Online brand marketing presents a challenge for any law firm, but in 2012 it's been tougher than ever to get a brand marketing strategy that works. Online brand marketing was changed significantly in 2012, due to changes in Google's search algorithm that affected nearly 1 in 5 searches. Developing a brand marketing strategy for 2013 will require you to understand the changes that have already taken place and the trends that are affecting how search will be handled in the future. Keep reading to find out what changes are having the biggest impact on law firms, and how to keep up with these changes in your online brand marketing efforts.
Changes in 2012: Search Algorithm Changes
Some of the biggest changes to the brand marketing strategy world happened when Google rolled out two sets of changes to their search engine in a period of just over six months. The first of these changes, Panda, was rolled out in late 2011—but businesses really didn't understand the implications for online brand marketing for several months. Panda changed the way that Google assigned “link juice” from certain types of websites, mostly those that would publish any kind of content that was submitted to them.
This kind of low quality content was seen as detrimental to search results, so links from these sites no longer counted toward inbound linking totals for websites. Online brand marketing was made a great deal harder for law firms that could no longer use search engine optimization through these article spinner services as a primary brand marketing strategy.
The second of the changes was codenamed Penguin, and it was designed to eliminate over-optimized sites from the first several pages of results. Since most legal clients will only see the first page of results, that could be a death knell for some websites. Brand marketing strategy changed significantly when low quality inbound linking and inbound linking with suspicious and automated patterns could be easily detected. Google “sandboxed” these sites, a term for when web pages are penalized in search results for the content they contain.
Changes in 2012: The Explosive Growth of Social
A few years ago, a lot of people felt that social networks were to be a brief-lived fad. Today, most of that attitude has collapsed, as Facebook use continued its upward swing and other services like Twitter and Foursquare have seen extensive growth throughout the year. There's no reason to ignore social media today in your brand marketing strategy. In fact, your firm may be able to do much more in social media on a tight budget than you can with other forms of online brand marketing.
That doesn't mean that you should just get a profile on a social media site or two and leave it for weeks or months at a time. Consistent updates that show your personality as a firm are important to show that you're actually invested in making social networking connections. You should be posting updates that are of general interest to the kinds of audiences you might have on the sites, not just whatever links interest you personally.
Changes in 2012: The Continued Rise of Video Advertising
The cost of video advertising has been decreasing, and that has led to an explosive growth in the number of videos on popular video uploading services like Youtube. Consider having a professional online video production company help you implement your online brand marketing with video. Video should now be a part of any law firm's brand marketing strategy—it's the type of marketing that is most likely to be viewed by new clients.
You should make sure to review some articles about how to best use Youtube as a lawyer. Strategies that may work for other businesses can seem unprofessional when a law firm does it, so make sure that you're not harming the reputation of your firm with the videos you create in the hopes of making the next viral hit.
Changes in 2012: Improved Location Targeting
One of the other biggest changes 2012 has seen for online brand marketing is the increase in location based services. Location based marketing helps you to craft a brand marketing strategy that targets the exact clients who are most likely to be able to take advantage of your services. For example, Foursquare now lets you target your online brand marketing to people who are inside a boundary on a map that you draw yourself for maximum effectiveness. This puts you in control to a degree never before seen in brand marketing strategy.
Expected Trends For 2013
There are already some glimmers of what might lie ahead for 2013. One of the biggest reasons that you should change your brand marketing strategy for 2013 is that the biggest search engines have now started developing large scale projects that put human raters in charge of rating pages for particular searches. This means that the best way to get ahead in searches now is to emphasize in your pages the kind of information that actual people would be most likely to use—to build the relevance and authority of your website and keep high quality standards for all of your content.
Keeping Up With Brand Marketing Strategy for 2013
While 2013 progresses, it's likely that we'll see a broad variety of changes to search engines and the way that online brand marketing works. Brand marketing strategy is a continuously evolving field, which means that you should always try to look at relatively recent articles about online brand marketing before developing a strategy of your own.
Whatever you do, the worst possible thing in today's market is to be generic. People no longer respond to the kinds of attorney advertising that were the stock of the trade twenty years ago. Adjust your strategy so that you're actually using what works in the 21st century, not the 20th. The sooner you do, the sooner you'll start seeing business come in from the 90% of customers who shop for lawyers online.