Should law firms have a blog?

law firms with blogs
Not every law firm has a blog. In fact, most don’t.

The number of firms with blogs has been holding steady at about 26 percent. Still, the fact that only one in four law firms has a blog doesn’t stop the common misperception that it’s a marketing necessity. Like most things related to marketing, the question of whether you or your firm should have a blog has an unsatisfyingly vague answer: it depends.

The reality is, blogging can be an extremely effective tool for building a brand, differentiating your business, and driving inquiries. On the flip side, it can also be a huge time suck that detracts from other easier opportunities that would yield greater results.

A post from Above the Law on the value of lawyers having a blog makes the point nicely, stating:

“The thing about blogging, despite whatever anyone says, is that it’s work. It takes time and effort to regularly sit down in front of a blank screen and churn out 1,000 words. You have to enjoy writing or you’re not going to do it… blogging is a pie-eating contest, and the prize is more pie.”

What does that mean for you? Should your firm bother with having a blog?

Before you decide, answer the following questions.

  • Do you like writing?
  • Do you have a distinct voice or something interesting to say?
  • Will you be consistent in your efforts?
  • Is this the best use of your time?

If the answer to any of those questions is “no” then you have a pretty clear answer as to whether your firm should have a blog. As tempting as it is to follow the (perceived) norm, there’s a reason 75-percent of law firms aren’t making blogging a part of their marketing strategy. I can guarantee you it’s not because 3 out of 4 firms are too lazy to blog consistently (although some most certainly are) but rather because they’ve decided other efforts will yield better results.

You don’t need to blog to be successful

Anyone who tells you blogging is an essential part of your marketing strategy is being misleading at best and dishonest at worst. A great blog is a fantastic way to market yourself and your firm, but it’s also only one possible component of a successful marketing mix. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for being successful, and authenticity matters. If you’re not a natural writer, don’t have an interest in publishing content regularly, or have a laundry list of other items that need to be addressed, you should scrap the idea of blogging all together.

The only thing sadder than a “blog” page on your site with a list of articles that hasn’t been updated since 2015 is having an external blog that’s costing you a couple hundred dollars each month to be a “thought leader” no one knows about.

Be honest with yourself and set your firm up for success by only taking on a blog if you’re committed to making it work. You can’t dip a toe in and expect anything. You have to genuinely enjoy it, and even then, it’s hard work finding an audience. However, if time is money, think long and hard about what you’re giving up in order to write another post that gets 4 or 5 visits and 0 comments.

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

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

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

Page Elements You Can (and Should) Optimize

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

My Not-So-Scientific Methodology

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

Optimizing Your H1 Tag

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

Optimizing Your URL

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

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

Optimizing Your Page Content

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

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

Optimizing Your Meta Title (or Title Tag)

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

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

Title Tag Google Results Example

Optimizing Meta Description

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

Wrapping Up

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

 http://backlinko.com/on-page-seo
https://moz.com/blog/category/on-page-seo
http://neilpatel.com/blog/the-on-page-seo-cheat-sheet/

Don’t Optimize for “Child Pornography” or: Why Titles Matter

A few weeks ago we were talking to an attorney that’s made a priority to produce an abundance of highly informative video content. However, during that discussion he asked us to look at his YouTube channel to see if there were any opportunities he may have missed when uploading and marketing his videos.

Here’s the first one I saw:

Definitely Not Child Pornography
Well…now we’ve got something to talk about…

One of the things he’d specifically asked about was whether we had any input on what he should be titling his videos.

The main point of optimizing your titles is to make sure expectations are clearly defined and your article or video aligns with the search intent of your potential audience. That’s why super generic titles are usually a bad idea in the first place.

However, for something as immediately off-putting as child pornography, it’s even more important to make it 100% clear what your video is about and why it’s not actually offensive content.

A better title would be, “Criminal Charges for Possession of Child Pornography” or anything else that clearly captures what the video is going to be about and increases the likelihood it will be found by someone worried about this scenario.

Granted, this is an extreme example of when generic titles go bad, but it illustrates the importance of fine-tuning titles for any content you intend to publish.

