New “Follow” Button For Google Maps

Currently rolling out only to those using Google Maps for Android, Google is now giving users the ability to “follow” specific businesses as announced on their blog. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before IOS users start seeing this feature as well.

 

Image from Google

Once a user starts following a business on Google, they start to receive news from that business, like events, offers and other updates. The news, events and updates show up under the “For You” tab within Google Maps.

google maps for you tab example

GMB (Google My Business) Posts Shouldn’t Be Ignored

 

This Google Map update shows that Google is putting more stock into the Google My Business posts and so should your firm.

Prior to this update, users would only find your business’s Google post and Q&A if they actively searched for your business and found the Knowledge Panel or business listing. Now, this information can be actively sent to users that have shown an interest in your services.

We’ll have to see how this unfolds and the implications to your law firm’s marketing strategy as the feature is rolled out.

Interestingly, this update comes at a time when Google+ has been discontinued following a massive data breach and trust in Facebook is at a low.

Call Tracking or No Call Tracking – Choose Wisely

you're not wrong just not helpful imageWhen a law firm starts an engagement with our marketing agency, we always setup our reporting and infrastructure. This includes call tracking. We communicate the value of this during the “sales” process. I like to think it’s what makes our law firm marketing services more attractive than the competition’s.

Once this setup has been completed, the conversation often goes like this:

Attorney [A]: Hey – why is my number changing on my website?! You guys are sending my business to the wrong attorney!!

Mockingbird [MB]: That’s call tracking working as it should! It allows us to measure which marketing channels are working and which ones are not. We’ve confirmed the numbers are forwarding to your firm. Give it a try!

A: Oh. Well I don’t want it.

MB: You should! Without it, we won’t have useful data to make accurate business decisions with your marketing investment.

A: I’ve had the same phone numbers for years. People have it memorized. Scrap call tracking.

MB: We aren’t willing to fly this plane blind. You’re investing thousands of dollars in PPC and we need to know if it’s working. It’s also vital to lowering your cost per lead and client metrics over time. You should continue to use your direct number on your business cards and give it to new clients during your on-boarding process!

A: What if a client saves a call tracking number?

MB: The number will still work! We encourage you to give your direct number to every new client when they sign with your firm. We only report on first time callers, because we wouldn’t want to miscount existing clients that call back using a tracking number as a new lead.

A: If I decide to leave MB, what happens?

MB: We don’t hold you hostage. We would hate to see you go, however, we setup your tools so that you own them. If you want to stop leveraging CallRail, they can port any phone number out from their system and into your preferred call software.

A: I’ll just ask my clients how they found me.

MB: They will tell you “the internet”. Which isn’t wrong, it’s just not helpful.

A: You’re not going to budge on this are you?

MB: Nope.

Call Tracking – Making Your Law Firm Successful

Our 10 Commandments are displayed proudly on the wall every employee (and visitor) sees them as they enter our office.

#3 is “Don’t Make Clients Happy, Make Them Successful.” Call tracking will help our marketing agency make your law firm successful.

If you don’t like it, there are at least a dozen other law firm marketing agencies that will light your money on fire for you. We’re just not one of them.

How to Properly Add URL Parameters to Facebook Ads

Tracking the efficacy of your law firm’s marketing and advertising is vital to understanding how well your investments are paying off. Proper UTM codes, a type of URL parameter for Google Analytics, is the first step to accurately tracking campaigns.

How and where you implement these URL parameters varies based on what platform you’re running ads from.

Facebook ads has a “Tracking” section where you can add custom parameters for each of your ads. If configured properly, you can categorize traffic and conversions in the proper marketing channel.

The important thing to remember when implementing these in Facebook is you should NOT include the ‘?’ before these parameters in this section. Facebook automatically amends the destination URL to include the ‘?’ before the parameter you entered.

url parameters facebook

You can find the official Facebook help article here.

URL Building Resources

There are a variety of URL parameter tools that can help you make the UTM codes that interface into Google Analytics.

Is Your Law Firm Domain Registered Through Weebly? That’s a Paddlin’

Full disclosure: This post is more of a public service announcement than a typical “how to” post on improving your law firm’s online marketing.

Pros and Cons of Using Weebly as your Registrar

Pros: They do all of your DNS configurations for you!

Cons: You’re required to have them do all of you DNS configurations for you.

My Experience Using Weebly’s Support to Update DNS

I recently helped migrate a website from a shared hosting environment on Blue Host to a faster, cleaner hosting environment with WP Engine. A typical WordPress website migration for a site with less than 25 pages takes 2-3 hours. Most of this time is spent backing up, crawling, uploading files and verifying everything made the move without issues.

There are many things that can complicate a migration. If you have an overly complex DNS that isn’t setup well, things get complicated quickly. The likelihood that your DNS setup is configured well is 5%. If you’re domain is registered through Weebly, it’s 0%.

