but it was mostly for people selling actual things like T-shirts and ice cream or a service or something.

And we said, “Well, what happens if we filled it in with the types of services that they actually offer? Right?” And so we did it for a few people.

And you can change the colors. You can make it branded. You can make it pretty, whatever you want.

But what it does is it offers you the opportunity to teach Google what each of these practice areas really are, to give them more keywords.

And when you learn more, you actually go to their website. You are taking your consumer through a very good user experience in that is your Google My Business.

Right. And consumers want to learn more about what you do. Consumers go to a particular page that only talks about that specific practice area.

If you don't have a site yet that has the page for wrongful death or has a page for dog bites, it may not be a great user experience to have a product here that says dog bites and then take them to your home page that talks about everything.

You want to make sure that you're always taking people to your relevant space because they want to learn more about what they've clicked on.

If you have the setup on your site, if there is a way for you to use any field on the backend of your Google My Business, do it. Make sure you're doing it in a user-friendly way, for sure.

MADDY:

Okay.

Okay, so, you don't need to have any unique setting here. Then you can basically do it yourself. You don't need some product feed or XML or anything like that. You just got it.  

NALINI:

And if you choose not to do that, right, it just wouldn't be there. So, you can leave.

MADDY:

So much more of that space. Look at how much real estate, so to speak, you get on the entire, I mean, beyond the first page, the search results you keep throwing, and there's too much for them to show.

That's really incredible. I had a ball, and I guess what you also end up doing is that people also searched for your competitors. You want to push them way down the page. Yeah. That makes a ton of sense. Add as much as you possibly can.

So last question here, around the updates and the posts, the photos that you're sharing.

What sort of images are going to share if you're a law firm, other than just the suits? I mean, you're not sharing client photos. What if you don't have an office? What could you possibly share?

UPLOADING IMAGES

NALINI:

That's a good question.

It is a little bit of a struggle because if you are a restaurant, you have people who your consumers were actually taking pictures of their pretty plates and putting it up, right? It's not just the owner that's adding them. It's your consumers, which gives you a really big boost there.

All of the content that's being shared for lawyers, some things that we say, though, is if you're going to do community events.

Take a picture with your booth at the community event, or take a picture with an organization that you've sponsored or that you've had a good relationship with.

If you are a solo practitioner, your firm is you. It’s your brand. And you know what? People are going to hire people they like and trust, not just look at a name on a building, right?

So if you went to your kid's little league and that's something that you support, putting a picture up of you, a story, tell the story of, did you play sports in college? Oh my gosh.

If you're in the south and you're into college football, put up your roll-tide stuff, do whatever you’re going to do. 

MADDY:

Are you from that town? Are you sponsoring anything? Did you give a community talk?

Are you taking a snapshot on Zoom of us right now? What are you sharing that are actually relevant and activities that can be captured with a photo?

NALINI:

Yep, absolutely. It helps. Every little bit helps. Right? 

MADDY:

Definitely. All the little bits, on a little bit throughout some keywords. And we touched on that really briefly when we looked at reviews.

So, one of the things that crossed my mind when you were showing us those reviews and the tags that are common, worker's comp, respect, patients, doctor, things like that. Those are also, probably, relevant keywords that Google sees related to your practice for regular search results.

What is your approach to a firm? Maybe that's been around two, five, ten years, and here they are. Maybe their search results are a little bit stagnant, or they're wondering, how do I get more juice out of this orange?

Where do you start with that process ranking for the keywords that are already relevant to them?

IMPLEMENTING KEYWORDS

NALINI:

Absolutely.

First and foremost, I would say work smart, not hard. That’s how you guys have gotten where you've gotten to be business owners. And that's what you're always looking at to scale your businesses, regardless of what industry you're in.

So, first and foremost, what are the people searching who are coming to find you?

And that is something you reverse in your brain. So you say, “What's my top dollar case? What kind of client do I want to work with?”  Right? How did they? And then maybe they’re even looking at your data now.

So, “How did those clients get to me? How did they search for me,” perform that actual search?

So if I did injury lawyer, right? And I'm sitting in the area that I want the clients to come from. I’m going to look at these three firms that are up on the screen that are ranking. They're obviously doing something right. Right guys? 

So don't reinvent the wheel.

Go into their websites, and look at what they've taught. What content have they been? What kind of keywords are they using on their pages? Just doing a little bit of research into your competitors.

