How to NOT Rank your Law Firm on Google

Jun 5, 2024

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.

Main takeaways: 

  1. Focusing on unqualified leads can strain your resources and negatively impact your firm’s operations.
  2. Restrictive targeting in Google Ads and optimizing for high-intent keywords are crucial for attracting qualified leads.
  3. Regularly reviewing and updating your negative keywords list is essential to minimize unqualified leads.

🚀 Welcome to The Optimized Law Firm Podcast! 🚀

Join CEO Patrick Carver as he dives into the critical topic of How to NOT Rank Your Law Firm on Google. In this episode, Patrick shares actionable advice and insights to help you transform your lead generation strategy, ensuring you attract the right type of clients without wasting time and money.

Timestamps:

The Problem with Unqualified Leads
Timestamp: 00:00:05:16 – 00:03:22:04

Impact on Resources and Operations
Timestamp: 00:03:22:04 – 00:06:18:13

Root Causes of Poor Lead Quality
Timestamp: 00:06:18:13 – 00:07:15:14

Restrictive Targeting in Google Ads
Timestamp: 00:07:15:14 – 00:12:48:29

Challenges with SEO and Unqualified Leads
Timestamp: 00:12:48:29 – 00:18:05:13

De-optimization Strategies for SEO
Timestamp: 00:18:05:13 – 00:21:36:12

Transcription: 

00:00:05:16 – 00:00:30:05

Patrick Carver

Ever wonder why you’re attracting the wrong type of leads, Your inbox is cluttered with unqualified tire kickers. I know it’s super frustrating, especially if you’re spending a lot of money on a marketing company only to get those type of results because I bet you are actually pretty good at closing clients. But if you don’t have the right type of qualified leads, you’re simply not going to grow.

 

00:00:30:08 – 00:01:00:20

Patrick Carver

This is a common complaint we hear from a lot of our clients and a lot of prospects we talk with that their leads simply suck that if they can get in the room with a prospect that they will generally close them. But getting people into that pipeline is a major struggle that a lot of firms struggle with. The good news is that we have figured out some things that can be done to actually improve this with no extra marketing spend, and you can really do this in a short period of time within a couple of hours.

 

00:01:00:22 – 00:01:34:21

Patrick Carver

So if you are tired of dealing with people who are the tire kickers looking for free services, then I’m going to show you how to fix this in a couple of hours and get you better results without spending an extra dollar on marketing. So let’s get to it. You know that bad leads are unfortunate. You already know that bad leads suck.

 

00:01:34:22 – 00:02:07:09

Patrick Carver

I don’t have to tell you that that’s not anything new. And it’s probably a huge source of frustration for your practice as you try to grow, especially adding marketing when you’re paying thousands of dollars per month. And the marketing company says, Hey, everything looks good on our side. We’re sending you leads. But you know that if they are not qualified, if it’s not the right type of practice or matter that you do or they are only the tire kickers, they’re the folks that don’t really want to pay for legal services, then it really does no good.

 

00:02:07:12 – 00:02:52:13

Patrick Carver

Now you know that and kind of know on a basic level the frustration with that. But let’s talk about a couple of problems that are associated with bad leads and outline some of the ways that this has a negative impact on your business. The first part of this is that it’s a big strain on your resources. If you get to the point where you are actually getting some results from ads or SEO, you’re going to have this effect of, yes, you will get more qualified leads, but you’re also getting a lot of other leads that don’t really fit your criteria for a for a qualified lead.

 

00:02:52:13 – 00:03:22:04

Patrick Carver

And this has an impact on your operations as a business. This abundance of unqualified leads really puts a strain on your resources because now that you are getting, let’s say, 20 leads a week instead of ten, you really have to have somebody on your team, whether that’s you or a person on your staff, who’s going to go in and talk with those people, qualify them here, here with their issue is and then determine whether or not they are actually a good, good fit for you.

 

00:03:22:04 – 00:03:43:09

Patrick Carver

Right. And that can take up a lot of time, especially if you’re doing it as the as the attorney and then trying to also do all the legal work and everything else associated with your job. It also is really challenging if you are using somebody in your own office, like an assistant, to spend all their time qualifying these folks.