Since Weebly tries to make things as easy on you (the attorney) as possible, they don’t have a typical Cpanel or advanced DNS settings page to create and adjust normal DNS settings like GoDaddy, or Namecheap, or Blue Host, or Host Gator, or…

Unfortunately for my client and to make things worse, his Name Servers were pointed away from Weebly and over to Bluehost. Which is where he had configured his email settings (MX records).

This means that I had to move ALL of his DNS settings away from Blue Host over to Weebly, in addition to moving all of his Website files from Blue Host to the new hosting company: WP Engine.

Because Weebly does all of the DNS changes for you, I had to contact their support to make a whole lot of very important, highly technical DNS changes for me. Yikes.

This also meant that I need to carefully articulate what changes I needs made and when. Ugh.

This also meant that I have to repeat myself multiple times. Doh.

This also meant that I have to work on behalf of my client and not on behalf of me – the guy who knows what he is doing (no offense). Bleh.

This also meant that they need to change the Name Servers BACK to Weebly’s Name Servers, which takes 48 hours to update across the web AFTER they finally make the changes. Boo.

This also meant that I have to verify they don’t mess this up….For the record, they did not mess it up but they took nearly a week to update DNS settings from start to finish.

In short, if you can at all avoid registering your domain through Weebly, I highly recommend doing so. Especially if you think you’ll eventually become large enough to hand this off to your VP of Marketing.

For those of you who need help with this, I’m happy to talk: 206-209-2125.

Building Quality Links on Trusted Sites – Email SPAM

You’ve likely received an email with a subject line like “Building quality links on trusted and high authoritative websites” or “Blogpost/Links.” Heck, even search quality representatives at Google get these embarrassingly lazy emails to try and sell high DA (domain authority) links.

Here’s an example I received this morning:

link building spam email

I appreciate being part of your team, mate. However, I’m not buying the BS.

We know what linkbuilding is, and it’s not following up to a poorly written email and handing cash to a stranger.

We know that linkbuilding, especially for law firms, is difficult. So difficult, many law firm marketing agencies won’t even bring it up to you. Go ahead – ask em. What is your SEO agency’s strategy on earning your website links?

I’m hoping their answer didn’t involve replying to Deep and spending your hard-earned money on the small chance of getting that buzzfeed link…

For the record, Google is very good at ignoring these types of links. You may even be penalized for breaking their quality guidelines.

Please, don’t fill Deep’s pockets.

gary illyes spam email links

Managing Duplicate Google My Business Listings in a Post Map Maker World

Since the old Map Maker feature was terminated at the end of March 2017, you may be left wondering how to deal with duplicate Google My Business law firm and individual practitioner pages. The information below, summarized from the recent post by Local SEO expert Joy Hawkins, should provide some direction for you and your firm.

Steps to Fixing a Duplicate Google My Business for your law firm’s listing:

  1. Find out if the duplicate listing is verified
    1. If it is, you’ll need to get access/ownership or have it unverified
    2. If it is not, continue on.
  2. Note any reviews that are on the duplicate listing. If there are positive reviews, contact google my business support to have them transferred.
  3. Compare the addresses between the listings. Do they match?
    1. If yes, contact Google My Business support via Twitter and ask them to merge
    2. If no, find out if the business used to be at the address at some point & continue
      1. If the business never existed at the wrong address, click “suggest an edit”
        1. Toggle to “Yes” next to “Place is permanently closed”
          1. Select “Never existed” as the reason and submit.
        2. If the business used to exist at the address, contact Google My Business support via twitter and ask them to change the status to “Moved”.

Special considerations for Attorneys

Attorneys can have individual practitioner pages. If you have an attorney that has a practitioner page and the attorney no longer works for your firm, contact Google My Business support via twitter and ask them to move the practitioner page to your firm’s page. This only works if the practitioner page is unverified or is willing to give you access to it. If they aren’t willing to do this, your last option is to have them update the information to the new firm.

Example of a proper individual practitioner listing:

example of google attorney practitioner page

Google’s Video on How to Hire an SEO Consultant [or Agency]

If you’re considering an investment with an SEO Consultant or SEO Agency, please watch this 11.5-minute video released by Google. Maile Ohye, Google’s Developer Programs Tech Lead, outlines important things to consider, tips on what to ask for, and even items to expect from technical audits.

A good SEO will try to prioritize what ideas can bring your business the most improvement for the least investment, and what improvements may take more time but help growth in the long term. – Maile Ohye

SEO Summary:

  • If you want long-term success, there are no silver bullets to get your site to rank #1
  • SEO takes time to implement and see benefits
  • A good SEO agency will recommend best practices for a search friendly site, and back it up with documentation directly from Google
  • Putting more keywords in the meta-keywords tag and buying links don’t work to improve SEO

Hiring process summary:

  1. Interview your potential SEO consultant or agency and make sure they are genuinely interested in you and your business
  2. Check references
  3. Ask (and likely pay) for a technical search audit
  4. Decide if you want to hire

 

SPAM is for Eating, Not for the Internet

Google recently posted a blog with some tips on how to keep user/bot generated SPAM from ending up on your website. I’ve italicized user/bot because I don’t want you to get your SPAM confused… We’ve written about Google Analytics SPAM numerous times. This stuff is a little different, though it can be related.

