Whom Are You Hiring to Build Links to Your Website?

Okay, so you already know how important it is to have an effective search engine marketing strategy in place in order to obtain and keep page one search engine rankings.

You're an attorney, which means that you probably don't have the time to go out and build links yourself, because you're spending most of your time in the courtroom and with clients. So whom do you hire to do so? Here are a few options and our opinions on each:

Have a paralegal or junior attorney in your office do it

You're already paying him, so why not give him another task? This is the most popular decision when it comes to finding someone to perform routine link-building tasks, such as directory submissions and article distribution.

But what about training and research time? It takes a good amount of time and effort to get paralegals and assistants with no marketing background to know enough about the arts of SEO and search engine marketing (SEM). Even with training, are they qualified as experts who can effectively improve your search engine rankings?

We've also noticed that this route leads to a high turnover rate. Most of the time, assistants and paralegals either move on from their link-building duties because they'd rather be more involved in the legal aspects of the firm—which is what they went to school for—or because the firm finally realizes that they aren't Internet marketing professionals after all.

Can your traditional marketing consultant do this?

Most firms and small law offices have marketing consultants or their "traditional" marketing needs, whether it be in-house or not. These people surely know enough about SEO and SEM to either do most of it themselves, right?

Well, that depends. From our experience, the marketing consultants are great for certain aspects of web marketing, like serving as contact people for online press releases, helping out with necessary social media tasks, and basically serving as a spokesperson for a busy attorney. We also find, however, that traditional marketers don't know enough about SEO and SEM to create and maintain an effective link building campaign. There are some exceptions, of course, but usually traditional marketers make better project managers who can measure the level of effectiveness of an SEO/SEM campaign, rather than architects and implementers of those campaigns.

Hire a freelance SEO/SEM consultant

This is another very popular decision when it comes to finding someone to build links to your website. You can find hundreds of people on Craigslist and freelance websites like Elance advertising their skills. Our advice: be very careful about whom you hire. Be sure to ask for other websites that they have performed SEO/SEM duties on, and see what types of rankings and back links these sites have.

Hiring freelancers can be a good option if they can prove that they know what they're doing and have a demonstrated track record. Turnaround and adherence to your time schedule is often a consideration; sometimes a freelancer takes on too many projects or finds a full-time job, and suddenly doesn't have time to dedicate to your project.

Another persistent issue with using freelancers is measuring success. It usually takes some time—up to six months—to obtain rankings on search engines because of indexing, and it's not easy for you to pay someone every month without seeing some type of return on investment. Be sure to monitor your Google analytics for increases in traffic and keyword visits, and also ask for a detailed breakdown of what links were obtained by the freelancer. If you really want to be sure, check the PageRanks of the sites where the freelancer is obtaining links, and also make sure that they are legal-related or relevant to your location.

Hiring an offshore web marketing company

It's likely that companies from India and other countries overseas contact you frequently to offer you marketing services. They promise you page one rankings for a low monthly fee all the time. This is because the labor in these countries is very cheap. The idea of outsourcing your project to an overseas vendor can be tempting, especially if it can show you positive results for past clients and quotes a fee much lower than for any U.S. marketing company.

Don't get too excited. There are a few problems with this.

One significant problem is the language barrier. We don't mean just communication problems between you and the company, but also the errors is grammar, spelling, and idiom that pop up whenever the offshore company provides their link-building services. You may say to yourself at first, "Well, I'll just proofread everything"—but that turns into more time than completing the actual work.

Another issue is that most offshore companies use black hat techniques, like obtaining crappy back links that have nothing to do with law or your location. You may not care about this at first when you're on page one of Google. Eventually, though, search engine managers will find out about these sites linking back to yours, and it's very likely that your site will be penalized. You'll be stuck paying the overseas company for services that ended up hurting you more than they helped. Have you ever tried to convince Google to re-index a website with hundreds or thousands of bad inbound links? We have, when we tried to help out a few clients who made bad choices when hiring link-building "companies," and it's nearly impossible.

Long story short: you get what you pay for.

Hiring a U.S.-based web marketing company

While it's true that this is probably the most expensive option, it is usually also the most effective. Hiring trained and proven professionals to handle your SEM and link-building campaigns provides a return on investment that most of the previous options do not.

You understand how important your search engine rankings are, and building quality and relevant links is absolutely key to obtaining and keeping these rankings. Are you really thinking about pinching pennies when you know this?

Of course, comparison shopping remains the essential step. Look at several web marketing companies and compare their success records before making a hiring decision. Also be sure to follow rules similar to those you would follow when hiring a freelancer, like asking for a detailed work completed report and monitoring the quality of the back links that the company obtains.

Having a web marketing company on your side also pays off when you need web marketing advice, like whether a paid advertising opportunity is worth the investment, what strategies can increase traffic conversion, or choosing between networking and referral opportunities. There is power in numbers and many web marketing companies already have the necessary resources in place for link-building and search engine marketing campaigns

Please consider Foster Web Marketing the next time you are looking to hire a professional marketing partner  to help your law firm flourish. FWM not only has proven expertise; we have a national reputation for SEO excellence. Call us today or start the online chat function and let us show you the credentials that make Foster Web Marketing the gold standard among online marketing companies.

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