Accelerating SEO Wins for Your Law Firm

Aug 3, 2023 |

Patrick Carver

Hi, I’m Patrick Carver / CEO, Constellation Marketing

I hope you enjoy listening to this podcast.
If you want my team to just do your marketing for you, click here.

Key Takeaways 

1. Why SEO is still the most important strategy
2. Why is SEO so Slow?
3. How to Get the Best Results

Accelerating SEO Wins for Your Law Firm

SEO is typically thought of as a very slow process, but that’s not always the case. In this podcast, we’ll show you how to generate big wins in the shortest time possible. 

Welcome to another episode of the Optimized Law Firm podcast. This is where we talk about how you can run a more profitable and enjoyable law firm. My name is Patrick Carver, I’ll be your host, and I’m also the owner of Constellation Marketing, where we focus on helping law firm own owners transcend seven figures with a special focus on giving you 100% clarity on your return on investment. SEO is typically thought of as a very slow process, and it can be, but it’s not always the case. And in this episode, we’re going to show you how to generate some big wins in the shortest time possible.

So let’s get to it. And the first thing I wanted to do in today’s podcast is talk a little bit about why SEO if you’re listening to this, you’re most likely interested, you may be doing some SEO for yourself. And I just wanted to kind of hammer that point home with just a little bit of background on why we focus on SEO so much at our agency and why most successful, highly successful law firms are going to have a strong SEO presence or at least have a part of their marketing approach is going to involve search engine optimization. So for us, SEO is still the number one lead channel for all of our 85 plus law firms. The caveat that I will mention here is that we also focus on it the most.

And so if we were a TikTok agency, then those numbers would certainly be different. But what we have found is that when there is an equivalent amount of money spent on advertising versus SEO investment, that SEO investment is by far and away the most productive with producing leads and also lowering the cost per acquisition of those leads. And there’s some unique benefits that come along with SEO. The first one that I’ll highlight is that you are actually creating an asset for your business as opposed to something that is really you’re renting. And the analogy that I’m drawing here is difference or comparison I’m drawing is between SEO and advertising.

SEO as an asset for your business

And the analogy that I like to use a lot is that SEO is like creating your own farm versus advertising, which is like shopping at the market. You could probably read between the lines of what the differences are between these two. But just to kind of summarize, being able to go to a market, grab food off the shelves is great. There’s big advantages to it. And you can do it immediately.

You can get that instant gratification. Whereas when you are growing a garden or you have a farm, there’s a lot more prep work, right? It’s a longer time delay before you get that gratification. So you have to go through all those steps like planting, seed, watering it, yada, yada, yada, going down that whole list of things that need to happen. But if you can have that level of dedication, consistency, you get to this point where the benefits are enormous.

And that is absolutely the case with SEO. It is slow to start. There’s a lot more that goes into it to contribute, but ultimately those two things can actually support each other and really give you the best holistic marketing strategy by adopting both of those things. But by doing this and putting in that foundational work of writing content, building links, doing all the stuff that goes into a normal SEO campaign, you are building an asset. An asset that is going to help you for months, years down the road if you continue to give in those contributing factors that improve the vitality of the website, right?

Improve the success of it by keeping content fresh, adding more, doing link, building all of those things. Whereas with advertising, the moment that you stop paying, your leads will run dry. You’ll no longer have access to it, and you don’t have any real asset that you’ve created for all of that financial investment that you’ve put into it. You’ve hopefully been able to convert those people into paying clients, which is always great, but you don’t have something that is really compounding and generating value upon itself over time. And what we see as a big benefit of developing this structure where you have this underlying asset, is that you start to develop this cost efficiency when it comes to the cost per lead or cost per acquisition that you are paying to acquire clients for your law firm.

Number one thing that I hear when I’m talking to prospects is that they rely on referrals right now, and they’re looking for other ways to bring in the business that is ultimately going to lead them to their financial goals. And that’s where we come in, right? Because we have the ability to help you connect with people who don’t know you. They’re not friends, they’re not family, and yet they are out there looking for the exact service that you provide, but they have no idea who you are. We help foster that connection through SEO and ads, right?

