Poll: Which Attorney Advertising Video is the most Outrageous?

Creative advertising is usually reserved to large companies like Budweiser or Nationwide, but every now and then we’re graced with the hilarity that is ridiculous attorney advertising. Here are my favorite 3 videos below for viewing pleasure.

Please vote in the poll at the bottom!

[poll id=”2″]

Moving Your Firm’s Office with Local SEO in Mind

Moving sucks. It’s no secret. Whether it’s your office, your home, or moving your kid to college…it’s no fun. Mockingbird just recently upgraded our office space and it was a nightmare. With all the stress of moving to a new office location, it’s easy to forget that you have to make the virtual move as well. It’s imperative that your online business information mirrors exactly what’s happening offline. The only problem is that when done poorly, you can really hurt your local organic traffic. Below is a step-by-step process for how to move offices online at the same time you move offices offline.

This process should be completed in order and preferably on the day you actually move your office.

Full disclosure I stole this general process from Joy Hawkins’ amazing guide created back in 2015. See the full guide to “Moving Your Office Without Losing Rankings.

1. Update location information on your website.

Areas on your website to check:

  • Contact or location page
  • Footer of website
  • Header of website

2. Mark the previous location as closed on Google Maps.

You don’t want Joe’s Law Offices showing up when people search your address. Here’s how to permanently close a business on Google Maps.

3. Update your address in Google My Business.

This is an incredibly crucial step in the process. How is Google Maps supposed to know where your office is if you don’t tell them? If you don’t have access to your listing, you’ll need to create or claim the listing first. If you don’t have access, and have no idea how to change the address without it, contact a Google Local Guide like myself and I’ll be happy to help.

4. Embed a Google Map of your new office on your website.

If you already have one, replace the current embed with the updated maps listing. If you don’t have a map embedded on your contact page, now is a good time to start.

5. Update data aggregators and top tier directories.

This can be done efficiently through tools like Moz Local and Yext, but doing it by hand works too!

6. Update legal directory profiles.

I would advise starting with the following:

  • Avvo
  • FindLaw
  • HG
  • Justia

7. Hire a Google certified photographer.

This step is optional, but a virtual tour of your office is a great signal to Google and to the user that you are where you say you are. You can now request a quote directly through Google for this service. I’ve seen pricing everywhere from $400 to $2,500 depending on how big the space is and what package you get. I suggest this to all of my clients.

8. Follow up on your work!

  • Remove any duplicates that pop up with the legacy address. Unfortunately it becomes a game of whack-a-mole after you change addresses. The local search ecosystem is a fickle beast.
  • Check back on the Google Maps pin – sometimes you need to move this manually.
    When you move, there will undoubtedly be legacy address issues. Be sure to keep an eye on directory listings to ensure you’re removing duplicates that pop up with your old address.
  • Make sure driving directions are correct on Google Maps (see point 2).

When you go through the steps 1-8 above, and quickly, you likely won’t see a drop in Google Maps traffic at all. In fact you may be surprised at what happens…

One of my favorite clients, a medium sized law firm in Los Angeles, recently moved across town and we braced for the possibility of losing rankings in Google local results.

We followed the above process to the tee and here are the results…

Google My Business Insights GraphGoogle My Business Insights Numbers

The searches, views, and actions on her Google My Business listing all improved in the month after moving offices. This likely has a lot to do with the fact that she moved from an area with high competition to a more competitor friendly area of LA. But the fact is, we were able to virtually move her office without losing ranking or traffic because we followed a strict process and completed it quickly, leaving no doubt with Google and other search engines about the firm’s location information.

Google’s Question & Answer Feature on Mobile: What We Know So Far

What is it?

A new feature on mobile browsers that provides additional question & answers through the Knowledge Panel (business information shown beside search results for a business). This Q&A feature rolled out on Android Google Maps only at first, but we’re now seeing it pop-up across various mobile devices. The feature gives an opportunity to consumers and potential clients to ask questions of the business and for the business to respond. As the business owner, you can also provide frequently asked questions and the appropriate answers.

Users can answer each others’ questions and up-vote questions they think are helpful so they move up the list.

What does it look like?

Sprout Google Q&A
You can see the “Questions & answers” section outlined in red.

Who Can Provide Answers?

Anyone! This is crowdsourced data.

