Core Components of a Winning Strategy

Jan 12, 2022

Patrick Carver

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

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We’re pumped for this episode of the Optimized Law Firm because it could literally save you thousands of dollars.

We often speak with attorneys who have attempted to learn SEO themselves.

They’ll absorb one or two tactics but miss the bigger picture. This leads to unrealistic goals, poor results, and losing money on bad marketing companies.

In this episode, we’ll cover the most important components of an SEO strategy that will actually get you results – and prevent you from falling into those pitfalls.

Have a listen as we go deep on the strategies you need to get ahead of the competition.

 

What’s in This Episode?

 

  • What does it take to be successful with an attorney SEO strategy?
  • How do you know if an SEO strategy or campaign is working?
  • What is the one metric to focus on above all else?

 

Episode 7

 

Today we’re going to talk about the core components of a winning SEO strategy for law firms. And this may not be what you’re thinking. When you talk about SEO strategy, people tend to think about things like link building, on-page, off-page speed optimization, good keyword research, all that stuff.

And yes…all of that stuff is really important, and it’s what we really focus on from an agency perspective. A lot of the work that we do and I do with our team is helping with the strategies, see what’s going on, testing, learning about them, and so we have a really good base of knowledge with those individual tactics.

But we’re going to change that a little bit in this episode, because really the goal of this is to educate law firms and educate you as the attorney, so that you know enough about the practice of search engine optimization, you know enough about what it takes to be successful. What are the right metrics? What you should be looking at… And how you can evaluate this type of marketing campaign.

Because ultimately you are probably not going to be doing a lot of the search engine optimization work yourself. So what we’re trying to do is educate you as the consumer, so that you can be in better shape to evaluate people like us and just generally have more literacy about the topic of SEO.

Because not only are you gonna get a number of benefits in terms of cost savings and making sure that you have a good SEO team on your side, but also, you are on the ground working with your actual clients, you obviously went to law school, and so you have a ton of valuable knowledge that can be incorporated with someone like myself to work together and take that over to the website side, so knowing what you’re going after, knowing what you’re looking for can really make a big world of difference.

So let’s get into it and talk about some of these core components.

Really what we’re gonna talk about today is the mentality or the thought process that you need to use when we’re evaluating an SEO campaign and how you wanna set one of those up, we’re not really gonna get into a specific strategy… For the most part, we’re just gonna really talk about what metrics you need to be paying attention to, because if you can truly understand those, then the tactics really don’t matter as much, it’s really putting you in the position of looking at your SEO provider from a results-based mentality.

So you don’t need to get involved with, “Is it better to do a certain linking style or should we do content this way, that way?” It’s really all about results. You, being a busy attorney who is running a business, probably don’t have time to go become an expert at all of the nuance of these individual strategies.

There are a couple of huge benefits from getting this right.

The first and the biggest one I think is going to be saving money. Okay, so one of the core benefits of understanding the right metrics and what you should be looking at for evaluating a winning SEO strategy is gonna be the ability to save thousands of dollars from being spent on bad SEO companies, bad ideas, and just generally bad strategies that are commonly getting pitched to attorneys, and we know how often attorneys get pitched with marketing ideas and emails that are talking about, “Hey, you haven’t followed up on the latest update,” or, “We saw this thing on your website, it’s critical, you need to take care of it now.”

And those (if you don’t know what you’re looking at) can be really scary and you can take that information and think that you’re doing something really, really bad. When in reality, it’s someone who’s just taking one tiny part of the whole big equation and using it as kind of a scare tactic. So one of the big benefits here is that if you have a baseline amount of knowledge around what metrics to be looking at, what should be going up and down, then you’re able to sift through the good and the bad providers, and you’ll be able to speak in an educated manner about the results… What do the results look like?

And from that, you’ll be able to figure out who are the pretenders and who are the actual quality companies who have results, who have integrity, and who are able to produce good results for their clients. So the other part of this is that if you have an existing law firm SEO company or an SEO company in general, you can use this to hold it accountable.

