As the old advertising methods give way to Google and Bing, attorneys must adapt their ad strategies and marketing campaigns. An attorney who simply sets up a website is missing out on all the ways the Internet can help get the word out about his legal services and create loyal clients.

How can an attorney efficiently use the Internet to build a firm? There is no easy answer to this question; however, there are some relatively simple solutions to maintain a respectable web presence.

All attorneys need to have a website, and its software code must be up-to-date. If designers build a website on outdated code, the website will run slower (annoying potential clients), and it will show up lower on search engine results. The robots that scour the internet for content take the date of the coding into account when they display results. The thought behind disregarding websites created from outdated code is that the website also will contain outdated information.

Keeping content fresh on the website is the second key to staying competitive in the online marketplace. People visit websites for information. Just providing general information about a firm is no longer enough to attract attention. Consumers (i.e. potential clients) want information about a lawyer’s area of practice, but they also want general educational materials about legal matters that interest them.

The easiest way to meet this need is to include a blog component on the website. Blog content can be anything: case summaries of recent opinions, general legal information, a lawyer’s thoughts on legal issues, etc. A blog provides the opportunity to add personality and expertise to the website.

Social Media Smarts

Attorneys must integrate social media into their websites and online marketing plans. Social media programs allow lawyers to control their images, develop their professional brands and cultivate quasi-personal relationships with clients.

One of the great benefits of social media is that it’s an exchange of information. Clients value having a personal relationship with their attorneys; friending a client on Facebook also can build loyalty and provide insight into the client’s concerns.

Social media also make it easier to connect to potential clients. People take to Facebook and Twitter at all hours to interact with people they know. It’s fairly simple for current clients to refer friends to lawyers via Facebook and Twitter. These free tools let lawyers keep the general public abreast of legal issues, in addition to providing great outreach and branding.

Once an up-to-date website or vigorous social media campaign brings a client to a lawyer’s website, that lawyer should make it easy for the client to contact her. Every page of the website should include a contact form. Clients who are reading the site’s content are much more likely to reach out if there is a contact form right there. There’s no reason to require a prospective client to take extra steps, such as sending an email using an outside mail service. Any additional hassle can result in the loss of potential clients.

There is no one secret to succeeding with online marketing and branding. However, small changes can make outreach efforts more effective. Having an up-to-date website, fresh content, integrated social media and easy forms of communication will go a long way in helping lawyers get noticed online. Every online marketing strategy should keep the client in mind.