On Being Awesome….

I thought instead of penning another Top 11 things for Online Marketing for Lawyers in 2017, I thought I ‘d write a post on what inspires the way we do business at Mockingbird.

Fat City – located under Seattle’s iconic World’s Fair monorail.

In the past 12 hours I’ve had interactions with two different local companies that have inspired me over the past 5 years or so.  One is Tutta Bella, a small local pizza chain – the other Fat City German Cars, a single location, independent auto service shop.

I’ve been a repeat customer with both of them for years and every time I go, I’m inspired to make Mockingbird more like this restaurant and auto shop instead of other online marketing agency. Fat City is unlike any other mechanic you’ve ever been to.  Buttoned up.  Squeaky clean. Impeccable service. Punctual. Even their facility – located in a historic building near the space needle – screams “we are so much more than local dealer”.  Fat City stands out in an industry renowned for sales upsell chicanery.

Benchmarking within your own industry makes you just as good as they are.  But it doesn’t inspire going above and beyond to reach for greatness.  Greatness that creates unexpected moments of inspiration for your clients or prospects.

Here’s a smattering of why I love these two Seattle based companies:

Expertise and Excellence

I once watched a chef at Tutta Bella pull a gorgeous pie out of the oven and dump it right in the garbage. Well, it looked gorgeous to me – but to the chef, imperfect. Expertise and Excellence should be an obvious requirement for online marketing agencies, yet very few invest in the training, persnickety attention to detail and sense of ownership required to truly be experts.

Blunt Honesty

I used to drive an old, beat up VW Jetta, that I suspect was the first to get off the production line when VW moved their operations from Germany to a brand new factory in Mexcio. The car was a disaster and I would bring it in to Fat City to ask Lance what to do.  Now there was always a litany of issues that could be addressed, but Lance would always help me figure out what had to be addressed.  “You can get another 6K miles on these brakes, but you have to fix the…..”  Lance knew his job wasn’t to maximize his share of my car repair wallet – it was to keep me on the road (and safe) within what I had to spend (which frankly was – “as little as possible”).


Bedside manner is that important yet rare ability of a doctor to explain things in plain English.  Bedside manner applies to mechanics and SEOs as well.  I recall picking up the Jetta at Fat City one day – they had saved the worn out parts of the wiring harness (apparently a car item that very very rarely fails, but did so in my car’s case) and walked me through what was wrong with them.  Being able to translate the highly technical nature of what we do, into simple business terms is key to our communication at Mockingbird.

Tenure and Training

Being Awesome requires Awesome people who are thoroughly inculcated into your culture, and methods.  I recognized Leslie, the manager at Tutta Bella, yesterday as the server who we had been our regular a good 5 years ago. (And yes, I know both Lance and Leslie by name…. little things matter.) After a few years she disappeared from the restaurant, so I asked what she had been doing.  Turns out, she had been tapped to open one of their new restaurants, got that up and running, managed another one for a year and then returned to the one where we had first met.  The only way to turn great people into awesome people is to a)have them around for a long time and b)train them like crazy (especially in the constantly changing world of technology).

Oh – and the company itself?  Fat City’s been around since 1973. There’s a level of excellence that comes with specialization and longevity… kind of like and legal SEO starting out in 2006.


Great firms know what to give away, and what to charge for.  When the Jetta finally bit the dust I spent some time research and shopping for used Audis.  Found one the exact one I wanted 400 miles away and had it checked out by a dealer who sent me a written report that I didn’t understand at all.  Lance didn’t charge me a dime to review it.

So today, I drove past thee Audi dealerships, with their certified Audi professionals to an inconvenient part of town to drop my new car off with the only mechanic I’ve ever trusted.

A Legal Marketing Agency’s Letter to Santa

Whether you celebrate Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, or just consume copious amounts of cookies and egg nog, we wish you good health and much happiness! Cheers to the end of another successful year and to the beginning of 2017 from all of us at Mockingbird Marketing.

Dear Santa,

We hope you’re doing well! We’ve been extra busy this year trying to deliver more value for our customers’ marketing budgets and to make their law firms even more successful than last year. A few new products have been rolled out, and we have improved upon already existing processes to make us smarter and faster about what we do.

