Criminal Defense Firm on Pace to Exceed Annual Revenue Goal by 15+%

Investments
$1,699/month    Marketing Infrastructure
$2,250/month    SEO Services
$1,850/month    Paid Advertising (Google)

Client
A well-established, mid-sized criminal defense firm located in Kentucky.

Challenge
Client had seen a decrease in overall website traffic and conversions. Specifically, their local visibility was limited and they were unable to gain consistent and prominent placement in the Local 3-Pack. In addition, the firm wasn’t able to identify which marketing channels were driving the best results given the proper reporting and tracking infrastructure wasn’t in place.

Goals
1. Increase visibility in target market
2. Implement proper reporting and tracking infrastructure
3. Exceed previous year’s annual revenue

Strategy
Mockingbird was tasked with configuring and enhancing the firm’s lead intake management system and processes, improving local visibility, optimizing their marketing content, developing and executing a link building strategy, as well as launching paid advertising campaigns. Tactics included, but weren’t limited to –

  • GMB Profile Optimization, 3-months Local Spam Fighting
  • Business/Legal Directory Audit and Updates ensuring NAP consistency
  • Implementation of Lead Intake Management System & CRM HubSpot
    • Prospective form-fill response automation
    • Frequently used form templates (i.e., fee agreements)
    • Auto-assignment of opportunities to attorney staff
    • Calendar integration
    • Sales funnel tracking (MQL, IQL, AQL)
    • Integration with Clio Manage
    • Replaced incumbent chat provider with HubSpot chat
  •  Deployed GMB Posts across all locations
  • Monthly Local Falcon scans to monitor Local/GMB visibility improvements
  • Internal linking audit and optimization
  • Title tag, header and meta description audit and optimization
  • Core Web Vitals optimization
  • Competitive backlink audit, analysis and execution

 

YTD Results
Revenue

  • As of June 2021, the firm is on pace to exceed its annual revenue goal by 15.33%

Visibility

  • 908.83% increase in organic sessions
  • 658.91% increase in direct sessions

Conversions

  • 1,515% increase in overall goal completions (calls, form fills, chat, text)

Local Visibility

  • GMB Ranking Improvements

8 Questions to Ask While Looking for a New Marketing Agency

Whether you’re looking to jump ship from your current marketing agency or starting from the ground up needing an entire online presence, there are certain stereotypes and truths people lean on:

  • Nobody likes their marketing agency and it’s a constant battle to get anything done.
  • Somebody loves their marketing agency and won’t tell you who they’re working with.

Shopping for a new agency can feel similar to shopping for a new home — there are parts that are exciting with possibilities of a great future while other parts can feel long and tedious. This is especially more daunting as a small or medium sized business owner who may or may not have a dedicated in-house marketing person who understands what to look for. There are so many fancy, technical buzzwords flying around and the promise of Shiny Tech Object (SHITO?), it can be overwhelming. There are many company types ranging from the established smaller team to the big and corporate. Which is the right fit? Am I choosing the right agency? What if I made a mistake?

I’ll break it down to 8 questions:

  • 4 questions to ask yourself before you start shopping
  • 4 questions to ask your potential new agency

4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start Shopping

What are you looking to achieve with your marketing agency? It’s important to identify some high-level goals to help give you a better sense of direction in the agencies you research. Are you looking to build an entirely brand new site? Are you looking to get a social media presence going? Do you want to update your logo and brand? Defining these high-level goals will help you refine your agency search.

What type of personality or team do you work well with? One of the many keys to a meaningful and successful relationship with your agency is finding a personality you work well with. For example, if you’re constantly busy and are prone to missing deadlines for internal projects, you may work better with someone who sends you regular reminders and hops on weekly check-in calls. If you want to take more of a hands-on approach with editing your website or crafting content, you may work better with someone who is also great at coaching and guidance. You and your agency are a team. Being a successful team means everyone working collaboratively together.

