SEO for Lawyers 101 - What Can Make or Break Your Practice Online

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TOM: So we want to talk a little bit about today's SEO.

LAURA: Okay.

TOM: Because you've been with us for what? A year now?

LAURA: A little over a year, yes.

TOM: And you're one of our go-to people for SEO, and you do a lot of SEO work for a lot of our clients.

LAURA: Yes, I do, a lot of SEO.

TOM: And so tell me, in your own words, what SEO means.

LAURA: SEO is short for search engine optimization, in case you didn't know.

TOM: Some people don't know that.

LAURA: Yeah. You know, I get asked that a lot when people ask me what I do. So it's very confusing, I guess, to them which -- I mean, it's confusing to a lot of people. So even when you tell them, you know, search engine optimization, okay, blank stare. You know, well, what is that? And, okay, so you're a business, and you have a website. Great. That's awesome. How do people find out about your website? How do they get to your website to then contact you so you get more business?
And it's through link building and building up the popularity of your website on the internet, and there's lots of different ways that we go about that. But the biggest thing right now is the content, and that's huge. If your website doesn't have the right kind of content, then we can do all the SEO in the world for you and you're not going to see the results that you want. So right now we're really focusing on the quality of the content on the websites, and then using that as a tool for us to then go out and get links back to this content in places that your target audience or your perfect client is going to be looking for. And a lot of that -- I mean, well, for a lot of websites, well, 70 percent, 60-to-70 percent of their traffic comes from Google organic traffic, and that might change here in the near future. But what we're trying to do is increase the popularity of your website by building these links, talking about the content that's on your website so then your website is found and you get clients and potential cases, for lawyers.

TOM: That's the point.

LAURA: That's the point. That's the whole point.

TOM: Now, you've been in the SEO -- you're younger. You're younger than me, by a little bit.

LAURA: Maybe a little bit.

TOM: But you've been in the SEO game for how long?

LAURA: About a year and a half.

TOM: Okay.

LAURA: I mean, I'm very new to SEO.

TOM: But that's good because the SEO is now new again.


TOM: And that's the whole thing is that what people need to understand -- because I've been doing this for 14 years. And when I got in the game, SEO was pretty much, you have a website.

LAURA: Right.

TOM: And then the next thing with SEO was, you have put keywords in a meta description
LAURA: Right.

TOM: -- of the code.

LAURA: Uh-huh.

TOM: And that's all it took, and then everybody was just focusing on page one. And people were getting paid a lot of money and a lot of you paid a lot of money to people simply to add key words in a code.

LAURA: Right. And a lot of people went crazy with key words.

TOM: Yeah.
LAURA: And that's one big thing that Google made clear, that that doesn't mean your site is relevant if you stuff all your pages with key words that people are looking for. So there's got to be more to it than that.

TOM: And it's great with Laura because Laura has a fresh new perspective on what works and is not saddled with history of what did work.

LAURA: Right.

TOM: And this is why we have some great debates and conversations, because, you know, some people that have a website up for 10 years, and, you know, have done the key word stuffing route and have done the optimized content route over optimization, and some of these clients that you work on, we find this out, and we have to fix them, too.

LAURA: Oh, right.

TOM: So there's a lot of going back and undoing work that used to help you.

LAURA: Uh-huh. Oh, definitely. I mean, even in just the short period of time that I've really been focusing and concentrating on
SEO, it's a whole new game now.

TOM: Right.

LAURA: I mean, if I was doing the same thing I was doing a year and a half ago, it wouldn't -- we wouldn't be seeing the results that we're seeing today.

TOM: And what's interesting, too, is, you know, knowing our client, our clients are lawyers and doctors, but mostly lawyers, that their case -- they sign up a case, three years they're going to go to trial -- I mean, it takes a long time.

LAURA: Right.

TOM: The search engine game has changed three or four times in that process since they signed up the case.

LAURA: Oh, yeah, oh, yeah. I mean, Google updates their search criteria and their algorithm over 500 times a year. I mean --

TOM: Did you hear that?

LAURA: I mean, there's an update happening right now.

TOM: Yeah. That's more than once a day.


TOM: By my math.

LAURA: Somebody is really busy.

TOM: Yeah. Okay. So, you know, we've been talking over, you know, the past months about how SEO has changed. But would you agree that SEO has become way more of a public relations, almost a marketing function?

LAURA: Definitely. Like completely, because SEO, as it used to be, was all about key word rankings. Are we on the first page? Well, yeah, but are you getting the cases that you want? Are you getting the clients? I mean, you know, what's the result of being on page one --

TOM: Right.