We’ve been lucky enough to be accepted into Google’s Partner Acceleration Program, which allows us to offer the highest level of Paid Advertising support available! Additionally, we’ve held a few hands-on workshops that have generated a lot of praise from both large and small firms. Come to think of it, you’re familiar with workshops – maybe you could swing by our next one in Austin on January 12th and let us know what you think.

Our business reporting has become more tailored to our clients’ goals, more accurate and provides even more actionable insights than ever before. We’ve deemed 2016 “the year of the spam” and have increased our efforts to keep our data clean. You know how much we love data; probably as much as you love ice cold milk and cookies.

We’ve continue to grow and have signed some of our best clients yet! We’re constantly amazed at how smart our clients are, especially outside of the law. We have noticed, however, that our legal SEO Store still gets a lot of traffic, so hopefully we can engage with these prospects so that we can have an immediate and positive impact for them next year.

We have a lot to be grateful for this year, so I hope our wish list below doesn’t obfuscate that. In fact, we are most grateful that we get to play a small role in the important services our clients provide.

P.S. If you get injured delivering all those gifts, head over to the search engines. You’ll find one of the attorneys we work closely with and highly recommend! Stay safe.

Wish List

  1. Improved local snack pack results
  2. Less Google Analytics Spam/fake traffic.
  3. Lower Cost per Clicks.
  4. Easier link building opportunities.
  5. #1 Rankings for all our clients.
  6. More accurate and useful Webmaster…err… I mean Search Console
  7. Fewer remarketing restrictions.
  8. To continue to have engaged, excited, passionate clients.
  9. Another Seahawks Championship.


Mockingbird Marketing

CAF Donation

Double amputee Rudy Garcia-Tolson, crushed Paul in the swim.
Double amputee Rudy Garcia-Tolson, crushed Paul in the swim.

Brief side note for today.  For years, Mockingbird has supported my brother’s fundraising efforts for the Challenged Athletes Foundation – a non-profit that provides grants to help physically challenged people with the tools they need to pursue an active and healthy lifestyle.  Their seminal event was held last weekend – a triathlon in San Diego.

Notes from Paul’s thank you email:

My Challenged Athletes’ weekend started on Friday night as I rushed from coaching soccer practice to the annual Celebration of Abilities event held in conjunction with the San Diego Triathlon Challenge.  The evening serves as a kickoff for the weekend, a ceremony for annuals awards, but mostly as an opportunity for introduction and socializing between and amongst challenged athletes and fundraisers.  I’m always struck by something on these evenings be it a particular inspiring story or a chance encounter.  This year the biggest impact was the realization that many of the attendees, particularly the younger ones, were meeting their heroes for the first time.  Unlike a wide-eyed kid meeting LeBron James in complete awe, these kids’ motivation was entirely different.  They didn’t want an autograph or to see a championship ring, they wanted to ask questions like, “how did you deal with kids teasing you about your prosthetic leg?” or “What do you do when you feel like the world is unfair?” These interactions reminded just how important the community that CAF builds really is.  As Lorna Day, mother of Sam, who unfortunately lost his life to cancer in August but not before having years of incredible experiences generated by CAF, stated:

“This community nurtured Sam’s spirit in a way in which we, his family, could not.”

The other highlight of the Celebration of Abilities evening was the introduction of these sixteen members of the US Paralympic team (45% of the US team was supported by CAF) who had returned from Rio, many sporting medals of gold, silver and bronze.  Hearing their passionate description of the life changing experience was inspiring.

As part of the second wave of Gold Team members who had raised significant funds above the minimum requirements, I dove into the water on the heels of 94 Challenged Athletes who had entered in the first wave to start my mile swim.  Twenty-three minutes later I was the first Gold Team member to exit the Pacific.  My enthusiasm was only slightly tempered when Lisa noted that I had swum about thirty second slower than Rudy Garcia-Tolson a double leg amputee who had led the Challenged Athletes wave.

