Making Sure Your Business is Prepared for the Virus

Things aren’t great right now. As a Seattle-based company, we’re feeling the squeeze. Our office is just about empty, the buses haven’t been full in a week, and we just had to move our upcoming conference to virtual, instead of the Las Vegas rager we had planned. Since we’re figuring out how to run our business during this viral time, I decided to try and help you with some tips and tricks.

 

1. Adjust your GMB listing

The first thing you need to do is to let your customers know when you are and are not going to be available. If you’re shutting down your office for the foreseeable future, make that clear. Google has created a Google My Business advice doc for COVID-19 with instructions on how to update your listing. 

 

2. Change your voicemail

Don’t expect people to know what’s going on. You will probably still get incoming calls, and if they get sent to voicemail during your listed working hours they will probably be upset. Leave a voicemail message with a number or email where they can reach you. Explain why you’re not in the office. If they don’t understand, they just don’t understand the severity of the situation. 

 

3. Get ready to take calls remotely

Make sure you have online meeting capabilities. This means having access to quality wifi, a microphone that doesn’t make you sound like you’re shouting from the bottom of a well. Find a place where you can have a professional video call while working remotely. As a lawyer, you should be able to do a good chunk of your work from home. Don’t completely shut off consultations; if people are willing to trade in-person for over the phone, don’t throw that away.

 

4. Think long term

We don’t know how long this is going to last. Prepare for it to last a few months. How will your firm need to adapt? Maybe you’ll need to make your services more advice-based than representational if courts begin to shut down. Think about how you might need to stretch your operating budget and how you’ll keep getting clients. Everyone’s going to be hit hard by this, so at least you’re not alone.

 

We’re currently in a pandemic situation. We’ve heard some response that this is an overreaction, but since no one here is a health official we choose to take the health officials seriously when they say this is a crisis. It’s better to have an abundance of caution than pay the price for negligence. 

 

If you are one of our clients and are wondering how to reach your account executive, send them an email or call their direct line. Calling into our mainline could easily get you to voicemail, and we want to avoid that.

Is Your Agency Selling You More Than You Need?

Judging Your Marketing Plan by Your Firm

Law firm marketing is an industry full of swindlers. Bad marketers are always trying to sell you more than you need, won’t tell you how their add-ons are helping you, and don’t produce the results they promise.  Scams are all over, which is why you need to be able to recognize when you’re overpaying or are paying for the wrong things. 

 

But what are the things you should be paying for? This depends on your practice, your firm, and your goals. Any marketer who says they have a one-size-fits-all, guaranteed to work plan is lying. No marketer can guarantee digital marketing success unless they’re physically (and illegally) paying off someone at Google, and every plan should be customizable. Every firm is different.

 

What Does My Practice Need?

Every practice has its strengths and weaknesses. Personal injury firms tend to need large amounts of advertising due to the highly competitive market and can afford it because of their high case values. Immigration lawyers, on the other hand, tend to have high caseloads with lower case values, meaning they need specific and cost-effective advertising. If an immigration lawyer is being sold an expensive new website and thousands of dollars in monthly ad-spend they are likely being ripped off. 

 

Before speaking with a digital marketing firm you need to make sure you know your business. What is your budget and what are your goals? A good firm should be able to work with your needs. If they are pressuring you to spend more than you are comfortable with without providing data to support their suggestions, run. 

 

But what does your firm actually need? This depends on the infrastructure you already have built up. If you have a functional, scalable, beautiful website ready to go, you shouldn’t have to purchase a new one. When you already have Local SEO services set up you might not need to purchase more. If you are just starting out, you might need to invest a bit more. The best way to avoid being scammed is by doing research into what’s typically needed for a firm of your size and practice.

 

Ask Questions

The best indicator of a scam is a lack of transparency. If the firm you are talking to refuses to answer your questions directly you might want to raise a red flag. Marketers are good at making their product sound appealing, and rhetoric can be powerful and deceiving. Make sure your questions get answered and keep an eye out for non-answers. If you realize they didn’t actually tell you anything, press them harder. Make sure you know exactly what you should be getting and why you’re paying for it.

 

Talk to a Firm You Can Trust

If you’re curious about a trustworthy firm, call Mockingbird! We’re proud of our transparency, work ethic, and relationships with our clients and would love to talk with you about your firm.

