Newsjacking To Build Your Audience

You may not know the term “Newsjacking,” but you probably know it when you see it. Blogs, social media accounts, and even cable news networks will use top trending news stories to get readers’ attention and build their audience. Continue reading

Is It Time for a Website Tune Up?

If you’re reading this blog, you probably already agree that lawyers (and other business professionals) need websites to compete in today’s market. I probably don’t need to convince you that your website will drive clients to you or that you need to be visible online. But if you were an early adopter to the lawyer-website marketing strategy, it may be time for a tune up.

Web marketing strategies change over time. When the big marketing companies started their push to get lawyers on the web, search engines were using different algorithms. Marketing experts encouraged you to cram as many keywords as possible into your web content so that no matter how the client looked for you, there you would be.

This resulted in long, tedious, redundant, unreadable, and monotonous websites. (See what I did there? Now picture it filling the whole page.) Paragraphs were long, dense, and sometimes difficult to read as web designers toyed with new color pallets. Pictures were few and words were many because, simply put, the search engine, and not the person doing the search was the primary target.

Fast forward to today. The best websites are optimized for mobile, include vibrant pictures, and are easy to read. Content is pared down to the bare minimum to get the point across. Keywords have been relegated to the mysterious world of “metadata.” In short, websites are now reader-focused.

But if you got on the bandwagon of attorney websites early, you may still have a sluggish, dense website that’s hurting you more than it’s helping. That’s because the search-engine-focused sites are eyesores. Readers have so many sources for information that if what they see is difficult to read, they will move on quickly.

The good news is that all that old content laid the groundwork for the new. Buried in all those redundant keywords is the gem of what your firm actually does, and does well. You just need a tune up to clear out the gunk and let your site run more smoothly.

A high quality web designer can help you adjust your layout and images to match your brand, but they can be expensive. Cut some of those costs by having your content ready to go. Lisa Schmidt, a ghostwriter for Legal Linguist, can help you sort through the muck of your outdated content and write high quality content ready to be plugged in to your shiny new web design. If your website needs a tune up, contact Legal Linguist today to schedule a meeting.

3 Things Bloggers Can Learn from Spiderwebs

You may not want to get up-close and personal with spiders, but believe it or not, there’s a lot you can learn from their spiderwebs about how to write blogs. Their focus, reach, and interconnection provide a great model for how your blog should look in cyberspace.

Focus on One Central Point

No matter how many lines radiate out from it, every spiderweb starts at one central point. This point is the focus of all the spider’s creative work. The lines it casts out from that point strengthen it and help hold it in place so it can’t blow to far one way or the other.

Your blog needs to be centered on one point as well. The finer the point, the stronger the blog, and the less likely it will stray from your original concept. By focusing your blog you can become a thought leader on that one topic, rather than blowing to whatever the topic of the day might be.

Spiderwebs can teach you a lot about blogwritingConnect to Your Surroundings

The focused center of a spiderweb wouldn’t do much good on its own. To catch its prey a spider casts out lines to surrounding pillars in its immediate area. These anchor points give the web strength and durability.

Your blog’s anchor lines are your connections to social media and the use of popular keywords. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are pillars in the SEO world that will strengthen your SEO. By casting strong lines between your social media platforms and your blog, you can increase your durability in search engines and draw more flies into your web.

Keep Your Articles Interconnected

Not every line in the spiderweb connects to the anchors. Instead, most lines are internal. They connect one part of the web to another, creating a tangle that keep insects that stop by much longer than they originally intended.

You can do the same thing on your blog through internal links. By linking from one blog post to another, or to your landing pages for relevant topics, you can engage your readers and encourage them to read on. The longer they spend reading your content, the more likely they are to see you as an expert, and the more likely they are to bring business your way.

Spiders may not be cute and cuddly, but their architectural instincts have a lot to teach bloggers. By making their webs focused, durable, and interconnected, they can catch all the flies they can eat. And by doing the same, your blog can become a source of plenty of new readers and new clients. If you need help building your web-blog, contact ghost-blogger Lisa Schmidt for guidance.

What Happened to the Homepage?

Have you noticed a decline in the number of views on your homepage? If so, you’re not alone. The New York Times’ hits dropped by 80 million views over the last 2 years. And lawyers’ homepages have taken a 20% hit in the last year alone. Could this be a sign that you need to forsake your website and say goodbye to your hard-earned marketing dollars?

No. While it is true that far more web traffic is coming to your site through social media than ever before, they are still coming to your site. Especially if your blog is hosted on your website, it still provides a branded one-stop spot for potential clients to learn all about you.