To my Mockingbird clients – a trickle down thank you for making my support of this outstanding organization possible.

Legal Connect with Google Workshop – Two October Events

We’re happy to announce not one, but two Legal Connect with Google events for October.

This is a free, day-long, hands-on Workshop specifically designed to assist lawyers in evaluating their online marketing effectiveness.  Classes are focused on local, natural and paid search and are taught by Google employees and Mockingbird founder, Conrad Saam.

So if you wanted to attend the pilot event this week at Google HQ in Mountainview, but were unable to, there’s now a second and third chance.

Victoria Fabiano, Google Strategic Partner Manager
Victoria Fabiano, Google Strategic Partner Manager

Dates and Venues

October 7 and 8 in New Orleans.   Details and Sign Up

October 17th in Google’s New York City Office.  Details and Sign Up

Workshop Description

During this intensive Workshop, experts from Google and Mockingbird guide attendees through a 12 page worksheet to evaluate the efficacy of their current online marketing efforts, with an eye towards identifying specific weaknesses or missed tactics. This is NOT a conference with talking heads delivering thinly veiled sales pitches from sponsored powerpoints, but instead a hands-on, interactive education, empowering attendees with actionable tools & tactics.

This is a HANDS ON workshop, you will need a laptop and access to your Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools and AdWords accounts, as well as your firm’s website CMS.

Elizabeth Olinger, Google Account Manager
Elizabeth Olinger, Google Account Manager

The Agenda

  • 8:30am-9:00am | Registration & Continental Breakfast
  • 9:00am-9:15am | Kick off & Welcome
  • 9:15am-10:00am | The Online Legal Marketplace
  • 10:00am-11:00am | Google Analytics & Business Metrics
  • 11:00am-11:15am | Break
  • 11:15am-12:15pm | Search – Organic
  • 12:15pm-1:15pm | Networking Lunch
  • 1:15pm-2:15pm | Search Local + Advanced Linkbuilding
  • 2:15pm-3:15pm | Search Paid


Announcing our Relationship with Google

Google Partner
Mockingbird Nerds at Google getting advanced Adwords training.

We have a variety of partnerships, friendships and other assorted business relationships. I’ve never felt the need to crow about any of them until now…. our relationship with Google. In fact, I’m guilty of mocking marketers who claim to have special Google access – those who imply they have special access to the algos because they have a picture of Matt smiling at their company’s trade show booth. And there are some who tell prospects they have office space in Google’s Mountainview HQ (you know who you are).

So I was thrilled at the beginning of the year to become one of a small handful of Google Small Business Advisors. For me – I serve as an expert in both SEO and Public Relations, happily donating time and providing advice and guidance to small businesses through Google’s Small Business Community – expertly quarterbacked by Google’s Elizabeth Porter.

It got better.

Earlier this year, Mockingbird was included in Google’s Partner Acceleration Program. There’s just one legal boutique – Mockingbird and I’m beyond proud of our talented team who made this happen.

This entails a lot more than the snazzy Google Partner badge to subconsciously influence prospects by affixing it all over our site and proposals.

  • We’ve earned the Google Partner badge. The Google Partner badge shows that we’ve demonstrated advanced knowledge in Google AdWords advertising products that help us deliver results and build long-lasting relationships with our clients.
  • We’ve recently sent Mockingbird’s senior staff for four days of advanced Adwords training with Google’s own Adwords account managers and specialists.
  • We’re co-hosting events specifically for lawyers at Google through my posting with the American Bar Association.
  • We have access to Google’s internal benchmarking data specific to the legal industry.
  • And most importantly – our PPC clients know that their accounts are tended by some of the best talent in the industry – supported directly by Google.

When we say that we’re calling Google, we’re not calling a 1-800 number, we have a dedicated strategic partnership manager and account manager to help us strategize, optimize and keep our clients ahead of the digital marketing curve.

Stay tuned – I’m committed to making Mockingbird’s partnership with Google extend to the entire legal industry.


How to Sound Like an SEO Expert (without really knowing anything)

So, this post comes courtesy of a phone call I had yesterday with a prospective client.  It started out like many:

I’m not sure what I actually get for my monthly SEO retainer.