LAURA: -- for those key words? It's about connecting and showing that you can provide, you know, a service to these people that are searching for you. So when we're out there and we're building links back to your website and we're -- we've been, you know, distributing press releases and all kinds of stuff so that people know that this is a real person. And it's about, you know, communicating what you can provide, offering your service, and you're messing with that person.

TOM: Yes, and it's about a social endorsement from a real person --

LAURA: Right.

TOM: -- instead of a nonsocial endorsement in the form of a link from a website.

LAURA: Right, right.

TOM: That's been gained.

LAURA: Uh-huh. People aren't stupid. You know, I mean, people, when they go to the search engines nowadays, I mean, some people know what it takes to get on page one. And there's a lot of, you know, people that give SEO a bad name by making it seem like they're quick fixes. And it makes people sometimes not trust the search engines. So it has to be more than that.

TOM: Is there a quick fix for SEO?


TOM: There's no magic purple pill that I can take that will make me automatically on page one?

LAURA: You can sign up with Foster Web Marketing.

TOM: Oooh --

LAURA: We're all about the strategy. It's all about long-term results.

TOM: That's true. That's true. And that is true. And so when you get -- I still get emails that are, I'll get you on page one in
two weeks.

LAURA: Uh-huh. You want 500 links today? Done.

TOM: Yep.

LAURA: It will cost you $400.

TOM: And that might bring the ship down.

LAURA: Oh, yeah.

TOM: And, you know, we've seen that with our own clients that have gone outside or, you know, gone against our recommendation or been sneaky and gone out without letting us know.

LAURA: Uh-huh.

TOM: That have gone out and worked with other SEO companies that have actually hurt them because these other people didn't know what they were doing, and the client, you guys, didn't know what they were doing. We fixed a couple of people that way.

LAURA: Oh, yeah. And it's one of the most disheartening things to come across as an SEO consultant, is to see that they've been doing things behind your back or that you're not aware of, and that you then later see. And you're, like, well, that's why it's not working.

TOM: It undermines six months of effort on your part.

LAURA: Exactly, exactly, because we always have a goal and a strategy of what we're going for with our clients. And then there are a lot of people out there that want overnight results, and --

TOM: There's no such thing in this world, overnight results. I mean, you can buy it with pay-per-click, but, you know, with pay- per-click, that's an expensive game to play, too.

LAURA: Right. It --

TOM: And that's exactly what Google wants you to do is buy into the pay-per-click game, because that's where they make their money.

LAURA: Definitely. And looking at a lot of our clients that have engaged in pay-per-click campaigns, I mean, the -- from organic search traffic are still much higher.

TOM: Uh-huh.

LAURA: And another thing is the quality of --

TOM: Right.

LAURA: -- clients that are coming from organic searches versus pay-per-click. Night and day, because you can turn off -- well, once your site gets up and going, maybe sometimes, you know, for a new website, you might have a pay-per-click campaign just to get some traffic through the door.

TOM: Sure.

LAURA: But once you turn that off, I mean, you might see a drop in traffic, yes. But the quality is still there if we're doing the
right things organically.

TOM: And we just did this with a client, Vaughan de Kirby -- Vaughan -- So Vaughan has this Chinese immigration website.


TOM: And that's one of the ones that you're working on.

LAURA: Right.

TOM: And we just talked to him about this because we were noticing a lot of traffic coming from this one referral source that had a huge bounce rate.

LAURA: Right. Oh, the bounce rate was ridiculous.

TOM: And it was a pay-per-click program that -- or an ad-word program that he had signed up for and didn't even know it, that
he was paying for, didn't know it, and was actually hurting his website because it was ncausing increase in bounce and not delivering any good quality traffic.

LAURA: Yeah, and it was just providing false results and false hope, because you see the traffic, and it's amazing for the website. But at the same time, the bounce rate has doubled.

TOM: Right.

LAURA: And, you know, I mean, the bounce rate is ridiculous. People aren't staying on your website. They're not engaging in what you have to say, and they're definitely not contacting you.

TOM: Okay. So, Laura, I mean, we've been working together for the past year and a half, and you've -- I mean, like from all the SEO people that I've worked with, you're a very quick learner, very articulate. You always come to the meeting with --You know, there's SEO people that just report results, and then there's SEO people that report results but give, Here are some aximes that we need to do. And that's one of the things that I've appreciated so much from you. You've been so proactive with the clients. So here is the scenario, and I'm not sure if you're working on this particular client or not. I'm not going to name any names, but they're going to know who I'm talking about. So we've got a client who decided to do their own content. They hired a content writer, great content writer.

LAURA: Uh-huh.

