As the phrase goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression…. yet most law firms fail to proactively monitor, manage and coach this most vital aspect of marketing. During this video, Mockingbird will showcase how we employ Intake Monitoring software to improving this experience from both in-house staff and third-party after-hours vendors. Learn how to manage your intake staff with the software Nordstrom uses to deliver an exceptional experience for people calling in.
While I (Conrad) was writing my anti-podcast missive I asked Adam Lockwood, the Head Audio Engineer at Legal Talk Network and the producer of Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, for a technical rundown on how exactly he goes about creating absolutely perfect professional podcasts time after time. What follows is Adam’s guidelines on how to create a professional-grade audio content AND why doing so dramatically improves the impact of your podcast.
Okay, we’ve established that high-quality audio is important, but how do we get there? Let’s start with equipment. You’re going to want to invest in a decent microphone. There are a whole slew of things to consider as you make your mic choice, but the linked article above should help you start to wrap your head around what you might need.
Next, you’ll need a way to get the signal from your microphone into your computer. A USB mic has this functionality built in, but if you’re using a traditional microphone setup, you will need an audio interface to convert the analog signal from your microphone into a digital signal that your computer can record. Both are good options, but using a mic/interface setup allows for more flexibility and future upgrades.
Now that we’ve converted your dulcet tones into a bunch of ones and zeros, let’s start recording! To make that happen, you’ll need some sort of DAW––digital audio workstation––to record the audio at its highest quality on your computer. Some computers come with apps that will record the audio for you, such as GarageBand on an Apple computer, or you may have Audition with that Adobe Creative Suite you already pay for. If none of those are an option, you can find cheap or free DAWs out there on the wild wild webs.
Wait, what? You can just hit record on Zoom and it will capture everything for you? That can be very convenient and may be your best bet at times, but the audio Zoom records is severely compressed, meaning portions of the audio signal are removed to accommodate speedy transfer over the internet. This results in less than ideal audio quality. There are also some browser-based DAWs designed specifically for podcasting, such as Zencastr and Riverside.fm. These can be a great option but can be problematic depending on other people’s computer systems and equipment.
So, that leaves us with you recording your voice on your computer from your fancy new microphone. You did get a new microphone, right? But, what should you do if you have a guest on your show? Well, if your guest also has a decent microphone, encourage them to also record themselves on their side. It will be crucial that you both wear headphones as you don’t want your microphone to record your computer speakers as well. If your guest doesn’t have a microphone, they can very easily record their voice on a smartphone via a voice memo app. Simply have them elevate their phone to mouth level with some books, place the phone six to eight inches away from their mouth, and hit record.
Now that you and your guest have recorded high-quality audio of yourselves, it’s time to put it together. It’s at this point that you can really set yourself apart from the plethora of other podcasts. As an audio and podcast professional, I typically budget one hour of work for ten minutes of recorded audio to edit and clean up umms, uhhs, A/C noise, dog barks, lip smacks, pauses, plosives, fumbles, flubs, and… well, you get the picture.
The different elements of the audio also need to be mixed so that individual voices, musical elements, and other sounds are all clear, consistent, and balanced. Some voices may need enhancement through equalization––the adding and subtracting of select frequencies in the sound spectrum––and the controlling effect of compression. Does this all sound complicated? To be honest, it kind of is. If you want a fairly introductory primer on mixing, follow this rabbit hole.
You know that fancy new DAW you downloaded to record with? You can probably take the time to learn those programs, put some practice in, and get a fairly decent end product. But, do you really have the time to invest in editing and mixing your thrilling two-hour conversation about the migration and mating patterns of Sandhill Cranes two times a week?
May I suggest that you hire an audio professional to do the post-production work on your podcast? There are plenty of qualified audio engineers out there that would jump at the chance to efficiently edit and mix your podcast for a reasonable fee. The question here is: How much is your time worth? Not to say that you are incapable of doing this on your own, because of course not, you’re amazing! But, hiring someone to do the heavy lift of post-production may enable you to focus more on being a great host and making great content. That really is the crux of the matter, after all. If you’re not putting out great content, you’re just adding to the noise.