Not only is this a scary example of YouTube search traffic you don’t want to capture, it’s also likely this video’s nonspecific title will prevent it from appearing for searches where it would be totally relevant.

In short, if you’re going to take the time to publish content online it’s worth taking a few extra minutes to think through what it’s about and title it appropriately for its desired audience. That goes triple when you’re dealing with child pornography.

Hat tip to Christopher Morales for letting us use this example.

How to Write Website Copy for Diverse Practice Areas

For sole-practitioners and firms that handle a wide variety of case types, it can be challenging to win over visitors that expect a “specialist” rather than a “jack of all trades.” We’ve seen this messaging problem tackled a few ways and with varying results.

Some of the most common solutions include:

• Immediately funneling visitors to the appropriate landing pages (good idea)
• Building each practice area page as if it’s a home page (potentially effective)
• Creating different “specialist” websites for each practice area (usually a bad idea)
• Ignoring the problem and trying to be all things to all people (not actually a solution)

Short of specializing in one niche, there’s always going to be a possibility of losing prospects to competitors claiming to be focused only on one specific type of case. However, there’s a lot you can do with your messaging to mitigate that risk and turn “shoppers” into signed clients.

This is a good example of how to quickly move prospects to the practice area they actually care about.

(Screenshot courtesy of Gershburg Law)

As I’ve written before, all your clients really care about is what you can do for them. Regardless of the case type, if they’re shopping your site, it’s to determine whether you’re able to help solve their problem. If you’re focused on providing solutions to potential clients, the diversity of your practice becomes less important.

What sort of information are clients looking for?

Research from Avvo suggests that the most valued online resources are actual cases, laws, or court decisions. Even if you handle a diverse set of cases, you can leverage this by building out each practice area section of your website with information about previous cases you’ve handled, successful past results, and articles pre-emptively addressing questions you know clients typically have when they’re looking to hire you within that area of your practice.

It’s less about being a “specialist” and more about convincing visitors that you’re capable of solving their problem. In fact, you don’t just want to be capable, you want to be the ideal solution.

What can you do to set yourself apart?

We consistently see attorney bios showing up as one of the most trafficked pages for clients. People researching lawyers care who they’ll be entrusting with their case and want to know more about that person than where they went to school. You can use this to your advantage by telling your story not just on the bio page, but across the entire site.

Despite concerns to the contrary, a diverse practice is a lot less likely to cost you potential clients than failing to provide the basic information people expect when researching attorneys. Establishing trust with potential clients becomes more difficult when you’re having to build resources and write content across a diverse set of practice areas, but as long as you’re consistently tying your writing back to your core strengths as an attorney and reiterating your ability to provide value to your clients, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.

In Summary

  • Build a unifying theme across your entire website by describing what clients can expect when they hire you to represent them.
  • Make it easy for prospects to find the section of your site relevant to their specific needs.
  • Use practice area pages to build on your overarching theme and offer information and solutions within that section of your practice.
  • Showcase your knowledge, experience, past results, and solutions for previous clients.
  • Inject enough personality that prospects feel like they know what the experience is going to be like before they even contact you.

It’s a lot easier said than done, but if you do all these things, the fact that you’re handling multiple case types shouldn’t turn off even the pickiest of potential prospects.

Focus on What Your Clients Care About

How do I decide what to include on my website?
When in doubt, consult the website content flowchart.

This might be one of the most obvious blog posts out there, but given the number of sites we run across that seem to be missing this critical piece of advice, it’s worth repeating. The way to turn prospects into clients is by focusing on what the client cares about and offering a solution to their problem.

Most clients aren’t overly concerned with where you went to school, whether you’re a Lawyer of Distinction, or what your Martindale Hubbell rating is. All they care about is whether you’re going to be able to help them. What exactly does that mean though?

How should you be selling yourself to prospective clients?

According to Avvo’s white paper on How to Adapt to the New Legal Consumer, “three out of five legal consumers go online at some point to investigate and/or try to resolve their legal issue.” This shouldn’t be shocking news, but that means 60% of your potential customers are coming to your website with a specific problem in mind and a hope you can help solve it.