 

00:03:43:10 – 00:04:05:04

Patrick Carver

Following up with them, etc.. So long story short, this creates a big strain on your resources because ideally you want your time there, time focused on the people who you actually have a good shot at converting. You do not want to be spending your time in these long conversations with people who ultimately are really just kind of fishing for legal advice.

 

00:04:05:04 – 00:04:36:02

Patrick Carver

Or maybe they don’t know that their issue is not actually a criminal issue or it’s not actually they don’t really have a personal injury claim, something like that. But nonetheless, they believe that the criminal lawyer, the personal injury lawyer, is who they need to talk to in those situations. So it’s a big challenge, right, Because every 20 minutes, 15 minutes that you are in those conversations, you are it’s taking away from your ability to call the warmer leads and do more follow up for for those folks.

 

00:04:36:02 – 00:05:04:09

Patrick Carver

It also impacts other responsibilities that that person might have. So ultimately, it becomes this challenge where you’re kind of swimming in these leads, right? And you are struggling to keep up with everything. Ultimately, that leads to not having enough attention and energy to go after those higher value leads and follow up with those people hitting them. Two or three times to try and reinvigorate that relationship and get them across the finish line.

 

00:05:04:09 – 00:05:29:10

Patrick Carver

So we see this a lot. It also has a negative effect on customer service. So the more time you’re spending on these useless tasks, really you are spending less time talking with your clients. You are spending less time cultivating those, those higher quality leads. And ultimately you kind of settle into this situation where everybody’s about getting the same level of service.

 

00:05:29:12 – 00:05:54:12

Patrick Carver

That’s a big problem, right? Because your ability to really hone in on the most valuable use of your time then becomes super limited and it becomes this equitable situation where everybody’s kind of getting the same amount of attention, the same level of customer service, and ultimately things drop through the cracks where your qualified leads can, you know, you’re missing out, plain and simple.

 

00:05:54:15 – 00:06:18:13

Patrick Carver

So let’s talk a little bit about the root cause of this. There’s kind of different causes for this when it comes to the strategies that we focus on a lot with our business, because we see them convert the highest percentage. Typically whenever we are running a campaign for an attorney and even new folks when they come into us, even if they’re doing a lot of social media and other other stuff.

 

00:06:18:20 – 00:06:36:18

Patrick Carver

Typically about 70 to 80% of your qualified leads coming in are going to be from search engines or from ads. And so not to say there’s there’s not other avenues that you can make money with, but these are the ones that we focus on. So I’m going to focus on these as we talk about what is the root cause of this.

 

00:06:36:18 – 00:07:15:14

Patrick Carver

Right? Because it can be a little maddening. Right. And so we often hear from our clients and especially prospects that, hey, we’re just so frustrated with our old marketing company because we want the right type of leads, right? We want the qualified leads that that come in. And I’m going to be honest, you know, it’s I think there’s this perception among lawyers that we as the marketers have a special dial or special reserve in the back that we can really like select a button and say, Oh, we only want the people who make 100 a year and are willing to pay for your services, don’t have a problem with it and are going to be

 

00:07:15:14 – 00:07:39:02

Patrick Carver

good clients. Right? And of course we know that’s not not really the case. So that’s not to say that there are bad marketing companies out there and we feel like that’s where we have a competitive advantage over others is that we really try to get qualified leads. And because we know ultimately it’s not sustainable for us to be sending you leads who can’t pay for your services, right?

 

00:07:39:02 – 00:07:57:18

Patrick Carver

Because ultimately you’re going to come to a point where you’re like, Look, we can’t keep paying you for these qualified leads. So I know as a business owner, it’s my job to help get those qualified leads. So what what are the challenges, right, with those the root causes of why why this is happening? Okay, so let’s start with advertising.

 

00:07:57:18 – 00:08:15:13

Patrick Carver

The first thing and a really common thing we see with advertising campaigns that that come in, especially if you set them up personally or you had a friend do it who, you know, kind of moonlights as an advertising or they, you know, mostly do real estate, but it’s a friend and they decide to do law firms or whatever.