A little investigation and I found a huge mess….. which in turn led to a Facebook missive:

That awkward moment when you have to tell a law firm that their previous agency’s $5,000/month SEO budget didn’t pay for H1s or Title Tags.

Perhaps H1s come with the $6K package.

Now – you don’t have to know what H1s or Title Tags are…. you should be doing lawyerly things; but anyone making a living peddling SEO damn well should.

If you aspire to make a living from (your perceived) deep pockets of lawyers… here’s my guide to sounding like an expert without needing to learn what you are actually doing.  (Some buzzwords courtesy of Gyi Tsakalakis – a professional instigator –  although it was Michael Romano who came up with: <h1>Ripped Off</h1>)

Meerkat/Periscope/Facebook Livestream

Livestreaming started with Meerkat and Periscope and has recently had a resurgence with the launch of Facebook’s Livestream feature. Impress prospective clients with your cutting edge tech savvy, the way I watched a speaker at a legal marketing conference (that was essentially a thinly veiled pay-to-pitch event) Meerkat his entire talk.  Boy was he cutting edge – and by the end of said Meerkating, three audience members proudly stood up to announce that they too had become Meerkaters during the talk and had also Meerkated the event.  (seriously I can’t make this stuff up.)  Lets ignore for the moment, the serendipity that would have to occur for a prospective client to actually be starting their lawyer search on social media, be linked to a specific lawyer and have both of those things coincide with the moment said lawyer decided to Periscope his knowledge to the Persicopeverse.


Back in October of 2015, Google launched their Artificial Intelligence update to algo’s – RankBrain – with much ballyhoo and mystery. Turns out the cutting edge of the SEO nerd community hasn’t noticed a big change; although some have suggested this was going to be the end of linkbuilding as we know it (it wasn’t).  Dropping the phrase will make you sound current and mysterious – it might also defect obvious questions that require actual work to respond to: “what about linkbuilding?”


Want video conferencing limited to four participants?  Enter Blab.  This is a great word and  can be used in all its forms:  blabbing (verb), Blabber (proper noun), blabber (verb), blabbed (past tense), blabby (adjective). I’ve heard some truly ridiculous blabbery during a Blab.  Justblab to prove Blab’s bleeding edgeness…. check out this buzzword laden description from Mashable.  Be the first to write that post on your blog:  “Blabbing Your Way to Profits for Law Firms, Lawyers and Attorneys.”

“Content is King”

This is a great phrase to use with clients who complain about lack of results – turn the responsibility back on them and yell triumphantly “content is king”…. you need to blog more, post more rewrites of last week’s accident news, expand your FAQs and chase the long tail.  Because, clearly, the web is lacking content about every single aspect of the law. (Learn the truth here:  SEO Regicide – Content the King is Dead.)

GoogleJuiceGoogle Juice

This is an oldie but goodie – the mysterious GoogleJuice farmed in MountainView and harvested by plucky Google nerds that bestows rankings upon websites. This one is dedicated to a former coworkers who once told me “we don’t have to worry about SEO, we have a lot of Google Juice.”  Frequently used in conjunction with PageRank.


Need to up your perceived social media savvy?  Drop “pinterest”, a site many have heard of; although no one has figured out how a collection of pictures of argyle sweaters, or finely crafted timberframe interiors will get people to hire a lawyer. Fortunately your (self)proclaimed Pinterest savvy transfers an overall sense of social media authority – you are the consultant who can figure out how to get clients to publicize their pending nuptial demise by liking their divorce lawyer on Facebook.

Ninja | Maven | Rockstar | Guru

Still feeling like the one eyed man in the kingdom of the blind?  Calm your nerves by bestowing one of these self-aggrandizing “titles” upon yourself – trust me the National Association of SEO Ninjas is NOT going to come knocking asking for verification.  Ninjas, Mavens and Gurus are often described (by themselves) as  “thought leader”, “recognized expert” and/or “bestselling author” in their Twitter and Facebook profiles.