As a result, tailoring your messaging, blog posts, and resources to what your clients are most concerned with will pay off in the form of increased traffic and conversions.

Your focus should be positioning yourself as an expert and doing everything you can to answer the questions facing your clients. If your messaging isn’t built around how you can help your clients solve THEIR problem, you’re doing it wrong.

The more resources you can provide to potential clients the more likely they are to view you as an authority in your practice area. Proactively answering questions and addressing the issues your clients care about before they contact you is a great way to signal visitors that you’re the right person to hire for their case.

This doesn’t mean you need to build 1000s of resources to answer every possible question a prospective client might have. All it means is that if you’re not focusing on answering the four or five most common concerns facing your clients you’re missing an opportunity to start building a relationship with clients before ever speaking with them.

The same Avvo study on the “new legal consumer” also found that “37% of consumers try to resolve their situation themselves once their issue is triggered.” While some of those clients might be successful, and may never need to contact you, there’s still a significant percentage that will ultimately fill out a contact form or pick up the phone.

None of this is to suggest you stop sharing your achievements, showcasing your credentials, or even posting a few select badges on your website. All it’s suggesting is that you don’t lose sight of what’s driving your customers to contact you in the first place.

Given the limited attention spans of people visiting a website, your initial message should focus on what they’re looking for, address what they’re concerned about, and show them why there’s no need to look anywhere else.

If prospective clients landing on your website feel like you’re providing a solution instead of talking past their needs, you’ll be in a great position to convert your site’s traffic into actual revenue.

Latest Fallacy: Technical SEO is Dead

Update: Excuse the language that follows, but when alleged experts post dangerously inaccurate recommendations with consequences that can decimate a small business, it gets my hackles up.

Over the past week there have been two moronic posts circulated about the uselessness of technical SEO.  The first, by Clayburn Griffin, was surprisingly on Search Engine Land:  The role technical SEO should play: It’s makeup.  The article was dumb, misleading, misinformed and spectacularly sexist – essentially positing that the only reason agencies engage in technical best practices was to doll themselves up for a date with an apparently stupid prospective client, who will be easily wooed by complex technical jargon.

Being attractive is a nice advantage. People are more inclined to like you if you’re attractive. And makeup can make anyone look better. It can touch up blemishes and smooth out your skin. It can outline your eyes and make them stand out.

What’s an agency to do?  Most of the time, it seems like they turn to more and more technical SEO. Agencies are always on the lookout for great technical SEOs. More makeup to slather on their clients’ websites.

The article was widely pilloried across the nerd community – including a counterpost on SEL.

And yesterday, not to be outdone (and perhaps inexplicably desperate for the negative notoriety generated by Griffin), Jayson Demers posted this drivel at Entrepreneur: Why Modern SEO Requires Almost No Technical Expertise.  Included within this fetid pile of garbage:

Ignore all the technical terms, all the details of execution and all your preconceived notions for a moment and focus on this: the happier your users are when they visit your site, the higher you’re going to rank.

Modern SEO really is that simple.

So – a picture being worth a thousand words – let me demonstrate visually what happens when you totally fuck up the technology. Let’s see just how simple modern SEO is when you ignore the technology. =What follows are the results on two sites we have been called in to fix after they went through a website redesign that ignored technical fundamentals. We call this Janitorial SEO – the cleaning up of others’ messes.  And 90% of the time, those messes are created unintentionally by people who just don’t know better (sometimes called designers).  What’s more galling is idiots like Demers and Griffin (who should know better) espousing willfully and deliberately overlooking technical fundamentals.

But are they really wrong?  Do these two know something we don’t and is the future of SEO one devoid of technical hurdles? In both of the cases below, you are seeing the result of poorly implemented website redesigns that utterly scrambled the technical platform.  I haven’t seen anything more dramatic than the disaster that occurred when a law firm launched their “new and improved” website that ignored pretty basic SEO foundations. And lets not even consider the business ramifications of losing essentially 80% of their traffic overnight.

