Criminal Defense Marketing

How to Get Criminal Defense Clients Online

As a criminal defense attorney, you wouldn’t think of taking on a client who’s trying to sue for medical malpractice would you? Many people looking for the best criminal defense attorney will shy away from lawyers who claim to do it all. Believe it or not, the same can be said for the marketing industry.

Many law firm marketing agencies claim to provide defense attorneys with top quality legal marketing, and they may provide decent results. But, when you opt for “do it all” agencies who don’t specialize in one area (or even a few areas for that matter), you’re not going to get the expertise or attention to the right details that you would with a firm whose primary focus is on legal marketing.

At Digital Logic, we take a personal interest in the success of your marketing. We work directly with you to identify and accomplish the goals for your criminal defense law firm. Your account manager is an expert in what’s required to gain success in your specific field.

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Marketing for Criminal Defense Lawyers Specifically

Online marketing for criminal defense attorneys is unique for several reasons:

  • Two of the most searched keyphrases are ‘defense lawyer’ and ‘DUI lawyer’. However, these keywords don’t convert as well as some of the less searched keywords. Why? Because many people take their paperwork home and begin searching for what they have been charged with, specifically. And, because there is such a variety of charges that people can face, criminal defense attorneys have a larger set of keywords that can lead a potential client to their website. So, if you’re interviewing a marketing agency that doesn’t ask what types of cases you want within the first 5-10 minutes, don’t waste your time.
  • With the exception of family lawyers, the decision cycle is short for attorneys. This holds especially true for defense lawyers. The sense of urgency makes prospective clients scramble.
  • Because people have the option to work with a court appointed attorney, private criminal defense firms need clients that can afford to pay.

As a criminal defense attorney, you understand that what people want in a defense attorney is much different than what they’d want in a tax lawyer or family law attorney. Every single criminal defense attorney we’ve worked with is excellent at blending his or her personality in with expectations. You know that establishing trust with a client is critical, because when you tell your client ‘to take the deal’, the client has to know that you want what’s best for them. Your criminal law website is the first opportunity you’ll get to start establishing that trust.

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So, why is this important? Because, with how competitive the legal industry is, criminal defense digital marketing strategies leave little room for error.

The internet is one of the most common ways that people find an attorney. Looking for a criminal defense attorney can be embarrassing. This leads potential clients to use a search engine, like Google, instead of reaching out to a friend or family member for a referral.

Criminal Law Websites

Many people make immediate judgements about businesses online. This means that your criminal defense website design goes a long way. One of the biggest mistakes a criminal defense attorney can make is investing in a poorly designed criminal law website. As a defense attorney or criminal defense law firm, it’s important that you position your firm as one that will get the potential client the best outcome for his or her case.

Most of the time, criminal defense attorneys want to portray a serious, rugged online persona. This isn’t always the best tactic, but this must happen naturally, because we’ve seen it over and over.

Why do we believe this isn’t always (or even usually) the best tactic?

For us at Digital Logic, our criminal defense clients are some of the kindest, most patient and caring people we’ve had the privilege to meet. Every single client, in the beginning, wanted a “no nonsense” vibe to their criminal law websites. We understand the tactic, but if this isn’t your true personality, once the prospective client speaks with you, they’ll quickly see the discrepancy between the “you” they’re talking to and the “you” they saw on your website.

This does not help the trust-building process. For some, it may hinder the process or change the decision to hire you. People looking for a criminal defense attorney are extremely vulnerable, and they need someone they believe they can trust.

Your online presence needs to match what new or prospective clients will see during their first face to face or telephone conversation with you. We understand that version of you, as a criminal defense attorney, will change depending on the charges. So, you’ll want to choose the persona for the cases that you most desire for your homepage content. Your specific practice area pages can differ slightly, but they should also have enough similarities to be consistent. After all, you are the same person representing them all.

Criminal Defense Website Necessities

Every criminal defense website should have a few components that are immediately visible, before prospective clients begin to scroll, both on mobile and desktop. This is called ‘above the fold’ content.

These include:

  • What you do: help clients with their criminal defense cases.
  • Why they should hire you: include past successes and testimonials.
  • Who you are: potential clients will want to know exactly who they’ll be hiring.
  • How to contact you: provide multiple means of communication-phone, chat, office location, and online form.

