4 Marketing Strategies Your Law Firm Can’t Win Without

By Harlan Schillinger.
What you don’t know, you don’t know. You’ve probably heard that phrase before. But for lawyers, it’s especially apropos. Because along with big attorney egos come big misses, even at some of the top law firms in the country.

When business is good, lawyers ignore marketing strategy, right?

Lawyers deal with what is only in front of them.

They’re getting leads, booking clients and winning cases. That can lead to three dangerous thoughts:

  • I’ve got everything else figured out.
  • I’ve got so much business coming in that I don’t need to invest in putting anything out there.
  • How can I take on more clients, I am so busy now?

That’s a mistake. And it could come back to bite your whole practice. Inevitably a dry spell will come. You may start attracting the wrong kinds of clients. And cases won’t convert the way they used to.

If you continue to ignore modern legal marketing, you will become a dinosaur. Eventually, your practice may be perceived as extinct. Want to stay alive — and thrive? You must stay current on these key marketing strategies.

1| Competitive analysis

How does your firm stack up against other attorneys in your practice areas? You have to know what other law firms are doing so you can outplay them in the existing market. Can you market differently in 2019? Can you test an advertising avenue that others haven’t?

How to improve: Ask your advertising firm to gather as much competitive media and market data as possible. Constantly monitor other lawyers’ TV commercials. By knowing competitors’ marketing and advertising strategies, you can plan smarter and make your approach proactive rather than reactive. Find out what they are NOT doing.

2| Intake & conversion

Few law firms have formalized front desks, intake systems, and software to adequately track, monitor and follow up on the leads they are generating. Additionally, if your firm is investing in popular PPC campaigns or broadcast advertising to obtain valuable leads, it’s a total waste not to track how those leads actually convert. You must have CRM Tracking software such as LeadDocket.com in place to find out what you don’t know.

How to improve: “Secret shop” your firm or record your incoming new calls. Dial your intake or front desk people to get a sense of tone, process, and follow-up procedures. See what’s effective and what you need to change. Likewise, follow up on “no-shows.” A lot of lawyers use the excuse that if a lead was booked but the person never showed up for an appointment, it wasn’t a case the firm wanted anyway. But is that really true? You paid for that lead. At least learn why they didn’t show. Actually, they probably went somewhere else.

 3| Metrics & measurability

Ever heard of the 2% difference? Lead-generation research shows that a margin as small as 2% can make a big difference in the competitive legal industry. So what are top firms doing slightly better than you? How you can leverage your brand’s advantages or attributes to gain even a small edge?

How to improve: Put a tracking system in place. Leverage free web-based programs or engage your legal marketing agency to read and report on the metrics that tie directly to ROI. Your best option is to install great CRM tracking software. Again, it will tell you what you don’t know. Are there major gaps in your conversion rates? Real ROI insight comes from measuring. Metrics can provide a clear understanding of how your marketing dollars are paying you back.

The truth is; What You Don’t Know You Don’t Know. Software is your best option. Anything else, you’re kidding yourself, Sorry.

4| Reputation

Sure, friends’ feedback, regular referrals, and big case wins can prove that you’re pretty good at what you do. But money, greed, egos and other external vices can blind us to reality. Do you truly understand how the public perceives your law firm? Do you know how the community identifies with the messages you are sending?

How to improve: Start investigating whether you have the right reputation—and how you can shift marketing to get the one you want. For example, use positive things people are saying about your firm right now—through referrals from past clients, online reviews, social media chatter—to fuel and shape public perception. Google Reviews is a Must!

To avoid extinction, you have to be proactive in marketing. Having strategic vision requires studying the competition; looking at key performance indicators; drilling down on digital analytics; having the resources at hand to try something different when whatever was working isn’t working anymore; and always, always, executing with under the right intelligence.

Make sure you are working with an agency or advertising guru that tracks, works hard and is willing to try new things. Ask the tough questions about your agency. Loyalty is great. Just make sure you are working with the right people.

You, and only you, are responsible for the marketing you put out—and the cases you take in. You get what you ask for and remember, The Value of the case is everything.

PS: Early to Bed, Early to Rise, Work your Ass off and Advertise!

Harlan Schillinger is a legal marketing expert in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

Harlan has worked with more than 120 law firms in over 98 markets throughout North America. Currently, he is consulting privately only with lawyers who share his vision of increasing business, being accountable and obtaining high-value cases. He takes, perhaps, the most unique and accountable approach to Intake and conversion.

Currently, Harlan is working with and in charge of business development Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys. With offices nationally, Glen has one of the largest and most successful plaintiff’s practices in America. The firm already takes on well over 1,500 cases a month, and Harlan is positioning the firm for even more growth.

Empowering Your Ambassador of First Impressions

Your AFI is the very first person to speak and greet everyone that calls your firm, everyone!

Your AFI is the very first person to speak and greet everyone that calls your firm, everyone!

By Harlan Schillinger.

Let’s start with, do you really know who your Ambassador of First Impressions really is?

Most lawyers don’t give the person who makes the firm’s biggest impression the biggest salary or even much recognition. Why? Well, usually that employee holds a position that’s considered lower ranking. But the opposite is actually true.

Your real “ambassador of first impressions” (AFI) Is your receptionist or may be a secretary, paralegal or executive assistant. By answering the phone, greeting prospective clients at the office and screening prospective clients, this person makes your firm’s powerful first impression.

These are critical responsibilities. In effect, your AFI represents almost everything about your firm. As such, the importance of this role should not be overlooked — or undercompensated.

Your AFI is the very first person to speak and greet everyone that calls your firm, everyone!

What happens when people call?

Depending on the size of your legal practice, staff or market, your firm could be spending thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, to get people to call with potential cases. But what happens then?