I think there’s a misrepresentation or there’s a stigma out there around marketing companies in general, and a lot of it is absolutely warranted. We often hear about or have clients come over from other marketing providers, and we know that there are bad actors in the space, there are people who really don’t do that much, they charge a big fee, and ultimately they’re just kind of banking on the fact that their clients don’t really understand what they’re doing, they just know that it’s important and they should be doing it.

There are folks out there that like that, there are other companies and a lot of really good companies who do excellent work, there are competitors of ours that do absolutely fantastic work, and we’re happy to talk about them because ultimately we feel like the big challenge or the bigger issue in the legal marketing space are going to be bad companies who take your money and don’t really do any real work.

Or some of the big, what I call the institutional marketing players out there, who are skating by on their name and don’t really do much in the way of individualized, effective search engine optimization work, they’re doing a baseline amount and really, again, going into that same category of the folks who are just kind of preying on the fact that you’re not an expert with SEO.

So going through this, I explain the right metrics that can help you look at what your SEO company is currently doing and figure out if it’s a good fit, if you need to move on, or actually if they’re doing pretty good work.

Finally, you can win more positions, you can do better… More often, if you have a baseline level of knowledge. And here’s how this might work, whenever we get a client, we’re going out and looking for all of the different search terms that are out there and being searched by consumers that match up with your specific practice areas. Now, we have our level of knowledge and we’re pretty good at doing research, we spend a lot of time looking at it. We’re only working with law firms, and so we have a certain amount of knowledge associated with it, but that doesn’t mean we are lawyers.

We don’t know as much as you, so if you can get fluent in search engine metrics and understand the basis of this, you can provide some really valuable ideas about what people might be searching for: topics and subjects that are happening in your world that people may be out there searching, you can communicate that with the SEO team who may not, may not be able to find that on their own and it together you can build these assets, they’re gonna bring people in and ultimately provide you with more cases, more revenue.

So this is a famous quote that I always hear when I talk to current clients, usually it’s potential clients coming on. They’ll say, “I know enough to be dangerous.” And they’re talking about SEO, and they wanna show off a little bit.

Sometimes they feel like they know, because they’ve done a little bit of research on SEO, and typically they will have absorbed one, two strategies or one or two big things, known pieces of SEO. But they’re really kind of missing the bigger picture, so they’ll say something like, “Well, I know you have to do the right keywords, and I know you’ve gotta get the links right,” and stuff like that.

Yeah, that there is some truth into that, but ultimately that’s not really… Search, that’s a part of it, for sure. But what you need to focus on is not so much whether it’s learning about keyword densities or links and stuff like that, you need to focus on what matters for your business, and those are just a few metrics that we look at, but really we can sum this up in one simple metric, and that’s conversion: the number of people that are coming on and becoming clients for you is the one metric that counts above and beyond all the others.

And so if your company is sending you SEO metrics that are what we call “vanity metrics” or “fluff metrics,” things like the number of impressions, number of page views, things like that – but there’s no kind of linear path down to the number of people who actually try to get in touch with you about procuring your services – Then you should be concerned because these people are only looking at these very surface-level metrics that don’t have any consequence to your bottom line.

What we focus on as an alternative are really these three main areas, and again, we have conversions at the bottom and if you listened just a second ago, I say, “Well, conversions are the only thing that matters,” and that’s generally true.

But with SEO, it’s a process, it takes time. And so we look at these other metrics like first page rankings, organic traffic (that is traffic coming from Google), and then conversions, because they’re all good indicators of those bottom-line numbers. So the logic here is that to get conversions at the bottom of your funnel, we need to first do these other things, and so you can kind of predict future success based on the number of first-page ranking. Do you have the number that you’ve got to have to get the amount of organic traffic? And so you are going to want to track those things, because those are gonna be the signs of progress.

Now, you may not get 10 conversions overnight, but if you can start to see that you started with absolutely no keywords and now you are starting to get 500 or 100, and a couple of those are on the first page, you’re starting to get a trickle of organic traffic and it just keeps growing every month, that’s a great sign of progress, right.

