Law Firm SEO and Attorney Marketing

When it comes to finding a “law firm SEO expert”, unfortunately, there are only a couple of major players that handle law firm web design, SEO and hosting– the total package. The biggest attorney marketing firm is, of course, FindLaw. Attorneys tend to be very busy people and FindLaw is the easy choice. They are almost forced into using FindLaw for SEO and, truth be told, their clients certainly do not dominate the rankings. They are also expensive as hell. Lawyers usually throw a lot of money at FindLaw for years before they figure out that it’s not doing them much good.

FindLaw has such an incredible monopoly on SEO for attorneys and law firms, that- even with much better choices on the market- it’s easier for attorneys to just go with what everyone else is doing. For client SEO, FindLaw offers linking, site design, landing pages, and just about everything one could hope for. It’s an easy decision, but not really a smart one.

FindLaw only works with Attorneys

That may seem like an advantage at first. After all, if I have a toothache, I’m going to see a guy that works with teeth. A dentist, most likely.

When an internet marketing company specializes in one particular type of SEO: Do you know what that means? It means that they are also working for your competition.

Does that make sense? Your account rep is going to call you up and tell you that they are working diligently on your SEO, and you moved up 3 positions this month for such and such. Then they hang up and call their next client- in the same city of course- and tell them the same thing.

So where are you on their loyalty list? And if you want to be number one, and there is no loyalty list– how do you get to be number one?

If you want to break free from FindLaw, we can do that for you. We can design a new, better WordPress site for you- or, if you really like your FindLaw design, we can copy it for you and put it in WordPress. In our expert opinion, WordPress is the best way to build your website and your search engine presence.

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the way that lawyers market themselves around Phoenix. There are a few top players in the search engine game, but most of the attorneys in Phoenix are way behind on doing what it takes to rank well in the search engines.

Here are some mistakes I think law firms make when marketing online:

1. Using FindLaw for your website design and hosting needs is ridiculous.

Sorry. I don’t know how to say it any nicer. The same thing goes with Scorpion Design. Why would a lawyer use FindLaw or Scorpion?

How can an attorney trust FindLaw to market their law firm?

Many attorneys, who are mostly a left-brained, logical group, don’t seem to understand that using FindLaw is fundamentally illogical.

How can a company promise you the world, offering “law firm SEO” packages, promising you results and hits…and all the while, they are doing it for every other attorney that comes along? It’s like they are cheating on you. If I had two clients and they were both Phoenix defense attorneys and I told both of them that I was going to do my best to help their SEO, I’d be lying to one of those clients.

FindLaw has a lot more than two clients who are defense attorneys in Phoenix.

If you are an attorney and you’d like us to help you with marketing your law firm, we will not “practice” SEO for any other law firm, in your area, for 365 days after we terminate our relationship. If you want me to maintain your SEO, which is something that is absolutely necessary- (maintenance that is, not using Guru Effect)- then we would never work for anybody that practices what you practice, in your area. To do otherwise is totally unethical, in the eyes of The SEO Guru.

We would love to help everyone, and deceptively tell them that they are the only law firm for us, but then we would be like the other hucksters.

2. Put a little more effort into good design. Just above, in point number one, I wrote that attorneys were a left-brained group. While paying FindLaw to cheat on you isn’t very good evidence of the logical side in action, the poor design I see I many law firm sites is a good reminder.

Most attorney websites look the same, because most are done by FindLaw. You’ve got a header, a bunch of keyword stuffed content, a sidebar with a video, and a footer with the same thing written on every lawyer’s website.

This is an extreme example of boring design, but check this out:

I’m even giving the guy the link! On the house sir.

Mr. Keyt is not a client. You won’t find me linking to any of my clients here. That’s considered a no-no by Google. I’m also not into making it known who my clients are and I don’t expect my clients to make it known that they use me. I’m not going to put a footer link on your website that says “Phoenix SEO Consulting” either. How unprofessional. Take a look at the bottom of your law firm website right now. Is there a link to your website designer? Yeah. You know why? They are advertising their services to other lawyers who land on your website. They are saying, “Hey, if you want a website like this, click here and we’ll do the same thing for you.” (Put a link at the bottom of your site that is.)

Now granted, Norm Keyt is the kind of attorney that has a lot of long-time clients- landlord-tenant attorneys have many landlords on retainer and they handle evictions in bulk. The landlord always wins in Arizona, so there’s no real reason to ever fire your landlord-tenant attorney. Tenants almost never show up for court. In fact- quick sidebar- I once had a landlord issue and went to court to fight (I won). The judge was just calling plaintiff after plaintiff and rubber-stamping eviction notices. When the judge called my name and I answered, he looked up from the bench for the first time all morning and actually looked surprised. The best part though? The attorney representing my landlord didn’t even know what side of the courtroom to sit on. I don’t think he ever acted as a trial attorney before that day. He was a young guy.

So maybe some attorneys don’t have to worry about SEO at all. But if you want to do med-mal or criminal, you can bet it’s a competitive market to earn those Google rankings.

Law firm sites are getting better, but they still all have a similar look and feel. And why not? The same two or three companies take care of most attorneys in the U.S.

3. Most of the content is so boring, it’s making me sleepy thinking about it. Much of it is clearly written for search engines and not humans.

Pick an attorney site, any attorney site, and read it. Especially a FindLaw site, where the content isn’t often written by the attorneys themselves, but rather, professional content “writers.” The reason I know it’s not written for humans is because I’m a human and I can’t read it for five minutes.

Attorneys, especially good attorneys, are often just too busy to write content. I get that. But instead of hiring a national company to spew out this boring crap- page after boring page- why not hire a law student to write on your blog? Or even better, an undergrad? At Guru Effect, we have an outstanding copywriter who, previous to working with us, worked as a law firm admin for one of the top family law firms in the state. She is outstanding and understands legal copywriting from an SEO standpoint. Not only will she write great legal content for SEO, but it will also be understandable and readable to the common person. Let’s face it: If you’re in criminal law, your client list isn’t necessarily filled with geniuses. Having lots of boring content that cites the ARS isn’t going to interest the average idiot who just earned his third DUI.

Writing original, relevant and easy-to-read content is extremely important for marketing your law firm online.

Did you finish reading this article? Are you an attorney?

Then this is the kind of content you need, isn’t it?