  • Do you know what kind of impression your key phone manager is making?
  • Is your AFI accountable for following a standard screening process?
  • Does this gatekeeper have the tools to do his or her job well?
  • What happens when you call your own law firm? Does the person answering the phone use a tone that makes you feel valued — or uncomfortable?
  • Is there any compassion?
  • Are you welcomed in a sincere way?
  • Did you feel recognized and important?
  • Did you feel wanted and invited?

If you’re unsure of the answers to these questions, this is a great place to start building the role of ambassador of first impressions at your law firm.

How to promote your ambassador of first impressions

When a new prospect or even an existing client calls your office, this interaction can completely set the tone of the next action. It’s that important.

So, start to view the AFI role for what it really is: the person you want on the firing line each and every day. This realization could raise some tough questions. For example, you might not have the right person in place; this might currently be a shared role that’s creating inconsistency and needs to become a singular position; you might need to move a more dynamic, engaging existing staff member into the AFI role to elevate its importance. You may have to simply hire the right person to represent you.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to defining this critical function in any law firm:

  • Identify who plays the AFI role/s right now.
  • Decide whether it’s the right person or whether you need a new intake personality.
  • Ask a few “undercover” callers to phone the office and share their impressions of that initial interaction.
  • Define the new expectations of this role.
  • Identify what tools could help your ambassador work smarter, faster and more autonomously.
  • Train this person in phone etiquette. There are many resources that can help with this.
  • Promote the importance of your ambassador of first impressions throughout the firm.
  • With the new responsibility, may come a higher salary. Give your AFI a promotion.
  • Monitor and adjust over time. You can record calls and listen in regularly to see how your ambassador is performing.
  • Recording your intake calls is so important. By doing so, you will know exactly what your situation is. If you follow the process, you will know more about your AFI and Your Intake and Conversion than anything else you can do.

Phone communication is priority No. 1

Most initial law firm communications continue to take place over the phone. Many prospective clients see advertising and call an 800 number for more information. That means your firm’s phone communication should be priority No. 1.

However, one of the biggest gaps in phone communication with victims in particular is having the natural empathy to be able to put yourself in that caller’s shoes. Often when people take the step to call a law firm they are already in a stressful, precarious situation. They may not be as friendly or focused as if you met them outside of this predicament.

Communicating with victims requires a calm and patient personality. The conversation cannot be robotic. Often the AFI is not setting that impression by how cheery he or she comes across, but rather how sympathetic he or she is when communicating with people in distress.

The legal profession is not exactly known for scoring off the charts in the empathy category. In fact, it really lacks empathy!

So, this alone could be the largest ask you make of your ambassador of first impressions. But remember, you can teach an employee the mechanics of phone communication, but you cannot teach personality. Hire personality.

More tools for making a great first impression

One way to narrow in on the impression you want your firm to make is by identifying a competitor that you know is already winning in this area. Or you could identify a company outside of legal space that you just like doing business with. Ask yourself why you do business with them?

  • What do you like about how you’re treated when you call this business?
  • What aspects do you appreciate most: tone, consistency or follow-up?
  • What steps can you start taking to match this level of empathy?

Lastly, if you are not already doing so, dial in your intake style by starting to record all the calls coming into your firm. You can use the most challenging ones to train your ambassador in dealing with difficult communication. After that, the rest will feel easy!

Your Ambassador of First Impressions has a big job representing your firm. Make sure this position is not only acknowledged but also promoted as one of the most appreciated and valued roles in your legal practice.

Harlan Schillinger has worked with more than 120 law firms in over 98 markets throughout North America. Currently, he is consulting privately only with lawyers who share his vision of increasing business, being accountable and obtaining high-value cases. He takes, perhaps, the most unique and accountable approach to Intake and conversion.

Currently, Harlan is working with and in charge of business development Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys. With offices nationally, Glen has one of the largest and most successful plaintiff’s practices in America. The firm already takes on well over 1,500 cases a month, and Harlan is positioning the firm for even more growth.

Why Building A Legal Brand Is Big Business: Is Your Firm A Brand Or A Name?

Some of the country’s most high-profile lawyers and firms now are household names. You could argue that attorney Glen Lerner’s legal brand is not unlike like Ellen or Oprah of the talk-show world.

But do you think those brands built themselves?

Making a name as an attorney does not happen by chance, overnight or without a huge effort. The “magic” is called branding. And the best businesses in the world rely on this active, intentional process to support everything they do and say. In everything they do and say!

What Does Branding in the Law Space Mean?

While you might know you are a great lawyer because you have extensive experience, a caseload that keeps you busy or lots of positive testimonials from former clients, you can’t count on everybody else to know that now — or ever.

Prospective clients won’t know how good you are, what you stand for or why you really matter in the legal marketplace unless you do. That’s what a solidly identified brand does for you in the long run: It sends a consistent message about what kind of lawyer you are and what kind of cases you want to attract. When you see or hear the brand, you know what they do instantly.

Unfortunately, attorneys overlook the importance of brand all the time. They often use excuses like “I’m too busy to think about branding or marketing,” “People already know my name,” or “Aren’t there Law Society regulations about how I can advertise myself?” Here’s the best one, “I already have a brand.”

All of these justifications are short-sighted. Why? Because one day the caseload might not be there. And do you really know the number of people who “know your name” outside of the exclusive legal community? Oh, and, branding isn’t really advertising anyway.

The Unmatched Benefits of Building a Brand

So how do you start to understand the value of building a brand for your law practice? Let’s look at the unparalleled benefits of really starting to make yourself or your firm a household name.

At its most essential level, a brand is the sum of what other people think about you. That sounds simplistic, but it’s really quite complex, especially if you want to be known for something deeper and longer lasting than the best 1-800 number in the state.

Whether you have an established practice or you are a new lawyer trying to compete in the flooded legal sector, remember that name or number recognition is just one element of a brand — a defining descriptor — not the sum of who you are and what you stand for.