Just like in every other legal industry sector, if you don’t have the budget to invest in a criminal law website, then do what you have to do in order to have an online presence. However, you don’t want to spend money to market a subpar criminal defense site. If you cannot afford a professionally designed website that is on-par or better than your competitors, get a small website up and running, but save your marketing dollars until you can upgrade your website.

You wouldn’t add designer finishes to a house that’s foundation is crumbling. You would invest your money into fixing the structure first. The same thought process holds true for your legal website.

Once you’re ready, know that working with Digital Logic means that your visual identity will be created by a team that is focused specifically on the legal industry. Creative styles, graphics, ad copy and content will be designed specifically for you, in order to deliver the best experience possible for each visitor.

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Having tried every marketing tool in the past, I can honestly tell you that the services provided by the Digital Logic are the real deal. You will see an immediate increase in business. It is quite literally like turning on a faucet, the phone doesn’t stop ringing. Total Game Changer!!!
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Joseph Greenwald
Greenwald Law Firm
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Digital Logic is doing exactly what they said they would do. They cleaned up our website and increased traffic. Quality personal service with people who still care about their customers. We have used the big name national website content providers. Digital Logic is better and more cost effective.
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Manassas Law Group
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One of the top vendors I’ve come across in a decade. After we had a terrible experience with one of the big legal website vendors, Digital Logic did a terrific job transferring our websites. They worked quickly, efficiently, paid great attention to detail, all at a very competitive price. Their customer service is outstanding.
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Tatro Lopez Law Firm
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SEO for Criminal Defense Firms

A percentage of your prospective clients will not trust ads and will proceed to the organic listings. These are the listings that aren’t paid for and are usually found right below the maps.

You can only achieve these rankings by:

  • Having a professional, easy to navigate website that is optimized for search engines
  • Writing content that your readers want to read and find valuable
  • Promoting your website on other platforms, such as social media channels so that Google will view your site as an authoritative source on the content
  • Consistently getting good reviews online
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Strategies to Reach Your Target Clients

As a criminal defense lawyer, you know that one size does not fit all when every case is different. In order to secure a win for your client, you need a strategic plan tailored for the client as an individual. Shouldn’t you look for the same thing when it comes to your defense firm’s marketing strategy?

Instead of marketing our criminal defense clients as general defense lawyers, we choose to focus on the specific areas that each lawyer wishes to focus on. For some, it’s all of the subsets. While others would prefer not to represent cases for traffic violation or drunk driving offenses.

At Digital Logic, we have experience marketing the following subcategories of criminal defense law:

  • Assault
  • Appeals
  • Battery
  • Burglary
  • Child Abuse/Endangerment
  • Cyber Crimes
  • Drug Offenses
  • Domestic Violence
  • DUI/Drunk Driving Offenses
  • Expungement/Record Sealing
  • Federal Crimes
  • Felonies and Misdemeanors
  • Homicide
  • Juvenile/Minor Crimes
  • Property Crimes
  • Sex Crimes
  • Theft
  • Traffic Violations
  • Violent Crimes
  • Weapons Offenses
  • White Collar Crimes

User Experience

We previously went over the importance of having a professional criminal defense website. Design will affect your rankings indirectly. Like we mentioned, the decision cycle is extremely limited for criminal defense attorneys. Prospective clients searching for a criminal defense attorney will often feel scared and rushed to make a decision. So, creating a favorable user experience is crucial to convert searchers into leads.

If your potential clients cannot quickly and easily navigate through your criminal defense firm’s site, they will quickly leave. We call this the bounce rate. And, having a high bounce rate is something that Google does monitor. 

The longer your audience stays on your criminal defense website, the more this indicates to Google that the user found what they were looking for.

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Criminal Defense Content Marketing

When it comes to criminal defense websites, two types of content exist: practice areas and supportive.

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Practice Area Pages

Practice area content are the pages that you undoubtedly want to rank for. Think: money phrases. These are the phrases or keywords we mentioned earlier, like defense attorney. But, other examples can include ‘theft charges’, ‘domestic violence charges’ or ‘charged with negligent homicide’.

And, as we mentioned earlier, criminal defense attorneys have more sub-practice areas than any other legal consumer-based focus.

