Is this the year that you take your law firm online? If so, one of the decisions you will face is whether to perform your law firm’s search engine optimization in-house, or hire someone to assist you.
Unfortunately, as anyone who has started to look for search consultants online, it’s an ugly world out there. Here are some quick tips that can help you understand whether your prospective SEO is worth her salt, and whether you need outside help at all.
Should I Hire an SEO for My Law Firm?
Frankly, there are a lot of pieces of search engine optimization that you might be able to sufficiently handle yourself. If you know a little bit about html, how search engines work, and you’re committed to developing content and sharing it, you may have some success in generating new qualified search traffic to your site. Some of this traffic may even turn into potential client inquiries.
On the other hand, if you don’t know a paragraph tag from a title tag, you’re probably going to make some pretty big mistakes that may prevent search engines from crawling and indexing your site altogether. If you think you might want to learn some things about search engine optimization before you decide whether to keep it in-house or outsource it, check our our SEO resources. We have hand-selected these trusted sources.
Here is a quick list of some of the skills you will likely need to launch a successful SEO campaign:
- Creativity – Creative skills are probably the most important attribute of a good SEO. If you’re creating content that looks like everybody else’s people probably aren’t going to link to it and share with other people they know. In order to separate yourself from the pack, you will need to develop web content that makes people really say wow and further link to and share it.
- Patience – SEO is not advertising. This is a common misconception that many lawyers have. They are accustomed to paying for a yellow book, television, or radio advertisement. SEO is not advertising. If you’re launching a brand new site, it’s going to take time to get your site indexed in search engines, and an even longer time to get it to generate significant search traffic and rank for high volume competitive keywords.
- Writing – While web content can take a variety of forms, the overwhelming majority of web content is still the written word. And let’s face it, writing is a skill that many people simply don’t have. If you’re going to handle your own search strategy, you will need to be able to write frequently and effectively. Emphasis on the effectively. And by effectively, I don’t me regurgitating the latest local news stories. Again, you will need to consistently publish quality content that makes your readers want to come back, link to, and share your content with other people that they know.
- Design – Having solid design skills is also very helpful to a good SEO. The use of images, videos, infographics, and a variety of other types of content will help distinguish your site’s content from that of others. And as effective as good design can be in attracting visitors and links, sloppy or otherwise poor quality design work can have a negative impact on your visitors and your ability to attract strong search signals.
- Time – Finally, running an effective search engine optimization takes time. Time which most lawyers simply don’t have. Sure, you can dabble in SEO. Depending on your skills, you may even have some limited success. But if you’re not committed to the day-in-day-out work of building authority to your website, you’re not going to be able to compete with those firms that have hired full-time search consultants to help them.
You are likely to read things about how “content is king” and all you have to do is “write” to have success in search engines. And in some cases, for some very talented and committed writers with a little technical know-how, this may be true. But for the overwhelming majority of lawyers out there, adopting the “if you write it, they will come” mantra simply won’t pay off. Which is why many legal bloggers resort to the advice that if you write for any other reason than a love for blogging, you’re wasting your time.
There’s no doubt that being passionate about writing is helpful in content development. However, writing passion alone will not get you qualified search traffic for highly-competitive search phrases. Ultimately, you will have to decide whether you have the skills and time to execute your own search strategy or whether to get the assistance of someone with experience to guide you.
You might also want to download our free guide and sign-up for our law firm SEO tips. Whether you’re doing SEO yourself, have some in-house help, or are using an agency, we try to provide the tips that we have found successful in executing a law firm SEO campaign.
Who Should I Hire to Do SEO for My Law Firm?
Once you’ve conceded that you need some help, the next step is trying to figure out who you should hire. This is a very important decision that you shouldn’t try to decide in a half-hour. It’s not like buying a cell phone of running shoes. It’s likely that you’ll need to develop a working professional relationship with this person. So, you better be able to effectively communication with them. You should also consider whether or not they possess the skills that I have described above. And you had better check references.
You also should find a consultant that’s willing to work with you. Quality search engine optimization isn’t one-size-fits-all. For example, perhaps you understand the basics but just want someone watching over your shoulder to make sure you’re not making some the most significant and common mistakes. On the other hand, you might be looking for something more turn-key. Meaning that your search agency will be handling all aspects of your search campaign. If this is the case, you better focus on hiring someone that your trust with your professional reputation and perhaps even your license to practice. You don’t want to get into ethics hot water because you turned your search marketing over to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.
Here are some tips you should consider when choosing a law firm SEO consultant:
- Do they have experience marketing a law firm?
- Are they familiar with the professionals rules related to marketing and advertising a law firm?
- Do they have examples of work they have done?
- Do they have references?
- What will the communication process look like?
- How will you measure the effectiveness of their services?
- How long before you can start to expect some results?
- Are they working with your competitors?
- What specifically will they be doing on your behalf?
- How will they communicate work being done?
- Will you pay them on an hourly, project, or retainer basis?
- What are the terms of the agreement?
- Will you be providing login and password information to your website?
- Will they be making changes to your web pages?
- Will there be any participation on your end?
- Who will be developing content for the website?
- From where will they be building links?
- Is there a social media component to the strategy? How will that be executed?
- Will there be a local strategy? What will that look like?
These are just a few questions that you should ask when interviewing any prospective law firm SEO agency. If you start to get answers like “that’s difficult to explain”, “I’ve never been asked that before”, or “it’s a secret” politely move along to the next agency.
The truth is, there’s no magic to SEO. Like most other things, it’s a combination of experience, leg-work, and skill.