Why Your PPC Landing Pages Should Be Part of Your Website

In the world of legal marketing, we see a general push from our clients to have more than one website. We constantly see law firms with a website for each practice area, or, in this case, separate websites for general use and PPC landing pages. So we reopen the age-old debate – should your law firm have more than one website, specifically for PPC vs non-PPC purposes?

Separate domains for PPC landing pages

When running PPC campaigns, we’ve heard the experts urge us to have landing pages that are relevant and specific to the content mentioned in your add. But how to you integrate that content into your existing site, if it’s not there already? This dilemma becomes increasingly difficult when you are running more and more PPC campaigns – where do you put these pages?

An answer some are turning to – separate domains. For example, these sites below. On the left is the law firms “normal” website, on the right, their PPC website.

lemonlawexperts website screenshot
Main site at lemonlawexperts.com
PPC landing pages site at lemonlawcars1.com

Is this a good idea? Our stance, no.

Four Reasons to Have One Website for Your Business

  1. Google says so. Google does not like duplicate content. It has said so here. And if you weren’t convinced, Google releases algorithm updates like Panda that beat sites with duplicate content into a pulp. By having two websites discussing your law firm and a specific area of practice (lemon law, in this case) you’re bound to have nearly identical content. There is only so many ways you can say “we will help you with your lemon law case.”
  2. You’ll get more traffic. Having two websites is means you’re self-cannibalizing your traffic. Business school beat “synergy” into me – the idea that 1 + 1 can sometimes equal 3. The same concept applies here. Sure, you get traffic on your main site. And you get traffic on your PPC landing pages site. But chances are, if you consolidated the two, you’d get more traffic than the sum of them separately. And more traffic -> more clients -> more money -> happy you.
  3. Improve your ROI. The more websites you maintain, the more money you spend. You need to buy each additional domain, pay for hosting,
  4. Better user experience. Imagine this: your car sucks, desperately you do a Google search for a lawyer. You click a brilliantly constructed ad, and get taken to a site relevant to your search query. It’s all good so far. But then, you, the not-dummy you are, decide to poke around this site. Sure, there’s some content, but it seems weak. So you leave this crappy website because it doesn’t quite seem legit.

Consolidate Your Websites and Live a Longer, Happier Life

Seriously. Just do it. You’ll save money, probably see an uptick in traffic, and build some karma in the Google Gods book.

6 Content Marketing Tactics for Lawyers that Actually Work

You may have heard that content is an essential element to driving traffic to your site. The problem is that most content out there just doesn’t cut it. You need to create unique and engaging content will make people want to share and/or link to it–the kind of content that Google notices and rewards websites for.

The question is, how do you get those links? As an attorney, it can seem like a struggle, especially when content from other “sexier” verticals are vying for attention, shares, and those ever elusive links. As an attorney, however, you have knowledge and expertise that, if presented properly and with the right timing, can be extremely successful.

Below are some tactics we’ve seen that could be the the ticket to driving more quality traffic to your website:

Write an Op-Ed piece About a Big News Story

As a lawyer, you have a unique opportunity to contribute your expertise to a specific issue or topic that people are talking about about on the news.

Here are some Op-Ed headlines that come to mind:

  • The big question about [New Law] that hasn’t been answered.
  • What the plaintiff in [Recent Controversial Lawsuit] needs to prove in order to win.
  • 5 Reasons Why [New Proposed Law] will be difficult to enforce.

While many attorneys write about the news, most of what I’ve seen is a rehash of the story, lightly peppered with a few comments and opinions.  Instead, write a piece that offers a real argument, and spends 750-1000 words supporting your argument with examples and evidence. Make it compelling, unique, and accessible. You can publish these op-ed posts on your own blog and share it on reddit, Facebook, or other social media channels. Also, in addition to writing about news stories on your own firm’s blog, you can reach out to local reporters and offer yourself up as a source to provide a legal perspective. This is usually easier to do if you have a few successful posts under your belt.

Use PR to Promote One of Your Own Big Cases

Are you working on a case that you believe has the potential to make the news? If so, you may want to consider doing some PR.

Let’s say you’re an employment lawyer working on a whistleblower case that you believe has some legs. Get in touch with a PR professional whom you trust to get an idea if journalists would want to pick up your story. If you don’t know anyone in PR, make sure you get a recommendation from a professional who will give you an honest opinion about your story (and not just bill you for their time).

If you want to make the most of your case’s publicity, be sure to create a webpage on your site dedicated to the case, with all formal complaints and official court documents available in one place so reporters don’t have to hunt for them. Also, post links to supplementary materials that relate to the area of law that the case is related to, preferably something from your own site is best but also be sure to include anything from an external website that could shine light on your topic. Essentially, you need to make a page so good, complete, and comprehensive that it would be silly for a reporter, blogger, or anyone talking about the case to NOT want to link to it.

When your story starts taking off, request that your PR person notifies you about every online publication that happens to pick up your story. If you manage to get on a high traffic site, see if you can’t find a way to participate in the discussion in the comments section–which can be a good way for you to drop a link to your resource page on the case if it already isn’t there in the body of the article.