What is your marketing budget? This number doesn’t need to be categorized. It’s more of a “how much am I willing to spend on specialized services?” This varies greatly depending on the size of your practice, your cash flow,  practice area, and geographic region. For example, if you’re a personal injury attorney located in Dallas proper in Texas, you’ll very likely need a higher budget than a steady family law attorney in smaller towns around Lubbock (smaller city in Texas). A good rule of thumb is to think about marketing services in a retainer or hourly rate similar to how you bill/charge your clients.

What is important to you in a marketing agency? Create a simple list of the qualities and services that are important to you. These can be high level things. For example, do you prefer to have one point of contact or access to the entire team? Is having an after-hours phone number mission critical for you? Do you prefer an agency who’s in the same time zone as you? Having this list handy ahead of time will help you vet different agencies to your needs.

4 Questions to Ask Your Potential New Agency

What metrics do you track to gauge the performance of my website / SEO efforts / advertising campaign? Any agency worth their weight will have a reporting system in place to present the data (industry term: KPIs or “key performance indicators”) in an easily digestible way. Depending on the goals you’ve established with your agency, the tracked metrics may vary. The report should come with a call from your digital strategist to discuss the numbers together. Your agency should also be ready and open to sharing the not-so-good and bad news. Not every month is going to be absolutely amazing from the get-go. It’s a fact of life that there will be some months where the performance has slowed, remained flat, or declined — this is normal and to be expected. If you get a sense of “toxic positivity” from your potential new agency, that’s a cue to keep looking. If an agency heavily promotes or promises gleaming results without setting expectations of the bumps along the way and the financial investment needed, that’s a big cautionary flag.

Could I talk to my potential account manager? During the sales process, your main point of contact is the salesperson who is operating in a very different capacity than your day-to-day account manager. Ask your salesperson if they can schedule a call with your account manager. This will provide a great opportunity to get to know another person on your marketing team. If you get the feeling you and your future account manager are going to be a good fit, then that may be what seals the deal for you. If you get a vibe that the account manager may not be a good fit, that’s alright too. You can ask if there is someone else available or keep searching.

What is the process for transitioning between sales to your account management team? Depending on the agency’s infrastructure, sales and your day-to-day team may work in a vacuum independent from each other with different environments which could potentially create an unpleasant experience for you. Ask your salesperson what the transition process entails. It could range from internal workflows that are out-of-sight, a call or two to introduce you to your team, or a mix of the two. How long will it be for your account manager to reach out to you? Are there any other forms or small items needed from you in the meantime? Having these expectations ahead of time will help make things easier for you.

What if I’m having an emergency problem with my website? This goes into the “life happens” bucket — servers may go down, you forgot to renew your domain name, or the new IT guy mixed up some changes between the website and your company email. It’s important to ask who to contact if you have an emergency. Does the agency have an after-hours help email or phone number? Do you contact your account manager? In the rare case a website emergency happens, you have a path and plan to make sure it’s resolved ASAP.

Bonus Item!

After you have talked to and narrowed down your agency choices, be sure to read through the details of their contract (most agencies will send this ahead of time to help close the sale). Most contracts include the normal details such as explaining terms and vocabulary, and provide a breakdown of what is included with the services and/or packages you are going to purchase.

The key items to look for are specific to the termination of the contract. Life happens and you may need to leave the agency at some point. It’s imperative to check for any funky cancellation terms and what you’ll be receiving when you leave. Some agencies sneak in fixed terms in tiny font such as being locked in for several months and/or having to pay a pricey cancellation fee if you terminate early. Be sure the contract states you will receive your content and website files in the case you decide to leave. With contracts being sent via email, it’s easy to open the contract and make the font bigger on your computer screen. Take the time to read through the terms. If anything looks odd, be sure to ask your salesperson for clarification. It’s best to get ahead of those questions rather than getting into a series of calls and emails about it later.

In Conclusion…

Taking the time to ask yourself and your potential agency these questions will help save your time, money, and sanity in the long run. Hopping from agency to agency can be costly and a big headache. I recommend investing the time up front to do your research, review the proposals and contracts you receive, and choose a team who aligns with your business goals while also providing a roadmap for steady growth.

Is the North Carolina Bar Killing Google’s Local Service Ads?