At the end of the day, the game’s name with Google is again, it's a rat race. It's who can be the smartest person, who can provide one more page of content or that better keyword or whatever, an extra link, whatever it may be.

Look at what's there right now, figure out how much you need to do, and that's your strategy, right? Don't reinvent the wheel. It is my biggest advice to people trying to do it themselves. 

MADDY:

So when it comes to, now they're on your site, are you reinforcing those same keywords? How are you using language to improve conversion?

There’s a number of elements on this page that are elements to increase the likelihood of conversion. We can talk about each of these, but when you first audit a site, maybe like something here, what are you looking for from it first, just a keyword perspective.

Like, even the term personal injury. Are you including keywords, like on the home page, like a car crash or car wreck or things like that, or is that too much too soon? What's your approach to this and not just for personal injury firms? 

NALINI:

For a consumer experience, first and foremost, I think that there's a lot of websites that do it really well.

This one is, as you know, there needs to be something that jumps out at you in terms of the most important thing to you.

And so for them, it may be saying what location they're in North Carolina. We service the whole state, not just one city, what they're telling you. Right? So they're like, “Hey, if you're down in Asheville or you're in Raleigh.” He can help you. And that's important to them, to show how, why they cover the state in that sense, something really quickly that they're a big firm, right?

It may be that you're a small law firm, and you want to have something that says your family matters to me. Right?

You're a family law firm, which is very nice to see a one-line or your recovery it matters. Right? Making sure that the header has something that jumps out. Whatever the largest words you're putting out there need to be really important to you or what you care people will think about you.

First and foremost, what do you do for a video or that's all up to you? Some people think it's busy. Some people really like it. It comes to aesthetics, right? There's no real data on that, but here you have some form or way on the top part of above the fold for them to connect with you.

So, let's say I have seen you in the search result. I read your result, and that's exactly what I need. I don't need anything else. I am not even talking to anybody having, whether that's a live chat that comes up or it's a contact form that lives right here on the top part of your screen.

Something has to be there as a call to action that's not too much in your face, but then also make sure that you're putting out the brand that you want.

If you think that having all of these different accolades, or you have been featured in the news is important and you want to be that brand that stands out, they click on other websites, they're not going to see that those people are in authority.

We're on these different publications, then that's important. You want that above the fold right away.

I learn a lot about this from just looking at their site. And so, user experience can be that first initial look.

But, it's also on making sure that you can navigate easily. So, whether that's coming down here and seeing a list of the practice areas. Or having it very organized, that if I clicked on something here. I would be in the whole section of the site about car accidents, specific to my location.

I have all these other types of pages and information about it. These pages are also linked within the content if I'm reading it.

So make it easy for your consumer to navigate through your website and get from one topic to the next that makes sense. I would say it is the biggest.

The other two little things that are actually big have to do with making sure that people can learn about you.

Again, going back to that concept of people. Work with people they like and trust, make sure that the “us” is going to be one thing.

That's going to tell a story about you that you care about. If you can have your testimonials there, that's great hearing what other people think about you.

And then, the second is, always give more than you take.

So resources, making sure to have it very focal or people can get free resources that may help them, or whether it's, what are you doing in the community? How can they get involved with you as a firm, outside of just the fact that you are doing, you're litigating different types of cases, whether that's family or PI?

So, tell the story of yourself, because that's what people are interested in and make it easy to get there

MADDY:

This makes a ton of sense to me.

I mean, in terms of the language that the call to action, what are professional services or clients looking for when it comes to calling when it comes to chatting when it comes to inquiring for more information?

What's specific, not so much like the actual opportunities to do so because obviously, we know that allowing him to call, text, chat is necessary, but the language used there, people’s understanding of free consultation – do you want to specify the duration of it?

Do you want to set, to book an appointment online now? What are the best practices to capture the momentum from someone who's coming from search? And say, “I know this person isn't. You may or may not be a referral.”

Referrals do search online for validation of reviews. And let's say it's someone pretty cold. How do you get them to find you? And you're the only game in town, and get that consultation on the books. 

CAPTURING LEADS

NALINI:

So one, you don't want to be spammy. You don't want to have a bunch of different, and it distracts them, too, to have too many different contact forms and too many places for them to talk to you and the website also.