Give a Legal Perspective About Your Favorite TV Show or Movie

You remember when Bane held the entire city of Gotham in The Dark Night Rising? Maybe you could write up a compelling reason for how that villain has a valid criminal insanity case, should it ever be brought up in court. Oh yeah, and when you’re done, see if you can post it to lawandthemultiverse.com and get a link back to your site!

Perhaps you’re a Harry Potter fanatic, and have read all of the books from front to back 5 times. How easy would it be to write down a list of all the laws that you can find in the non-muggle world and then submit that list to Reddit and promote that list through Facebook?

Are you an employment lawyer? You could spend a couple of weekends tallying down all the possible cases for harassment or wrongful termination in shows like AMC’s Mad Men or NBC’s The Office. Or, if you were really ambitious, you could create a chart comparing all shows that take place in an office made in the last 10 years. Do something like that, and you’ll probably never need to build another link again.

Chances are you have an interest or hobby that overlaps with your expertise in the law. This gives you an opportunity to tap into a much larger audience who will share and link to your content.

Provide a Comprehensive Resource Focusing on a Frequently Asked About Topic

While most Google searches will turn up an article or resource that provides the information you’re looking for, oftentimes it doesn’t provide content to the level of depth, detail or quality that you need. For example, while there are plenty of pages out there about how to file a workers compensation claim in a particular state, how many law firm websites provide a comprehensive resource with all the forms and special instructions for filing out certain form fields in one place? If you fill that content gap by creating such a resource on your website, that resource could eventually become the go-to page for anyone who needs to fill out a workers comp claim.

When creating an online resource, put yourself in the shoes of your clients.  A comprehensive resource that gives potential clients a good idea about their situation will not only help prospective clients gain confidence in your knowledge as an attorney but is also a good signal to the search engines that you’re providing great content and that your site is worthy of ranking and getting traffic.

Unfortunately, if your site doesn’t have many links to begin with, chances are a lower quality resource on a more established site is likely to rank higher than what you’ve created. This is why it’s important to reach out to owners of other websites who may want to link to your resource. While outreach is beyond the scope of this article, you should check out this great resource from Page One Power.

Create a Community Page

One of the easiest and most effective things a law firm can do to get links is through the relationships that you already have in your community. What organizations and non-profits does your firm support? Show them a little love!

Create a page giving testimonials for local organizations and vendors you do business with and link to them. These might include:

  • Community Theaters and Arts Organizations
  • Local expert witnesses you work with.
  • Charity Runs/Walks/Bike Rides
  • Trade organizations
  • Labor Unions
  • Legal Organizations (The National Lawyers Guild, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Local Bar Associations)
  • 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
  • Organizations or clubs (even a recreational club like a sailing club) where a firm member is a board member (You can 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 and send to artist and they may link back to the site).
  •  Local businesses your work with. This includes
    • Service Providers: Janitors, Electricians, Moving Companies, Painters, Plumbers, Carpenters.
    • Caterers
    • Delivered Goods
    • Leased equipment
    • Employee training
    • Local IT company
    • Car Dealership (for company vehicle)
    • Local Restaurants (Company Happy Hour)
    • Local Design Firms

Once you’ve created this page, shoot off some friendly emails saying that you mentioned each business or organization favorably on their site. If the website has a testimonials page, give them permission to copy the testimonial you’ve written and put it on that page–hopefully with a link back to the original testimonial on your site.

Create a Unique Scholarship Idea

One of the most successful link building campaigns that I’ve seen a lawyer do was based on a scholarship that a DUI lawyer did that required applicants to (confidentially) admit that they had driven while buzzed in the past. This scholarship offer caused quite a stir and the attorney received great links from high authority national news sites.

While most scholarships probably wont get the kind of publicity that the DUI one did, there’s still a lot you can do with them. For example, you could have each applicant write a short essay about some issue that people care about AND something that is relevant to your practice. If you’re an immigration attorney, for example, you may want to ask applicants to write an essay voicing their opinions on recent immigration reforms. The winning essay would then be posted on your website’s blog and then shared via social media. Perhaps you could even make social media traction (number of shares, etc) be a criterion for winning the scholarship. You get free content and content promotion, and a student gets a financial leg up. Win-win.

Creating Content is Only Half of The Picture

While it’s important to understand what quality content is and to be able to tailor your content with your audience, without links or authority on your site, you can’t expect that your content will just be picked up by Google and your traffic will roll in. If you’re writing about a story on the news, reach out to journalists in your area, take them out to lunch or coffee and volunteer yourself as a resource when it comes to certain stories. If you’re hiring a PR firm to publicize one of your cases, make sure you’re doing everything you can to promote your case on the social media/web side. If you’re creating a resource on your site, whether it be a guide, a video or a scholarship page, be sure to reach out the people who have the ability to amplify your content. When you combine quality content with targeted outreach, you’ll be surprised how far you can go.

How to Use a 7.5 Billion Pageview Site Called Reddit for Referral Traffic

I have a confession to make. Nearly half of my success as a content marketer has been thanks to Reddit.

