3 Questions Every Lawyer Should Ask Their SEO Guru
In many ways, finding a good SEO provider has become akin to finding a good lawyer; there’s advertisements everywhere, everyone is making promises and touting battles that they’ve won – implying your experience will be the same.
The problem however, is that the post sales experience seldom meets the pre sales expectations.
With respect to the online marketing world, there’s many reasons. Some are simple, like greed. I say greed as in, ‘let me make as much money as possible even if that means taking on more clients than I can service responsibly’.
Other reasons are not so simple, like the fact that the there’s simply more lawyers looking for clients than there are clients looking for lawyers (for which there’s lot of information from credible news sources regarding that).
This frenzied competition culminates into what you already know; the most lucrative legal niches become a dog eat dog, darwinian imbroglio where the big firms with deep pockets keep their foot on the throats of smaller firms and single practitioners with billboard ads and never ending TV spots during daytime soaps.
SEO on the other hand is a different story. While budget matters of course, it in my experience it is never the biggest predictor of online visibility. In fact in a study I did 3 years ago, the “Big” companies (read: agencies catering to firms with big budgets) fared the worse in my analysis of over 800 personal injury firms nationwide.
Yes, rather than budget, the quality of your SEO and the professionals who are doing your search engine optimization is the biggest determining factor in your online success, all else being equal.
This is a great equalizer for smaller firms who can’t compete with the ‘old guard’ law firms in the old media (TV, Radio & Yellow Pages) world, you know, the guys with the conference rooms full of leather bound books that smell of rich mahogany.
Now, smaller firms with great reputations and a fondness of tech that their predecessors lacked, can compete with the more established firms by having the right techies on their side; that is, the right SEO vendor.
All of which means that being able to accurately evaluate your SEO Vendor is more important now than ever so that you can get in the game and carve out your place in your market.
This begs the obvious question:
Is your current SEO provider the right SEO vendor to do do this?
I’m going to give you three critical questions every attorney or law firm should ask their SEO in your next meeting that will help you make your own judgement about this.
Question 1: What is our link building strategy and is it working?
Links ultimately are what search engines like Google use to determine who deserves to rank for a given search term. No matter how competent you are as an attorney, your site will not rank in a hyper competitive market unless you have other reputable sites linking to yours. Because of this, it’s critical that there’s a sound strategy to make sure this is taking place on a regular basis.
Answer you’re looking for: We are performing link outreach on a regular basis for your firm and as a result we’ve gotten over 50 quality links in the last 6 months from your site resulting in an increase of domain authority and trust flow. Here’s a spreadsheet of all these links we have gotten.
Question #2: What does our organic traffic look like since I hired you?
One sneaky trick I have seen time and time again is SEO professionals sending reports to their clients that show improvements in their total website visits. This encompasses everything including pay per click advertising, direct traffic and traffic from social media – all of which are nice to see increases mind you but none of which are essentially what your SEO person should be taking credit for. No, he or she has been hired to increase organic traffic. For example, if you start a ppc campaign that drives 500 visits to your website, of course your traffic is going to increase! But that increase should not be attributed to your SEO service. It’s important to make that clear distinction.
Answer you’re looking for: In the X months/years since you hired me, your organic traffic has increased X percent over the previous period and we have made steady progress, increasing our rankings for our most important search terms. Here’s a report that shows these increases.
Question #3: What tactics or strategies are you doing for me that you’re not doing for any other client?
Having done SEO for the last 9 years, one thing is abundantly clear: cookie cutter SEO or a one size fits all approach will not yield long term results. What’s absolutely mission critical in a competitive legal niche is an SEO provider that spends a lot of time thinking strategically about every single client’s struggles and then executing a plan to address those weaknesses. This has to be done with every client. Every. Single. Damn. Client. Without exception, this is an absolute truth. Sure there are some cookie cutter SEO basics (I call that the ‘blocking & tackling’ of SEO) that have to be done to be successful but it’s that extra TLC, that elbow grease, your own secret sauce or whatever you want to call it that will make the difference. Sometimes it’s a scholarship campaign to get backlinks from colleges. It may be some digital pr regarding your firm’s work in the community. It could be anything really. But the bottom line is that your online marketing company has to be doing something different for you to gain on edge on the 12 competitors in your market who all have really good Google My Business Pages with excellent reviews and over optimized websites with good backlink profiles.
Answer you’re looking for: What you want to hear when you ask your SEO guru this question is evidence that he or she knows your challenges as well as the back of their hand, that your problems are their problem – meaning they are problems that are keeping them up at night. You want to hear an answer that shows dedication to your firm’s online supremacy because that level of dedication is what it will take to get to the mountaintop in a dog eat dog, competitive marketplace.
Because you’re a lawyer I’m going to assume that your ability to hear an answer to a question and whether or not you’re an expert on the topic, you can still judge the legitimacy of the response with a relatively high level of accuracy.
Depending on personality types, communication skills, etc. you could get a wide variety of answers to these questions and obviously you have to factor those things into your evaluation of those answers.
I can tell you this with confidence, these are questions that a SEO Professional who is doing quality work would love to hear you ask, even if the results aren’t great.
Because these questions at least show that you, the client, are focusing on the right things and if I’m doing these right things (as I should be), I now know I will be rewarded in the form of keeping your business and possibly being given more business.
Conversely, if your SEO provider is taking a paint by numbers approach or is asleep at the wheel, these are questions that will have them sweating and more than likely trying to talk over your head in techno babble. Don’t buy it though. Ask for answers you clearly understand and have them break it down for you. Peel back the onion until you are very comfortable that you understand their answers and if it looks like a duck … well you know what to do.
If you are interested in having a no b.s. conversation about your firm’s marketing, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Elite. We have consulted with numerous lawyers on how to evaluate their marketing or SEO under the pretense that they weren’t going to hire us and we are still happy to have that conversation and give you feedback.