 

00:08:15:16 – 00:08:45:12

Patrick Carver

The problem there typically is that you are not using restrictive targeting. And so what we mean by that is when we set up a campaign inside Google ads or else say we are looking to restrict that that traffic as much as possible. So we create this narrow window of who’s actually eligible for clicks. The biggest thing we see is a problem in this world is that the people coming in, we don’t have those those parameters narrowly set.

 

00:08:45:19 – 00:09:13:05

Patrick Carver

We know that when people are getting on Google or being whatever, they are the most qualified people, the most high content type of folks are going to be those who are looking for criminal defense lawyer, criminal defense attorney, etc. The people who are not as qualified are going to be searching something like criminal penalties for drug possession in Idaho or anything that’s more educational oriented.

 

00:09:13:05 – 00:09:38:23

Patrick Carver

And so we want to draw that line between educational searches and high intent searches. So we set up our campaigns to be really heavily focused on the high intent. Right. And so we only want to pay for clicks that have those words that I just mentioned that are that are specifically high intent. Right. That somebody has already made that psychological jump to where, okay, I want and need a lawyer.

 

00:09:38:23 – 00:09:56:01

Patrick Carver

And so I’m specifically looking for them. A lot of people get that wrong. Right. And if you allow Google to kind of make those decisions for you, you’re probably peppered all the time with a Google rep who’s going to come in and then, you know, and it makes, you know, on face value, it makes sense that, oh, this person will be great, right?

 

00:09:56:01 – 00:10:18:04

Patrick Carver

Because they’re from Google. They’re going to know how the system works. That’s absolutely wrong. Right. And we know this because we tried it and had a lot of unsuccessful results. When we’ve done it and we see it with our clients, they are going to give you any possible click that includes something to do with criminal lawyer or whatever practice theory.

 

00:10:18:04 – 00:10:39:17

Patrick Carver

I’m just using this as an example, right? So you might be getting people searching for criminal lawyer salary, free criminal lawyers, pro-bono criminal lawyers. And to Google, that’s enough of a similar charity that that’s going to kind of allow to be in the flow of what’s eligible for clicking. So right off the bat, we cut out all of that stuff.

 

00:10:39:17 – 00:11:01:15

Patrick Carver

We cut out all of the pro-bono, affordable anything that goes along those lines. The other things we do are cut out things like other lawyer names in your area, because if someone’s searching for criminal lawyer Bob Johnson and that’s not you, then they kind of want to talk to you. They’re going after somebody very specific. And, you know, we’ve actually run campaigns and seen campaigns run that target.

 

00:11:01:15 – 00:11:23:02

Patrick Carver

Other lawyer names like that. You get cheap clicks, but they get confused and really, they’re not ever going to become good clients, at least in our experience. So we want to try and restrict that down as much as possible. We used it. We do that through negative keywords. Now for SEO, it’s a bit of a different challenge. So I like to say advertising is more like spearfishing.

 

00:11:23:02 – 00:11:47:27

Patrick Carver

You have a lot of control over it. You can you can figure out the exact targeting range from a geographical standpoint. You can do all those negative filters. So we are using a lot of inference to filter that traffic down. Now, people can still get through because we don’t have some sort of litmus test where we can say, Hey, you’re not an individual who is, you know, is is is going to be a tire kicker.

 

00:11:47:27 – 00:12:20:03

Patrick Carver

Right. We don’t know what their income is. We’re not we’re not able to do background checks or, you know, things like that with them. And so it’s not perfect. We do get poor leads. But if you do it right, the the ratio is much higher of qualified leads. With SEO, it’s a little bit different because when we are building out the the website, we’re introducing a lot of content, both educational and high content that tends to leads to, to a higher volume of leads, but it also brings in a number of poor leads.

 

00:12:20:03 – 00:12:48:29

Patrick Carver

And so this can be challenging as well because once you actually start to get search traffic, you’re going to kind of get a lot of leads and your percentage of of quote, bad leads is going to increase. And so once you get that, you are going to need to kind of focus on some solutions, which I’m going to talk about next on how to deal with this and how to do a couple of quick changes through your intake process, through, you know, how you’re targeting on the website to actually get this number down a little bit.