Reddit.com is a place where people post links to their content, or questions for the community, and have other people vote on whether it is good or not. The more upvotes that a link gets, the more people see it (and they can upvote that link in turn). The website is huge–managing to bring in around 7.5 Billion Pageviews per month. All I needed to get was the tiniest fraction of that traffic, and my job was done.

For me, successful submissions to reddit has lead to thousands of visits, hundreds of tweets, hundreds of Facebook shares, and usually a few good links thanks to the exposure the content receives. While this is no substitute for building a dedicated audience over a long period time, when done right, a successful reddit post can give you the short term boost you need to expose your content to a much larger audience than your twitter followers or Facebook friends ever could (unless you happen to be Kim Kardashian). In this post I hope to give you a quick overview of just what reddit is and how to best use it to drive traffic to your site.


Because user interests are as diverse as the internet itself, reddit is divided into “subreddits”. Subreddits are communities within reddit organized around a particular purpose or catering towards a specific interest group. Subreddits can be started by anyone, and moderators within the subreddit have the power to delete posts or ban users. Each subreddit has a unique URL with the domain name, an “/r/” separator and the name of the subreddit:


Sometimes you can find an interesting subreddit just by typing in the subject name after the “/r/” separator. For example, if  you happen to be interested in all the goings on in your city, you can usually type in http://www.reddit.com/r/yourcityname and find a whole bunch of content relevant to locals who live in your area. One example of this is Seattle’s subreddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/Seattle.

Just to give you an idea of what’s out there, here are some notable subreddits:

  • /r/todayilearned – A subreddit where people post interesting facts they’ve just learned. (usually with a reference to a wikipedia page or blog post).
  • /r/dataisbeautiful – A subreddit showing compeling data visualizations and infographics
  • /r/aww – Cute pictures of puppies, kitties, ducklings, hedgehogs, bear cubs, etc.
  • /r/changemyview – A subreddit where people actively engage in polite conversation and debate about a topic, fostering open-mindedness
  • /r/legaladvice – People ask for legal advice about a specific topic, and others respond with advice
  • /r/breakingbad – A subreddit for fans of the AMC TV show “Breaking Bad”
  • /r/monkslookingatbeer – The description is in the title

If you visit reddit as a non-user, you’ll see posts from a wide variety of subreddits, many of which cover topics that would not be interesting to any single user, that’s why reddit gives you an option to create an account and then subscribe to the subreddits you happen to be interested in. Then, when you visit reddit.com, you’ll start to see posts from the subreddits from which you happen to be subscribed. The more popular the subreddit, or the more subscribers it has, the more likely it will rank high on your personal front page.

Let’s say, for example, you post an infographic about the number of discrimination related lawsuits in each US State. The /r/dataisbeautiful subreddit is a pretty great place for this because they’re all about interesting data visualizations, also, on the right hand column of the subreddit you can see that they have 3,952,900 readers. You will also see a much smaller number that says how many people are currently on the subreddit page itself:


Your brand new infographic post to the subreddit will start out with zero votes, and will show up at the top of the “new” posts tab. If your post is really good, just a few votes will propel it to the front page of the subreddit. When it comes to ranking in reddit, vote velocity is extremely important, so if a post to /r/dataisbeautiful gets 5 votes within 10 minutes, it will likely reach the front page, and will temporarily outrank older posts with hundreds of votes. If vote velocity continues to increase in volume, your post could then be propelled to the #1 spot in that subreddit.

The #1 spot

The #1 spot is where the magic happens. Most people are only casual readers of any single subreddit, and will rarely visit that subreddit unless it that subreddit is focused on a topic of significant interest to them. Casual users of reddit will often stay on their “front page”, which happens to show only the top one or two posts from each subreddit they happen to be subscribed to. This means that you probably won’t reach most of your potential audience unless your post is fortunate to reach the #1 spot.

Depending on the subreddit, reaching the #1 spot can be either very difficult or very easy, and it usually has to do with the number of subscribers. Generally, the more subscribers there are for any single subreddit, the more posts you have to compete against. If you want to create content with the aim of reaching the top spot of a particular subreddit, your best bet would be to research what kind of content is popular with that subreddit, and then see if you can create something that reaches the same level of quality.

If you’re really lucky, you’ll be able to reach the top spot for one of the 50 default subreddits that happen to show for users who aren’t logged it. If one of those posts get enough votes, you have a chance of getting to the #1 spot for all of reddit, which can send an untold amount of traffic your way, so much so, that your servers better be equipped to handle it all.

Researching Subreddits

One of the first places I go to when researching subreddits is reddit search. For example, If I’m an employment lawyer and want to create some content about LGBT workplace discrimination, I can go to reddit search and type in “fired for being gay” and see what I get.

If you follow the link provided above, you’ll notice that  the first section is a short list of the three most relevant subreddits:



Not surprisingly, the subreddits /r/politics and /r/lgbt are among the most popular subreddits for this search query. Below those subreddits you will then see the most relevant posts. This gives you an idea of the variety of content out there on reddit relevant to the search term “fired for being gay”:


If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, however, you will see a longer list of subreddits with the number of relevant posts next to it. This will often show you subreddits that you may have not thought about.


