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Your (Not So) Secret Weapon: Attorney Bios

The Legal Marketing Association’s annual LMA Tech conference can be a tsunami of information. While just a quarter of the size of the annual LMA meeting, it is jam-packed with multiple tracks featuring presentations from those at the top of the industry.

Each year, data continues to show that attorney bio pages are the most popular pages of a firm or attorney’s website. In-house counsel go there first when researching potential counsel. What’s more, these pages are the most important for establishing strong SEO for those searching on more general terms, such as “oil and gas attorney.”

One of the most compelling panels was a lightening round “TED talk” by Nancy Slome of One to One Interactive and the recently launched, Lawyers Biography Service. She’s a straight shooter with excellent and actionable advice.

Nancy Slome: Legal Marketer Extraordinaire

“Most lawyer bios suck,” Slome said. “They don’t suck as much as they did two years ago.” Each web page has meta data and meta data descriptions. In addition to content, these are most in need of fine-tuning.

Meta tags are snippets of text that describe a page's content; the meta tags don't appear on the page itself, but only in the page's code.

Unlike the keywords attribute, the description attribute is supported by most major search engines, like Yahoo! and Bing, while Google will fall back on this tag when information about the page itself is requested (e.g. using the related: query). The description attribute provides a concise explanation of a Web page's content.

Her first piece of advice is one I’ve given countless clients. Google yourself, and be sure you don’t share the same name with an embezzler, felon, porn star, football coach or other lawyers. If so, use your middle initial in all public-facing content, and use the word “lawyer” in your meta description.

She has four strict rules:

  1. Don’t lead with where you went to law school. It’s the least important element in your skill set.

  2. Don’t be obtuse, such as "handles all matter of commercial litigation.” In all instances, be as specific as possible.

  3. Don’t bury what journalists call the lede, or main or most important element of the piece. Rewrite bios to show current specific accomplishments. Be as detailed as possible, such as “has obtained more than 350 patents on behalf of tech companies.” “Say what she actually does in her job,” Slome said.

  4. Finally, look at Google analytics for your site to see how your title tagging is working. It is especially important to do that before and after making changes to your site. Google analytics is free and easy to use, and there are countless tutorials available.

Once you’ve mastered those four, Slome suggests attorneys update their bio page quarterly. You should constantly reference and link to your most current wins, publications, blog posts and media hits. You don’t have to list them all in the first few graphs, just the most current. The rest can be below under specific headings or subpages. These links help convince the Google algorithm you are who you say you are, and have done what you say you’ve done.

Just as each attorney has a slightly different skill set, use different and specific meta descriptions for each attorney, and for each page in the attorney’s bio.

In small firms, each attorney may be writing their own bio. If you are assigning all bios to a single attorney or writer, you can follow my guidelines to keep copy crystalline and avoid “dumbing down” content.

On a related topic, 42% of in-house counsel use LinkedIn to research outside counsel. After you update your bio, make sure your LinkedIn page is just as stellar. Check out this post for crafting a rock-star profile.

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