This is the summary transcript of a 5 part video series on analyzing your SEO provider.
Video of This Transcript Can be Found Here: Auditing Your SEO Provider
Today, we’re going to talk about analyzing your law firm SEO providers work. The first thing is why would you want to do that? What I hear from attorneys weekly, if not daily, is that they’re frustrated with their SEO provider because they don’t really know if they’re doing anything, they don’t know if they’re doing is working all the time and if it’s not working then why are they paying for it. We want to address that frustration.
One way to do that is find out if anything is being done. To understand why they’re doing may not be working and if it’s not working and recommend areas of improvement. One thing that’s very important is that you’re careful not to overreact to any of this reporting or analysis because sometimes the third party tools you use or even for that matter, Google Webmaster Tools, which is a tool you have direct access to, exclusive to your website, may not be reporting on work that is actually being done.
While you want to arm yourself with knowledge so you can ask the right questions, the key is asking questions not assuming that your SEO provider, your search engine optimization company is not doing the work.
Let’s talk about frustration with your SEO company. Which frustrations are legitimate? Now, of course, all frustrations are legitimate to some degree because the customer is always right and if the customer is frustrated, we have to be able to address that. However, one thing that’s kind of frustrating about SEO is it lends itself to frustration.
As an attorney you probably have experienced this as well where a client is paying you, has given you a decent size retainer and they don’t see anything being done, they don’t see any results that can lend itself to frustration in similarly to how SEO lends itself to frustration.
One of the reasons is because SEO is a long term investment. We’ve heard of and seen examples of and were certainly capable of getting a site ranked in four to six to eight weeks, even in a very competitive market but when you do that, you tend to get penalized especially in today’s environment. You are much more quickly penalized.
Just recently, I’ve had calls from attorneys around the country who built a website but they invested a lot of time and/or money in and getting it just the way they wanted, invested in a short sited, short term search engine optimization strategy that got them ranked right away, enjoyed the benefit of that. Then their site was put in the sandbox by Google or heavily penalized, which in some cases means that even when they were searched on Google by business name and location, their website was nowhere to be found.
Short term fixes might sound like a great idea and they might even be applicable in some situations but when you invest a lot of money on a website, it’s probably reasonable to expect that you would want to have a long term result and long term success.
With search engine optimization, depending on the competitiveness of market, there could a three month to nine month waiting period for significant results and by significant results, I mean your phones ringing, you’re getting calls from prospects who are turning into clients. That’s the goal of search engine optimization in most cases anyway.
The other thing that can affect results is unexpected algorithm changes. One of the challenges for search engine optimization companies is that our laws, our rules, everything we do is changing all of the time. It’s really about us anticipating changes in the algorithm and being able to react to algorithm changes either before they occur, which it seems interesting but we are actually able to do that sometimes and then more often than not, we’re reacting to changes after the fact.
When that occurs it can cause a one, two or three month lag or dip in results because what was working really, really well last month or six months ago or a year ago, sometimes it stops working and in other cases it may be even penalized.
The better your SEO company is at anticipating results and are anticipating algorithm changes rather and staying ahead of curve by split testing and doing a good job at developing on and off site content, all of those things you have to do really well, the better long term success you’re going to have but every SEO company is susceptible to temporary decreases in rankings for your website.
You have to have the right expectations and understand that SEO in the initial stages are more about activity, what activity is being performed, are they doing the on site optimization, are they doing the off site optimization part and making adjustments to the website, those types of things. Have they set up all of your tracking, are they doing split testing depending on the type of work that they’re going?
Down the road, SEO becomes a little bit more results based where the conversation changes from talking about all the activity, more about how many leads did you get? How many new clients did you get? What’s your cost per client acquisition? What are your rankings, of course? Those types of conversations happen but they may not happen in the first three to six months of an SEO candidate.
The other thing that can be frustrating for an attorney is that all this activity is not only being continued but it’s adjusted so your SEO company might come back to you and say, “Hey, we need to change strategies or adjust strategies.” Any good SEO company is doing that on an as needed basis.
This is exactly why this topic is so important because if you don’t have the ability to hold you SEO company accountable then this frustration may fester and manifest and just become a bigger problem for you and keep you up at night.
The objective of this presentation is going to be to help you end some of the frustration and analyze what’s being done for your company’s search engine optimization needs and helping your law firm succeed online.
The first step to analyzing your SEO providers work to see how they’re doing is you need to know what search terms you should be targeting. While you may say, “Oh, I got that list from so and so. We did that a year ago, we did it six months ago.” Keyword research is an ongoing activity and if you aren’t constantly, at least monthly, maybe quarterly, analyzing how people are getting to your website, what search terms they’re using, what data is available under different search terms then you’re not going to know for what terms you need to be optimizing your website. It’s an ongoing thing, you want to make sure that your SEO provider is targeting the best keywords for your law firm. That’s the first step.
What search terms should you be targeting and you do that with keyword research. We’re going to walk through the tools that we use to do keyword research and many of which you can use, many of which are free and you can also purchase paid versions.
Step two is around ranking analysis. Now you know what keywords you’re supposed to be targeting, the next step is plugging them into some kind of ranking tool and finding out how your website ranks for those terms. That’s a lot more efficient than going keyword by keyword and searching on a keyword phrase and seeing where you rank, especially if you’re not on the first page, you can spend a lot of time trying to find yourself.
These are the two first steps. Once you know what keywords you’re supposed to be targeting, how you’re ranking for those search terms, then you can go right into a website audit. You can look at the factors on your website that could be influencing your rankings and also influencing your conversions. We’ll talk about in this presentation the best ways of auditing your website. Again, there are a few tools out there. There’s some manual things you can do to look at but it’s very important.
Step four is off-site optimization. You’ve done your keyword research, you’ve done you’re ranking analysis, you’ve audited you’re website, you know where you want your rankings to go, you know what keywords you want to be ranked for. Now in a competitive market if there’s not a solid amount of effort being put into off site optimization, which ultimately leads to links linking back to your website and your reputation growing and growing off of your website then your site’s not going to rank in a competitive market.
This is all very analogous to off site or off internet marketing if you will. Historically, we always try to research, “Hey, who should we be targeting? Who’s our target client? How do we get in front of, are we in front of our prospects?” Then, “What kind of information are we putting in front of our prospects and what are doing to get references and referrals to our law firm?” We’re doing all those things online and it makes sense that that’s a continuous effort that needs to be implemented.
While it certainly is the case that in the initial steps of SEO, there’s a lot of work done up front and the more as you go on and time passes, you’re going to spend more time keeping plates spinning, the truth is it’s just like any kind of marketing effort, just any kind of networking, building your reputation, online and offline, requires continuous effort. Especially in the world of SEO where keywords change, ranking rules change, how you need to format your website can change and off site optimization is probably changing faster than just about anything right now.
That was the first part and the next video presentation we’ll be talking about specifically keyword research. We will discuss the tools that we use to find the best keywords and the best methods, techniques, tactics, strategies that you need to utilize if you want to find out what search terms are the search terms that you should be targeting for your law firm. Until next time, thank you very much. We’ll talk to you soon.