AG

The second tanking (below) is less dramatic and frankly more typical – a roughly 30% loss in organic traffic after a website redesign onto a new platform with a completely blind eye towards basic SEO technology.  In both cases, the financial implications to the firm were severe.

AG2

Still think technical SEO doesn’t matter?  Fortunately there are plenty of SEO “consultants” out there, eager to take your money and make your SEO traffic slide into the abyss.

The .law TLD Sales Conspiracy

Lawyers – you’ve been duped into buying the new .lawyer, .attorney, and .law TLDs by a conspiracy of numerous “studies” all citing the same bogus example: Jacksonville.Attorney.  This newly launched domain, with the new .attorney TLD, was deliberately manipulated to suggest its success in SEO rankings was due to the new .attorney TLD.  This “case study” was  then shopped aggressively to the media and used as an erroneous example to sell more domains to unsuspecting attorneys.

I first became aware of the Jacksonville example when a lawyer forwarded me a glossy printed brochure from Rightside – a reseller of the new TLDs – touting the SEO benefits of the new TLDs. My client wanted to know if we should migrate his domain.rightsidew

This case study has been covered repeatedly by journalists regarding the efficacy of the TLDs as a magic bullet for search. Response magazine writes:

Due to the specificity of many TLDs, such as .lawyer, .mortgage, or .software, they often coincide with popular search terms and become valuable lead-generating tools while also boosting search engine rankings…

“Six months ago, it did not rank on any page at all for relevant searches,” Block said. “Without making any other design or content changes, we’re now starting to outrank our more established competition.

A Quick History

Recently, lawyers have been able to purchase new domains with .lawyer, attorney or .law replacing the traditional .com. (These are know as Top Level Domains – TLD). These new TLDs are available only to attorneys through a select number of resellers and are available at an extensive price premium from your typical domain.

Before we go any further, let’s be very clear that every experienced SEO should know where Google stands with regard to the SEO impact of these new  TLDs.   John Mueller has addressed this issue very specifically:

Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.
…understand there’s no magical SEO bonus…

So it is odd for so many case studies, by so many experienced experts, to be written with so many vociferous arguments pushing the SEO benefits of the new TLDs. All in direct contradiction with  fundamental search theory and Google’s crystal clear and specific remarks.

(My emphases in the quotes below)

Name.com.

Domain reseller, Name.com cites the Jacksonville example:

And while there is no definitive proof that it can give you a boost in SEO rankings, some websites that use New Domains are already beginning to rank on the first page of search results. Take, for example, jacksonville.attorney, which is the first non-paid result when you search for “jacksonville attorney”

FindLaw

Big Box legal player, FindLaw (one of the select few resellers of the new TLDs for attorneys) weighs in:

From both a consumer and an SEO perspective, a verified, restricted top-level domain provides a level of confidence that you know who you are dealing with online.

SEO for Lawyers

Luke Cicilliano (also a TLD reseller) at “SEO for Lawyers” penned an extensive, 6 post series outlining the virtues of the new .TLDs.  A few excerpts:

The new domain extensions are going to impact search in a big way.

Over the foreseeable future we see the use of the new TLD’s becoming a meaningful ranking factor in search.

Dot Law Inc

Yup – there’s a company set up whose entire business model is dedicated to selling vanity .law domains.

Search Engine Ranking – Since only lawyers can own .law domains, lawyers and law firms will be able to increase credibility in search results as compared to other top level domains.

RightSide

Rightside’s blog includes a deeper dive into the aforementioned Jacksonville example.  Excerpts:

At the same time, we’ve been more than happy to point to Jacksonville.Attorney—a site which has reached the top of Google’s search results—as a great success story for nTLDs….

The domain extension likely contributed to Jacksonville.Attorney’s high search ranking….

he made a move from EricBlockLaw.com, to his current Jacksonville.Attorney domain. Within months, Eric was seeing huge gains in traffic and search rankings.

But not all of the articles are directly from TLD resellers….

