How To Market to People Who Hate Lawyers in One Easy Picture

I just bumbled across the Browne Law Group while doing some competitive research in the greater Phoenix, AZ market. Sometimes I see work that I wish we had done, that I wish was mine so we could point at it and tell you…we’re awesome. And this is one of those sites. (But we didn’t, so I can’t.) Instead, I’m sharing this to try to inspire your mind to think beyond typical lawyer branding and positioning.

And let me tell you, this might not work for you. Your lawyerly sensibilities may be completely insulted by law books turned into a dumbbell, or triceps that are bigger than your thighs.

But you are totally wrong.

The anti-lawyer lawyer branding speaks deeply to prospective clients when evaluating a lawyer. You either love him or hate him. And because of that, a prospect’s consideration set when selecting a counsel among the entire legal market gets split in two: the anti lawyer vs. everyone else who pretty much all look the same. For those of you who live under a rock, the legal profession suffers from an overall negative perception among the general populace. So, being the non-lawyer lawyer seems like positioning with extremely broad appeal. And as a side note – it’s more than just killer branding and content – the underlying code on the site is solid as well.

I’ve been writing about this for years – prospects want to hire people who happen to be lawyers, instead of lawyers who happen to be people. Stop spending so much effort branding yourself as a lawyer and instead work on letting the person behind you shine. As for me…”hire lawyers with tattoos not combovers” kind of resonates with me (have you seen my melon?)

It’s not our work, but I wish it was. Byron – when you stumble across this post, know that I wish you’d fire your agency and give us a call. But don’t. You don’t need to – they are really good. But to anyone else, who has the guts to pull some real genuine branding (with or without ink), give us a call.

SEO Disaster: “This Site May Be Hacked”

Oh….. its so bad when a site gets hacked.  Check out what people looking on Google for attorney Steve Boyd see:

Note that under the listing for the website there’s a Google warning:  “This site may be hacked.” This is Google’s attempt to protect users from sites that may unwittingly download malware or aren’t what they really purport to be.  WordPress is a notoriously common target for hacks due to its ubiquity.  Here’s a close up of that Google warning:

Further – it’s highly unlikely that Google will send anyone to any other pages on the site…. most likely, the only results you will get are for that flagrant brand queries.  And this is because the site has over 12,000 indexed pages, mostly in Japanese, peddling everything from Nike sneakers to Patagonia jackets.

But wait – there’s more! Go back to that original result and let your eyes land on the pictures to the right in the Knowledge Graph….. looks like not only Steve’s site was hacked, but someone also took the time to upload some new pictures for his office.  Either that, or Steve really likes galavanting in one-size-too-small football pants after taking a dip in the ocean and completing his morning’s 1,000th sit-up.

What to Do?

First off – don’t let this scare you away from WordPress – it is still the one and only website platform you should use.  But…

  1. Update it regularly.
  2. Host it on a Managed WordPress provider.  We recommend WPEngine – read more: Our Love Affair with WPEngine.
  3. Check results for brand searches regularly.
  4. Claim your Google My Business result.
  5. Monitor your site in Google Search Console.

And Steve – if you are reading this…. my apologies (or admiration if that is really you).

How to Find (And Fix) Orphan Pages

What is an Orphan Page?

An orphan page is a page on a website that is not linked to by any other page on the site. Think of the internet like a perfectly built spider web, each strand connected to another. Now imagine, a couple feet away from the web, a strand of silk hanging mid-air, all by itself. It’s still a piece of web, and would be helpful to a spider if the spider could reach it, but this spider can’t jump, and the strand of silk is useless. This strand of silk is an orphan page.

Orphan pages are rarely stumbled upon by users. This is because a user would have to access the page directly (via URL search) or via sitemap, which doesn’t tend to happen.

Some orphan pages are orphaned intentionally. These are private pages used by webmasters that aren’t intended for users to stumble upon. But we won’t worry about these pages in this post.

Why Should I Care?