SEO, though, has a unique advantage. By building content and developing your website so that it’s a big digital billboard that’s growing month over month and year over year, you are giving yourself much, many more opportunities to connect with those people who are looking for your services. And as you do that, your opportunities go up, the number of leads go up, and ultimately your cost per lead is typically going to go down. Your investment in SEO may marginally increase over time, but generally speaking, you’re not going to see big market based or wild fluctuations like you might in the advertising space. And so what we see happens is that as someone is making an investment in SEO, their costs stay relatively the same.

So it may be $1,000 that you’re putting in, and that entire spend over a year is going to be $12,000. You might start by getting zero leads per month, and then the next month five, and then ten, and it just keeps doubling every single month or something like that. And so that by the end of that, your cost per lead has gone down from $1,000 per lead to maybe $50 per lead, or $100 per lead, usually even lower. And especially as you get to that 6912 month and beyond timeline, your cost per lead is going to consistently go down. Because if you’re doing it right, and that’s a big caveat, right, if you have a good SEO company or you’re doing it yourself, doing it in a good way that’s leading to those month over month results, then your cost per lead will ultimately go down.

With advertising, your cost per lead is always relatively going to stay the same, or it’s going to go up.

By advertising for a year, you get no extra credit. You get no price break on volume or anything like that. Your pricing is dictated by how many other people are in your market and are looking to get access to the exact same type of leads that you are for your business. And so in our experience, what we’ve seen over the seven years that we’ve been in business is that the rate for clicks on Google’s pay per click engine have considerably increased over the time. And it’s not been necessarily a proportional increase from year to year.

It’s not like a small percentage. It’s gone in these really big, wild upward swings. I remember when we started doing pay per click advertising for personal injury attorneys, the cost per click was somewhere between $25 and $50, and compared that to criminal or bankruptcy or anything else. And those might be a couple of dollars or $5, something like that. And at the time, we just couldn’t believe that it was the price difference.

And for $50, for one single click, with no guarantee that that person is going to become a client, just seemed astronomical. And after about a year, the price then went up to 100 per click. And we’re now at the stage and we’ve seen this, I think, increase even more due to COVID and some other factors related around that. But I actually looked at this this morning, and a single click for an auto accident keyword is over $500 now in markets like Tampa, so it’s gone up considerably. And the amount or cost associated with SEO services has not had that steep level of increase over time.

There’s also more barriers of entry to it which prevents people from entering it or doing it in a way that can cut into your market share. So you have something of a moat if you do your SEO the right way. The final point I’ll mention here on why we love SEO and why we’re focused on it today and in a lot of our podcasts is that the scalability aspect of it and so clients come from a variety of searches. We think about it as a funnel. And so at the very start with the bottom of the funnel is going to be someone searching for a term like personal injury lawyer near me, auto accident lawyer in Atlanta or Chicago or what have you.

So at that point in time, the person’s kind of made the decision. They want to speak with the lawyer, or at least they’re very intrigued by the notion. At the top end of the funnel, you’re going to have more educational keywords or informational keywords rather than actionable ones. And so that’s going to be stuff like, what are the penalties for a crime in Chicago? Or what is the cost for hiring an attorney in my location?

So those are things that are kind of leading towards the high intent question, but they’re not quite there yet. And SEO allows you to create content on your website that is going to cast that wide, wide net for people of all different types of intent. We would not want to do that with our advertising campaigns because it can get extremely expensive and we don’t want to focus your money on low intent keywords that could maybe eventually turn into a sale. They do happen, and that’s why we target them with SEO content. But we would not want to do that with advertising because you will go broke from trying to connect with all of these different far reaching types of queries that relate to the service that you provide.

Why SEO is perceived as slow

So a big question that we get often is why is SEO so slow? This is a common concern and worry that we talk about upfront with potential clients as they come in. Because what is a common scenario that I get into is that we’re talking with somebody who’s interested in our services and they’ve had a bad experience with an SEO provider. They understand the kind of underlying value of it, but they worked with someone who promised a lot and they put in their hard earned money. Three, six, nine months.

I’ve seen even two years later, they just haven’t gotten any tangible revenue producing results. They’re getting these charts thrown at them that don’t really mean a lot to them. Lots of big numbers and graphs and stuff like that. But they really don’t have any money in the bank that they can directly attribute to the SEO work. And the question is, why is it so slow?

