Is SEO snake oil? Here’s the truth about search engine optimization for law firm websites.

by Great Jakes Marketing
Contact

This post was inspired by a raucous conversation we had with some CMOs over dinner at the LMA conference in Orlando. Thanks guys!

Here’s the simple truth: Search engine optimization (SEO) is among the most over-hyped marketing tactics in the legal industry. It may even be more hyped than social media.

Law firms want to believe in the magic of SEO — and marketing companies are more than happy to sell it. Yet, few people truly understand how it can bring new business through the door.

Before I elaborate, it’s important to know that organic SEO is a core competency of my firm. We’ve been doing it for a decade and have had great success getting our clients’ sites to the top of the Google results page. Over the years, we’ve also learned that top Google rankings, alone, seldom lead to more clients.

The big misconception

When most marketers think of SEO, they imagine that it works something like this:

-A prospective client Googles, say, “bankruptcy lawyer in Los Angeles”.

-That person lands on the Bankruptcy section of your website and reads your marketing text.

-With a little luck, they contact you and you get a new customer.

While this is how people think SEO should work – it seldom, if ever, works like this for corporate law firms. Why? Because the 3-step path above describes a consumer purchasing experience. This 3-step model might work for “refrigerator magnets” or “Red Sox t-shirts”, but it fails for corporate law firms. Companies just don’t buy legal services in the same way consumers buy toasters.

_____________

An aside: Back before we specialized in serving law firms, my company was ranked highly on Google for the term “B2B website design”. We were ranked #1 or #2 for many, many years. It drove lots of traffic to our website. And our phone would occasionally ring with inquiries. However, it didn’t result in a single new client. In most cases, the callers were small, unsophisticated businesses with tiny budgets — and we weren’t interested in working with them.

______________

So, how can SEO work for law firms?

SEO can definitely help law firms attract new clients. However, the model is longer and more circuitous than the 3-step consumer buying path described above. Consider this path:

-A prospective client Googles a highly specific search phrase, such as “impact of 2010 financial reform act on credit unions”.

-That person lands on an article or blog post you’ve written on that exact subject.

-They read your piece and are impressed with your insight.

-They surf your website and notice that you specialize in the exact legal micro-niche that concerns them most.

-They sign up for your newsletter and subscribe to your blog.

Over the next few years, they follow your blog and read your newsletter. Perhaps they also hear you speak at a conference. The more they hear from you, the more respect they have for your legal insights.

-They hire you when a need arises.

Here’s what it boils down to: SEO is no marketing shortcut. For SEO to be successful, you’ve got to think of SEO as simply one more means of getting your thought leadership work (articles, blog posts, case studies, videos, etc.) in front of prospective clients. In other words, it’s just another way to help build your reputation as an expert.

So, if you want to win clients through SEO, write and create more (and better) content. And then perform some basic optimization of articles and blog posts. It’s that simple.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Great Jakes Marketing | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Great Jakes Marketing
Contact
more
less

Great Jakes Marketing on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.
Feedback? Tell us what you think of the new jdsupra.com!