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Susan Hallam

Susan Hallam MBE is Managing Director of Hallam Internet (, a digital marketing agency helping UK law firms to be more successful using internet technologies. She is a Freeman of the City of London. Email Twitter @SusanHallam.

The dreaded Covid-19 is causing panic, and as digital marketers, we may be facing leaner times as our businesses are putting a laser focus on profitability, and ensuring every cost gives the great return on investment.

Businesses are looking more carefully at budgets, making sure we can squeeze every penny of profit out of our investments, and looking for the most cost-effective ways of delivering our products and services.

Marketing budgets may appear to be a soft target for businesses looking to make budget cuts. But a cut in marketing activity is a short term fix that is sure to have long term consequences. Maintaining visibility in your market is essential for long term profitability and continued investment.

And our customers are also watching the pennies, but they are still spending money. They may be spending less, but we need to figure out what they’re spending their money on. And they don’t want to risk wasting a penny. They want to buy the right products, from companies they can trust.

Optimising images for search

The way in which we search for images is evolving and changing, and Google has announced that image search is a big topic in the search engine optimisation community.

Once upon a time we would search for images primarily for the purpose of copying and pasting an appropriate image into our presentations or documents. We were using image search as a source of stock photography.

But today, searchers are using image search for more than just stock images. We are using search as part of our buying process or to help us learn something new or to achieve a goal.

Our intention using image search has changed.

dyno rod

The competitive nature of pay per click advertising opens one potentially lucrative avenue to advertisers: bidding on your competitors’ keywords. Is it worth doing? Let’s explore the options.

You will commonly see advertisers bidding on competitor’s keywords. In the example above, we can see four advertisements for a search for the well-known drains clearing company Dyno Rod. The first ad is Dyno Rod itself, using advertising to protect its brand position.

The adverts in positions 2, 3, and 4 are competitors, leveraging Dyno Rod’s dominant market position to raise their own brand awareness, and potentially encourage searchers to click on their own website instead of going to the Dyno Rod website.

Google AdWords

In February of this year Google made a substantial change to the way it inserts some advertisements into the search results when searching from a desktop computer.

The advertisements on the right hand side of the screen, known as the “rail”, have all been removed. And Google now serves up to four text ads above the organic search engine results (SERPs) and a further three ads at the bottom.

Google has rolled out another significant update to its algorithm, the rules it uses to determine the rankings of websites in the search results. The “mobile-friendly” update went live on 21 April of this year, and it is designed to give a boost to mobile-friendly web pages in the Google mobile search results.

More than 50 per cent of all searches on Google take place on a mobile device, and this change only impacts mobile searches, not desktop or tablet searches.

The mobile-friendly update is designed to address websites with a poor mobile experience like text that is too small, having to scroll horizontally, or Flash content that won’t play.

The internet may be global, but for many firms of solicitors their most desirable customers are right on the doorstep in the local area and their potential customers are using the internet to find a local legal services provider. Google reports that more than 20 per cent of all searches have local intention, 92 per cent of Americans use their mobile phones to search for local business information and nearly 64 per cent of tablet users conduct a local search at least weekly.

A search for local services triggers a number of different results in the Google search results and your firm should be addressing each opportunity to maximise your visibility. The local results will vary depending on the device used to search: a PC will display different results to those showing on a mobile phone. Local SEO is all about helping your firm to rank well for local searches, irrespective of the device used to search.

This month: Optimising email signatures and why Google Circles beats Facebook.

When was the last time you reached for phone book when you needed a hotel, a florist, or indeed a solicitor? We’re much more likely to reach for Google than the Yellow Pages, and “Local Search” is about how the internet presents geo-targeted information about your business, including location maps, customer reviews and detailed information about your services.

Google is much more than just a search engine. If also offers a range of office productivity tools which can make your information management more efficient, improve your business processes, and save your firm or chambers money. From YouTube to Patent Searches, Picasa to Gmail, Google offers more than 50 different services in addition to its familiar search engine.

There is a wide range of online customer acquisition techniques: search engine optimisation, pay per click advertising, referrals from other websites, email marketing and social networking. This article looks at pay per click advertising.