A brand must be built, but when it starts paying off it does so in a way that will truly future-proof your legal career. Instead of hoping that clients will come to you solely from referrals or willing it so, you can use your brand to actively attract the kind of cases you really want to work on.

So start to identify your most unique skills, traits, values, and perspectives. These 3–5 essential brand attributes will establish a consistent pathway and platform for all your marketing messages. Maybe you are an expert in the competitive space of injury law, but have a uniquely empathetic way of connecting with clients. Or your research and interest in the area of worker’s compensation is your calling card. Or your firm has mastered personalizing the process of mass torts. Or you’re bilingual and know there is a whole realm of work in advocacy for the underserved.

Whatever you commit to, your brand should represent the values you hold true — a measured mix of where you came from and where you want to go, what you care about and what centers your existing practice. Having a brand with that kind of depth will almost certainly lead to more of everything — new business, new networking opportunities, new speaking engagements and new cases.

While you might not think you have the time or knowledge to establish your personal legal brand, or you think the gap is too wide to play in the same space as the top attorneys, dismiss that line of thinking right now.

Attorneys who take branding seriously and have the foresight to learn and market around what they truly stand for will set themselves up for longevity in an unpredictable industry.

Consider more than just marketing your name and a lawyer who does personal injury versus an entire brand. When you hear a brand, you are instantaneously attracted and know exactly what they do.

Harlan Schillinger is a Legal Marketing Expert in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

Harlan Schillinger has worked with more than 120 law firms in over 98 markets throughout North America. Currently, he is consulting privately only with lawyers who share his vision of increasing business, being accountable and obtaining high-value cases. He takes, perhaps, the most unique and accountable approach to Intake and conversion.

Currently, Harlan is working with and in charge of business development Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys. With offices nationally, Glen has one of the largest and most successful plaintiff’s practices in America. The firm already takes on well over 1,500 cases a month, and Harlan is positioning the firm for even more growth.

Watch the Recording of “How to Get New Business from Your In-Person Marketing”

business developmentWhat: Watch the video recording of the webinar, “How to Get New Business from Your In-Person Marketing”

Who: presented by Larry Bodine, the Editor of The National Trial Lawyers website and Sr. Legal Marketing Strategist of LawLytics.

Why: You will discover:

  • Top business-generating techniques of rainmakers.
  • Getting quality contacts at social functions.
  • Networking with a purpose.
  • Easily connecting with people.
  • Your 30-second commercial.
  • Creating a crowd where everybody knows your name.
  • Getting referrals from clients.
  • Getting referrals from professionals.
  • Being active in an organization.
  • How to get on the Board of Directors.
  • How public speaking generates new business.
  • Follow-up faux pas.

Watch the recording at:  https://register.gotowebinar.com/recording/8873050430818621707

Learn from an expert

Are you marketing more these days and getting less in return? Then you are the perfect attorney to watch our free webinar that reveals the most effective in-person marketing techniques that reliably produce new business.

Many attorneys are frustrated because they devote effort and money to grow their law firms, and they get the feeling that some or all of it is wasted. For answers, you’ll want to hear from attorney Larry Bodine.

Larry, who is the Editor of The National Trial Lawyers website and Sr. Legal Marketing Strategist of LawLytics, has been advising lawyers on business development since the 1990s. He will cover the face-to-face methods that reliably produce new files and new clients.

In-person marketing is essential to growing a law firm. Larry will present the best of tried-and-true plus shiny-and-new business development techniques that will work for you.

We’ll cover where clients come from, the 4 tactics that rainmakers use to get new business, networking with a purpose, elements of a 30-second commercial and getting referrals.

Larry Bodine

Larry Bodine

About our presenter:

Larry Bodine is a marketing writer and editor who helps law firms get more customers and generate more revenue with content marketing. An attorney, journalist and marketer, he brings the skills to business messaging that produce results.

He is the Editor of The National Trial lawyers website and Editor of the soon-to-be launched News.law website

Bodine is the Senior Legal Marketing Strategist for LawLytics, the #1 choice for websites for small law firms.

Recent projects include:

  • Law Tigers association of motorcycle attorneys: 28-page
    downloadable e-book on niche marketing
    , and two email marketing
    campaigns with 10 messages per campaign.
  • LawLytics Legal Marketing Suite: Developed the web strategy for a local Maryland law firm to become the national source of information about Taxotere mass tort litigation. see https://www.gilmanbedigian.com/taxotere
  • Mass Tort Nexus: wrote daily blog posts for an educational company about product liability cases involving dangerous drugs and medical devices. See https://goo.gl/RwKnsi
  • Larry Bodine Marketing Blog: author of a legal marketing blog for more than 15 years on business development for attorneys. https://www.larrybodine.com/blog
  • Lawyers.com: served as editor-in-chief of consumer website for LexisNexis for three years.

Since he launched his consulting practice in 2000, Larry has advised more than 250 law firms — as large as a 3,000-lawyer global law firm and as small as a husband-wife litigation boutique – on their business development strategies and tactics, and Web
sites. For more information, see www.LarryBodine.com. He is a cum laude graduate of both Seton Hall University Law School and Amherst College.


5 SEO Practices That Will Hurt Your Law Firm Website (and 3 That Will Help)

SEO GoogleStepping into the world of search engine optimization for the first time can be bewildering. At times it can seem like all of the “experts” on the subject have a different idea of what constitutes “best practices.” Also, the fact that the specific functions of search engine algorithms are kept secret from the public does not make the learning process any easier.

Worst of all, SEO professionals (SEOs) and marketing salespeople often sell services to attorneys under the guise of SEO, even when those services have nothing to do with SEO whatsoever (as in the case of reselling pay-per-click ads, for instance), and might actually damage the visibility of your website on search engine results pages (SERPs) in the long run.