You want to be interactive. Maybe thinking about, perhaps not five, six questions they need to answer because it gets too long. And then it's like, “Okay, well they're asking way too much.

I can't, I don’t have time for this anymore to get, they're saying no.” But trying something in writing. Or it might be, you ask one question it's a yes or no. A second one pops up and maybe just keep it to two-three questions.

Maybe when they feel like they're talking more about the issue already. And then, they submit that contact form. It's not so much a cold call.

When you call them back, then you can have that second touch where you say, “Hey, I read this, I know what you're looking for,” it makes it seem much more smooth service and reach in that first touch. Right? 

The other thing is giving people options to fill out more. So, instead of it being a long-form for our websites, something new that we're trying. We're going to have where you can put your name and your email and request a free report.

You can also tell us a little bit more about yourself or request a call if you want.

But at the end of the day, you don't want them to feel like they have to do a call, right?

In order to get a good resource, a free resource that you can offer.

So if the call to action is 100%, you're injured, you need to talk to us, it needs to be very clear that it's setting an appointment.

But, if it's all these other aspects of your site where you're giving free resources out, you're getting people to be in your funnel and to remember your brand, you want to make sure that they don't feel captive to get that infographic or to get the extra help for free information. 

MADDY:

You just offered something. You said, “play this game.”  

NALINI:

Yes. Don't play games with your contact forms in your call to action.

MADDY:

Exactly. One of the things that actually, we see two specific items on that, from the perspective of the answering services, we see chat becoming the new form.

So you can program those questions you would ask in chat, in your form into a chat about five questions. “Hi, what brings you to the site today?” And then, “What is your first name? What is your last name? What's your email? How do you prefer to be contacted? What's your phone number to directly reach you? How urgent is your legal matter, and how ready are you?”

And you can do this in a form or chat with, or text, or any sort of written communication. “How ready are you to hire an attorney?” And I think that's one of the questions that's not often talked about. It could be, “How ready are you to hire a financial advisor or a real estate agent?”

Right? Like it doesn't have just to be an attorney. Only by asking the question.

If you're in criminal defense, you have a court date scheduled, etc. Maybe even have you worked with an attorney before. What are the different factors that determine you’re going to take the case? If it's family law, with children involved in a child custody matter, immigration similar way, what is it about? Are you just looking for someone to help you fill out for?

There are a number of questions that for your practice area. I'll put your industry where you can ask that nominees begin to hear it.

Get a specific, the specificity of the questions that help you qualify a lead and not just have someone who's running through 10 websites.

Filling out their autofill contact information, right? Because it's not necessarily what you want.

NALINI:

Great.

And that just strengthens that first touch, like I said, by knowing what kind of lead is coming in, what it not only helps you as a business owner to prioritize. “Hey, I've got two hours left of my time.”

This one seems like someone who has talked to three other lawyers and is ready to decide. They have other people to compare them to. "I'm just; I know I am. I should talk to them for 45 minutes.”

Then I've got the other person who said that it's the first time they're reaching out about a potential divorce. And you know that when people are just looking into it. They've got a long road ahead of them. Maybe that's a 15-minute first touch with a second call later. 

MADDY:

Well, right. And, especially also thinking about this sensitivity.

In any of the practice areas, there are people who want to speak by phone. There are also people who, if you're back in an office, or you remember when you're in an office. You’re going to be in one again. Essentially, not everyone wants to be overheard talking to an attorney. There’s office gossip.

Are you giving them the channels to communicate with you silently, with you through chat, through text, through a forum on your website?

It should be comprehensive enough to be an alternative to a phone call, right? Is it a compelling opportunity to allow telling as much of the story as you think is relevant? Get enough back to inform them that you at least inject the right firm.

You can go on a website chat and say to a personal injury firm. “Hi, I need a divorce.” And if the chat is not very good, they're going to let you go ahead and book a consultation, even though it's the wrong firm.

I would just make sure that your systems are dialed in. Are you asking questions because of your practice area? For your business type? And also using that information to go back then and inform your friends, keywords that you put into the content on your website.

So is everyone asking questions about car wrecks? And all over your website, you have car accidents. Maybe you should be changing your language.

And there are other examples of that where people are asking questions. What we know is that Google doesn't tell you everything that is being searched. That is like, we all know, what was that?

I mean, I'm not going to age myself too badly, but it was maybe 15, 20 years ago that we didn't have so many not provided keywords. You saw a lot more of the search results that were bringing people to your business website.