Just by looking at this list, one subreddit that stands out to me is /r/TalesFromRetail which may be appropriate place to post many different kinds of Employee law and employee discrimination related content, especially since the subreddit has over 220,000 subscribers.

Qualifying Subreddits

Not all subreddits are created equal. While you can post a link to more than one subreddit, relentless posting of the same link to several subreddits can be an indicator that you are a spammer. Ideally, you should only post to the most qualified subreddits for your content.

When qualifying subreddits, there are three factors that I look at:

Number of subscribers: Generally, I don’t post a link to a subreddit with less than 1,000 subscribers, and ideally my goal is to get to the front page of a subreddit with at least 10,000 subscribers. Also, unless I feel my content is really top tier, I generally don’t submit it to the most popular subreddits as it will often get drowned in a sheer volume of posts.

Subreddit Rules: Before posting a link to any subreddit, be sure that you read and understand all of the rules of the subreddit. For example, /r/TalesFromRetail requires that you only post stories about your own experiences. If I was an attorney wrote a blog post about a client being discriminated against at work, I would not be able to post that content. It looks like there is nothing against that client posting that blog post themselves. So while the rules don’t exclude the possibility of using that subreddit for promotion, I’d probably look elsewhere to promote my post.

Subreddit Culture: Each subreddit has its own culture, so it’s important to get a feel for the kind of posts that would be appropriate for it. If the subreddit likes in-depth thought pieces, then you should post an in-depth thought piece, if the subreddit likes fascinating data visualizations then you should post a fascinating data visualization. If you’re aiming for the #1 spot in a subreddit, it’s important to fit the mold of the subreddit you happen to be posting for.

Creating Content for Reddit

Although this can sometimes narrow your options when it comes to what other subreddits you can post to, sometimes it can be very helpful to tailor your content for a specific subreddit. Lawyers need to be especially creative. I did a search for law related subreddits and found the three largest ones, /r/legaladvice, /r/legal, and /r/law to be less than promising. Just a quick qualifying of those subreddits and I learn that /r/legaladvice is only a place for people to ask legal questions, r/legal doesn’t have many subscribers, and /r/law specifically prohibits attorneys from posting links to their own website in their subreddit rules.

Create content that matches your interests and hobbies

Just because you’re a lawyer doesn’t mean you need to write a blog post about the law. Perhaps you are an employment lawyer and you are also a fanatic of the AMC show madmen. One content idea could be to tally the workplace violations in every episode that could be grounds for a harassment lawsuit. This way you could reach the 42,000 subscriber audience of /r/Madmen who could then further amplify your content through Facebook and Twitter. Also, since this content could also make one heck of an infograph, you could probably also submit it to /r/DataIsBeautiful as well.

Create content that leverages your expertise

As attorneys, there are countless opportunities to provide a professional opinion about a certain case that is making headlines. Any post that can provide an interesting legal perspective about events in the news could have a lot of potential.

Create local content for your city’s subreddit

If you happen to live in a large enough city, chances are your city’s subreddit (like /r/Seattle or /r/Houston) could have a reasonable number of subscribers. You don’t need to write about national news to be successful on reddit. A blog post about something going on in your home town could be a perfect match for your city’s subreddit.

Some Things to be Aware Of When Posting

Once  you’ve created your content and qualified that the content is appropriate for the subreddits you want to post to, it’s important to be aware of some of the potential pitfalls you might encounter when posting.

Avoid content that is overly self-promotional

Redditors are a savvy bunch, and can smell self-promotion or a sales pitch a mile away. A common theme with most legal blog posts is to append each post with cookie cutter text that says something to the effect of “If you or a loved one has encountered a similar situation as the one outlined in the story above, please call Smith & Smith at 555-555-5555 today!” Remember that the blog post is on a legal firm website, and if anyone needs your services it should be displayed clearly in the top right corner of your website header. No need to hit the reader over the head with it.

Be careful of SPAM filters

Occasionally, something I post will get caught up in an automated SPAM filter. These filters most often get triggered when you’ve posted to a subreddit you haven’t participated in before. Thus, it’s considered a best practice to upvote, downvote, and comment on other posts in a particultar subreddit before posting yourself. I must confess, however, that as a time constrained content marketer I didn’t always have that luxury. This is why I would be sure to click the “new” tab in the subreddit after posting. If your post doesn’t show up in the “new” posts section just after you’ve posted, it most likely has been caught in a SPAM filter. Best practice is to message the moderator of that subreddit to approve your post.

Sometimes it can be helpful to mention that you’ve created the content

Redditors can sometimes be ruthless when it comes to downvoting content that they believe doesn’t live up to their standards. While this is only an anecdotal observation, I have noticed that when I preface my reddit posts with “A blog post I wrote about…” it seems that the response is a lot friendlier than if I anonymously dumped my content on the subreddit. Mentioning you’ve created the content shows there’s a living breathing human behind the post, and the reception will be all the better because of it.


While I mentioned this above this is worth mentioning twice. If your post doesn’t conform to the rules of a subreddit, it can get deleted by moderators. Sometimes you may even get nasty comments from mods or even get banned. Be sure to review the rules and if your post does not fit, it’s best to post elsewhere.

