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Online Lawyer Marketing and SEO: You Need a Proper Headshot

By William Peacock, Esq. | Last updated on

Confession time: I am a bit of a nerd. One of my pastimes includes skimming Search Engine Optimization blogs. Part of the motive is work-related (I do blog, after all), but it's mostly curiosity about the interaction between behavioral psychology and Google's content filtering through search engine results. What makes people click on one link, rather than another? And why does Google boost that website consistently in the results, and not the other, more well-written site?

As a practicing lawyer, you probably have better things to contemplate than SEO, such as client billing, case strategy, and how to fire that paralegal that may or may not be embezzling funds. That being said, you do need to be concerned with your online presence, as it will drive much of your client traffic.

This week's quick tip for a quick fix: get a proper headshot.

Another confession: I'm a funny-looking dude who refuses to take serious photos. On LinkedIn, I had to go with the stereotypical graduation picture, even though I'm two years out of school. On Twitter, well, I have no idea what I was doing in that photo, but at least I was dressed in a tuxedo.

I, like you, need a better headshot. And before you think "such vanity!" note that your headshot actually can make a difference in search engine referrals to your page, especially if you have Google Authorship enabled (which your resident tech geek really should, especially if your law firm site has a blog, which it really should). Still not convinced? Here is some hard and humorous data from an SEO expert on how variations on his Google+ profile photo helped his traffic numbers.

So, what does your picture need? Obviously, professional attire is a great start. Then, if you know a great Photoshop wizard, have them try a few things with the background. Even without Photoshop, you'll want a few variations to try.

Now, we're going to assume that you aren't an advanced search engine analytics geek. There is an easier way to pick a pic besides analyzing click-through rates.

Meet MyBestFace, a free product courtesy of OkCupid!, an online dating service. They created the service to help your online mating game, but it's (a) free and (b) tells you which picture is the prettiest.

The concept is simple. Upload a few variations. Then, you have to vote on others' pictures in order to "earn" your report. The report will tell you which of your pictures scored the highest.

Obviously, this isn't exactly scientific. In fact, the margin of error seems to be higher than the standard deviation between scores ran across multiple tests, but if you don't want to dig through SEO analytics, this is your best bet, besides asking your paralegals, "does this photo make me look fat?"

A few pictures, twenty minutes or so of judging others' faces, and you have your new online avatar for all of your social media and website needs.

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