Potential Benefits

As Google is increasingly becoming the homepage for your business, it’s become even more imperative to control the information as much as you can. Although this Q&A content will be populated through crowdsourcing, it’s an incredible opportunity to connect with potential clients. If you find certain questions popping up again and again in conversation with new leads or clients, take the initiative to ask that question in Google Maps and provide a useful answer for everyone to see.

Have some self control, though. Don’t overdo it.

Potential Issues

These questions will be moderated with the same sort of system as reviews. This is a scary thought because we’ve seen from experience that removing reviews from Google is a dance you do not want to get into. Worst case scenario is if a competitor, spammer, or displeased client asks a question like “Does this law firm screw people over?” and then it’s answered “Yes” with a bunch of people up-voting it as helpful. We already have to monitor reviews with great care, now we will have to monitor questions with the same attention and scrutiny.

In short: prepare the battle-stations, here come the spammers.

Bonus Information: A great article from one of the smartest minds in local SEO: Mike Blumenthal’s 11 Tips for Optimizing Google’s Q&A’s

6 Must-Haves for Law Firm’s Contact Page

As a law firm, and for any local business, the contact page is one the of the most important pages on your website. If someone is visiting this page, they are likely very close to hiring you. This is your opportunity to present all of the most important information you can about your business.

6 Things Every Contact Page Should Have…

  1. Name, address, and phone number
  2. Business hours
  3. Contact form
  4. Embedded Google Map
  5. Reviews
  6. Hand-written driving directions

1. Name, Address, and Phone Number

Duh. A user visits your website’s contact page because they intend to get your contact information. Don’t let them down. Make sure this information is stated very clearly high on the page. Google also looks to your website as another data source – if the information conflicts with what they have in their index you are not likely to rank in Google Maps and local packs.

2. Business Hours

See above point.

3. Contact Form

There are a lot of people who either aren’t able to contact an attorney over the phone, or feel uncomfortable doing so. You need to cater to this group of potential new clients and give them another option. This is why every contact page should have a contact form of some kind. Pro tips for contact forms:

  • Use the word “send” instead of “submit” at the bottom of your contact form. We’ve seen this have a positive effect on conversion rates.
  • Give a confirmation message that the form was received.
  • I also advise writing a headline above your contact form that states when you will get back to them. Something as simple as… “We promise to respond to you within 24 hours.”

4. Embedded Google Map

Google has made it incredibly easy for anyone to embed a Google Map on their website. This is a must have on your contact page – there is tremendous local SEO value in tying your Google Maps listing back to your website. It’s also great for users because it allows them to easily get directions to your office from your website without having to type it into Google Maps. Here are the basic instructions for embedding a Google Map on your website.

5. Reviews

If a potential new client is about to contact you, why not show off all those fancy stars that helps confirm they are making the correct decision? We recommend using a plugin for this if you are on a WordPress website. I personally like Google Reviews Business by RichPlugins because it provides a clean look shown below.

Google Business Reviews Plugin

6. Handwritten Driving Directions

There are two reasons to have driving directions directly on your website… 1) Some people (like my father) don’t trust navigation and would rather have the local business owner describe how to get to the office. 2) It’s a chance to give Google more hyper-localized information about your office (parking info, office building name, etc.). This helps build your local relevance and Google will have more trust in your location.

Other Contact Page Tips…

  • Utilize location schema (advanced topic: here’s some more info).
  • State your value proposition where possible. What makes your firm different?
  • If you have multiple locations, you should have multiple contact/location pages.

Interested in Learning More?

If you’re interested in local SEO or how the contact page plays a role in local SEO, please feel free to join our webinar on August 2nd with our founder, Conrad Saam, and yours truly. Register here!

Back to Basics: On-Page SEO for Law Firm Websites

This blog post is specifically aimed at helping you optimize a page on your WordPress site, and even more specifically assumes you are using the Yoast SEO plugin. However, you can use these tips and tricks on pretty much any content management system.

There is no shortage of advice and articles out there about optimizing for on-page ranking factors. In this post, we’ll avoid the highly technical and look at some of the easiest, most basic wins.

Page Elements You Can (and Should) Optimize

  1. H1 tag
  2. URL
  3. Content: internal linking and images
  4. Title tag
  5. Meta description

My Not-So-Scientific Methodology

From the “Edit Post” or “Edit Page” view in WordPress, I simply work my way down from top to bottom and left to right: H1, URL, content, categories & tags (if blog post) title tag, meta description (Yoast SEO).