At Mockingbird, checking for orphan pages is part of our technical audit. It’s one of the many indicators we use at the very beginning of an engagement to asses a client’s website health. Lots of orphan pages = website health could be improved. Why is this the case?

  1. You might have valuable pages orphaned. Sometimes this happens accidentally. This could mean that you have great content on your site, but, as it isn’t linked to, a user will never find it naturally. This is bad for the user, but not only this, you’re missing out on the potential online credibility coming from your valuable content. People don’t link to pages that they can’t find. Search engines wont have the opportunity to recognize you as an online authority on any subject if your best pages aren’t getting seen, linked to externally, or talked about.
  2. Orphan pages might bring penalties. This is a debated point among SEOs. Some speculate that, upon discovering orphan pages on a site, search engines will treat these pages as doorway pages (unnatural pages intended to rank artificially high for certain search terms to bring in users), and penalize the site. Most disagree, but in this case it’s worthwhile to error on the side of caution.

How Do I Identify Orphan Pages?

There are plenty of ways to identify orphan pages on your site, but no matter how you get the it, all you need is:

  1. A complete list of every page on your site
  2. A complete list of every crawlable page on your site.

For (1.) I use the xml sitemap*. If this sitemap is working correctly, it should be updating automatically each time a page is added to your site, regardless of whether or not it’s orphaned.

For (2.) I use Screaming Frog. Screaming Frog crawls the site as a Googlebot/Bingbot would. This means it starts at the homepage and works down, exploring each link it encounters on its way. Because Screaming Frog works in this way, it excludes pages that are not linked to on any other page. You called it, orphan pages.

Now that you have both a list of every page on your site, and a list of every crawlable page on your site, it’s time to compare. Bring both lists into an excel spreadsheet and run a duplicate check. All pages that don’t appear in your spreadsheet twice (these should be the pages that appear in your sitemap, but not Screaming Frog) are orphan pages.

What Do I Do Once I find Them?

This is the easy part. If you’ve found unintentionally orphaned pages on your site, assess their value. If an orphaned page has thin content, duplicate content, or is outdated, you’re better off without it. Noindex these pages. For valuable, relevant orphaned pages that you find, link to them from a natural page. Put yourself in the user’s shoes and imagine where your orphaned page would be the most helpful. If you discover an orphan page on your auto website called “Everything You Need to Know About Pistons”, your “Engine Parts” page would be a great candidate as a page to link from.


*In order to access this, just tack “/sitemap_index.xml/” on to the end of your homepage URL.



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


Google SEO Penalty for Chat Pop-ups Coming?

Ichat penalty‘ve long ranted against many of the implementations of chat conversions – especially on mobile devices – in which the chat is so aggressive that it covers up content, as well as all other forms of conversion – phone numbers and form fills.  In most cases, chat implementations are configured to maximize revenue for the chat provider, NOT the law firm.  Some providers have gone so far to refuse to allow customization of how aggressively their chat is implemented.  This is further exacerbated by most vendors positioning their service as a marketing channel instead of what it truly is – a conversion channel.  (i.e. just because someone ultimately converted through chat – the marketing cost for that user should still be attributed to SEO, Adwords, Avvo etc.)

This is even worse on mobile implementations – with both limited screen size and a (very) high converting device (a phone) being overruled by the obnoxious chat box.

Don’t get me wrong, chat works – just pick your vendor very very carefully.

But that may all change on January 10th.  Google has announced a penalty on sites implementing intrusive interstitials (those annoying pop up chat boxes would fall into this category). While chat isn’t specifically called out, the announcement does describe the concerns; including interstitials that cover the main content as they “provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible”.  Google very specifically calls this out as a SEO penalty for mobile – those types of pages “may not rank as highly”.

While Google has said “responsible interstitials” may remain – based on their description, I read the tealeaves as meaning chat pop ups that very quickly and aggressive cover content and all other forms of conversion most likely will incur an SEO penalty for mobile based searches.

MobileAgeddon  – Mobilegeddon Happening Again?

