Legal SEO in 2020 is all about optimizing smarter. As technology evolves, Google’s algorithm keeps getting more advanced and digital marketers have to do their best to keep up. Google claims that its goal is to give internet-users the best results possible when they look something up on Google, and your law firm’s online presence needs to revolve its digital marketing campaigns around this fact. To help you start the year off right, we’ve broken down the most commonly discussed developments on the web regarding Legal Search Marketing in 2020.
One of the most recent Google algorithm updates makes use of new technologies to pick up contextual cues in search queries that help deliver better results. The update was nicknamed BERT. This will mostly be noticed in searches where the query is typed in a conversational manner, rather than just keywords. This transition to a more conversational standard of search processing is representative of the increase in voice-enabled devices.
Google provides this example of a search query and the results that it would produce before and after BERT. The main difference is that Google can now use the word “to” in the search query to show results where the travel destination is the United States instead of Brazil.
For law firms, this means your website should have high quality content on its homepage and practice area pages, as well as any blogs written and published on the site. Sticking with last year’s “EAT” guidelines, your site should have multiple pages or posts with content that was written with the intent of building the site’s expertise, authority, and trust. This engaging content provides great value to your website’s visitors; it can span from educating readers on a legal topic to your law firm’s experience and past results.
Writing “high quality content” is an early step to ranking in search engines, but your website’s content will rank higher when other domains start linking to it. Backlinks also continue to play an important part in SEO. Managing a healthy backlink profile, on top of providing a higher standard of content, may help your law firm’s website rank higher – but the click rate could decrease…
The addition of the knowledge graph created a highly coveted ranking spot that lawyers strive to obtain. The rich search result displays important information that Google crawled from your website. Searchers with high intent no longer have to click on your website to get your phone number, location, or hours – they can just access it within Google’s search results page.
The featured snippet, on the other hand, takes Google’s crawling a step further by providing more detailed information from your website. Entire sentences, bulleted lists, and even videos from your site can be shown within the Google results page. The searcher can sometimes get all the information they need from the featured snippet, but it typically serves as an extended preview of a webpage full of content relevant to their search.
Zero-click searches are faster routes to conversions. When your website is optimized correctly, it will appear in all Google result types for your target keywords. This means that a user could search “car accident lawyer near me” and see your law firm listed organically, in the featured snippet, in the maps, and in the knowledge graph. Each of these placements is an invitation for the user to engage your law firm, even without ending up on your website.
People love video. Producing videos for your law firm that create an emotional connection with people is one of the most effective legal branding strategies today. The best part is that your videos can be used across all digital channels and formats. Adding your videos to your website can increase the amount of time a user stays on your website, learning about your law firm. Social Media Ads that use video drive 40% more engagement than plain text. Running lead generation ads on OTT and CTV can be huge for Mass Tort campaigns.
Using the same videos across your digital campaigns helps your target market’s retention rate. Branding the videos and getting thousands of impressions will increase local awareness of your law firm’s brand. When people in your target market consider hiring a lawyer, they are likely to search the firms they have seen advertisements for. Investing in your branding now can produce long term results. Below is a glimpse at some of the top queries for one of our clients, most of which are branded terms.
It’s never too late to turn your digital marketing strategy around. The Search Engine Guys are legal marketing experts that are here to help your law firm grow and meet your goals. Whether you have questions about an SEO development, or how to run your first video ad campaign, Schedule your private 30-minute phone consultation to determine whether TSEG can help your law firm’s digital marketing in the coming year.
The digital advertising world is evolving at light speed. “Do you still have cable?” – chances are that you have been asked this question at least once in the last five years. It’s apparent that nowadays people are more prone to cut the cord and get their entertainment from streaming it over the internet.
According to Leichtman Research Group, cable and satellite TV viewership is plummeting at a rate of more than three million video subscribers per year. Meanwhile, America’s streaming TV audience is mushrooming exponentially as it rushes into the void created by an estimated 63 million cord-cutters.
We are witnessing the migration of scheduled TV programming to personalized, on-demand channels. Today’s TV viewers aren’t restricted by the TV Guide channel to see what programs are on the air. They don’t need to setup their DVRs and TiVos to record the next episode. Instead, they have the power to navigate the same content in a way that fits their busy schedules so they can binge-watch whatever they want, whenever they want.
Parks Associates estimates that 85% of Millennials already subscribe to at least one OTT video service. OTT (over-the-top) services include popular streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, YouTube TV, and Amazon Prime Video to name a few. All of these services offer pricing options that are extremely difficult for Cable and Satellite TV to compete with. More specifically, OTT does not force customers to pay for bundles that include channels that they have no interest watching – it’s just one price for all-access.