TOM: About putting out good content. So they went from very few visitors to -- you know, they started putting in, you know, 200
pieces a month, and they exploded their traffic. They started getting a bunch of visits, and they got a couple of early cases, a couple of early hits on that. So they think that they've solved the world's problems. But, now, it's been, what, a year later, and they still have consistent 3000-5000 visits --

LAURA: Right.

TOM: -- but they're not getting any leads. Their leads have dropped. What's the problem?

LAURA: Well, I mean, they're getting people to their website. Great. Step one. Okay. So when they get there, what are they offering these visitors? I mean, is there a call to action? Are these people just coming there to research a topic that they might find on that website? I mean, is this their target audience that's even coming to their website? The content needs to speak to the person that is looking for the lawyer and is looking for their particular service and gives them a clear way to get in touch with them and move on to the next step.

TOM: So I give them an A for effort --

LAURA: Oh, yeah.

TOM: -- in terms of --

LAURA: Yeah.

TOM: -- getting people there, because it's a three-step process; right? We talk about it, it's attracting them.

LAURA: Uh-huh.

TOM: So attracting your perfect client, converting your perfect client, and that's a tougher science.


TOM: People focus on SEO way too much. It's actually easier than they think, because it's not really about any magical mystery anymore. It's about adding good, relevant content.

LAURA: Right. And that's the thing, adding content, so important, so important. But it has to be the right kind of content. It
can't just be --

TOM: You can add content all the live-long day, about news -- you know, news content about accidents in your area, and you'll
get a lot of traffic.

LAURA: Right.

TOM: You'll get a lot of visitors, but it will all bounce and you'll never convert any of them.

LAURA: Yeah, because they read the news --

TOM: They're gone.

LAURA: -- and they're off your site. Done.

TOM: So that's a great point, you know. Here's Laura, a SEO person, telling you about conversion is very important on a piece of content. So you've got a piece of content that's generating a blog post.

LAURA: Uh-huh.

TOM: That's generating on its own 1000 visitors a month, and this is what happens. So if you see that and you've got a 90 percent bounce rate on that blog post, what are you going to think is wrong?

LAURA: That people that are finding that blog post, it might be very attractive content, but it's not the right kind of content for their clients. It's not the kind of content that they need on their website to attract the quality visitors that we're looking for. And
what we're really trying to get across is it's all about quality over quantity, and we hear it all the time. But it is so true. I mean, when you look at getting 15,000 visits a month versus how many leads did you get --
TOM: Right.

LAURA: So --

TOM: So even if you're getting 10,000 visitors a month and you're getting five leads, that's no good.


TOM: But if you're getting 1000 visitors a month and 100 leads, that's better.

LAURA: I'll take that any day.

TOM: Yeah, totally. That's the whole point. And the trick to doing that is you need to make sure that your content is speaking to your perfect client, that it is local -- if you're going for local traffic only, that you have geo locations in it, otherwise --


TOM: -- you're advertising to the entire planet and competing with every other website. And so many -- if you do bankruptcy, and you're only in, you know, South Carolina, then it doesn't do any good for somebody in Nome, Alaska to look you up and contact you. It's not worth it anyway. And so, first of all, make sure that your content is properly optimized, and I say that loosely. And I only mean geo-location and speaking to the needs.

LAURA: Right, exactly.

TOM: And the other big thing is there is a call to action.

LAURA: Oh, yeah. It's huge. They have to know --

TOM: What do you want them to do?

LAURA: Yeah. What do you want -- do you want them to call you? Are they supposed to e-mail you?

TOM: Right.

LAURA: Are they supposed to contact you on the website?

TOM: Or download your free report that you've got, that you can easily add to the pages --

LAURA: They're out there, and there's a lot of information available.

TOM: And another great way to decrease bounce rate, which is the tell-tale sign that you're not answering the question, is through video.

LAURA: Right, yes.

TOM: Video and links going to other -- you know, if you like this, you know, you should know more about this. And here's a link to that.

LAURA: Right, right. If you're here looking at this, then you're going to want to know more about this, too. And video is great, and especially for lawyers because it gives them a chance to be a real person and the people actually get to hear this person speak. And they are humanized, and, you know, none of that legalese and lawyer jargon, you know. And they tell you what you're there to find out.

TOM: So we've talked about the social media and why the social triggers are so important for Google, too.


TOM: So that's another element to it; right? From an SEO standpoint on what will help you is making sure that you have the right schema tags on your website, which we have built into DSS.


TOM: Right?

LAURA: Right, schema is huge right now.

TOM: Talk a little bit about that. What is that?

LAURA: Well, a schema is basically the code on your website that tells the search engine specifically what you are talking about and how you're relevant, what area you're relevant in, and like increases your website's authority and credibility to the search engines. So it can bump you on up there in the rankings.

