Top 5 Reasons Your Law Firm Should Be Using Google+
When we first reported on Google+, we were reluctant to push Google+ as a viable channel for our clients. There are so many Internet options, including websites, Facebook and Twitter, and we wanted to recommend the most prudent use of our clients’ advertising budgets. My, how times have changed. Google+ has made serious inroads to Twitter and has picked up millions of new users – it was over 90 million at last count and has been forecasted to hit 400 million by year’s end. Google+ has released pages for brands and businesses, a potential game changer for law firms. And the very latest release, Google Search plus Your World, rewrites the rules for your law firm’s search results.
What does all this mean? It means your law firm needs to be on Google+ if you want to take advantage of the boost that this up and coming Social Media service can provide to your website’s rankings. We’d like to offer five reasons for signing on. Before we dive in, let’s get a little terminology out of the way:
- Google+ Profile. A Google+ Profile is an online Google+ page for an individual person. Each profile allows an individual to share photos, movies, biographical information, as well as items of interest in their life or from the web. You can read more about the individual elements of a profile from one of our Law Web Marketing posts, “Google Social Media, Your Law Firm Web Marketing Is About To Change.”
- Google+ (Brand) Page. A Google+ Page is very similar to a Google+ Profile with the exception that it is intended to be used by businesses or brands. There are some subtle differences like the fact that a Page needs to be added to one of another user’s circles before the Page can add that person to their circle. Otherwise many brands would just endeavor to add everyone on Google+.
- Google+ Direct Connect. Google+ Direct Connect is a mechanism created by Google to allow web surfers to directly connect with brands by typing the brand’s name preceded by the “+” sign into Google’s search page. For instance, “+Pepsi”. This will take you directly to Pepsi’s Google+ Brand Page.
Ok, onward to our main points. Following are the reasons we believe Google+ should be an integral part of your law firm marketing in 2012.
- Sheer number of users. Paul Allen, the founder of Ancestry.com, predicts the number of Google+ users will skyrocket from 62 million in December 2011 to 400 million by the end of the year. Google recently announced its Social Media platform had over 90 million users, with 60% of those members using the service daily and 80% using it weekly (Edit: It has been pointed out that this metric is describing usage of all google services by users with Google+ accounts). With the increased number of users and the new possibilities for interaction (circles, hangouts, video), Google+ is an important online outlet you won’t want to overlook.
- A Direct Connection to Your Law Firm. Fire up Google in your browser and type in “+Pepsi”. If you are logged into Google, This takes you to the Pepsi Brand Page on Google+. What you’re seeing is the Direct Connect mechanism at work. That feature also gives you the option to automatically add pages you have searched for to your circles in the future. This is huge. If users opt in to this, then it means that anytime someone enters “+Your Firm’s Name Here” into the Google search bar, you are automatically added to their circle of people they follow if you have the Direct Connect functionality active. And that means that your posts will show up in their stream. Now, imagine your firm’s name is “Smith Law Firm” and another firm across the country is also named “Smith Law Firm” and they already have a popular Google Brand Page that users can find by simply typing in “+Smith Law Firm”. Because they beat you to the punch, visitors looking for your site will be taken across country to the other firm’s site. Admittedly, Direct Connect is not a widely used convention yet, but the fact remains that a firm’s name is one of the top keywords used to find a firm’s website. It won’t take most users long to figure out that they can just stick a “+” in front of the name they are searching for to save themselves a few clicks.
- The Power of Referrals. In the book Grouped: How Small Groups of Friends are the Key to Influence on the Social Web, author Paul Adams states: “In independent studies … people were three to four times more likely to trust a friend or acquaintance than a blogger or expert for product purchase advice.” Google already connects people to brands via their search results and adwords products. Imagine you search for a plumber and find that your friend Bob, who hired a company a few months ago, had such outstanding service that he recommended (+1’d) their page and commented favorable on Google+. That referral or recommendation will skyrocket to the top of your Google results and you will see that Bob recommended this company. This is the power of the social Web, and this will mean great success for companies that truly care about their client’s and show it by the service they provide. If you provide great service to your law firm clients, don’t be shy about asking them to click the (+1) button for your page.
- Cutting down on the Noise. Google+ is designed for the multi-faceted life. One of the biggest hindrances for companies using Facebook is the marketing “noise” – those items you don’t care about that enter your news stream. The problem with Facebook for most companies, including law firms, is that it is not very easy to compartmentalize the feeds you get. Everything is in one stream. With a Google+ page, law firms have some unique opportunities. They can break up their communications into separate group – for example, past clients, possible referral candidates, media contacts, employees, etc. That makes it possible to communicate with each in unique ways and as ethics rules allow, cutting down on that noise factor.
- You are the Authority. The biggest reason to create a Google+ page: the ability to create authoritative content. If you have a personal Google+ profile tied to your blog posts, Google knows that information is from you and can weed out content scrapers and knock-off sites. Google can also get a metric for how popular you are through the number of people that have you in their circles, which is an indication that you have something relevant to say to them. In the end, that could boost your overall rankings. Similarly, having a Google+ business page linked to your website lets Google know that that is your page. The more circles you are in is another metric that Google can use to determine the popularity of your firm. Unlike Facebook, Google+ is tied to search. There is a possibility that Google could use this information in their page-ranking algorithm at some point. Early adopters to Google+ pages will have a lot easier time gaining followers than those late to the game since new users signing up will be looking for people or companies to fill their circles with. How quickly did your friend list grow on Facebook in the first few months, compared with the last few years?
Bottom line: we highly recommend Google+ Pages for all firms. In our opinion, it is crucial to your marketing efforts, and now is the time to get started. Contact Our Law Firm Marketing Experts Today Contact Consultwebs.com today for help setting up your Google+ page. If you would like to talk further with an experienced legal Internet marketing strategist, reach out to Consultwebs.com, Inc., today. Call us at (800) 872-6590 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
J.R. Oakes is in charge of developing and managing a comprehensive approach to search engine optimization for the law firm clients of Consultwebs.com. In this role, J.R. constantly analyzes and adapts the marketing firm's SEO strategy to address the constantly changing factors that go into high search engine rankings. Follow JR on Google+ or Twitter