Optimizing Your H1 Tag

Your H1 is the title to your page and should describe the page appropriately. That is the most basic, and also most important thing to get correct. Search engines look at the title tag (we’ll get to this later) and the H1 to help them determine what the page content is going to be about.

Optimizing Your URL

Things to do: Keep it short, keep it human (avoid random strings of numbers and characters), and keep keywords to the front. Look to this post’s URL slug as an example; there are no stop words, my most important keywords “on-page-seo” are at the front, and it’s very easy to read and type as a human being.

Don’t allow WordPress to decide the URL for you or stuff it with unnecessary stop words (such as “the”) and keywords.

Optimizing Your Page Content

I could dedicate an entire blog post to this section, but in an effort to keep this post short and digestible, here is my bulleted list of the most important things to get correct.

  • Images: try and use images within the content when possible, and make sure that each one has alt text describing what that image portrays.
  • Internal linking: make sure that you are linking to relevant pages when it makes sense. For example, if you have a call to action such as “contact us for a free consultation,” that’s a great opportunity to link to your contact page. Or, if your page on personal injury describes more specific areas such as “motorcycle accidents”, that’s another great internal linking opportunity. 1-3 internal links per page is optimal.

Optimizing Your Meta Title (or Title Tag)

Your title tag is the most important piece to on-page SEO. This is your chance to tell the search engines what the page is about. Above all, you have to optimize this element.  Far too often we see our clients with uninformative title tags like “home” for their homepage, or “injury lawyers” for an important practice area page. Google usually displays somewhere around the first 65 characters and you should use all of that space. If you’re not sure where to start, here is a very safe and typical format to be used for law firms: “Practice Area | City, State | Brand Name”

By using this format, you are 1) putting your most valuable keywords first (this is important for ranking), 2) optimizing for specific location you serve, and 3) showing the searcher that you are actually a law firm. See example below of how this format would show up in search results.

Title Tag Google Results Example

Optimizing Meta Description

This is your chance to give the searcher a sneak peek at your page’s content. This is where you draw the actual click. You get roughly 160 characters to try and compel the searcher to click so use it wisely. You want to describe the page as concisely as possible; here’s the meta description I wrote for the post you’re reading right now… “This post describes how to optimize a page on your law firm’s WordPress site in under 15 minutes using the Yoast SEO plugin. Easy for anyone to learn!” Maybe not my best work, but at least it gives the reader insight into what they can expect from this post.

Wrapping Up

If you’re interested in learning more about the importance of these factors and how to capitalize on them, please feel free to reach out to me directly: dustin[at]mockingbirdmarketing.com. If you would like to learn more on your own, here are a few of my favorite additional resources on the topic:


Get The Most From Your AdWords Search Terms: 2 [Simple] Tips

The number one reason I love Google AdWords (aside from us now being a Premier Partner) is that their advertising platform enables you to target potential clients who are actively searching for your service. Not only do they place your ad in front of users who are searching for your service, but you can actually see what they searched for before clicking your advertisement. This transparency gives you an immense amount of power. In this post I’ll describe how to use that search data to quickly and easily perform 2 key tasks:

  1. Identify negative keywords
  2. Content idea generation

How to Access Your Search Terms Data

Let’s take a step back. The first thing you need to do is navigate to your “Search Terms” tab in your Google AdWords dashboard. Follow these steps…

  1. Login to Google AdWords
  2. Navigate to the specific campaign you want to work on
  3. Select the “keywords” tab and then select “search terms” in the second menu so you see a screen similar to this:

AdWords Search Terms

Now that you can see how people are finding and clicking on your ads, you’re ready to use that data. Take a minute to scroll through your search terms; if it’s your first time, you may be surprised at what you find.

Identifying and Adding New Negative Keywords

Now that you’re looking at the list of search terms you’ve paid for – you’ll want to identify anything that is irrelevant or not likely to lead to conversions. It’s good to go through at least every few weeks (more frequently if you are running a large budget campaign) and make sure you are excluding terms you don’t want to pay for in the future.