As you begin your personal foray into SEO for your law firm website, you will want to familiarize yourself with the webmaster guidelines for each search engine (Google, Bing, and Yahoo are still the largest search engines in the US). Adhering to the webmaster guidelines of search engines will help your website to avoid the de-ranking associated with algorithmic updates meant to target webspam. Straying outside of those guidelines, however, can land your website a search engine penalty, or could even cause your site to be de-indexed from a search engine altogether.

The information contained in this post will help you stay in the good graces of search engines while avoiding penalties associated with so-called “black hat” SEO activities. For a more complete introduction to law firm SEO, download the free eBook, “SEO Basics for Lawyers,” published this year by LawLytics.


SEO Tactics That Will Hurt Your Law Firm Website

Set It and Forget It

Some attorneys operate under the assumption that their law firm website will function much in the same way as a sign hanging outside of their office. These attorneys believe that once their site is live, their work on the website is done, and the site can be left alone to begin gathering leads for them independently. Unfortunately, this is not true.

Websites are more like living organisms than static pieces of marketing material. They need to be updated and added to regularly in order to maximize their value to your law firm. In fact, Google appears to use the “freshness” of content as a ranking signal, meaning that sites which are left alone for long periods of time may experience “decay” with regard to their visibility on SERPs.

Further, because attorney websites affect the “future happiness, health or financial stability” of search engine users, according to Google, it refers to them as “Your Money or Your Life Pages.” The search engine holds these sites to a higher standard than those belonging to local restaurants or entertainment sites, for example, and therefore requires that attorney sites are updated with regularity.

The process of gaining visibility on SERPs through “white hat” SEO tactics (those which are within the boundaries of search engine webmaster guidelines) is not one that lends itself to overnight success. Rather, the best and most trusted sites need to be nurtured, improved, and updated to ensure that the information provided therein is always accurate, informative, up-to-date, and valuable to search engine users.

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Hiring the Wrong SEO Company

There are a number of ways in which hiring the wrong SEO professional can wind up hurting your law firm. Most importantly, attorneys will always be held responsible for any advertising—including online advertising—done on behalf of their firms. Therefore, if your SEO provider is not well-versed in legal ethics they could accidentally violate an ethics rule on your behalf. Simple mistakes—like labeling your firm as “the best” in its area of practice, or changing the wording of a phrase in a way that alters its legal meaning—can attract negative attention from your peers and disciplinary authorities.

Often, SEOs bill themselves as “experts” or “specialists” in the field of legal marketing, though there is no standard for how much experience qualifies one as an SEO expert. Nor is there an equivalent of the MPRE that SEOs must take to prove that they understand how to act ethically in their business practices. It’s not uncommon for law firm SEO “specialists” to also claim specialties in any number of unrelated fields—from plumbing to eCommerce—in addition to “specializing” in law firm SEO.

Some SEOs work outside of webmaster guidelines and will perform “black hat” practices as part of their “services.” Should you allow a “black hat” SEO to work for your law firm, their tactics could land your website with a search engine penalty that may be difficult, or even impossible, to recover from. For these reasons, it’s a good idea for attorneys to either handle their SEO efforts themselves, or to at least fully vet any SEO they intend to hire to work on their behalf. (LawLytics, for example, makes it easy to do-it-yourself, or to safely delegate tasks to qualified, knowledgeable professionals.)


Keyword Stuffing

In the early days of search engines, it was relatively easy to trick algorithms into ranking sites higher in SERPs than those sites merited on their own. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, one of the most popular black hat SEO methods was to stuff keywords on sites at high densities, sometimes in ways that made those keywords invisible to users but still indexable by web crawlers. But Google caught on to many of those tactics quickly and started combating them with updates to its algorithm. The value of keyword stuffing has been on a rapid decline since Google’s “Florida” update in 2003, and more complicated methods of keyword stuffing (such as hidden text and keyword-stuffed meta tags) were addressed by later updates, most notably the Panda and Penguin updates of 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Web crawlers still use keywords as signals to help index content, though the presence of keywords in unnaturally high densities now serves as a spam signal to the search engine and will actually hurt a website’s SEO. Writing content for your website with users in mind rather than search engines should naturally, as a byproduct of good writing, include keywords at a favorable density, so there is no need to stuff extra keywords into your content for the sake of SEO.

Blog labeled with key places on a web page.

Using keywords in key places can still help crawlers index your online content, but keyword stuffing will hurt your site’s SEO.

Finally, an artificial intelligence element known as “machine learning” was incorporated into Google’s search algorithm with the implementation of its RankBrain feature in 2015. This feature helps the search engine to better understand synonyms and user intention based on context clues, meaning that the SEO value of specific keywords will likely continue to lose traction as a ranking signal over time.


Link Exchanges and Link Schemes

When Google was founded in 1998, it used a scoring system called PageRank to evaluate the “importance” of a website. The idea was that external links essentially served as endorsements. Ergo, the more links pointing to a particular page, the more endorsements it had and the better its ranking should be. But spammers and black hat SEOs got wise to this game and developed ways to cheat it. Simple link exchanges formed (e.g., “Link to my site, and I’ll link to yours.”), and as Google got better at detecting them, they evolved into more complicated “web rings” and “link prisms” that traded links across multiple sites in an effort to conceal that the exchange was taking place.

Companies developed solely to conduct the “business” of buying, selling, and distributing links across the web. Spammy websites appeared that served no purpose other than to provide long lists of purchased links. For many years, trading in link schemes seemed to work.

Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.


Today, the presence and quality of external links pointing to a site is still a factor when it comes to rankings on SERPs. But Google and other search engines have gotten much better at detecting and penalizing link schemes. Google has also begun evaluating the quality of external links more carefully and now associates websites with the sites they link to, as well as the sites linking to them (an association known as a site’s “link neighborhood”).

