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7 Signs Your Law Firm May Need a New SEO Partner

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7 Signs Your Law Firm May Need a New SEO Partner

The legal industry has a serious problem.

Law firms and attorneys around the country continue to get taken advantage of by “churn and burn” SEO agencies.

These agencies, which are run by self-proclaimed SEO experts, in most cases, promise big results for less than $1,000 a month. They keep cashing checks for months until their client finally realizes that their “partner” hasn’t improved their SEO performance one bit.

Here’s the thing.

Quality SEO isn’t cheap.

You can’t invest a few hundred dollars per month if one of your goals is to rank number one in the organic search results for a competitive keyword (e.g., “[city] car accident lawyer”).

It’s just not realistic.

If you’re paying less than $1,000 per month for SEO, content, or link building services, then you’re probably just throwing your money away while increasing the speed at which your hair turns gray.

Why does this keep happening?

Whenever we talk to a law firm that’s been burned about taking over as their SEO partner, we listen to the reasons why they’re looking for a new partner. Over the years, we’ve heard a few reasons come up time and time again.

Here are the seven biggest reasons why law firms drop their SEO (or digital marketing) partner, as well as how law firms can avoid these pitfalls and find a dependable long-term partner.

law-partners-having-a-discussion

1. You Need Someone Passionate About SEO, not Someone Who Just Designs Websites

Sometimes lawyers (or their marketing directors) don’t realize there’s a huge difference between a web developer and a true SEO.

So often they’ll hire someone who will build them a beautiful website with all the fancy bells and whistles.

But that’s about the extent of it.

That’s because web developers, generally speaking, don’t:

  • Keep up to-date with the radical changes that take place in the world of SEO.
  • Understand link building and outreach.
  • Write or edit content.
  • Know how to diagnosis and fix the technical SEO complexities of a website.
  • Have practical experience marketing a law firm from a digital perspective.

Some web developers claim they do SEO because they know how to go in and change the title tags and make other basic on-page changes.

But on-page SEO 101 isn’t enough in competitive markets.

How to Stop Failing at SEO

A trustworthy digital partner should be able to show real-world examples of SEO success, with before and after case studies of their clients.

They should be able to answer any and all pointed questions.

An SEO partner should be able to clearly demonstrate how they grew organic visibility, traffic, phone calls, or keyword rankings over time for their clients.

They should show you actual data (from analytics tools). Run away from those who just tell you what you want to hear.

Designing a website is great. But it isn’t SEO.

If you hire a web designer or developer to do your law firm’s SEO, it is highly likely that you’ll be looking for a new partner within a few months when you don’t see a bump in traffic or leads.

2. Poor Communication & Mismanagement of Expectations

Some lawyers are paying upwards of $10,000 to SEO companies every month.

At end of each month, these companies will send over some Google Analytics screenshots, basically just highlighting any data points that look good. (“Hey, great news! Your bounce rate went down by 2 percent this month.”)

Many attorneys don’t know what all the charts and terms in these vague reports mean.

Heck, most attorneys don’t even know what their SEO partner does every month!

This lack of communication is yet another sign that your law firm needs a new SEO partner.

How to Stop Failing at SEO

A nebulous report from Google Analytics just isn’t good enough.

A trustworthy SEO partner makes their clients feel comfortable by visually walking them through the entire SEO experience.

Show your clients everything you’re doing to help improve their online presence.

When we start working with a client, we have meetings every two weeks. During these calls, we share our screen so we can visually show them what we’ve accomplished.

This always starts with us doing a comprehensive technical audit, where we show them what’s broken and how we recommend fixing it.

After a while, we reduce these calls to once a month, but we still make sure to regularly hop on a call to show them all the links we’ve built, the content we’ve written, how their rankings have improved, and the leads and phone calls they have received.

3. No Tracking!

Setting up tracking is a must.

Whenever we work with a client, one of the first things we do is set up tracking (e.g., call tracking, goals and events in Google Analytics).

This is imperative.

If we’re running a link building or content campaign for a client, we need to understand if what we’re doing is working.

For instance, if our client is getting 20 phone calls when we begin, and six months later they’re still getting 20 phone calls, then we haven’t done our job and we need to adjust our strategy and tactics.

Part of the reason to set up tracking is so that you can set goals, which you can meet or exceed in a realistic time frame.

SEO partners who don’t put tracking in place won’t have the data and empirical evidence they need to make informed decisions.

How to Stop Failing at SEO

Get all the proper tracking codes in place.

That way, you can pinpoint which pages are converting (e.g., generating phone calls).

By setting up call tracking, for instance, you can know whether the content you’re publishing is generating calls because you have the data.