Last week, Google posted an update to their Webmaster Central Blog announcing a mobile algorithm update rolling out in May of this year. The update is said to increase the effect of the mobile-friendly ranking signal in order to “help users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly.”

Google goes on to explain that if you’ve already made your site mobile-friendly, you shouldn’t worry:

“If you’ve already made your site mobile-friendly, you will not be impacted by this update.”

If you missed Mobilegeddon last year, I’m impressed. It was a big deal in the digital marketing industry and a very real example of how neglecting your online presence can impact your business.

With that said, the fallout from Mobilegeddon was lackluster at best.  Mockingbird can’t be the only SEO/digital marketing company that is feeling like a boy cried wolf.

Needless to say, we will be keeping a close eye on the impacts of this pending update and assess whether or not we can ever trust that boy again…

Is Mobile-Friendly That Important in Legal?

YES! In case you’re still not convinced that having a mobile-friendly/responsive website isn’t important despite Google making such a fuss, than consider this:

According to ComScore, people using a regular ol’ desktop computer to search peaked in 2013. Each following year, desktop searches have declined. I can’t imagine someone getting in a car accident, receiving a DUI, or seeking legal advice regarding a terrible work situation waiting until they make it home to start looking for a lawyer. Not to mention the effort involved in firing up the old Gateway computer (they don’t make those anymore) to start hammering on a mechanical keyboard (they do still make those) to find the perfect attorney.

I can, however, imagine them pulling out their awesome new Galaxy S7 Edge (which they haven’t turned off since buying it) to do a quick mobile search and call directly from the SERPs.

Overall vs. Google Desktop Search Volume in US (MM)

desktop search volume in us 2009 2016 bar graph

Graph Source: SEL | Data Source: ComScore

Final Thoughts on the May Mobile Update

If your legal website is responsive, give yourself a pat on the back. If it’s not, there’s no time like the present to make you and your law firm more accessible to the people trying to find you. If you need help, we’re happy to chat: 206-209-2125.

Now, if I were a bettin’ man I would put money on the possibility that Google might roll-out a similar update for a more secured web

Popular Legal WordPress Contact Form Plugin Giving Errors

A widely popular contact form plugin on legal websites has been scaring its users since it released its latest update on Feb 20th, 2016.

Contact Form 7, or CF7 for short, came out with a recent update that boasts a new “Configuration Validator”. This validator scans your contact forms and looks for common errors that prevent your form submissions from being sent properly. It seems that CF7’s developer was tired of answering/fixing common CF7 configuration settings. I don’t blame him.

Contact Form 7 Validation Errors

If you’ve recently updated this amazing WordPress plugin, you’ve probably notice a new notification prompting you to “validate your contact forms now.”

contact form 7 validation message

According to CF7, if you’ve setup your forms properly you’ll be all set. However, even if your contact forms are working, you may also see something like this:

contact form 7 configuration errors found screenshot

AGH! This is my nightmare. Errors. And a lot of them. It just so happens that errors on contact forms are my least favorite thing.

Here are two screenshots of the actual error on the contact form (both are on the ‘mail’ tab and related to the ‘from’ field):

contact form 7 syntax error screenshot

contact form 7 email address error screenshot

How Do You Fix Them?

Step 1: If you haven’t already, install and activate a plugin called Contact Form DB. It captures and stores all form fills (even failed attempts), which allows you to follow up with emails that don’t make it into your inbox. Always have a plan B! I also recommend sending the developer a couple bucks for the piece-of-mind that they’ve developed for you.

Step 2: Test your forms. Send an email through your website to make sure you actually get it. Be sure to check your spam folder.

Step 3: If you don’t receive the email, change the “from” field on the mail tab to what CF7 suggests: [your-name] <>

Step 4: Test it again.

Step 5: Check your SPAM folder.

Bonus: If you’re running event tracking to Google Analytics, you might as well smash two birds and verify this is working as well. No time like the present! I’ve also come across a really helpful write up on other CF7 validation errors, why they are happening and how to fix them.