This morning, Google announced brand new functionality to allow for Regex filtering in Google Search Console performance reports. This announcement was quickly spotted and reported on by Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land. So what does this mean for those of us using Search Console on a regular basis?
With this rollout, analyzers can implement regex to more efficiently filter data in Search Console. The example Google provides is to easily include an “and” modifier to query and page searches. A salient example for Mockingbird is our brand name. Way back in the day, “Mockingbird Marketing” was known as “Atticus Marketing”. We’ve long since transitioned to the name Mockingbird, but I was curious if we’re showing up organically for any “Atticus” queries. Thanks to the new regex rollout, this is as simple as navigating to “Performance”, adding a new filter, selecting “queries”, and inputing the following: “Atticus|Mockingbird”. This allows us to look up query information for both terms on either side of the bar at the same time:
Search Console Reports
Using the search above, we’re retuned the following report:
As you’ll notice, we’re returned queries capturing both brand names. You can then add/subtract menu items to get immediate data on a slew of metrics beyond what is listed in the screenshot above.
The only limit to regex is your creativity/understanding. There are plenty of resources online (here’s the one directly from Google) available to gain a better understanding of how to use regex and what it can be used for, but it’s virtually limitless.
This is a short clip from a tragically prescient link building presentation I gave at PILMMA way back in 2016. It touches in a a very very difficult subject, challenges the legal community to get more involved locally and showcases the SEO benefits of doing so. Yeah – it may seem tone-deaf callous and opportunistic, but really its a call for the legal community to get more involved in their communities at a very intimate level.
It has been well established that a strong backlink profile is a key ingredient in the SEO mix. Upperranks has gone so far as to dub backlinks “the most important Google ranking factor.”
But not all backlinks are created equally. So what are the factors that influence the value of a backlink?
Perhaps the most obvious method for assigning value to a backlink, domain rating is a numeric value given to a website’s domain based on the breadth of its backlink profile.
Mockingbird’s tool of choice for determining the strength of a domain is Ahrefs Site Explorer, which uses the term “domain rating” for its rating system. Other tools like, Moz and Majestic have their own terminology, such as “domain authority” and “trust flow.”
Minor differences aside, each of these tools essentially assigns a value to a domain based on the number and quality of backlinks pointing to it. When a high authority domain links to your website it passes value to your domain, thus improving your domain authority. This is often referred to as “link juice.”
As an example, Forbes has a domain rating of 93. Based on this metric alone, a backlink from Forbes would be considered quite valuable.
Domain authority is a signifier of backlink value, but determining true value is not so simple. In fact, a backlink from a domain with a rating of 30 could improve your ranking more than a backlink from a domain with a rating of 93.
The relevance of a domain’s subject matter plays a major role in how a backlink will affect SEO.
Location & Topic
Links from local sources are particularly valuable for SEO as they increase search engine confidence in the location of your firm and signify local authority. Domain subject matter relevance also improves the value of a backlink. For example, if your firm practices personal injury law, a link from the Brain Injury Association of America would be desirable, as it would be another signifier that your firm is an authority in its area of practice.
Anchor Text Relevancy
A link can be attached to words, which we call anchor text, or it can be listed as a plain URL. It is preferable for a backlink to be attached to relevant anchor text. So, which of these backlinks would be most valuable to Mockingbird?
- Learn more about our favorite digital marketing agency in Seattle here: https://mockingbird.marketing/
- Learn more about our favorite digital marketing agency in Seattle here.
- Learn more about our favorite digital marketing agency in Seattle.
That’s right, the answer is number three! (We’re so confident in you). The first link is less valuable because it’s listed as a plain URL. The second link is also not ideal, even though it is using anchor text because the text “here” is not relevant to our business or informative for search engines.
Number three is dream anchor text. It includes what we do and where we are. This backlink would likely help Mockingbird rank better for this exact phrase.
Number of Links Per Domain
The first link you receive from a domain will have more value than the second link from that same domain. So in terms of SEO, it is better to pursue backlinks from websites that have never linked to you, rather than chasing multiple links on the same domain. This is not to say a second or third link will not be valuable, but the returns are diminishing.
