Why do search engines matter for lawyers? At least two reasons come immediately to my mind.
First, maybe you’ve been recommended to a prospective client, employer or journalist by name and that person does what they should – a little digital due diligence to see if you’re as impressive as they’ve been led to believe.
You’re going to look a whole lot more savvy and impressive if a page or two of entries appears when your name is typed into Google.
Second, if you’ve got a half dozen or more profiles up on the various available social networking platforms with a coherent keyword strategy in place to describe you, your name might come up when somebody needs a lawyer with your particular skills and they pop keywords for that skill set into Google. LinkedIn ranks beautifully in the search engines. What skills do you have optimized in your profile?
To get yourself started growing your digital reputation with at least a few keyword-optimized social networking profiles, get out one of your nifty legal pads and write one or two sentences in response to each of the following 8 questions.
Question No. 1: What Is Your Marketing Objective?
What do you want at the end of the day? More clients? More media relationships? Define your end game in a couple of words and quantify the numbers.
Describe what those potential clients, employers, journalists or partners look like. How formal do you need to be in your communications to “speak” to this desired audience?
Question No. 3: Which Social Networking Platforms Should You Target?
The real answer to this question is where is your target audience hanging out? A secondary question is which platforms rank well in the search engines.
Do you know the answers to these questions? LinkedIn ranks well in the search engines and offers an excellent opportunity to use lots of keywords to describe you and your skill set.
Quora, a Q & A platform, also ranks well in the search engines and is a very strong place to demonstrate your expertise.
Question No. 4: What Value Do You Bring To The Party?
This is a tough question and will evolve over the course of your professional career. Get something on paper now and trust that the answer to this question gets easier every time you answer it.
Definitely stick to thinking about this as benefits to your target client, employer, journalist or partner. What’s in it for them to have a relationship with you?
Question No. 5: What Is The Message You Want To Convey?
At this point, you’ve jotted notes about your value proposition, what your audience looks like and where they hang out. When you put yourself “out there,” what message do you want to convey?
Another way to think about this question, is “what action do you want your audience to take?”
Pick 4-6 “key” words or phrases that support your message and make sure you use them consistently throughout your profiles to get the biggest bang for your buck in the search engines (you’re concentrating your message about you around “key” words and phrases).
Question No 6: How Do I Want To Roll Out This Initiative?
Are you super motivated and/or ambitious? Write a quick plan to have six profiles up over the weekend. Does that proposition seem a little daunting? Write a plan to put a profile a week up for the next six weeks.
If you stretch out your plan, remind yourself to stay “on message” according the first five questions above. A tight consistent message is always better than a diluted, confusing message about you and what you offer.
Want To Click A Button & Have It All Done?
OK, I promised simple and easy and laid out six overwhelming questions about your digital reputation, right? Well not exactly.
For sure you could write pages and pages on any one of these questions, and if you have that kind of time, I certainly encourage you to do that.
More likely than not, that kind of approach will lead to “analysis paralysis” and you won’t get to the point of actually getting any profiles up. I encourage you to go quick and simple, get something up that you can improve over time.
Want to skip the whole exercise and have it done for you? As an interim measure, consider a program like Social To Go.
For a nominal price, you get seven social profiles set up, along with a strategy for adding ongoing updates, if you choose to go to that next step. At a minimum, seven profiles is a good start to staking out a little digital real estate and seeing your name rank in the search engines.
Have you given social networking a go? What worked and what didn’t? Let us know in the comments.