 

00:12:48:29 – 00:13:10:01

Patrick Carver

But just fair warning. I’m going to be completely honest. There’s a little bit of that challenge that’s always going to be baked in because if you want to rank for those high content, really valuable money keywords, you also have to rank for these others. And so the game then shifts to not not how okay, how can I get visibility is how can I have a better filtration system to bring those in.

 

00:13:10:01 – 00:13:42:14

Patrick Carver

So let’s get to some of the, you know, the solutions for for this problem. Let’s tackle Google ads first. And I already spoke about some of the solutions here. But the first one that is very easy to implement and you should be doing this on a weekly or monthly basis where you’re looking at the actual search terms report of what terms are being clicked on to trigger your ads.

 

00:13:42:17 – 00:14:03:24

Patrick Carver

And we want to set up a really comprehensive negatives list. So you’re going to put this in. It’s a list of basically all of the terms and and words that you want to use, that when anyone’s searching those words, you want to kick them out. So we want to immediately use in that negative list things like pro-bono, free, affordable, cheap things like that.

 

00:14:03:24 – 00:14:39:11

Patrick Carver

Right. Then you also have other lawyers in the market. Then you have other things that are the right words, but not really topical things like immigration and lawyer salaries, different things like that, how to be an immigration lawyer. And so you’re going through and then further filtering these educational type queries, and that’s all great. It’s going to cut out, you know, like 70% of the back clicks that you don’t want, but it is a kind of ongoing type of process.

 

00:14:39:11 – 00:14:59:23

Patrick Carver

And so there’s there’s a little report inside the Google ads dashboard that is is called search terms. And you can actually see what people search to trigger your ad. It’s kind of impossible to knock out every single negative right from the start. Something like 50% of searches on Google on a daily basis are completely new. They’ve never been searched before.

 

00:14:59:27 – 00:15:16:16

Patrick Carver

So you’re not going to completely stamp that out. The process we use for this is that on a weekly basis, we go through look at the search terms that have been added or that have been used to trigger your ads. And if we spot any that are new or different, we’re going to add that to the negatives list.

 

00:15:16:16 – 00:15:52:19

Patrick Carver

And so, yes, you do get some unqualified leads, but then you’re you know, you’re you’re further filtering that process. Right? And so you’re you’re setting yourself up to eliminate a lot of those leads moving forward. And so our approach with this is to continue to rinse and repeat that until we hit that sweet spot where after a couple of iterations of that, the quality of those leads starts to get really, really good because the instances of non-qualified search terms that we’re seeing goes down so substantially that it’s no longer a big issue.

 

00:15:52:19 – 00:16:08:18

Patrick Carver

Right? And so the vast majority of these of these leads coming through are actually pretty good quality. And so this is something you can take to your strategist or you can talk with if you’re running ads yourself, you can take and just, you know, have them run you through like, hey, what are we doing on the negative lists?

 

00:16:08:18 – 00:16:27:18

Patrick Carver

I can give you some other, you know, angles that you know that I’ve heard about. And it should be a pretty easy step to get into. And of course, we can do it for you as well. So don’t don’t feel shy as far as reaching out because we would we’d be happy to help with that, too, even if it’s just to take a look at your campaign.

 

00:16:27:18 – 00:16:44:06

Patrick Carver

No obligation. We can just audit it. It’ll take us about 10 minutes and, you know, we’re happy to just like, give that info back to you. And, you know, maybe we work together down the line. So with SEO, it’s a it’s more complicated. It’s, you know, why we even do SEO, right? Or why why not stick with that as well?

 

00:16:44:06 – 00:17:09:03

Patrick Carver

In the long run, SEO is going to be the most cost efficient channel for you to acquire clients. It’s really giving you the best foundation for a holistic, sustainable solution for lead generation comparison ads. You’re always going to pay a premium for that ad, whereas with SEO, your cost per acquisition starts to, you know, starts up here and then it’s going to keep going down over and over.