After Posting: Monitor Reddit Comments and Inbound Traffic

While usually it’s good enough to post a link. It can also be helpful to monitor the conversation that emerges in the comments of your post. I must confess that I don’t participate in much in the conversations of my posts, but oftentimes I am alerted to something I may have gotten wrong in my original post (which I then swiftly correct). You can also help keep the conversation going by responding to particularly interesting comments.

It can also be helpful to keep an eye on the real time traffic that comes through to your site. You can do this by following the real time traffic that comes to your site through Google Analytics. Once you’re there, you can see just how many people are currently visiting your site, and from where:



Watching how many people visit your site can be both addictively exciting and useful. It can be useful because you can see what happens to your content after you post to reddit. If, for example, someone posts to a forum and that forum happens to be sending a good number of visitors your way, it may be good to join the conversation there. Similarly if there are a lot of visits from Twitter, it may be helpful to see what is happening there as well.

Why Your Content Sends You Zero Traffic


“So I’ve been blogging for a few months now. Why am I not getting any traffic?”

One of the most persistent myths in online marketing is that creating content will always lead to more traffic. Content is essential, yes, but with over 2 million blog posts popping up every day, the answer is likely that Google thinks one of those other 1,999,999 posts is more worthy of directing traffic to.

I know it sounds harsh, but hear me out. It doesn’t mean that your content is poor. Nor does it mean that it doesn’t deserve to rank. It simply means that the criteria Google uses to evaluate whether your content is relevant or valuable are not met. If you’ve been producing content for a while now and you haven’t been seeing an improvement, your content may be suffering from one or more of the following problems:

No One is Searching for the Topics You’re Writing About

One of the first things that you need to do as a content writer is to determine the kind of search volume there might be around your chosen topic. Search volume is essentially how many people are searching for the kinds of answers, information, opinions, or edification that your content aims to provide.

Use Pay Per Click data for Topic Research

One common tool that SEOs like myself use to research a topic’s search volume is Google Keyword Planner. Google provides this tool free of charge to give search marketers an idea of how much they should pay for a particular keyword when doing PPC advertising.


Using the keyword tool gives you a good idea of the kind of traffic you can expect should you get a piece of content to rank. It’s important to note that while the average monthly searches for each keyword seems relatively low, I have often seen successful pieces of content bring in more traffic than the average monthly searches for any targeted keyword. This is because the same piece of content will often show up for several different search queries. Also, because the numbers provided by Google Ad Planner are not 100% accurate, it’s important not to take them at face value; they are often best used for seeing the relative difference in search volume between keywords rather than the actual search volume for each keyword.

Try to build content around the keywords that have higher search volume and that you don’t see your competition writing about. Oftentimes you can succeed in getting this content to rank quickly, and send traffic to your site faster than with the more competitive terms. This is why it’s good to explore the Adwords Planner and see if there are any “out of the box” keywords to focus your content around. A quick look at the ideas for the search term “speeding ticket” shows this little gem:


Wow, a keyword with over 4,440 searches a month and low competition! This looks like an opportunity to create a post like: “Paying a Traffic Ticket Online? 10 Reasons Why You Should Reconsider.” As you can see, Adwords Keyword Planner can be a very powerful tool for content idea generation. Use it for keywords in your practice area and see what you come up with!

Use Quora and Reddit for Topic Research

Another way to research what kind of content people are looking for is to go to sites like Quora or Reddit and do a quick search. The questions on these sites are user generated, so they often reflect what searchers are looking for that may not occur to you. For example: I looked up “speeding ticket” on Quora and the first question that came up was “Are traffic tickets public record?” Answering this question would be a perfect topic for a traffic attorney. Chances are that many more people out there want to know the answer to the question than just the person who asked it on Quora.

Search Volume isn’t Everything

Although it’s important to be conscious about keyword search volume, this may not always be important for your business. Information about how to get out of a speeding ticket (Keyword: “how to get out of a speeding ticket”), for example, is information many people will find interesting or useful at some point of their lives.  Information about how a particular law firm or attorney is good at getting people out of a speeding ticket (Keyword: “traffic attorneys in tacoma reviews,” on the other hand, will target a much smaller and more specific audience. A good rule of thumb here is that the more specific (or “long tail“) a search phrase is, the fewer people there will be searching for it.

Although it’s good to want more traffic, don’t neglect the long tail! The long tail search terms will bring in less traffic, but often the people using long tail search terms have much more specific intent. If you are a traffic lawyer, one website visit from someone interested in getting out of a speeding ticket in Tacoma will be much more valuable to your business than 100 visits from people who are just generally interested in how to get out of a speeding ticket.

Still no traffic?

So you’ve thoroughly researched a topic with high search volume, written about it, bravely pressed publish and…crickets. What went wrong? Well, it’s possible that…

You Don’t Have Enough Authority

If you have a brand new site, and happen to produce the most brilliant, engaging and informative page on on how to get out of a speeding ticket ever written, chances are that you still won’t rank very high for it. Even though a topic may have high traffic volume, and you write the perfect piece of content for the audience interested in that topic, you’re likely competing against many other high authority sites (Avvo, Nolo, etc) that have written similar content.

