SEO: Realistic Expectations

So now that you have your firm website up and running, and now that you have a basic idea about keywords, meta tags and search engines (or have hired someone who does,) you are probably thinking that there is no reason that your site shouldn’t be at the first spot on the first page of every search engine that matters, particularly Google.

Actually, there are millions of reasons. Billions, if you really stop to think about it.

First, you have to think about the fact that the number of websites that are indexed by search engines has grown exponentially over the past few years. Secondly, you have to consider that if you know a little about search engines, then it stands to reason that so do all of your other competitors.

You also have to consider the millions of people who use search engines in different ways. Someone looking for an attorney might not type the most obvious thing into the search bar. Instead of typing “davenport Iowa car accident injury lawyer” they might type “car crash.” This could give them anything from a body repair shop to a car dealership to a James Dean fan site.

And since search engine indexing parameters change on an almost daily basis, so do the standings. You might be on the first page one month and on page eleven the next.

So why is all this happening to you? Why is it so difficult for your site to move up the rankings?

One of the major problems is that your site is new. Every conceivable keyword combination that you can think of has already been thought of by your competitors, and they have been using them on a regular basis on their sites, which have been up and running smart for a few years. Search engines have a tendency to recognize and accept older sites when they are indexing, and if you have practically the same content and key phrases as a competitor website that has been up for a longer period, they will give precedence to the older site.

As you can probably guess, there isn’t any quick fix to that. Since you can’t trick the search engines into making them think that your website is older than your competitors, really the only thing that you can do is to stick with constant updating of your site, and to try to make your content as unique as you possibly can. Over time, your site should gain in rankings and hits, and if the content is relevant to your practice and unique, then you should get be getting new clients and your practice should grow. But it is important to understand that good search engine rankings require constant maintenance and constant updates, and anyone who promises you huge success overnight is simply telling you what you want to hear rather than what is realistic. This should be viewed as an ongoing process and an investment rather than a one time fix.

It should also be mentioned that the goal here isn’t just to get to the top of Google, Yahoo, MSN, Dogpile or whichever search engine you prefer. The idea is to get new cases and to expand your practice. This might sound like an obvious statement, but you would be surprised as to how many SEO companies view top rankings as the be all and end all, and consider the quality and relevance of the content to be an afterthought.

Top rankings will mean very little if your content is poorly written. If your home page is little more than a meaningless jumble of key phrases and redundant content, how much confidence do you think a potential client would have in your services? Would it be better to achieve a high rank relatively quickly with poorly written content or would you rather achieve high ranking later with content that reflects your skills, experience and ability as an attorney?

The first think that you need to understand is that there is no magic wand that gives your firm instant high search engine rankings. And at the risk of dispensing platitudes, when it comes to Search Engine Optimization, it truly is the journey and not the destination that makes all the difference.

Trent Semler
Senior Marketing Strategist Trent Semler helps clients nationwide with rankings, traffic, and leads.
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