Five common mistakes that bury your law firm's website in the search engines

friday, 26 june of 2009

Five common mistakes that bury your law firm's website in the search engines

by Tom Trush

How can I increase my website's search engine rankings so I get more traffic?

If you have a website, there's a good chance you've asked this question (or a variation of it) many times. 

You may have even searched online for a solution. After all, there's no lack of companies claiming they can place your website atop the search engines. 

If fact, you don't have to look any further than your e-mail inbox to see these promises. Search engine ranking is a common spam topic.

When providing advice on improving search engine ranking, I focus on five components that revolve around your content. But before I tell you how to use them, let's eliminate one myth before going any further. 

Spending tons of money on your website has little -- if any -- effect on your search engine ranking. Any attempt to buy your way to the top of the search engines will only leave you frustrated... and holding an empty wallet.

If you truly want your website in the top positions on search engines, prepare to put in some effort. What I'm about to tell you is not a "lazy man's way" to search engine success. 

Instead, you'll find solutions to the 5 biggest mistakes I see on lawyers' websites as they relate to search engine rankings. 

Website Mistake #1: Your content is outdated.

Search engines such as Google crave fresh content So treat your text as if it was your wardrobe -- and keep it updated. Better yet, commit to regularly adding new content to your website. 

Your written words are the most important aspect of your website. When you provide current content that matches your prospects' needs, you encourage repeat visitors and give yourself more opportunities to be found in the search engines.  

When writing your new content, keep in mind the following two questions posed by legendary copywriter Robert Collier: 

What is the bait that will tempt your reader?

How can you tie up the thing you have to offer with that bait?

Website Mistake #2: You have a low number of incoming links.

The number of other websites linking to your website is an important factor in your search engine ranking. As you build incoming links, your credibility with the search engines grows. 

One way I like to boost incoming links is by distributing articles to directories such as EzineArticles (www.ezinearticles.com), Articlesbase (www.articlesbase.com) GoArticles (www.goarticles.com) and iSnare (www.isnare.com). 

When you use these fr*ee services, you give online publishers the opportunity to post your articles on their sites, blogs or newsletters. So, in addition to increasing your incoming links, your work and services are introduced to a new audience of prospects. 

You can also build links back to your website by writing comments on blogs and forums related to your practice area. 

Website Mistake #3: Your content doesn't include terms your prospects search.

You can learn what prospects desire by figuring out what terms they search when finding sites similar to yours. This task is easier than you might think.

A great device for finding keywords and phrases to include in your content is the Fr*ee Keyword Suggestion Tool from Wordtracker (www.freekeywords.wordtracker.com). Simply type a word or phrase in the search box and, in a matter of seconds, you'll get an estimate of that term's daily search volume. 

Once you know your words or phrases, place them where prospects -- and the search engines -- will see them, such as in headers, title tags (see Mistake #4) and the beginning paragraphs of your copy.

Using a keyword tool is also helpful in coming up with article topics (review Mistake #2).

Website Mistake #4: Your title tags don't match your content.

Title tags are the descriptive text displayed in the blue bar at the top of your browser. Not only are they important for telling visitors what's on each of your website pages, they're essential to high search engine placement.

Many times I see only a law firm name listed in the title tag area. You might get a little traffic using this tactic -- but only if you're a well-known firm that prospects search. I recommend using terms that describe your practice area or services.

For example, here's the current title tag from my home page: Phoenix copywriting and marketing consultant, sales letters, seo website content. (Note: I've read conflicting reports on title tag length. This example is probably a little long. However, I'm still testing what length works best.)

Wordtracker's Free Keyword Suggestion Tool can also help you come up with title tags. 

Website Mistake #5: You're not using your website statistics to your advantage.

If you have a website, you must monitor your visitor statistics. These reports are a treasure chest of traffic gold that can help you determine where your visitors come from and what terms they search to find your website. 

If you see visitors using certain terms over and over to land on your website, write more copy that incorporates these words. This technique is one way to build what's called your "long tail," a term that refers to using 3-, 4- or 5-word phrases that are specific to your practice areas and services.

For example, here are some phrases from the statistics for a debt consolidation site I worked on: "negotiate lower payments with creditors," "contact creditor to lower payment," "secret debt payment plans" and "free debt settlement secrets." 

It's easy to see how quickly you can turn any of these phrases into an article. Once you start monitoring your statistics, you'll rarely have trouble coming up with topics for new website content.

Need an easy way to keep track of your website traffic? Try Google Analytics (www.google.com/analytics). It's fr*ee and takes only a couple of minutes to set up.

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© Trey Ryder

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