The 3 Best Resources for Beginner Website Owners

Running a website for a business is complicated and sometimes frustrating, and when you add advertising on top of general up-keep it gets even more complicated. When an issue arises, you might not even notice until you check back through your ad results. There might be a sudden, unexplained drop in conversions or interactions, and you’ll be left wondering if the problem is with your website or the ad platform.

 

Lucky for you, there are plenty of good resources to help you figure out if the problem is on you or Google:

 

1. Google Webmaster Central Blog

From the horse’s mouth itself, Google’s webmaster blog is one of the best places to hear about news and updates that could impact your website. You’ll learn about new features available through Google Analytics and Search Console and how to access them.

 

2. Search Engine Journal

SEJ publishes multiple blog posts every day from various experts in the field of digital marketing. Even if you aren’t a digital marketer, many of the posts are useful in providing tips and tricks of the trade. If you think an update is screwing with your data, just glance at SEJ. If there was an update, they’ll be the first to know.

 

3. Google Webmasters Help Community

Any question you have has probably been asked before, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask it again. The Help community is made up of seasoned webmasters, experts, and Google employees. You can learn from other people’s misunderstandings and get answers for yourself.

 

Of course, there are hundreds of other resources you can use. Knowledge and helpful guides saturate the internet. Go out and learn! Find your own path! Running a business is hard, but it’s always an opportunity for personal growth.

If running a website and a law firm is more of a time commitment than you can make, we get it. Leave the website to us. Mockingbird runs websites and advertising for law firms and knows how to keep up with the constant changes. Contact us to learn more.

Handling Our Over-Performing Page

We have a problem. One of our blog posts is doing really well. How is this a problem? The post doesn’t really have anything to do with our services.

 

The Story

In October of 2016, we published this post. It’s about how to set up an email when you already have an existing email account. It didn’t do much at first but slowly began to gain traffic. Two years later it was getting between 800 and 900 organic landing pages every week. The page peaked in mid-January 2019 with over 2,400 landing pages in one week. 

 

Screenshot showing that the blog post was relatively inactive for a couple years before gradually becoming more and more popular

 

The page has generated 227 goal completions and 99,700 sessions. It has a 0.23% goal completion rate, about half of the total average for our website. 

 

The Problem

So the page is generating leads. It has links to it. Where’s the problem? 

 

Well, it’s screwing with our data. I mean, how do you accurately measure how the site is doing if half of the sessions are for a three-year-old page that doesn’t actually have anything to do with legal marketing? Beyond that, since most of our visitors are looking for info on Gmail, does Google think we’re a Gmail support website and are ranking us as such? 

 

Screenshot showing the blog post making up over half of all organic landing pages for the website

 

The Solutions

In our brainstorm about this page we came up with a few solutions, but no conclusions. I mean, what do you do with a page that’s doing a lot, but not a lot for us. It’s mainly just being a pain when we try to do a quick check of our numbers. This is why we had to think of what to do.

 

Delete the Page

This was one of the first options to pop up. Maybe we should just delete the page. Get rid of it. If most of the traffic is organic, it’ll just go somewhere else.

 

But it’s linked to. Sure, not a lot of clicks are coming from links for this page, but we don’t want any of our link value. Even if we redirected the links our domain authority would be impacted. So don’t delete the page.

 

Deindex the Page

This was one of our more viable options. Deindexing the page would make it so that Google would no longer provide it in relevant searches. The page will still exist, would still be accessible, but wouldn’t get the same number of organic landing pages. 

 

“What would happen to the links?”

 

Well, we just don’t want to risk the value of our precious links by sending them to a deindexed page. That’s why we’ve gone with option number three:

 

Ignore the Page

The page isn’t harmful. In fact, it’s bringing in leads. Not a lot, but some. Until we find a way to safely amputate it or until we find out that it’s actively hurting our site, we can ignore it. We can subtract the number of sessions our overachieving page got from our total number of sessions. 

 

And so we concluded our brainstorm. As it turns out, our problem is very minor.

 

If You Have a Single Page the Drives the Traffic

We know we’re not alone with this issue because we spend all day looking at data from other websites. Chances are if you have one page that gets significantly more traffic than the rest of your site you might also be wondering what to do. Each situation is different, so we can’t give you any direct orders,  but we can give you a checklist of things to consider.

Considerations Before Deindexing or Deleting a Page:

  • How much traffic is that page driving?
  • How many leads/conversions is that page generating?
  • How many pages link to that page? Are they improving your domain authority?
  • Is the page relevant to your services?