You’ll want to start on a broad area and then hone in on specifics. For example, you’ll want to have a single practice area page for Drug possession charges. Then, down the road, you will want to have sub pages of all of the various types of drugs or types of drug possession charges that you commonly defend. This could include: drug possession with intent to distribute, juvenile drug possession, second offense drug possession, etc.

A key aspect of getting your practice area pages to rank is ensuring that your pages are more comprehensive and more helpful than your competitor’s. Google must view you as the authority.

But, how do you know if your practice area pages are helpful? Conduct searches to see what pages are actually ranking for the phrases you wish to rank for in your area and make sure yours are better. If you know how to check for code, see what schema and headings your competitors are using. (This is equally as important as the content itself, in certain situations.)

Focus on specifics:

  • What subtopics are your competitors writing about?
  • Are other attorney’s practice area pages easy to understand and follow, or is there room for improvement?
  • What sources are your competitors using? Are they outdated or current?
  • Are there information gaps?

Now, all of these concepts should also be applied to your support pages.

Support Pages and Blog Posts

Support pages and blogs fulfill two important roles in the legal SEO strategy. First, your potential customers may search for answers to questions before they decide to look for an attorney. These will be questions such as “Are public defenders any good?” or “How to win against drug charges in Mississippi” Questions we know you care nothing about answering.

You could choose to look at this from two angles:

  1. That’s really not your problem, nor is it your responsibility, or
  2. This is an opportunity to help someone who is probably in that market for a criminal defense attorney.

The second, and probably more important purpose of support pages and blogs is making your firm appear to be the authority on a variety of criminal defense topics.

If your law firm’s website ranks for a variety of criminal defense topics, then your website is more likely to rank, across the board. The key, here, is that you need your supportive pages to rank for the phrases they are targeting. And, these keywords are often those that lawyer’s don’t care about ranking for, and that’s ok. It’s not about you. It’s about your potential clients.

Another hurdle for lawyers trying to blog, themselves, is the inability to take their knowledge about the subject out of the equation.

What do we mean?

We have a phrase here at Digital Logic: how you search for you is not how your customers will search for you.

For example, in Colorado, the correct term is “reckless endangerment”. Colorado criminal defense attorneys wouldn’t typically use the phrase “child endangerment in Colorado”, because it’s technically incorrect. But, guess what? There is more traffic for the wrong keyword, even when paired with the word, Colorado.

We aren’t saying write using the wrong keywords just to get ranked. There are ways to incorporate both the correct and incorrect verbiage in order to answer the questions that most of your competitors will not.

Grab the low hanging fruit that other defense firms walked right past.

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On-Site Optimization

On-site search engine optimization is an ever changing task. Codes that help a legal site rank one month may be penalized the next by Google. However, there are a few key parameters that you’ll want to make sure are always correct. These include:

Page title

This is the title that the search engine results page shows in bold when that page on your legal website ranks. You will want your main keyword to be in this title. If your family law practice has strong branding or enough presence that local searchers will recognize, you can put your brand at the end of the title page, after a separator. However, if you’re just starting out or if you don’t have solid brand recognition, you may want to consider including a call to action or a synonym of the keyword(s) you’re trying to rank for.

H1 title

The keyword or phrase you’re trying to rank for should be your H1 title as well. Many people confuse the page title with the H1. Just because the phrase is bold or bigger doesn’t necessarily mean it is the H1. You’ll have to know how to do some basic coding or have a html checker to determine if your H1 is correct most of the time.

Alt tags

This is the coding on images that help the visually impared know what a picture is about.This will help your page rank, as well.

Fast loading speed

You can use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool to check the speed of your family law website and on the individual pages. Most of the time, you’ll see a decent amount of recommendations that you don’t understand. And, this is why you really need to hire a professional law firm marketing team. Google only wants to rank fast websites because your readers will quickly leave if your site doesn’t load quickly (quickly as in 3 seconds or less).

Meta description

This is the description that’s shown under the page title on the search engine results page, if your page ranks. You’ll want to use the space wisely, as this is often what leads searchers to click on one link vs another.

