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DIY Guide For Lawyers

Sep 26, 2016

One of the toughest industries, when it comes to doing SEO, is the legal industry. Want an impossible task? Try to rank for tough keywords, like Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyers. The legal industry is one of the toughest because it’s a highly profitable industry, and due to the high saturation of lawyers. An average case for a personal injury attorney, can settle in the 10’s of thousands of dollars. That means an attorney can hypothetically spend in one month, the equivalent budget that an ordinary small business owner would spend in a year! The spread is enormous – which means that the gloves are metaphorically, off – when it comes to budget, amount of work that can be done, and the level of competition.

Many attorneys have resorted to some pretty insane tactics, such as creating numerous google places accounts, with “alleged,” fake office spaces, in order to game the system. Without linking or calling any particular attorney out, in 2012/2011, a noteworthy personal injury attorney was banned from being listed at all on Google places. This become a noteworthy case – because the attorney accused his SEO company for being responsible for creating the various google place listings.

The danger of DIY SEO as a lawyer, is the fact that Google is changing it’s rules and regulations surrounding SEO on an annual, if not monthly basis, when it comes to what’s acceptable and not acceptable. Most recently, Google quietly updated it’s guidelines saying that businesses should no longer use virtual office space in order to artificially increase their overall local presence by trying to rank in Google places. This effectively lead to many Google place listings getting closed, because they lead back to a Regus virtual office space. Many attorneys found themselves firing their existing SEO vendor, and in addition changing their office space due to the drop in visibility. This has only become more pronounced, as Google eliminated the “7 pack,” and adopted the “3 pack,” in terms of the amount of listings that now appear in Google places. Needless to say, SEO for lawyers has only gotten harder!

So with all this said, what can you – as an attorney do to help yourself, and should you hire a legal SEO company?

Let’s discuss first the things you can do for yourself. It makes no sense to pay an SEO vendor to do things you could do yourself, relatively easily.

Content Creation

Many lawyers often have little to no content. In an article posted by one of our partner agencies, Zogby, they discussed the amount of content lawyers on page 1 of Google for Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer have. It was noted that most attorneys have hundred’s of pages of content. If you’re a startup attorney, or if you’re looking to cut costs – it makes no sense to pawn off this job to an SEO company. You can write content on yourself, and save.

Start Outreach and Link Building

It’s common for attorneys in a local city to network with each other. Often, many lawyers note that referrals are their #1 source of business. With that being said, it’s common for members of a local bar association to link to each other, in order to help generate referral traffic to lawyers who practice other legal areas. Many attorneys do this as a way of providing resources to clients and in addition helping their fellow attorneys rank well in search engines. This is something that could be perceived as a grey area, so it should be done in an honest and earnest manner. Don’t engage in utter and blatant blackhat link farms, but when you feel the addition of your link could be valuable to a prospective reader on another attorneys website – request the link, and reciprocate as well if you feel they would be valuable ot your readers.

Leverage the press

One of the best ways for an attorney to start getting visibility and backlinks is by leveraging the press. Services like HARO(Help a reporter out), connect reporters with professionals. Essentially, a reporter will mention that he/she needs a credible source, and in exchange give you instant press/media coverage if you can help him/her. The benefit to you? You get credibility, visibility, and hopefully some backlinks out of it! Many lawyers are even more aggressive. In addition to participating in services like HARO, they will do a press release every time they win a case, or achieve something noteworthy. By doing this, they create backlinks via the syndication that press releases get. In addition, because these press releases rank in search engines – they create a “breadcrumb,” trail of residual traffic that future searchers might run into – when looking for a local attorney. It’s definitely part of a long term strategy, and with services like PRWeb, it’s something which can be done by an attorney on his/her time, without hiring a lawyer SEO company.

There’s an age old question, and it comes up every now and then, “should I work with a lawyer seo company, or is a normal seo company ok?”

It’s a crazy question, because there’s an obvious answer: if you’re a lawyer, you should work with a legal seo company. Unfortunately, that’s not the correct option, necessarily speaking. SEO is a concept that is governed by Google’s rules. That means SEO is frankly the same, when it comes to variables and rules, regardless of whether you’re a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer – or you’re KIA and VW. It truly is the same. That means that all things being equal, there should be no difference between the legal SEO company and the “normal” SEO company. They should both be able to get you to page 1.

So, to return to the original question: should you work with a legal SEO company versus a normal one? Absolutely not. Normal SEO companies can help you, and provide the same results as a legal SEO company without any disclaimers or excuses.

In my opinion, when a professional works with a company who specializes in their field – they are getting an additional “piece of mind,” that makes them feel comfortable spending the money. In some cases, there are many law firms who work with a lawyer specifically because he, or she, specializes in their industry.

What should lawyers look for when hiring an SEO company?

If you’re deciding between a legal SEO company or a normal SEO company, the one, and only thing, you should focus on is their results.

Results matter, and getting amazing results is hard – regardless of whether you’re a lawyer or KIA. Obviously if you can see a case study of a law firm with amazing results, you’ll feel more comfortable hiring the firm; but if an SEO company shows you a consistent track record of successful SEO campaigns – there’s no reason NOT to hire them.

When looking for an SEO company, don’t limit yourself to working with simply an SEO company that specializes in the legal industry. Look for the best SEO company period. Many lawyers who work with us, hired us not just because we have a roster of lawyers – they hired us because we had an overwhelming amount of successful clients.

Links matter – look at links

Typically, when trying to show a lawyer why they should hire us over other lawyer SEO companies, or normal SEO companies, we educate lawyers on what factors matter. After educating them, we’ll show them EXAMPLES of competitors who exhibit the very factors we are discussing. For example, in our opinion having large websites are important (lots of original quality content). When explaining this to lawyers, we’ll cite examples of competitors on page 1 of the same keyword they want to be on — and tell them, “JOSEPH has a website with 300 pages, that’s proof we’re right.” There’s nothing like a naked truth to help prove your point. Facts matter, and if an SEO company, legal, or not, cannot show you facts – move on.

In our opinion, one of the most important elements in any lawyer’s SEO strategy nowadays is backlinks and their respective quality. High quality backlinks are what separate low ranking websites from high ranking websites.

Insist that the legal seo company, or normal seo company, show you examples of backlinks they’ve created. Don’t ask for just 1, or 2, or 5, ask for 20,30,40. Why a large amount? It’s easy to make 1, 2, or even 3, backlinks for “showing and telling,” purposes – but only a company who does what it claims to do, will be able to show you 30, 40, or even 50, backlinks that are ALL high quality. This is one of the best indicators of quality, and something you should insist on.

Ask to speak to past clients

It doesn’t matter if you’re working with a normal SEO company or a legal SEO company, any competent SEO provider will have satisfied clients who are willing to speak to you on the phone. If they do not have any clients you can speak to, then why are you even considering working with them? In many cases, we’ve heard prospective clients sign up with us simply because of the conviction they heard in the voice of our existing clients, who agreed to speak to them.