The North Carolina Bar has Google’s new ad unit – the Local Service Ad squarely in their sites, and frankly, I’m surprised it’s taken this long.  I’m not suggesting this is the right move, just that I was expecting a reaction earlier (and probably from Florida).

The Bar’s beef?  The routing and recording of the inbound phone calls to attorneys.  A quick overview – these ad units are monetized via a  pay per lead approach and deliver those leads via a  phone call to the law firm.  Google routes those calls through their own technology which records them, transcribes them and then analyzes them to ensure the inbound call was actually a lead instead of spam – a FindLaw SEO salesman for example. This ensures the quality of those leads for which the firm is pay each time remains high. In addition, law firms can dispute the quality of individual leads and apply for a refund. The recordings help Google with this one off refund requests.

Yes – Google is recording these calls and there is, of course, a notification to consumers buried somewhere within Google’s terms of service.  But, let’s be honest, most of you reading this didn’t know that and it is certain that the vast majority of consumers don’t either.  Enter the NC State Bar which in their opinion stated:

“A third party’s recording and retention of these conversations, as well as its access to and potential disclosure of conversations between consumer and lawyer, raise consumer protection concerns and heighten the need for clear and full communication.”

Now, I don’t really think Google has any interest in getting into the business of sharing these conversations with third parties (as posited by the issue-spotting NC Bar). Nor do I genuinely think most consumers would be aghast at Google’s practices here. Having said that, these notifications buried deep in a never-read terms of service is a very far cry from “this call is being recorded for quality and training purposes” that we’ve become oh so accustomed to. And it was only a matter of time before issue-spotting Bar regulators took this predictable step.  Gyi waxes poetic on the general overreaching approaches Bar’s have towards technology in Lunch Hour Legal Marketing’s July 14th Podcast.

Now, it’s important to note that Local Service Ads, are not a new phenomenon, just new to the legal industry.  They first rolled out to Locksmiths and Plumbers way back in 2016 and have been expanding industries ever since.  This means there’s years and years of recorded LSAs for hundreds of thousands of companies and they haven’t been shut down on these concerns before.  And yes, legal is different, but the law isn’t.  The peeps in Mountainview are pretty smart and they clearly spent a lot of time studying and engaging the legal market at the state regulatory level before launching LSAs. I find it unlikely they didn’t anticipate this obvious eventuality.  But, if the NC Bar persists (nevertheless)… how many lawyers really want to risk bar discipline to protect Google’s LSA pricing framework? (But if you do… find me; it’s a linkbuilding Bonanza and I love lawsuits for linkbuilding).

Hat Tip: Jason (you know who you are) and David Donovan from the North Carolina Lawyers Weekly.

How to Manage Your Intake Like a Professional Call Center

As the phrase goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression…. yet most law firms fail to proactively monitor, manage and coach this most vital aspect of marketing. During this video, Mockingbird will showcase how we employ Intake Monitoring software to improving this experience from both in-house staff and third-party after-hours vendors. Learn how to manage your intake staff with the software Nordstrom uses to deliver an exceptional experience for people calling in.

If You Didn’t Believe My Last Post…. How to create content with quality

While I (Conrad) was writing my anti-podcast missive I asked Adam Lockwood, the Head Audio Engineer at Legal Talk Network and the producer of Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, for a technical rundown on how exactly he goes about creating absolutely perfect professional podcasts time after time.  What follows is Adam’s guidelines on how to create a professional-grade audio content AND why doing so dramatically improves the impact of your podcast.

Adam Lockwood, Head Audio Engineer at Legal Talk Network and the producer of Lunch Hour Legal Marketing

Okay, we’ve established that high-quality audio is important, but how do we get there? Let’s start with equipment. You’re going to want to invest in a decent microphone. There are a whole slew of things to consider as you make your mic choice, but the linked article above should help you start to wrap your head around what you might need. 

Next, you’ll need a way to get the signal from your microphone into your computer. A USB mic has this functionality built in, but if you’re using a traditional microphone setup, you will need an audio interface to convert the analog signal from your microphone into a digital signal that your computer can record. Both are good options, but using a mic/interface setup allows for more flexibility and future upgrades.