Search Engine Journal

A Search Engine Journal post touting the Jacksonville Attorney case study shows a screenshot of the site’s search traffic from Google Analytics before and after it launched. Pause and think about that for a second… you mean to say that the site has more traffic now that it did before it was launched?  This of course, is like comparing my 5 year-old’s height today to his height prior to conception.

SEJ 2

This article goes on to conclude:

We certainly have some proof that moving a site to a New gTLD domain or using a New gTLD domain for your brand new domain could help organic rankings, and it certainly won’t hurt rankings.

Which is a complete 180 about face from the author’s previous position regarding gTLDs.  From his blog post titled Will New Domain Name TLDs Carry Extra Weight in the Search Engine Rankings?…

So, with all of these new TLDs, will these new domain names carry any extra weight when it comes to search engine rankings? Absolutely Not.

You’ll also note in the GA graph above, the site is pulling in roughly 10 sessions a day.  Even assuming all of this is organic search traffic, its hardly a runaway SEO success by any measure and not fodder for an aureate case study.

American Bar Association

The ABA covered the new TLD’s touting their impact on search multiple times:

Search engine algorithms are notoriously byzantine, and the degree to which they weigh domain names, in balance with other factors, is clear only to the mathematicians writing the code. It is evident, though, that domain names are a factor.

Domain names alone don’t guarantee high ranking, but early data does suggest that new TLDs “are holding their own against, and in some cases outperforming, comparable addresses registered in legacy domains like .COM.”

Globerunner Case Study

Globerunner, an SEO agency out of Texas, was so enamored with the Jacksonville example, that they developed a slickly produced, 15 page case study that leads to the same carefully measured, data-driven conclusion:

Our research has led us to the conclusion that the uptick in organic search traffic on the firm’s rebranded website (www.jacksonville. attorney) was driven, at least in part, by Eric’s firm choosing to use a new, .ATTORNEY, domain name…  we believe that new gTLDs do offer multiple traffic generation benefits, especially because of the availability of exact match keyword domain names like Jacksonville.Attorney.

The Globerunner report does actually go deeper than all of the other “studies” and looks at the backlink profile for the new domain (which, would be my first obvious step in assessing success.)  It looks like the backlink snapshot was taken roughly just 6 weeks after the site went live and, it certainly doesn’t reflect the current reality of the site.  See the two different screenshots from Majestic below which show a more than threefold increase in the number of links.

So in this carefully researched case study – the obvious explanation for the site’s success (a bulletproof backlink profile) utilizes data that is, at best, grossly incomplete.

Globerunner’s Case Study Majestic Snapshot

Globerunner snapshot

Current Majestic Snapshot (taken 5/22/16)

Majestic

The backlink analysis brings up an entirely different question – how on earth does a solo practitioner’s brand new website generate over 200 backlinks across 70 domains in a scant six month period? I’ve been doing SEO for law for over a decade – the only way to develop this kind of backlink profile this fast is through an extremely aggressive campaign by experienced, SEO experts with deep contacts.

More pointedly –  why didn’t any of the ostensibly objective studies bother to take the 5 minutes it took me to review the backlink profile?  Didn’t anyone else notice or was this obvious point deliberately overlooked?

linkbuilding

 

The Legacy Site – Content, Platform and Design

Remember that comment about the site not being redesigned and no new content?  I started to wonder if this was true, so I reviewed the legacy site (ericblocklaw.com) on archive.org to see what it looked like prior to the migration to the .attorney domain. From a content perspective, is this a true apples to apples comparison?

Not only was the site completely redesigned and the platform updated, but the content was completely overhauled as well. The legacy site had a scant 14 pages and the new one…. 141. The legacy on-page was atrocious – not a single H1 and site-wide verbatim, generic title tags and meta descriptions.  Here’s the before and after for Personal Injury pages. Hmmmm… wonder why the early site wasn’t ranking for “personal injury lawyer”?

