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Why Lawyers Who Care About SEO Must First Understand How It Works (and now they can)

by Carolyn Elefant on June 17, 2010 · 3 comments

in Announcements, Marketing & Making Money, Websites and Blogs

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[NOTE – this post promotes a for-fee product from Legal Practice Pro, Search Engine Optimization for Lawyers, which includes an ebook, “Success Roadmap” and audio book (due out later) available for the next 3 days  – until 6/20 – for $20 (a substantial discount off the $49 list price) for MyShingle readers.  Click here to order and enter Coupon Code MYSHINGLE for discount.  I get NOTHING for this promotion, consistent with my site’s no affiliate policy]

Search engine optimization, or SEO is probably one of the most important concepts that lawyers practicing in the Internet Age need to understand — though not for the reasons you’d expect.

Contrary to what many SEO gurus will tell you, SEO is not some kind of mystical fairy dust that lawyers can sprinkle over their websites and then stand back as clients magically materialize at their doorstep.  That’s because SEO merely draws potential clients to your site; it doesn’t force them to stay, nor does it close the deal. So if your website is void of substantive information – like blog posts, FAQs, educational video or useful forms – of immediate use to clients, then they’ll return to the search engine and continue down the first page of Google until they find a lawyer who’s willing to provide more than a fancy online billboard.

But even though SEO is secondary to doing great work as a lawyer and educating clients, it’s imperative that lawyers understand SEO for two reasons.

First, if you are one of those lawyers offering valuable information, then why not make it easy to be found, instead of forcing prospective clients through the frustration of working their way through worthless, sale-sy sites before they get to yours?

Second, lawyers are being inundated with solicitations from SEO providers like never before.  Some companies offer “stand alone” SEO services, while others (like Findlaw) are pitching lawyer websites with built in SEO.  In many cases, these companies promise outrageous results, and in many cases, even some of the more reputable companies employ unscrupulous tactics that may lower your Google ranking or embarrass you online.  If you plan to hire an SEO expert, you MUST understand how SEO works so that you can ask intelligent questions and oversee the company’s activities at all times.

Those are the proactive reason to understand SEO – but there’s an equally important “reactive” reason to understand SEO as well.  You may have competitors – or even stalkers (I have one of my own right now) – who may be using your law firm’s name or favored key words to steal your prospects or portray you negatively.  If you understand how SEO works, you can use SEO to your advantage to neutralize any adverse impacts caused by competitors or disgruntled clients.  Sure, you might have legal recourse against them – but handling the problem yourself through SEO is quicker and more effective.

So how can lawyers educate themselves about SEO?  Google offers some free tools and if you’re a true do-it-yourself-er, that’s as good a place to start as any.  But if you’ve already looked at the Google resources or if you’re interested in a product geared specifically for busy lawyers that offers both explanations and lawyer-specfic strategies, then you should check out my colleague and friend, Jay Fleischman’s Search Engine Optimization for Lawyers.

I’m comfortable recommending Jay’s product for several reasons.  Foremost, Jay is a practicing lawyer who implements this stuff himself, so he’s cognizant of some of the ethics restrictions that lawyers face.  Second, I reviewed an advance copy of the Guide and the Success worksheet and found them both to be useful and more importantly, practical tools that you can implement quickly.  Finally, Jay has been kind enough to extend a special discount to MyShingle readers – the product – which includes an ebook, audio and Success Roadmap (which is a user friendly exercise to implement the SEO advice in the book) – is just $20 for MyShingle readers, a $29 savings off the $49 list price.  The offer is available until June 20.  Click here to order and enter Coupon Code MYSHINGLE for discount.  I get NOTHING for this promotion, consistent with my site’s no affiliate policy]

  • http://twitter.com/impirus Impirus

    Carolyn,
    It is great advice for lawyers to learn SEO basics. Furthermore, I regularly read Jay's blog and he definitely knows what he's talking about. I am sure that his product is a great resource.

  • http://www.crossmanlegal.com Jeff Crossman

    Another great source is SEO Made Simple by Michael H. Fleischner. Both are good, but this goes into a little more depth than Jay's book (I purchased both).

  • http://www.bigfin.com Emily

    If you'd like help with SEO, PPC Campaigns, web design and other marketing techniques check out bigfin.com. Their clients include many attorneys, doctors, other professionals and businesses such as Microsoft and City U.
    -Emily

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