H2, H3, and H4 titles

These are the subtopic titles. You will want these to describe what your audience will read below. If possible, it’s better to mix in variations of the keywords you want to rank for. However, you don’t want these keywords to get spammy. For example, on this page, each title explains what you’ll learn below, but you will see we’ve included the words, “family law leads”, “divorce website” and things of that nature because they’re relevant to our title, “family law marketing” and our audience may also search for these terms when looking for this very same information.

Calls to action

There’s a time and place for everything, including turning up the sales pitch. You will want to include subtle calls to action on pages that are more for education and more salesy calls to action on your practice area pages.

HTTPS

Google wants to rank websites that are safe and secure for its users. Using HTTPS is a must.

Appropriate anchor text and interlinking plan

You will want to link to pages that will help your reader. Furthermore, you will want to link to the text that describes what page you’re sending them to, so that Google will understand the link structure. “Click here” is never an appropriate anchor text, no matter how often you’ve seen it used elsewhere.

Other components of on-site search engine optimization exist. And some include tactics that are equally as important but beyond the skillset of the average do-it-yourself firm. We recommend that you consult with a criminal defense marketing agency to ensure that the website is set up correctly.

Off-site link building

Off-Site Promotion 

Google’s algorithm considers thousands of factors when choosing how to rank a website. One of the most important factors is backlinks.

When a third-party website links to your page, they are essentially announcing to Google, “Hey, we trust this site. You can, too!” This is similar to a popularity contest but for criminal defense websites. The more sites that link to yours, the more popular Google believes that your website is. And, the more popular those sites are that link to your site, the more “online street-cred” you’ll get for having that specific link.

Another key component of this is topical relevance. So, for criminal defense websites, if the outside website is also criminal law-related, the link will be more impactful.

Does your law firm’s website appear to be outdated and in desperate need of a cleaner, more professional look?

Our web design team will build your website with with your conversion goals in mind.

Client Reviews for Criminal Defense Lawyers

This topic shouldn’t surprise you. But, you’d be shocked at how many lawyers spend lots of marketing dollars when their intake department is terrible, based on their online reviews. As marketers, we cannot fake this for you. So, these reviews not only hold weight with potential customers but also with Google.

These can actually hinder your ability to rank. This especially holds true if your criminal defense firm is in a competitive metro market.

We understand that a lot of lawyers believe that Avvo is the holy grail of legal marketing, and it does certainly help. But, when it comes to reviews, Avvo should be the last place on the list to send your clients to review your firm. You’ll want to get reviews on these sites, in this order: Google, Facebook, then Avvo. Don’t stop pointing your clients to Google until you have more positive reviews than your competitors.

The best defense is a good offense. So, you’ll want to proactively get your good reviews in so that the bad ones won’t hurt your chances of ranking as severely. In any competitive industry, once your site begins to do well, be prepared for the following:

  • Bad reviews left by competitors
  • Confused people leaving bad reviews for the wrong criminal defense firm
  • Loved ones of the victim or the victim themselves leave bad reviews for the defense firm or attorney

Search engines have the end user in mind. By offering your audience quality content in a well functioning site, you improve the overall quality of the search engine as a whole. In return, you should get a boost in ranking.

92% of consumers read online reviews

SEO vs PPC: Which Works Better to Get Criminal Defense Leads?

Which is better to get criminal defense clients? Longterm, criminal defense SEO will produce better leads than PPC. However, just like some people are more inclined to skip the Google Ads, some are more inclined to click on them.

Here are just a few reasons for both sides:

  • They’re in a hurry.
  • They want immediate answers.
  • They don’t want to read.
  • They want to talk to an attorney.
  • They trust ads and find useful information from ads in the past.
  • The ad copy was well written enough to spark their interest.

One huge benefit that PPC has over SEO is that it works instantly. Organic criminal defense marketing can take 6 months to a year to become consistently effective and bring in the quality leads that your defense firm needs.

With PPC for criminal defense firms, once you start paying, you should start to see results. This is if you’ve invested in a quality law firm marketing agency with experience in criminal defense lawyer marketing.

When all is said and done, the most successful defense  firms will invest in both SEO and PPC. Together, they both produce leads consistently and will produce more leads together than either of them would alone.

PPC for Criminal Defense Attorneys

Running a successful PPC campaign for criminal defense firms comes down to a few metrics: quality score, on-site conversions, and keyword management.

