February 2010 • Vol. 30 No. 2 | An E-Publication of the Los Angeles County Bar Association

Online Marketing Primer for Law Firms: Basic Concepts You Should Know

By Debra Regan, vice president at LexisNexis, part of the Lawyers.Com and Martindale-Hubbell networks since 1999. She can be reached at debra.regan@lexisnexis.com.

More than 200 million people in the United States have regular access to the Internet, and most have become accustomed to using online sources to research and inform their purchases, including legal services.

Most law firms recognize the value of establishing an online presence as part of their business development efforts, and most recognize that there’s probably more they should do to increase traffic on their Web site. This brief overview of common online marketing terms can help lawyers and firms become familiar with concepts specific to the Web as they plan to optimize their visibility.

Algorithm. A mathematical formula used by search engines to determine Web site page rank.

Keywords. A specific word or combination of words a user types into a search engine.

Landing Page. Used to display content as a logical extension of a paid advertisement or results link by search engines. In paid search marketing campaigns, pages are customized to measure effectiveness of different advertisements.

Link Building. The process of finding relevant, quality Web sites with which to connect by using links that bridge both sites. The number of links into a site from other Web sites is a factor in search engine algorithms that contribute to search results rankings.

Local Search Marketing. Law firms can list their firm at the top of local searches next to street or city maps. Each of the primary search engines offers this feature.

Natural/Organic Search. Results that appear below paid search results are called “natural” or “organic.” The higher one’s firm appears within organic search rankings, the better, and the top 10 results on the first search page are most coveted. When Web sites appear in the highest spots, search engine algorithms have determined they are most relevant.

Page Rank. The positioning of Web pages posted by search engines. The goal is to attain ranking within the top 10 first-page listings by search engines. Typically, the higher a business appears in search results, the greater the traffic to its Web site.

Paid Search. Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing sell prime real estate (i.e., sponsor links, ads, or paid placements) on search-results pages. When someone inputs terms into a search engine, businesses that purchased those terms will appear at the top or side of the results page. Typically, the higher a site URL appears in a search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine. Purchasers of these “ads” pay only for each click to their Web site. Charges per click-through are based on several variables, including advertiser bids and competition for keywords (defined above). Typically, businesses establish a monthly budget, and when that budget is exhausted based on the number of clicks, the ads stop appearing.

Pay Per Click. PPC is a synonym for paid search. PPC also references a model for online advertisements (such as banners) where the advertiser pays when someone clicks on that particular ad.

RSS. Really Simple Syndication means a regular feed of content sent to e-mail addresses, Web sites, or other mail or collection boxes. If a law firm Web site includes a blog, for example, its readers can sign up to receive the blog posts automatically via an RSS feed.

Search Engine Marketing. SEM is a form of online marketing that promotes Web sites by increasing visibility in search engine results pages through the use of paid placements or advertising.

Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the process of improving the quantity of the quality of traffic to one’s Web site by improving page ranking in natural/organic search results as opposed to using paid mechanisms. SEO involves optimizing a Web site by editing content and coding to more closely match relevant terms and keywords input by users into search engines.

Tags. Descriptive words attached to Web site content so that it can be picked up by search engines. A law firm might use tags such as “legal, family law, Los Angeles, or small law firm.”

Web Analytics. Measurement data generated to show total traffic to a law firm’s Web site such as number of visitors, time posted on the site, page most visited, numbers of downloads, and numbers of clicks.

For more than 10 years, LexisNexis, as a trusted brand, has delivered comprehensive online marketing solutions, including Web site development and search engine marketing/optimization services to law firms. The in-house LexisNexis “agency” is staffed with search marketing, pay-per-click, video, and Web design experts along with a full team of Web developers with key industry certifications. For more information, visit www.lexisnexis.com/lmc.

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