So, as a result, now, we have to do everything we can to capture that information. And one, if you're not with a huge advertising budget, which will give you some of them. One is chatting, actually.

So how do you look through all those chat transcripts and say, “What are the common words that are in phrases that are being used?”

That, I'm pretty darn sure, are the same words that people are using on Google because they're not going to phrase it differently. After all, now they're on your website. So speaking of that, there are techniques to use that you guys made a lot of websites before for lawyers, specifically, professional businesses in general, in the service industry, there's sort of a framework that a good website should have.

And it's not just keywords, there are certain elements that will show up on Google.

We know that your page structure sometimes comes across as a real sort of complex page layout in the search results. We saw that from one of the law firms that you presented.

How do you get as much real estate as possible in search results from that page structure? And how to improve the likelihood that you could rank by just simply creating more pages?

NALINI:

Yeah.

So, the four fundamentals that I don't even think that I mentioned, which is usually something that we always talk about, are technical, content, link-building, and local SEO.

We spent a lot of time on local SEO. It's this whole other animal when you're talking about, and being able to take up a lot of space on the search result page and also to tell Google the information you want to show up there, is all done through technical.

So, it's a lot of that behind the scene stuff. And it's coding that Google comes out with. And they've said, “Hey. If you have an award on your about us page, or if you have a place that you've been published before, you want to tell the Google bot that that's on your website. Here's what you copy and paste onto the backend in the coding to teach the bot that."

And so, by using all of the right kind of coding they give to you, you're teaching them what you want to be shown on the front end. If you have reviews like some people have seen when you've searched for things, you see the five stars in the organic search results and it says, these people have this and click here for more testimonials, that's all coding.

It's 100% of all structuring coding.

And that's the stuff that's a little bit harder that you can’t DIY.

The content comes into play, just like you said.

How can you help yourself take up more space on the search result page? By putting up more pages of content, and just like that rat race. It's a matter of making sure that you're teaching Google that you do this particular practice area and that you have more pages of information on that practice period than your competitors.

By doing that structure and showing the Google bot that this page belongs to this page. This page belongs to this page. That Google's able to say, “All right, well, they've got five pages of this topic and seven of this.”

So all of that technical on the backend does a lot of the heavy lifting work in the beginning. 

MADDY:

That makes a ton of sense.

And you know, what's interests me for a second, because one of the channels that we see a lot of attorneys and small business owners are focused on and wondering how much time to spend on frankly, social media.

So, when we look at social media to transition from a search perspective, if you're getting a lot of traffic network referrals from social, is that impacting your rankings, your position on search? 

SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORKING

NALINI:

And so there's a couple of things with social, especially concerning COVID year.

One, when you're in a new business, whether that's a law firm or any kind of service business, the low-hanging fruit, and the thing you think of when you think digital is social. “Oh, I should go make a Facebook. I should make an Instagram. I can advertise. I can talk about what products I have.” Right?

And so as a business owner, you're like, “Yes, social is the way to do it.”

Two since COVID, everyone has been taken to social, whether that's personal or professional. You've just been on it more. Right? And you're using your opportunity now, as that's your networking.

You can't go out to the bars and take somebody out for a drink or go out to the golf course. Or you can now probably, and it depends on where you are. Right.

But, in the first few months of this quarantine, it was challenging to do the traditional networking. And so people were using their social for that. And so they were everybody's eyes have opened to social.

At the end of the day, social will be great for networking. It's going to be great for branding, for getting your business, your name, your logo out in front of people to remember.

So in case they do need you down the road, they'll remember that nice thing or that funny thing you posted.

When it comes to making a difference in your ranking on Google's first page, there is no translation right now. And who knows if that changes next year, but from the past to now, if you have a link from a post you've put up on your Facebook going to your website, that's not the same thing as getting a good backlink from, a .edu site or a news site.

Suppose you are posting an organic blog on your Facebook every single day. That's not going to translate to you having authority and expertise in something, as it would if you posted those blogs on your website.

So for the actual ranking capabilities, social doesn't help with that. But that doesn't mean there's not all this great value to get out of it long term. 

MADDY:

That makes a ton of sense.

When it comes to the sort engagement, though converting leads from social and treating it as its standalone is sort of place to be, there's a lot of referrals and recommendations that come through Facebook specifically.