Some link exchanges still exist today, though their effectiveness and value has plunged dramatically (and your firm’s past participation in one can be a toxic asset which you must affirmatively disavow). Though some online visibility may be obtained in the short run through participation in a link scheme, if caught, offenders can be hit with a manual penalty (a rankings penalty that is applied manually by a search engine employee) from a search engine. Such a penalty not only affects the visibility of a site on SERPs, but it also instantly negates the value of those links (along with whatever it cost to get them in the first place). And, unless those links are removed—which can be difficult to accomplish—it can be extremely difficult to pull your site up from a penalty applied as a result of participation in a link exchange.

In short, if someone asks you to participate in a link scheme, or to pay to have links placed for you across the web, know that it’s against Google’s guidelines to do so, and the risk of participation usually outweighs its SEO value. It is better to earn links to your site the old fashioned way—by providing content on your website that is good enough to warrant a citation elsewhere on the web. People link to good content that provides valuable information without asking for or accepting compensation. And these organically placed links will be your site’s most valuable endorsements.


Providing Thin and/or Duplicate Content

Google has tasked itself with the stated mission to “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” And because the bulk of the company’s revenue comes from selling pay-per-click ads (PPCs) that appear on SERPs following relevant searches, the company’s business model depends on returning the best information possible for each and every query it processes. Therefore, returning low-quality results for searches is bad for a search engine’s business, and providing thin, low-quality content for the search engine to index is bad for your website’s SEO.

But what exactly is thin content? Google’s Panda update targeted sites called “content farms,” which existed for the sole purpose of inflating site rankings by providing low-quality content with high keyword densities. Often, these “articles” were auto-generated by software programs, or were composed of long lists of keywords that were incomprehensible when read by human users.

Thin content is essentially content that is made with search engines, as opposed to search engine users, in mind. If the content on your website provides value to users in the form of thoughtful, original information meant to answer specific questions, Google will register that content as high-quality. If you are ranking well for a search phrase like “What should I do if I’m charged with a DUI in Michigan?”—but you direct users from that search result to a page displaying only your law firm’s contact information—that’s thin content. Duplicate content or content that is “scraped” from another online source is considered thin. This includes practice area pages on your law firm website that are cut-and-pasted from one another with only the location information (such as the city or county name) changed between them.

Keep your potential clients top-of-mind when you write content for your site, and do your best to write in a way that will appeal to those clients, and you can avoid search engine penalties associated with publishing low-quality content on your site.


SEO Tactics That Will Help Your Law Firm Website

Make Sure Your Website is Secure

Transfer Layer Security (TLS; also known as “secure sockets layer,” or SSL) is a third-party certificate that indicates that the information transmitted between your site and its users is encrypted and safe from hackers. It is this certificate that differentiates a site served over older HTTP communication protocols (the insecure version) and HTTPS (the secure version). In January of 2017, Google began showing a warning in its Chrome browser for insecure sites that request password or credit card information. In July 2018, all sites without a TLS/SSL certificate will come with a warning in Chrome.

Chrome is the market-leading browser as of this writing, with more than 57 percent of market share (Apple’s Safari is second with less than 15 percent). Though it may not affect your site’s placement on SERPs yet, user engagement metrics that suffer as a result of this warning may have a negative effect on your site’s SEO in the near future. Therefore, if your site is not served over a secure HTTPS protocol, it’s a good idea to begin migrating to a secure platform sooner rather than later.


Think Locally

Search engines take a user’s location into account during searches. Therefore, search engines sometimes return local information for searches that do not specifically include local terminology. Including local information on your law firm website can help you corner the market on certain local search terms. Many attorneys write content that is too general to be returned for local search results. Many marketing and SEO companies typically do not have the bandwidth or regional knowledge necessary to include such information on the websites they manage without making the local content spammy. This creates an opportunity for your law firm website to address specific local queries relevant to your practice area that are likely to be of interest to your potential clients.

Even when the relevant laws are created at the state level, many of your potential clients—especially those not well-versed in the law—will search for information on the local level. This is because search engines and your potential clients tend to think locally, not legally. There are many ways to add local information to your law firm website, and doing so can help boost your local SEO, and therefore, drive more potential clients to your law firm.


Focus on Long-Tail Search Terms

Many attorneys don’t understand how their potential clients search for legal information online. Specifically, attorneys may assume that their potential clients know up front that they need an attorney and will, therefore, perform a search like “criminal defense attorney New York” or “personal injury lawyer Seattle.” For this reason, competition for general keywords and search phrases tends to be fierce and costly. General legal search phrases tend to be among the most expensive search terms to bid on, and maintaining a high ranking on SERPs for those phrases is usually an uphill and sustained battle.

The fact of the matter is that your potential clients may not know that they need an attorney as soon as they begin facing a particular legal issue. Many will begin searching for specific information that applies to their situation first. Thus, long before searching for “Baltimore birth injury lawyer,” a potential client might search for “injury from extraction device during birth.” It is at this point that you want to put yourself in front of potential clients by capitalizing on the often-undervalued, yet highly convertible long-tail search phrases.

Chart showing decreased competition and increased conversion rate for long-tail searches.

Competition for long-tail search terms is less fierce. Long-tail searches are also more likely to convert searchers to clients.

Long-tail search phrases are those which contain more than a few words, including complete questions. By anticipating the questions that your potential clients will ask on search engines, and then answering them one-at-a-time, attorneys can capture the attention of potential clients early, and therefore remain top-of-mind with those potential clients when they decide to seek counsel. Competition for long-tail phrases tends to be less intense than for general searches, and conversion rates for long-tail searches tend to be higher than conversion rates for shorter phrases. Further, with the rising prevalence of voice search, the average search phrase is getting longer and more conversational, meaning that targeting such phrases on your website now is likely to continue to pay off, long-term.


