Over the last decade, keywords have dominated the focus of many firms' marketing practices. What was “Smith & Smith” became “Chicago divorce law firm Smith & Smith with attorneys helping Chicago residents with divorce and family law matters.”
These keywords went from being complimentary to the brand to becoming the brand. Some law firms even incorporated law firm names based on the most popular keywords in their area.
But Google changed all of that when they started releasing Panda and Penguin, the content and inbound link changes, to battle spam within their search results. Now, Google can piece together information about your firm.
Our fictional law firm, Smith & Smith has a Google+ Local profile with their address in Chicago, IL and the categories divorce and family law. If they submit a news release about child custody, Google will see “Smith & Smith” and know that they are a law firm in Chicago practicing family law. Plus, without linking to Smith & Smith, Google will know the URL from Smith & Smith Google+ Local profile. This news piece will have child custody or custody mentioned several times. Even without the exact match keyphrase “Chicago custody lawyer,” Google can figure out that Smith & Smith handles custody matters in Chicago.
One of the exciting parts of Google's updates is how they are allowing businesses to embrace their brand name instead of keywords. The search engine is essentially doing a lot of the heavy lifting in the background, so law firms can now focus on getting their name out in the community and building activity on their social profiles.
Your online marketing should improve your name recognition. If someone searches for “Chicago divorce lawyer” and discovers Smith & Smith, or if they read about the law firm in a news release and then searches for “Smith & Smith,” a new potential client has been reached.
Keyphrases and inbound links are still important, but the future is in social activity, large volumes of content on your website, and brand awareness. A strong brand can become your law firm's highest converting keyphrase.