Or am I being taken advantage of? Is this all a hoax? And the reality is that SEO does work, right? We know it works. Thousands and thousands of law firms employ this to great effect.

But it can be slow, right? And that’s really what the whole point of this podcast is today, is how do we get past that? Or how do we get as much value as possible when it is slow? And the reason why it’s slow is because you have to kind of go back and think about what Google’s basic purpose is, which is to help people get the answers to the questions that they’re looking for, get information. And the way Google evaluates who they want to put in their results largely depends on whether or not you are an authority on that topic.

They have found and figured out that the best way they can service their clients searchers is to give them answers as quickly as humanly possible. And that’s why they came rose to the top over Yahoo. Bing and other folks, is that they have a better mousetrap, they have a better way to get people the information that they need. And so they are looking to reward people who are authorities who talk comprehensively about topics and they can point to with some level of reliability, that this person is an authority on this topic. And thus we feel good about placing their material up as the top result in this search result.

And so that is really kind of the core idea that we are employing when we build our client websites and what we’re trying to do to make them stand out as comprehensive topical authorities about the practice areas that they practice. And so to get to that point, it is a process. And so let’s talk about how to get the best results in really the two different scenarios that we see and we come across and work on, which are, number one, you’ve got a brand new website, so you’ve maybe split from another firm and you’re starting from scratch. You need to build a website. And so that’s one case.

Then we have the other case, which is you have an existing website, but you’re coming to us because the last SEO firm was garbage. Or you’ve done a little bit of SEO work by yourself, but you don’t have enough time to work on it anymore, whatever, you don’t want to do it anymore, and you want to hire somebody who really specializes in this type of work. So let’s talk about how to get the best results with the existing website scenario first. So briefly, what should you consider as good SEO results? And our favorite phrasing in the SEO world is it depends because it’s really a little bit like you’re trying to harness lightning.

There’s elements and things that you can control.

You get good by testing and spending a ton of time trying to understand how Google operates and all of this stuff. But ultimately there are no guarantees that we can get somebody on the first page, or we can really grow their presence, know it’s not there. We win way more often than not and get people into those positions way more often than not. But if someone tells you that they have a guaranteed way to get you on the first page of Google run because they’re completely full of it, because it’s ultimately a third party system and we are beholden to their frameworks and the way they like to prioritize websites. So when we’re talking about goals with an existing website, if you have some level of traffic and it can be small, but you over five years, even two years or three years, if you have added material to your website like you’ve written about your practice pages, maybe you’ve done some blogs, you have a footprint on Google.

And if you do and you have some level of visibility for the types of keywords that you’re looking for, like auto accident lawyer near me or something like that. But maybe you’re on the third or fourth or fifth page, you are in a much better position than someone who is starting completely brand new. And if you do have some of those underlying assets, then we can typically get you first page keywords within about 60 days. Now again, this depends because I’m making a broad generalization, a lot of different things go into this like the practice area, how competitive is it, the city, how competitive is it, do you have any links? There’s all of these factors that go into it.

But let’s just say we like to show concrete results in under 90 days. And we have seen in a number of scenarios where if we pick up a website and you have a competitive keyword but you’re on the second page of Google, we’ve got lots and lots of results where we’ve been able to push that keyword onto the first page within 30 days. So if you have something that is if you have a page where you’re on the 10th page of Google results, then you’re looking closer to that like 60 90 day time frame. Again, I’m speaking in broad generalities, but you get kind of the idea here that if you already have some type of footprint, it’s much faster to elevate yourself in those rankings. And so our plan for an existing website is going to be all about optimizing what you already have, the existing presence, and then starting to fill in the holes to create that really extensive topical map coverage and allow you to be visible for all of these different components that match up with your practice area and your service area.

The magic combination for visibility and ranking

So a few steps for this. The first we’re going to analyze your website and then build a large prioritized keyword list that’s going know basically map out all of the different components that go into the practice areas that you are servicing in the types of cases that you want. So if you were just a DUI lawyer, we are then going to look at the DUI specific keywords in your area. That would be the most highest level priority because it’s going to also have the most user intent. But then we’re going to go and cover kind of everything else that’s related to DUI.

