There are a host of experts and consultants who purport to sell SEO, or ‘search engine optimization’ to law firms. The pitch usually goes something like this: hire us for a fat monthly fee and we’ll help you get to the first page of Google, Bing, and Yahoo. To the uninitiated, this sounds pretty good, right?
I bit. Hard. Several years ago our firm, which has a niche law practice in the area of consumer product liability, hired a consultant that promised to help get our firm’s website noticed by the search engines for product liability issues. We hoped to provide meaningful information about defective products through our website, and thereby generate good will and build our firm’s reputation. We signed up and paid. And waited. And waited. And nothing happened. Sure, we got a few arcane keyword phrases to the front page as promised; phrases like “Florida Defective Tire Law Firm” or “Orlando Tire Failure Lawsuit.” But no one came to our site.
Frustrated, we then signed up for an even bigger contract with another company. Same thing. We waited. And nothing happened.
Finally, out of frustration, our firm decided to dig in and figure out exactly what we were paying for, and why our firm’s website was still relatively invisible to most potential clients.
After drilling down, we learned that when you’re paying for SEO, the bulk of the costs of a campaign comes down to two big things: content and back links. Sure your site has to be well designed and properly structured so the search engine ‘spiders’ can find your site and all of its content. But the main difference between visibility and invisibility for your target audience is lots of really good content and lots of other sites hyperlinking to your site.
To avoid getting ripped off if you’re going to buy SEO for your law firm from a consultant, you need know what you’re paying for. Ask the following questions:
1. How many pages of unique content are they going to provide?
2. Who is going to write the content?
3. How many back links are they going to build to your site from unique linking domains?
4. Are any of the links going to be reciprocal? (these are pretty much worthless)
5. Are they going to pay for any of the links? (if so — run… paid links can, and eventually will, get your site penalized or even de-indexed by Google)
You also need to know what your goals are and have a concrete plan to accomplish those goals. Ask these additional questions:
6. Is the campaign goal to have visitors contact you for more information or for legal help? If so, how many?
7. How much traffic will it take to get those contacts and questions?
8. What is that conversion rate that you expect to have for that traffic?
9. What keywords do you need to target to get said traffic and
what is the total monthly number of searches for those keywords? (this is easy to find and is free)
10. How is your site doing BEFORE you being your campaign, in terms of traffic, keyword rank, and conversions? (this is also easy and free)
Any SEO company can give you concrete answers to questions 1-5, 9 and 10. A company with real experience in the legal niche can give you a good estimate of the answers to questions 7 and 8. Mark my words though: very very few will be willing to answer these questions. If your company won’t give you answers to these questions — in writing — don’t hire them.
Even the best SEO campaign takes time for results. A decent campaign will usually take at least six months to develop. When you boil it down, good SEO is a boring long term grind, with no shortcuts, especially in a competitive niche, like personal injury or product liability. Even in a competitive niche, an SEO campaign based upon great content and good links will get traffic and help you achieve your goals. But unless you know what to ask for, and make sure that the contract with the SEO company is specific as to what you’re buying, take it from me — you’ll be extremely frustrated.