And that’s what we’re tracking on a monthly basis to make sure that the work we’re doing, the individual strategies, are working, and there is going to be a payoff for ir. This is this kind of logical approach where we can see it for month-to-month growing on a consistent basis is one of the main reasons why we love SEO and why it’s such a great tactic for law firms is because you can see this linear progression month after month, and there is some fluctuation and things certainly do happen that make… The trend line goes up and down, but for the most part, if you are doing some of these basic things that we’re talking about in this course, you are going to see this grow on a consistent basis.

So let’s look at what this actually looks like in real-time. And so we have pulled out some examples from a client, and we use a tool called Ahrefs, and this is the data that you’re seeing, and so this first part, the organic keywords, is going to be this top part of the funnel, this first page rankings inside here, and the big cliff or the big growth at the top, and this pale orange color is gonna be total keywords. So those are all of the different keywords that this website is showing up for online, so I believe in this case, it’s a family lawyer, so it’s gonna be a “family lawyer in city,” it’s going to be “divorce laws in state,” it’s going to be all of these different keywords that we’ve built content for on the website that are now showing up on Google search. That could also include your name, it can include your firm name, it can include a lot of things.

And so what we’re really looking at is within the keyword spectrum, so we have this big umbrella of keywords. How many of those are actually on the first page? Because we know that the overwhelming percentage of people out there are not gonna go past the first three or five results and definitely not past the first page in order to find an answer to their query.

So what you see here is in this darker orange portion, these are the actual first page positions, so we have one through three, these are obviously one through three, and then four or 10 to complete it, and so down here, we’re looking at hundreds and hundreds of first page keywords, and that’s a really good bell-weather because if we’re getting all of this placement, we’re showing up in Google and especially in those first few positions at a very consistent presence and a consistent rate, then this is going to influence the amount of organic traffic that we’re getting…

When we talk about organic traffic, we’re talking about traffic, people who are coming off of Google or Bing or Yahoo, and on your website. Overall traffic is going to be traffic from any source, that could be people coming from your Facebook page, it could be people just typing in your website because they know you, it could be finding you from another website, those are all either referral, direct, other sources of traffic, and so we really focus on organic traffic because this is the specific source that we’re trying to optimize and we’re trying to grow.

Going back to the discussion around what metrics you should look for… If your existing company is sending you overall traffic and these broad metrics, then you may be worried, because we only want to take credit for the things that we’re producing.

We are only focused on organic traffic because ultimately if you get more direct traffic because let’s say you got a billboard or maybe you did a magazine ad, something like that, we shouldn’t be taking credit for that. And so within this whole thing, we’re only tracking the things that we can control.

And so we’re consistently adding content, we’re building links on the website, we’re optimizing those pages on a monthly basis, that practice of search engine optimization is what is growing this number, and so every month we’re adding new content and basically we’re increasing the size of the digital billboard so we’re talking about divorce one month, but then the next month, maybe we’re talking about child custody, each of those additions is going to expand that scope. Over time, your overall numbers continue to grow and then you see this really great compounding effect after you’ve done this work because you’re gonna keep a lot of those positions, and so every new month you’re adding more and more traffic, more and more people are finding you.

The best part is your website is on 24/7, so as people are out there searching, you are showing up you’re getting that traffic and don’t have to do anything to maintain it, you don’t have to pay for every single one of those clicks, so it’s a really tremendous way to help grow your business.

Finally, I want to get really specific on what is a conversion. If you recall, what we’ve been talking about is really the end product this whole time, right, so we want to grow visibility by increasing keywords and first page positions in general, which leads to organic traffic that leads to ultimately conversions and cases. I’ll show you what exactly that looks like here in a second, but… What is a conversion?

Right, so we know rankings and traffic are essential, but again, the ultimate goals, conversions, and so we measure the success of our law firm clients by how many conversions they get, and so again… What is a conversion, right? If you go to a website and you click on an item, and I’ll show you an example here, this is our website, and if you come to it, you’re going to see a button that says, “Hey, would you like to have a call with us?”

And so we’ve got this scheduling tool here, and once you go through this, select a time, put your info in here and then submit it, it’s going to create an event that is then signal to Google Analytics, that tells our reporting that, “Hey, we got a lead!” because we have identified this action right here, someone signing up for a calendar appointment as a lead. And that’s a conversion. We use the terms interchangeably, a conversion or a lead or an inquiry, but we’re talking about actual people who have taken a step to try to get in touch with you.

