Thursday, July 23, 2009

Steve Lombardi on Online Advertising and Search Marketing for Lawyers

I asked Steve, CEO of ExpertHub, to share his thoughts on the following . . .

Q: For the past year, you have spoken to over 100 lawyers regarding online advertising, what are the biggest challenges they face?

A: There are two major problems lawyers face today:
  1. The sheer number of companies that solicit their business with promises of unrealistic success. This leads attorneys to tune out online advertising approaches that would hugely benefit their practice.

  2. Understanding their ROI. Few attorneys actually track ROI, and even fewer incorporate it into their online advertising decisions.
Q: What are the most common misunderstandings lawyers have about online advertising?

A: Overall, lawyers need to develop a better understanding of what a consumer’s expectations are when they turn to the Internet for legal information.
  • Internet consumers expect a higher level of service and responsiveness than traditional consumers do. When a consumer contacts a lawyer, they are pleased if you respond within 15-20 minutes. If it takes an hour, that might be acceptable. Longer than that, they start to look elsewhere.

  • It’s not limited to when consumers look for a lawyer, it’s everywhere. Remember when you used to call a broker when you wanted to trade a stock? If they were not available, you would wait hours for a return phone call – sometimes even days. Now, you go online and trade the stock yourself in a matter of minutes. The only way to compete is to have a well developed web presence and leverage the technology to respond quickly and efficiently.
Q: How should attorneys approach SEM and SEO?

A: Lawyers generally have a big misconception about search – both SEO and SEM. Most lawyers believe SEO is free and that it lasts forever. The reality is that it changes very quickly and you must constantly dedicate resources to maintain or expand your presence. With SEM, they bid too much on paid search and fail to measure the cost per lead, and end up wasting a lot of money.
  • The first thing attorneys should do is become educated about how search works. There are significant trends, such as consumers using longer and more specific search phrases, that make simplistic search strategies ineffective.
  • For most attorneys, doing SEM and SEO on their own is not cost effective. With a little education and effort, attorneys will understand that there are some great technology platforms being built in search that will make their SEM and SEO efforts goals more achievable. If I were a lawyer that wanted to do engage in paid search, I would look to a technology platform like ReachLocal or Yodle to automate my bidding and track ROI.
  • If I wanted to do SEO, I would look for companies that offer content syndication – such as our ExpertSyndication platform so that I could achieve organic rankings much more efficiently – both for the articles that you contribute as well as for your existing website.

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