So we’re going to talk about DUI laws in your state maybe there’s specific ordinances in your county or city. What are maybe the DUI alternative sentencing options? We’re going to talk about the breathalyze, just everything that you can possibly think of and we then are going to look at what you already have. Maybe you already have a page or two or however many about certain aspects or certain topics within that. And we would then most likely take those and expand upon them, improve them, optimize them.

And then for any of those topics that you don’t have. That’s where we would build new content when we are trying to show value and trying to give you the best possible outcome as soon as possible. Those typically come from optimizing existing assets because if we can kind of jump onto a page that’s already ranking at some level, it’s much easier than to get that page onto the first page or much faster than if you are building that from scratch. Because when you build something from scratch, you are new to Google. So even if you have other pages on the website and you’ve had the website for ten years, but you’ve never written a page about auto accidents and that’s your main thing.

You need to first write the page. It then needs to get crawled by Google, then it needs to get indexed and placed within the search results and then they need to figure out ultimately how they want to grade your material. And that is not always well, it’s hardly ever a straight shot up to the first page because you are competing with other people who’ve had their pages out there for years. They’ve gone through multiple iterations and they’ve improved them and so on and so on. So it does take time and it just depends on how much work you’ve already put in.

And in some cases what we might also do is cut, combine and relaunch some pages. So long time ago when really I first started with this, the understanding or the thought process was we need to build as many pages as possible and we need to give every single micro topic its own page. And what ended up happening was people would build websites with 20 different practice area pages. So it would be like auto accident, bike accident, truck accident, car accident, so it would go even further down into these specific practice areas and create something so specific. But the problem that most people had with this approach was that the amount of content was very thin.

So there wasn’t really a lot of material about each one of those individual things. And so at first just by putting up a page you were able to get traffic, you were able to get positions, just as a byproduct of you having an optimized page with the right title and you said the right thing, said the right keyword a couple of times. But as time went on it became more difficult because more material on the Internet came to be other attorneys who maybe are not focused on pi in general, but only focus on auto accidents. They started to write longer material for those individual little parts, right? Or they wrote a page that covered both auto and truck together and have it combined with automobile accents or longer type pages that covered more topics at once.

So then you had kind of version or period two of law firm SEO where you would get some value by creating these longer long form pages. And one that I can think of where we had a ton of success was creating a single page that talked about all of the different felony levels in specific states. And so instead of breaking those out into individual felonies and individual pages, we had one kind of massive page. And that page got like enormous traffic and did really well. Now we’re kind of seeing it shift back the other way, where Google is really looking for people who are experts on those kind of micro topics.

And so now we’re seeing lots more coverage over a broader scope of topics, but on more defined topics, we’re not as many combined. And that’s what’s kind of leading the popular content or the content that’s working right now, but what you might have to do. What we do often with websites that come in, we look and really map out what assets you currently have. And then if we figure out that you’ve covered a topic three times and you’ve basically said the same thing across all of those three different blogs, but maybe you did it over a couple of years, we might cut. Combine and then relaunch that page by making it more beef it up right, and add more material that makes it ultimately a better one single better resource than three.

So so resources. And then the final part of this, with any website, specifically with these existing websites that we’re really optimizing, we want to then execute on our plan. So we’ve done some of the initial optimization, we’ve done our keyword research, all that stuff. And now we just need to go month over month improving the website and by establishing that new baseline every single month and showing Google that we are active, valuable contributors on a monthly basis by adding new content, improving our old content as the market changes, and you have to build better resources. We’re doing link building, we’re doing technical SEO so that the website loads faster, it’s meeting all of Google’s changing technological requirements.

All of that then works together to show Google we are a valued contributor. That’s the secret sauce that then elevates you into higher positions in the search results.

Okay, so let’s move on to the second scenario, which is if you have a brand new website, and this one is easily the tougher of the two, there can be some advantage here in terms of when you are building a new website. You do have that fresh slate, right? Like you, you do have that clean slate. And so it can be challenging from our perspective to go through a website that’s had a long history of SEO work, because we’re kind of going into like a library and trying to go through and slice and dice and cut, combine, and really get to the most beneficial parts of what’s already been created. Because we’re coming in with the understanding that at some level their past SEO efforts have not worked.