Why Are These CF7 Errors Happening?

The internet is full of scammers and spammers. Just because an email says it came from doesn’t mean it actually did. There are many ways you can send emails on behalf of other people domains. Scary right?

On the other hand, sending emails on behalf of other domains can be extremely useful for you and your business. Perhaps your contact form or intake system sends automatic emails on your behalf. Very handy if you receive a lot of leads throughout the day. Technically, these aren’t being sent from your email, though it looks as if they are.

The trouble with setting up emails and contact forms exactly the way that CF7 suggests, is that it’s complex and involves you working with your IT/Email hosting provider (who probably knows nothing about websites). Surprise, email hosting and websites aren’t the same thing. To completely remove the risk of Spoofers sending emails from your domain, you need to use email-authentication settings like SPF and DKIM methods (read: contact your IT support).

Adding to the complexity: every email provider, client, spam filter, contact form and website content management system is different. Yay!

In short, you can setup the contact form to work… but if it’s not exactly how CF7 wants you to do it (since they’ve been forced to joined the war on spam), you’ll have to get used to some bright red errors if you choose to stick with what has previously worked.

CF7 Update Summary:

Updating your plugins immediately after a developer has released a new version is a lot like buying the first generation Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. Sometimes everything goes smoothly, and other times you go through three different phones before you get one that works. It also means that you may need to get used to a few new quirks along the way.

We recommend that you regularly test your contact forms (and call tracking numbers) to make sure you are getting your leads. You’ve got enough to worry about – those two items shouldn’t be on that list.

Use a backup system to your contact forms. We like Contact Form DB. It keeps a log of all contact form submissions, even failed attempts.

Understand that sometimes there are false positives. Just because a scanner says it’s broken, doesn’t mean it actually is. Oh, and what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow even if it was best practice.

“Responsive Websites” – What They Are and Why Your Business Needs One

Do you know what responsive websites are? Does your business already have one? If so, this post isn’t for you.

Do you keep hearing about the importance of responsive websites and mobile search? Not sure if your website is responsive? Don’t understand what responsive design means? This post is for you!

What Is Responsive Web Design?

Responsive Web Design is used to make your website look good and be easy to read/navigate – no matter what device your visitor is using. This means your website’s content/design/layout is going to change based on the screen size/orientation/resolution of the viewers screen. A responsive layout will ensure a good user experience across all devices. Your visitors won’t have to pinch zoom on their phones or have trouble navigating to the content they’re looking for.

If you only visit your website on one computer, you would never know if your website is responsive or not. Below is an example of a strong responsive layout. Notice how different layout elements shrink, move, and stack – depending on the device.

Responsive Websites

Not every responsive website is the same. There are many ways to implement responsive design on a website. They require adequate HTML architecture, CSS media queries, mobile navigation options, and much more.

I Love My Website, Why Does It Need to Be Responsive?

If you have an older static website design, it’s probably very difficult to use on mobile devices. Ever looked for a restaurant’s menu on their website from your phone? I bet you’ve found it very challenging to pinch zoom and navigate to one of their most important pieces of content. If your business website is not responsive, I guarantee that your visitors are having the same problem.

The Importance of Responsive Websites

Responsive websites are one of your biggest keys to more website traffic and conversions. The search engines know if your website is responsive and what it looks like on mobile devices. Google is simply more likely to serve up your website in mobile search results if it uses responsive design correctly.

It’s Official: Google Says More Searches Now On Mobile Than On Desktop

If your website isn’t mobile friendly, I would estimate your mobile traffic is around 10-25% of all your traffic. We’ve seen that number spike to around 40-50% once a responsive design is implemented. That change is due to a huge increase in mobile search traffic once a website has responsive design. With the increasing number of mobile devices on the market, more and more people are searching for local businesses with their phones and tablets.

How Can I Tell If My Website is Responsive?

The quickest way to tell, is to pull up your website on your desktop/laptop and your mobile device and see if the layout is different. This should be happening on every page of your website, ensuring all your content is mobile friendly. Try checking more than just your home page and see what happens.

