It used to feel like proximity and word of mouth were the biggest drivers of business for professional service providers. These days, as more of our lives are conducted digitally, no longer do prospective clients simply go to their nearest solicitor or rely on a personal recommendation to choose their accountant. Potential clients are now savvier about shopping around online before picking up the phone to book an appointment or walking into an office reception. At Avenue, we have a wide range of professional services clients including lawyers, building societies and estate agents, and a common concern we hear from them is that they are far too busy keeping their business going to engage in the additional responsibility of making their new business engine run.
Online marketing needn’t be a chore. As a busy professional your digital marketing can be an extension of the work you’re already doing for clients, not an added burden. So, given the time restraints, what are some accessible ways of keeping your website climbing the organic search rankings without sacrificing precious work hours?
Blogging is a great way of demonstrating expertise in your field. However, the key benefiting to your organic search visibility is using it to build 'backlinks'. A crucial way of encouraging search engines to see your website as authoritative and trustworthy (and by extension, rank-worthy) is through other relevant, trustworthy websites linking to it; this is a backlink. By offering your knowledge to a relevant website in the form of a blog that includes a link back to your website – perhaps to an article on your own website where you discuss the subject in more detail - you help solidify your expert status.
The key to making blogging a low-impact task is writing about what you’re interested in and knowledgeable about. You will probably know from being cornered at parties by friends-of-friends that your knowledge is valuable and people will be very interested in “picking your brain”. Write about the topics people often ask you questions about.
Speaking at events
Going to conferences and 'meet-ups' is a great way of networking, but the next level in turning these events into a marketing advantage is offering speaking at one. If the thought of standing on a stage in front of a large group of people doesn’t put you off then the benefit of speaking at an event is huge. The knowledge and skills that you use every day in your work can translate into an engaging and informative talk relatively easily, although do be prepared to put in the hours for practise and good visuals if you want your talk to be successful.
Start capitalising on your network and see if anyone is holding seminars or conferences you can talk at. The publicity that organisers raise around their events is prime for you to piggyback on as a speaker at the event, and it is often considerably cheaper than being a sponsor. Use social media to raise awareness of your status as an event speaker and also ensure a backlink from the event’s website to your own.
Podcasts and video series
Another way of using your expertise to drive traffic to your website is through podcasting and video series. Recent statistics suggest that nearly 6 million UK adults tune into podcasts every week. If you have a penchant for chatting about your industry then a podcast can be a reasonably accessible way to start sharing your knowledge.
Embedding your audio files on your website means that if you gain enough interest visitors will soon be flocking to your website for the next episode. In a similar vein, a video series can generate a huge amount of interest from audiences who prefer to absorb their information through this format. If you include a transcript of each podcast or video episode alongside it on your website you are also increasing the relevant, rank-worthy copy on your website.
A great method of increasing your website’s visibility in the search results is through securing a “featured snippet”. This is a search result that sits at the top of the organic listings in Google or Bing and displays all, or a portion, of an answer to a search query.
Although the featured snippet is a bit contentious in some digital marketing circles because it can essentially “steal” some traffic from your website by giving the users the answer without clicking through to the site, it can also help raise your brand’s profile and statistics suggest that users will still often click through to read more on the subject. AHREF’s recent study suggested as many as 8.6% of clicks will go to the featured snippet result where one is present.
There isn’t a guaranteed way of securing a featured snippet but they often show for a search query that shows informational intent or that is a question. To maximise the chances of your content appearing in the featured snippet you need to do some research around informational search queries you already rank well for, for example “how much does a pre-nup cost” then look to see if there is a featured snippet for that query. If you are ranking in positions 1-10 your chances are high that you can secure that “position 0”. If you do already have a good ranking position for that term try optimising your content further for it, and ensure the content concisely answers the question.
Above all, don’t be daunted by the seemingly impossible task of raising your website’s rankings in the search engines. Enjoy sharing your knowledge with your wider audience and benefit from the added exposure it gives you in the search results.
Helen Pollitt is head of SEO at Avenue Digital