And so we’re not going to just go and use the status quo. We’re going to go in and really make some big changes, right? And it can be complicated trying to go through hundreds or sometimes thousands of pages to figure out what actually is valuable, what we want to combine, do we want to make a new page, do we better off combining, all that stuff goes in. So it can be really confusing and challenging, but you get that benefit of having that history, that footprint on Google that you are not a brand new entity, which you do have if you create a brand new website. And so we talked about the goals for an existing website.

The goals for a brand new website are going to be on a much longer time frame. And same issues we have with creating results for existing website are here. I would characterize in the same way that it takes time to make that stuff happen in either scenario. But our goal with a brand new website is going to be getting you first page keywords within about 90 days, 90 days to six months for some of the more competitive ones. Now, again, it’s a spectrum.

And if you are one of only a few attorneys in your area that practice family law or something like that, then it’s an easier path, right? There’s just not as much competition. So by kind of doing the bare minimum, creating a page that’s relatively optimized, you’re going to get shot up to the top, or close to the top. If you’re in a really competitive market, it’s going to take a lot longer and it’s going to take, iterative changes, improvements over time. You’re going to have to go through a lot to get there.

And so if you’re starting brand new in a competitive market, you’re looking at results between six and twelve months. Now along the way you will be able to see measurable changes and the way we report internally and to our clients. We’re talking about kind of a three stage report process where at the top we’re looking for keyword positions. So typically 1st, 2nd page keyword positions, then that drops down to traffic from exclusively organic traffic from SEO. And then finally that’s going to hit leads and ultimately conversions for revenue, right?

So we try to be as transparent as possible. And this is a big problem that a lot of marketing agencies have is that they don’t do a good job of showing the narrative, right, and showing how that happens. And so we want to show you that progression of being able to get you first page keywords within 60 days, 90 days, and then at about that six month we want actual leads coming in, we want people communicating with you, talking with you. And then kind of as we go towards a full year, that’s really when those last three month period, the nine to twelve month is really when the momentum starts to build and you start to get a lot of that compounding value because at that point you’ve ideally built thousands of words on your website. It’s being indexed, you’re adding new pages.

You’ve started to make that case that you are an authority. And once you get to that nine to twelve month period is really when things start to take off. And that’s typically when you make a lot of your money back, right? And then as you get into anything twelve months and beyond, it really turns into an extremely profitable scenario, right? So there is time involved with that and that’s really the biggest problem that most folks have with it.

So if you can kind of keep that discipline and know that it’s going to take about that time to really start making good money with it, then I think you can stomach it a little bit easier. So some of the tactical things that we would do for a brand new website is the overarching goal here. The plan is to establish an expansive footprint as fast as humanly possible. And so the footprint is really going to be two things. It’s going to be content on the website so that when Google’s bots crawl your website, they know what it’s about, they know all the topics you’re covering and then you want to be found other places on the internet that recognize you and point back to your website.

And so that is a way of describing links or citations. Citations and links are, I’m going to say essentially the same. They serve the same purpose. A link is going to be anytime that someone from another website adds a little piece of code where you can click and then that takes them back to your website. A citation is basically that, but then you’re going to add information about your business with it.

So that’s more of like a directory. You’re probably familiar with Google business profile which is a form of a citation. Apple has them on their Maps engine. You also have Yelp and Yellow Pages and all sorts of other things that are aggregating and combining this business data and then pointing back to where you’re located. And so the more of that that you have lets Google know that you are a person of authority or business of authority because you are featured on all of these locations that they use to understand.

Relationships between people, businesses and everything else on the internet. So it’s really those two core things that are going to drive an SEO campaign and help you get that level of authority and visibility on Google. So just like with an existing website, the first thing we’re going to do is build a large prioritized keyword list. And so again, we are going to look at what are the most high value possible searches for you, which are going to be high intent. They’re going to focus on exactly the type of cases that you want to bring in, and then we’re going to go kind of down the list or rather up the funnel to stuff that’s going to be lower intent, but still very topically connected to your goal or your core practice area that you’re trying to show up for.