A backlink from five years ago is less value than a link you received yesterday. This is part of why backlink development must be a consistent endeavor. Your stellar backlink profile will become stale if you do not continually to add to it.
If there are hundreds of backlinks on a page, the links will not receive as much value as it would if there were only a few carefully selected links on the page. Likewise, a domain which gives out links like candy is will not provide as valuable of a backlink as a domain which rarely links out.
On Page Location
Backlinks from the body of the text are more valuable from those placed in the sidebar or footer of a page. Moz explained the reasoning for this, saying:
“The best possible place for me to get a link is in the content, because that’s where the article or the editorial authority is coming from. Links from sidebars or footers are associated with advertising, promotions, or sponsorships, which don’t pass much authority.”
Chances are, you’ve come across a broken page. Some companies play it off with a page of puppies, while others state the combination of numbers “404”.
A 404 is essentially an error message, indicating that the server cannot find the page being requested. In other words, what you are looking for simply isn’t there. Ideally, your site does not have any 404s, but if it does, don’t worry! We’ll go over how to find 404s and more importantly, how to fix them.
Embarrassing stumbling upon them
The most unfortunate way to find a 404 is having a customer point it out to you, as experienced by Mockingbird’s president and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Not only is this unprofessional, but it dampens what would have otherwise been a positive experience by the customer. Conrad then goes into depth on how to monitor 404s through Google Search Console so be sure to check out that method as well.
Evaluating Ahrefs Backlinks
One paid tool you can use is Ahrefs, an SEO toolkit that helps monitor various aspects of your site. Learn how to get the most out of Ahrefs and the benefits it can can provide for your website. For our purpose, we’re going to focus on backlinks. Once you log into Ahrefs, you’ll want to click on “Broken” under “Backlinks,” which will bring up (you guessed it) your broken backlinks. Hopefully, you won’t have too many, but we will go into how to handle these 404s below.
Running a Screaming Frog Crawl
Another paid tool available is Screaming Frog, an SEO analyzer that scans your site. The nice thing about this tool is that it visually analyzes your site, showing you what percentage of links on your site are 404s. After running the crawl, you’ll want to head to the “Response Codes” tab and highlight all the addresses shown. Then, click “Outlinks” on the bottom half of the screen.
You can export this report for a better view, but the most important columns to pay attention to are “From”, “To” and “Anchor Text”. The “From” column identifies which page the 404 is living on, while the “Anchor Text” is the word or phrase that is linking to the 404.
So now you know what 404s are and the different ways of finding them, the next step is decide what to do with them. I will refer to external sources as websites that is not your own and internal sources as your own website. In addition, you’ll also want to know how to redirect pages.
There are three situations in which a 404 can occur: An external source pointing towards an internal source, an internal source pointing towards another internal source and an internal source pointing towards an external source.
Externally pointing internally
When an external source point to a page on your site, it is known as a backlink. Backlinks influence the overall authority of your site and where your site ranks in Google searches. Therefore, you want to make sure that no broken backlinks exist through a tool like Ahrefs. The best course of action is to redirect the internal broken link to a functioning page with similar content. That way, we keep the authority from the backlink, but lose the 404.
Internally pointing internally
Sometimes a site can have pages pointing towards an internal 404. In this case, we’d use a tool like Screaming Frog to identify the anchor text and broken link. Simply unlink the anchor text and optionally replace the 404 with a working page. You’ll still want to place a redirect for the broken link to a page with similar content or even the homepage if none exist.
Internally pointing externally
The last case in which a 404 exists is most likely the easiest to handle. Your site may point to external links such as social profiles or resources. When those links break, however, you cannot fix them. Instead, the only thing you can control is whether or not your site points to them. If no similar substitutes for the external link can be used to replace it, then simply unlink the anchor text within your website.
With the web continuously changing URLs and sites constantly growing, monitoring 404s can be a handful. However, an experienced marketing agency knows how to report and fix 404s. Contact Mockingbird Marketing to see how we can help you today.
Optimizing Landing Pages for Actionable Language
Actionable language begins by asking yourself, “How can I help my user?”.