Protecting your website from user generated SPAM is important because it can cause serious issues with your website in the eyes of Google. SPAM can be a source for malware or injected links. It can even go as far to result in your website being hijacked completely. Google doesn’t want to show a malicious website (or potentially malicious) to any of its beloved users, so act accordingly!

The major source for user generated SPAM on a Law Firm website is your blog comments. If you aren’t already, you should enable email notifications whenever someone comments on one of your blogs. This way you can act quickly.

Here are the tips from Anouar Bendahou, Search Quality Strategist at Google, to fight this type of SPAM (I’ve bolded my favorites):

  • Keep your forum software updated and patched. Take the time to keep your software up-to-date and pay special attention to important security updates. Spammers take advantage of security issues in older versions of blogs, bulletin boards, and other content management systems.
  • Add a CAPTCHA. CAPTCHAsrequire users to confirm that they are not robots in order to prove they’re a human being and not an automated script. One way to do this is to use a service like reCAPTCHASecurimage and  Jcaptcha .
  • Block suspicious behavior.Many forums allow you to set time limits between posts, and you can often find plugins to look for excessive traffic from individual IP addresses or proxies and other activity more common to bots than human beings. For example, phpBBSimple MachinesmyBB, and many other forum platforms enable such configurations.
  • Check your forum’s top posters on a daily basis. If a user joined recently and has an excessive amount of posts, then you probably should review their profile and make sure that their posts and threads are not spammy.
  • Consider disabling some types of comments. For example, It’s a good practice to close some very old forum threads that are unlikely to get legitimate replies. If you plan on not monitoring your forum going forward and users are no longer interacting with it, turning off posting completely may prevent spammers from abusing it.
  • Make good use of moderation capabilities. Consider enabling features in moderation that require users to have a certain reputation before links can be posted or where comments with links require moderation. If possible, change your settings so that you disallow anonymous posting and make posts from new users require approval before they’re publicly visible.Moderators, together with your friends/colleagues and some other trusted users can help you review and approve posts while spreading the workload. Keep an eye on your forum’s new users by looking on their posts and activities on your forum.
  • Consider blacklisting obviously spammy terms. Block obviously inappropriate comments with a blacklist of spammy terms (e.g. Illegal streaming or pharma related terms) . Add inappropriate and off-topic terms that are only used by spammers, learn from the spam posts that you often see on your forum or other forums. Built-in features or plugins can delete or mark comments as spam for you.
  • Use the “nofollow” attribute for links in the comment field. This will deter spammers from targeting your site. By default, many blogging sites (such as Blogger) automatically add this attribute to any posted comments.
  • Use automated systems to defend your site.  Comprehensive systems like Akismet, which has plugins for many blogs and forum systemsare easy to install and do most of the work for you.

A Legal Marketing Agency’s Letter to Santa

Whether you celebrate Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, or just consume copious amounts of cookies and egg nog, we wish you good health and much happiness! Cheers to the end of another successful year and to the beginning of 2017 from all of us at Mockingbird Marketing.

Dear Santa,

We hope you’re doing well! We’ve been extra busy this year trying to deliver more value for our customers’ marketing budgets and to make their law firms even more successful than last year. A few new products have been rolled out, and we have improved upon already existing processes to make us smarter and faster about what we do.

We’ve been lucky enough to be accepted into Google’s Partner Acceleration Program, which allows us to offer the highest level of Paid Advertising support available! Additionally, we’ve held a few hands-on workshops that have generated a lot of praise from both large and small firms. Come to think of it, you’re familiar with workshops – maybe you could swing by our next one in Austin on January 12th and let us know what you think.

Our business reporting has become more tailored to our clients’ goals, more accurate and provides even more actionable insights than ever before. We’ve deemed 2016 “the year of the spam” and have increased our efforts to keep our data clean. You know how much we love data; probably as much as you love ice cold milk and cookies.

We’ve continue to grow and have signed some of our best clients yet! We’re constantly amazed at how smart our clients are, especially outside of the law. We have noticed, however, that our legal SEO Store still gets a lot of traffic, so hopefully we can engage with these prospects so that we can have an immediate and positive impact for them next year.

We have a lot to be grateful for this year, so I hope our wish list below doesn’t obfuscate that. In fact, we are most grateful that we get to play a small role in the important services our clients provide.

P.S. If you get injured delivering all those gifts, head over to the search engines. You’ll find one of the attorneys we work closely with and highly recommend! Stay safe.

Wish List

  1. Improved local snack pack results
  2. Less Google Analytics Spam/fake traffic.
  3. Lower Cost per Clicks.
  4. Easier link building opportunities.
  5. #1 Rankings for all our clients.
  6. More accurate and useful Webmaster…err… I mean Search Console
  7. Fewer remarketing restrictions.
  8. To continue to have engaged, excited, passionate clients.
  9. Another Seahawks Championship.

Sincerely,

Mockingbird Marketing