Craig Baker

Craig Baker

Craig Baker is a former journalist with several years of experience working in the marketing sector. He currently creates educational blog posts, eBooks, and infographics at LawLytics, the leading online legal marketing platform for lawyers who want to grow their marketing without wasting time or money.

Webinar: How to Get 7 Figure Injury Cases without Spending a Dollar

John Fisher is a medical malpractice attorney for plaintiffs in New York.

John Fisher will show you how to build a seven-figure injury law practice on a shoe-string budget.

Webinar Title: The Secrets of Lawyer-to-Lawyer Referral Based Marketing
When: Wednesday, 21 February 2018, at 2:00 PM Eastern
Hosts: John Fisher and Larry Bodine

Click here to register for this webinar

Attendance is free, but space is limited.

Where do you get your best cases? It’s no secret, you get your best cases from lawyer referrals. Then, why do lawyers have no systems for lawyer referrals?

This is really important. 98% of lawyers have no system for lawyer referrals. I’m going to show members of The National Trial Lawyers how to do it.

This system for lawyer referrals costs (almost) nothing and I’m going to show you everything. No secrets will be held back!

  • “What would it be like if you didn’t have to spend another dollar on mass marketing?”
  • “What would it be like if your overhead was paid…2 years ahead of time?”
  • “What would it be like if your clients never complain and think you’re an absolute rock star?”

What if you had a system that would (almost) guarantee a steady stream of high-quality referrals from lawyers…while reducing your marketing budget?

What if you had the freedom to pick only the best cases, while leaving the crappy cases for others?

How would you like to be a superstar among lawyers without spending another dollar on marketing?

John Fisher will show you how to build a seven-figure injury law practice on a shoe-string budget. If you are not getting the cases you want, you need to attend this webinar.

Are You Really Paying Attention to Your Business? Working in it or On it?

Harlan Schillinger is a Legal Marketing Expert in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

By Harlan Schillinger.

You might be working, but are you really working on what matters to the growth and positioning of your law firm? Probably not.

Most law practices, both large and small, around the country put way too much emphasis on reacting—to the phone calls and leads that come in the door—rather than building a forward-looking strategy for the future of the firm. After all, You have so much coming at you.

This is no way to become the innovative, thought-leading attorney you once envisioned for yourself. You must turn reactivity on its head—even when you’re making more money than you can count. Why? Because one day that random revenue stream might dry up before your eyes.

We see it all the time: Even when practices throw money at marketing, lawyers are far too quick to call vendors out when the advertising program, for example, fails. But that usually happens when attorneys don’t get vested in the future of the practice. Why? Because it takes time, research, relationships—and guts.

But the truth is this is low-hanging fruit. The best-positioned law firms in the country are taking action rather than making excuses. And the reality is every law firm can start marketing smarter right now.

Relationships are a requirement.

If you thought you could market without caring and involvement, sorry that game is up. When you invest in your people you are building relationships that pay off. But it’s not just about leading and rewarding your own staff—the people and paralegals who answer your phones, execute on marketing tactics and feed you leads. This also applies to your marketing vendors—the experts and firms who know digital marketing, TV advertising, and media placement. Believe us, they want you to be a partner in the process. They want your involvement. They want your communication. They want your partnership in a team effort.

When you hire someone—anyone—you can’t expect that person to do a good job just because you will it that way. You have to get involved in understanding their craft as much as they will rely on you to better understand the legal craft.

When was the last time you sat down with your employees and marketing agency to talk about intake? Do you understand how to work with your digital agency toward a common goal for moving the business forward? You can’t expect people to understand what you want and bank on stellar results unless you put the time into building relationships upfront and ongoing. Managing expectations is important. It’s just that simple.

Messaging matters more than you realize.

One of the biggest missed opportunities in legal marketing is messaging. Lawyers are often so focused on the end result—the calls come in the door—that they forget just whom they should be talking to and what those people really want to hear.

  • Are you separating yourself from your competitors?
  • What is the 2% difference between your firm and your competitor’s firms?

Nailing the right message to represent your practice, whether you’re communicating with audiences online or through a TV commercial, is critical. And, again, the success of this message is measured by your involvement in the process.

Only you know the history and nuances of your law practice. If you’re not willing to share these stories with your advertising team, there’s a good chance you will never reach the right target market. Or generate the public perception you want. Or attract the high-quality leads and cases your business needs to be sustainable.

Metrics count as an investment in the future.

By nature, attorneys like to count. They count clients, outcomes, cash, and accolades every day. But do they invest in understanding the marketing metrics that really count? Most likely not. In fact, ask yourself when was the last time you really looked at all of your matrix. Do you even have solid matrix tools in place to look at?

You might expect your marketing partners to keep track and alert you of how your website is performing, the number of clicks and likes your social media campaign gets, and how many people are calling the office after seeing a TV ad. But this is actually part of your work too if you are truly invested in your practice as a business and not just a job.

Learning the basics of Google Analytics, running and reviewing digital and advertising performance reports, and holding vendors accountable based on real-time data—these are the investments you must make to feel confident in future marketing decisions.

So, take more responsibility for your business. Don’t expect the people around you to read your mind. Communicate from the top down. Look for an opportunity and cash in on what you’ve been missing. It might require building some better relationships, making your messages matter and looking at the facts and figures. But you’re already pretty good at lots of those things. It’s just time to apply those tactics to your marketing.

The reality is, you have to pay attention, be accountable and have tools and software in place to track everything. Communicate this to your staff and to your Vendor Partners. You will get a much better result. After all, “What You Don’t Know, You Don’t Know”!
Harlan Schillinger is a Legal Marketing Expert in Paradise Valley, Arizona. He can be reached at HarlanSchillinger@gmail.com and 303-817-7313. He has four decades of experience in legal advertising with a passion for legal marketing, intake, and conversion.