But just because they come to your website doesn’t mean they’ll visit your homepage. That’s why it’s important now more than ever to ensure that your blog’s imagery matches your law firm’s brand. No matter which way potential clients find you – whether through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any of the other social media platforms your clients may use – you want them to see the same carefully crafted online image.

What this shift in web traffic does mean is that it’s more important than ever for your website to be fully integrated into the world of social media. It should be easy for people who stumble onto your blog to like you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, or check out your connections and reputation on LinkedIn.

By making sure people can easily click between your website and your social media sites, you encourage them to engage with your brand and become part of your contact network. If you need help integrating your website, blog, and social media, contact blogging coach Lisa Schmidt today.

Sneak Peak: Google My Business

Just when you think you’ve gotten Google‘s social media strategy down, they’ve changed it again. The new “Google My Business” links together your Google+, Google Maps, and Google Local accounts into a one-stop access hub for clients. But only if you set it up correctly. Continue reading

How to Compete With Sites Like Findlaw

How Do You Compete Nationally?Many solo attorneys and small firms have come on board with a focus on online marketing. They’ve designed an accessible and content-rich website and they blog regularly. But when they look up their geographic region on Google, they are no where to be seen! How can they compete with websites like Findlaw and Lawyers.com?

Of course there is no simple one-step solution. By their very nature, these large sites that gather lists of lawyers have a competitive advantage: they are filled with links to other websites which in turn link back to them. So how do small firms compete with that?

Think Local

National websites compete on volume, but you have something unique – your location. There may be over a million lawyers across the nation, but how many of them are in your county? And how many of those focus on your area of law? By using localizing websites like Google+ Local, you can increase visibility in your back yard, instead of competing with lawyers coast-to-coast.

Think Social

Until very recently, almost all customers turned to their friends and families when they needed a lawyer. While one study now says the Internet is winning that race, social media is playing a big role in that shift. By targeting your referral sources through Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you can keep valuable referrals while competing for Internet recognition.

Think Targeted

Sure, some Internet browsers type something as broad as “Michigan Divorce Lawyer.” And those people will probably see the big websites first. But others will search for their particular problem, like “enforcing support in Michigan.” You can catch those potential clients by including content on the top aspects of your practice and by using laser-targeted sponsored link campaigns to bring in the best kinds of clients, rather than someone “just looking” for a lawyer.

It can be intimidating to maximize your search results when the big players seem to dominate the landscape. But by thinking local, social, and targeted, you can get to page 1 and bring in quality clients on a limited financial budget. If you need help getting your website ready to fight for clients, contact ghost writer Lisa Schmidt today.

What Bloggers Should Know About Heartbleed

Heartbleed bug explained

Created by and for xkcd.com. Image Source: http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/heartbleed_explanation.png

News of the “Heartbleed bug” has been sweeping the Internet recently, and some reports make it seem as big and scary as Y-2k (remember that one?). While no one is stock-piling water this time the bug has prompted a big push for tightened Internet security. Even the ABA has gotten involved. But rather than give in to the hype, let’s take a look at what Heartbleed really is. Then you can take some easy, if tedious, steps to protect yourself, your Internet identity, and your blog.

What is Heartbleed?

The Heartbleed bug is a computer programming error in the OpenSSL software used to encrypt many mid-security sites (where you have to enter a username and password to access content).  The web-comic xkcd.com explains the technical side of the bug in a great image reposted here.

What Does It Mean for You?

The good news is the developers of OpenSSL found the bug before anyone reported hackers taking advantage of it. The bad news is that major Internet services and legal industry services use OpenSSL. While most of the biggies were quick to fix the bug, there was a period of time when your information was vulnerable.

What Should You Do Now?

In the words of Douglas Adams, “Don’t Panic!” The Internet is not going to explode and your data is probably safe and secure. But now might be a really good time to take a couple extra steps to protect it. In fact, the ABA opines it may be your ethical duty if you keep client data in the cloud (like on Box or Dropbox).

Step 1: Change your passwords.

Yes I know it’s annoying to try to remember everywhere you sign in, but at the very least change your password on your email account, cloud backup account, and social media accounts.

Step 2: Use a Password Manager

If you’re concerned about security or just don’t want to have to think up a lot of strong passwords, consider installing and using a Password Manager like LastPass, 1Password, PasswordBox, and KeePass.

Step 3: Encrypt Your Hard Drive

This extra level of protection will ensure data security whether your computer is connected to the Internet or not. Lawyerst.com provides more information and instructions on how to do it.

Step 4: Use 2-Factor Authentication

WordPress, Google, and other key Internet sites now offer a process to verify your identity. When you try to log in to the sites they will send you a text with an authentication code. That way the site knows it is you and you know when someone tries to access your site.