 

Google’s November “Bedlam” Update

Those of us in the SEO business began noticing that our website metrics were changing in mid- to early- November, and it wasn’t until November 12 that Google confirmed that they had rolled out an unannounced update, by that point coined as the Bedlam update (no relation to BEDLAM 2020, our awesome conference.) From there, it wasn’t until early December that Google revealed why there had been such drastic changes.

 

Neural Matching

The reason for the upset has been pinned down to Google’s update implementing neural learning, a form of AI that aims to prioritize user intent. This is designed to provide users with more relevant search results. This means that some website might be receiving less traffic but higher leads, some websites might be lower across the board, and some might be higher across the board.

 

The Local Impact

Local businesses have seen some of the more significant impacts, with rankings changing drastically to reflect relevance over proximity. Spam listings and keyword-stuffed posting seem to have benefitted from the update. They are likely to be taken care of as Google smooths out the kinks of neural matching. The best way to fight this is through local optimizations and spam fighting.

 

Stabilizing Post-Bedlam

While most of the initial upheaval and “bedlam” of the update has worn off, the full impact and time frame until it’s considered the new normal is still unclear. The best way to carry on after such an event is to make sure your website is following Google’s best practices, provide relevant content, and regularly check in with your marketing team to ensure nothing’s on fire.

 

What Our Clients Should Expect

Our team here at Mockingbird has led our clients through years of Google updates. We have consistently helped them back onto their upward trends. We expect Bedlam to be no different. Still, we have been taking every step to keep our clients on the right track.

 

If you have any questions about how the update may have impacted your site, contact your account executive.

Data is Useless without Insights: 4 Indicators You Should Know

Every decision you make when advertising is based on data and best practices that were formed by data. If you have a Google Ads account, chances are you have large amounts of data you might not know what to do with. Luckily, you don’t need to know the meaning or purpose of every number. Here are 4 insights you should be checking on in your analytics.

 

1. Page Views vs Leads

Pageviews go up and down and don’t always mean that more people are interested in your firm. Of course, more pageviews can lead to more leads just due to a higher volume of traffic, but fewer page views don’t always mean fewer leads. While page views seem like the obvious factor to look at, leads are a more productive insight to check to see where your business is and what ad strategies are working.

 

2. Channels

Knowing where your traffic is coming from will help you know where you should be spending your money. Sometimes you can spend thousands of dollars on an ad campaign just to get all of your clients from your newly set-up Google My Business Account. 

 

3. Landing Pages

Just as you need to know where your traffic is coming from, you need to know where it’s going. Knowing your website’s top landing pages will show you where you need to put your time and energy. Sometimes your top landing pages are not the pages with the highest conversion rates. Sometimes they’re the pages with the highest bounce rates. If this is the case, you need to spend some time making those pages more welcoming and leading for the rest of the website. 

 

4. Bounce Rates

The bounce rate for a page is the percentage of visitors who left the website after visiting only that page. Sometimes that’s fine, as with educational blog posts where people might find what they need quickly. Other times it’s a sign that something’s wrong. For instance, if your homepage has a high bounce rate, that really isn’t good. A high bounce rate can be due to a number of things, including a site that feels untrustworthy or a site that loads slowly. Luckily, all of these problems can be fixed quickly.

Sometimes it can be hard to run a successful law firm while also worrying about advertising and digital marketing metrics. If this is the case, you’re in luck. Mockingbird is here with the most comprehensive and accessible report out there, so you can let the numbers tell you how to run your business, and let us tell you where the numbers are coming from in a language you understand. If this sounds like something you could benefit from, let us know!

Webinar: ADA Compliance – From a Lawyer and Designer

Listen to Mockingbird’s Design Lead, Ryan Sprouse and Taft Stettinius & Hollister’s IP, IT and Data Security Partner, Jeff Kosc to get down and dirty about ADA Compliance for websites. This webinar showcases what it’s actually like to interact with the web while disabled, reviews Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and discuss the most current legal thinking and precedent regarding ADA Compliance lawsuits related to websites.

 

Screwing Lawyers: Calculate The True Cost of Your Agency’s Long Term Contract

I hear this story about once a day from a frustrated lawyer… “Our marketing isn’t working.” “My agency doesn’t tell me what they are doing.” “Our rankings haven’t improved.” “The vendor won’t let us into Google Analytics.” And so on and so on.

Being frustrated with your marketing isn’t uncommon or even unfair.  Sometimes best efforts belly flop (even at my own agency.)  But the lemon juice poured in the fresh cut is recognizing that you are contractually stuck with the ineffective, lazy, useless, opaque “efforts” of your marketing agency for the foreseeable future.