While Google uses many factors to rank content, authority is one of the most important. Google measures authority by the number of links pointing to a particular website. A brand new blog will have zero links pointing to it from other websites, and thus have little to no authority. The New York Times, however, has over  200,000,000 links from over 800,000 different websites. If the New York Times writes an article about getting out of a speeding ticket, chances are high that this article would rank in the top 10 results in Google within a day. Even though the Times article itself may have zero links to it, the authority of the site as a whole (or Domain Authority) helps boost this brand new page.

Since most web pages don’t get many links from other websites, domain authority is a very important factor when it comes to ranking content. A page with a lot of links (or Page Authority), however, even from an unknown blog with low domain authority, will tend to rank higher than pages from high authority websites with no links. A common strategy I’ve seen for many sites is to build a page with incredible content, promote that content through social media and direct outreach to webmasters, and once that content acquires a lot of links, it will start to rank and bring a lot of traffic. This organic search traffic will begin to attract links passively from people who visit the page from search and then link to it from their blog or resource page. These pages will not only have strong page authority, but will tend to increase the domain’s overall authority, which means your interesting content page will help your more “boring” link-less pages to start ranking.

How To Get Links to Your Content

In order to get people to share and link to your content, it has to provide some value to your target audience. Here are some reasons why people might share or link to your content:

  • It’s useful and informative
  • It mentions or talks about people (And the people you mention link to it)
  • It provides an unusual or unique perspective
  • It’s entertaining
  • It’s controversial
  • It’s timely
  • It’s funny
  • It has compelling data or data visualizations

When you have content that satisfies 1 or more of the above criteria, the next step is to make sure that this content gets in front of as many of the right people as possible. Ideally, you want to expose your content to as many people as possible within the first day of it being published. While discussing the tactics involved with content promotion could take up a whole book, here are my three favorites:

  • Research the names of social media influencers in your niche such as popular bloggers and create an outreach list. Email each influencer a personalized email, sharing your content and ask for their opinion or feedback on the content. Don’t ask for the share. If they like the content, they will share it. Ideally it’s best to establish rapport with these influencers by commenting on their blogs or sharing their posts on social media first.
  • Explore forums, Subreddits, Quora, and Google Plus Communities (yes, some people do use Google Plus very actively) and post your link if you feel the audience might appreciate what you have to share. Be careful not to just “leave” your link on a forum without thoroughly researching the forum and knowing the forum rules. Spamming forums will get you banned.
  • Advertise your content. Facebook advertising is one of the cheapest ways to get your content viewed by thousands of people in your niche. You may also want to experiment with advertising on Reddit and StumbleUpon.

While many of these tactics don’t lead to links directly. Oftentimes this will help your content get noticed by bloggers and webmasters who do have the ability to link to your content. Make sure that you concentrate all your outreach and promotion efforts in one day if you can. The more people that view and share your content within a limited window of time, the more likely that content is  going to gain momentum, leading to even more views and shares.

Having trouble getting links? It’s quite possible that…

Your Content is Thin or Lacks Originality

What if you have content for a topic you know has high search volume on a website that has high authority and you’re still not ranking? What’s missing?

Answer: Your content could be thin or unoriginal.

What is thin content?

Thin content barely qualifies as content. Many websites are stuffed with pages that only contain a short paragraph that reads like a summary of a topic rather than an in-depth exploration of the topic. In my experience, you’re better off having 10 pages of great content than thousands of pages of thin content.

What is unoriginal content?

I’ve seen sites with innumerable pages optimized for every conceivable keyword. Although the content itself may pass a plagiarism check, it’s often virtually indistinguishable from all the other content on the site. While churning out content for the sake of search engine traffic used to be an effective tactic, the increasingly sophisticated Google Panda Algorithm has learned to weed out this cookie cutter content. Indeed, while there are plenty of law blogs out there with hundreds of posts, these posts have zero comments, zero links, and little to no kind of social media engagement. On average, most of these blog posts only get 1 to 2 visits per year from organic search, often with a high bounce rate. Instead of paying a blogger to crank out posts every other day, you’re probably better off spending that money taking your team out to lunch.

What can you do to improve your content so that it gets noticed by humans and search engines alike? You can:

Personalize it: How might your personal experiences give the content some color and humanize it?

Localize it: Is there something peculiar or unique about your city or region which would be useful or interesting to local readers? The legal field in particular has plenty opportunities to talk about state and municipal laws.

Deepen it: Is there some background you could add to the content if you did just a little bit of research?

If you don’t do at least one of these three things, don’t expect your content to rank. But if you have and you’re still not ranking, my guess is that…

You Have Non-Content Related Issues

While search volume, authority, and content quality are the main elements for getting your content to rank, oftentimes there are non-content related issues that can throttle your traffic. If you have great content, you’re promoting it well and the content targets the right audience, you probably have these issues:

Technical SEO Issues

Do you have a misplaced line of code in your robots.txt file that is telling Google to ignore all your web pages? Perhaps your site’s download speed is so sluggish that Google is deciding to rank pages from faster websites over yours. Or maybe you have a lot of pages from an old website that are improperly redirecting to your new one.