On-Site Conversions

Getting your target audience to your legal website from Google Ads is only half of the battle. Just because you get someone to go to your website, does not mean they will contact you. Conversion rates show just how well your PPC campaign is run. For the most on-site conversions, apart from professional keyword management, you will want to focus on having a professional looking design, quality content, and calls to action on the landing page.

Similarly to the advice we gave with family law SEO, you’ll want to check your competitor’s landing page. Does yours look better or does theirs? The better the overall quality of your landing pages, the better your conversion rates will be.

Quality Score

Quality score is a metric that Google Ads associates with the quality of the page that the keyword is sending people to. If you have a low quality score, Google will charge your firm more to show for that specific keyword. This score is on an individual keyword or phrase basis.

To improve your quality score, you must adjust the landing page associated with your keyword. Another alternative is to create a new entirely different landing page that is unique to the keyword in that ad.

For some firms, the quality score can be the difference between making and losing money with PPC marketing.

Keyword Management

Keyword management is the most important part of running a successful search ad campaign for your criminal defense law practice.

For starters, your firm must actively add negative keywords to the targeting parameters to make sure that the firm isn’t spending money on keywords that simply don’t convert or keywords that you don’t want to pay for. Some of these keywords will be obvious, such as free, cheap, or pro bono. You clearly don’t want to pay for a lead that isn’t going to pay for your services.

Some keywords are too broad, such as “lawyer” or “attorney”. If you want DUI cases, your keywords should be about DUI with a legal term-defense lawyer. You also don’t want to pay for keywords that are only your practice area without a legal term, such as “drinking and driving”. Someone could be looking up those statistics or want general information about drunk driving and not necessarily looking for legal advice. Yes, these keywords alone will be cheaper, but they’re not going to convert.

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Social Media for Criminal Defense Lawyers

There are a couple of ways to leverage your social media profiles to gain new leads for your firm. However, most of these are moderately effective, at best. How many times have you seen someone looking up homicide attorney information on social media sites? Have you ever been tagged in a public Facebook post because someone was searching for a defense lawyer?

In almost every instance, you are better spending your criminal defense marketing budget on other forms of marketing. However, if you’re looking for a DIY option, social media may be helpful.

Here are a few methods to look into:

Organic Reach

This is simply posting information on your law firm’s social media page. However, the problem with this tactic is that social media companies don’t make money. So, the algorithms will inhibit your ability to reach your audience. There are paid options available, and they want you to use those.

The other issue here is that most people don’t care about legal issues until they have a problem, themself. This applies to the criminal defense sector more than any other legal niche. In this case, like we mentioned earlier, they will Google to find their answer.

Last, those looking for a criminal defense attorney usually don’t want others to know they’re in “the market” for a lawyer. This is especially the case for areas such as child pornography. So, actual interactions on social media are going to be rare for criminal defense practices.

Paid Reach

Paid reach or traffic falls into the awareness category. This is more similar to TV, radio ads or billboards, than it is to legal SEO or PPC advertising. For social media paid ads, you’ll be investing in mass advertising. This can be an effective tactic in some cases, but for the most part, you’re better off investing your marketing budget elsewhere.

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Social Media Groups

Joining social media groups is perhaps the most effective way to market yourself as a criminal defense lawyer on social media platforms. You can join local groups and become an active member. The second part is key, though. Over time, you can let people know what you have to offer when the need arises. But, until the need shows up, you should be active in the group in order to gain trust.

Most law firms don’t want to put in that much effort. And, hiring a marketing agency to “small talk the locals” can be costly, as well.

Criminal Defense Marketing With Digital Logic

The criminal defense field is ever-changing. You must be proactive in order to stay ahead of the legal marketing curve, pursue quality cases, and continue to grow our criminal defense firm. When you work with Digital Logic, you’ll have an experienced team that is dedicated to establishing you and your brand in the best possible light.

We’ve mentioned several online marketing tools that are available at your disposal. At Digital Logic, we determine which tools will best serve the needs of your criminal defense firm. From here, we implement a completely customized strategy based on your budget, location and overall goals. We assess your needs and put your marketing strategy into action. All you need to worry about is defending your clients.