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Did you know there is more to practicelaw than just forms?  practicelaw is designed to be a repository of resources intended to help your practice.  Similarly, the MSBA’s practiceblawg is a blog for the Association to share with you how the MSBA can help you improve your efficiency and grow your practice.  The MSBA offers members a number of products and services and is always looking for ways to better serve its members and provide greater value.

Got questions, complaints, suggestions, or any thoughts in general?  Let us know: feedback@mnbar.org

One DIY Approach to SEO

by Joe Kaczrowski | Apr 08, 2015
Whether you spent your hard-earned money or invested your blood, sweat and tears into its development, now that you have your website up and running how do you get people to find it? Maybe you've heard it mentioned that "SEO" is a necessity in today's market. There are a lot of resources out there for the entrepreneurial do-it-yourself-ers and several companies that specialize in SEO work for everyone else.

So what is SEO and why is it important?  SEO is yet another three-letter acronym, in this case standing for "Search Engine Optimization." And what does that mean? Basically it is the process by which you seek to improve how prominently your website shows up in search results in Google and other search engines. And why is that important? Well, depending on the specific source, the number of clicks per result drops off significantly after the top 3 (or top 5 or whatever).

Now that you've spent all that time and/or money building your website, is it all for naught if you don't spend even more on SEO? Unfortunately the answer is maybe. If your website was designed following best practices and with SEO concepts in mind, your site's organic search performance may suffice. However, according to avvo.com, many small firm lawyers spend $1,500 per month on SEO.

Is there another option? According to a recent Lawyernomics post specialization may be the key. In the example, the author designed two sites with very specific practice areas and target geographic regions. The author even notes that the two sites in the example outperformed several sites for which tens of thousands of dollars had been spent on SEO. Why? Specialized sites answer very discrete questions, which can lead to strong "time to long click" metrics (basically a measure rewarding sites where the user searches a keyword, clicks to the site, finds the answer, and is done searching).

Google (and other search engines) are constantly updating its search algorithms. In the early days of the Internet, you could increase your site's location in search results by embedding popular search terms on your pages. Search engines like Google now penalize pages for these sort of 'black hat' tactics. While you may achieve some short-term success trying to game the system, with the frequent updates to the search algorithms it is generally easier (and cheaper) to use best practices for web design and SEO which have a greater chance of long-term viability.

So how do you create a specialized site for your practice? The avvo.com article identifies three steps with a total cost of less than $3,000. First, choose a domain name that is at least a partial match for your target keyword(s). Second, develop content that answers common questions in that area (think frequently asked questions from your clients). And third, create your website, which, of course, is a fairly substantial step.

Some things to remember when building your site: include contact information or a form on each page, try to use keywords in your pages (in-line and in the meta-tags), install Google Analytics (Google has a lot of good resources to get you up and running, including this page), and link to your new site from your social media profiles and various profile pages (LinkedIn, Facebook, avvo.com, MN Find a Lawyer, etc.). Rumor has it the new Google algorithm will penalize sites that are not optimized for mobile devices, so be sure to check the responsiveness of your website design.

Wondering how long it will take for your website to start showing up in Google search results? A recent experiment suggests your wait may be about 22 days...