Now that we’ve converted your dulcet tones into a bunch of ones and zeros, let’s start recording! To make that happen, you’ll need some sort of DAW––digital audio workstation––to record the audio at its highest quality on your computer. Some computers come with apps that will record the audio for you, such as GarageBand on an Apple computer, or you may have Audition with that Adobe Creative Suite you already pay for. If none of those are an option, you can find cheap or free DAWs out there on the wild wild webs. 

Wait, what? You can just hit record on Zoom and it will capture everything for you? That can be very convenient and may be your best bet at times, but the audio Zoom records is severely compressed, meaning portions of the audio signal are removed to accommodate speedy transfer over the internet. This results in less than ideal audio quality. There are also some browser-based DAWs designed specifically for podcasting, such as Zencastr and Riverside.fm. These can be a great option but can be problematic depending on other people’s computer systems and equipment.

So, that leaves us with you recording your voice on your computer from your fancy new microphone. You did get a new microphone, right? But, what should you do if you have a guest on your show? Well, if your guest also has a decent microphone, encourage them to also record themselves on their side. It will be crucial that you both wear headphones as you don’t want your microphone to record your computer speakers as well. If your guest doesn’t have a microphone, they can very easily record their voice on a smartphone via a voice memo app. Simply have them elevate their phone to mouth level with some books, place the phone six to eight inches away from their mouth, and hit record. 

Now that you and your guest have recorded high-quality audio of yourselves, it’s time to put it together. It’s at this point that you can really set yourself apart from the plethora of other podcasts. As an audio and podcast professional, I typically budget one hour of work for ten minutes of recorded audio to edit and clean up umms, uhhs, A/C noise, dog barks, lip smacks, pauses, plosives, fumbles, flubs, and… well, you get the picture. 

The different elements of the audio also need to be mixed so that individual voices, musical elements, and other sounds are all clear, consistent, and balanced. Some voices may need enhancement through equalization––the adding and subtracting of select frequencies in the sound spectrum––and the controlling effect of compression. Does this all sound complicated? To be honest, it kind of is. If you want a fairly introductory primer on mixing, follow this rabbit hole.

You know that fancy new DAW you downloaded to record with? You can probably take the time to learn those programs, put some practice in, and get a fairly decent end product. But, do you really have the time to invest in editing and mixing your thrilling two-hour conversation about the migration and mating patterns of Sandhill Cranes two times a week? 

May I suggest that you hire an audio professional to do the post-production work on your podcast? There are plenty of qualified audio engineers out there that would jump at the chance to efficiently edit and mix your podcast for a reasonable fee. The question here is: How much is your time worth? Not to say that you are incapable of doing this on your own, because of course not, you’re amazing! But, hiring someone to do the heavy lift of post-production may enable you to focus more on being a great host and making great content. That really is the crux of the matter, after all. If you’re not putting out great content, you’re just adding to the noise.

Google Search Console Enables Regex Filtering in Performance Reports

This morning, Google announced brand new functionality to allow for Regex filtering in Google Search Console performance reports. This announcement was quickly spotted and reported on by Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land. So what does this mean for those of us using Search Console on a regular basis?

What’s New?

With this rollout, analyzers can implement regex to more efficiently filter data in Search Console. The example Google provides is to easily include an “and” modifier to query and page searches. A salient example for Mockingbird is our brand name. Way back in the day, “Mockingbird Marketing” was known as “Atticus Marketing”. We’ve long since transitioned to the name Mockingbird, but I was curious if we’re showing up organically for any “Atticus” queries. Thanks to the new regex rollout, this is as simple as navigating to “Performance”, adding a new filter, selecting “queries”, and inputing the following: “Atticus|Mockingbird”. This allows us to look up query information for both terms on either side of the bar at the same time:

Google Regex for Search Console Rollout

 

Search Console Reports

Using the search above, we’re retuned the following report:

Google Search Console Report Data

As you’ll notice, we’re returned queries capturing both brand names. You can then add/subtract menu items to get immediate data on a slew of metrics beyond what is listed in the screenshot above.

