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FindLaw Marketing, SEO, Business Practices Review

Jul 28, 2015

The article you’re about to read is the result of many prospective clients, asking us about FindLaw and trying to compare us to them. After answering their questions, over, and over, and over again – we realized we can’t be alone. Below is a comprehensive article about FindLaw, where we hope to summarize the pro’s and con’s of working with them. Our goal is to update it regularly, as more information and developments arise.

When it comes to companies that advertise themselves as lawyer marketing agencies, it feels like there’s a new flavor every year. When I first started doing marketing, I didn’t focus exclusively on lawyers – but I was aware of the demand, and the suppliers fulfilling the demand. Back then(2009-2010-2011), the dominant player was Lexus Nexus. They enjoyed a long reign. They were/are a subsidiary of Martindale Hubbel, a company that provides a number of lawyer research and support services. In addition, they own a dominant legal directory (Lawyers.com), which amplified their ability to convince lawyers to work with them.

Many lawyers found the company through it’s directory. Once you landed on the directory, you could create a listing, and in addition – solicit a free consultation from Lexus Nexus – and get lawyer marketing services.

Like most large lawyer marketing companies/agencies/platform, Lexus Nexus, and in this case, FindLaw, gives lawyers a full spectrum of services, ranging from website creation, to content development, SEO, PPC management, Social Media management, and an array of other services. Yes, they had a number of clients who ranked well, but there were a significantly larger amount of clients who didn’t. It wasn’t really a boutique approach. More of a conveyor belt.

At present, we work with a number of Lexus Nexus former clients, and they attest to that. Same goes for FindLaw clients.

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FindLaw is the latest lawyer marketing company to frankly – dominate. They have a directory which ranks well, and like Lexus Nexus – they too generate “lawyer marketing,” leads for their business through the directory.

If you’re reading this article, you’re either: in the process of finding a new company(and found FindLaw), or you’ve made up your mind about FindLaw and want a second opinion about them. Needless to say, we are a competitor to FindLaw, since we too are a lawyer marketing platform/agency, and obviously want your business.

We’re not opposed to giving compliments where compliments are due. FindLaw has some great case studies, and i’m quite sure those case studies are a big reason behind why FindLaw generate business. We all have them!

So, the purpose of this blog post is to frankly offer a comprehensive review on what FindLaw offers, and the pro’s and con’s of their services.

History

FindLaw has been around for a while. I’ll spare you the history and jump right into it. FindLaw’s current form, revolves around offering lawyer marketing services and their legal directory.

SEO History

Most lawyers are looking to hire FindLaw in order to have SEO services done on their own proprietary website. Here’s some important history to know. FindLaw has a history of engaging in blackhat tactics.

In 2008, the company was outed and publicly admonished for engaging in black hat SEO tactics (you can read more here). If you’re considering hiring them to do your SEO – this is a big red flag. Black hat SEO tactics are punished regularly – by either manual, or algorithmic penalties. Spend some time and talk to a lawyer in a penalty – and you’ll find out why most lawyers are thinking twice before hiring an SEO agency.

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When the Penguin algorithm was unveiled in 2012, many FindLaw clients who were a part of these schemes found their rankings completely erased.

Our Experience

In the past, DotComLawyerMarketing has helped numerous law firms – who are in existing contractual relationships with FindLaw. In most cases, we are brought to the table – in order to help separate fact from fiction – and to compensate for the lack of success the client is experiencing.

Domain Ownership

In some cases, we’ve heard of clients in FindLaw contracts – locked into them, and yet they don’t even own their domain name. When a WHOIS.com search is done, it appears like FindLaw owns the domain name.

Your Content

In the case of 2 different attorneys who were planning on switching over to us; FindLaw reps told them the content wasn’t the property of the attorney. Even though the client had paid for “blog post,” content – the reps refused to give it to the client. 1 of the clients, had to start over, since FindLaw wouldn’t give him his blog content.

What actually was going on

While FindLaw had locked the clients into very convoluted and extensive 360 digital marketing campaigns, consisting of social media, seo, local optimization, blogging, and a whole bunch of other things — we frankly saw nothing. According to their contract, they were supposed to have blogging going on – we never saw any. We brought it up actually. Social media posts were supposed to happen, that didn’t happen either.

From an SEO point of view, the only thing they did was setup the firm in Yext, in order to clean up the local listings. The one thing we did see were monthly reports, but none of the reports discussed what had actually been done. The reports merely summarized Google analytics.

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Lack of transparency

Any time questions were asked about “what was done,” the go-to response was: “Well – i’m not sure, but I can ask our team and draft a summary report.” This was a regular conversation. When we came in, we asked for all the information – and found nothing. In fact, we were stone-walled.

Not Vendor Friendly

FindLaw refused to add us to Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools – even though the client requested it. FindLaw reps were quite rude – probably because they weren’t doing anything, and felt threatened.

SEO 

There were claims that SEO was being done, yet we could find no evidence on either clients. There were no articles, or blog posts done. There were no links being created. When we insisted they do something, they created an action plan of what they would do – yet we saw none of it happen. In the case of one client – they claimed to be doing outreach to different universities in order to generate .edu links. When asked to see evidence of any outreach, or any successful links – we saw no response.

Fundamentally flawed

Here are some posts from attorney Eric Turkewitz, where he calls out FindLaw for unethical practices. In a few, he discusses the SEO garbage FindLaw blogs churn out. In one instance, he calls them out for “cyber-soliciting” using a dead-child. WOW!
FindLaw’s Continuing Problems with its “Blogs”< FindLaw Uses Dead Child To Advertise Attorney Services
Are FindLaw’s “Blogs” Tainting Its Clients, Commentators and the Profession of Law?