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January 13, 2014

Rank for Your Name: Reputation Management for Lawyers – and Anyone Whose Name IS Their Brand

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If prospective clients search for your name on Google, are those results going to make them more or less likely to hire you? With strategic online reputation management (ORM), you can ensure that the search results establish trust, highlight your successes and, ultimately, work in your favor. By controlling the first page of your brand name SERP, you control the message the world sees when it comes to your name.

“For page one search results, you want to make sure there’s nothing in there that you don’t have total control over — it’s even better if you can extend that control onto page two and three,” said Robert Ramirez, a senior SEO analyst with more than a decade of Internet marketing experience. “Online reputation management is especially important for lawyers, whose name is their brand.

lawyer at computer

What do prospective clients see when they search for your name? Online reputation management is more important than ever.

As part of the Legal Marketing Series, we’ve looked at all facets of Internet marketing for lawyers, including SEO, PPC and user experience on a law firm website. In this article, discover reputation management strategies for attorneys — and anyone else whose personal brand can make or break them (such as doctors, CEOs, writers, thought leaders and any other professionals in a public-facing role). 

When you want to rank for your name and control your message, make sure you:

  1. Own and publish on the .com for your name
  2. Develop a social media presence
  3. Optimize photos for search
  4. Claim listings on legal directories
  5. Optimize press releases for your name
  6. Get published

Read on to learn more about each of these integral components of reputation management.

Own and Publish on the .com for your Name

Rank for your name by creating a .com site with your name in the URL. You can create your .com without a huge investment of time or money — Ramirez said that something as simple as putting up your CV or resume can be enough to rank on page one for a unique name. If you want to make you sites more dynamic, add pages or even author a blog, all the better.

Platforms likes WordPress and Wix are ideal for users without coding knowledge. If you are using these platforms, do not, however, use one of their free domains (i.e. BruceClay.wordpress.com). Buy the actual domain BruceClay.com to rank for the term “Bruce Clay”.

It’s also a good idea to buy the .net of your name, if only to make sure that no one else can buy it and, therefore, compete for your name. Furthermore, if you ever find yourself combating a negative item in the SERP, you can create another site on the .net and optimize it for your name, as well.

Develop a Social Media Presence

Accounts on major social media platforms like Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest tend to rank in the top ten search results. Create accounts using your full name (or the name you want to rank for). According to Ramirez, even if you’re not active on these accounts, they are still likely to rank in the top ten.

“As a busy attorney, are you really going to pin a bunch of pictures to your Pinterest page? Probably not. But you can create the profile and populate it with your contact information and share things like infographics your law firm has produced. It’s better than nothing and there’s a chance the profile will rank for your name, occupying valuable top-of-SERP real estate,” Ramirez said.

If you don’t own those accounts, someone else with your name eventually will.  It’s essential to at least claim your name on social channels. Remember to also customize the URLs across channels so they’re not your user ID number, but your full name.

Optimize Photos for Search

Sites aren’t the only things that Google renders in a search – Google also presents images, and if you’ve optimized images for you name, those can display in the SERP, as well. If you search for “Bruce Clay”, for example, his pictures are prominently displayed at the top of the SERP:

Screenshot of SERP result when searching for Bruce ClayDoes a search for your name return images? It will if you optimize all photos on your site, your social channels and your law firm’s website by:

  1. Using your name in the file name (i.e., BruceClay.jpg, not 001345.jpg)
  2. Include your name in a caption on the image
  3. Use your full name in the image ALT
  4. Creating a Title with your full name

Create Listings on Legal Directories

“Legal directories are one of the few places that still have value, as far as directories go,” said Ramirez. “Legal directories still matter because a lot of people still use them as a means of vetting attorneys.”

Ramirez recommends lawyers get listed in directories including:

Optimize Press Releases for your Name

It’s a common practice for law firms to optimize a press release for a keywords including the law firm’s name or their practice areas. It is in the best interest of the law firm’s to issue press releases that also target individual lawyer’s names. Those press releases will make their way into SERP results for a lawyer’s name and provide a boost to his online reputation — and a boost in the lawyer’s reputation is a boost in the firm’s reputation. From time to time, then, it is in the best interest of a law firm to optimize some press releases for their lawyers’ names in addition to their other targeted keywords.

Get Published

When you write a blog post (on your own blog, your law firm’s blog or any other blog) or write an article for a journal, newspaper or magazine, that content affords you another opportunity to rank for your name because you wrote it. If you want to rank for your name, seek out and take advantage of any chance to author articles or blog posts.

Ramirez pointed out that lawyers in particular are in great position to create content, as they are experts on the law, have access to case studies and can educate the general public on legal matters. Using their experience and their expertise, lawyers are in a prime position to craft relevant, unique and compelling content that can end up on page one of a search for their names.

One way to increase that content’s ability to rank is to set up Google Authorship. Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt stated that “within search results, information tied to verified online profiles (Google Authorship) will be ranked higher than content without such verification.”

“Make sure to also set up Google Authorship and tag yourself, which will add an authorship rich snippet in the SERP. The authorship snippet leads to increased click-through rates and is a trust signal for readers. With an authorship snippet, readers can see the person associated with the byline,” Ramirez said.

Read more about setting up Google Authorship here.

Special Case: What if your Name is Brad Pitt?

Sometimes the odds are stacked against you … like if your name is Brad Pitt, but you’re not the actor. Any search for Pitt is going to return the information on the actor, not your legal career. In cases like these, you can still use you all the strategies outlined in this article with one small adjustment — you’ll need to optimize for “Brad Pitt Attorney” rather than your name alone. If a searcher is looking for Brad Pitt the attorney, he will naturally adjust his search to include attorney, and there you’ll be.


Catch up on the rest of the articles in the Legal Marketing Series articles:

If you have questions or further tips about online reputation management, we’d love to hear them! Share them in the comments.





3 responses to “Rank for Your Name: Reputation Management for Lawyers – and Anyone Whose Name IS Their Brand”

  1. steveplunektt writes:

    Say clients trademarked brands and copyrighted product names in Google Voice search until the errors are removed..

    Optimization of reviews if locations apply – in Google.. ex. Yelp.. make the highest stars show up first for brand or geo searches…

    Also.. mobile.. don’t forget about apps.. android and apple.

  2. Panagiotis Kontogiannis writes:

    Use your microformats in your site and pictures to authenticated.

  3. Maurita Bullerwell writes:

    Excellent post. I definitely appreciate this website. Thanks!



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