Here are some real client examples from an immigration attorney…

  • is rihanna getting deported” (I don’t think this person is looking to hire a deportation defense attorney for Rihanna.)
  • immigration paralegal openings in clearwater utah” (Unfortunately the law firm isn’t located in Utah and not looking to hire new paralegals.)
  • how many immigrants has trump deported” (Albeit an interesting question… this client doesn’t have the answer, and more importantly, this person is not looking to hire an attorney.)

If you find terms like this that you want to exclude from triggering your ads, simply select the checkbox next to the search term and then scroll to the top navigation and click the “add as a negative keyword” button.

It’s important to mention that as a best practice, you should upload a list of negative keywords before ever launching your AdWords campaigns. This way you are proactively mitigating the irrelevant and unprofitable keywords. Here are some freebies we include on most of our campaigns (dependent on practice area of course):

  • Cheap
  • Pro bono
  • News
  • Job
  • School
  • Statistics

Using Search Terms Data for Content Idea Generation

The queries you find in your search terms data can be utilized as a tool for organic search strategy as well. This list of terms is often a goldmine for generating new content ideas. You can see what people are interested in and actively searching for and make sure you have content on your site that answers those questions. Once more, if you already have relevant content, you can use the search terms report to get insight into how you can optimize the content on page to match the searchers verbiage.

For example, here are more examples from the same immigration attorney…

  • can I get a green card by marrying a permanent resident?
  • which green card is safe from deportation?
  • what are the newest immigration laws?

All of these questions can and should be used as a springboard for new content. If you can become the trusted resource for information about your practice area than you are winning.

Wrapping Up

Make sure you are not neglecting the search terms report in Google AdWords. Not only will it help you cut costs and focus on the relevant queries that drive business, but it can also help support your content and overall SEO strategy.

Mockingbird’s Love Affair With Yext

In honor of Valentine’s day hysteria earlier this week, we want to take this opportunity to profess our love for one of our favorite partners… Yext. It’s true, we love them, and (we think) they love us.

What is Yext?

“We put business on the map. Brands of all sizes use Yext to manage data about their locations across their websites, mobile apps, and internal systems.” (Yext)

Here is my own less eloquent explanation I use when explaining Yext to our clients: Yext is a tool that helps control your business data and listings across a multitude of important online directories, maps and apps.

How Mockingbird Uses Yext For Our Clients

Location data, or NAP (name, address, phone number), is a very important piece to the local search ranking puzzle. If you have inconsistent location data, Google and the other search engines won’t be inclined to show your business in search results because they can’t trust that it’s actually there. Google does not want to provide an incorrect address and accidentally send users to a laundromat instead of the law office they’re looking for.

In the good ole’ days when I first started at Mockingbird, I had the unfortunate job of “directory clean up.” Essentially, I would spend countless hours drudging through websites like InsiderPages, Foursquare, and Yelp in order to manually fix our clients’ inaccurate directory listings.  This clean up is an important duty, but one that comes with the simultaneous pain of monotony and frustration. While that work has not gone away completely, we now utilize Yext to help with the heavy lifting.

Instead of going through each directory individually, we now simply set up one complete and accurate listing in Yext and they push out that information to all of their digital partners.  We can now make sure that our client’s location data is accurate across most of the top and second tier online directories, maps, and apps – a whopping “100+ digital endpoints” in Yext’s own words.

Yext offers a slew of features to help businesses manage their data (analytics, reporting, review monitoring, social posting, etc.), but here are some of my personal favorites…

1. Duplicate Suppression

If you’ve ever had the unfortunate task of removing a duplicate listing from an online directory like Yelp, then you know how frustrating it can be. It’s often an annoying and unclear process that is ultimately futile. Yext’s duplicate suppression tool:

1) Finds potential duplicates and notifies you of the listing
2) Gives you an option to “ignore” or “suppress” the listing
3) Removes the duplicate through an “on-going signal to the publisher”
4) Gets the listing suppressed in 72 hours. This makes directory clean up exponentially easier

2. Data Field Options

While Yext allows you to control the most important pieces of location information (name, address, phone number, website), they don’t stop there. Yext gives you options that actually help you promote and market your business better. For example, you get to create a featured message that will show on your directory listings – we generally use this as a call-to-action like the example below.

