Legal Marketing Blog

Ranking high on Google: Are you making it hard for prospects to find you?

Posted by Jennifer Macqueen

Location, location, location…applies to a variety of methods when positioning a business in our competitive environment. During a recent practice group meeting, an attorney asked me why it was so important to seek a position on page one of Google.  This seemed like a case-of-the-obvious, but also made me realize that not all attorneys recognize the significance of high search rankings.

If you are the owner of a storefront business, then the physical location of your real estate could make or break your company.  If a high percentage of customers find your products through industry magazine ads, then ideal ad placement in target publications is your strategy. If an Internet search, is one of the easiest ways to find you and confirm you provide the services needed, then page #1, position #1 on Google, should be a priority.

Not showing up on the first page of Google searches, is like having an unlisted number and wondering why no one calls.  You might say, “I’m not hired through Google or other online searches,” or, “Clients who hire lawyers through Google aren’t the quality clients I’m after,” and then add, “In fact, 99% of my work is referred by other attorneys so ranking high on Google isn’t a big deal for me.”

While it is great to hear you have a strong feeder system that generates a flow of work to keep you busy, ignoring how you rank in key search engines is not a model approach in building and maintaining a successful practice.

It is also great to hear you know where your work comes from and roughly the amount of work sent by these trusted referral sources.  What you do not know, and likely will never know, is the percentage of prospects referred to you but who never actually contact you.  Instead, they choose a competitor.

Most of us retain bits and pieces of information when meeting new people. You should never assume that you are so clearly top-of-mind that tracking you down when the need arises is just a phone call away.  We are all swimming in a sea of relentless information overload.  I barely recall all the people I met during the past two weeks.  Let alone, do I recall full names, what they each do for a living, and the name of their employers.

We fortunately have the magnificence of the Internet.  An extraordinary tool that makes it easier for someone who is searching for us, for the reasons we want them to, to quickly find us. Business owners including attorneys who want to be easily found online, should use a myriad of guidance techniques to drive those people to their door.  Making yourself searchable and findable online, in other ways than just by typing in your name, is vital to maintaining a successful practice.

“If someone wants to find me, they just type my name into Google and I’ll pop up.” That would certainly be the easiest way, but as I mentioned above your name might not be as memorable as you think. Take an occasion when a prospect is referred to you by your name, given a brief description of your practice and your firm. Fast forward three months, that prospect now desperately needs an attorney who does exactly what you do. They recall meeting you and vaguely recall the work you do is what they now need. They do not, however, remember your name or that of your firm. “He’s a civil rights lawyer in Utah at one of the bigger and older firms…” or, “I think she does water law work? I sat next to her at a networking lunch…I think I’d recognize the firm name.”

In that scenario, if you are the civil rights lawyer and are not listed on page one or even two when a search for civil rights lawyer Utah is done, then you have just increased your chances of not getting the work.  Same goes for the water law attorney who does not show up on the first page of Google when doing a search for water law attorney Salt Lake City.

Since asked the why page one question, I found that a great deal of research has been done on the ever-growing importance of ranking.  Here are just two sources:

Google Click Through Rates by Ranking

Page One: What’s a Google Rank Worth

There is no way to determine, at least not now, the exact terms people are using in their searches.  Google and other search engines do not provide that level of detailed information.  There is also no way to measure how many high-quality clients are trying to find you but cannot, did not, and instead are comfortably being served by another lawyer and law firm.

If you have not yet searched yourself, you should.  How easy is it to find you using terms that you want to be found under?