 

00:17:09:05 – 00:17:34:00

Patrick Carver

So the first thing to understand with SEO is that not all traffic is good traffic. So we’ve experienced this with a handful of clients where we’re doing a good job on SEO. We start to get all that traffic and sometimes it becomes too much where they’re getting so much traffic that it’s hard for them to sustain in terms of having an efficient intake pipeline or they want to keep their practices a certain size.

 

00:17:34:00 – 00:18:05:13

Patrick Carver

And so they, they do they just don’t want to deal with that many inquiries coming in. So in those situations where a an article we’ve written or a page that we’ve created somehow takes off for a certain keyword and, you know, this happens, it’s not by design, but if we’re creating a website, a comprehensive website about immigration law, we’re going to write pages about other aspects that are not specifically for immigration lawyer in your your city, right.

 

00:18:05:13 – 00:18:26:05

Patrick Carver

It might be about the USCIS or, you know some some organization or or court. Sometimes those take off because there’s kind of a soft spot in the in the search results. And then you become like the number one option on the Internet for people searching, you know what what should I wear to court or, you know, something funny, weird like that, right?

 

00:18:26:05 – 00:18:53:24

Patrick Carver

And then you were just like, inundated with all of these, you know, inquiries about, you know, shopping for court or, you know, something like that. Just an example, right? So we want to identify those, quote, bad keywords that you were kind of unintentionally ranking for and then start to make adjustments on those pages and some other strategies to basically reduce the importance or prevalence and visibility of those pages.

 

00:18:53:24 – 00:19:11:16

Patrick Carver

And so we call this process a de optimization, right? And so we want those pages often to stay on the website. Some folks will ask us like, Hey, we just want to eliminate these, you know, pages that are that are not, you know, not the good pages. Right. And not the good pages that are bringing in in the leads.

 

00:19:11:16 – 00:19:39:00

Patrick Carver

And, you know, if you want to be good at SEO, you want to have a good website, you can’t you have to have those pages because Google ultimately is looking at whether or not you’re an authority and you have a comprehensive amount of content on the topic. And so you can’t really just cherry pick like, Well, I’m going to just cut out these 20 pages that are about immigration and fill out the knowledge graph of what Google sees as important for an immigration lawyer to have on their website, because we just want the good pages, right?

 

00:19:39:06 – 00:20:08:18

Patrick Carver

It doesn’t really work like that. You need to have the educational stuff to to rank for the high intent stuff. So the core things that we do to fix this problem are we’re going to optimize the page. What we mean by that is we are, you know, the same things that we do to get a page higher in the search results by looking at specific frequencies of how many times we’re we’re using the keyword, we’re talking about different entities, different things that relate to it and kind of, you know, build this page that’s it’s built to rank.

 

00:20:08:23 – 00:20:29:01

Patrick Carver

We kind of want to deconstruct that and we want to reduce some of those keywords so we are not actively ranking for it. We’re still getting the credit of having a page about that topic, but we’re kind of like, you know, sneaky in a sneaky and sneaky way. But telling Google, Hey, we don’t really want to rank for this anymore and so we do not rank for it.

 

00:20:29:01 – 00:20:54:29

Patrick Carver

We want to kind of do the opposite of the things we do to rank, right? So that includes optimizing the page from a content perspective. Another thing we also like to do is reduce call actions. So on that page we might actually swap out the template of the page. So there are no call to actions, right? So what we mean by that are buttons or areas where a potential client can get in contact with you like a phone number, a click to call, email form, stuff like that.

 

00:20:55:05 – 00:21:21:04

Patrick Carver

We just take those completely off. The reason there is that, you know, we want to kind of like look at it, look at all of the angles of how someone would get to that page and then call you and remove that right. So that that’s how we’re trying to cut those bad leads out. It’s another good tactic because a lot of times people just get, you know, not frustrated, but like they’re going to impulsively click click the call button thinking, well, I don’t even want to read this whole page.

 

00:21:21:04 – 00:21:36:12

Patrick Carver

I just I’m going to call in and see if they’ll give me the answer. Right. Just kind of fishing for free legal advice or free legal information. That’s what we want to avoid, right? Some make it more difficult for them to do that because they they don’t really have any skin in the game. But for you and your team, that’s time.