Yext Featured Message

Along with the featured message, you get to utilize these other awesome data fields:

  • Business description
  • Business hours
  • Contact email
  • Payment methods
  • Link social accounts (Foursquare, Twitter, Instagram)
  • Business logo and photos
  • Add YouTube videos
  • Edit cover and profile photos for Google My Business and Facebook directly from Yext listing
  • Enhanced content like company calendar and staff bios

3. Control of Categories

Finding the correct category to describe your firm’s practice areas can be very tough on a lot of directories, and even Google My Business. This is one under-appreciated feature of Yext; their categories section is extremely robust. One of my clients specializes in lemon law and the closest matching category we can use in Google My Business is “Lawyer”, which is obviously not ideal. Here are her categories in Yext…

Yext Categories Lemon Law

Wrapping Up

Yext has been essential to our toolbox since 2014 and one of my personal favorite tools. We use it for all of our clients and we’re proud to be a Yext Certified Agency Partner. If you’re interested to find out more about Yext, local SEO, or what we do in general, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 206-209-2136. We would love to hear from you!

Linkbuilding Ideas for the Average Law Firm

SEO theory can be broken down into 3 main pillars: technologycontent, and authority. Technology is by far the most difficult aspect of SEO to jump into, just hearing about robots.txt files, XML sitemaps, internal link structure, minifying CSS, and all the other jargon can make your head spin. It’s best to hire an expert to deal with the technological side of your website. However, Joe the attorney down the street can actually do a lot more than you would think to improve the other 2 pillars of SEO for his website.

Many small business owners are aware that content is a significant aspect of SEO and have heard somewhere along the line that “content is king.” Every firm should work in house on creating high quality and unique content that offers valuable insight to the user (see: “Why You are Your Firm’s Best (and Worst) Content Writer“). Many firms (and agencies) actually overdevelop content while ignoring authority. We often see a lot of wasted investment in content on sites that don’t have the authority to support the amount of content on the site.

So, while the content of your website is a very important factor for getting people to find your firm in Google’s search results, it’s not the only one. Google needs other external signals to determine which website deserves to rank over other websites competing for the same search terms, this is where authority comes in.

In order to determine a website’s authority, the big G uses the number of links pointing from other external websites to yours. Think of each link as a vote of confidence for your website (that’s how Google views it). After all, what others say about you is more important than what you say about yourself. So, how can we get those all important votes of confidence (read: links) from other high quality websites on the web?

One of the easiest and most effective ways a law firm can get new links is through current community and organizational relationships. Think about the types of organizations, businesses, and non-profits your firm already supports and find a way to leverage that offline relationship for the online benefit of a link.

Common Link Opportunities:

  • Community Theaters and Arts Organizations
  • Local Universities/Colleges
    • Is anyone at your firm on the board?
    • Bio pages for speaking
    • Linking to course materials provided on the main website
  • Local Events
    • Local meetups organized by a firm member
    • Local events where a firm member happens to be a speaker. What is the organization behind that event?
    • Local events hosted at your firm
  • Corporate Park or Strip Mall Website
  • Charity Runs/Walks/Bike Rides sponsorships
  • Trade Organizations
  • Labor Unions
  • Legal Organizations (The National Lawyers Guild, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Local Bar Associations, etc.)
  • Small Businesses (possibly former clients)
  • Local Chapters of National Charities (Toys for Tots, United Way, Special Olympics)
  • Pro-bono work for local businesses or non-profit organizations
  • Local expert witnesses you work with
  • Organizations or clubs (even a recreational club like a sailing club) where a firm member is a board member
    • You can often link to the firm from the bio page. “Attorney smith is a partner at Smith & Smith PLLC”
  • Art purchased for the firm (Take a picture of where it’s now displayed and send to artist and they may link back to the site).
  • Community page for “Businesses we trust” in which you provide honest testimonials for any local businesses you’ve work with.
    • Service Providers: Janitors, Electricians, Moving Companies, Painters, Plumbers, Carpenters.
    • Caterers
    • Delivered Goods
    • Leased equipment
    • Employee training
    • Local IT company
    • Car Dealership (for company vehicle)

Making the ‘Ask’