Furthermore, Forbes claims that 70% of American households now subscribe to at least one streaming service. That’s over 225 million Americans! Additionally, many advertising researchers such as AdWeek and SmartyAds project that this trend will continue for well over the next five years.
What exactly is OTT and CTV advertising and what does it have to do with legal marketing for law firms?
Until recently, most small and mid-sized legal practices didn’t possess the budget required to advertise on networks like CBS, NBC, ABC, FoxNews, CNN, ESPN etc. That has changed. Today, Internet-Connected TVs (CTV) and OTT platforms provide new opportunities for any firm to stream its advertising locally on major networks. Most importantly, the hyper-local precision capabilities of geo-targeted OTT Advertising makes it one of the most powerful emerging platforms available to legal marketers today.
Streaming services like AppleTV+, Roku, ChromeCast, and internet-connected Smart TVs are able to serve predominantly non-skippable, targeted ads to just about any geographic, demographic, or psychographic audience imaginable. The possibilities are truly astonishing. Below are some of the targeting options available through several OTT and CTV providers.
Allows your law firm’s ads to target gender, age, language, education level, income, and more.
Allows your law firm to serve ads based on the viewer’s location, increasing local relevancy.
Allows your law firm’s advertising to target relevant interests and online browsing.
Allows your law firm to show ads when your audience is most active to increase response.
Allows your law firm to target viewers watching content directly relevant to your campaign, maximizing results.
Allows your law firm ads to be served based on device, connection speed, and operating system to better suit ad creatives.
Competition for the top cases is fierce and continues to increase. If your law firm is searching for more effective ways to reach particular areas of the country, OTT Advertising offers a previously unparalleled opportunity for legal marketers who absolutely insist on growth.
For lawyers that believe in the power of video to reach the clients they serve, OTT Advertising opportunities are financially accessible and highly effective. The Search Engine Guys manage emerging digital growth strategies for an exclusive group of the most ambitious legal marketers throughout the United States.
Schedule your private 30-minute phone consultation to determine whether OTT/CTV Advertising is an opportunity your firm can leverage in the coming year.
Lawyer advertising trends shifted away from billboards, print, radio, and television ads a very long time ago. Although law firms continue to include these mediums in their marketing strategies, it should be clear that nowadays marketing budgets are increasingly invested in digital advertising more than older, traditional methods. In fact, 2019 is on track to be the first year where digital ads will reign as king over offline ads. But this isn’t news. Online ad spend has been increasing for years now and law firm marketing has already adapted to advertising on the internet. Banner ads, Google ads and Facebook ads probably make up a large portion of your marketing spend right now; but have you taken a moment to wonder if you’re really getting the most out of your ad dollars?
Though online ads are the way to go; advertising on the internet isn’t enough. The internet is a huge space, with seemingly infinite content. You have to know where your potential clients are spending their time to break through to them. “In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients.” This theory by social scientist, Herbert A. Simon, perfectly captures the problem that marketing in the legal industry is facing.
Are you capturing the right attention? And are you capturing enough of it? These questions should be driving the development of your marketing strategy. If this is the first time you’ve asked yourself these questions – allow us to shed some light on your next campaign.
The above graphic is a great representation of how people spend their time online. The trend is that social media is consuming more and more attention. Apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn are among the biggest platforms where people spend close to two hours a day, on average, browsing content. Perhaps more importantly, users tend to share content with their friends and followers which can cause certain images or videos to go viral. This is the modern iteration of word-of-mouth marketing, and the thrill of discovering viral content continues to bring users back to these social platforms in search for more. Spending time on social media therefore extends past the core function of socializing online with friends and family to a broader avenue for entertainment where brands, and law firms, can capitalize by advertising their message to thousands or even millions of people.
Again, your current marketing budget is probably already invested into some of these social ad platforms. So how do you know whether you’re doing it in the most efficient manner? The answer is data. One thing The Search Engine Guys has claimed since the start is that we are a data-driven firm. The way we approach social media ads and manage campaigns that produce results is by running ads on as many platforms as we can within our client’s budget. Casting a wide digital net to start off a major campaign gives you the opportunity to collect data on the ads we run. Running split tests with different creatives, ad copy, and media types returns information about the audience that the ad was served to that can help refine the ad’s set up and consequently its future performance. A small budget on various social ad platforms may not generate leads immediately, but the data that comes back is valuable nonetheless. Week after week, we monitor an ad’s performance and make any necessary adjustments to better serve the ad to an audience that is more likely to engage and ultimately convert into a case for your law firm. Take a look at some more data about today’s social media giants from online measurement company, SimilarWeb, below.
Going after mass tort cases has never been easier. Running a multi-platform campaign on social media ad networks can increase your case volume with the smallest cost-per-acquisition numbers you can achieve online. Whether you’re trying to maximize your cases with a definitive budget, or if you’re pursuing a mass tort with massive return and a limitless budget: multiplatform is the way to go. Some example numbers are below. We invite you to contact TSEG today to talk about your law firm’s objectives and how to best leverage social media advertising.