So instead of being able to optimize existing pages, in this case, we’re actually going to build a large list of pages on your website. And some of the first things that you actually need to create are going to be what I call the essential website pages, which are not necessarily keyword related, but you need to build your website and fill out what you’re all about, right? You are starting off with zero presence and so having things like a contact page, having a well developed about page that talks about your history as an attorney, where you went to law school, link to your law school, your social media pages, all of that stuff. You can talk about your approach to law as opposed to other attorneys. You then also want to get into the more keyword specific type of pages, which could be practice area pages, talking about the specific things that you cover, the services that you offer, also your homepage, which is going to be your biggest opportunity to tell Google what you are all about.

And so that’s where you want to do a really good job of explaining in a nutshell what you are all about, what is the website all about, what are you trying to tell Google that you are an authority on and really where they should fit you into the existing search results that are out there. So once you’ve done that, you’ve got your prioritized keyword list, you’ve got your essential pages being created, you then want to really expand on that and write as much topic specific content as possible. And so this is where you can draw that separation between you and other attorneys out there. Because as attorneys, you are all gifted writers, you do writing. And so most attorneys like to, especially when they’re just getting started, want to write and contribute to their websites.

And so the bar is actually reasonably high for a new law firm website because there’s so many other people out there who know about law, can write easily and pop it up on their website. So you need to kind of go above and beyond that and develop your website in a way where if Google is looking at two attorneys in the same market, they do the same thing. Which one should we prioritize in the search results? They’re going to look at your content, how comprehensively you have talked about all of the different components that they associate with your topic. They’re going to look at your citations, your links, and they have their own thing called a knowledge graph, which is going to basically organize all of the concepts and information that would go into the topic that you’re looking at.

So when somebody searches Criminal Lawyer Minneapolis, they’re going to have a knowledge graph associated with that, and it’s going to touch on all of the different things that they believe are part of that topic, right? And that’s going to look different than someone searching Criminal Lawyer Salary Minneapolis. So your goal is to get into as much detail and cover as much territory as you can within that scope of what is considered information relevant to that particular search query. And as you do that, you want to, month over month, continue an aggressive content development approach where you can really write down a list of 100 articles or 100 different topics and then just go through them and start to work through them on a monthly basis, adding more and more information across the board. And then as you’re doing that, you’re also looking to add in a consistent manner, citations, links to other websites.

All of that is going to work hand in hand to give you that visibility on other websites. It’s going to understand your website better, and that’s really the magic combination that goes and can take you to the top. So that’s going to be it for today. The final points I have is that if you don’t have a footprint, you don’t really have a website. You’re just starting out, that’s okay, right?

And you just need to go on and look at sites like Wikipedia. There’s lots of low cost SEO tools that you can kind of play around with and get some information with, even if you’re not an expert. But also you just know about your topic area, right? And so don’t even think about it from the SEO perspective. If you’re just starting out, just focus on covering your practice area comprehensively, right?

Take some time, jot down all of the things that are associated with your practice area and figure out whether or not those are separate topics or they should be combined, right? And for all of those separate topics, write a page on your website and do that over and over. And then over time, continue to improve what you have. Add to it, add links, add references, things like that, and you’ll be all right.

Benefits of working with a reputable SEO company

If you’ve got an existing website and you’ve already kind of gone down this path, then I would highly recommend talking with a reputable SEO company who can really get in there and do some of that tactical strategy and improvement that is going to help get you elevated.

Because just like I would never in a million years want to represent myself in court, you should not represent yourself on the Internet. And it is a dedicated profession with a skill set with a ton of education and research that goes into it. And so there’s nothing wrong with being an active contributor in your marketing learning about SEO, and I think I highly encourage it. But there’s also a difference between having an ability to generate results in very competitive markets and do it consistently. And that’s really what you’re going to gain by working with a reputable SEO company who can come in there and apply what they’re doing effectively and consistently across other law firms and apply it to what you have.

So thanks so much for your time. I hope this was useful and beneficial. Get out there and make some changes and work to improve your your site, because the challenge is getting consistently harder and harder to rank law firm websites. So you don’t want to lose out on this great opportunity that continues to be available for law firms. So that’s it.

 

 

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