Although Google is getting smarter about looking past technical issues, there are still many technical issues that can cause problems with SEO. A solid technical audit is essential to ensure that your website properly set up to be crawled and indexed. Before you start running the race, make sure your shoes are tied.

Black Hat SEO

Another non-content related issue is black hat SEO. It’s possible you’ve hired someone to work on your site who has used black hat SEO tactics to help improve your rankings. Google is constantly on the lookout for evidence of these tactics. Once caught, your site could be slapped with a penalty that can take a lot of work to recover from. While diagnosing whether or not your site has been penalized is out of the scope of this article, usually if you see a huge drop in traffic (especially after an unusual surge in traffic) the possibility is high that you’ve received some sort of penalty from Google.

Be sure you know what you’re getting into before hiring an SEO agency. If you can, get recommendations from colleagues and friends that have been happy working with the same agency for more than a year. If an agency is doing black hat work for you, a penalty will likely surface within a years time. Also, be sure that you are aware of some of the warning signs that you could be working with a less than legitimate agency.

Go Forth and Create Great Content!

If someone in the past has told you that they tried getting traffic through content creation and it didn’t work, they probably didn’t know about or follow the above guidelines. You need content with great quality, a site (or pages) with good authority, and content that is relevant to what people are actually looking for. Satisfying these three criteria isn’t easy, but if you do, you’ll start seeing more traffic than you know what to do with.

7 Signs Your SEO Agency Might be Less Than Legit

black-hat-catPicture yourself in this situation: You hire an SEO agency and suddenly your website appears for every conceivable keyword. Traffic skyrockets. You hire a new receptionist just to handle the call volume. You clink champagne glasses with your team to celebrate your great success. Life is good.

Then, all of a sudden, traffic plummets. Your website drops from the top of page one in the search engines to the bottom of page ten. The phones fall silent. You switch from champagne to stale coffee. You begin to panic.

When asked about the change, the SEO agency gives you some excuse about Google algorithm changes, or rattles off some obtuse technobabble and assures you that everything is ok. You give it a few more months, and still no change. When you review the numbers with your accountant it turns out that your loss in business over the last few months far outweighs any benefit you may have gained from that initial ranking. At about this time, that same SEO agency stops responding to your phone calls.

The above scenario is a common one for anyone who has unknowingly engaged with a black hat agency. These agencies use manipulative and easily detectable tactics to get a website to rank temporarily, and then when Google catches wind of these tactics, the site gets penalized–a penalty that often takes months to recover from, even in the hands of the most experienced penalty recovery specialists.

While we haven’t found a black hat SEO firm that actually markets itself as “Black Hat” we do have clients whose sites have received heavy penalties due to a previous agency’s tactics. I took a look at some of these black hat firms’ websites to find some possible warning signs that you might be dealing with black hats. Here are some things I noticed:

1. There isn’t any mention of “white hat” on their website

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed from reading black hat forum posts, it’s that they typically disdain white hat tactics as being “unnecessary hard work”. This is why they tend not to falsely brand themselves as a white hat agency. Also, if  you market yourself as a white hat agency and actually don’t do white hat work, chances are you will ruin your reputation and perhaps even open yourself up to a lawsuit.

2.”Confidential” or “Proprietary” SEO Trade Secrets

The only “confidential” SEO tactics that I know of are black hat methods. Essentially, if they’re not willing to tell you how they work, they have something to hide.

3. SEO and Account Management are separate departments

If the representative of the agency you’re working with can’t answer your SEO questions and refers you to a “technical department” whenever you have a technical question, this could be a warning sign. After all, it’s easier for account managers and sales managers to sell you on a bad product if they themselves don’t know the product is bad.

4. “Guaranteed Rankings”

While a pay-for-performance system based on keyword rankings seems promising, they are often misleading. How are they misleading? First of all, it can often be very easy to rank high for keywords that have low competition or low volume in terms of people who are actually using that search term. Second, it can be very easy to temporarily gain a foothold for certain keyword rankings using spammy black hat tactics. These are tactics that will ultimately hurt your business in the long term.

5. Where are the Names?

If you go to a firm’s website and notice that not a single person’s name is mentioned, be wary. The last thing a black hat SEO or spammer wants to do is associate their name with black hat practices (should they get caught or get bad reviews). In these cases. it may be best to steer clear.

6.They Actually Mention Black Hat Tactics

Just because an SEO is black hat doesn’t mean that they won’t be forthright about what they do. One black hat SEO I know of actually mentioned to his client the black hat tactics he would use to get them to rank. Of course, the client didn’t know they were black hat tactics at the time. If your SEO agency mentions that they do any of the following, run:

  • Article Directory Submissions
  • Blog Networks
  • Doorway or Gateway Pages
  • Microsites
  • Mirror Sites
  • Comment and Trackback Link Building
  • Link Farms

7. What would Google Do (WWGD)?

Google’s goal is to serve to users the highest quality and most relevant content to its searchers. When interviewing an SEO Agency it’s important to keep that in mind. If your agency doesn’t actually help make your site more relevant to your target market, and instead uses an arsenal of “SEO Tricks” to get your website to rank, then chances are you’re being taken for a ride. If someone at an agency mentions questionable tactic to you, a simple question to ask would be: “Wouldn’t that incur a Google Penalty?” If their answer to that is less than convincing, you may want to start looking for another agency.