For maximum impact combine terms from above:  this can be a phrase “Meerkat Guru” or an entirely new word: “Blabjuice”.

And lawyers – if you think you are smart enough to hire a good SEO…. consider taking my simple test:  Are You Qualified to Hire and SEO Agency? or purchasing the SEO Consultant Balderdash Translator from the Legal SEO Store.

It Might Not Be Our Fault, But Its Still Our Problem

We do more than SEO.

Sometimes we do more than marketing.

Long ago, I learned that my SEO clients often turned to me as the solution for any and all technical issues they may have (or think they have.) Kind of like having your mother in law set up her wireless router at Christmas time. We’ve solved all sorts of problems – from email configurations to hacked websites.  I’ve helped clients install plug-ins, set up in-office data backup systems and select the right smartphone that will work with their case management system.

Sometimes the tech goes south and no one knows why.  This is exacerbated by the undertrained, inexperienced IT “experts” who know just enough to be (very) dangerous, who frequently serve the legal industry.  And when the tech goes south, everyone is quick to shout “not it” and point fingers.

This is why we’ve codified our approach to problems in our 10 Commandments:

10.  It May Not Be Our Fault, But It Is Still Our Problem

Clients want problems solved.  Period.  The blame game can happen later, but the immediate issue is to solve the problem.  And we’ll work with or through whomever is necessary to get the job done. It means we need an extremely experienced, technical staff with a curious problem-solving orientation.

The following quote is lifted from an email that went out to a client today.  Unbeknownst to her, her  IT “expert” had changed the MX settings on their domain – clustering email delivery for days. He had no idea what he had done and declared a big “not it” when her email stopped arriving. Our work in identifying the root cause was a long (2 days), frustrating, disruptive, circuitous detective project.  Fixing the problem required painstaking handholding of said expert.  But the firm is now getting their email again.  And thats what really mattered in the first place.

Thanks for your patience while I worked with your IT department to resolve this problem. I hope you don’t have any reservations about how hard we work for you, even when the problems is unrelated to your website and marketing. We value our clients to the point where I will learn a new professional trade in order to solve an issue.

And twice, it was our mistake – so its best to always assume its our fault instead of hope that its not.

Website Refresh

We’ve finally completed a long overdue look and feel update to the website.  Like the barefoot cobbler’s children, we’ve been in need of a website redesign for some time now.  We’re also very proprietary about our client list and now, finally have a good site (our own) to reference.

And we eat our own dogfood adhering to guidelines from the Best Practices for Law Firm Websites post:

  • The primary job of a website is to make the phone ring – check out the cool custom persistent header that maintains the phone number when scrolling.
  • Built on easy to use (and easy to transfer) WordPress creating a custom look with limited incremental expense and automatically responsive.
  •  Hosted on managed wordpress provider WPEngine – more expensive at $29 monthly, but thoroughly worth it.
  • Yoast plug-in configured, GA-Code transferred.
  • Legacy URL’s checked and redirects installed where necessary.

And how much should these cost?  Had we billed our new site to a client – it would have come in at just under $4,500 – keep that in mind every month writing that $1,000 check for your website.

Avvo’s Win for Free Speech – anti-SLAPP law

In a win for free speech, courts used antiSLAPP law to slap a plaintiff for attempting to chill Avvo’s right for free speech.  The lawsuit, which goes back year to my own days at Avvo, was filed by a Florida based attorney claiming punitive and exemplary damages as well as attorneys fees on four seperate claims against Avvo.

Avvo argued that this was an attempt by the attorney to chill free speech and access to the information brought forth by the company on the website.

The case was quickly transferred to Washington state and as the slow wheels of justice turned, the courts granted a motion to dismiss.  The kicker, however, is that under anti-SLAPP, the court can automatically impose a statutory damage award of $10,000 AND may award the defendants attorneys’ fees be paid by the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s attorneys.  In this case the plaintiff was stuck with a $10,000 penalty and almost $50,000 in attorneys fees.

Essentially, we now have a precedent where the threat of a nuisance lawsuit brought specifically to silence an online voice now includes a significant financial risk for the plaintiff.  The loser pays and the public wins.