Getting an online review from one of your law firm’s clients can make all of your hard work feel like it was worth it. Getting detailed, thoughtful testimonials for others to see is top tier word-of-mouth advertising since the review will stay up on your profile forever.
But what are potential clients really looking for in your reviews? Thanks to a recent study featured by Search Engine Land and conducted by Womply, we now have insights and correlations from over 200,000 small business’ reviews and revenues to help answer this question.
The results of the study support claims that a 5-star rating can actually turn away online customers for a few reasons. Firstly, a perfect star rating can be achieved with very few reviews. A low number of reviews and a high rating indicates a new and less established business. Internet users are also aware of cheap seo tricks out there that involve buying fake reviews to give a business a false appearance of being more established.
More interestingly, the study finds that the “sweet spot” for online reviews is 3.5 to 4.5 stars. This range is where the 200,000 small business analyzed were earning the most revenue. Womply goes as far as encouraging the use of negative reviews to achieve a healthy mix of review scores. To be more exact, businesses with 15-30% negative comments earned more revenue than the study’s average. Think about that ratio the next time a negative review blesses your profile.
However, the range from 3 to 4.5 star ratings is where 80% of business are, and when similar scores are seen across the board, online shoppers will likely use other criteria as a basis for comparison. Increasing your law firm’s Local SEO is a great starting-point, but having a strategic, data-driven approach to all of your digital marketing gives you the competitive advantage on all fronts.
Are you an aggressive law firm? Do you want to dominate your market? We may be available in yours. Schedule a call to talk about how TSEG can help your law firm grow.
The Search Engine Guys have been awarded a 2019 Austin City Excellence Award by UpCity. Out of 465 marketing service providers in Austin, we were selected as one of the top 20 based on our UpCity Rating, which measures digital recommendability by reviews, search score, domain authority and more.
As one of UpCity’s top 20 Marketing Service Providers in Austin, we’re able to cut through the noise, standout and create trust with prospective buyers. It’s an honor for us to be represented on the City Excellence Award List.
The infographic below goes more into detail on what makes a great agency in Austin and stats that highlight Austin as a marketing hub in North America.
UpCity helps businesses find marketing providers they can trust. The UpCity Marketplace creates and empowers successful relationships between businesses and marketing service providers. We provide transparency and insights to dramatically improve the marketing partner selection and purchase experience. Over 225,000 businesses visit UpCity each month seeking marketing services from over 33,000 providers in over 600 cities in North America. UpCity helps partners in the marketplace grow their business and build their digital recommendability. (Heidi Sullivan, SVP Product & Marketing, UpCity).
We love AdBlock.
If it weren’t for AdBlock, we would have to face all of those annoying, pop-up, pop-under, spammy, and obnoxious ads.
Figure 1: Remember these?
Surfing the web with ads blocked can feel like a real-life cheat code – you get away with something that you aren’t supposed to… as a consumer.
But as marketers, we must understand the impact that ad blocking software has on our work – especially when the software is literally intended to kill our digital campaigns.
Just to make sure we’re on the same page, let’s analyze how these ad blocking extensions came to be installed on nearly a quarter of global online users.
Figure 2: Ad Blocker study results from IAB
As you surf the web, you take part in an exchange with the sites you visit: their content in exchange for your payment. However, the payment is not with currency but rather with your attention, view, impression, click, etc. of the ads shown on the site.
Whether you like it or not, this ad revenue is how a large portion of websites make money. Without it, they can’t cover costs to keep the website running and keep bringing you the content you want.
Since Day 1, ad blocking software is so highly sought after because it helps alleviate symptoms arising from core internet problems.
If you’ve seen a pop-up instruct you to pay for the removal of a computer virus – then you fully understand why the concept of ad blocking software is so appealing.
In fact, 64% of people agree that ads are annoying and support the idea of ad blocking software.
On top of that, 79% of ad-blocking software users agree that their browsing experience improved with it.
These two stats make it clear that browser extensions AdBlock Plus and AdBlock have made a significant impact in the history of internet advertising, but what exactly is their impact today? And more importantly, what is their impact on your digital marketing campaigns?
Paid ads on Google are largely unaffected because Google is a member of the Acceptable Ads program. Most users unknowingly opt into this program when installing an ad blocker. But what is it?
Acceptable Ads, defined by AdBlock Plus (ABP), are “respectful, don’t interfere with content, and are clearly labeled with the word ‘advertisement’ or its equivalent.” They also follow standards set forth by the Coalition for Better Ads, a group formed by leading international trade associations and companies involved in online media.