 

00:21:36:12 – 00:22:00:02

Patrick Carver

That’s time you you or you’re taking away or tying up your phone lines for better, more qualified leads to come in. So take those call options out. Take those CTAs out. And it’s a great it’s a great way to lower the number of calls on those pages. The final point on this about how we optimize those pages is going to be adding a large disclaimer at the top, right?

 

00:22:00:04 – 00:22:26:03

Patrick Carver

So sometimes we will create pages that are about a practice area or about a type of law that fit in with the, you know, the overall knowledge graph. But maybe it’s not something that the client wants or they’re kind of phasing out that that practice area. It’s it can still be important to have that as a page on your website, but you don’t want those cases, right?

 

00:22:26:03 – 00:22:48:15

Patrick Carver

So how do you deal with that and what’s the tradeoff? Right? And so we often want to keep pages like that for the reasons I’ve mentioned. But another way that we can kind of dissuade people from reaching out to you is adding a big disclaimer on the top of the page. Right. And in there we can use big colors, big fonts, etc..

 

00:22:48:15 – 00:23:19:22

Patrick Carver

And so the first thing that people see when they hit the pages, hey, this page is about deportation. Write, deportation. Please note we do not actually service deportation cases. The page below is purely for informational sources. Something like that at the top really can kind of dissuade people from even reading further. Right. Because so much of a search is hopping to the result, seeing if that’s what they want and then hopping back to another result.

 

00:23:19:22 – 00:23:50:03

Patrick Carver

And so we actually want to kind of push people back into the search results and say, hey, this is not necessarily for you. Right. That also has a beneficial impact on your position search, because if people are going and not really getting the result they want from, you know, from a task completion perspective, Google’s less likely to then favor you for those results and give, you know, push up somebody else that has a better, more robust, you know, answer that people are actually sticking to and looking for.

 

00:23:50:03 – 00:24:09:06

Patrick Carver

So let’s talk about just you know, let’s wrap this up really quickly with a couple of the final points. So, you know, from the beginning, the goal of this is to reduce those bad leads that are coming in, clogging up your pipeline. They cost you money, not only your marketing investment, your team’s time and your time as well.

 

00:24:09:09 – 00:24:35:16

Patrick Carver

Fixing this is going to mean more revenue for you, less frustration, less time commitment. So it’s a it’s a better operating law firm where you can really focus on getting to those cases, gains potentials that are really going to make a difference in your top line revenue. So if you are getting these poor quality leads, you’re getting reports from your marketing firm that’s like, Hey, look at all this great traffic, look at all these leads we’re getting you.

 

00:24:35:16 – 00:25:01:21

Patrick Carver

But you have this feeling of disconnect between yourself and the marketing provider that your bank account is not growing. And on a daily basis, you’re constantly dealing with these unqualified leads. Yet the marketing company is saying like, Look, everything looks good on our side. Totally frustrating. You should implement these fixes and talk about how you can do this with your marketing firm, because sometimes, you know, they just don’t.

 

00:25:01:23 – 00:25:17:27

Patrick Carver

They’re not going to get it. They’re not going to get because they’re not inside your business. But this is a great opportunity for you really advocate for yourself because you still may be able to get results with that marketing firm. You just need to point them in the right direction, right. And give them your expectation or your idea of of success.

 

00:25:17:27 – 00:25:49:06

Patrick Carver

And so this is hopefully a little bit under the hood about how you can have an educated conversation with your marketing provider and get some of this actually implemented with your firm and start getting more clients more revenue for you on a monthly basis. I want to hear how this goes. So if you do this and have results either way, I’d love to hear about it and I’d also be happy to review your website or your ads so that I can pinpoint some of this stuff at absolutely no costs, no obligation.

 

00:25:49:06 – 00:26:11:21

Patrick Carver

We are definitely not a pushy type of sales organization, so you know, there’s no obligation. I can pump this out in about 5 to 10 minutes. So give me a shout. Patrick go Constellation dot com. You can check us out on our website Go constellation dot com and I wish you nothing but the best the most success with this and give me a shout if we can help that.

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