It is easy to get intimidated by the fast-paced changes in Internet security. But by taking a few simple precautions, you can protect your content, data, and client information against the Heartbleed bug. If you need help protecting your blog, contact blogging coach Lisa Schmidt.

Is Anybody Actually Reading What You Write?

ID-100168853Sometimes when you are blogging, it can feel like you are spinning words into a vacuum and no one in the world is actually interested in what you have to say. This can be especially true for lawyers because, let’s face it, what we have to say simply isn’t as likely to go viral as the latest puppy video. But click rate and page views aren’t everything. The bigger question is how long people stay.

Tony Haile, CEO of Chartbeat, a company that measures real-time traffic for websites recently tweeted, “We’ve found effectively no correlation between social shares and people actually reading.” Particularly when it comes to Twitter, the number of shares and retweets does not correlate to longer stays on the website. That means people are actually tweeting articles that they haven’t read.

But it also means that people are reading articles that they aren’t sharing. Remember, social media is only one of many online avenues to your blog. Your most engaged readers probably did not stumble upon your article in their Facebook news feed. They probably found you through Google, Bing, or some other search engine because they are looking for just the information you are providing.

That is not to say you should give up on social media. Some of those casual clickers may find something that tickles their curiosity and become regular subscribers. Others may stumble upon something that helps someone they know. You never know exactly where your next big client will come from.

As you hear so often in marketing, it really is a question of balance. Make a point to keep your blog accessible for those people who click, scan, and share by using a captivating summary paragraph to start and concise section titles or bulleted lists. These strategies will help casual readers understand what you’re writing and encourage them to share.

At the same time, keep your content authentic and give real information so that your deep readers are engaged all the way to the end of the page. Then they, too, could share what they have read or take up your call to action and contact you for services.

Social media has been made to seem all about scope, but content marketing is really a compromise between breadth and depth. Take care to respect that balance and you will find that people are actually reading your content, not just giving you a quick “like” or retweet and moving on.

Why Make a LinkedIn Company Page?

LinkedIn-Logo-02If you’ve been following this blog from the beginning, you’ll know that last year I wasn’t too keen on the LinkedIn Company Pages. While I definitely saw the value of creating your personal profile, I viewed the company pages as pretty well worthless unless you were looking to hire. But times have changed and so has my opinion.

In October 2013, Google changed the way it indexed websites, giving far more weight to certain “trusted” sources and directories. LinkedIn is one such source. Suddenly it has become much more important for your firm, not just you, to have a presence there.

But LinkedIn shouldn’t be seen as just easier access to the first page of Google. It is also one of the sites people go to specifically for referrals. As much as Facebook is about staying in touch with friends and Twitter is about getting the latest news (or gossip), LinkedIn is about connecting to professionals. Because the site encourages endorsements and reviews, people trust it to help them find the right skilled professional.

LinkedIn has also added Status Updates, which allow you to connect with your followers. By linking your blog to your company’s LinkedIn page, you will be able to reach all of your professional connections to help keep you on their radar.

The world of social media is always in flux. This year has meant big changes for LinkedIn and for Google. If you want to maximize your online marketing dollar, you need to change right along with them.

By creating and updating your LinkedIn Company Page, you can improve your SEO, keep up with business connections, and connect with potential clients looking for your kind of professionalism. If you need help setting up your online presence, contact blogging coach Lisa Schmidt to see how to make bigger returns on your web marketing dollar.

Top 10 Check-Ups for Your Website at Year End

Does your website check out this December?

“Checklist With Red Check” by David Castillo Dominici on freedigitalphotos.net

Like a lot of people, December for you might mean a chance to focus on your marketing and check in on your web presence. Here are 10 things to look for in your year end web check up:

  1. Is your website readable? Have you used enough white space and made clear choices for font and color?
  2. Is your website eye catching? Are there compelling images on every page?
  3. Is your website informative? Have you included pages for FAQs, practice area summaries or your blog where clients can find answers?
  4. Is your website targeted? Are you appealing to the right audience for what you do?
  5. Is your contact info easy to find? Can potential clients put their hands on your phone number or email when they’re ready to make the call?
  6. Is your blog integrated? Have you made it easy for potential clients to go from blog to website and back for more information?
  7. Is your website social? Have you linked your website to your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts so you are easy to find?
  8. Is your website fresh? Are you using a blog, question and answer section, or news feed to provide regular updates?
  9. Is your website connected? Do you have links to the websites of other related professionals that you trust, making your site more accessible?
  10. Is your website showing up? Do you make the 1st page of Google for your key search terms?

By asking yourself these questions at year end, you can take the temperature on your website and create a plan of action to get the most from your web marketing next year. If you need help planning your web strategy, contact ghost blogger and blogging coach Lisa Schmidt for more information.