Have you had an experience with a less than legit agency? Please feel free to share some other signs of blackhattery in the comments!

Why Most Law Firms Need Only One Domain


While there are a few tried and true rules when it comes to SEO, a lot of the SEO advice out there comes with an expiration date. Should you follow such advice after it “goes bad”, you could be left with a very serious stomach ache–at least when it comes to your firm’s online presence.

For the longest time SEOs and people in the business of selling domains often recommended businesses buy keyword rich domains-as many of them as possible. If you happen to be a brain injury attorney in Seattle you should buy seattlebraininjurylawyers.com (and .net and .org) for that matter, and continue to buy domains like this so that your competition doesn’t get them, and one-ups you in the the search results. Not only that, but you should use those domains to create “microsites” that can rank for competitive keywords and drive traffic to your business through multiple organic channels.

Google became wise to the game, and in 2012 Google updated its algorithm to ensure that low quality websites with exact match domains ceased to get an unfair advantage over other websites. Despite this fact, businesses continue to pour thousands of dollars into useless keyword rich domains that won’t do them a lick of good.

Recently this got especially out of control as domain sellers started aggressively marketing the new .lawyer and .attorney TLDs to attorneys.  Since that happened, we haven’t seen any instances of these new TLDs dominating the marketing landscape.  It’s simply a case of marketers preying lawyers’ lack of knowledge to sell a useless “asset”.

Why this advice used to make sense:

When it comes to ranking pages and websites, Google wants to display the most relevant and highest quality results for every search. In the early days, Google used to determine relevance by the number of relevant keywords on the page and whether or not the keywords were in the URL itself. So, if your website happened to be seattlebraininjurylawyers.com, chances are you had a leg up in the game when it came to ranking for the term “Seattle brain injury lawyers”.

Not only that, but the text that people used when linking to your site (or anchor text, as us SEOs call it) used to be a big indicator to Google as to whether a site was relevant for a particular search term. Because seattlebraininjurylawyers.com has the keywords “seattle brain injury lawyers” baked right into the domain name, and because most people often link to a website using the domain name, this would be yet another advantage for using this keyword rich domain name.

Why this advice no longer makes sense:

If there’s anything that Google doesn’t like, it’s marketers using tactics to game the system. After all, it’s pretty easy to find keyword rich domains (as of this writing seattlebraininjurylawyers.com is still available). It wasn’t long before SEOs started building “microsites”, or small websites with very little content built specifically to “win” in the search results for certain competitive queries. It’s not uncommon even today to see businesses with five different websites, all of them with boilerplate content, all of them representing the same business, despite the fact that each site brings in what would barely qualify as a trickle of search traffic.

This is a poor user experience for both searchers and prospective customers alike, which is why Google started making keyword rich domains less of a ranking factor in 2012. This doesn’t meant that you can’t get your seattlebraininjurylawyer.com website to start ranking and get organic traffic, it’s just that in order to do so you’ll need to create quality, content relevant to your audience as well as to get links from large, high authority websites. In the end, you’re going to get as much of an advantage from seattlebraininjurylawyers.com as you would from yourlawfirmname.com. Would it not be better then, for branding consistency, to use the latter rather than the former?

To review, let’s go over the DOs and DON’Ts

Domain name DOs and DON’Ts:

DON’T buy a keyword rich domain just to prevent competitors from buying them. Even if they create a site with this domain, it will still take a a lot of hard work for these sites to show up in the search results.

DON’T go on domain shopping spree. Domains seem enticingly cheap at $10.99 or less each, but if you buy 50 domains just for the sake of having them, you’re paying $549 a year for a practical return on investment of zero dollars.

DON’T create a series of keyword rich microsites to drive business. Google won’t give it to you.

DON’T change your current domain to a keyword rich domain that you’ve just purchased. For example, if you have a website at yourfirmname.com and then switch it over to seattlebraininjurylawyers.com. Our experience has shown that you’ll actually see a temporary drop in traffic, rather than a gain. Not only that, but we’ve seen no long term observable benefit for changing from a site with your firm’s name on it, to a site with practice area related keywords in the domain.

DO put all of your eggs in one basket. The great thing about having just one website, is that the website grows stronger over time. One website will attract all of the links for your business and over time will generate much more web traffic that five smaller sites ever will.

DO consolidate your domains. If you already have a whole bunch of websites out there, see what you can do to make all those domains redirect to a single domain. This will often result in a quick observable boost in traffic for the main site. Before doing so, however, make sure that the content on your smaller websites are transferred to your main website.

DO protect your brand. Consider buying the .net and .org version of your domain. If people consistently misspell your business name, it may be useful to buy a domain with the most common misspellings. This is probably not necessary unless you hear about people misspelling your website. You should also buy a domain for former business names of your firm if that name has changed as well.

Brand protection, however, can go too far. DON’T do what Michael Bloomberg did: http://domainnamewire.com/2014/11/11/john-olivers-five-nyc-domain-names-making-fun-of-michael-bloomberg/