There are a whole lot of search engine optimization (SEO) providers and agencies out there that claim to be SEO “experts”. Most provide quality SEO services and can succeed in helping your law firm’s website climb Google’s rankings, but every now and then you’ll come across one that doesn’t quite fit the bill. There are a surprising number of dishonest SEO “experts” out there looking to make a quick buck off business owners they hope don’t know any better.
But, hey, you’re reading this. You know better. So, how do you protect your practice against SEO hacks and agencies that employ SEO strategies that are obsolete or even harmful (often referred to as “black hat”—the type of tactics Google hands out penalties for)? The first step is to ask your current or prospective SEO provider or agency the right questions. The answers you get will tell you if their work is worth the price you’re paying or looking to pay.
Here are 5 great questions to ask your SEO provider to get a feeling for how well they can do their job and help your firm bring in that much-needed traffic and clients:
- Can you guarantee a #1 Google ranking?
This is a trick question, and one that any SEO agency worth their salt will answer with “No”. It’s every law firm’s goal to reach that #1 slot, but there’s no quick, surefire way to reach the top. The only way you’ll outrank all the other similar firms or lawyers in your area is to invest a lot of time and effort into organic, progressive SEO strategies. Any agency that gives you a ranking guarantee hasn’t been in business long enough to realize the truth or is up to something shady. You’ll want to avoid both.
- How will you improve my firm’s search engine rankings?
An experienced SEO agency will not only tell you that they have a proposed plan of action, but they’ll give you that plan’s specifics. They’ll tell you about the importance of these key components and more:
- Keyword Research – Keywords are the magical words and phrases that tell Google and other search engines why visitors might want to visit your site. The trick is researching the right keywords that are specific enough to enable folks to find you while also allowing your site to rank decently.
- On-Page SEO – This is the content, coding, and website elements that visitors see and interact with on your website. Everything including the site’s coding, blog and site content, and title, image, and meta tags help your site rank better and become discovered.
- Local SEO – You know those odd keyword phrases like “Chicago personal injury lawyer” that are found on most law firm websites? The word “Chicago” is included for local SEO purposes—to help that site rank well for web users specifically in the Chicago area. Law firms depend on great local SEO strategies—more so than many other businesses, in fact.
- Backlinks – These are links on other websites that point folks toward your site. Google likes these a lot if they’re found on quality, reputable sites. Building strong backlinks can prove incredibly useful for driving traffic and client growth.
A good agency will tell you that bulletproof SEO strategies take time. Search engine optimization is a long term effort for both your firm and the agency and can fluctuate wildly depending on how Google decides to up its search ranking algorithm game (it’s true—math really is everywhere). The best and most experienced SEO teams will be able to continually make improvements despite any changes.
- How will progress be reported?
There’s a bit of trial and error in the world of SEO. We do some research, try a few things, and see how traffic fares. Afterwards, we make adjustments. As part of this process, it’s essential that you come along for the ride, see our progress, and have a chance to offer feedback. It’s your firm, after all. Without proper communication, our efforts become useless.
Any decent SEO provider will supply monthly SEO reports that let you clearly see how your chosen keywords are faring, how your site’s traffic is improving over time, and what changes have been made. If an agency doesn’t want to send you reports, they’re not worth your time.
- What’s your experience in legal SEO specifically?
The SEO methods that work best for, say, an accounting firm, won’t work for a law firm. Law firms need content that’s written by legal experts for legal clients in mind. Similarly, law firm website keywords need to be researched with legal clients and their goals in mind. One-size-fits-all SEO strategies simply don’t work for legal professionals.
- Can you share some of the previous work you’ve done and your results?
Ask to see some of the agency’s previous work. If a SEO provider hesitates to show you a sample site, there’s a good chance they haven’t been in business long or haven’t seen much success. Both are red flags.
Follow up that question by asking what kind of results they’ve had with past clients. If they’re a company that truly wants to help your firm perform better, they’ll answer honestly while telling you key points that should help you make your decision.
The world of digital marketing can seem overwhelming, but with the help of legal SEO professionals who know their stuff, you can learn the magic behind the metrics and experience consistent traffic and client growth at the same time. For more great digital marketing and SEO tips and insight specialized for legal professionals, stay tuned to our blog or get a hold of us today.