I received this email today from a frustrated firm:

“Just a quick update: we unfortunately found some fine print yesterday that we had previously missed. It looks like we are stuck with FindLaw until November of 2020.”

The true cost of your long term marketing contract isn’t the value of the contract to the agency ($8,200 a month for the next 36 months…) but actually the opportunity cost of all of that lost business your firm could be generating if your agency was actually effective. Using extremely rough math…that $8,200 monthly cost equates to roughly $300K over the life of the contract, but it really should be measured as three years of your firm struggling to find clients while your bottom line bleeds…drip drip drip…into your agency’s top line.

Using basic business metrics, if that investment returned just a pathetic 4x (i.e. cost of client at 25% of the value of the matter) that $300K expense is really $1.2 million dollars in revenue your firm isn’t capturing. And, your underperforming agency has NO incentive to turn this around – because their profitability is inversely related to how hard they work for you.

So let’s be clear: entering into a long term contract with a marketing vendor benefits them, not you. As soon as you are locked in, as this is a service industry, your agency’s profitability skyrockets by doing as little as possible for you. This is compounded by the deliberate obfuscation of performance data. Ask yourself why your long term agency contract precludes you from access to your site’s Google Analytics or Google Ad campaigns. What do they not want you to see? What are they not doing for you?

You are supposed to be sophisticated savvy lawyers. Imagine how you would act if you could be hired under the same terms that you hire agencies: long term, guaranteed retainers with no requirements to share what you are allegedly doing for your clients? Would you do client work or instead hire hordes of cold callers to assail the front desks of your next prospective victim?

Oh, and before you sign…read the fine print.

On Being Different Instead of Better

Once a week, on my commute in to work, I listen to a podcast called Two Bobs that helps agency owners make their agency outstanding. More often than not, the concepts that apply to the highly creative and technical world of online marketing apply just as readily to legal.

“Sometimes it is better to be different than to be better” – David C. Baker

Lawyers have a very hard time differentiating themselves among other lawyers – especially from the perspective of potential clients. It’s not that it’s hard to do, it’s just that most lawyers wrap themselves in lawyerly imagery – scales of justice, gavels, middle aged white men with red ties etc. Most lawyers make the mistake of positioning themselves as…lawyers…or at best, in David’s construct…the “better lawyer.”

Quite obviously, being a lawyer is not a differentiator from which a prospective client can select among a sea of potential legal representation. Even being the “best lawyer” is hard to truly assess. This, despite the slew of award icons prominently displayed on legal websites – AV Rating, Avvo Rating, and even entirely fake and bogus paid awards like “Lawyers of Distinction.” In the marketing world, we call these “trust marks” – and they are a visual attempt to convey “best lawyer” positioning. The problem, of course, is that there are a myriad of these trust marks, most of which are completely meaningless to average Joe Consumer. Being “best” is simply a very difficult position to hold – especially in the awards arms race of legal marketing. This extends to the personal injury world where the arms race is self aggrandizing award boasts. “Over $300K recovered…more than a million dollars in awards…largest settlement…” Blah blah blah.

Being different isn’t difficult.

Being different is easy.

It requires courage to embrace the fact that lawyers compete not on the “best lawyer” continuum, but on the, “why should I hire you?” continuum. And the reality is that most prospective consumers know they can’t accurately assess “best” and instead try to answer the second question.

Being different is a positioning that transforms the lawyer selection process in the prospect’s mind from, “which lawyer do I want to hire?” to “which person do I want to work with?” And in the prospect’s mind, being different never has anything to do with evaluating lawyers on the lawyerly continuum. Try as they might, lawyers simply can’t be more lawyerly than other lawyers.

On the other hand, a lawyer or law firm can be an openly gay lawyer, the expert in self driving vehicles, the immigrant lawyer helping others follow in her footsteps, the city’s oldest law firm, the lawyer who used to be a cop/prosecutor/in-house at Allstate, the law firm supporting black lives matter, the state’s largest law firm, the athlete who organizes local road races and happens to practice law (h/t to Turkowitz), the tech nerdy paperless firm, the ex JAG, or the small town lawyer who grew up just a mile from his current office.

To the right prospect, each of these differentiators above is much more personally appealing than sifting through countless lawyer profiles trying to identify the better best bestestest most lawyerly lawyer lawyer.

Because, sometimes, its better to be different than better.