At this time of year, I am bombarded with directory surveys, rankings, and people changes. Associates make partner and general changes happen at the beginning of the year. I make it a habit to review our firm’s online profiles and update them so they are search optimized.
I will be the first one to tell you that I am not the world’s expert in search engine optimization, (I have a digital agency for that), but then again, who can be? It’s a pretty complex, ever changing area. Google has over 200 algorithms or rules for deciding how things are sorted and ranked.
What I do understand is that if you really want to appear and rise in search engine rankings, you need to be present, active, consistent, and relevant. Are you a PACR?
For clients to engage you for work, they have to find you and know what you can do for them. Can you be found? Do prospects know what you can do for them?
Are you even present online?
If you’re reading this article, you’re online. But are you really? Does your firm have you on its web site? Have you set up your LinkedIn profile? Are you providing online content and distributing it through your firm’s web site and LinkedIn?
There are few reasons not to be online today. If you are not, you are behind and the world is spinning around without you. There is more than enough research out today to provide ample evidence that your clients and prospects are using the Internet to find and validate firm and lawyer credentials. If you are not present online, you are invisible. And you know what happens then . . . perhaps a new career awaits you.
How many Simones are out there?
Have you searched your name? How many of you are out there? I have many competing alter egos. I could be an Aussie doctor, a Brazilian graduate, a psalmist, a marketer in Atlanta, an accountant, a musician, a banker, a hairdresser, a nurse, and even a male British member of Parliament! LinkedIn lists 117 Simone Hughes.
If I were an annoying marketer, I would suggest this is simply good basic personal branding. You need to find a name for yourself that is differentiated so it narrows down the search to just you, or only a few of you. You can insert your middle name or initial. You can insert your credentials (try not to sound too pompous as it’s probably not great for client impressions). Find a variation of your name that is unique. I use Simone Hughes MBA because my middle name and initial still have twins around the world! When you search for Simone Hughes MBA, there are only three entries instead of 117 on LinkedIn and I am the first one.
Now that you have found a unique name, you have to use this name consistently everywhere. Get your e-mail address, your profiles, your e-cards, your business cards, your signature, and all your name references changed to your unique name. This effort will allow you to rise to the top in search engines because you are aggregating all of your references and becoming “bigger” online.
Being consistent in your name extends to the remaining content in all of your online profiles. Find the time to update, correct, and repeat the same information in every source there is on you. You will be rewarded by being found more often than your peers. This is critical to driving inquiries.
Now that you are being found, you have to be relevant and answer the key questions “what can you do for me/my business?” and “why should I hire you?” By thinking through what you provide to clients, and what positive effect/benefit your services have on them, you will help people move from discovering you to hiring you.
Once you determine your “client value statements” — repeat them in every profile you have using the same words.
A note about finding relevant words from the client perspective: Try to avoid legal jargon and do some research on how clients think about what legal services they need and what they call them. Finding these client words and using them consistently and repeatedly will also help you appear when clients search on words they use. Ask your marketer about tagging key words so you rise and rank even higher in searches.
Ah, and just when you thought you might be done! Nope. You are never finished in today’s online world. To continually be found and selected you need to be active. Active means, keeping your profile up to date while remembering to consistently and repeatedly use your name, key words, and client value statements. Stale, dated material drops in rank. Publish, update. Repeat.
Be a PACR
Be present, active, consistent, and relevant. You will have the upper hand in being found and hired.