The more important test is Google’s Mobile Friendly Test. Try entering your URL into this tester on a few pages of your website. If you don’t see something like this… Mobile Friendly Test ResultYou should think about investing in responsive website redesign! You might also find some minor errors, like links that are too small. These kind of things can be easy for a web designer to change/fix and increase the mobile friendliness of your website.

What’s Next?

Google is working on a project called Accelerated Mobile Pages that will be rolling out in 2016. Their goal is to improve speed and quality of mobile websites and search results. From early examples, these pages look to be at the top of mobile search results. The earliest adopters will be major news outlets, but you can bet on this becoming and important feature for small businesses.

Automattic, the company founded by the WordPress platform founder, is already developing their AMP WordPress Plugin. This will allow WordPress sites an easier way to create Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages. Once the benefits of these pages are clear, you can guarantee Mockingbird will be implementing this on all our sites.

HTML Sitemap: Creating in WordPress and Their Importance

What is an HTML Sitemap? An HTML Sitemap is a page on your website with links to every single page of important content on your website. Any pages on your site that can be indexed by search or are navigable from your menus should be linked to by your sitemap page!

But I already have an XML Sitemap! An XML Sitemap is purely for search engines, and all of the pages you submit via XML are not guaranteed to be indexed. XML Sitemaps are of no use to your end user. They are made for robots and look like they are made for robots. See ours here.

What Does an HTML Sitemap Look Like? A simple list of important pages with links to each one. Check out our Mockingbird Marketing sitemap page!

Why Your HTML Sitemap is Important

All of the content on your site should be navigable with clicks. But, some of your really old blog posts or deep pages may take quite a few page links and clicks to reach. When you create an HTML Sitemap page and place that page link in your footer, you provide links to all the important content on your site within 2 clicks! This is useful for visitors and the search engines alike. It may increase the likelihood of that old, yet important content, being indexed by search. All of this increases the chances of people finding your website and content through search.

This video may be a few years old, but Matt Cutts explanation still rings true, see below:

It’s unclear if HTML sitemaps are still a major SEO force/factor…. However, they are easy to create and possibly useful for search and users, every site should have one.

How To Create Your WordPress HTML Sitemap: Our Favorite Solution

WordPress has thousands of free and premium plugins available to do anything under the sun on your website. Some plugins we love make certain SEO tasks a breeze. We use WordPress SEO by Yoast to do all sorts of on site SEO tasks, like creating XML Sitemaps. That plugin has amazing functionality, but is missing an HTML Sitemap generator. And trust me, you don’t want to manually create an HTML sitemap. This would require creating a link to every page on your website, and adding a link every time you create a new page.

That’s why we use this amazing plugin – WP SEO HTML Sitemap. It integrates with your Yoast XML Sitemap settings, but does not require Yoast to function. With Yoast, this HTML Sitemap plugin will create one link to every page on your website that exists in your XML Sitemap. You should already have your XML Sitemap configured to include all indexed, important content on your site.

Steps to Setup your HTML Sitemap Page:

  1. Install the plugin on your WordPress site.
  2. Create a page titled “Site Map”.
  3. From your site’s WordPress admin screen, hover over “Settings” and click “SEO HTML Sitemap”.
  4. Settings:
    1. Sitemap Page: Select “Site Map”.
    2. Location on Page: Select “After Page’s Content”.
    3. Disable Plugin’s CSS?: Select “Disable the CSS Styles”. This will disable the column setting. Hint: you don’t want to load unnecessary extra css resources on your site.
    4. Link to XML Sitemap: Select “No, Don’t Link to the Sitemap XML”.
    5. Credit Link: Select “Don’t add”. Sorry Plugin Author..
    6. Hit “Save Changes” button.
  5. Add a link to your new HTML Sitemap page in your websites footer.
  6. You’re done!

See how easy that was? A few quick steps to increasing the quality of your website!

Easy Button