What are the common threads shared by the majority of your clients, and before scrolling down the page, what is it they need to know first?
In essence, DON’T BURY THE LEAD, tell people what they need to know.
Let’s dive into the results of this case study before I sell you further on actionable language.
Tell People What They Need To Know!
We launched ads for this campaign at the end of July 2020 and didn’t see results until September. Starting first by optimizing the campaign in an attempt to bring in more volume and lower the cost per acquisition (CPA), but it still wasn’t driving conversions once folks clicked and landed on the page.
Why so long before seeing results? Why the sudden change in conversions from 0% to 45% average?
Because we re-wrote the language to tell users upon landing on the page, that my client can help them with their legal matter!
Timeline & Results From The Campaign Level
Here’s a granular look at the data. One caveat, this campaign is incredibly niche and didn’t attract large numbers of visitors, but the change in conversions from 0% to 45% was a sharp contrast once we changed the text/copy on the page.
I get it, being this forward, can come off like a hard sell, even tacky, but it’s crucial to tell folks what they need to know without having to scroll or decipher a brick of text.
Let’s get into why this works, and how we can shape ourselves as an authority sharing how they can help users with their legal matters.
Be Clear About How You Can Help
The landing page had useful content, the issue was that the content spoke only about the law, not providing any context to how my clients could help their users with legal matters.
You have to put yourself in the user’s shoes. They’re on the web, most likely on their phone, and depending on your practice area, pressed for time. Now mix this into the browsing habits of average users, which is just that, browsing!
The average user on the web is skimming content for what they need, on the web, folks are typically researching and looking for answers on the go, especially these days with ~50% of web users are on mobile screens, and Google’s mobile-first indexing.
Now let’s add on stress from a potential legal matter that needs resolving.
Writing Tips for Appealing to Your Audience
Knowing that your audience is online, and regardless of their education, are primarily skimming your content. What are they seeking? Key phrases mostly, words that stand out, and address their particular issue.
This is why your most important points should be made in:
- your headings,
- followed by the bolded text in your paragraphs,
- then bullet points
- even line spacing plays a role.
Make Headings Clear & Concise: Don’t Bury The Lead
The Term “burying the lead” comes from journalism, reading any successful news publication you’ll know what exactly is going on from the article title and supporting headings.
Any and all useful information should be easily gained from your headings, providing any important information under your headings in bold or underline text. All other content is supporting your main point.
This is What Revealing The Lead Looks Like:
This is the landing page hero image and tagline, notice that visitors know exactly what this page is about, and how my clients can help.
Break up your content into easily digestible chunks
Formatting the text on your page is crucial as well, by breaking up your content into easily digestible chunks you’re not overwhelming your user with a wall of words made from bricks of text.
Notice in the image below that paragraphs are broken up, with each point expressed in 1-3 sentences, and spaced apart. If this were literature, you’d expect this content to be densely packed together on the page.
Remember, for the web, and for your landing pages, we are informing without overbearing, and if a denser read is warranted, then linking to alternative forms of media are useful, like downloadable e-books, pdf documents, or detailed blog content with a glossary of anchor links.
Write in simpler language
Regardless of your user’s education level, writing simpler online is always better. Not only in content pruning, but the vocabulary of the words used.
More sophisticated language takes longer to read, and not good for quickly skimming for what you need, and may come off as pretentious.
Bullet points make content digestible
If you’re writing out a list, or there are multiple points to cover, breaking this content into numbered or bulleted lists can make it more easily digestible by the reader.
Don’t forget to bold any crucial text, and ensure that it appears first, ahead of all other supporting text.
Why are bullet points so useful?
- Separates out important content, making it easier to read
- creates a hierarchy
- Adds space between subject matter
Remember, it’s all about how to provide users with information on how you can help them.
At the end of the day, it’s their legal matter and they need help solving it, and the first attorney whose website can deliver answers to the questions they’re asking, and providing that consistency throughout.
Lastly, don’t forget to ask for the sale by inviting users to reach out by contacting you.