Some of the other ones that we commonly use are just a regular form, so someone puts in their information as a request for a callback or request some information, the other things that we also do are Click-To-Call and click-to-email, and so these are often present typically on when someone’s looking at your website from a mobile device, so as you’re going down the page, you might see a button that says something like “Call now,” and you click the button, that is gonna get captured by our tracking software. It’s gonna get sent to Google Analytics and that is gonna get registered as a lead.

We use two tools to make that happen, Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, so we are tracking all of the traffic where it came from, and we can actually then track that all the way down to where the leads came from. So what you’re looking at here is a list of all of the leads that have come to our site, all the conversions, and it’s gonna show you exactly where they came from, so we can, if this is all set up properly, you can see exactly where all of your leads come from. This is how we help our clients see the value in what we’re doing, because we know that this… Number three is Google cost per click, and so that means it came from Google ads, a couple of other conversions here came from these other websites, so somebody found us on another website and then they came to our website and ultimately it led to a conversion, they signed up for a call.

In this case, these two referees would get the credit. We’re only going to look at this organic side as a way of measuring our success because we don’t want to take credit for every single lead that comes in. You may be working with a different company that’s doing social media advertising, and we don’t wanna take credit for that, we also don’t wanna take credit for referrals, or let’s just say you meet somebody or a friend of a friend, you give them your card and they come back to your website and then come in as a lead, that would be this channel right here, direct or none.

And we don’t wanna take credit for that either, right, because that had nothing to do with search engine optimization. It is just you out there being a business owner talking yourself up and creating that interaction. Right, so when we’re looking at this, we really keep it isolated to just a couple of events, typically it’s gonna be the click-to-call, click-to-email, and form submission, and then this is what we’re reporting on every month we’re saying, “Hey, here is how all of your metrics, look.” And we start at the top, and this is the visualization of what we do, where we are up here at the top and increasing the number of total keywords, increasing the number of top 10 keywords on the first page, then that leads down into the number of organic users coming off of Google off of being of Yahoo, and then finally that materializes into site leads, so those are the bottom metric that we’re looking at and covering, and these right here almost exclusively from organic search.

We know just based on looking at thousands of leads coming into our client websites, that over 70% of leads are going to come from Google organic search. We do ads, we know clients who’ve done billboards, we see them do a lot of different tactics, but in almost every website that we work with, the vast majority of conversions are gonna come through organic search because you can put up a handful of pages, be found for hundreds of keywords, and those people are gonna come to your website. You’re creating this big digital billboard without doing a whole lot, right?

And when you’re talking about a billboard or an ad in a magazine, a lot of things have to go right for them to read it, go find you, come to the website, and then ultimately convert. You have the ability with search optimization, have hundreds and hundreds of pages out there all serving as these billboards that are helping bring people back, so when you’re looking at your metrics, it’s okay to see impressions and see clicks, things like that, but… Keep them in perspective, right?

When you’re thinking about what goes into a winning SEO strategy, well, it all starts with understanding these metrics and having a good clear understanding of what are the metrics that you as an SEO company are going to look to adjust or look to improve it.

We try to go above and beyond about discussing this with our clients at the beginning of the process and essentially telling them, “Hey, this is what you should be looking for, this is how you’re going to assess us.” And this really, for me, is the most important part for attorneys beyond any link building strategy, beyond anything else, because if you don’t have a mastery of these, then you are potentially going to lose thousands of dollars, you’re gonna be frustrated, you’re not gonna understand what your SEO company is doing.

And ultimately, if you don’t have a good at least a decent grasp on this, it’s gonna allow your competitors to rise above you and get out there in front of you when you’re still trying to figure out how you should be tracking it, what you should be looking at, are they doing a good job? Are they not?

So think about where you’re at with your current SEO provider or when you get into a discussion with your potential new one, think about these metrics… Figure out how they assess this, figure out what will work, so that you have a baseline level of knowledge from the beginning. Then you know exactly what to look at, and then you can hold them accountable.

Patrick Carver

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