LinkedIn is a professional channel. If you're a B2B attorney or professional services provider, what strategies help you sort of appearing? Is it just a matter of boosting posts? Do you need to host your own Facebook live? How are you showing up? And in front of the right audience is going to keep you in mind.

But also maybe start to pay more attention to you and be ready to be nurtured, to be a client, potentially in areas where maybe there's more of an opportunistic opportunity to work with clients. Personal injury is circumstantial, but when it comes to a state, when it comes to opportunities, trademark, legal opportunities that arise as well. 

NALINI:

I would say first that each of the different platforms is its own animal, so LinkedIn has a different algorithm. Then Twitter does, then Facebook and Instagram are one, right? So those, you speak very fluently to one another.

So it's a test and measure if you're going to do it on your own. Agencies have a few tips and tricks based on what they've done with other things in the past. 

But I will say that I know that Facebook and Instagram are very not friendly to organic. They want you to pay-to-play. So they want you to choose a specific audience based on those behaviors you just mentioned. Maybe for personal injury, anyone can get injured.

But when we're talking about integration, there are very specific particular people looking for things in different languages. They're looking up different languages. 

If you're getting a divorce, maybe you've just put up your house for sale. If you're looking for high-end clients, let's say you do business formations.

Then there's literally a whole audience of people who are considered business owners or they claim they are self-employed on their taxes.

So, all of these different types of very niche audience targeting is important. And that is also very fruitful, but that's all for paid, right? So you can target those things. And Facebook is much more friendly to that.

If you just put up an organic post, you're not going to see a lot of people have viewed it. You're not going to see a lot of people that it’s reached. Facebook will say, “Hey, boost this post to reach 400 people.”

And so, it's minimal, it's $5, $10, but they want you to pay to get in front of the audience whereas LinkedIn, right now, seems very friendly towards organic.

So, what we have found is the more original content you're posting to make yourself an authority and not being spammy about it, no links to your website, but just becoming an authority.

Google is actually, or LinkedIn is actually showing those posts to many people in your network who could be potential clients depending on your practice area.

MADDY:

Yeah, that's interesting.

I think, you know, one thing that we see is sometimes, a sort of multi-step strategy.

If you are boosting posts on Facebook, one thing not to miss is to go through and to look at who liked or whatever reaction they had, as long as it's not negative on that post, and you can invite them to like your page, and then you can target them as someone who likes your page.

You can target them also as someone who likes the page and their friends, and you rapidly sort of expand your network.

There's also the opportunity to make lookalike audiences with your site traffic. So you do some kind of piggyback for organic and maybe even paid search efforts to make sure that if you are building audiences on Facebook.

Obviously, LinkedIn allows for this, too. You sort of track that person around the web when they visit Facebook. You say, “Alright, let's show them some content and others like them.”

So for B2B, that can be helpful if you know your demographics. Be very helpful or specific locations.

One of the things that I always recommend is if you are boosting a post, make sure that you have someone who's looking through all those likes, inviting them to like your page, a freebie bonus for you, that you should at least ask them to. And many people, by default, will say yes to that. 

So, we've only had a few minutes left here.

The last question that I had was about social. And these efforts that are not directly leading to conversions necessarily to have that brand presence. Are you approaching content differently to sort of nurture and stay top of mind?

Are you promoting reviews? Do you know you're already speaking preaching to the choir? What sort of approach are you taking there? Are you expecting that they're already fans of yours, or do you think that there may be even uninitiated?

Those are two different sides of the spectrum. Do they know your brand well, or do they only barely know your brand?

NALINI:

And I think that that truly depends on what kind of lists you have made.

So first is this a business page that you are sending out information from. Is this your personal page that you've turned into a business?

So if it's from your personal Facebook and you've turned that into a business over COVID year. And you've got all these folks who are your fans already, right? They've met you before. They trust you, whatever it may be.

Then those folks are a great point. There is a different kind of information you want to send to them. And so first and foremost, to people who don't know you, you want to grab their attention.

Often, they don't have a lot of attention, so you're not going to put a one minute video up there. You maybe don't even do videos. You don't want to put, "Here are my sales. I have this offer right now." We want to provide free information to them.

Once you get them into your funnel because they've clicked on that free information, that's when you start telling them about your brand. So segmenting the people into two different wheelhouses and paying attention to auditing, listen to seeing who your followers are.