By default, AdBlock & ABP allow the whitelisted ads to show. To disable this feature, you have to manually go into the settings and uncheck the box next to it. Or (if you don’t exit out of the welcome page as soon as you see the donation part) you’ll see that ABP actually tells you about the whitelist and even provides a link to the settings page. (See “Figure 4” below.)
“The Acceptable Ads Committee (board that controls the program) gives advertisers, such as Google, a pass to show their ads – for a fee, of course. With these gatekeepers in place, advertisers must create ads that fall in line with standards produced by the expectations of online users.”
For users that do disable the whitelist, their Google experience will be free of all search and display ads.
A Google search, with ad blocking switched to “ON” will undergo these changes: (drag slider to compare)
Check out how different websites on the display network look with
1) no ads,
2) acceptable ads, and
3) all ads.
I counted 26 ads – but ABP’s number is a whopping 78.
As a result of the Acceptable Ads whitelist, Google ads in the search and display networks remain unblocked. Not only must a user install an extension, but they also have to change additional settings. ABP cleverly adds the Acceptable Ads notice below the donation box on their welcome page (highlighted in green below). By the time users get to the donation box, they’re already opening a tab to test out the ad blocker on YouTube.
YouTube Ads are really just Google Ads run on the YouTube.com domain. The effects are similar to those observed with display ad campaigns. YouTube ads have banners that appear over the video player and in the sidebar above the queue of next videos. You can see how different the view is with and without AdBlock below.
Video ads are also blocked on YouTube. With AdBlock enabled, a user on YouTube avoids seeing all ads for an uninterrupted experience.
On Facebook, the “acceptable” type of ads begin to appear more subtly. Adblockers are able to block most ads that are seen outside of the main timeline. Within the timeline, you still see ads in the form of sponsored posts. They will be presented in a more organic manner, but it is still a paid placement. Using standard settings, ABP will not block all ads on Facebook.
However, customizing advanced settings gives the user the option to block all ads, including acceptable ads. Remarketing campaigns using the Facebook pixel also suffer. The advanced settings can be configured to prevent the user’s browser from being tracked by the pixel code on your website or landing page. This is alarming because anyone willing to take the time to adjust settings can essentially become invisible on the internet (in terms of advertising). This ghost-user browses the web with ads blocked, and browser tracking tools thwarted.
Luckily, ABP by default will allow acceptable ads to pass through their filters. See the difference for yourself:
Your rankings are unlikely to fall victim to ad blockers, but your SEO campaign can still suffer.
An ad blocking extension can prevent your site’s Google Analytics from tracking users correctly, similar to the way they block the Facebook Pixel. With Google Analytics, we can see valuable data from a client’s website to draw insights from. This data helps us develop and implement changes to an SEO campaign. So when a visitor using ad block also blocks Analytics, we lose data about their on-site behavior such as how much time they spend on a webpage, which links they click on, and what websites they come from. This data is automatically processed daily and is a crucial factor of any good SEO strategy.
In short, ad blockers might be causing you to plan out your SEO campaign with inaccurate numbers.
Hulu is impacted when streamed on a web browser. Like many other subscription services, Hulu’s website is able to detect ad blockers and combats it by directly requesting the user to enable ads on their site. The screenshot below shows the message that appears over the video player when the user would normally be shown an advertisement.
To take it a step further, Hulu forces the anti-adblock message to display on screen for thirty seconds, the same time a typical commercial would be shown. There is even a link to a guide in Hulu’s Help Center instructing users how to stop blocking ads on their site. The guide is even split into sections to show specific instructions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.
Users that persist with ad blockers skew reach and impression numbers from Hulu because the ad-blocking user is counted as a viewer of the programming even though they were not served any advertisements. This means that your ad campaign may be using inaccurate projected figures in its strategy.
However, this is typically not a negative occurrence. If a significant portion of your campaign’s reach was never exposed to your ad, Hulu’s ad algorithm can make up for the lapse with repeat exposures. You might be paying a higher rate for less reach, but if you exclude ad blockers when measuring the performance of your campaign, metrics like cost per view, cost per click, and conversion rate will reflect more accurate, higher quality results.
While users are able to avoid watching ads on Hulu, they still have to wait through pauses in their streaming, which could encourage them to enable ads. At this point the user must choose between sitting through empty gaps or watching ads.
Figure 4: Hulu raising an eyebrow
Ad Block is an obstacle that must be addressed when planning out any digital marketing campaign for your law firm or small business. Whether a user is on a search engine, social media website, or television streaming service, these internet browser extensions intend to stop your online advertising. With the population of users increasing every day, it is crucial that you understand the impact ad blocking software has on your ad spend and more importantly your law firm or business’ growth. If you are concerned your marketing/advertising is suffering because of ad blockers, fill out a form or give us a call at (512) 394-7234. We’ll be more than happy to discuss how we can best optimize your campaigns.