The hardest part of linkbuilding is actually moving forward after you’ve identified a linkbuilding opportunity. If you believe the owner or webmaster is willing to provide a link to you on their website, send a friendly email to see if they can make it happen. There is by no means a perfect recipe for making the ask, but here’s my $.02: send an affable email that makes the simple ask “will you link to my website” and then follow up with a very friendly nudge a few days later if you haven’t head back. I would go so far as to recommend a phone call, if and only if, that feels appropriate. If you need inspiration, below is an example of an email we drafted for a client that is on the Board for her Alma Mater and listed on the college’s website…

Hi [insert name],

I wanted to thank you again for the honor of including me on the Alumni Board of Directors. I was just reading through my bio and love that you mention my firm’s name. I am wondering if it’s possible to also link to my website? 
Once my marketing agency found out I’m on the Alumni Board at Example University, their eyes lit up and they have been begging me to ask you about this since. 
[Insert ending salutation] 
You know the person you are emailing… use your own voice and be brief.

Wrapping Up

Linkbuilding is tough work, but extremely important and completely doable for an attorney. So many law firms do great work within their communities — it’s important to show that online as well. If you would like help with linkbuilding or want to learn more, please feel free to drop me a line: dustin[at]mockingbirdmarketing.com

If you have ideas that you would like to share, please comment below!

SEO Trends in 2017 – [Good News, Bad News, No News]

It’s that time of year again. The SEO world is reflecting back on a year defined by unexplained shake ups in the search results. Rather than taking a look back on 2016, it’s much more fun to look ahead to 2017. Some writers were so excited for 2016 to end, they started their predictions as early as August. Other writers, like the brilliant David Mihm, have just recently published their predictions for 2017 (definitely worth the read). In this post, I want to look at a few different common SEO trends/predictions and offer my thoughts in a ESPN(ish) talkshow fashion called “Good news, bad news, no news.” Essentially, I’ll be sharing whether I think this SEO trend will benefit law firms, hurt them, or have no real impact.

More Traffic to Paid Advertisements than Organic on Mobile

…Bad news

Google has been stressing the importance of mobile experience since back in March of 2015 when the digital marketing world had a simultaneous heart attack about the impending “Mobilegeddon.” Mobile search has continued it’s astronomical growth and with that, Google is capitalizing on a huge opportunity for additional revenue. We’ve seen this trend already with new ad extensions (reviews and location data) and even more recently with the addition of local search ads on Google Maps like the example below.

Local Search Ad in Google Maps
Source: Google

So why is this bad news for the average small law firm? I say bad news because it’s becoming a pay-to-play game, and fast. Legal has always been a hyper-competitive market – while you can still get solid results from beating your competition organically – you now have to compete with more advertising than ever before with less room on the search results pages than ever before. 2017 may be a good time to start thinking about the various mobile advertising options.

Tracking Keywords Rank Becomes Obsolete

…Good news

Search queries are getting longer and more specific with the growth of voice search and shift in searcher behavior. Soon, tracking your ranking for broad terms like “bankruptcy lawyer” will become more difficult. This is great news. It’s very easy to use ranking as a measuring stick of success, but we shouldn’t, and soon won’t be able to. We’ve never used ranking as a measure of success at Mockingbird and never will. Our philosophy has always been to focus on the metrics that matter, which for law firms is new leads and ultimately new clients (not ranking for “car accidents”).

This inevitable shift will free up business owners and their SEO agencies to focus on optimizing their website in a way that drives revenue, not rankings. Instead of focusing our efforts on rankings, we can focus on the user’s intent and how to solve their problems.

HTTPS Becomes a Must

No News

We’ve known that Google is using HTTPS as a ranking signal since they announced it back in August of 2014. Since then, Google has been running their own PR campaign to push site owners and SEOs to make their website’s more secure. Google even offers help articles, a post on why HTTPS matters, and a variety of tools to check your site’s security. They have been preparing us for the shift to HTTPS for the last two years and “Beginning in January 2017 (Chrome 56), we’ll mark HTTP pages that collect passwords or credit cards as non-secure, as part of a long-term plan to mark all HTTP sites as non-secure” (source). This should be “no news” to all of us. Our lead developer, Matt Stahl, wrote a great post on this: “Why HTTPS? Well that’s a stupid question.

Looking Ahead to 2017

Things are changing fast and it’s important to keep on top of the trends. In summary, think about investing in mobile advertising, forget about keyword ranking, and make sure your site is secure with HTTPS. Please comment with your own thoughts and predictions below!