Run a search query in Google for the words “San Francisco employment lawyer.” Notice the paid ads through Google AdWords at the top of the screen, and on the right side of the screen. Furthermore, notice the blue balloons at the top of the screen. These are also paid ads. The lawyers next to the balloons have paid to have a Google local listing. It appears that Google is getting greedy. Everything above the fold is an ad. The organic (unpaid) search results are being pushed down further each day.
What does this mean to a lawyer?
It means you can buy your way onto the first page of Google. However, internet users are becoming increasingly skeptical of ads, so even buying your way onto the first page isn’t foolproof. Most internet users can distinguish the paid ads versus the organic (unpaid) ads. So, the alternatives to buying your way into Google are these: cater to long tail search queries, create other distribution channels, and use social media to direct people to your website.
You can cater to long tail search queries by doing a little research with Google’s Wonder Wheel. Here’s how.
1. Use Google to run a search query for the words, “family lawyer.”
2. Click on “Show Options” beneath the search box.
3. Click on “Wonder Wheel” from the left side of the screen. The Wonder Wheel shows spokes including “child custody lawyers.”
4. You can even click on the spokes to see more derivatives of family lawyer.
5. Use these keywords in your website content (especially in your titles) in order to pick up obscure search queries.
As far as creating other distribution channels, there are other search engines. Among them are Yahoo, Bing, AltaVista, AOL, and more. Run a search query for your firm name in each of the above mentioned search engines. How does it fare? Consider allotting a small percentage of your marketing budget to paid ads on these search engines.
Finally, help potential clients avoid Google searches altogether, by paving a direct path to your website. You can do this with the help of social media sites and directory listings. The more Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and LinkedIn connections you have, the better. They will all have a direct link to your website.
In conclusion, Google is center stage on its own first page (for popular keywords). Pay for Google AdWords if you can afford it. But don’t neglect other means for achieving visibility. Capitalize on less popular keyword searches by adding long tail keywords to your website content. Work on your page rank in the other search engines. Use social media to get direct click-throughs to your website. The more balanced your approach, the more likely you are to be successful in the ever changing landscape of the internet.