Content Comparison

 

 

 

 

 

Delving further into the content showed that many of the practice area pages were verbatim duplicated across 10-20 other law firm sites. Further, ericblocklaw.com was a carbon copy of itself on a domain that is still live today: http://thetriallawyer.org/. So we have a case of thin, copied, duplicated duplicate content.  Anyone still wondering why it didn’t rank?

block

A Wider Study

Making assertions that fly in the face of SEO theory with a single datapoint is dangerous at best…. and I would be similarly remiss in rejecting the premise of the top TLDs impacting SEO on that single example as well. So I enlisted the help of Dan Weeks to look at thousands of personal injury related queries across twenty large cities in the US and looked for instances of the new TLDs on page 1 results.  Just one .lawyer TLD.  No .law’s.  No .attorney’s. And that one domain was a redirect of a previously strong domain.

My OpinionGoogle Juice

Lawyers have been duped into buying things for their alleged magical SEO benefits for years. Press releases, social media consultants and virtual offices have all been sold to unsuspecting lawyers with the tease of a little Google Juice. This is just another example of lawyers being duped into ponying up money with empty promises of SEO success. Its a sophisticated, slickly produced, marketing and PR campaign supported by widespread “case studies” of a single erroneous example. And those case studies ignored the most foundational components of website success: content, platform and backlinks, in their analysis.

Jacksonville.attorney’s real success is due to a Pygmalian make-over of one of legal’s most sickly, pathetic sites with a comprehensive redesign, an upgraded infrastructure, a massive expansion of high quality content and a wickedly aggressive linkbuilding campaign.

But if you’d like some of that Google Juice, we have some available for purchase in our Legal SEO Store.

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.

RankBrain

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?”

Blab

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.

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.

Pinterest

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.

Is Your Blog Destroying Your Website’s Performance?

Legal Marketing SEOs have been saying it for years:  “Content is King”.  We’ve blamed the failure of our clients marketing efforts on the clients:  “the reason your site isn’t delivering is because you aren’t writing enough content.”  “You need to blog more.”   “Your site is SEO’d, you just need to write more.”

Here’s the dirty secret:  there is plenty of legal content out on the web.  In fact, I dare you to find a piece of legal content that doesn’t have over 100 pages on law firm websites optimized for it.  Its not the content stupid.  Hapless SEOs still keep blaming their failures on their clients’ unwillingness to vomit out vapid content onto the blog on their SEO’d sites.  (I still don’t know what an SEO’d site is btw.)

Worse: your die-hard commitment to churning out dull prose about yesterday’s car accident on the intersection of Main and Walnut, is most likely hurting your site’s performance.  YES – content hurts – and the mind numbingly dull news rewrites being dumped into blogs on a daily basis pollutes not just the internet as a whole, but the ability of your site to generate traffic… traffic from people who are looking to hire you for your car accident expertise, instead of the slip and fall accident reported first in the Local Herald back in November of 2012.

Seems that all of those SEOs exhorting you to write more have forgotten about the apparently forgotten… Panda. The penalty that looks for dull, thin, poorly written garbage content and enacts a site-wide penalty – which hits the few good pages you do have.

How to Tell If (Google) Thinks (Most of) Your Content Sucks

What follows is overly simplistic – but as we’ve looked at data from hundreds of law firm sites, the following pattern has emerged.  Simply do a site:mywebsite.com search and see how many pages are indexed and then use Google Analytics, filter by natural traffic only, then look at: Behavior – Content – Landing Pages and count the number of pages that are generating inbound traffic over the past three months.  (Now this assumes you don’t have any ridiculous technical errors auto-generating duplicate versions of your content.)

In the graph below… note the outlier down at the bottom right hand corner.  This law firm has invested thousands of dollars barfing vapid content at a regular pace of 4 posts a week for the past two years. They wanted to know if… if… they should continue their content strategy (I shudder to actually write “content strategy”).  And yet – over the past 3 months more than 82% of their pages had not delivered a single visitor.  I plotted a few of our long-term regular clients to provide some perspective – other sites saw between 25% and 88% of their pages generating SEO visits (and you can bet we aren’t pushing more content to that one site sitting at 25%).  Note that it is not just volume of content – one site with close to 900 pages has almost 60% of them driving visits.

Content Hell

So…. if you find the ratio of pages to landing pages  below the 25% benchmark… perhaps your problem really is content.  Too much of it.