TOM: Yeah.

LAURA: And we definitely see -- I mean, you see that all the time now when you're on the search engine result pages, especially in Google, seeing the --

TOM: The thumbnail of the guy.

LAURA: Yeah.

TOM: Right.

LAURA: Right.

TOM: That's the schema tag. I mean, those are author tags. And so if you've set that up right -- and we can tell you how to do it -- that's how that happens. And, you know, you go do a search. If you see somebody's picture there, you're going to think, wow, this guy is an authority over another page that has no picture. Little things like that make big differences.

LAURA: Oh, yeah, definitely, and it's only becoming more important.

TOM: We always tell our people to figure out their perfect client, because that's what they're going for.

LAURA: Right.

TOM: That's what they need to write their content for. That's where they need to go out, go in the community and all that stuff. But we have a perfect client that we want to work with.


TOM: So, Laura, why don't you define our perfect client, your perfect client.

LAURA: My perfect client to work with would be someone that loves to communicate and likes to let us know what they're looking for, what their expectations are. That only helps us develop a more customized strategy for the client and lets us know where to look to find -- I mean, where should we be building links? I mean, we don't want to work blindly, because there's lots of opportunities out there on the web. We want to make sure that we're targeting the specific person that our clients are going
after so that we can meet those expectations.

TOM: Yeah. And that's really the point is that, just like you guys that are working, you know, in the legal field or if
you're a doctor and you have a patient come in, you ask them questions. How can you possibly handle their case if they're not honest with you about everything --

LAURA: Right.

TOM: -- that's going on? And nothing is more frustrating than a lawyer, to a lawyer -- and I know this because I
used to do depositions and do trials with lawyers, and I'd see this happen over and over again where somebody let the cat out of the bag the day of trial. Why didn't you tell me that? And that stuff can bring down the whole house for us, too.

LAURA: Yes, definitely.

TOM: So we need to know about everything. Like you need to be up front and honest, because we're like your doctor for the web.

LAURA: Yeah. And we want to make it easier for you.

TOM: Right.

LAURA: We're here to help you. You know, we're helping your website. We want to know, what are you involved in? What kind of activities are you out there doing? What kind of opportunities are available for us to meet?

TOM: Where did you go to school? I mean, like, you know, we were talking about this with Cole before, about the client out in
Arizona that we found out -- we found out, just in passing, that he is a professor that teaches at Arizona State University, which is a dot-edu link, which are really hard to get. And he has a bio on their website, and all we had to do was get a link back from the bio.

LAURA: How easy is that?

TOM: Yeah, but it took us months to get it done, and then -- well, months to find out about it.

LAURA: Right.

TOM: Then months to get him to do it. But then, within days after that link came in, he catapulted like 10 pages, to page one. Remember that?

LAURA: I mean, yeah, I remember that, and we definitely celebrated. And, I mean --

TOM: And then they booted us from the premium plan.


TOM: It was short-lived. They can do it themselves. How is it going?

LAURA: I mean, that's --

TOM: I won't mention any names.

LAURA: -- about as close as you're going to get to overnight results in SEO.

TOM: Totally.

LAURA: I mean --

TOM: There is no such thing -- that's another point, too, the flip-flopping. Like, oh, I want auto accident cases today, and then tomorrow I want wrongful death.

LAURA: That's not going to --

TOM: And, once again, those are lawyer words.

LAURA: Yes. But that's not going to work. I mean --

TOM: That's not going to work.

LAURA: Yeah, we need --

TOM: It's definitely going to work for us.

LAURA: No. No, definitely not because then we're just bi-polar here, trying to figure out what's going on and what's more important to you at that time when we need to have the ability to have a time frame to then get you the results that you're looking for.

TOM: But other people will take your money to do that for you.

LAURA: Oh, yeah.

TOM: And you'll never get the results you're looking for, but other people will say --

LAURA: They're out there.

TOM: -- sure, we'll do that. No problem. But, anyway, we're about the real deal, about partnering with clients to make them successful.

LAURA: Yes, working with our clients.

TOM: Yes.

LAURA: And not just for them. Really, it's an internal collaboration here at Foster Web Marketing, and I like to see it expand to the clients becoming more involved with their own website. It's great to see, and we definitely have some great clients out there.

TOM: And we just want to make them greater and better.

LAURA: Yes, yes. Definitely.

TOM: Okay. Well, Laura, hey, thank you so much for making the trip up here. We want to make it more often.

LAURA: Thank you for having me.

TOM: You've been a great addition to the SEO team. You've brought kind of a new light to it, a new view on it, and I very much appreciate your contributions in making it a better and better department.

LAURA: Thank you.

TOM: Thank you so much, Laura.