Harlan Schillinger has worked with more than 120 law firms in over 98 markets throughout North America. Currently, he is consulting privately only with lawyers who share his vision of increasing business, being accountable and obtaining high-value cases. He takes, perhaps, the most unique and accountable approach to Intake and conversion.

Currently, Harlan is working with and in charge of business development Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys. With offices nationally, Glen has one of the largest and most successful plaintiff’s practices in America. The firm already takes on well over 1,500 cases a month, and Harlan is positioning the firm for even more growth.

The New Year Is Here! Is Your Marketing Strategy in Place?

Harlan Schillinger, Legal Marketing Expert

By Harlan Schillinger.

As a new year is dawning, your marketing plan is yawning. It’s old. It’s tired. What you did in terms of marketing just last year may no longer be relevant — or aggressive enough.

Spin that to the positive, however, and the start of 2018 can be a time of strategic reflection and renewal. Take the pause you had over the holidays and put that energy toward something great — a masterful marketing plan that will carry you though the whole year.

Keep in mind that your competitors may not even have a strategic plan. Over 90% of law firms don’t. Make that your competitive edge — and get busy. Your 2018 marketing plan should be a comprehensive document or blueprint that outlines all business advertising and marketing efforts for the coming year. It should describe tactics for accomplishing each specific marketing objective within a set time frame.

The world is changing rapidly, and the best-laid marketing plans for 2018 will be those that quickly measure the failures and successes of last year while seeing farther into the future. Your plan should include historical data, future predictions, current marketing position, a discussion of the target market, and a description of the methods or strategies to achieve your marketing objectives. While a marketing plan should have a formal structure to keep you accountable, it should also be held as an informal, flexible document with room for tweaking as needed.

You know what they say about the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. So, stop the insanity by looking at your marketing tactics with a whole new perspective. You must ask yourself, where you want to be this year, next year and in five years.

To build a solid plan that’s relevant by today’s standards, you also have to dig in to the really hard questions, especially in the categories of competition, intake, digital analytics and advertising.


Start by doing a competitive analysis — a deep dive into your market for 2018. If you haven’t looked at what the competition is really executing on in a long time or even since last year, seize the moment.

Your advertising agency can help you assess your toughest competition by evaluating the effectiveness of their chosen marketing and advertising avenues. What are other lawyers in your market doing with traditional advertising, social media, content marketing and more? Just as important, though, is finding out what they’re not doing. Then use your resources to capitalize on that weakness.

If your legal advertising agency hasn’t sat down with you to work on a strategic plan that includes competitive analysis, fire them. Building a vision on knowing who’s doing what in the marketplace should be at the forefront of your marketing efforts for 2018.


When was the last time you took a hard look at your office’s intake department? If you are honest with yourself and really investigate with curiosity what you can be doing better, you will do better. We can always achieve more when we’re willing to look at the hardest parts of our businesses (usually the ones we’re in denial about, like intake).

Start with some simple yet direct inquires:

Do I even have a formal intake procedure?

Start to put the tools in place to make your intake process more consistent, streamlined and accountable.

Do I really know what I’m missing out on when it comes to intake?

If you don’t have a way to track when, where and how your calls come in, you are most certainly missing out on intake.

Have I considered software to help me manage intake?

Research the best system on the market to make the intake process simpler for your office to manage, track and realize ROI. Ask around. Who’s using what? How is it working? What’s new to the market?

Do I know what my true ROI is from all my marketing efforts?

If you’re not accounting for intake costs in your marketing budget, you’re guessing about ROI. You have to understand what each lead costs before you can study your firm’s true ROI.


What’s your marketing plan to reach 75 million millennials? With younger audiences living on their screens, it had better include digital marketing. Do you know how millennials act and what you have to do digitally to reach them? That’s where you should start.

Make 2018 your year to get up to speed on all the rich data and analytics you can be tracking through your digital marketing efforts. Your advertising agency can take the lead and be your guide, but don’t forget to advocate for your own marketing plan this year.

Start diving into these questions to steer your digital efforts in the right direction:

  • How often have you even looked at analytics about who’s using your website or social channels or reading your emails and eBooks?
  • How can I start to read and understand my own free reports, such as Google Analytics?
  • What are the most important diagnostic reports really telling me?
  • Can I be leveraging new technology like Google Play Books to get my message out there?
  • Have I embraced social media? How can I jump in yet be strategic?


While legal advertising bucks many trends, it doesn’t change the fact that in general the state of advertising has changed in 2018. You can no longer rely solely on the sway of broadcast advertising. Your strategy must be integrated with other forms of marketing to reach more people and new audiences everywhere they are.

To get more informed, you can start to ask the hard questions of your own advertising buyers and vendors.

  • Do you really understand what your advertising agency is doing for you?
  • Have you studied what your agency did in 2017 in order to build an effective plan for 2018?
  • Have you set clear objectives and expectations for this year’s marketing plan?

If this feels like a lot of questions, there’s a reason for that. The only way forward in marketing your law firm in 2018 is to understand where you’ve been — and where you should be headed to remain relevant. Building a gutsy marketing plan starts with asking real, hard questions.

Harlan Schillinger is a Legal Marketing Expert in Paradise Valley, Arizona. He can be reached at HarlanSchillinger@gmail.com and 303-817-7313. He has four decades of experience in legal advertising with a passion for legal marketing, intake and conversion.

Harlan has worked with more than 120 law firms in over 98 markets throughout North America. Currently, he is consulting privately only with lawyers who share his vision of increasing business, being accountable and obtaining high-value cases. He takes, perhaps, the most unique and accountable approach to Intake and conversion.

Currently, Harlan is working with and in charge of business development Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys. With offices nationally, Glen has one of the largest and most successful plaintiff’s practices in America. The firm already takes on well over 1,400 cases a month, and Harlan is positioning the firm for even more growth.