Other Online Resources for You to Explore:
- Using Actionable Language That Converts Users Into Leads
- How Law Firms Can Attract New Clients Using Video Marketing
- 7 Features of Highly Effective Content
Books To Explore:
In a previous post, we covered Google announcing Core Web Vitals as metrics to measure a healthy site. In November, they announced that these metrics will be search engine ranking signals in May 2021 along with existing search signals for page experience which include mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitial guidelines. We have been spending time diving into these web vitals and how we can be prepared and provide an excellent page experience.
To review, these are defined as the Core Web Vitals:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): The time it takes for a page’s main content to load. An ideal LCP measurement is 2.5 seconds or faster.
- First Input Delay (FID): The time it takes for a page to become interactive. An ideal measurement is less than 100 ms.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): The amount of unexpected layout shift of visual page content. An ideal measurement is less than 0.1.
Let’s dive into how Mockingbird is preparing.
- Using CSS to fill in spacing for fixed elements. Often websites have fixed elements (we have fixed headers that react to user scroll) like banners or ads. If you don’t accommodate for that space before the element loads, it will shift the website layout when the rest of the website doesn’t, thus increasing your CLS score which we don’t want.
- Using WebP images – a more progressive web format that can be compressed smaller than your typical image formats.
- WordPress now comes with lazy loading which means it doesn’t load page elements into view until the content is within the viewport.
Below are screenshots of some recent law firm websites we have created using the above techniques.
There are so many creative PR and link building tactics to explore that we often neglect the most obvious opportunities.
Many link building plans that we come up rely on digital publishers that we may not have a personal connection to. They require casting a larger net, investing some serious outreach time, and offering something of significant value in return.
Have You Heard of Networking?
One way to ease the link building process and increase the likelihood that your efforts will succeed is to utilize your personal and professional connections.
It’s a pretty universally understood idea. Networking is good. Networking leads to opportunities. But, you would be surprised how many undiscovered connection link placement opportunities most attorneys have out there.
Why Network Link Building
Network link building provides an opportunity to develop a relevant and natural backlink profile. Most of the connections you have are likely from around your area, and if they are not, their sites will normally be relevant to your practice. The value of a link is not simply based on domain rating. The locality and topic of websites can affect the value of a link.
To begin network link building, you must start by making an outreach list and identifying opportunities. If you’re having a hard time getting started, consider the following tactics.
Board Member Link Building
Most associations have pages which list out their board members. If you or an attorney at your firm is a member of a board, go to the association’s website and look for a page listing board members. You can then reach out to the association and ask them to add a link to the attorney’s profile for more information. No board member page? No problem. Reach out and ask if there is somewhere that a profile can be added.
If you have a personal connection at the association, contact them. If not, search for contact information on the site. If there are multiple contacts listed, give preference to web admins and communications officers. The most suitable contact will depend on the specific organization.
Donation & Sponsorship Link Building
Have you made a donation in the past or sponsored an event? If so, reach out to the organization and ask that you be added to their sponsors page; most non profit websites will have one. Similar to Board of Directors link building, don’t be afraid to reach out if there is no page. Ask if they would consider adding one or linking elsewhere. Be sure to be human and express that you are happy to support their organization.
Local Business Link Building
- Do you have a friend that owns a business?
- Is there a service provider that you firm refers clients to?
- Is there a restaurant that your team loves to go to for lunch?
Reach out and offer to write them a review to be published on their website and ask that a link to your firm be added to your name in the review.
Podcast & Webinar Guesting
Do you have any friends or business connections who have done webinars or who have podcasts? Reach out and suggest a topic of discussion and offer to be a guest in their next session. It’s an effort to consistently produce content and find guests for podcasts and webinars, and you may be helping your connection out. Just be sure to ask for a link on the event page or in the episode description.
Many organizations and businesses are overwhelmed right now. Even if they say they will add the link they may get distracted my other work and forget. Make sure to gently follow up with them. Most people will be thankful for the reminder.
These are just a few ideas for how to use your connections to develop links for your website. As you consider your connections think about what you might be able to provide them. The best link building is based on providing value to the website you’re hoping to get a link from. These are tough times for most businesses and organizations. Think about how you can nurture your connections and help them, even in a mall way.