Remember, anything that isn’t measured can’t be improved! Without data, you’re just guessing!

4. No Content Strategy

It’s almost impossible to get more traffic to a website without having a content strategy in place.

A lot of times people think once they hire an SEO company that organic visits will magically double or triple.

That problem needs to be solved right up front by managing expectations.

SEO isn’t magic. It takes a lot of hard work in a lot of areas.

And it takes content. Traffic can’t go up without a content strategy.

There’s only so much you can do to optimize a website with 15 pages.

In order to get more traffic, leads, and cases, you have to give Google very targeted content.

How to Stop Failing at SEO

Law firms need to have a content cadence and schedule. Without a content strategy, there really isn’t an SEO strategy.

It’s also incredibly important to understand who will be writing that content.

A good partner will probably take that responsibility – studying the competition, doing keyword research, developing a content strategy, and writing content on behalf of the client.

Or, if the client prefers going in a different direction, they should come up with a solution together, perhaps with the lawyer writing the content and giving it back to the SEO partner to optimize for the search engines.

Some lawyers are uncomfortable about writers who aren’t lawyers writing their content. This is totally understandable because lawyers believe that non-lawyers can’t possibly write about the law.

Except, the people reading the website content won’t be lawyers. It will be people who have been injured or wronged and need help from a lawyer. They need content that speaks to them.

Writers should never give legal advice in content for legal and ethical reasons.

But writers can weave compelling stories and create high-quality content that potential clients (the non-lawyers) can read and understand.

5. No Link Building Strategy

You can only get so far by publishing content and cleaning up technical SEO issues.

Without an aggressive link building strategy, it can be hard to win at SEO in competitive fields, such as the legal industry.

Most agencies in the legal industry ignore link building. They don’t do any link building at all.

Some companies will say they do link building, but they’re using outdated and dangerous practices from 10 or 20 years ago.

They’re doing stuff like building hundreds of directory links, engaging in forum commenting, and other spammy tactics (like PBNs – private blog networks) in the hopes of artificially inflating organic search rankings.

Link building is confusing to a lawyer.

Sadly, in the legal industry, link building can do more damage than good – if the agency is even doing it.

How to Stop Failing at SEO

This solution goes back to communication. It’s important for a digital agency to be transparent about the links being built – are they safe or risky?

Link building is about quality, not quantity.

A good partner will also spend time reverse engineering the competition to come up with a link building strategy and identify opportunities based on the analysis.

An agency can’t manually build all the links you’ll need.

The best links are usually earned – either through outreach or publishing link-worthy content.

6. No Client Education

A good SEO partner should also be educating their client, for all the reasons we’ve discussed so far in this article.

In addition, attorneys should do their best to genuinely know about Google’s search updates. Otherwise, they will continue to get taken advantage of.

How to Stop Failing at SEO

It’s a two-way street.

An SEO partner must educate their client, but the client should also have some general knowledge of how SEO works.

Lawyers must hold their digital partner accountable to what’s happening in the industry. They should be reading news sites like Search Engine Journal to stay in the loop about things that are changing in the industry (e.g., new updates, technologies, and tools).

If you do work in legal marketing, the fact that you’re reading this post is very encouraging!

7. Not Enough Focus on Conversion Tactics

A good digital partner should also be paying attention to how the site is converting.

You can use tools from Google, Lucky Orange, and others.

It’s important to understand how people interact with the website. Is the SEO partner doing any A/B split testing to improve conversions?

If not, then they are missing out on opportunities to drive more leads and cases to the firm.

How to Stop Failing at SEO

A good digital partner will improve the conversion rate in addition to driving more traffic.

This is another area where it’s a good idea to ask for case studies.

They should be able to provide insights that are proven because they’ve tested it on other sites in their client base.

It’s wise to work with partners who specialize in digital marketing for law firms. They have already done a lot of research, understand how to write content, and know which conversion tactics work for law firms.

Summary

Stop switching agencies every six months.

It’s time to end the cycle of insanity and failure now.

If you’re in the legal industry and trying to select your next SEO or digital marketing partner, do the following:

  • Find someone who has real practical experience working with other law firms. Ask them to show you case studies.
  • Always check references. Ask for references – ideally from a client they’ve been working with for 3 or more years. Ask all the right questions and you’ll probably get the answers you’re looking for. A longer relationship is indicative of SEO success.
  • Constantly educate yourself. If you do this, you’ll be in a much better position to hold your SEO partner accountable to what was promised.

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Jason Hennessey

Jason Hennessey is a serial entrepreneur and internationally known search engine optimization (SEO) expert, author and speaker who specializes in ... [Read full bio]

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