Attracting New Trucking Leads with the Web, TV and a Book

Dino Colombo is a successful personal injury attorney. Like you, he’s in a very competitive market and invests lots of money to capture the attention of prospects and make his phone ring.

He  has a great website. He advertises on TV. And he is constantly looking for new and better ways to engage his audience, generate new leads, and gain more clients.

His message is powerful, but his 15 and 30 second TV ads and YouTube videos – though effective and well produced – didn’t allow him to say very much. Dino wanted to find a way to say it differently.

Colombo, based in Morgantown, WV, has litigated complex personal injury and wrongful death cases for the past 26 years. Over those years, he has tried nearly 100 cases to verdict and has handled numerous appeals. His cases routinely involve permanent injury, such as brain injury or significant physical deformity.

A resource to his community

He markets by being a resource to his community and provide information for people searching for answers. He does this through the pages of his book.

Dino is now using his book, Never Settle for Less, in his TV advertising to attract more people to request a free copy of his book. Instead of saying the same things the other attorneys in his market are saying, Dino is saying a different message and offering a free resource in his book.

And when someone requests his book, Dino signs it to them and mails it to them. How many times have you received a signed copy of a book from the author? Do you think this makes an impact? Do you think they start to like Dino better? Do you think they will keep his book after they read it?

If you answered “yes” to all of those questions then you understand the power of being an author.

The book works to attract new leads. He uses it to engage with leads so they’ll come to know, like, and trust him more than his competitors. And he uses his book to retain clients for life. 

Dino can also use the book to gain referrals. By handing a few copies of his book to current clients whom he is helping, they will happily hand his book to their friends, neighbors, family members, and co-workers when they are discussing their case. This is a tremendous way to get his message into the hands of more people and become the authority in his market.

Dino found a way to take his message and say if differently. And now, Dino has a tool in his marketing arsenal that he’ll be using for the rest of his career. He paid for it once and it will be paying him back for the rest of his career.

Note: Dino’s advertising costs did not increase one penny. He was already running and paying for the TV ads. All he did was change the message and offer his book for free.

To stand out in today’s ultra-competitive market, you need to be different. The easiest way to do that is to become the author of your own book. You’ll be seen as the authority and you’ll convert more clients using your own book.

Will you make your own way or follow in their footsteps?

Michael DeLon is an author, marketing coach, and President of Paperback Expert

Michael DeLon is an author, marketing coach, and President of Paperback Expert. He can help you create your own book, become the recognized legal authority in your market, and use your book to convert more callers to clients and generate profits.

He can be reached at Michael@PaperbackExpert.com and (501) 539-0038.

The Marketing Lesson that Dale, Stephen and Mr. Hill Discovered

Dale Carnegie published How to Win Friends and Influence People and it changed his life.

Dale was different.

He had brains, talent, and a way with words. What he didn’t have was a way to tell his story in a powerful way. Sure, he could do what others were doing, but Dale was different. He chose another path.

Stephen, too, was savvy. Throughout his career, he studied human behavior and codified a process that was simple to comprehend, yet left his listeners wanting more. Stephen viewed the landscape to see how “they” did it and decided to choose another path.

And dear Mr. Hill; the grandfather of them all knew from the time he set out to interview the world’s wealthiest men knew precisely how he would reveal their secrets so others could learn from them.

Dale, Steven, and Mr. Hill all had something to say. They could have taken the road most traveled and joined the speaker circuit drumming up support for their way of doing things in hopes of generating income.

But they knew there was a better way.

That’s why they each chose to encapsulate their message in a book.

  • Dale Carnegie published How to Win Friends and Influence People and it changed his life.
  • Stephen Covey published The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and became a household word overnight.
  • Napoleon Hill published Think and Grow Rich and changed the way the world thinks.

An enduring platform

These men are legends and icons primarily because they published their thoughts in a book. Only through a book were they able to effectively communicate their message, ensure that it stayed around for years (do you own a copy of these books?), and position themselves as THE expert that others look to.

No other media creates such an enduring platform for your future like publishing your own book. You can speak all you want, write blogs and articles for websites, even record TV and radio commercials. Those are all good, but they pale in comparison to the status and credibility of being an author.

When you want to differentiate yourself, make certain your message stays around a long time, and earn more money than your competitors, you need to do things differently than the others. You need to publish your book.

Are you still wondering if this will work?

Just ask Dale, Stephen, or Mr. Hill.  Before they were published authors no one knew who they were. Today they are household names. THAT is great marketing.

How to Create Your Book

It’s pretty simple to put your name on a book these days, much easier than when Dale, Stephen, and Mr. Hill published their book).

You can publish one yourself (if you have the time). You can license one that someone else has written (a viable alternative). But nothing compares to having your own book that tells your story in your words.

When you are an author, you become an authority in the mind of others. You differentiate yourself from others who are saying the same message. You begin taking calls from prospects who are seeking you out.

Most people think authors earn money by selling their book. That is not the case for them… or for you.

You will earn more money by giving your book away. Give a signed copy of your book to every lead you receive. Every client. Every person you meet. Your book should become your ultimate business card.

Follow in their Footsteps

You get to choose your path. Will you follow the crowd and do what everyone else is doing so you end up looking just like them?

Or, will you choose a different path and set yourself apart as an expert, authority, and thought leader in your market?

Dale, Stephen, and Mr. Hill were pretty smart guys. They had something to say and found a powerful way to say it. And because of their choice, they became very wealthy by choosing a road less traveled.

Will you make your own way or follow in their footsteps?

Michael DeLon is an author, marketing coach, and President of Paperback Expert

Michael DeLon is an author, marketing coach, and President of Paperback Expert. He can help you create your own book, become The Recognized Legal Authority in your market, and use your book to convert more callers to clients and generate profits.

How to reach Michael:
Michael@PaperbackExpert.com and (501) 539-0038.