Get Creative

The only limit to regex is your creativity/understanding. There are plenty of resources online (here’s the one directly from Google) available to gain a better understanding of how to use regex and what it can be used for, but it’s virtually limitless.

Advanced link building: “we are killing black men….”

This is a short clip from a tragically prescient link building presentation I gave at PILMMA way back in 2016.  It touches in a a very very difficult subject, challenges the legal community to get more involved locally and showcases the SEO benefits of doing so.  Yeah – it may seem tone-deaf callous and opportunistic, but really its a call for the legal community to get more involved in their communities at a very intimate level.

 

Evaluating the Value of a Backlink

It has been well established that a strong backlink profile is a key ingredient in the SEO mix. Upperranks has gone so far as to dub backlinks “the most important Google ranking factor.”

But not all backlinks are created equally. So what are the factors that influence the value of a backlink?

Domain Strength

Perhaps the most obvious method for assigning value to a backlink, domain rating is a numeric value given to a website’s domain based on the breadth of its backlink profile.

Mockingbird’s tool of choice for determining the strength of a domain is Ahrefs Site Explorer, which uses the term “domain rating” for its rating system. Other tools like, Moz and Majestic have their own terminology, such as “domain authority” and “trust flow.”

Minor differences aside, each of these tools essentially assigns a value to a domain based on the number and quality of backlinks pointing to it. When a high authority domain links to your website it passes value to your domain, thus improving your domain authority. This is often referred to as “link juice.”

As an example, Forbes has a domain rating of 93. Based on this metric alone, a backlink from Forbes would be considered quite valuable.

Domain Relevance

Domain authority is a signifier of backlink value, but determining true value is not so simple. In fact, a backlink from a domain with a rating of 30 could improve your ranking more than a backlink from a domain with a rating of 93.

The relevance of a domain’s subject matter plays a major role in how a backlink will affect SEO.

Location & Topic

Links from local sources are particularly valuable for SEO as they increase search engine confidence in the location of your firm and signify local authority. Domain subject matter relevance also improves the value of a backlink. For example, if your firm practices personal injury law, a link from the Brain Injury Association of America would be desirable, as it would be another signifier that your firm is an authority in its area of practice.

Anchor Text Relevancy

A link can be attached to words, which we call anchor text, or it can be listed as a plain URL. It is preferable for a backlink to be attached to relevant anchor text. So, which of these backlinks would be most valuable to Mockingbird?

  1. Learn more about our favorite digital marketing agency in Seattle here: https://mockingbird.marketing/
  2. Learn more about our favorite digital marketing agency in Seattle here.
  3. Learn more about our favorite digital marketing agency in Seattle.

That’s right, the answer is number three! (We’re so confident in you). The first link is less valuable because it’s listed as a plain URL. The second link is also not ideal, even though it is using anchor text because the text “here” is not relevant to our business or informative for search engines.

Number three is dream anchor text. It includes what we do and where we are. This backlink would likely help Mockingbird rank better for this exact phrase.

Number of Links Per Domain

The first link you receive from a domain will have more value than the second link from that same domain. So in terms of SEO, it is better to pursue backlinks from websites that have never linked to you, rather than chasing multiple links on the same domain. This is not to say a second or third link will not be valuable, but the returns are diminishing.

Backlink Age

A backlink from five years ago is less value than a link you received yesterday. This is part of why backlink development must be a consistent endeavor. Your stellar backlink profile will become stale if you do not continually to add to it.

Scarcity

If there are hundreds of backlinks on a page, the links will not receive as much value as it would if there were only a few carefully selected links on the page. Likewise, a domain which gives out links like candy is will not provide as valuable of a backlink as a domain which rarely links out.

On Page Location

Backlinks from the body of the text are more valuable from those placed in the sidebar or footer of a page. Moz explained the reasoning for this, saying:

“The best possible place for me to get a link is in the content, because that’s where the article or the editorial authority is coming from. Links from sidebars or footers are associated with advertising, promotions, or sponsorships, which don’t pass much authority.”