5 Internet Marketing Strategies Attorneys Should Ignore in 2013
As more and more law firms begin to pay attention to their internet marketing efforts, any practice areas that have good online lead appeal will soon prove increasingly competitive as law firms, lead generation sites, and even spammers are all now throwing their hats into the Google search result ring.
Attorneys have some of the highest per-click costs when it comes to click-through rates for Google AdWords and other online lead gen/online advertising platforms and so focusing marketing efforts into Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can bring the benefits of a costly AdWords campaign without having to shell out thousands of dollars a month.
Whether your law-firm is marketing in-house or using a third party to handle your efforts, there are several tactics that may have worked previously but will now prove detrimental to your internet marketing efforts.
Many of these might have worked in the past, but SEO for lawyers is getting more and more complicated as Google's algorithm soon approaches "SkyNet" type proportions...but let's not get that far ahead of ourselves.
-Mistake 1: Paying for Bulk Outsourced Linkbuilding
If you've started reading up on SEO techniques you'll quickly learn that backlinking, or building links back to your website from other sources, is crucial to any inbound marketing efforts. There's no shortage of companies that sell linkbuilding services for pennies a links.
Steer clear of these! While there are companies out there that can provide quality outsourced linkbuilding they aren't going to be the ones running display ads and spamming your email inboxes. You cannot buy "500 links for 100$" without shooting yourself in the foot - Google will catch up to automated methods like these and when they do you're link profile either drops in value, or you end up getting penalized.
If you do need to outsource your linkbuilding (and it is feasible if you do your homework) make sure to pick a company that will speak to you on the phone, and discuss the methods they are going to use openly - ideally you want to hear that their team is writing guest posts, creating press worthy content, and spending the time to reach out to potential link sources with their work. If you hear the phrase "directory linkbuilding" or "blog commenting" drop that phone.
-Mistake 2: Trading Links With Other Attorneys
Around 2005 my inbox started overflowing with emails from attorneys and their staff looking to trade links between their firms site and ours. Now at the time this method worked well - you'd get a links from a (hopefully) great legal website, and we'd link back to you from our page. They were simple - just a link on a "resources" or "our links" page - and soon you'd see some improvement in rankings.
Like most abused linkbuilding methods this also is losing it's luster. If you absolutely want to continue using your network of attorneys for linkbuilding consider changing your tactic from reaching out for "just a link" and offering a guest post they can publish on their blog in exchange.
You can include a link back to your site in the guest post (don't go overboard) and the attorney publishing the content get's more organic searches going to that article.
The days of just trading a link back and forth are dead - time to finish grieving and start reaching out for guest posts instead.
-Mistake 3: Paying for Text Links or Guest Posts on Third Party Sites
Paying for any sort of link is against Google's Terms of Service and oftentimes you'll see evidence of this portrayed as "advertising" when in fact you're paying 300$ a month for a link in the footer of a local news site that nobody going to actually click on but according to your SEO team "should help our rankings".
Well like most methods listed here the days of paid links are long gone. In fact using this method can get you penalized if you're not careful and lead to some very slow months for your websites. While advertisements are still fair game, take the time to find out where your ads are running and how they'll look. If the words "it will help your SEO" are muttered by any salespeople you had better tread lightly.
-Mistake 4: Buying and Building Identical Sites on "Exact Match" Domains
Another tactic that needs to be stopped is attorneys building out identical "exact match" domain (EMD) websites. You most likely have seen these in one form or another - ABC & Associates owns websites names "personalinjuryphiladelphia", "philadelphiaaccidentlawyer" and "phillyaccidentlaywers" - they must be cleaning up right?
These types of websites were hit very hard by a very recent Google update. Had you been tracking the performance of these there would have been almost an overnight plummet in their search rankings that has yet to return. For a while many law firms were just cloning the exact same website design and just changing the content on each of them to match their keywords they were going after.
These days it's worth it to focus your efforts on one site and doing it right instead of trying to "game" the system. Attorneys are smart people - but keep that expertise in the classroom.
-Mistake 5: Hiring an SEO Company You'll Never Meet Who "Guarantees 1st Page Results"
As a rule of thumb make sure you send any company who emails you offering a site audit, or claims they "searched and searched but couldn't find your website anywhere on Google" directly to the trash bin. If you expect that paying a company overseas 200$ a month will help you generate thousands of dollars in cases you're mistaken. You need writers, web developers, PR people, and a close watch on your marketing analytics to even start building up your SEO efforts.
Simply put this isn't a process that will guarantee 1st page results in 1-2 months - it takes time, trial and error, and alot of content to get the ball rolling and a typical SEO campaign might run for over 6 months before your intake team really starts to see results. Much like Mistake #1 - if you hear "directory linkbuilding" or "blog commenting" or even "Web 2.0s" immediately ask to see the links they've built the past month.
If you notice foreign domains endings or visit the link and see what appears to be a spammy looking blog or directory citation (trust us you'll know) it may be time to renegotiate that contact.
Of course if you're already in this situation it shouldn't be too hard to get out of your 200$ a month contract, right?
By Majux MarketingABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bernie Clark
SEO, Paid Search and Web Design for Law Firms
SEO, Paid Search and Web Design for Law Firms
Bernie Clark is the Co-Founder of Majux Marketing - A Philadelphia based company that specializes in internet marketing for law firms.
Copyright Majux Marketing
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.