If there are people that know you already, then yes, make your information specific to that. If they’re newbies, then make sure that every few posts are telling a little bit about yourself.

So that's a great point. And then one of the other things that you mentioned earlier. I loved your tip on making sure that you are utilized. If you're going to run a campaign or you're going to do that, always seek attention to it.

One thing I did see that's interesting, and this is helpful for every business, a lot of these CRMs, whether it's Salesforce or Zoho or anything that you use, can be integrated with your Facebook and with your social profiles and can actually be sequences.

If somebody likes your, like, anything you've posted, they can be put into a funnel that can be then put into your newsletter list. 

So it's interesting to check out the settings on the CRMs that you use because all of that work you're doing, you can automate it. 

MADDY:

I will also write a little note in here for all the attendees, that Phantombuilders—another thing that I found recently is that it's incredibly affordable.

I don't know if you know about it, it is a white hat scrape that allows you to pull down followers or maybe similar businesses and it simply scales your outreach.

So you can say, “Oh, all yellow page results for these are all the links. We did profiles that look like this." You already have to maybe have sales navigator access to LinkedIn if you're going to do a query like that. But it allows you to copy and paste and click into each profile to get that information. 

And then you can say, "Okay, these are the people who I want to reach out to. If they overlap with my Facebook audience or every time someone follows me on Twitter, follow them back."

So it can be active in that same platform, it can be anything sort of like simple interaction or a collection of data that would take you paying someone on Upwork or someone on staff who's more expensive to do that work.

And it's a really cool automation tool.

So I encourage people to check that out if you're actively managing on social. And it seems as I mentioned, very white hat to me.

I also would recommend it, but it just sort of like scales your outreach and your data collection for target audiences. So, why not?

So I will share the recording with everyone.

I appreciate your being here, Nalini. I wanted to give you an opportunity to mention how people follow up with you? I think there are some new services you're actually offering for more solo and small firms as well.

NALINI:

Yeah, absolutely.

So our robust product is to get you to rank with the big boys. And it is thousands of dollars a month, depending on what your practice area is and what the competition looks like.

But we have also, for the past year and a half, introduced a product, which is just a website restructure so that you are getting that coding and that technical in the backend.

But for the one-offs and for the really determined DIY lawyers, this is an excellent product because it allows you to DIY the content, DIY the link building and the local have us be your technical folks. 

You have a dedicated account manager and we even give you guides on how to write the content. And then we help you optimize it and publish it.

So it's a really cool, do-it-yourself kind of situation where the hard part is what we handle. 

MADDY:

The booster seats, the refreshed, and they go over and then, the manual to keep going on that upward path.

So appreciate you being here. Thank you so much.

If you're not already working with Smith.ai, you can benefit from BluShark Digital. You’ll get a hundred dollars off your first month with the code Blushark Digital.

And we will follow up with the recording so if you didn't catch all of this, you’d get the opportunity to watch the video later on and to share it with your friends and peers.

So thank you. 

NALINI:

And I can just drop my email and my phone number, guys. Feel free to text or call if you have questions or anything in there. 

MADDY:

Appreciate everyone, and feel free to reach out to us.

And there is also asking for your social handles so she can follow you and keep up to date with all the way to stuff dates and the past webinars. So, for sure, I know that Nalini does have a social presence herself, and so does BluShark so we will integrate.

And thank you, everyone. Enjoy the rest of your afternoon and talk to you soon. 

Questions? Contact Us.

Have any questions about Smith.ai's virtual receptionists services or anything else mentioned in this webinar? Call us at (650) 727-6484 or email us at support@smith.ai.

If you’d like to learn more about how Smith.ai’s virtual receptionists can help your business, sign up for a free consultation with our team or get started risk-free with our 14-day money-back guarantee!

To watch more webinars like this one, check out our YouTube channel or access articles, guest blog posts, and other resources on the Smith.ai blog.

Elizabeth Lockwood

Elizabeth Lockwood is the content marketing associate at Smith.ai. She focuses specifically on writing and editing engaging articles, blog posts, and other forms of publication.

Try Smith.ai now

Accelerate growth with live receptionists and AI. Get started risk-free for 14 days!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Contact our sales team today at (650) 727-6484 or schedule a call.

sign up for our newsletter

Thank you!
Your submission has been received.
Yikes! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Categories